For us the biggest show this Saturday is in China where we get a China Vs Japan card featuring a number of bouts between fighters from those two countries. Not only is there the China Vs Japan theme, but also the return to the ring of a popular Japanese former world champion.
The former world champion is Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10), who despite being Japanese is hugely popular in China following his title win over Zou Shiming in 2017. Kimura was dethroned of the WBO Flyweight title in September, by Kosei Tanaka, but will be strongly favoured to pick up a win here as he takes on Thai veteran Pigmy Kokietgym (60-10-2, 24) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Flyweight. Pigmy was once a solid fighter, and is a 2-time world title challenger, but is not a natural Flyweight, he's 37 and has been stopped 7 times in his career, with Kimura likely to make that 8.
One of the many China Vs Japan bouts will see China's Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (15-2-1, 6) take on Yusuke Konno (14-4, 7) in a bout for some minor WBA Light Welterweight title. Originally the title was listed as the WBA "International" title, though their is now speculation that it will be for the WBA "Asia" title. Nasiyiwula is a talented fighter, but often comes across as a man with a bad attitude, and a real arrogance. He has impressed in the past, but didn't look good last time out, when he fought Ernesto Espana. Konno on the other hand has a poor looking record, but comes into this bout on the back of 3 good domestic wins, including an excellent victory over Vladimir Baez in December and will be full of confidence.
Another China Vs Japan bout, with a title on the line, will see world ranked Chinese fighter Wulan Tuolehazi (10-3-1, 5) battle against highly regarded Japanese prospect Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4) in a bout for the WBA International Flyweight title. Tuolehazi has impressed in recent years, turning around a 0-2 start to professional boxing to have a 10-3-1 record including a big win over Jayr Raquinel last year. Yamauchi has impressed us since his professional debut, and already has a couple of solid wins on his record, but this is a big step up for him. We suspect Yamauchi has the tools needed to over-come Tuolehazi, but he will need to answer serious questions here, and prove himself more than he has at any other point in his career. A full preview of this bout can be read here Yamauchi and Tuolehazi battle in mouth watering Flyweight clash
The China Vs Japan rivalry may be set to give us a very special bout as Fangyong Zhang (11-4-1, 3) and Ryuto Maekawa (11-1-1, 7) clash in a potential war. Neither of these are world beaters, but both are happy to let their hands go and be involved in a fight. Maekawa is best known for his insane bout with Rex Tso whilst Zhang is less well known he is certainly not a bad fighter to watch and should make for the perfect partner with Maekawa for a brilliant fight.
As well as the big card in China there will also be a big one in the US, in fact the US card in Pennsylvania is the biggest of the day in terms of general boxing. The card isn't just big in a wider boxing sense but also features several Asian fighters.
The most significant bout, in regards to Asian interest, will see the unbeaten Uzbek fighter Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 6) take on Japanese puncher Keita Obara (20-3-1, 18) in an IBF Welterweight world title eliminator. The talented Abdukakhorov will be making his US debut and begin a 3 fight deal with Top Rank with this fight, and will know that a win will open up major doors, though he is up against a serious puncher in Obara. For Obara, who has been stopped in all 3 of his losses, this is a must win but he has failed to win his biggest bouts and at the age of 32 he is likely on the slide. Our preview of this bout is available here Abdukakhorov and Obara battle for mandatory position
Once beaten American based Kazakh Askhat Ualikhanov (4-1, 2) will take on Puerto Rican puncher Jose Lopez (11-1, 9) in an 8 round bout. The 28 year old Ualikhanov was beaten on debut, in 2016, when he was controversially DQ'd and since then has reeled off 4 wins, to rebuild his reputation. Lopez on the other hand was stopped last time out by journeyman Carlos Winson Velasquez and is may not find this bout to be the confidence builder he needs.
New South Wales, Australia
There will also be a show in Australia, featuring a couple of Filipino fighters.
