This weekend is a big one for fans of Asian boxing! The biggest show comes from Aichi on Saturday but that's not all we have, with notable action in the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Russia!
The big card in Aichi, will be headlined by a world title fight, and will have support bouts featuring a fast rising local prospect and a former world title challenger. It's not a monster card, but it is a very good one.
The main event will see 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (13-0, 7) defending the WBO Flyweight title against mandatory challenger Jonathan Gonzalez (22-2-1, 13). For Tanaka this will be his second defense of the title he took from Sho Kimura last year, and sees him looking to build on his win over Ryoichi Taguchi earlier this year. For Gonzalez this will be his first world title fight, and finally a chance for him to live up to the potential he showed as an amateur. This should be a really high speed and very technical bout, but the champion will clearly be the favourite. Interestingly if Tanaka wins there are murmurs he could be set for another step up in weight and another world title. Our preview of this world title bout can be read here Tanaka returns for next defense, faces "Bomba" Gonzalez
In an excellent supporting bout we'll see the hard hitting and wonderfully exciting Kento Hatanaka (9-0, 9) take on world ranked Filipino fighter Jaysever Abcede (19-8, 12). The unbeaten Hatanaka has needed just 32 rounds to get to 9-0 and already looks like he's a star in the making with major titles clearly in his future. On paper Abcede should be a straight forward step up for Hatanaka hwever the Filipino is no push over and he has regularly proven to be a banana skin, with upset wins against the likes of Pigmy Kokietgym, Stamp Kiatniwat and Seigo Yuri Akui. This should be a really good test for Hatanaka. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hatanaka steps up in class for Abcede test!
Another notable name in a supporting role is former world title challenger Genesis Servania (32-2, 15), who will be fighting for the first time since he lost to Carlos Castro back in February. The talented Japanese based Filipino is getting a clear confidence builder here as he takes on limited Indonesian foe Erick Deztroyer (12-5-1, 3), in a clear mismatch. Don't be surprised if this one ends very early!
A much more interesting match up on this card will see the limited but hard hitting Kanta Fukui (6-2, 5) take on the very talented and promising Shuma Nakazato (8-1-2, 6). Fukui came runner up in the West Japan Rookie of the Year last year, losing a razor thin decision to Takuya Ota in the final. Since then he has bounced back with a single win, but will be stepping up massively here. The 22 year old Nakazato is genuine talent, and someone who should be on the radar of hardcore Japanese. He's the son of former world title challenger Shigeru Nakazato, and has already held his own with Hironori Mishiro, losing a competitive decision to the current OPBF champion and beaten Lorence Rosas. Although in the middle of the card this is a very interesting match up, and one that could end in explosive fashion.
Also on this card will be Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion Yuto Nakamura (10-5, 7) who battles in an 8 round bout against Indonesian Muhammad Wahid (4-2, 1). Wahid impressed us, in some ways, this past May when he stood and took a 6 round pounding from Lap Cheon Cheong in Hong Kong, and he showed his bravery. We suspect that Wahid will again have to be brave, but can't see him lasting 8 round here.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Staying in Asia we also get a notable card in Metro Manila, featuring a great mix of fighters from world class to prospect level.
The world title bout, or rather the WBO "interim" world title bout, will see John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18) defend his Interim Bantamweight title against the limited Cesar Ramirez (18-3, 11). The talented Casimero, a true road warrior, won the title in April and will be looking to make his first defense here. Ramirez is yet to prove he belongs any where near world level, especially in this talent stacked division that we currently have. Although can blow hot and cold, it's hard to imagine him really being tested here. Our preview of this bout is available to read here Casimero set to face Ramirez in first interim title defense
In a pretty interest all Filipino bout between regional contender types we'll see Vincent Astrolabio (13-3, 9) take on Kevin Aseniero (9-2-1, 5). Astrolabio will be defending the WBO Oriental Bantamweight title, which he won in Indonesian back in April, for the first time. Aserniero on the other hand will be looking to stretch a 4 fight unbeaten run.
The most notable prospect on this card is former amateur standout Charly Suarez (2-0, 2), who takes a big step up in class to face the under-rated Virgil Puton (17-12-2, 8). The 30 year old Suarez, who made his debut in January, will be looking to get his career back on track after a 5 month break from action. He's incredibly talented, but doesn't have time to waste. In Puton we have a true regional journeyman, who picks up losses, but pushes good fighters, such as Ye Joon Kim and Shuya Masaki. This is a tough test for Suarez, but one he must pass if he's to make any noise at all in the pro ranks.
