Some days in boxing quiet, others are busy and on very rare occasions boxing is crazy. This Saturday is one of those crazy days with more action than you could shake a stick at, in fact there is more Asian action this Saturday than we can honestly believe.
We'll start with the biggest show of the day, “Pinoy Pride XXIII”, which as you may have guess will be in the Philippines.
Dubbed “Pinos Kontra Latinos” the show is mainly Filipinos fighting against Latinos and it's these fights that give us the shows two main events and the chief support bouts.
The main fight, for us, is the WBO Minimumweight title fight which will see Merlito Sabillo (23-0, 12) defending his title against unbeaten Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago (27-0-0-1, 16). Buitrago, fighting in Asia for the first time, will be the third successive Latin American to fight Sabillo who has stopped both Luis De La Rosa and Jorle Estrada this year. With both men having unbeaten records and with a world title on the line this is one of those rare fights that does get the mouth water and really could be something very special inside the ring.
Sabillo isn't the only man defending his world on this Filipino show as his compatriot Donnie Nietes (31-1-4, 17) attempts to defend his WBO Light Flyweight title. Nietes, who looked very poor against Moises Fuentes last time out, has an easier assignment than Sabillo as he fights the somewhat shop worn Sammy Gutierrez (33-9-2, 23). At his best Gutierrez would have been a handful for Nietes but right now the Mexican challenger appears to merely be collecting one more pay day.
Alongside the two world title fights are two international fights as Filipinos again face Latinos. These bouts will see Jason Pagara (31-2, 19) defending his WBO International Light Welterweight title against the big hitting Vladimir Baez (19-1-2, 17) from the Dominican Republic and recent world title challenger Milan Melindo (29-1, 12) attempting to claim the WBO International Flyweight title as he takes on Jose Alfredo Rodriguez (29-2, 18). For Melindo his bout will be his first since losing in his world title fight to Juan Francisco Estrada and he may feel the mental effects of that loss here, despite putting up a very good effort.
In the most notable non-title bout of the show AJ Banal (29-2-1, 1) will be fighting Manuel Gonzalez Garcia (16-7-2, 5) over 10 rounds. This will be supported on the under-card by Jimrex Jaca fighting (38-6-3, 21) fighting Wellem Reyk (17-7-3, 5) of Indonesia.
The opening contests on this Filipino card will see Justo Bornilla (5-1-1) fighting Diover Mangaya-ay (1-2-1), Jerwin Dela Rosa (1-3) battling Marlon Arcilla (2-1) and Rolly Sumalpong (1-0) meeting fellow unbeaten Jeffrey Alejandre (1-0).
It's not just the Filipino card with world title action but also China as their first ever world champion Xiong Zhao Zhong (21-4-1, 11) makes the second defense of his WBC Minimumweight title. Unfortunately this bout, which will be televised by CCTV 5, won't be Zhong in with a real challenger as Omari Kimweri was forced out of the bout due to passport issues. Instead Zhong will be facing Thailand's Lookrak Kiatmungmee (7-4, 4) who hasn't fought a professional boxing contest since 2011. Of course with this being Zhong's first defense in China it's hard to bee too angry about him having an easy one.
On the same show as Zhong's world title defense we expect five other bouts. These are likely to include Nampetch Or Liangprasert (1-0, 1) fighting the debuting Kang En (0-0), Chinese based Russian Andrey Kalyuzhnyy (3-1, 1) battling Angelov Vasil Kostadinov (0-0), Xian Wei Qian (2-1-1) up against Neeraj Goyat (0-2-2) and Xu Chun Yan (2-3) fighting Keanpetch Superchamps (5-5-1) in an all female bout. The only contest we're unsure about is that of Qu Peng (3-0-1, 2) who is apparently fighting an Indian opponent called Surender (0-0). We assume Surender isn't the fighter full name.
Although things are busy in China and in the Philippines things are insanely busy in Russia where we're lead to believe there will be an astonishing five different shows!