The main event of this card will see WBSS participant Jason Moloney (17-1, 14) return to the ring for the first time since losing to IBF Bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez. The talented, once beaten, Australian will be up against Filipino visitor Cris Paulino (19-3, 8) in a bout for the WBA Oceania Bantamweight title. Given that all 3 of Paulino's losses have come by stoppage it's hard to imagine him lasting with the hard hitting Moloney, who will likely get to Paulino sooner or later.
Another Filipino on this card is Rey Juntilla (23-8-5, 14), who takes on Billel Dib (22-3, 10). The 29 year old Juntilla has lacked activity in recent years, with only 1 bout in the last 2 years, and although he has a good looking record he has lost against almost every noteworthy name he's faced. Dib is no world beater, and has lost 2 of his last 3, but he should pick up an easy win here.
In a bit of an oddity we'll see German based Moroccan Bilal Messoudi (6-4-1, 2) take on Chinese fighter Shayilanbieke Kadeerbieke (2-3-2, 1). Although Messoudi has lost 4 bouts he has mixed with decent fighters and is better than the numbers suggest. As for Kadeerbieke this will be his first bout outside of China, and we'll be honest and admit that is strange he's set to fight in Germany.
Things really take off over the weekend with some really notable fighters and some intriguing match ups.
Hong Kong, SAR China
The biggest card of the day comes from Hong Kong and promises a lot of exciting, despite not being littered with the biggest or best names in the sport. There should be a lot of action and should be a lot of fun for fight fans at the venue.
The main event of the card will see unbeaten fighters Rex Tso (19-0, 12) and Ryuto Maekawa (11-0-1, 7) face off in a bout that looks great on paper. Of the two Tso is by far the better known fighter, and has carved out a following thanks to Bob Arum and Top Rank who show cased him in various Macau shows. The bouts that helped Tso build a following were exciting fights and although he showed flaws he was fun. Maekawa on the other hand has really looked poor, despite being unbeaten, and seems to either blow opponents away or struggle over the finishing line.
In an interesting supporting bout Jay Solmiano (18-3-1, 14) will be up against the once beaten Chaloemporn Sawatsuk (17-1, 13). For Chaleomporn this bout will be his first since he was stopped, in a round, by Azizbek Abdugofurov he is however dropping down from Middleweight where that bout took place. Solmiano, a former OPBF title challenger, will be looking to record a second straight win since his 2014 loss to Keita Obara.
Another supporting bout will see unbeaten Australian Paul Fleming (22-0, 14) face off with Filipino Jerope Mercado (27-8-3, 9). The 36 year old Mercado was a very solid fighter at Bantamweight a few years ago, now however he is a man looking like he's at the end of his career and has gone 3-7 in his last 10. The unbeaten Fleming is a promising fighter and a win here should be expected, though it's where he goes next that could be really interesting.
Another supporting bout will see the criminally over-looked Filipino Rey Megrino (22-20-4, 19) face off with Indonesian Jason Butar Butar (20-18-1, 14). On paper this is a really, really, well matched bout between two fighters who look like heavy handed journeymen. In reality however this should be a mismatch, despite Megrino fighting well above his usual weight. Megrino is fringe world class and shouldn't struggle here, despite moving up in weight.
The biggest bout of the day with an Asian fighter comes from Mexico and sees former WBO-WBA “super” Flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada (33-2, 24) take on Filipino journeyman Raymond Tabugon (18-5-1, 8). The bout will be Estrada's first in over a year and although Tabugon will be the under-dog it may be the best time for him to face a guy like Estrada, who is moving up in weight, has been injured and inactive.
New South Wales, Australia
There will also be some Asian interest in Australia where two Asian fighters will be in action.
One of those Asian's is Indonesian Rusmin Kie Raha (14-10-2, 3) who faces Valentine Borg (12-2, 8) in what looks likely to be Kie Raha's 11th loss. The Indonesian has gone 3-8 in his last 11 bouts and he has been several times recently, including an opening round blow out to Hyun Woo Yuh. Whilst Borg is flawed he should be far too good for the visitor here.
