This coming Friday is a pretty big day in Asian boxing, with a female world title bout in Japan and the US debut of a notable Japanese hopeful.
The female world title fight will take place at the Korakuen Hall on a small but interesting card.
That title fight will see Japanese female star Naoko Fujioka (17-2, 7) defending her WBA Female Flyweight title against interim champion Irma Sanchez (30-7-1, 8) of Mexico. The talented Fujioka, the first ever 5 weight world champion from Japan, is a veteran at 43 years old but is the golden girl of Japanese boxing and is widely regarded as one of the top pound for pound female fighters. Aged 30 the Mexican challenger won the interim title last time out, narrowly defeating Brenda Ramos, and is an accomplished world class fighter who has faced a number of top foes, including Jessica Chavez, Carina Moreno and Mariana Juarez in her 12 year career. We suspect Fujioka will come out on top, but this is a genuinely tough match up and should be a really good test of what Fujioka has left.
The best of the supporting bouts on this card is a mouth watering domestic clash, as veteran Takafumi Nakajima (29-10-1, 13) takes on under-rated youngster Yuki Iriguchi (9-2-1, 4). Last time out Nakajima pushed Mark John Yap all the way in an OPBF Bantamweight title fight and us a proven quantity around title level, with notable contests against the likes of Shingo Wakes, Kinshiro Usui, Kosuke Saka, Hidenori Otake and Jonathan Baat. Although a proven fighter Nakajima is now 34 and it's unclear much longer he can go on.
Another under-card bout of some inter-rest will bee between Yutaka Motoyoshi (7-12, 5) and Ryuto Araya (11-7-1, 3). The 30 year old Motoyoshi has lost 4 of his last 5, including his last 3, and will know that he cannot afford another loss if he's to move his career to the next level. Also aged 30 Araya was once regarded as a promising fighter, but has himself struggled recently, losing in an OPBF title fight last year and suffering back to back loss to Tatsuya Otsubo. Whilst neither of these men will be competing at world level before they retire, both will come into this fight with belief they can win and that should give us a good contest.
In California we see two Asian fighters in action.
The more notable of the two is Japanese Light Welterweight hopeful Hiroki Okada (18-0, 13), who is a former Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific champion and is currently the owner of several world rankings. The Japanese fighter, who recently signed a promotional deal with Top Rank, will be making his US debut as he takes on Argentinian fighter Cristian Rafael Coria (27-6-2, 11). Amazingly this bout will Okada's first outside of the Korakuen Hall but it does appear that he's been matched safely so he can get a win on the road and then begin going through the final stages before a world title fight. The 35 year old Coria is a 12 year veteran who has never been stopped, but has lost to a number of recognisable names, such as Paulus Moses, Daud Yordan and Custio Clayton. Okada should win, but it's less about the result and more about whether he can impress Top Rank enough to push him straight into a world title bout, or whether he will have wait to get his shot at a world title.
On the same card fans will be able to see touted American Jamel Herring (17-2, 10) take on Filipino prospect John Vincent Moralde (20-1, 10). Herring was a 2012 US Olympian who had been touted as a potential professional star, but he has lost 2 of his last 4, suffering a 10th round TKO to Denis Shafikov and a 10 round unanimous decision Ladarius Miller. Moralde has promised a lot, and he finally lived up to that promise last time out, when he defeated Ismail Muwendo over 8 rounds. If Moralde can put it together again here he'll give his career a huge boost, and claim the USBA Super Featherweight title.
A second card with some interest comes from Pennsylvania as unbeaten Kazakh Shyngyskhan Tazhibay (6-0, 2) battles against Yasmani Pedroso (2-4, 1), in what looks like a straight forward win for the unbeaten 26 year old. Tazhibay has had some fanfare, but inactivity in 2017 and 2018 has really hampered his development, much like mismatches like this. We hope to see him face better competition shortly, but at this rate it looks like it could take a long time before he faces someone of any note.
It's not just Japanese and Filipino fight with something to get excited about as Chinese fans in Zhengzhou also get a notable card with a couple of title fights and a couple of interesting looking support bouts.
