Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This coming Sunday we get one of the biggest shows of the year, possibly in fact the show of the year, as Pacquiao fever takes over Malaysia for a stacked card with 4 world title fights, and a number of notable under-card fights.
The main event will see Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38) challenge WBA Welterweight champion Lucas Martin Matthysse (39-4-0-1, 36) in what is really a must win for both men. The Filipino icon, 39, hasn't fought in over a year with his last outing being a controversial decision loss to Jeff Horn in Australia. In fact we now need to go back to November 2016 to find Pacquiao's last win, which came against Jessie Vargas. At his best Pacquiao was a destructive dervish in the ring, but he is several years beyond his best. Matthysse also looks to be on the slide, and looked like a shadow of himself last time out against Teerachai Kratingdaenggym. Although a dynamite puncher, with under-rated skills, Matthysse can be out boxed, and can be made to look slow and predictable. We're not sure what to expect here, but with both men being past their prime neither can really afford a loss.
In another of the world title bouts we'll see former IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (35-2, 24) look to reclaim that title as he faces South Korean based Pakistani Muhammad Waseem (8-0, 6). The IBF Flyweight title became when Donnie Nietes vacated it, to move up to Super Flyweight, and as a result we have a brilliant match up here. At his best Mthalane was a leading Flyweight, an aggressive but technically sound fighter with wins against the likes of Hussein Hussein, Julio Cesar Miranda, Zolani Tete, Johnriel Casime and Ricardo Nunez. Sadly though the former champion is now 35, ancient for a Flyweight. Waseem on the other hand was on the fast track to the top to begin his career, but financial issues have slowed his rise and he's spent the last year treading water to keep off ring rust. At his best Waseem is an excellent boxer, but this is easily his toughest test to date. This could be a really high class contest.
Another of the title fights could, potentially, be an historic one. The bout in question sees WBA Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales (20-0-1, 16) defending his belt against Chinese novice Lu Bin (1-0, 1). The Chinese 23 year old is looking to become the new record holder for the fewest fights to win a world title, doing so in 2 fights, and the confidence of Bin suggests he believes he can do it. He was a former amateur stand out and, like Vasyl Lomachenko, wanted to be fast tracked in the professional ranks. A win for Bin really would raise the bar for what is expected of true “super prospects”. Canizales on the other hand is looking for his first defense, after winning the title against Reiya Konishi earlier this year. The Venezuelan puncher is a fearsome fighter who's only set back was a split decision draw with Ryoichi Taguchi, and coming into this bout he may well be the best fighter at 108lbs, though obviously has stiff competition from the likes of Ken Shiro. We suspect Canizales will be the favourite but Bin is not there to roll over and lose.
The 4th world title bout will see Filipino Jhack Tepora (21-0, 16) battle against Mexican Edivaldo Ortega (26-1-1, 12) for the WBA “interim” Featherweight title. The talented Tepora has long been tipped as one of the most promising young Filipino fighters and has picked up a number of minor titles in recent years but this is a big step up from the likes of Lusanda Komanisi, who Tepora stopped in eye opening fashion last September. The Filipino is flawed but has lights out power and will be a very dangerous fighter to go toe-to-toe with. Ortega is an all-action fighter with a come forward pressure style. He has scored notable wins over the likes of Juan Carlos Carlos Sanchez Jr, Tomas Rojas and Drian Francisco, but has never been in with someone who has power like Tepora. We're expecting to see Ortega bring the action and Tepora look for counters in what could be an absolute barn burner.
The under-card here is littered with great match ups, including a bout between unbeaten Chinese fighter Yongqiang Yang (10-0, 7) and once beaten Filipino Harmonito Dela Torre (19-1, 12), in what really could be a very special bout. Another good looking contest will see the hard hitting Filipino Jayar Inson (16-1, 11) taking on Aussie foe Terry Tzouramanis (20-3-3, 3) in what could be a very exciting contest.
As well as the big Malaysian show there will also be a smaller, though somewhat notable, card in Aichi.
