It's not often that the Philippines takes centre stage in the boxing world though that's exactly what happens this coming Saturday with 3 seperate cards across the country, two of which are highly interesting.
The most noteworthy of the three Filipino shows is expected to take place at the Makati Coliseum in Makati City. A show headlined by a WBO Light Flyweight world title fight between Filipino youngster John Riel Casimero (18-2, 10) and Mexican challenger Felipe Salguero (18-4-1, 13). This will be Casimero's first defense in his homeland though his third overall and we're really hoping that he gets a hero's weclome, though we do admit that he's in a very tough bout here.
Casimero's world title defense is one of three title bouts scheduled on the show. The second most interesting, at least for us, is a WBO Asia Pacific Youth Super Flyweight title bout between the criminally under-rated Mark Anthony Geraldo (28-4-3, 12) and Inthanon Sithchamuang (19-5, 10). This will be the first defense for Geraldo of a title he won 20 months ago and we'd be very shocked if he failed to retain the title here.
The third title bout sees Adones Cabalquinto (14-0, 8), the Philippines Games & Amusement Board (GAB) Light Welterweight champion, defending his title for the second time as he takes on RJ Ano-os (8-4-1, 2). This will be Cabalquinto's first contest since December 2012 though even with the ring rust he should have enough to over come the naturally smaller Ano-os.
Amazingly, despite the the three title fights, the big names continue in several other bouts. One of those sees former world title challenger Michael Farenas (35-4-4, 27) taking on Thai opponent Kosol Sor Vorapin (17-16-1, 11). This is a genuine mismatch with Sor Vorapin coming in on the back of 4 straight stoppage losses, though it's always nice to see Farenas in action.
Another notable name on this card is Froilan Saludar (17-0-1, 11), the hard hitting prospect that many have tipped for a world title. Like Farenas, Saludar will be facing a Thai opponent, in this case Tawanrung Eausampan (5-2, 2). Saludar is one of two major prospects on the card with former amateur standout Jack Tepora (7-0, 5) fighting Danilo Gabisay (4-1, 3).
For many shows that alone would all be more than enough it appears MP Promotions, the promotional company of Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao really wants to make a statement and the show includes another 6 contests. One of those 6 contests features one time "would be" world title challenger Jose Ocampo (17-6-1, 12) tackling Leonardo Doronio (11-8-2, 7) and the promising Jessie Cris Rosales (12-0-1, 5) facing domestic rival Jerry Nardo (17-3, 8).
The remaining 4 contests on this super show will see Jessie Espina (4-1, 3) battling Louie Arlos (8-2, 2), the hard hitting Anthony Marcial (19-2, 18) taking on Rodel Wenceslao (6-6-1, 1), Joneil Dapidran (0-0) debuting against Jonnie Villacrusis (0-1) and Rence Brian Magarce (0-0) also making his debut as he takes on Diomedes Semella (0-1).
One thing is for sure about the Makati Card. Mr Pacquiao has certainly layed down a marker to say that his promotional arm is out there as a real challenger to the more established promoters in the Philippines such as ALA Promotions.
Talking about ALA they have their own show in Cebu City. This card is a bit less complete than the MP Promotions show but does feature 2 very notable title bouts.
In a WBO International Super Flyweight title bout the unbeaten Arthur Villanueva (23-0, 13) will take on limited Mexican Edgar Martinez (16-7, 10) whilst in a WBO Inter-continental Super Bantamweight title bout Genesis Servania (22-0, 8) will fight former world title challenger Rafael Concepcion (18-6-1, 8).
Of the two titles bouts in Cebu City we've got to admit we're really looking forward to Servania versus Concepcion, especially considering the problems Concepcion gave Nonito Donaire last time he faced a Filipino. Villanueva is in easy but Servania could well be given a serious test for the second fight running.
The final Filipino card is in Paranaque City and promoted by Johnny Elorde Promotions. This show, the only Filipino show with no title fights doesn't have anywhere near the quality of the other two though looks like a somewhat interesting low level card.