Another bout on this card sees debutant Satali Tevi Fuamoano (0-0) face Thai foe Pramool Boonpok (1-24-1). Given Boonpok's record it's fair to say that this is a safe debut for Fuamoano.
Their will also be an obscure Korean show in Gapyeong, which will be the first from a new Korean boxing body. The details on this are scarce but it's clear this will feature two "Korean" title bouts.
The highest profile bout involving an Asian fighter takes place in Russia where WBA “regular" champion Ruslan Chagaev (34-2-1, 21), from Uzbekistan, defends hit title against unbeaten Australian puncher Lucas Browne (23-0, 20). At his best this would be a horrible mismatch in favour of Chagaev however at 37 and with his career having been derailed by a combination of illness, injuries, age and inactivity Chagaev is far from at his best. Browne is crude but powerful and hungry and this really could be a very good bout.
On the same card fellow Uzbek Behzod Nabiev (22-9-1, 16) fights Said Lwanga (0-2-1). This looks like a really clear mismatch however it's Nabiev's first bout since November 2014 and coming into this one he is 1-6 in his previous 7. This could be tougher for the Uzbek than it perhaps should be.
Whilst the bout in Russia is the biggest it's not the only title bout of note. Another sees WBC Youth Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (8-0, 8), one of the sports most exciting young prospects, defending his title against Filipino Romel Oliveros (6-1-1, 1). This is a step down in level for Higa however he was sensational in 2015 with wins against the likes of Kongfah CP Freshmart and Renren Tesorio. Although Oliveros is the naturally bigger man we can't see anything but a win for Higa who looks like a star in the making.
Another unbeaten fighter on this card is Ryuto Maekawa (10-0-1, 6) who risks his unbeaten record against the limited, but experienced, Bimbo Nacionales (13-10-1, 3). Maekawa is a fighter with a padded record and whilst he is unbeaten we can't imagine him getting too much further without a loss. Saying that though Nacionales isn't likely to be the one to inflict that loss.
A third bout of interest on this Japanese card sees promising puncher Ryo Matsubara (4-1, 4) in action. The once beaten Matsubara looks to be in easy as he takes on Dejchai Bovigym (0-2) though we are glad to see the Super Flyweight hopeful stepping up to 6 rounders. It should be noted that Dejchai has fought in Japan before, and was the debut opponent for Sho Nakazawa, who stopped him in 80 seconds.
We also get notable action in Australia as former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (19-6-3, 5) battles the unbeaten Luke Jackson (10-0, 5) for the WBA Oceania Featherweight belt. Apolinario, who lost to Koki Kameda in a WBA Bantamweight title bout, is likely to be far too small for Jackson but we suspect he will be game, as he usually is.
At a lower level fight fans will get a low profile Filipino card in Ifugao. The card features a lot of debutants, including Gerry Pablito (0-0) who kicks off his career in a 6 rounder against the unbeaten Lambert Buggati (1-0, 1).
We get another low profile card in China. Although we again get a lot of novices, we are interested in a 6 rounder between Zhong Jie Niu (6-0, 2) and 18 year old Wei Fang Li (2-2-1). On paper this looks one-sided but the reality is that both men are untested and this could be a very good match up.
November 7th-Murata, Obara and Higa make it a day for Japanese bangers, Islam and Zhakiyanov add a Kazakh twist
This coming Saturday is an amazing day for Asian fight fans who will get the chance to see some of Japan's hardest hitters, two of which will be in action in the US!
The most notable of those two US debut's for Japanese fighters comes in Nevada where Olympic gold medal winner Ryota Murata (7-0, 5) risks his unbeaten record against Gunnar Jackson (22-6-3, 8). On paper this is a step up Murata however the bout is more about getting the US fans interested in him rather than really testing himself against world level opposition. A win for Murata would likely see him return to the US next year for a more notable bout, perhaps against a former champion or world title challenger.