The main event of this Aichi card will see 2017 Super Featherweight Rookie of the Year Musashi Mori (6-0, 5) battling against Filipino foe Allan Vallespin (12-2, 9). The 18 year old Mori is one to watch, blessed with natural power, speed and skills he appears to be a fighter who could find himself in the title mix in 2 or 3 years, if he can continue to rack up wins. On paper this is a notable step up in class for the Japanese teenager, given that Vallespin's only losses have come to very decent fights in the form of Masaru Sueyoshi and Denys Berinchyk. This is a a really interesting bout and a very tough test for Mori.
Also on this card is the hard hitting Arashi Iimi (5-1, 5), who takes on Suntorn Panhom (2-2, 1) on Thailand. The Japanese fighter came runner up in the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Super Bantamweight and has since bounced back with a stoppage over Shuto Takase in April. This will be his first bout against a non-Japanese fighter. Panhom comes into this on the back of back-to-back losses and we're not expecting him to to handle the power of Iimi, at all.
There is also a small card in Korea courtesy of the KBA.
The headline bout here will see WBA female Super Featherweight champion Hyun Mi Choi (15-0-1, 4) defending her title against Argentinian challenger Mayra Alejandra Gomez (18-7, 4). Choi, the only current Korean world champion, will be looking to extend her reign and increase her profile with this win as she attempts to make her 6th defense of the title. The champion, a tall and rangy fighter, should be strongly favoured, but Gomez has fought at world level before and has proven to be no push over against the likes of Jackie Nava.
Also on this card will be Ji Hyun Park (22-3, 6), who will be up against a Thai foe. The Korean is a IFBA, WIBA and WIBF world champion who will be looking to add a WBF International Minimumweight title to her collection. Although she's a multi-time title winner Park was beaten last time out in a WBO world title fight by Kayoko Ebata, in what was her first defeat in over a decade. We suspect she'll be back to winning ways here.
This coming Tuesday attention turns to China where we'll be getting a relatively low key card.
One of the major bouts on this show swll see the promising Wanchana CP Freshmart (8-0, 4) make his international debut as he travels in Shenzhen and takes on Que Xu (11-2-1, 4), with the Thai making his first defense of the WBC Asian Boxing Council Featherweight title. Wanchana has looked really promising since making his debut in late 2016 and although he's not really kicked on like some would have hope he does still look like a fighter with a lot of potential and a very exciting style. The Chinese local began his career with a loss and then had a draw but reeled off a 9 fight winning run following that start. A loss in late 2016 has slowed his rise but he comes into this with back to back stoppage wins and will be hungry going into this contest. The bout should be really good and see both men being forced to answer real questions, which is always a good thing.
Another really interesting bout on this card will see local Lightweight hopeful Yongqiang Yang (9-0, 7) battle against teak tough Japanese visitor Takuya Watanabe (33-7-1, 18) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Lightweight title, which Yang will be defending for the first time. The 25 year old Chinese fighter turned professional around 2 years ago and has compiled a decent record already, but this is a huge step up in class. The 29 year Japanese fighter has fought through out Asia, picking up wins in Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong, but this will be his first fight on the Chinese mainland. Given his success on the road the experience of fighting in China won't be an issue, especially given that his stable mate Sho Kimura scored his career defining win in China last year.
Another interesting bout on this card will see Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (12-0-1, 4) battling against Filipino Conrado Tanamor (10-0, 4) in a regional title bout at Bantamweight.
The Chinese scene has shown some promise in recent years, and would love to see that moment continue over the next few years, as the country is a potential sleeping giant in the world of professional boxing. Sadly though it looks likely to remain a sleeping giant until promoters are able to really unearth some big time prospects on a regular basis.
This coming Saturday sees two promising local fighters in action,though whether they will kick start the revolution in Chinese fighter is yet to be seen.
One of those, in fact the main in the main event of the card, is 25 year old prospect Yongqiang Yang (8-0, 6) who will be looking to claim the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Lightweight as he takes on Indonesian foe Robert Kopa Palue (14-6-3, 4), who's most notable loss was a 9th round TKO loss to Hiroshige Osawa way back in 2012. Yang has shown a lot of promise, with a 3-0 (1) run in 2017 and should over-come the visitor here, but will need to take a huge step up if international fans are going to take note of him by the end of the year.
