The key action for us this coming Sunday comes from California where Top Rank will be putting on a show with two notable Asian fighters, each looking to take a huge step towards a world title fight.
One of those fighters is Hiroki Okada (19-0, 13), who will be taking on Mexican veteran Raymundo Beltran (35-8-1-1, 21) in a Light Welterweight bout. For Okada this will be his second bout Stateside, after a disappointing and close win over journeyman Cristian Rafael Coria in September. On paper this is a massive step up from that bout, but a win almost surely secure him a shot at the WBC champion later in the year. For the 37 year old Beltran this bout is a return to the ring after being beaten last year by Jose Pedraza, and losing the WBO Lightweight title. Beltran has certainly seen better days and his long career, which began back in 1999, looks to be catching up with him given his last 3 performances were less than stellar. A move up in weight, as this is, may give Beltran a new lease of life, or could be what sends him into retirement. A real must win for both men. Our preview of this bout can be found here - Okada and Beltran set to battle in must win bout!
The other Asian fighter on this card is talented Filipino Genesis Servania (32-1, 15), who takes on unbeaten American Carlos Castro (21-0, 9). Servania has been a staple on the Asian scene long before he made his US debut in 2017, when he faced off with Oscar Valdez in a WBO Featherweight title bout. Despite losing to Valdez the Filipino impressed and this will be his third bout on US soil, following a 2018 win over former world title challenger Carlos Carlson. Servania is a sharp puncher with good defense and a lot of experience, not just his 33 pro bouts but also numerous sparring sessions with the likes of Naoya Inoue. Castor is a bit of an unknown, despite having a good-looking record. His career began way back in 2012 and his best wins against the likes of Alexis Santiago, a shot to bits Juan Palacios and German Meraz. For Castro this is a chance to raise his profile, massively, but he is very clearly the under-dog.
As well as the action Stateside there will also be a somewhat notable card in Hyogo, headline by a regional title.
That regional title bout will see local hopeful Tenta Kiyose (15-2-1, 7) battle against Filipino Ben Mananquil (16-1-3, 4) for the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title, which was vacated by Hiroaki Teshigawara last year. The match up sees both men knowing that a win will push their career forward, massively, but both will also be aware that this won't be an easy bout. Kiyose's career was given a huge boost last year when he stopped Oleydong Sithsamerchai, and that's really the stand out win on his ledger. His other wins of note include decisions over Tetsu Araki and Takuya Mizyuno, in the 2015 Rookie of the Year, a stoppage victory over Ryuta Otsuka and a decision win over Joe Tejones. As for the Filipino his best results are draws against Kwanpichit OneSongchaigym, Jing Xiang and Hinata Maruta, with his best wins coming against compatriots Glenn Porras and Jess Rey Waminal. Both are solid fighters, but both will enter this bout know that a win pushes them a lot close to a major bout. We suspect it'll be a tough and compelling match up and a real chance for both to show what they are made of. Our preview of this bout can be read here Mananquil and Kiyose battle for WBO regional honours!
A second title bout on this card will see Yumi Narita (3-2-3, 1) taking on Chie Higano (7-7-1, 2) in a bout for the Japanese Female Minimumweight title, in what is actually a rematch of a draw from last October. The 29 year old Narita has gone unbeaten in her last 4 bouts, but that includes 3 draws, including one with Higano and 2 with Kaori Nagai, As for the more experienced Higano, who is now 34, she has actually gone 1-3-1 in her last 5, but has fought at a high level with losses to Momo Koseki and Eun Hye Lee. We suspect this will be competitive, and be a very hard one to call, just given how their previous meeting went.
As well as the card in Hyogo there will also be a card in Shizuoka. This is a much smaller card, with the main event being a contest between Japanese female Flyweight champion Yumemi Ikemoto (6-1) and Filipino foe Gretel de Paz (5-4-1, 2), in what is supposedly a world title warm up bout for Ikemoto.
The only other bout of any note on this card will see Shogo Yamaguchi (11-4-2, 6) take on Masafumi Ando (5-8-1, 2) in a 6 round bout. Yamaguchi is better than huis record suggests, despite losing 4 of his last 7. He has shared the ring with Akihiro Kondo, Genki Meada, Accel Sumiyoshi and Andy Hiraoka, so he's certainly a solid fighter. Ando on the other hand will be the naturally bigger man and could use his natural size to make this more interesting than it looks on paper.
Bang Phun, Thailand
The main card this coming Saturday is in Thailand, with Workpoint showing casing a hugely popular world champion, albeit in a non-title fight, and two former world title challenger.
