The boxing year has been slow to get going, not just in Asia but worldwide. Thankfully that has started to change and on March 11th we see the 2016 Champion Carnival kick off with what appears to be a genuinely notable Japanese domestic card.
The champions Carnival bout, which is the main event of the show, will see Japanese and OPBF Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (27-8-1, 13) face off against the criminally under-rated Hikaru Nishida (14-7-1, 6), with both of Shibata's titles on the line. The veteran champion is well known as the debut opponent of Ryota Murata, where he was stopped in 2 rounds by the 2012 Olympic champion, but since then he has been reeling off wins at the top of the Japanese domestic scene. The only man in recent times to really push Shibata close was Nishida, when the two men met in 2014, and we expect another very competitive bout here. Of the two men Shibata is the better boxer, in fact he's a very technically capable boxer-mover, however Nishida is a strong, tough pressure fighter who will be in Shibata's face and try to break down the champion. This really could be an excellent way to kick off the Champion Carnival.
As well as the main event we also get a trio of notable supporting bouts. One of those features former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko (21-5-3, 14) who makes a move to Lightweight to face Kazuya Soma (7-8-2, 6). The 27 year old Kaneko impressed us in 2013, when he gave Takashi Uchiyama a very tough bout, however two losses last year, including a defeat to Masao Nakamura in a FOTY contender, has left him in need of a win. Soma is limited but is a naturally bigger fighter than Kaneko and could try to use that to his advantage against the former Japanese Super Featherweight champion.
Talking of former Japanese champions, former Middleweight champion Tomohiro Ebisu (14-4, 14) returns to the ring to face Toshihiro Kai (5-7-2, 1). This looks to be a mismatch however Ebisu is a “stop of be stopped” fighter and even the light punching Kai has a chance, if he can see out the first few rounds of Ebisu's assault. The former champion has never been the distance and he will be hoping to record his 15th stoppage win here, but he has shown fragility in the past.
The third bout of note sees recently OPBF Lightweight title challenger Accel Sumiyoshi (5-4-2, 1) battle Tatsuya Yanagi (11-3-1, 4) in, a rematch between the two men who fought to a draw last year. Coming in to this one the records suggest Yanagi should be favoured however Sumiyoshi is much better than his record indicates and he has been matched ridiculously hard since his debut in 2012, in fact he has fought the reigning Japanese and OPBF Lightweight champions and other title contenders. Whilst Sumiyoshi is better than the numbers suggest Yanagi is in a bit of a rut with a 1-3-1 record in his last 5. This is a bout neither man can really afford to lose.
We have also been made aware that there will be a show in Laos.
The main event of this card will see Thai veteran Terdsak Kokietgym (59-5-1, 39) [เทอดศักดิ์ สีซุปเปอร์เทคยิม] in a regional title bout whilst another bout on this card will see Laos teenager Nampetch Kwanjaisrikod (8-1, 3) [น้ำเพชร ก่อเกียรติยิม] continue her career. Sad we're unsure who Nampetch and Terdsak will be up against.
This coming Friday isn't packed with action but there are some notable names in action.
Negros Occidental, Philippines
In the Philippines fans get a relatively good looking show with several notable fighters in action.
The main event, a WBC Youth Super Featherweight title fight, will see Argie Toquero (8-3-1, 6) defending his belt against unbeaten puncher Ardie Boyose (15-0-1, 11). On paper this is a really tricky defense for Toquero however the bout is also a step up for Boyose who has been matched softly so far.
Arguably the most interesting bout, on paper, will see Jerry Nardo (20-6, 11) battle against Jason Egera (21-13, 10). This bouts pits two flawed fighters against each other and could end up being a very interesting match up, even if it's not likely to a really highly skilled affair.
The biggest name fighter here is former WBO Minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo (23-2-1, 12) who fights for the first time since his shock loss to Faris Nenggo last November. Sabillo, who has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3 bouts, will be expected to pick up a straight forward win here against Powell Balaba (8-13-1, 5) though it really is a must win for Sabillo who has been stopped in his last 2 bouts.
Pathum Thani, Thailand
In Thailand fans will be getting a televised show featuring several notable names.
The most notable is Terdsak Kokietgym (56-5-1, 36) who looks to continue his long career as he battles once beaten Filipino Roldan Aldea (9-1-1, 3). Up for grabs here will be the WBO Oriental Super Featherweight title with Terdsak looking to earn himself one more shot at a world title. Unfortunately for the 33 year old Thai he is getting on and it would appear like that his last shot at the top level was his September 2014 FOTY contender with Orlando Salido.
