This coming Wednesday is a notable day in Asian boxing, with a big fight in Thailand, and a small yet noteworthy card in Japan.
The Thai show will be headlined by the rematch between WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (18-0, 7) and Nicaraguan foe Byron Rojas (25-3-3, 11), who he actually beat for the title in 2016. Knockout had been the interim champion prior to taking the full title from Rojas, and since winning the full title he has made 5 defenses including wins over Shin Ono, Rey Loreto and Xiong Zhao Zhong. In recent fights the champion has looked solid and dependable, rather than sensational and exciting, with an going joke that his name should be Unanimous Decision CP Freshmart. As for Rojas he comes into the bout on an 8 fight winning streak, though those wins have come at a much lower level than Knockout's and it's unclear how he will cope with the step back up in class. Given their first bout we're not anticipating a thrilling clash here. A preview of this bout is available here Knockout and Rojas meet in rematch for WBA crown!
In Tokyo we'll get another in the Japan Vs China series of shows that Dangan have been putting on.
Among the fighters included on this card is former amateur stand out Shu Utsuki (2-0, 1), who we believe is taking on fellow unbeaten Da Xu (3-0-1, 1) in an 8 round Super Featherweight bout. Utsuki is tipped to be a star and we have to strongly favour him to defeat the Chinese teenager.
Another unbeaten Japanese prospect on this card is Tsubasa Murachi (2-0, 2), who faces off with limited visitor Sheng Peng (3-5, 2), in another that should go Japan's way however we are interested to see what Murachi can show here.
One other Japanese prospect on this card is Kaiki Yuba (3-0-1, 2), though sadly we don't have the name of his opponent.
Arguably the best of the Japan Vs China bouts is a match up between the limited pairing of Shun Wakabayashi (8-3, 1) and Xian Qian Wei (13-6-1, 1). Both of these fighters are very flawed, lack power, but do make for entertaining contests and we wouldn't be surprised to see this being the potential bout of the day, with a high intensity and the belief that either man can win.
This card will also include an OPBF female title bout as Erika Hanawa (9-3, 3) battles Jujeath Nagaowa (13-18-1, 8) for the Minimumweight title. Both of these fighters have come up short at the top level, but they should make for a competitive bout against each other, with both being flawed and limited fighters. Despite their limitations they aren't actually bad fighters and this could be a very entertaining distraction from the Japan Vs China competition.
A third card for the day will come from Shenzhen in China, with a trio of title bouts on the card.
In a WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Crruiserweight title fight Chinese local hopeful Peng Qu (13-2-1, 9) will take on the hard hitting Abraham Tabul (14-1-1, 12). This will be Qu's second bout since abandoning the Light Heavyweight division at the turn of the year, following a loss to Gasan Gasanov, and we suspect his frame will suit Cruiserweight much better than it did at 175lbs. Saying that however Cruiserweights do hit significantly harder than the Light Heavyweights he had previously been fighting and we expect to see him being chin checked here. Tabul, from Accra in Ghana, is 0-1 outside of his homeland, and his competition so far lacks any real quality and it's very hard to know what he brings to the ring.
A second title fight on this show will see Cheng Su (12-2-1, 6) battle against Thai foe Panturak Namtong (10-4-1, 7) for the WBO Oriental Super Welterweight title. It's hard to know what either man has done to get a shot at this belt, given that neither has notched a win of note and both have suffered a recent stoppage loss to a poor opponent. All things considered we suspect the local will pick up the win, but he's not going to go much further as a professional.
Sadly the biggest name on the card, OPBF Silver Super Featherweight champion Takuya Watanabe (35-8-1, 20) is actually a man involved in the biggest mismatch on the card, as he defends his title against Wisitsak Saiwaew (6-7, 5), who is best known for being stopped by Watanabe's stablemate Sho Kimura, at Flyweight. We are huge admirers of Watanabe, and his career has been a thoroughly entertaining one as well as one which has seen him fighting in Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taipei and China, but this is his third limited foe in a row. This really is little more than a show case for the talented. tough and exciting Watanabe.
This coming Friday sees a relatively tame day in Asia, though there is shows across the continent.
Japanese promotional outfit “reason”, who are behind the Dangan cards, have seen Tokyo as their base and a huge amount of their shows have taken place in the Japanese capital. In recent times however they have branched out across Japan and this Friday they begin to make their mark in China as they promote a show in Shanghai.
The most notable bout on the card will see light hitting Chinese fighter Xian Qian Wei (12-6-1, 1) take on the crude but heavy handed Takuya Yamaguchi (11-11, 9) of Japan. Wei has impressed at times, and he scored a big win in 2015 against Rex Wao, but we don't really know how much actual promise he has going forward. Yamaguchi has been stopped in 2 of his last 3 but is a big puncher and should have the power to test Wei's chin. A very interesting match up for a low key regional title.
In another bout on this card we'll China's Chunlei Lin (7-2, 1) take on Shun Wakabayashi (7-3, 1) in a very evenly matched contest on paper. We don't see this one finishing early, but it should be a very competitive and enthralling bout between two men looking to win not only for themselves, but also for their country.
Strangely the top of the billing for this card appears to be a match between Wuhazi Ta La Pu Dan (1-1) and Igarashi Koji (4-1, 3). We can't really understand why the bout is higher up the card than the Wei Vs Yamaguchi bout, though there is a good chance this has been scheduled as a walk out bout, rather than the main event.
There will also be a relatively low key card in the Philippines.
The main event will see the unbeaten KJ Natuplag (6-0-1, 5) take on Ronnie Campos (7-3-2, 4) in what looks, at least on paper, a step up in class for Natuplag. The 21 year old Natuplag has looked really promising so far but this will be the first time he has taken on someone who has a chance to really test him. As for Campos his record isn't very flattering but he's no push over, and shold probe to be a tough, but perhaps under-sized, opponent.
Other fighters on this card include former female world title challenger Jessebelle Pagaduan (9-1-1, 4) and the experienced Diarh Gabutan (20-6-3, 11), who are both facing opponents that were late to be named. Pagaduan looks to score a third straight win, whilst Gabutan will be looking to build on his 2017 win over Roilo Golez, in what was their second bout.
There is also a card in Singapore pencilled in. Very few details for this card have been confirmed, but we have been told that Zakaria Bin Ismail (0-0-1) will be in action on the show.
In the US fans will see Miami based Kazakh puncher Aidar Sharibayev (7-0, 6) look to continue his unbeaten record as he takes on Enrique Tinoco (16-5-4, 12). On paper this looks like a decent enough test for Sharibayev, but reality is that this actually a little bit of a step backwards for the unbeaten man who blasted out Daulis Prescott in a round last time out. Tinoco has only been stopped once in his 25 fight career and should be tough, but we suspect the Kazakh will be too big and too strong for him over the 10 round schedule.
For a second day running Chinese fan Kunming get a low profile card, with the show following a similar show on Christmas.
In the main event of the card we'll see China's Xing Xin Yang (11-5-3, 8) face off with experienced Filipino Joel Dela Cruz (20-24-3, 8). The bout isn't the most attractive 10 rounder we'll see over the coming days but is an interesting bout with both men likely believing they have the ability to score a win. It's easy to favour the local favourite but this is certainly not a foregone conclusion.
In another 10 rounder we'll see “Chinese Assassin” Xian Qian Wei (10-6-1, 1) take on novice Arshak Vardanyan (0-1), who debuted recently against Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep. Wei holds some notable wins, including a victories over Hero Tito and Rex Wao and should win here given his experience and ability