The world champion in action is Thai superstar Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (45-4-1, 40), who won't be defending the WBC Super Flyweight title, as he takes on Korean foe Young Gil Bae (28-6-2, 22), but will be fighting in front of a Thai crowd for the first time since December 2016. Sriskaet is expected to see off Bae with ease, especially given that Bae came up very short in a WBC Minimumweight title bout against Wanheng Menayothin. This really should be little more than a showcase for Srisaket who has another bout set for October 6th in Pak Kret as part of a ONE Championship card.
A second bout of note on this card will see former WBC Flyweight title challenger Nawaphon Kaikanha (41-1, 33) take on Japanese visitor Shota Kawaguchi (21-10-1, 9) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Bantamweight title. Nawaphoin is best known for his 2017 loss to Juan Hernandez for the WBC Flyweight title, but he has since bounced back with 5 straight wins, all by stoppage, including a thrilling win over Amnat Ruenroeng back in April. As for Kawaguchi he has struggled in recent bouts, going 3-5 in his last 8, and suffered losses to the likes of Sonny Boy Jaro, Rene Dacquel and Ryuichi Funai. Given the form of the Japanese fighter it's hard to see him coming out on top here, even if Nawaphon hasn't always impressed.
A card in Hyogo is also worth noting due to the main event, which will see WBC Youth Super Bantamweight champion Tenta Kiyose (14-2-1, 6) facing off with former WBC Minimumweight champion Oleydong Sithsamerchai (68-1-1, 28). The Thai is currently riding a 33 fight winning run since losing the WBC world title to Kazuto Ioka back in February 2011, but has mostly fought limited opponents, with his best wins during that run coming over the likes of Mark Anthony Geraldo, Jason Canoy and Hiroyuki Kudaka, all of which were years ago. The 21 year old Kiyose is stepping up in a huge way, but a win here could help put him on the boxing map and move him into the world rankings.
Sadly the main event aside this card is really not worthy of a mention.
There's also a card in the Philippines. Sadly this is a card that features two talented Filipino's facing very limited Indonesian visitors.
One of the local men is Ernesto Saulong (21-3-1, 8), who will be returning to the ring for the first time his loss to IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa back in March. The talented, and tough, Filipino will be going up again journey Waldo Sabu (12-12, 2), who has lost his last 2 by stoppage and was taken out inside a round by Takuma Inoue in May. Given recent outings it's hard to see anything but a Saulong win, likely inside the distance.
The other bout will see former OPBF champion Al Rivera (19-3, 17) take on Heri Andriyanto (23-26-2, 11). Rivera has been out of the ring since last October, when he stopped Rodel Wenceslao, but we don't expect the ring rust to be a problem here s he takes on a man was was banned from fighting in Japan back in 2016, when he give a poor effort against Koki Inoue. Since the loss to Inoue Andriyanto has gone 1-3 and it's hard to see what he has to test the very hard hitting Rivera.
In the US fans will be able to see promising Uzbek hopeful Hurshidbek Normatov (6-0, 2) risk his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Alexis Gaytan (4-0, 2). The Uzbek fighter hasn't set the world on fire yet, but has looked competent against decent opponents, beating the much more experienced Ronald Montes last time out. Interestingly Gaytan will be up against his 3rd successive unbeaten opponent here, and will have the confidence of an upset win over Kendrick Ball Jr as he comes into this fight. We suspect Normatov will be too good, but we do hope to see him answering some new questions here.
In the only title bout of the day fight fans in Hyogo will see youngsters collide with the 21 year old Tenta Kiyose (13-2-1, 6) taking on 20 year old Filipino Joe Tejones (9-4, 5) for the WBC youth Super Bantamweight title. Of the two men it's Tejones who is probably the more well known internationally, following bout with the likes of Hinata Maruta and Singsayan CP Freshmart, for the WBC Youth Bantamweight and Super Flyweight titles respectively. As for Kiyose he's yet to fight for a title, but did fight in the 2015 Rookie of the Year final and has since gone 6-0 (5) and will be looking to use his natural size advantage.
A second show in Hyogo promises a lot more, without featuring any title action. Instead of title action it's a show mostly focused on youngsters looking to continue their budding careers.
The most notable of the youngsters is former world title challenger Riku Kano (11-3-1, 6), who faces domestic foe Naoya Haruguchi (14-7, 6). Coming in to this one the once touted Kano knows he needs a win, having lost 2 of his last 3 including a stoppage loss to Jerry Tomogdan. Talented, speedy and young Kano did attempt to set a Japanese record last year as the youngster Japanese world champion, though came up short against Katsunari Takayama. As for Haruguchi he's in great form with 6 straight wins, including victories over Norihito Tanaka and Jun Takigawa. Although not well known Haruguchi will not be there to lose, and this could be a very competitive contest.