The most interesting of the Russian shows is at the Olympic Sports Complex in Grozny as SKV Boxing put on an eight fight show which involves two title fights and several interesting unbeaten fighters.
As far as we are aware the main event will see Apti Ustarkhanov (3-1-1, 1) fighting Josef Obeslo (4-13-1, 2) for the GBU Light Heavyweight title. Despite us assuming that's the main event, the most interesting contest is probably the other world title bout on the show which will see the unbeaten Nikki Adler (10-0, 6) fighting for the female WBC Super Middleweight title as she faces Zane Brige (2-3-1, 1). Whilst this is a better contest it should be noted that Adler is already 2-0 against Brige.
In regards to the prospects on the show we're very interesting in Movsur Yusupov (5-0, 3), who is scheduled in a 12 rounder against Vladimir Idranyi (4-13-2, 1), and Viskhan Murzabekov (6-0, 3), who will be up against Uladzislau Mahdanau (1-4, 1) in a 10 rounder. It's hard to tell what either of these unbeaten men have in terms of potential but the fact they are already being put in 10 and 12 rounders is an interesting thing to note considering their lack of experience.
On the under-card Arbi Madaev (1-0) will be fighting the win-less Oleksandr Pritula (0-1), Zubayr Suleymanov (0-1) will be hunting his first victory as he takes on the relative fragile Bogdan Bondarenko (1-6, 1), Heavyweight puncher Apti Davtaev (3-0, 3) will look to extend his stioppage run as he goes up against Frantisek Kynkal (2-2, 2) and probably most interestingly Ilyas Kelimatov (0-0) debuts in a 6 rounder against Anton Petukhov (0-1).
Whilst the debut of Kelimatov interests us we'd actually go as far as to say the most interesting debut takes place in Moscow as 2012 Olympian Uktamjon Rahmonov (0-0) debuts against Evgeny Klimov (2-0, 1). Rahmonov looked very good in the Olympics before running in to eventual Gold medal winner Roniel Iglesias and we'd say he has real potential to become a very special fighter.
It's of course not just Rahmonov in action in Moscow the though the show is full of debuts as Iliyor Sherali (0-0) takes on Sherzod Isakjonov (0-1), Igor Morozov (0-0) starts his career, Rasul Dibirov (0-0) fights Alexander Kubich (3-0, 1) and Islam Dumanov (0-0) takes on Egor Bakulin (2-0, 1).
The most exciting looking contest in Russia takes place in Lyubertsy as heavy handed Cruiserweights collide in a bout between Dmitry Kudryashov (11-0, 11) and Zack Mwekassa (14-3, 13). Between the two men they have a combined record of 25-3 (24) and have only been the distance twice in 28 contests. Don't be shocked if this is over in vicious fashion.
On the same show in Lyubertsy Evgeny Chuprakov (6-0, 2) will be fighting Alexey Shorokhov (5-6, 3) for the Russian Super Featherweight title. We believe Chuprakov should have more than enough in him to defeat Shorokhov though we'd like to see the unbeaten man pushed hard.
The rest of this card will see Maksym Ponomarev (8-1) fighting Alexey Kovalev (2-3, 1), Gasan Gasanov (6-2, 5) taking on Josef Krivka (4-3, 4), Arkadiy Arutyunyan (3-0) battling Gor Arutyunyan (0-1) and Romal Amanov (2-0) sharing the ring with Roman Ivanov (1-1, 1).
In Ekaterinburg we get a 3 fight show headlined by Dmitry Mikhaylenko (14-0, 5) fighting against Bogdan Protsyshyn (7-7, 2) in a 10 rounder.
The support bouts here are expected to see the unbeaten Vasily Lepikhin (14-0, 7) battling Alexey Varakin (28-18-3, 16) over 8 rounds and Andrei Isaeu (23-4, 7) fighting Suhrobjon Usmonov (4-11) over 6 rounds.
