Incheon, South Korea
The biggest bout for us this Saturday will see WBA female Super Featherweight Hyun Mi Choi (16-0-1, 4) defending her title, for the 7th time. The Korean fighting queen will be up against 38 year old Japanese challenger Wakako Fujiwara (8-2-2, 3), in what we suspect will be a bit of a mismatch in favour of the Korean. Choi, who has fought in well over 10 world title bouts, has almost all the advantages here and should be too good for the veteran challenger. A full preview of this bout can be found here Korean queen Choi takes on Fujiwara in 7th defense
In India fans get a small but notable card featuring a host of local hopefuls. The card isn't big, by any stretch, but does feature a number of unbeaten fighters.
One of the bouts on the card is a 6 rounder between Sachin Dekwal (4-0, 2) and Chiranjit Bauri (0-2). It's hard to not imagine Dekwal extending his unbeaten record here, but it's good to see him staying busy after 4 fights last year, and fingers crossed their will be a step up later in the year.
Another 6 round bout on this card will see females clash as the heavy handed Urvashi Singh (4-2, 4) battles against debutant Bhawna (0-0). Again it seems obvious that the fighter with experience should pick up the win, but it's still nice to see her staying active, and this will be her 5th bout in the space of 12 months.
As well as all the other action in Asia there will also be a small card in China featuring novices in low key bouts. There's not much to talk about here, though from what we under-stand much of the card will feature all-debutant bouts.
Another low key Asian card is in Singapore where local talent will be on show. The fighters in action on this show include Nurshahidah Roslie (13-2, 10), Muhammad Ashiq (6-1-1, 5) and Rey Caitom (7-0-1, 2), though none of the fighters had their opponents names at the time of writing.
Outside of Asia we do get some interesting action, with two highly regarded Kazakh prospects.
The more highly regarded of the two men is Sadriddin Akhmedov (8-0, 7), who looks to bounce back from his decision win over John Ruba as he takes on Mexican fighter Daniel Vega Cota (14-3-1, 11). This should be a straight forward win for Akhmedov, especially given Cota has been beat in a few recent fights, but questions will be asked about how Akhmedov has recovered following an injury suffered in the Ruba fight.
The other touted prospect is Nurzat Sabirov (9-0, 8) who will battle against Hungarian puncher Laszlo Toth (7-0, 6), the less well known fighter with this name. Sabirov is regarded incredibly highly as a prospect, has power, skills and a very good amateur pedigree but we wouldn't be surprised if he was given a bit of test here by an unbeaten fighter with a point to prove. Whilst Hungarian fighters do have a reputation of not travelling well Toth's namesake, a very solid Welterweight, has proven a capable fighter so hopefully this Toth can also prove to be a solid fighter on the road.
Also on this card will be the debuting 21 year old Aman Kazankapov (0-0),who was an excellent amateur and looks to be another excellent young Kazakh signing for Eye of the Tiger Management. Kazankapov's debut will be against Mexican novice Ismael Molina Moreno (2-1, 2) and although Moreno has been dangerous in the opening round he isn't expected to live with the Kazakh debutant, who is expected to be a real top prospect.
Staying outside of Asia we'll also see Filipino fighter Neil John Tabanao (17-5, 11) take on the unbeaten, and extremely skilled, Tramaine Williams (17-0, 6) in Connecticut. The Filipino is a bit of a road warrior, though he's struggled in bouts away from home recently, and has lost 4 of his last 5 outside of the Philippines, including a very wide loss to Angelo Leo in the US in April. The unbeaten Williams has already fought twice this year and looks to be making up for what was a frustrating 2018, in which he fought just once. He is a very talented, quick and sharp fighter and could well find himself using Tabanao as a punch bag here.
The biggest bout for us this Saturday is from the US as Filipino maestro Mark Anthony Barriga (9-0, 1) takes on fellow unbeaten Carlos Licona (13-0, 2) in a bout for the vacant IBF Minimumweight. The bout, on the same as Deontay Wilder's contest against Tyson Fury, will be for the title Hiroto Kyoguchi gave up, as he moved up to Light Flyweight, and promises to Barriga a notable platform to showcase his skills, which have been compared to those of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Licona is a bit of a mystery to some, but should prove a good opponent for Barriga. Sadly with neither being much of a puncher this has the potential to be a less than thrilling fight to watch, but in terms of skills on show, both are very talented, and this really could be a special one for purists. A preview of this world title fight can be read here Barriga looks to announce himself on world stage, faces Licona for IBF title
As well as the bout in the US there is also a lot of action in Japan, with 7 title bouts spread across 3 different shows.