We see another Japanese fighter make their US debut as the heavy handed, and genuinely fun to watch, Keita Obara (15-1, 14) takes on Nicaraguan warrior Walter Castillo (26-3, 19). For Obara this is a chance to prove himself internationally and move towards a potential world title fight, with this bout serving as an IBF eliminator, however Castillo is himself a man who knows that a win will change his career. We expect this one to be fun and full of heavy handed action but it will be a serious test for Obara.
On the same card we will also see Kazakhstan's 154lb contender Kanat Islam (19-0, 16) who battles 34 year old Alexis Camacho (21-5, 19) in what looks like a bout unlikely to go the distance. This will be Camacho's first bout in more than a year and he really hasn't beaten anyone close to Islam's level, in fact he's best known for a loss to Carlos Molina than anything else. Although it looks good on paper this really should be a mismatch.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
More fighters fighting away from home will land in Monte Carlo where we have two Asian fighters in action.
One of those fighters is Kazakh Bantamweight Zhanat Zhakiyanov (25-1, 18) who faces WBA interim champion Yonfrez Parejo (17-1-1, 8) in what looks like a very good match up on paper. Of the two men it's the defending champion who looks like the more accomplished boxer however the Kazakh challenger certainly has the edge in power and will be looking to knock out out foe. For “ZZ” this could be his first, and last, chance at a world title and it's clear that his training will have been stepped up for this opportunity, however it is still a tough ask.
The other fighter of note is WBC Super Bantamweight silver champion Qiu Xiao Jun (18-2, 8) who defends his title against light punching Frenchman Amor Belahdj Ali (14-3-1, 2). On paper this looks well matched though the Chinese fighter has certainly been in good form recently and although he's crude he is powerful and is more proven than the Frenchman, who doesn't have names like Jonathan Baat and Silvester Lopez on his record.
We were also hoping to see Japan's Yosuke Kirima on this card but it appears that that bout is now off.
Staying in Europe for a moment, we will also Indian star Vijender Singh (1-0, 1) put his unbeaten record on the line as he faces 33 year old Dean Gillen (2-0) in a 4 rounder.
The major show in Asia comes from the Korakuen Hall where we get two bouts of note, including the first defense of a WBC Youth crown.
That youth defense comes at Flyweight where the all action Daigo Higa (7-0, 7) looks to defend his title against the under-rated Renren Tesorio (15-6-3, 4). For Higa, who won his title in Thailand this year in a thriller with Kongfah CP Freshmart, this is a great home coming and if he wins it's likely that he will move onto a Japanese or OPBF title fight next year before a potential world title bvout in the near future. For Tesorio it's a chance to win his most notable title and to get a win in Japan, following last year's narrow defeat to Toshiyuki Igarashi.
The other bout of interest here sees former Higa foe Cris Alfante (11-5, 4) return to Japan to face unbeaten teenage Ryuto Maekawa (10-0, 6) in what looks likely to be a tough test for the unbeaten man. This is a bout where we suspect the records don't really tell us the full story and Alfante is certainly the more proven fighter, despite losing to Higa, Florante Condes, Kongfah and Knockout CP Freshmart. This really could be the show stealing bout and has the potential to be an “upset”.
The only other Asian show is in China here Top Rank and SECA put on the next of their novice shows. The show, at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, is another in Top Rank's attempt to create a thriving boxing scene in the Chinese mainland. Sadly not of the bout really have much to talk about though it does seem like an idea with genuine potential.
After having seen the excellent "Super Boxeo" show on December 30th, including Naoya Inoue's historic win over Omar Andres Narvaez, we now get to look forward to New Year's Eve which features 2 massive shows with 5 world title fights between them!
