It may still be "the new year" but boxing is back in to the swing of things already with fans having already had a chance to see the first world title fight and the first female world title fight of 2014. This Friday sees Asian boxing getting back up and running properly with the first PABA title fights and the first "Dangan" show of the year.
The first PABA action of the new year is set to take place in Thailand courtesy of Kokiet Group Promotions. The group, one of the biggest promotional companies in Thailand, appear to have a PABA double header (according to boxrec.com) as Thai fighters take on Filipino opposition.
The most notable of the bouts sees former world title challenger Terdsak Kokietgym (51-4-1, 33) defending his PABA Super Featherweight title against the limited, but tough, Mark Sales (20-35-3, 6). Terdsak, who has been in with Juan Manuel Marquez, Joan Guzman, Steve Luevano and Takahiro Ao is certainly the favourite and will be eying up another world title fight later this year if he can get past Sales though the Filipino has proven to be sterner foe than his record shows and does hold a notable victory over Bernabe Concepcion.
We believe, at least according to boxrec.com, that the second PABA title fight will see Samartlek Chaiyonggym (14-4, 5) tackling the experienced Donny Mabao (21-20-1, 4) for the vacant PABA Light Flyweight title. Whilst Mabao, like Sales in the other bout, has a weak looking record it's worth noting he is on an impressive 4 fight winning run with victories over Florante Condes and Mateo Handig. Samartlek will, like Terdsak, be favoured here though we expect this to be much more competitive than the records of the two men suggest.
Unfortunately outside of those two bouts we don't know any other details about the show, other than the fact it will be televised on Thai Channel 7.
Whilst Thailand's show may have the PABA title fights it's hard to ignore that the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo will also be having an interesting show. This show, which currently isn't listed on boxrec, will be "Dangan 91" a C-Class tournament final show which features 11 bouts, all scheduled for 4 rounds.
The bouts here take place between a contracted 48.5KG (106.9lbs) and Light Welterweight with the stand out clashes being Shoma Koga (3-0, 3) against Masahiro Kobayashi (2-1-1, 1) at Lightweight and Ryusei Ishii (1-0, 1) taking on Ippei Azuma (2-0-1, 1) in an interesting Bantamweight bout.
Although Koga is completely unknown outside of Japan he has been scything through opponents, taking just 7 rounds to dispatch his first 3 opponents, who were all unbeaten. Although Kobayashi was beaten last time out he has never been stopped and should prove to be a credible test for Koga who may not hit as hard as his record indicates.
For us the Ishii fight has our attention due to some of the comments we've heard about Ishii. The 17 year old Bantamweight, who debuted last October, is seen as a very promising "under-the-radar" prospect and we're expecting to see him tested here against fellow unbeaten Azuma.
Staying on this show just a moment longer, we'd also advise keeping an eye out for the result of Andy Hiraoka's (1-0, 1) bout with Yoshikuni Hashiguchi (2-3, 1). Aged 17 Hiraoka has been very highly touted since he was 15 and is thought to be one of those youngsters with real long term upside.
As well as the action in Asia there is also a bout of Asian interest in the US. This will see Mongolian Bayan Jargal (17-4-3, 11) taking on American Zahir Raheem (34-3, 21) in what looks like a genuinely interesting bout. Although Raheem is the more experience fighter he is also 37 and several years beyond his prime so there is a slight chance at what would be a notable upset for Jargal.
We had also hoped that Arash Usmanee would be in action though unfortunately an injury has ruled him out of the show