The big headline bout this coming weekend sees us focus on Glasgow, Scotland, as the WBSS moves towards the final bouts. The bout of interest for us is the highly anticipated WBSS Bantamweight semi-final bout between WBA "regular" champion Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) and IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12). The bout is a clash between unbeaten world class fighters, who are both looking to move one step closer to proving they are the best Bantamweight on the planet. For Inoue this will be his first bout in Europe, and he will be looking to become the first Japanese fighter to win a world title bout in the continent, whilst Rodriguez returns to the country that he won the IBF title in, when he beat Paul Butler. Coming in both are in great form, though it should be noted that Rodriguez went 24 rounds last year, Inoue has only gone 20 rounds combined in his last 6 fights. If Rodriguez can survive the early going Inoue's lack of activity could be a problem here, as could history. A full review of this bout can be read here Inoue and Rodriguez go one on one in semi final!
Before the action in the UK there will be some action in Asia, including a notable show at Korakuen Hall in Toyko.
The main event of this show will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) make his first defense, as he takes on former champion Yusaku Kuga (17-3-1, 11), in what will be a second bout between these two. Thee two men fought in 2017, with Kuga taking a narrow decision win over Tamura to retain the title, since then however Kuga has been stopped by Shingo Wake and Tamura has bounced back from losing to Kuga to win the title. Given their first bout was a brilliant and violent fight we're expecting something really special here. A full preview of this bout is available here Tamura and Kuga to meet again, potential war set?
In a major supporting bout we'll see Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-2, 6) and Koichi Aso (23-8-1, 15) clash at Lightweight, in a bout that should be very fan friendly. Coming in to this Yanagi is unbeaten in 5 bouts, including a draw in a Japanese title eliminator last year with Accel Sumiyoshi, but this is likely to be a really tough bout for him. Aso, a veteran and former Japanese Light Welterweight champion, will be dropping down in weight but always brings intense pressure and will be looking to break down Yanagi. This could be an all out war if Yanagi can't keep Aso at range.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see ranked fighters clash, as Naoya Okamoto (13-7-1, 6) and Yosuke Fujihara (17-6, 4) face off in a bout that could well set up a future title fight with the winner of the main event. Okamoto narrowly missed out on a title fight, when he lost a technical decision in October in a Japanese title eliminator, and will be hungry here to shine. Fujihara on the other hand is someone who has challenged for a title before but has lost 3 of his last 4 and really needs a good performance here.
Another bout featuring domestic ranked fighters will see Kenta Nakagawa (16-3-1, 11) take on Ryosuke Nasu (10-4-3, 2). Nakagawa is a former Japanese Super Flyweight champion, holding the title in 2016-2017, and has won 3 in a row since losing the belt to Ryuichi Funai. Nasu on the other hand is a former Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion who will know that a win here will prove to be a huge step towards a potential senior title fight later in the year.
Another name worthy of noting on this card is Kazuki Saito (6-1, 5), though our understanding is a planned bout has been cancelled and he will instead compete in a spar rather than an actual fight.
Bang Phun, Thailand
At the Workpoint Studio we'll former world title challenger Nawaphon Por Chokchai (44-1-1, 34) take on former champion Sonny Boy Jaro (45-14-5, 32), in what looks almost certain to be a fun fight. Nawaphon, at 27, is the much younger man and needs a big win, and a win over Jaro would be among his very best. Jaro, who is known in Thailand due to his shock win over Pongsaklek Wonjongkam back in 2012. At the age of 37 it's hard to know what Jaro really has left, though he was stopped in 2017 by Jonas Sultan, a none puncher, and surely has to be coming very close to the end of his career.
In Russia we'll see a couple of hard hitting Uzbek fighters in action.
One of those fighters is Ravshanbek Umurzakov (7-0, 7), who takes on Anthony Moloisane (11-3-1, 7) in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds. The talented Umurzakov has shown a lot of promise but isn't being moved up through the levels yet, sadly, and that shows again here, with South African fighter Moloisane, who isn't bad, but also isn't a clear step up for the Uzbek who should be taking on much better opponents now.
A second Uzbek on this show will see Elnur Abduraimov (4-0, 4) in action, as he hunts his 5th straight stoppage. He's stepped up in his last two bouts, but it's clear he needs a real test in the near future, so fingers crossed that happens sooner rather than later. He's too good to be wasting his time against limited opposition and would be served much better by take on someone to extend him some rounds and help prepare him for bigger and better bouts. At the time of writing the opponent for this bout hasn't been named, suggesting a limited and late notice opponent for the Uzbek.