Of the two New Year's Eve shows in Japan the best is in Osaka in an Ioka-Kyoei joint promotion card. This show is notable pretty much from top to bottom with major almost every bout featuring either a title level fighters, a prospect or a notable name.
One of the interesting under-card bouts will see unbeaten female hopeful Terumi Nuki (5-0, 2) battle battle against debuting Thai Petchluksor Sor Praithong (0-0). It's thought that if Nuki wins here her next bout will be an OPBF title bout as she moves towards a world title bout sometime in the next 2 years. Another notable Japanese female fighter on this show is Tomomi Takano (6-1, 5) who also finds herself up against a debuting Thai in the form of Rannada Sor Vorapin (0-0).
The two female fights are both scheduled for 6 rounds as are two of the male bouts. One of those will see the busy Takeru Kamikubo (7-0, 4) fighting for the 8th time this year. Sadly the talented Kamikubo has been matched very softly here as he fights against the win-less Phetsaifar Lukmaelamperigym (0-5). For Phetsaifar this is likely to be his 6th straight stoppage loss and his 5th in Japan having previously lost to Kamikubo's stable mate Masayoshi Hashizume and the very interesting Kohei Kashino. The other will see Ryuto Maekawa (9-0, 5) fighting against Chanachai Sor Siamchai (0-1).
In an 8 rounder the heavy handed Takahiro Yamamoto (14-3, 11) will find himself up against Thailand's Kamraiyok Or Wandavee (0-0). Yamamoto comes into this bout on the back of 8 successive victories and has shown real promise with all 3 of his losses being very close decision losses. Another 8 rounder on this show will see former world champion Ryo Miyazaki (21-1-3, 12) fighting against Kajonsak Nattapolgym (0-0). For Miyazaki this bout falls exactly a year after his sole loss to, another Thai Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr., and he'll be hoping to avoid the same fate here.
The first title fight on this show will see the promising Sho Ishida (17-0, 9) making the first defence of the Japanese Super Flyweight title as he battles against Masato Morisaki (9-3-1, 5) in what looks to be a relatively straight forward defense for the talented Ishida. From what we understand if Ishida is successful here their will be moves to make a bout between Ishida and Teiru Kinoshita in 2015.
The second title fight on this show will be a strange unification bout as the IBF and WBO vacant belts will be unified. The belt situation of the bout is an odd one but the fight it's self looks to be a great one as former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (27-7-0-1, 10) battles against Japanese champion Go Odaira (11-3-3, 1). This bout is expected to be very high paced and all action though it's not expected to have the “drama” that some may expect in a FOTY contender.
Splitting up world titles fights fans we will see former 2-division champion Kazuto Ioka (15-1, 9) battle against former "interim" world champion Jean Piero Perez (20-7-1, 14). This bout does look like a disappointing one considering the quality of Ioka and the fact Perez has been struggling in recent years, though it does seem like Ioka will be fighting in a WBA world title fight early next year against Juan Carlos Reveco, who recently defended his title with a stoppage victory against Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep.
In the main event fans will see Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9) defending his WBO and WBA "super" Super Bantamweight titles against OPBF Featherweight champion Hisashi Amagasa (28-4-2, 19). The talented Cuban is a clear betting favourite going into this bout but the contest does look like an interesting one given that Amagasa will have a massive size advantage and also an advantage in activity with Rigondeaux having only fought one round in the last 12 months.
In Tokyo we have the “other” show promoted by Watanabe. Although there are 3 world titles on this show the card it's self is actually the weaker of the two cards with 2 of the 3 world title fights looking like mismatches.
The main event will be one of those mismatch world title fights as WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (21-0-1, 17) looks to make the 9th defence of his belt. The heavy handed Japanese fighter, known as “KO Dynamite”, will be defending his belt against 35 year old Argentinian challenger Israel Hector Enrique Perez (27-2-1, 16), a man who really doesn't look fit to step in the ring against Uchiyama.