The most notable bout on this show features the experienced Vinvin Rufino (33-15-3, 15) taking on Junard Postrano (7-3, 2) in what looks to be a bit of a mismatch. Rufino is not only by far the more experienced man but also enters the contest on a trio of victories whilst Postrano enters on back-to-back losses.
In the co-main feature the unbeaten Randy Braga (11-0, 2) takes on the experienced Richard Olisa (23-22-2, 12). This will be a serious test for Braga despite the apparent mismatch in terms of the fighters records.
Braga isn't the only unbeaten prospect on the card as the promising Giemel Magramo (6-0, 3) takes on journeyman Ricky Oyan (4-17-2, 2) and the light hitting Jay Loto (5-0) battles Dexter Dimaculanga (3-3-3, 1). These are both decent tests for the unbeaten men though tests they should pass.
The rest of the card features mostly novices looking to establish themselves. These include Diomel Diocos (2-1, 2) who faces journeyamn Roy Albaera (2-20-4), a man who has been stopped 15 times in his 20 losses. The other two contests will see Jerome Montalban (1-0) fighting Junar Adante (0-1) and Roderick Flores (0-0) fighting Bhenyson Ricafranca (0-0) in an all debutant contest.
The one remaining Asian card takes place in Rostov-Na-Donu, Russia.
This Russian card is headlined by a GBU Cruiserweight title bout between KO sensation Dmitry Kudryashov (10-0, 10) and former world title challenger Shawn Cox (17-3, 16). This bout has "explosive" written all over though will almost certainly not last 3 rounds, in fact it'd not be a shock if it lasts less 1.
As well as the 12 round title bout there are two bouts scheduled for 10 rounds. These will see Movsur Yusupov (4-0, 3) fighting the tough Josef Obeslo (4-12-1, 2) in a male contest and the unbeaten Natalia Smirnova (6-0, 4) fighting Hana Horakova (3-9). It's hard to imagine either of the unbeaten fighters here taking their first defeat, though their true potential won't be shown here.
Several of the other fights on the show also feature promising unbeaten fighters. This includeds Viskhan Murzabekov (5-0, 2), who fights Dmitry Lavrinenko (2-7, 1), and Apti Davtaev (2-0, 2), who fights the experienced Vyacheslav Shcherbakov (3-15-1, 2). Whilst Lavrinenko might see out the distance it's be a genuine shock for Shcherbakov to do the same.
The card has 3 other contests as Aliklych Kanbolatov (4-2, 2) fights Leri Tedeev (1-0) in an 8 round contest, Gasan Gasanov (5-2, 4) battles Mikhail Smurygin (0-1) and, in an all debutant contest, Zubair Suleymanov (0-0) will share the ring with Vladyslav Yeremenko (0-0).
In a key international bout, which takes place in Toluca, Mexico, Japan's Yuki Murai (21-17-5, 7) takes on the hard hitting Rey Vargas (16-0, 15). Murai will be the third Asian fighter to go over to Japan to fight Vargas this year and it'd be a shock if Murai, who was taken out in a round by Ryosuke Iwasa, will fair any better than Seizo Kono or Juanito Rubillar.
What a day today promises to be for Filipino fans who not only have interest at home with 2 domestic cards but should also be looking to the west with 2 of their fighters fighting on foreign soil.
Of course the highest profile bout for an Asian today is Nonito Donaire (31-1, 20) who will be hoping to unify his WBO Super Bantamweight title with the WBA title currently held by Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8). Going in to this bout Donaire is the betting favourite and a victory would likely be his last at 122lbs with the clear intention being to move up to the Featherweight division sooner rather than later.
The 4-weight world champion, known as "The Filipino Flash" may not be as liked as Manny Pacquiao but he's certainly a genuine pound-for-pound fighter and if he can defeat his Cuban opponent then he'll have to be regarded as Asian's premier boxer on any pound-for-pound list. Though of course Donaire will need to beat one of the most amazing amateurs of all time in Rigondeaux and that is of course not a forgone conclusion despite what some fans may suggest.