The other really promising local in action on this show is unbeaten Bantamweight Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (11-0-1,3), who at 23 has a lot of time to develop and mature. The Chinese hopeful went 3-0 (2) in 2017, seemingly finding his power, and will be looking to score a third straight stoppage as he takes on Indonesian journeyman Ichal Tobida (13-23-1, 8). Tobida is an out and out journeyman, travelling to Thailand to pick up losses on a regular basis, though did manage to score a very notable 6 round draw with the once promising Iwan Zoda. It's hard to imagine Tobida getting anything at all out of this, but it will be interesting to see how Nihemaituola deals with him.
This coming Friday is an interesting day in Japan where we get several shows of note, with arguably the best of them taking place in Tokyo.
In the main event we'll see the unbeaten Daishi Nagata (8-0-1, 4) risking his 0 against the more experienced Vladimir Baez (21-3-2, 19), a Japanese based Dominican fighter. So far Nagata has impressed, and has been matched relatively tough, though this is a step up in class for him and he will almost certainly have to show more than he has so far into his career. As for Baez, also known as “Destino Japan”, the bout will see him seeking to return to winning ways following a stoppage loss to Teerachai Kratingdaenggym last July. A must win for Baez, and a potential career booster for Nagata.
In the chief support bout we'll see unbeaten youngster Izuki Tomioka (2-0) battle against Shun Shimazaki (8-8-1, 3) in a really good looking 8 rounder. Tomioka will be fighting over the 8 round distance for the first time and has impressed since his debut back in December, but this is a clear step up in class. Although no world beater Shimazaki is a solid fighter who was competitive with Takuya Watanabe just a few fights ago and should be a solid test here for the youngster.
Another notable supporting bout will see former OPBF title contender Dai Iwai (20-4-1, 7) battle against the upset minded Masaki Saito (13-11-6, 4). On paper this looks a mismatch but Saito, on his day, can be a banana skin and and holds a win over Seiichi Okads as well as draws with Yuichiro Kasuya and Tsuyoshi Tojo. Coming in to this Iwai has won his last 3 bouts, and will be favoured here, but it's not a given win for the Misako man.
As well as the show in Tokyo there will also be a notable card in Osaka, headlined by the biggest Japanese bout of the day.
That big bout will be the third meeting between Tetsuya Hisada (27-9-2, 17) and Kenichi Horikawa (32-14-1, 7), who battle for the vacant Japanese Light Flyweight. Hisada was supposed to face Ken Shiro earlier in the year, but that bout was cancelled on late notice when Ken Shiro was set to fight for a world title, and ended up having this bout made on short notice instead. Coming in to this bout Horikawa is 2-0 against Hisada, and a former Japanese title holder, but is he is now 37 and well beyond his physical prime.
In an under-card bout we'll see the once beaten Yuki Takahashi (7-1, 3) battle against Sam Puadi (7-7, 5) in what looks likely to be a one-sided contest, and in another under-card bout we'll see Takeru Kamikubo (12-2, 8) battle against Masashi Odaira (6-7-2, 2). These bouts aren't the most interesting on paper but should allow fight fans to see two promising prospects in action.
There will also be an Asian show in the Philippines.
In arguably the most interesting bout of the show we'll see the under-rated pairing of Ernesto Saulong (19-2-1, 8) and Jestoni Autida (9-6, 4) face off in what looks like a mismatch but should be an interesting fight. On paper Saulong will be strongly favoured, he has lost just twice in his career and has got some good wins including a 2015 victory over Alie Laurel. Although Saulong has the better record Autida is no push over and has scored upsets before, and been competitive in many of his losses. This is a really intriguing match up.
In another notable bout on this card we'll see Benezer Alolod (17-8-5, 5) face off with Renz Rosia (12-5, 6) in a really well matched bout. Both of these men are good domestic level fighters, who can impress away from home, and should make for a fantastic match up against each other.
One other card will take place in China, with the most interesting looking bout being a contest between the unbeaten pairing of Venson Delopere (5-0-3, 2) and Alimu Wushouer (9-0, 7). Filipino fighter Delopere will be fighting outside of his homeland for the first time, but is being matched hard here against the very talented Wushouer.
Another unbeaten on this card will be Yongqiang Yang (6-0, 5) who risks his unbeaten record against Indonesian visitor Geisler AP (9-9, 6), who won't be expected to take the power of the Chinese hopeful