The main event will see the unbeaten Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (13-0-1, 5) take on Filipino visitor Eranio Semillano (16-8-3, 5) in a bout for the WBA Asian Boxing Council Bantamweight title. The unbeaten local will be looking to make his first defense of the title, which he won in April by stopping Conrado Tanamor, but is facing one of the most notable opponents of his career. The 26 year old Semillano is no world beater but is a solid opponent on his day, as shown with wins over the likes of Wilbert Berondo. Sadly for Semillano he doesn't seem to have the consistency needed to score good wins on a regular basis, and it's hard to imagine him putting it together against Nihemaituola.
Another title bout will see Youli Dong (12-0-1, 8) battle Adam Diu Abdulhamid (12-6, 5), in what will be Dong's first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Welterweight title. The unbeaten Chinese drew in his debut but has built fantastically afterwards claiming a couple of WBO regional titles along the way. Although Dong failed to score a stoppage in his first 4 bouts he has stopped 8 of his last 9 and looks to be building the tools he needs for a bright future. On the other hand Abdulhamid was touted as an amateur but has failed to come good, losing 3 of his last 4, and it's unlikely a bout on the road against a hard hitting Welterweight prospect will be good for his career.
Talking about fighters who were once touted it's good to see that Chinese Light Heavyweight Peng Qu (12-2-1, 8) will be returning to the ring 10 months after a surprise loss in China to Gasan Gasanov. The Chinese local has been inactive since losing to Gasanov last November but will be looking to bounce back with a win here, as he takes on Tanzanian visitor Benson Mwakyembe (11-4-1, 6), who should be an easy comeback opponent. Mwakyembe has been stopped in 3 of his last 5 and is naturally smaller than the Chinese fighter, who will likely be looking for a quick blowout.
An interesting support bout here will see Mongolian debutant Tsendbaatar Tsendbaatar (0-0) face off with Joseph Omana (12-5-1, 6) in a 6 round bout. We're unsure about Tsendbaatar's background, though we always love to see Mongolian fighters in action so we hope his bout against his Chinese based Filipino foe will be available online. Coming in to this one Omana has lost his last 4, and is without a win in a little over a decade! Despite that he is still only 28.
There will also be Japanese action in Germany, as former WBC Light Flyweight title challenger Atsushi Kakutani (19-6-1, 12) takes on promising German prospect Mirco Martin (12-0, 6) in a Flyweight bout. Kakutani was once a promising fighter but losses in his 3 most significant bouts doesn't bode well for him here, especially given he's now 33 and has been inactive for over a year. Martin comes into this bout on a good run of results, including a bit win last time out against former world title contender Jose Antonio Jimenez.
New York, USA
In the US we get a number of Asian fighters in action.
One of those is the eye catching and fun to watch Shohjahon Ergashev (11-0, 11), who impressed back in January when he defeated Sonny Fredrickson. The Uzbek hopeful will be facing off with Chinese fight Zhimin Wang (10-2, 3) in what should be another chance for Ergashev to show case his skills. Wang isn't a terrible fighter, but he is naturally smaller than the Uzbek and is essentially taking a a pea shooter into a gun fight against Ergashev's brutal power.
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Dimash Niyazov (13-0-3, 6) will be seeking an 8th straight win as he goes up against limited Mexican Angel Sarinana (7-7-2, 3). Niyazov doesn't have the look of being the next Kazakh star but should be far too good for Sarinana, who lacks power and has already been stopped in 4 of his 7 losses.
The most interesting Asian on this card is Kazakh debutant Daniyar Yeleussinov (0-0). The Kazakh won gold at Rio 2016 and is touted to be a very special professional, given just how strong and impressive his amateur credentials are. He signed with Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Sports and is likely to matched aggressively. Sadly at the time of writing the opponent for his debut is unknown though we're not expecting any one too notable given the short notice.
In Hyogo Japanese fans get a really interesting card with two notable bouts.
The most interesting of those will see former world champion Shun Kubo (12-1, 9) take on former world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa (33-4-4, 19). The bout is being sold as a “survival match” for the two men, with neither really able to afford a loss at this point. For Kubo this bout will be his first as a fully fledged Featherweight and his first since losing the WBA Super Bantamweight title to Daniel Roman last September. For Osawa this bout will see him hunting a 4th straight win since his 2016 loss to Oscar Valdez. The winner of this will move towards another world title fight, whilst the loser could well be looking down the end of a barrel.