The main event of this card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) make his second defense, as he goes up against fellow veteran Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9). The all action Hosokawa won the title late last year and made his first defense in the Champion Carnival earlier this year, stopping Vladimir Baez in May. At the age of 37 Hosokawa is likely fighting father time, but has looked very impressive recently, and a win here will set up a defense against Koki Inoue. Inagaki, fighting in his 40th professional bout, will be getting a third title shot, but will be the clear under-dog against Hosokawa. We expect this will be fun, but it's hard to see Inagaki over-coming the high octane champion. A preview of this Japanese title fight can be read here Hosokawa takes on Inagaki on December 1st!
A potentially exciting supporting bout will see ranked Light Welterweights facing off. In one corner will be Hosokawa's stablemate Yusuke Konno (13-4, 7), the #2 ranked Japanese contender, whilst the other cone will play host to recent Japanese title challenger Vladimir Baez (24-4-2, 22), the same man who was stopped by Hosokawa. Konno will know that he could get a title fight next year, but needs to over-come Baez. Baez on the other hand is ranked by the OPBF and the WBO Asia Pacific as well as the JBC. The winner here will go into the new year with their eyes on title glory, but the loser will have some serious rebuilding to do.
Another supporting nout will see former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7) return to the ring for the first since losing the world title to Ryosuke Iwasa In September 2017. The talented Oguni will be easing himself back into action here as he takes on Indonesian journeyman Arega Yunian (6-11, 1) in what should be little more than a tune up for bigger and better things in 2019.
As well as the action in Tokyo there is a busy day in Osaka, with a couple of shows there, featuring a combined 6 title bouts! One of those shows is a female card with 4 title bouts on it.
The most significant of the title contests on the female show will see Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) defending her WBO female Minimumweight title against former WBA and IBF champion Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5), in what looks like a brilliant must win bout between two veterans. This will be Ebata's second defense of the title she won in May 2017, when she finally won a world title in her fifth shot. Sadly for Ebata she is now 42 and her desire to have a long reign, after all the time she spent chasing a belt, does seem unlikely. At 37 Tada is no spring chicken, but the former 2-time champion does have the edge in youth, experience and winning mentality. We're expecting both to show their age, but that will likely lead to more exchanges and more intense action, which we won't complain about. This world title bout was previewed here Ebata looks to defend WBO crown against Tada
In the chief support bout fans will see former amateur standout Kasumi Saeki (2-0, 1) fight in her first title bout, as she takes on Thai visitor Wassana Kamdee (3-4, 2) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title. Saeki is seen as one of the top Japanese female prospects and will be expected to do a number the Thai, who has been stopped in all 4 defeats, though her performance may decide whether her team fasts tracks her to a world title fight in early 2019 or not.
In an OPBF female Featherweight title bout we'll see Wakako Fujiwara (6-2-2, 2) take on the woman she took the title from, Kimika Miyoshi (13-11-1, 5). Fujiwara's win over Miyoshi for the belt, back in July, saw her extend her unbeaten run to 6 fights, and add the Oriental title to her reign as the Japanese national champion. Sadly for Miyoshi the loss to Fujiwara is her third in a row, and she's now without a win since June 2016. Fujiwara's first win over Miyoshi was an upset, but we suspect this will be a repeat, given the form of both fighters coming into the fight.
The remaining title bout is another OPBF title bout, which will see novice professional Eri Matsuda (1-0) look to set a Japanese record by claiming an OPBF title in just her 2nd professional bout. The talented Matsuda will be up against Minayo Kei (6-3, 1) in a bout for the vacant OPBF female Atomweight title, and if Matsuda wins there's a chance she could set a Japanese record for fewest fights taken to win a world title. Matsuda was a good amateur and it's clear that she believes she can be a very good professional, but this is a genuine test.