Also on this card is unbeaten Kazakh youngster Stanislav Kalitskiy (7-0, 3), who will be stepping into his first 8 round bout. Sadly there is not currently an opponent confirmed for Kalitskiy, and as with Abduraimov it seems like he will be matched softly with a late notice foe.
Another Asian card will take place in Taiwan, though this is a very low level card, headlined by an 8 round bout between Chia Ching Hung (4-1-1, 4) and Anurak Madua (6-3, 4). Hung is a local to Taiwan, but hasn't fought in over a year, and is 1-1-1 in his last 3. Madua on the other hand was stopped in 77 seconds last time out, when he fought in Osaka against Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto.
The rest of this card is mostly novices bouts with debutants.
This coming Friday out attention turns to Russia for the next RCC card, which features several notable fighters from across Asia.
One of those is Russian based Tajik Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (12-0, 8), who will be looking to make his first defense of the WBC International Super Featherweight title. The unbeaten 23 year old will be up against experienced Mexican Emanuel Lopez (29-9-1, 13), who has had mixed success in recent years, losing 3 of his last 5. If Yaqubov is as good as he has looked in recent bouts then we'd expect him to win here, and take a huge step towards a potential world title eliminator later in the year.
Unbeaten Uzbek fighter Ravshanbek Umurzakov (6-0, 5) had an interesting 2018, going 5-0 (4) but having a big asterisks over his biggest win, a 58 second victory over Eden Sonsona who looked like he didn't want to be in the ring. Umurzakoz will be up against Filipino Rimar Metuda (12-4-1, 7), who has proven himself as durable, though is 2-4-1 in his last 7 and is 0-3-1 outside of the Philippines. We suspect Metuda will put up a good effort against the Uzbek, but not really test him.
Unbeaten Kazakh Stanislav Kalitskiy (6-0, 3) will be risking his unbeaten record against Filipino Venson Delopere (6-3-4, 2). The 21 year old Kalitskiy scored 3 wins last year, including a notable one against Jestoni Autida, but it's unclear what he can really do in the ring and he should be tested here. Delopere is a 23 year old who has proven tricky to beat, but is winless outside of the Philippines. This should be a good test for Kalitskiy and we wouldn't be surprised to see him struggle at times with the Filipino.
Another Filipino on this card is Arnold Garde (10-6-3, 4), who will be up against unbeaten Russian fighter Mekhdi Abdurashedov (5-0, 2). The Russian really impressed last time out, stopping Filipino Prince Andrew Lauro in 5 rounds, and this bout seems to be a good step up for him. Garde has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, but is going to have travelled with some ambition. Sadly for Garde we don't question his desire, but we do doubt he has the skills to handle Abdurashedov
In Hungary fans a bout is scheduled between Russian born Azeri Roman Zakirov (8-0, 7) and Mexican foe Daniel Vega Cota (13-2-1, 10). The unbeaten Zakirov is a 22 year old who only turned professional a year ago but has been ultra active, with fights in Uzbekistan, Georgia and Russia and now looks to add Hungary to passport. Cota on the other hand has only fought outside of Mexico once and should be easy enough for the Azeri, given he has been stopped in both of his losses.
In Thailand we'll see unbeaten Thai hopeful Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (10-0, 4) battle against experienced Filipino Crison Omayao (24-18-4, 8) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Light Flyweight title. This bout will be the Thai's first at 108lbs and it's hoped that he will show what he can really do at the new weight after looking less than great at Minimumweight.
A second title bout on this show will see Kanyarat Yoohanngoh (4-2, 2) take on Japanese fighter Umi Ishikawa (7-2, 5) for the OPBF silver Female Minimumweight title. This is a low key bout but the winner should find themselves moving towards some bigger and better fights in the near future.
Interestingly this Thai card will also feature Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) and Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) playing some part in the show, though the specifics of their appearances seem to be an exhibition or a live public training event rather than any kind of fight.
London, United Kingdom
In London we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Sultan Zaurbek (3-0, 2) take a small step up in class as he takes on Lyuben Todorov (6-3, 2). The unbeaten prospect will be facing his first opponent with a winning record, but the Bulgarian is 0-3 outside of Bulgaria and isn't expected to be much of a threat for Zaurbek, who is scheduled to fight again a week later.