In a supporting bout we'll see former OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (20-5, 17) battle against Filipino visitor Jestoni Autida (11-7, 5). The Japanese slugger will be looking for his third straight stoppage win since having the title ripped out of his hands in November 2016 by Mark John Yap. At his best Yamamoto is a pure raw heavy handed slugger who can be a nightmare to fight, though his competition since his loss to Yap has been poor. Autida on the other hand is one of the many under-rated Filipino fighters, and he has toughness and ability to give Yamamoto real fits here. Although on paper a mismatch Autide has mixed with top level company, and suffered losses to fighters like Ryo Matsumoto and Petch Sor Chitpattana, so we do not expect this to be a walk in the park for Yamamoto.
One other bout of note on this card is a bout between Retsu Kosaka (8-3, 3) and Koichi Ito (11-6-3, 10). This should be a pretty interesting contest, despite neither fighter being particularly goo. Ito really does have nasty power and if he connects Kosaka could be in trouble, however Kosaka has the edge in skills and could be simply too good for the cruder fighter.
A second Japanese show will come from Osaka, where we get a relatively low key card.
The main event is a very interesting match up as Matcha Nakagawa (12-1-1, 5) faces off with Yuki Iriguchi (9-2-1, 4) in a bout for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title. This is one of the many interesting match ups to come from the Japanese Youth title scene. Coming into this one Nakagawa is riding a 3 fight winning run since losing unbeaten record in late 2016 to Ryohei Takahashi. Iriguchi on the other hand lost his unbeaten record last time out in a split decision loss to Takuya Mizuno. Given the quality of these two fighters this match up should be very competitive and compelling, even if it does lack in terms of excitement.
Also on this card will be Shingo Kawamura (15-3-1, 7) and Daiki Tomita (11-0, 3), who will both be fighting Thai foes. We haven't got the names of the visiting fighters, which should really sum up the quality of the opponents in this bout, and both Kawamura and Tomita will be expecting to pick up wins here.
The day is set to be an incredibly busy on in the Philippines. The most notable of the shows is to come from Glan in Saragani province.
The main event of this card will see unbeaten fighters collide in a bout for the WBO Oriental Youth Super Flyweight title. The bout will see Jade Bornea (10-0, 7) take on Danrick Sumabong (5-0, 4) in what should be a really good match up. Bornea was a top Filipino amateur before turning professional and should be favoured, but 19 year old Sumabong is a hard hitting with confidence and could prove to be the sort of opponent who could give Bornea absolute fits.
Other fighters on this card are Harmonito Dela Torre (19-1, 12), Jayson Mama (9-0, 5), Mark Bernaldez (15-1, 10) and Jake Bornea (13-2, 7). None of them are expecting to face any sort of tests, but the promoters do look like they are stacking the card with notable hopefuls and prospects.
Another Filipino card with a title bout headlining it will see the unbeaten Carl Jammes Martin (7-0, 6) take on Tanzanian Hashimu Zuberi (14-2, 4) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Bantamweight title. The 18 year old Martin has been really impressive on the lower level of the Filipino domestic scene but this is a notable step up and he will have to prove that he is one to watch with this bout. As for Zuberi he lacks power but the 22 year old showed his toughness in 2016, when he went 12 rounds with Rakniran Muadransarakam. He was stopped last year by Andrew Moloney, in 4 rounds, but is a fantastic test for the unbeaten Martin.
Agusan del Norte, Philippines
In Agusan del Norte fans will get the chance to see another low key card, headlined by Monico Laurente (29-13, 6) battling against Ralph Jhon Lulu (12-2-2, 5), who we believe was a late replacement for JP Macadumpis. On paper this is a decent match up, especially given that Laurente is on the slide, however Lulu has lost his last two bouts and is 20 months removed from a win, which came against the limited Junjie Lauza.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In Metro Manila fans get a title double header.
One of the bouts on this card will see the aggressive Allan Vallespin (11-2, 8) defending his GAB Super Featherweight title against the limited Warren Mambuanag (11-9-2, 3). Both of Vallespin's losses have been by stoppage, with the Filipino being stopped by both Masaru Sueyoshi and Denys Berinchyk, and he shouldn't be worried about Mambuanag's power here. The challenger has 4 of his last 5, including a loss to Vallespin in December 2016, and will be a major under-dog coming in to this bout.