The second show in Osaka will also be a Shinsei promoted card from the EDION Arena Osaka, this time however the fous will be men, with two WBO Asia Pacific male title bouts on the show.
One of those bouts will see WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight champion Reiya Konishi (16-1, 6) defending his title against Filipino challenger Richard Rosales (13-7-2, 7). For Konishi this will be his first defense, following a victory over Orlie Silvestre for the belt earlier in the year, and he's said to be expecting a world title fight next year, if he wins here. Rosales will play the part of a game challenger, be we suspect he will be ground down by Konishi, and his high intensity work rate and body shots. Despite strongly favouring the champion to retain we do expect this to be a very fan friendly bout. We've previewed this bout here Konishi looks to end year with defense against Rosales
The other title bout will see Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) and Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) battle for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight. Both of these men have held the OPBF version of this title, and both are talented fighters in their own right. Of the two Nakamura is the more pure fighter, and he's a damned good boxer-puncher, but also the more vulnerable. The much shorter Magali is the more defensively sound and has regularly found ways to get inside bigger fighters and breaking them down. This has the potential to be a genuine thriller, with both men capable of hurting the other. A full preview of this bout can be read here Nakamura and Magali to battle for regional crown!
Originally the card was also announced as having former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-1, 9) facing off with Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (33-25-2, 18), but this bout was cancelled back in November due to an injury suffered by Kubo. As a result Manakane will face off with 19 year old prospect Ryo Suwa (9-1, 1), who will be looking to score his third win of the year.
This coming Monday attention returns to the Korakuen Hall for a title double header courtesy of the Kawasaki Nitta gym.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Flyweight champion Masayuki Kuroda (29-7-3, 16) take on the under-rated Akinori Hoshino (13-7-2, 9). For Kuroda this bout will be his third defense of the title, which he won in June 2017 with a split decision win over Takuya Kogawa. Last time out the champion narrowly over-came Katsunori Nagamine in a thrilling 10 round war and he's currently in the form of his career as he chases a second world title bout, following on from a 2013 shot at the WBA Flyweight title. Hoshino fought in a title eliminator last year, fighting to a frustrating and sloppy draw with Nagamine, That draw ended a 3 fight winning run from Hoshino, who had upset both Kenya Yamashita and Shun Kosaka in recent contests. Hoshino is likely to be a stylistic nightmare for Kuroda, but we do suspect that the experience edge he has will help him score the victory.
The chief support bout will also be a title fight, with OPBF female Featherweight champion Kimika Miyoshi (13-10-1, 5) defending her belt against Wakako Fujiwara (5-2-2, 2). The champion has held this title since June 2016 but this will be her first defense. Since winning the belt Miyoshi has fought twice, but lost both of those contests to Shannon O'Connell and Hyun Mi Choi. Although Miyoshi has lost at the higher level she is very good at Oriental level and has won titles at 3 weights. The 37 year old Fujiwara is the Japanese Female Featherweight champion, having won the title this past March, but this is a huge step up in class for her, and one we suspect she'll come up short in.
In one of the leading supporting bouts fans will see Japanese ranked Featherweight Ryo Hino (11-1-2, 6) take on Toshizane Kinoda (6-4, 2). On paper it's hard to see how the talented Hino comes up short here. Hino has impressed against the likes of Sho Nakazawa, who he out boxed last September, and Coach Hiroto, who he drew with in January. Hino, from what we've seen of him, is a technically solid fighter who uses his jab brilliantly. Kinoda is pretty limited, and has lost 3 of his last 4 bouts, but has never been stopped so will be expected to go the 8 round scheduled with Hino, albeit come up clearly short.
Another good looking bout on this card is a very evenly matched contest between Kosuke Arioka (7-3, 6) and Yui Oikawa (7-3, 4), who battle in an intriguing 8 rounder. The heavy handed Arioka won the 2017 Japanese Rookie of the Year at Lightweight, stopping Rikki Naito's younger brother Mirai Naito along the way. Although Arioka has nasty power he has been stopped in 2 of his 3 losses and can certainly be hurt. On the other hand Oikawa doesn't have a reputation as a puncher but has stopped his last 3 so seems to be developing belief in his power, and he's yet to be stopped, suggesting he could be a nightmare for Arioka.