As well as Donaire's fight in the US Filipino fans should also be aware that Jaderes Padua (8-1-1, 5) also fights abroad as he faces former WBC Super Flyweight champion Tomas Rojas (39-14-1-1, 26) over in Rojas' native Mexico. For Padua this is not only a huge step up in class but will be the 22 year old's first fight outside of his homeland. A win for Padua would not only be a huge upset but also be massive news in the lower divisions.
A bit closer to home for Filipino fans are the 2 cards being held in their country, both in Metro Manila.
Arguably the less interesting of the 2 domestic cards is the one held at the "The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex" which features a scheduled 8 bouts.
Amongst the bouts on this card are 4 bouts scheduled for 10 rounds (Dado Cabintoy (10-3-2, 5) against Jovill Marayan (7-12-3, 3); hot prospect Giovanni Escaner (9-0, 5) against veteran Ryan Tampus (11-10, 8); the unbeaten Jeffrey Arienza (9-0-1, 4) against Leonardo Doronio (10-8-2, 6) and Rene Dacquel (8-0, 1) against Samuel Apuya (7-14-1, 4)).
From the 10 round bouts we're expecting wins from Cabintoy, Escaner, Arienza and Dacquel, though it's fair to say that we think Escaner is in the toughest bout.
In the 4 bouts not scheduled for 10 rounds we will see Andrian Camique (3-0-1, 2) look for his first win of the year as he faces southpaw Lowell Saguisa (7-11, 3) over 8 rounds in what could be a tough bout for Camique. In action over 6 is Cris Alfante (6-1, 1) who faces journeyman Dodoy Alapormina (1-21-1) in what should really be a mismatch despite how tough Alapormina is.
The card also features 2 bouts scheduled for 4 round with debutant Raymond Palusot (0-0) facing Vergel Rivera (0-0-1) and debuting pair JK Elorde (0-0) facing Roy Velarde (0-0) in a Featherweight bout.
The other card, held in Taguig City has 10 scheduled bouts ranging from 4 rounders to a championship bout. The 4 round bouts see 3 debutants in action as Honesto Luha (0-0), Raymond Palusot (0-0) and Ryan Medes (0-0) go up against Menard Avila (1-0), Jonathan Susada (0-0-1) and Jay-Ar Diama (0-0-1).
The card also sees 3 bouts scheduled for 8 as Michael Dasmarinas (10-1, 6) fights against Jerald Cortes (3-6-4, 2), Oliver Gregorio (7-1-1, 4) goes up against Dexter Dimaculangan (3-1-3, 1) and Rennel Flechero (8-3-1, 4) faces Gerry Pateno (3-4-2, 2). None of these bouts seem too interesting in all honesty with it hard to really pick an upset in any of them.
Thankfully he card picks up with it's 10 round bouts which may include 1 stinker but also includes an excellent match up. The stinker is Renren Tesorio (11-2-12, 4) against the very limited Joseph Deimos (2-13-2, 1) who has proven to be a survivor though isn't a fighter who should be able to test Tesorio. Former domestic (GAB) Super Flyweight champion Marvin Mabait (17-1-2, 11) looks to continue his rebuilding as he faces (17-7-1, 11) who comes into this bout following a stoppage loss in Japan to Tomoki Kameda.
The most promising of the 10 round bouts is the hard punching Anthony Marcial (19-1, 18) facing off against the PBF Super Featherweight champion Rene Bestudio (14-4-4, 4). This bout is genuinely exciting and with Macial proving to be a wrecking force could be over very quickly if "Rocky" gets his way.
In the championship bout 26 year old Jay Solmiano (16-2-1, 12) attempts to defend the WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title against Indonesian (KTI/IBC) Lightweight champion Wellem Reyk (15-6-3, 4). Whilst Reyk is 0-3 outside of Indonesia he'll know that a win here could see him climbing into the WBO top 15, a major achievement, for Solmiano however he'll be looking to maintain his excellent #12 ranking.