A second title fight will see Mugicha Nakagawa (22-5-1, 13), the brother of the aforementioned Match Nakagawa, battle against Ricky Manufoe (27-32-3, 10) for the WBA Asia East Super Bantamweight Title. This should be a mismatch and a pretty straight forward win for Nakagawa, who impressed us last year when he came up just short against Yasutaka Ishimoto. Indonesian foe Manufoe has lost 4 of his last 5, and is likely to be beaten again here.
This coming Sunday is a pretty busy day of action Asia.
For us the most notable of the bouts will be in Osaka and feature a really interesting Japanese Super Featherweight bout, a step up in class for an unbeaten prospect and an interesting under-card bout.
The Super Featherweight bout pits two top 5 Japanese domestic fighters against each other, as the once beaten Ken Osato (12-1-1, 4) takes on 2-time Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (13-4-1, 8) in a real step up for the 23 year old Osato and a must win for Sugita. The younger man has gone 8-0-1 since suffering an opening round KO loss back in September 2013, when he was still just a teenager. As for Sugita he has gone 2-2 in his last 4, though both of those loses came against the then Japanese champion Kenichi Ogawa, who will fight for a world title just hours before this bout takes place.
One man who we are glad to see taking a step in the right direction is Masayoshi Hashizume (14-0, 10), who impressed us early in his career but really faltered in terms of building a real name for himself recently, being matched against horribly inept opponents. Here we'll see the Ioka gym prospect take on domestic foe Kota Fujimoto (7-2, 2), and hopefully a win here for Hashizume will launch him towards bigger and better bouts in 2018. Fujimoto has lost 2 of his last 3, but will know that a win here will give his career a huge shot and push him towards potential title fights.
A third bout of note here will see the heavy handed Hibiki Jogo (6-1, 4) battle against the talented Yuki Hirashima (7-1-1, 1). Jogo's loss came last year, at the All Japan Rookie of the year, and since then he has racked up two wins and is really genuine puncher at the lower levels of the Japanese domestic scene. Hirashima suffered a blip last year, going 0-1-1 for the year, bus has racked up 3 wins in 2017 and will know that another here will see him go into 2018 as a man in good domestic form.
A second show in Japan will take place in Aichi and will see Japanese Youth Super Featherweight champion Takuya Mizuno (12-1-1, 11) make his first defense of the title, as he takes on fellow youngster Yuki Iriguchi (9-1-1, 4). Mizuno won the title last time out, with a split decision win over Ryota Ishida and the 22 year old puncher will be looking to get back to his destructive best here. As for the 20 year old Iriguchi this bout will see him looking to buil on a 4 fight winning run, which includes victories over touted amateur Kenshin Oshima and the then inform Ryohei Takahashi. Although an easy bout to over-look it really is a cracking contest on paper.
There is also set to be a pretty interesting card in China.
One of the best bouts on the card will see Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (18-0, 14) take on Belgian visitor Herve Hubeaux (28-2, 14) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Heavyweight title. We'll admit we're unsure how Hubeaux qualifies for the title, but the reality is that he's been taken over to China to lose, and despite the good looking record on paper the 25 year old has shown nothing to worry Zhang. The Chinese fighter should really be seeing this as his chance to record an easy first defense of the title he won back in January. Interestingly coming into this bout Zhang is on a run of 5 opening round KO's.
A second title bout will see the once touted Zhimin Wang (9-2, 3) take on Filipino visitor Anthony Sabalde (12-6, 7) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Lightweight title. The match up isn't as good looking on paper as the Heavyweight title clash, but the reality is that this bout should be much more interesting, and looks like a much more competitive contest. Both Wang and Sabalde are flawed and both will feel they take advantage of their foes weaknesses.
There are two other notable bouts on this card. One of those will see Jianzheng Wang (6-0, 4) take on former OPBF title challenger Kajornsak Sithsaithong (10-6, 10), in what we expect will be a mismatch, and the heavy handed Wuzhati Nuerlang (9-1, 8) taking on Thai Chaloemporn Sawatsuk (17-5, 13), in what promises to be an explosive encounter.
In Pngasinan fight fans are in for a very low key card, with the main event being the only bout worthy of noting. That bout will see Alphoe Dagayloan (7-2-5, 3) take on Mateo Handig (13-15, 7), in what would have been an interesting fight had Handig not lost his last 10. Handig used to be pretty decent, but is only a shadow of the fighter he once was
In Tokyo we get one of two notable cards, with a title bout in the headliner and some interesting supporting bouts.