Amazing we'll have a third world title fight, with WBO Minimumweight champion Vic Saludar (19-3, 10) making his second defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Wilfredo Mendez (13-1, 5) in Puerto Rico. The under-rated champion, who won the belt in July 2018, was successful this past February when he beat Masataka Taniguchi in his first defense and now fights outside of Asia for the first time. Although not a major global name Saludar is very talented, heavy handed and has under-rated boxing skills. For Mendez this will be his first world title fight, and it looks like a massive step up in class for the talented, though rather negative, Puerto Rican hopeful. This could be a very interesting clash of styles, though will of course be over-shadowed by the other world title bouts earlier in the day. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Vic Saludar and Wilfredo Mendez clash for WBO title!
In Russia we get a pretty big card headlined by Sergey Kovalev and Anthony Yarde. Although that bout doesn't have an Asian interest the under-card does, and it has quite a few in fact with several different bouts featuring an unbeaten Central Asian fighter.
Arguably the most interesting of the Central Asian hopefuls on this card is the always fun to watch Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (14-0, 7) defending his WBA Asia Super Featherweight title. Originally he was pencilled in to face off with Sibusiso Zingange (13-3-2, 3), though Zingange was removed from the bout and at the time of writing, his replacement hasn't been named. Uulu, whilst flawed, would have been strongly favoured to beat the South African.
Another really interesting bout will see Uzbek Super Middleweight Azizbek Abdugofurov (12-0, 4) risk his WBC Silver title against once beaten Russian Andrey Sirotkin (16-1, 5). The talented Uzbek has been out of the ring since beating Wuzhati Nuerlang last November, and has lost much of the early momentum his career once had. Despite that he will be favoured over the 34 year old Sirotkin, who is best known for being stopped last October by John Ryder in the UK.
Unbeaten Kyrgyzstan born Russian based Erzhan Turgumbekov (6-0-1, 2) looks to bounce back from a draw against Javokhirbek Karimov just a few weeks ago, as he takes on unbeaten Ukrainian teenager Heorhii Lashko (9-0, 5). The unbeaten Turgumbekov rushed to 6-0 in just over 13 months but the draw last time out certainly slowed his momentum. Lashko on the other hand scored his biggest win in March, when he beat Ryo Takenaka in China, and will be looking for his 5th win of the year here. Takenaka aside there is little on his record of any note at all.
Kazakh Meiirim Nursultanov (11-0, 8) will also be looking to extend his unbeaten record as he takes on the once beaten Artur Osipov (15-1, 10). The 26 year old Kazakh, who is managed by Egis Klimas, has been out of the ring since beating Luis Hernanez in March, and will be looking to impress on what will be his first bout outside of the US in close to 2 years. Osipov on the other hand is coming in to this bout after a loss in March to Evgeny Terentiev, and will likely be low on confidence, for what looks like his toughest bout so far, on paper.
Another bout on this Russian card worthy of interest ins a contest between Aleksei Papin (11-0, 10) and Ilunga Makabu (25-2, 24) in what is a must watch bout on paper, promising a lot of explosive fireworks and a real feeling that this one will not see the final bell. A full preview of this bout is available here Dynamite meets TNT as Papin and Makuba clash!
The Hiranaka Boxing school, headed by Akinobu Hiranaka, are putting on a stacked event this coming Thursday with 2 different shows at the City Gym in Tomigusuku. The first card is a Rookie show, as part of the Rookie of the Year, whilst the second is a much more serious shows with more notable fighters involved.
The first card is set to begin at mid-day with 6 bouts set for it, including a number of Rookie of the Year bouts.
Among the Rookie of the Year bouts is a contest between Hikaru Fukunaga (1-0, 1) and the debuting Shinya Saito (0-0), who will be fighting at Featherweight. Fukunaga made his debut over a year ago, but has spent a lot of time out of the ring, as for Saito this will be his debut, and is a chance to progress through the Rookie of the Year.
Another interesting Rookie of the Yeah bout will see the hard hitting Ryuku Nagamine (3-0, 3) take on Takanobu Fujinami (1-2-1). Nagamine scored 3 stoppage wins last year, including two at this venue in Tomigusuku, whilst Fujinami went 1-1-1 last year he could well have gone 3-0 and this shouldn't be the mismatch it looks on paper. It's also worth noting that Fujinami's debut came against the very under-rated Taiga Higashi.