In one of the supporting bouts we'll see the unbeaten Petchmanee Kokietgym (7-0, 2) take on Indonesian visitor Rofiq Aditaya (2-1-1, 2). Aditaya will be fighting in Thailand for the second time, and this one comes less than a month after his defeat to Jirapan Nakorluang, a 3rd round KO.
The second supporting bout of note will see former world title challenger Pigmy Kokietgym (56-7-2, 22) battle against Indonesian foe Ardi Tefa (6-4, 4). Tefa comes in to this bout 0-4 outside of his homeland and it's very hard to see him changing that against someone with Pigmy's experience.
In Germany we'll get the chance to see two Asian fighters in action.
One of those is Kazakh Cruiserweight hopeful Isa Akerbayev (15-0-0-1, 11) take on Brazilian puncher Julio Cesar Dos Santos (27-4, 24). This should be a straight forward win for Akerbayev, however given the fact Dos Santos can punch we may see the Kazakh take his time and fight cautiously against the 37 year old South American.
The other fighter in action here is Filipino tough guy Rey Labao (27-6, 18) who takes on once German Rico Mueller (18-1-1, 13). This is Labao's third successive bout on the road and although he'll be the under-dog he is very live, as seen last time out when he shocked former OPBF champion Masao Nakamura. The one big problem for Labao here will be the weight with the bout having been made at Welterweight rather than his more natural Lightweight or even Light Welterweight.
Thai fans get another televised show this Wednesday as channel 3 show a small but notable show that sees the lightly regarded EPBC getting some attention.
Firstly lets start with the EPBC who have two of their titles on the line. They are the Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council who appear to be affiliated with the WBC and were, looking at the details on their website, founded last year. From what we understand they will be yet another regional organisation looking to have their fingers in the Asia pie alongside the PABA, WBA Asia, OPBF, WBC Boxing Council, and IBF Asia, among others. We really do wonder just how many organisations are wanted, or needed in the area though it appears we've not seen them all yet.
In a bout for the vacant EPBC Light Flyweight title fans will see Yokthong KKP (17-4, 11) battle against Indonesian foe Frans Damur Palue (10-7-2, 5). Yokthong is best known for losing every time he steps up with notable stoppage losses to Ryuji Hara (KO2) and Zou Shiming (TKO7). Palue however isn't at that level and is himself 0-3 outside of Indonesian including an 8th round TKO loss to Petchbarngborn Kokietgym earlier this month. Interestingly Yokthong was ranked #5 in the recent EPCB rankings whilst Palue was #9.
The other EPBC title fight will see the unbeaten, and genuinely promising, Petchchorhae Kokietgym (11-0, 7) battle against Indonesia's Oscar Raknafa (12-8, 5) in a bout for the Flyweight title. The unbeaten Thai has shown some glimpses of real talent though this hardly seems like a step forward for him. Notably Raknafa has lost his life 5 bouts, including a loss to the then debuting Kosei Tanaka, and we expect that run will continue here in what appears to be another mismatch against the Indonesian. In terms of the rankings for this bout, the Thai is ranked #3 whilst Raknafa is #12.
Another mismatch on this card will see former world title challenger Terdsak Kokietgym (54-5-1, 34) back in the ring for his second bout since his thrilling 11th round loss to Orlando Salido last September. Terdsak will be up against Yakobus Heluka (8-9, 1), who has lost 5 of his last 6, including a 3rd round KO to Thong Sithluangphophun last August. This is one of those horrible match ups that is simply used to keep a guy like Terdsak ticking over.
One other bout on this card will see the unbeaten Mai Lookboonmee (1-0, 1) battle against the win-less Singsomdech Kwanjaisrikot (0-2). This, on paper, looks the most even match up on the show though we still suspect it could be 1-sided in the ring.
The biggest show of the weekend this Saturday comes from the Philippines as ALA Promotions put on the 28th show in their "Pinoy Pride" series and, we've got to be honest here, it looks like a great one even if the main event is likely to feel like a let down, thankfully however there are 4 or 5 other interesting bouts on the card and several notable names.
The aforementioned main event will see WBO Light Flyweight champion Donnie Nietes (33-1-3, 9) return to the ring in an attempt to record the 5th defense of his title. We say attempt though he shouldn't really struggle as he takes on the exciting but limited Carlos Velarde (26-3-1, 14). We don't think Nietes will be given a real test here but we do suspect the fight will be fun to watch as Velarde always brings action to the ring, as he did prior to getting stopped by Ryo Miyazak in a WBA Minimumweight title bout last year.
