The biggest show this coming Saturday comes from Gifu where we'll be getting a highly anticipated WBO Flyweight world title fight as well as bouts featuring a number of notable Japanese fighters, including 2 promising prospects and a former national title challenger. For fans outside of Japan wanting to watch this show it will be streamed live on our homepage!
The main event of the card will see WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) make his first defense. The champion, who won the title in the 2018 Fight of the Year against Sho Kimura, will be up against former unified Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12). These two had sought to fight when both were campaigning at Light Flyweight, though injuries to Tanaka scuppered those plans. Since then both have moved up and we're now really looking forward to what could be a 2019 Fight of the Year contender. Our full preview of this bout can be read here "The Fate hangs in the balance Kosei Tanaka and Ryoichi Taguchi face off!"
The chief support bout will see unbeaten youngster Kento Hatanaka (7-0, 7) making his first defense of the WBC Youth Flyweight title, as he takes on Thai visitor Songsaeng Phoyaem (6-1, 1). This will be Hatanaka's first defense of the title, and the expectation on "Prince" Hatanaka is huge given his performances so far and the success of his father, a former world champion. The Thai has won his last 5 bouts and is riding some momentum, but did lose in his only previous bout in Japan, being stopped in 4 rounds by Dynamic Kenji back in 2017.
Another Japan Vs Thailand bout will see the once beaten Takuya Mizuno (15-1-1, 13) take on a Thai opponent. Mizuno will be looking to move through the rankings this year on to bigger and better fights and is currently riding an 8 fight winning run, including notable domestic wins over Noboru Osato and Yuki Iriguchi. He will be expecting to extend that winning run here.
Former 2-time Japanese Bantamweight title challenger Yushi Tanaka (21-2-3, 14) will be taking on Chinese foe Yougu Yu (5-1-2, 2) in what looks like a straight forward bout for the Japanese fighter, despite the fact he has been out of the ring since September 2017. Tanaka, no relation to Kosei, is a talented fighter who's losses have come to Kentaro Masuda and Ryo Akaho, and this looks like a bout to ease him back into things before bigger bouts down the line. For Yu this will be his first bout since getting a gift draw in December against Yuya Nakamura, in an entertaining bout, but one he seemed to clearly lose.
A second Japan Vs China bout will see the unbeaten Koshin Takeshima (2-0, 2) battle against Chinese visitor Jian Wang (7-1-1, 2), who was involved in a real thriller earlier this year with Korean Seong Yeong Yang. It's hard not to think this will be an all action fight, and it's a great step up in class for Takeshima, who will be taking on a foe expected to last a few rounds with him here.
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a card in Indonesia, with a couple of UBO minor title bouts on it.
One of those title bouts will see veteran Roy Tua Manihuruk (19-19-2, 15) take on 42 year old Thai foe Vachayan Khamon (11-25-1, 4), aka Suor Carryboy, for the UBO Inter Continental Light Welterweight title. This isn't a mouth watering match up, but given the limitations of both fighters it should be somewhat interesting.
A second title bout will see Moensaku Yor (5-5-1, 3) take on Artid Bamrungauea (22-25, 20) for the UBO International Super Bantamweight title. Yor has lost his last 3 by stoppage, including an opening round blow out loss to Ari Agustian. The Thai is a 34 year old who has lost every bout against a notable name, and would need one of his career best performances to pick up a win here.
As well as the notable bouts in Asia there are also a couple of central Asian fighters in action in Canada.
Unbeaten Kazakh Batyrzhan Jukembayev (14-0-0-2, 12) has seemingly repaired bridges with his promoter and manager, after a public falling out, and will battle against Mexican fighter Carlos Jimenez (14-9-1, 8). Jimenez, and his manager, are said to have agreed terms to fight different opponents, with Jimenez being announced as fighting Daniyar Yeleussinov on March 15th before actually being confirmed for this bout a day later. Jimenez is a great opponent at this point for Jukembayev and should be the best out of the Kazakh.
The other Kazakh on this show is Nurzat Sabirov (8-0, 7), who takes on Argentinian journeyman Cesar Hernan Reynoso (15-11-4, 7). The 25 year old Sabirov impressed last year, scoring 4 wins including a notable one over Rocky Montoya in November. Big things are expected from Sabirov, though this is a step up, and Reynoso has been in with some notable names, including Callum Smith and Martin Fidel Rios. This should be a clear win for Sabirov, but we don't expect an early blow out.
Staying in North America we'll get the US debut of Azeri fighter Rauf Aghayev (26-6, 11) who goes up against talented American teenager Jesse Rodriguez (8-0, 4). The American youngster is a real talent and we'd expect to see him becoming a star in the future. Sadly for Aghayev we don't see this ending well for him, despite the fact he is the more experienced and naturally bigger man.
Yet more action in North America for Asian fighters will see Kazakh Sagadat Rakhmankul (3-1, 1) look to bounce back from a recent loss to Nicklaus Flaz as he takes on Brandon Adams (4-7-1, 2). Although he lost last time out Rakhmankul is touted as a very solid prospect and it will be very interesting to see how he bounces back here.
There will also be a fight in Australia, as Filipino fighter Glenn Enterina (14-4-1, 9) takes on the unbeaten Jacob Ng (9-0, 7) in a bout for the IBF Youth Lightweight title. On paper Ng, an Australian fighter, should be favoured but Enterina has mixed with good company, with loses to the likes of Masayuki Ito and Mark Urvanov.