The second show is set to begin at 4PM local time and feature 7 bouts, involving fighters with much more notable names.
The main event of the card is a mouth watering showdown between Ryuto Oho (12-4-1, 4) and Masamichi Yabuki (8-3, 8), in what really could be something very special. Oho has had an up and down career, but has won the Rookie of the Year, in 2013, and the Japanese Youth title, in 2018, and is coming into this bout on the back of 3 straight wins. Yabuki has gone 2-2 in his last 4, but has stopped a former world title challenger and made his international debut during that run, and will be full of confidence here.
It's not only the main event that is tasty, and another will see talented youngster Shuma Nakazato (7-1-2, 6) face off with Filipino fighter Lorence Rosas (9-3-2, 3). This looks a fantastic and well matched bout, and should be a tough but winnable test for Nakazato, who is much better than his recent form of 2-1-2 suggests. Rosas is no world beater but should make for an interesting assignment for the 22 year old Nakazato, who's only loss came to Hironori Mishiro.
Another international bout will see Tatsuro Nakashima (8-1-1, 6) battle Indonesian foe Hengky Elleuw (5-7, 5). This should be little more than an easy win for Nakashima, especially when you consider that Elleuw has been stopped in all 7 of his defeats.
One other man on this show is Seita Ogido (12-4-3, 3), though at the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced. He has only won 1 of his last 5 bouts and despite once being a touted hopeful he is now a fighter needing a win to keep alive any hope of having a meaningful career.
Also in action will be popular Filipino fighter Mercito Gesta (32-2-2, 17) who will be facing off with Mexican foe Juan Antonio Rodriguez (29-7, 25) in a 10 round bout. This will be Gesta's second contest since he lost to Jorge Linares in January 2018 and he will be looking to build on a June 2018 win over Robert Manzanarez. Rodriguez hasn't fought since June 2017, when he was beaten by Pedro Campa, and has lost 2 of his last 3 and 3 of his last 6, including defeats Javier Fortuna and Jezzrel Corralas
The main show for us this coming Wednesday will come from the Differ Ariake in Tokyo. The card will feature a number of a very good bouts, mos of which will be Japan Vs China, though is headlined by an OPBF title fight between a Filipino champion and a Japanese prospect, in what ios a really mouth watering match up.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Super Featherweight champion Carlo Magali (23-9-3, 12) face off with Japanese prospect Hironori Mishiro (5-0, 2), in a bout that is genuinely mouth watering. Magali has had a frustrating 2018, with several bouts announced and then falling through, and as a result this will be his return to the ring for the first time since his impressive January win over Masatoshi Kotani. Against Kotani we saw the Filipino show that he was a lot better than his record suggests, and it seems the OPBF title is helping Magali improve as a fighter, building his self belief. As for Mishiro the Japanese fighter was a former amateur stand out who only debuted 15 months ago but already holds notable domestic wins against Shuma Nakazato and Shuya Masaki and will be full of confidence coming into this bout. A win for Magali will perhaps move him on to bouts against top tier regional fighters, such as Masaru Sueyoshi or Reiya Abe, however a win for Mishiro will shoot him up to being one of the leading prospects in Japan. A really good match up, and a tough one to call!
The leading support bout is one of the many Japan vs China bouts and will see recent Japanese Flyweight title challenger Katsunori Nagamine (14-2-1, 10) battle against Yujie Zeng (11-7-1, 6) in what should be a very exciting bout, as is the norm for a Nagamine bout. Nagamine came close to claiming the Japanese Flyweight title this past March, when he lost a very lose decision to Masayuki Kuroda, and he should come in to this bout with a point to prove. It's also worth notign that Nagamine's only other loss was to WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro, more than 3 years ago. Zeng on the other hand is pretty much an unknown outside of those who follow the Chinese domestic scene. His only real bout of note came last September, when he lost to promising Filipino Genesis Libranza, and aside from that there isn't really much we can take from the Chinese fighter's record, other than that he seems to be fighting from Minimumweight to Super Bantamweight. Given what we know of Nagamine we're expecting a win for the Japanese fighter here.