Whilst the main event looks somewhat predictable the two main support bouts both look interesting to say the least.
One of those will see former world title challenger Milan Melindo (31-1, 12) drop down to Light Flyweight to take on Mexico's Saul Juarez (20-3, 11) in an IBF world title eliminator. The bout was put together after Juarez missed out on the world title shot that Velarde has and we suspect that Melindo will be given a good work out here even if he does make it look relatively easy. The other major support bout will see the unbeaten Albert Pagara (21-0, 15) battle against tough Mexican Raul Hirales (22-3-1, 11). This will be Pagara's first defense of the IBF Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title and appears to be a great step up for the Filipino who has blitzed his last 3 foes in a combined 5 rounds. It's a big step up but Hirales has looked very ordinary in his 3 losses and we suspect Pagara will manage to make him look poor as well.
In the most interesting of 3 bouts scheduled for 10 rounds we will see unified Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr (16-2, 11) battle against Jomar Fajardo (14-5-1, 7). Rodriguez will be fighting for the first time since he unified the IBF and WBO titles with his stellar victory over Katsunari Takayama this year in a FOTY contender and we suspect that this will be his last bout before making a permanent move to the Light Flyweight division, which appears to be set for a memorable 2015.
Another of the 10 rounders will see former Rodriguez foe Merlito Sabillo (23-1-1, 12) battle against the limited Faris Nenggo (8-6-3, 2). This will be Sabillo's first bout since being stopped by Rodriguez in March whilst for Nenggo it'll be his first bout since back-to-back defeats to Ryuji Hara and Paipharob Kokietgym. It should be an easy win for Sabillo but it's hard to judge what his confidence will be like after the battering he suffered at the hands of Rodriguez.
The third 10 rounder will see former world title contender AJ Banal (31-2-1, 22) battle against recent OPBF Featherweight title challenger Maxsaisai Sithsaithong (15-5, 4). We assume this could be fun to watch but Banal, for all his talent, appears to have a knack of letting us down. We wouldn't be shocked for him to take out his Thai foe early nor would we be shocked to see him struggle to a relatively limp and unexciting decision win.
Lower down the card in an 8 rounder we will see Mark Magsayo (8-0, 6), one of out favourite Filipino prospects, battle against South Korean visitor Moon-Sun Jung (2-3-3). We imagine Magsayo will see off Jung though hopefully he'll get some rounds in the bank before closing the show.
Nakhon Nayok, Thailand
Whilst the Filipino show is clearly the most important of the day we do have shows across Asia with one of them taking place in Thailand.
This show will be headlined by a regional title bout between unbeaten fighters as Petchchorhae Kokietgym (8-0, 5) attempts to make the first defense of his WBC Asian Boxing Council silver Flyweight title. The man trying to stop the Thai is unbeaten Indonesian Rizky Pratama (2-0) who we really don't know about. Hopefully this will be competitive though we suspect the Indonesian will be blown away relatively quickly in a mismatch.
In a clear mismatch fans will get the chance to see former world title challenger Terdsak Kokietgym (53-5-1, 33) take on Indonesia's Yacob Ton (4-10, 2). This is a mismatch and few will defend it however it will be Terdsak's first bout since his thrilling encounter with Orlando Salido a few months ago and hopefully Terdsak won't damaged good following that fight which was extremely damaging for the Thai.
A third bout on this card will see Petchnamchai KKP (1-0, 1) risking his unbeaten record against the debuting Ricardo Sithsaithong (0-0) in what looks like an even match up on paper though is unlikely to be even at all given what we know about boxing in Thailand.
A small show in Japan, featuring 9 bouts in total, looks to be a forgettable one with only 2 bouts even worth mentioning.
The main event, an 8 rounder, will see Keita Nakano (11-9-3, 2) fight against Takaaki Ishikawa (10-5, 5) in what appears to be a competitive match up though a sub-domestic level one that won't get fans, even domestic ones, excited in the slightest. Although not a great bout both men do need a win and will likely put it all on the line to take home a W. The only other bout worth noting is a 6 rounder that will see Ryuto Araya (6-2-1) taking on Tsubasa Mochizuki (6-4, 2) in a bout we suspect will go the distance considering neither guy has much power on their shots.
Daegu, South Korea
In South Korea we get another domestic level card though one that features 2 relatively weak looking title fights.