In another world title fight fans will see the popular Kohei Kono (30-8, 13) defending his WBA Super Flyweight world title for the first time since he re-won it earlier this year with a KO of Denkaosan Kaovichit. The "Tough Boy" will be defending his title against Dominican challenger Norberto Jimenez (20-8-3, 10). Sadly like the other bout the challenger looks completely out of his depth and is unlikely to pose much of a threat.
The most interesting of the title fights is at Light Flyweight where Ryoichi Taguchi (20-2-1, 8) attempts to become a world champion. Taguchi is involved in the most interesting of the world title bouts as he takes on Peru's WBA Light Flyweight world champion Alberto Rossel (32-8-0-1, 13). For Taguchi this is the most significant fight of his career and is clearly his toughest since he fought the then fat rising Naoya Inoue.
As well as the 3 world title fights there are a further 6 other bouts on the same card though none of them feature anyone of note.
For those wanting to watch the main bouts from his show they will be televised on TV Tokyo.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
For a second successive day Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall get a great domestic card. On Monday it was Ohashi Gym's "49th Phoenix Battle" a day later the action is courtesy of Kyoei Promotions who put on a very solid 7 fight show.
The show, the "369th Guts Fighting" card, is headlined by an OPBF Featherweight title fight between the very talented Hisashi Amagasa (26-4-2, 17), defending his belt for the second time, and the little known Thai Maxsaisai Sithsaithong (14-4, 3). For us this is a mismatch and Amagasa, who has world rankings with all 4 major organisations, should easily come out on top against a very limited Thai opponent, though of course upsets happen and Maxsaisai could surprise us all, though that would go down as one of the biggest upsets of the year so far.
Although the main event is the only title fight on the show the card does have a strong supporting cast with the chief support bout being a contest between the Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Mikihito Seto (24-11-2, 18) and unranked domestic rival Takenori Ohashi (11-3, 7). Seto is a former interim Japanese Super Bantamweight champion but has lost 3 of his last 6 bouts.
Another support bout sees Japanese ranked Super Flyweight Toyoto Shiraishi (24-8-1, 11) battle against the limited but extremely hard working and brave Mako Matsuyama (7-8-1, 3). Matsuyama, who was last seen in the ring being stopped in an all-action fight with Rex Tso, is up against it again here but will put it all on the line in an attempt to to upset his more established and more experienced foe. Shiraishi has lost 3 of his last 6 but they have been at a very highly level and shouldn't be held against him too much.
Another Japanese ranked fighter in action on this show is Kazuma Sanpei (10-0, 4) who puts his Japanese Super Featherweight ranking on the line against Jun Hamana (9-1, 3) in a genuinely compelling contest. Hamana is unranked and has got a solitary loss but is a very good promising 23 year old prospect whilst Sanpei is a very highly touted 19 year old prospect that some are describing as a future world champion at Super Featherweight. The winner of this will still be quite a distance from being competitive with Rikki Naito but the winner will be expected to become a domestic contender in the next year or two.
One more ranked fighter on this show is Kai Johnson (4-5-3, 1) who will be hoping to end the unbeaten run of the much talked about Tomomi Takano (5-0, 4). Johnson will be risking her OPBF female ranking against Takano who will be hoping that a win helps move her into a title fight. Although the records of the two fighters are very different and Takano is the favourite this is a clear step up in class for the unbeaten fighter who will be expecting a stiffer test here than she has so far in her career.
The shows second bout, will see yet another unbeaten fighter in action as the touted Ryuto Maekawa (8-0, 5) battles against Takushige Sato (5-4-1, 2) in a 6 rounder. Maekawa is just 18 and yet very highly touted with international experience, courtesy of fights in Thailand and the Philippines, and a fun to watch style. Sato will be expected to test the teenager but we don't think he'll be able to match him.
Sadly we're unsure who will be opening the show but we've been informed that it will be a 4 rounder between two novice professionals
(Image courtesy of http://www.kadoebi.com)