In another Japanese Vs China bout fans will see the once beaten Shuma Nakazato (7-1-1, 6) battle against Qixiu Zhang (9-4-1, 3). Nakazato is one of the many hidden gems in Japanese boxing and managed to reach the 2015 Rookie of the Year, before needing to take almost 18 months away from the ring. Last year Nakazato suffered a narrow loss to Mishiro but has bounced back since with a blow out win against a Thai foe. The Chinese fighter is pretty unknown, though did impress last time out, when he travelled to Korea and scored an 11th round KO win against Nak Yul Park in May. That win aside there is little of note on Zhang's record and it;s hard to say what eh really has the potential to do, so this should give him a chance to answer some questions about his potential.
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a show in Thailand, headlined by a regional title fight between Japan's Ryohei Takahashi (14-3-1, 6) and Thai veteran Mike Tawatchai (45-11-1, 28). The two men, who are clashing over the IBF Pan Pacific Super Bantamweight title, are at different stages in their careers and Tawatchai, a genuine veteran with close to 60 fights, seems to be looking past his foe already with another bout set for September. That could well be a mistake as Takahashi is a very capable fighter with good wins over Kazuki Tanaka and Matcha Nakagawa, and defeatuing Tawatchai isn't out of the question here.
The key bout featuring an Asian this coming Sunday comes from Victoria in Australia and will see once beaten local prospect Ibrahim Balla (13-1, 7) battle against unbeaten Thai hopeful Norasing Kokietgym (22-0-1, 15). The bout, which will be for Balla's WBA Ocenia Featherweight, looks like a really good one on paper. The local hopeful has bounced back really well since his June 2016 loss to Neil John Tabanao, scoring notable decision wins over Vergil Puton and Silvester Lopez last year, and looks to be someone rising through the rankings at a very good rate. As for Norasing he once looked like one of Thailand's best prospects, but he failed to fight in 2017 and didn't really face anyone of note in 2016. This is a step up for the Thai but a win would be the perfect way to put himself back in the mix for notable fights later in the year. A really good match up.
As well as the card in Victoria there is also a small on in Kagoshima, Japan.
The main event here will see Filipino visitor Jeffrey Galero (16-3, 8) take on Japanese local Naoya Haruguchi (14-8, 6). The Filipino is 0-3 on the road, including a loss in a world title bout to Wanheng Menayothin and a stoppage loss to Tsubasa Koura, though is a genuinely solid fighter at the Oriental level, and will be risking his OPBF ranking here. As for Haruguchi he has a very misleading record, and is much better than the numbers suggest. The local was last seen suffering a razor thin defeat to Riku Kano and has shared the ring with a number of notable Japanese domestic fighters, including Reiya Konishi. Although far from a Oriental title level clash this should be very competitive and compelling contest.
In a supporting bout fans will see the heavy handed and very promising Shuma Nakazato (6-1-1, 5) battling against Thai teenager Chanchai Khowaka (0-2), who has lost both of his recorded bouts in Japan. Nakazato is a genuine prospect, with power, and despite going 1-1-1 in his last 3 should really blitz his Thai foe here.
This coming Monday Japanese fight fans in Tokyo get an interesting card at the domestic level, featuring a number of notable fighters, many of which were touted and have yet to really shine in the way some had hoped.
The main event of the card is a brilliant match up between unbeaten fighters Hironori Mishiro (3-0, 2) and Shuma Nakazato (6-0-1, 5). Mishiro was a touted former amateur standout, and a lot is expected of him during his career, whilst Nakazato was the runner up at the 2015 Rookie of the Year, losing out on the crown on a rule used to separate fighters who draw. This really will push the winner forward with their career, and promises a lot between fighters who are both in their early 20's.
In a interesting looking bout on paper Coach Hiroto (12-2-1, 4) will take on Naoki Kumagai (8-6, 5) in what could be an under-the-radar battle. Coming in to this Hiroto will be the favourite, but he has fought just 5 rounds in the last 5 years, whilst the more limited Kumagai is limited but has been busy and has faced decent competition with bouts against the likes of Jin Miura, Naoto Uebayashi and Ryuto Araya.
The once touted Kenshin Oshima (2-1, 2) will be looking to get some momentum in his careeras he takes on the heavy handed Takuya Mori (6-2, 5) in a bout that really should be explosive. Oshima was a standout amateur, but was beaten in his second bout by the very capable Yuki Iriguchi, ina very competitive bout. Mori has lost a couple of close decision but has scored all 5 of his stoppages in the opening 2 rounds, and is a very dangerous fighter early on.