At Super Middleweight we will see Eun-Chang Lee (7-4, 3) attempt to defend the Korean Super Middleweight title for the first time since winning the title in March. Lee, who lost in Macau to Esquiva Falcao last time out, will be battling against Young-Kyoon Lee (1-13-1) who really shouldn't be in any sort of a title fight given that he has won just 1 of 15 professional bouts.
Sadly the other title bout on the show, a South Korean Super Featherweight bout, is almost as bad as Ik Soo Han (6-3, 1) takes on Jong-Won Won (7-13-1, 3) for the vacant belt. Han last fought 19 months ago, losing a 6th round TKO to Junta Sekimoto in Japan whilst Won hasn't won a bout since July 2009! We understand that titles can interest fans but this is farcical for a title bout.
A third bout on this card will see former female world title challenger Hye-Soo Park (3-7-1, 1) fighting against win-less Thai Dorkmaipah Kiatpompetch (0-3) in what should be a clear mismatch, despite the fact Park isn't a great fighter herself.
Gauteng, South Africa
In South Africa we will see two Russian's in action in interesting looking bouts.
At Light Heavyweight we will get the chance to see Denis Grachev (13-4-1, 8) take on the unbeaten, and freakishly tall, Thomas Oosthuizen (22-0-2, 13). It's fair to say the loser here will have to forget any dreams of being a world champion whilst a win will likely help them move into contention for a belt. With the stakes so high this could a very good bout however both men have looked poor in recent contests and they may again fail to inspire here.
The other bout will see the heavy handed Roman Belaev (14-0, 10) fighting former world title challenger Ali Funeka (35-4-3, 29) in a bout for the IBO Welterweight title. Belaev has generally impressed us with his power, aggression and style and we suspect he'll show those same traits here against the 36 year old Funeka who we thing could be ready for his first stoppage loss.
(Image courtesy of ALA Promotions)
Some days are busy with great fights, other with mismatches. Today however we get a day of title fights with 3 world titles and various other regional titles on the line
Baja California, Mexico
The most notable bout of the day is in Mexico where Thai veteran Terdsak Kokietgym (53-4-1, 33) battles Mexican veteran Orlando Salido (41-12-2-1, 28) in a really interesting bout for the interim WBO Featherweight title. The bout might only be for an "interim" belt but the two two men will know that a win here will really boost their profile and their chances of fighting for the proper WBO title next year. It's sadly a bout that Terdsak will not be expected to win, though in the past he has shown his ability to be competitive in high profile bouts, most notably his world title bout with Takahiro Ao. This is a tough ask but looks to be a great bout.
It's not just in Mexico that we get a world title bout and in fact we get a brace of them in Osaka, albeit female world title bouts.
The first of those will see veteran Nao Ikeyama (14-3-1, 4) defending her WBO Atomweight title against former foe Masae Akitaya (9-4-3, 2) in what looks to be a competitive contest between two fighters who have already fought in a competitive bout. For Ikeyama this will be a chance to defend her belt and at 44 years old she'll be all too aware that a loss could send her into retirement. For Akitaya this bout isn't just about the title and realising a dream of being a world champion but also about revenge for the fact she lost the first meeting between the two women back in 2010.
The second world title bout on this show will see Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (5-1-1, 3) battle Filipino visitor Gretchen Abaniel (15-5, 6) for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title that was given up a few weeks ago by Mako Yamada who decided to retire from boxing to focus on other things. We'll be honest, we think Yamada would dominate both of these fighters, likely on the same night, though against each other they should make for interesting contest. Neither is great though neither is awful and at 105lbs we expect to see a more impressive Abaniel than we saw against Ayaka Miyao last November. This could be a really decent fight.
A third contest on this show will be another female contest as Kai Johnson (5-5-3, 2), fresh off the back of her win over Tomomi Takano, takes on Tamao Ozawa (6-2, 2) in a second meeting between the two women who fought this past March. In the first meeting between the two Johnson scored a 2nd round KO over Ozawa and we'd not be hugely shocked to see Johnson score her third successive stoppage victory here.
In Uzbekistan we expect to see yet another title fight as Sherali Mamadjanov (10-1, 5) climbs in to the ring to take on domestic rival Hokim Karimov (3-1, 2) in a bout for the Uzbekistan Middleweight title. The bout is an inaugural title fight and although it's a low profile one it is the main event on a small domestic card in the Uzbek capital city. Knowing that Uzbekistan has a strong amateur line up we hope that shows like this can lure some of the amateurs over to the professional game. Sadly it's not looking likely to happen too much, though we can hope.