The best single bout to feature an Asian fighter comes from Glasgow, where legendary Filipino Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24) takes on WBA Bantamweight “super” champion Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9) in the final WBSS Bantamweight quarter final. This has the potential to be Donaire's last bout, if he loses, given he turns 36 on November 16th, but a win secures him a semi-final bout against Zolani Tete. For the unbeaten Burnett the bout is a chance to score a big win over a huge name in the lower weights, as well as setting himself up for a bout with Tete. This is real must win for both men, but sadly has the potential to be a bit of a stinker with Burnett likely to be too quick, too smart and too elusive for the Filipino veteran. A full preview of this bout can be read here Burnett and Donaire face off for final semi-final place!
The most notable card for us this coming Saturday comes from the Korakuen Hall where we get a Japanese Middleweight title bout and bouts featuring several notable Japanese prospects.
The Japanese title bout will see Japanese Middleweight king Kazuto Takesako (9-0, 9) make his first defense, as he faces off with former champion Sanosuke Sasaki (12-6, 6). The unbeaten champion won the title earlier this year, decimating Hikaru Nishida in 92 seconds, and since then has fought only a stay busy bout against tough Thai visitor Chaiwat Mueanphong. Former champion Sasaki had a 4 month reign from last 2012 to early 2013 but is 1-5 coming into this bout and looks to be a very under-whelming challenger for the heavy handed champion. It's nice to see Takesako defend the title, but it's a shame that he's not in there with a man anyone is giving much of a chance to. A preview of this title fight can be read here Takesako's first defense sees him takes on former champion!
In a supporting bout Masaya Tamayama (11-1, 6) will battle against Daijiro Yuki (8-4-1, 4). Coming in to this the 25 year old Tamayama is riding a 7 fight winning streak, and has broken into the JBC rankings at Welterweight. Yuki, also 25, is unbeaten his last 2 bouts but is 3-4-1 in his last 8, and has been stopped twice. We can't see anything but a win for Tamayama, but we do expect him to have to earn it.
Another supporting bout will see Daiki Funayama (7-3-1, 2) take a part in his first 8 rounder, as he takes on once beaten puncher Kenta Yamada (5-1-1, 4). Funayama has won his last 4, though has had to go the distance in those wins, and seems to lack power, even at the low end of the domestic level. Yamada on the other hand will be fighting for the first time in over 2 years. Although no world beater Yamada does hold a notable win over Kazuki Sanpei and will be looking to get himself back on the domestic map here.
One of the notable prospects is Jin Minamide (1-0, 1), who will take a notable step up in class to face Filipino Conrado Tanamor (10-2, 4). On paper this looks like a great match up for the young prospects, though digging beneath the surface we do wonder what Tanamor really brings to the ring following back to back stoppage losses, and a 0-2 record in fights outside of the Philippines. Despite Tanamor not being a great opponent we are looking forward to seeing how Minamide goes about his business here
Another of the prospects on this show is the debuting Masahiro Suzuki (0-0), who is scheduled to take on Antonio Sismundo (6-1, 6). Suzuki is a touted fighter who is a notable Japanese amateur with a lot of expectation on his shoulders, and he's been matched aggressively here against a man who clearly has power. Sismundo has stopped 6 men inside the first 3 rounds, but was stopped himself in his sole defeat back in September 2017.
Staying in Asia we also get a title double header in the Philippines, though neither match looks particularly competitive.
One of them will see Eranio Semillano (16-9-3, 5) and Edison Berwela (16-39-8, 5) battle for the PBF Bantamweight title. It's hard to imagine Semillano losing here, but Berwela is a live under-dog and did shock the Asian scene earlier this year when he stopped Saenganan Sithsaithong way back in January. It should be noted that since that upset win Berwela has lost his last 2 bouts.
The other bout will be for the PBF Super Flyweight bout and will see Cris Alfante (14-7-1, 6) take on Zoren Pama (8-14-3, 5). Alfante has mixed with great competition, such as Knockout CP Freshmart, Andrew Moloney and Daigo Higa, and we suspect that he will have far too much for Pama, who lacks a win of any note, though did surprisingly go 7 rounds before losing a technical decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2014.
There will also be a couple of bouts of note in Texas where two Kazakh prospects will be in action.
One of those prospects will be the very highly touted Janibek Alimkhanuly (3-0, 1), who faces off against Vaughn Alexander (12-1, 8) in what looks like an excellent test for the unbeaten man. The 25 year old Kazakh southpaw failed to really shine in his US debut, back in September, but he is a genuine talent and the expectation is that he will adapt to the professional ranks quickly. The once beaten Alexander is looking to bounce back from an August loss to Dennis Doughlin, and will not be coming in to this bout to lose. This should be an excellent test for Alimkhanuly.
The other prospect is less hyped Sagadat Rakhmankul (3-0, 1), who hunts his fourth win as he takes on the once beaten Nicklaus Flaz (5-1, 4). The unbeaten Rakhmankul has been impressive so far, following a debut this past February, and will be looking to close out the year with arguably his best win so far, as the 25 year old looks to move to the next level. Flaz is a 22 year old Puerto Rican who was beaten last time out by Hurshidbek Normatov and will be looking to get back to winning ways, though sadly hasn't fought since that Normatov bout back in December 2017.