The debuting Nobuaki Kanazawa (0-0) is a former amateur standout who looks to make a mark on his debut as he takes on Naoto Mizutani (4-3, 2) in a pretty tricky debut. On paper Kanazawa should have the skills to take home a win, and look good, but the bout is certainly no foregone conclusion and Mizutani will be there win.
Another interesting bout sees Ryo Sagawa (1-1, 1) look to bounce back from a loss in a Japanese Youth title semi final to Retsu Kosaka. The touted Sagawa lacked the experience to cope with Kosaka and should find himself at a more comfortable level here, as he takes on Kazuki Sanpei (4-4, 1), who gave Juiki Tatsuyoshi a scare last year. On paper this looks like a really interesting match up, and could turn out to be the bout of the show.
After a huge day for boxing our attention turns to Okinawa for the only Asian show this coming Sunday, and if we're being honest, it's not a big one, despite every fighters of note being in action.
The most notable bout of the show is a rematch as unbeaten Filipino Edward Heno (10-0-5, 4) takes on local hopeful Seita Ogido (11-2-3, 3) for the OPBF Light Flyweight title. Earlier this year these two fought to a close bout, which Heno seemed to win, and was announced as the winner, before an issue with the scorecards saw the bout being announce as a draw, well after the original decision. The unbeaten Heno will be looking to avoid the judges this time around and we expect him to go out hunting a stoppage. For Ogido, who has drawn his last two bout, this is a must win and another set back will be hard to come back from, despite the fact he is only 24.
In an supporting bout we'll see OPBF ranked Super Featherweight Masatoshi Kotani (21-2, 14) take on Filipino ranked foe Jason Egera (23-17-1, 11). On paper the bout looks like a mismatch, with Kotani coming into the bout on an 11 fight winning run dating back more than 4 years whilst Egera has gone 2-9-1 in his last 12, however Egera can be a handful at times and has scored notable upsets through his career, including a win earlier this year against Glenn Suminguit.
Also on this card in a supporting bout is the unbeaten Shuma Nakazato (6-0-1, 5), who takes a notable step up against veteran Masaki Saito (13-12-6, 4). The unbeaten Nakazato, the son of 3-time world title challenger Shigeru Nakazato, reached the final of the 2015 Rookie of the Year, fighting to a draw with Teppei Kayanuma, but has only fought once since then. The 32 year Saito is a proper servant of Japanese boxing and whilst his record is messy he has been a true gatekeeper at the top of of the domestic scene. He has notable wins against the likes of Seiichi Okada and Takashi Inagaki and has held fighters like Tsuyoshi Tojo, Masashi Nogiuchi and Yuichiro Kasuya to draws. This might not look much of a fight on paper, but it is a real test for Nakazato.
The biggest bout this coming Saturday, for fans of Asian boxing, comes from Thailand where WBC Minmumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (46-0, 17) hunts a 7th defense of the title as he takes on Australian based fighter Omari Kimweri (16-3, 6). Wanheng will be strongly favoured here but hasn't shone in recent bouts, even the stay busy fights have seen him put on less than great performances, and it does sometimes seem like he's on cruise control. A win here for Wanheng will take him to within touching distance of 50-0 but Kimweri will not have travelled to just lose.
As well as the big bout in Thailand there will also be a low profile card in Tokyo.
The main event of this card does look interesting as Japan's Daisuke Watanabe (5-2, 3) takes on big punching Filipino Jun Blazo (7-2-3, 6). We've been impressed by Watanabe so far, despite the fact he has a couple of losses, and his team are willing to continue pushing him hard and in risky bouts, and this is certainly a risky one. Blazo's power is genuine and he dropped Koki Eto in a previous visit to Tokyo, suggesting he could be a handful for Watanabe.
Another Japanese fighter facing a Filipino is Coach Hiroto (11-2-1, 3), who faces Glenn Medura (8-2-1, 5). Madura, like Blazo, is returning to Japan having faced someone much better known than themselves, losing to Ryosuke Iwasa, but will fancy his chances here against Hiroto, who has been out of the ring for close to 5 years.
Another bout on this card will see the promising Shuma Nakazato (5-0-1, 4) take on a Thai foe in what will be his first 6 rounder. Nakazato showed real promise in 2015 but was out of the ring since fighting to a draw with Teppei Kayanuma in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final. This should be a straight forward comeback, but with nothing known about his Thai foe it could be a tougher than expected assignment for the 20 year old Okinawan.