In the US we get the chance to see the promising Russian prospect And Konstantin Ponomarev (24-0, 12) battle against Mexican veteran Cosme Rivera (37-18-3-1, 25). This looks to be a good step forward for Ponomarev who will develop a lot from just fighting in the US in bouts like this. Although Rivera isn't the fighter he once was he should still have enough to test the unbeaten Russian.
(Image courtesy of Notifight)
On Sunday all the action seems to be in Japan as the country gets an insanely busy day with 5 shows in total and a combination of experienced fights, novices and some great bouts
In Osaka there will be 2 shows at the IMP Hall. The first of those shows will be the lesser of the shows and will be headlined by a bout between former Japanese Super Featherweight title challenger Ryota Kajiki (22-9, 14) and the once beaten Shota Yamaguchi (12-1, 8). This is a genuinely exciting bout between two talented fighters who are looking to establish themselves on the title scene. For Kajiki, who lost to Daiki Kaneko, this is a make or break fight having lost 3 of his last 5 whilst Yamaguchi will be trying to build on his victory over Tetsuya Nishinaga and move towards a major fight later this year.
A second bout of significance on this first show at the IMP Hall will see the Japanese ranked Akiyoshi Kanazawa (11-2-4, 5) battle against Shunji Nagata (9-11-2, 3). Kanazawa is unbeaten in 7 fights and although he lacks a major win he is approaching a title opportunity and will know that he risks that chances if he loses here to Nagata.
The second show at the IMP Hall is by far the more interesting one.
Part of the reason that this show is so interesting is the fact that it will feature the debut of youngster Ken Shiro (0-0). Ken Shiro, born Kenshiro Teraji, is a second generation fighter who is tipped very highly and has chosen to test himself on debut by taking on Indonesia's very experienced Heri Amol (34-17-4, 14). Amol is a former OPBF title challenger and a former PABA champion who is, sadly, best known for his tragic fight with Yo-Sam Choi. Amol may be on the slide in his career but this is still a great test for the young Ken Shiro who is being put in the same "super prospect" bracket as the Inoue brothers and Kosei Tanaka.
Another of this shows interesting bouts will see ranked fighters colliding as the unbeaten Shohei Okuda (10-0, 4) battles against Shohei Kanemoto (9-7-1, 3). Both men are ranked in the top 15 domestically at Light Welterweight and the winner of this bout will likely jump up the line in regards to getting a national title fight in the next year or two.
The main event of this show will see former world title challenger Terdsak Kokietgym (53-4-1, 33) fighting against the very heavy handed Tosho Makoto Aoki (17-12-2, 14). Kokietgym was a relatively late replacement for Indonesia's Roy Mukhlis though should still have more than enough to see off the Japanese fighter.*
A third Osaka show will take place at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center and will feature a genuinely brilliant main event as Hirofumi Mukai (9-3-2, 1) battles against Filipino tough guy Marjohn Yap (19-10, 10). Mukai, who lost in a world title fight last year to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, will be looking to get back to winning ways after back-to-back setbacks. Yap is a fighter who is very under-rated due to his record though he has given good tests to good fights such as Ryosuke Iwasa, who was taken 10 rounds by Yap, and Naoto Uebayashi who was given 8 good rounds by Yap. Although Mukai should win this is likely to be a solid test for him especially when you consider his current form.
The most notable of the under-card bouts will see the Japanese and OPBF ranked Kota Tokunaga (12-2, 8) battling against Tatsuya Yoneo (6-4, 1). The bout should be an easy win for Tokunaga but Yoneo has proven his toughness and will be expected to extend the ranked fighter the full distance.
A 4th Japanese card takes place in Aichi. Sadly this show is the least interesting despite having 9 bouts on the show.
The main event on this card will see Shinichi Tsukahara (8-6-2, 3) fighting against Yuji Iwata (6-5-1, 2) in a very weak main event. The bout, although uninteresting on paper, is a rematch from last December that Tsukahara won via a decision.
Although the main event is disappointing we are intrigued by the co-feature which will see Kazuya Maruki (16-2, 10) fighting against Indonesia's Wellem Reyk (17-9-3, 5). Reyk, who was stopped in a round by Jimrex Jaca last year, hasn't got a great record outside of his native Indonesia though Maruki hasn't looked great in bouts where he's not been able to score an early blow out. If Reyk can last more than 3 or 4 rounds this could be an interesting contest.
*We have since been informed that Terdsak has been replaced for this bout with another Thai though we've not yet recieved the
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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