Another former world title challenger on this card is Hiroshige Osawa (31-4-4, 19), who will be expected to blitz Indonesian foe Erick Deztroyer (9-5-1, 2) in what looks like a mismatch. The talented Osawa was several levels below WBO Featherweight champion Oscar Valdez when they fought around year ago, but Deztroyer should be several levels below Osawa.
Another youngster on this card is Kano's 19 year old stable mate Futa Akizuki (10-0, 8), who fights for the 6th time in Japan. The talented and heavy handed Akizuki will be facing off with Kenji Kihisa (6-3, 3) in a good looking 8 round bout. Akizuki has impressed, with a near shut out against Vincent Bautista and a 7th round stopped of the usually durable Shun Ishibashi. Kihisi is yet to win a bout of note, but he has never been stopped and should prove to be a durable foe for Akizuki and a test of Akizuki's power, especially at this lower tier of domestic level.
Arguably the most interesting bout on this card is the “debut” of 17 year old Kazusa Arai (2-0, 2), who has fought twice in Thailand but will finally be fighting on Japanese soil for the first time. The teenager will be up against 18 year old Tetsuro Ohashi (2-0, 1). Ohashi has racked up 4 rounds so far in his career, compared to Arai's 3, but hasn't shown the power of the younger man who will be looking to make a mark here and announce himself to a domestic audience, who may well not know of his activity in Thailand.
In Fukuoka fan will see the heavy handed Ryota Ishida (8-2, 6) take on local resident Yuki Ozawa (12-5, 3) in what looks like a really decent match up on paper. Ishida was last seen losing a decision to the heavy handed Takuya Mizuno in August, with that loss ending a 3 fight stoppage run for Ishida. Ozawa on the other hand has notched up back-to-back wins following a 5 fight losing run, which included losses to Masaaki Serie and Ryo Takenaka. And he looks to be getting his career back on track.
December 19th isn't set to be a huge day for Asian fight fans, but it will be an interesting day as we get the next Dangan card.
In the main event we'll see the heavy handed Shuhei Tsuchiya (21-4, 17) battle the in form Masashi Noguchi (12-5-1, 6) for the vacant Japanese Lightweight title. This will be the first time either man will have fought for a Japanese title, with Nihito Arakawa recently vacating the title, but we're expecting a very fun bout between two men who can be hurt and stopped.
The main support bout will see exciting veteran Rikiya Fukuhara (31-9-1, 23) take on Filipino visitor Alvin Bais (15-7-1, 4). The bout isn't the most exciting contest on the card, not even the most exciting bout between a Japanese and a Filipino, but it will be the final bout of Fukuhara's career with the former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion announcing that win or lose his career was ending here.
A really good under-card bout will see the experienced Yosuke Fujihara (16-4, 4) take on the criminally under-rated Daisuke Watanabe (4-2, 3). Although this looks like an easy win for the more experienced Fujihara on paper Watanabe is one of the more under-rated fighters coming through the Japanese ranks and we're expecting to see the novice come out on top here, and potentially fighting for titles by the end of next year.
A brilliant Japan Vs Philippines bout will see unbeaten local Tsubasa Koura (8-0, 5) battle against former world title challenger Jeffrey Galero (14-2, 7). Koura, the 2015 Minimumweight Rookie of the Year, has impressed with a pair of stoppages earlier this year and looks to be one of the more notable Minimumweight prospects coming through the ranks at the moment, but this is a huge step up in class. Galero on the other hand is looking to rebuild following a loss to Seita Ogida earlier this year. Although he lost last time out we must admit we thought we saw a lot of promise in Galero when he took on WBC world champion Wanheng Menayothin and this could be a chance for him to get his career back on track.
In another good looking bout we'll see the 2015 All Japan Rookie of the Year Bantamweight runner up Tenta Kiyose (10-2-1, 3) battle against former Japanese title challenger Ryuta Otsuka (16-9-2, 6). Kiyosa has impressed in the past, and is riding a 3 fight winning run coming into this bout but is stepping up massively against Otsuka. As for Otsuka he has lost 4 of his last 7, but they have included losses to two Japanese champions, Teiru Kinoshita and Sho Ishida, along with a defeat to former world champion Malcolm Tunacao. This really could be a very good bout.
For fans interested in this card it will be streamed live on boxingraise.com.