That title bout at the top of the card will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Ryo Akaho (30-2-2, 19) defending his title against the #1 ranked contender Yuta Saito (10-7-3, 7), in a bout that doesn't look great on paper. Saito is an upset minded fighter, and is better than his record suggests, but this is a massive step up in class and Akaho, a 2-time world title challenger, should comfortably win here. For the champion this will be his first defense of a title he won earlier in the year against Yushi Tanaka and we can't see him giving up the title easily, especially not to a fighter like Saito.
The chief support bout will see Teiken prospect Shuya Masaki (7-0, 3) fighting against a Thai foe, as Masaki continues his rise towards a potential title fight. Although he hasn't set the world on fire like we had hoped Masaki does look a talent, and we expect him to make a statement here, as he looks to convince Teiken that he deserves a title fight of some kind.
A really solid looking support bout will see Masashi Noguchi (12-7-1, 6) take on Tatsuya Yanagi (12-5-1, 4) in a bout that has a real 50-50 feel. Coming in Noguchi has been stopped in his last two, but those stoppages have been to very good fighters in the form of Shuhei Tsuchiya and Satoshi Hosono. Yanak on the other hand has gone 2-5-1 in his last 8, though did score a notable win over Ryusei Nakajima last time out. This has two men who need a win and we expect them to fight like men who really need to perform.
Another good looking support bout will see Ryohei Takahashi (11-2-1, 3) take on Yuki Iriguchi (8-1-1, 4). Coming in to this Takahashi is on a 3 fight winning run with wins against Kazuki Tanaka and Wataru Takeda. Interestingly Iriguchi has also won his last 3, including an upset win over Kenshin Oshima last October.
One other bout of interest will see KO article Kai Chiba (5-0, 5) take on teenager Ikuro Sadatsune (6-1-2, 2). Both men appear to be stepping up here, with both being pretty untested, but they should answer some questions as they face off in a good looking match up, and a nice supporting contest for the show.
We also get a genuinely huge show in India, as two super powers go against each other with both fighters looking to put their country on the boxing map.
In one corner will be unbeaten Indian Vijender Singh (8-0, 7), a huge hero to his homeland, whilst his opponent will be big punching Chinese fighter Zulipikaer Maimaitiali (8-0-1, 6). Coming in the the bout both men hold different WBO regional titles, with Singh defending the WBO Asia Pacific title and Maimaitiali looking to defend the WBO Oriental crown. The winner will unify the titles and move a long way towards getting a world title fight, so this really is a huge bout, for both Indian and Chinese boxing.
On the under-card we'll see 25 year old Indian hopeful Neeraj Goyat (8-2-2, 2) take on former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Allan Tanada (15-6-3, 7). On paper the bout looks like a good test for Goyat, but the Indian is naturally much bigger and will be using that size in what will be his first defense of the WBC ABC Welterweight title, which he won back in October.
In Cebu we'll get a low key card featuring a couple of notable names in what look like horrible mismatches.
One of those mismatches wlll see once beaten prospect Cris Ganoza (12-1, 6) take on Garry Rojo (7-10, 4). Ganoza was stopped in 9 rounds last time out by Edward Heno and it's clear that his team want him to get an easy win under his belt as he begins rebuilding his career, and in many ways it's hard to complain about them giving him an easy comeback win.
The other mismatch will see the out of form, but very talented, Rey Labao (27-9, 18) take on Jhun Ryan Quimbo (5-14-2). Although Labao's record doesn't show it, he was a real handful on the fringes of world class a few years ago, with power that stopped Jay Solmiano and Masao Nakamura and a toughness that always made him a nightmare. Labao has lost his last 3, and 4 of his last 5, and is coming to the end of his roller coaster career, but should have far too much for Quimbo, who is little more than a domestic journeyman.
New Jersey, USA
In the US we see another Chinese fighter in action as Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (16-0, 12) takes on Nick Guivas (13-7-2, 9). This will be Zhang's fourth fight this year, following 3 first round stoppages, and it's great that he's staying so busy, but it's time he took a step up in class and hopefully next time out he'll take on someone a bit more notable than Guivas, who has been stopped 4 times in 22 bouts already