The final Russian card is in Pskov and features six contests. The main event here is expected to be Artur Akavov (8-1) up against Jeferson Luiz De Souza (12-1-1, 7) in a 10 rounder. Despite this being the main event we actually like the co-feature with Yuri Ramanau (22-3, 14) against Ravil Mukhamadiyarov (10-51-2, 8). Although a mismatch it could well open up a more meaningful contest for Ramanu who we've been long term admirers of despite how disappointing his career has become.
Of the remaining contests on the show only two are fully listed with Andrey Knyazev (9-0, 4) fighting Yuri Bihoutseu (6-5-2, 5) and Sergey Gorokhov (1-1, 1) battling Mikhail Ryzhonkin (2-3-1, 1).
The remaining contests in Pskov will see Gennady Martirosyan (23-3, 11) and Sherali Mamadaliev (17-2, 10) in action, though neither man yet has a named opponent.
Amazingly it seems like there are more Russians in action than any other nationality over the weekend as two are competing in Canada as well. For Sergey Kovalev (22-0-1, 20) the weekend will be marked by his first WBO Light Heavyweight title defense as he fights Ismayl Sillakh (21-1, 17) in what could be a very short lived contest if Kovalev can get his wrecking balls in to action early on.
The other Russian in Canada is the very promising Artur Beterbiev (2-0, 2) who looks to extend his winning as he takes on Billy Bailey (12-17, 4). Bailey, despite having 17 losses has only been stopped twice, though Beterbiev does look like a genuinely destructive fighter and has the look of a future world champion.
The final bout which interests us will see Filipino-Canadian Marc Pagcaliwangan (6-0, 6) looking for his seventh straight stoppage as he takes on Octavio Hernandez (13-5, 6). This is by far the toughest contest in the career of Pagcaliwangan though the expectation is that the kid will become a massive star in the future so he should be able to pass this test with out any major worries.
Although much of the last week, aside from Monday, has been quiet in terms of Asian boxing it's fair to say that it's been a calm before a storm with Saturday being nothing short of a spectacular day for fight fans. Whilst we're obviously biased in favour of Asian boxing it's fair to say that no boxing fan has any right to be disappointed with today.
Just to show how varied today's action is, at least 1 Asian fighter is fighting in Europe, North America, South America, Oceania and of course Asia it's self!
For us the most promising bout takes place in Cancun, Mexico as WBC Super Featherweight champion Takashi Miura (25-2-2, 19) takes on highly reegarded challenger Sergio Thompson (27-2, 25). It's not often a fight has “fireworks” written all over it but that's exactly what we have here with two big hitting fighters getting together in a bout that honestly has the feel of being something very memorable. If you action hard hitting this is really a bout you must catch.
On the undercard of the Thompson/Miura bout there will also be a contest involving Filipino-American Ana Julaton (12-3-1, 2). The former WBO female Super Bantamweight champion takes on Celina Salazar (4-1-2, 1) of America. Although Salazar has a decent looking record she has won just 1 of her last 4 and Julaton should probably go in to the bout as a small favourite.
Whilst the Miura/Thompson fight is the bout we're looking forward to the most we'll be honest and say it's run closely by the main event of "Red Mist" the WBO Light Heavyweight title contest between Britain's Nathan Cleverly (26-0, 12) and Russian challenger Sergey Kovalev (21-0-1, 19). Although Cleverly is the defending champion he is seen as the slight under-dog against the monstrously hard punching yet technically sound Russian who is expected by many to expose Cleverly's limitations at the world level.
Also on Clerverly/Kovalev card is British based Syrian Youssef Al Hamidi (12-56-3, 1) who will be facing the promising Craig Evans (9-0, 3)
Of course it's not just those two major cards with an Asian interest taking place outside of Asia but there's also major international bouts in the US featuring fighters from Asia.
One of those, possibly the most notable, is in Texas as Lightweight contender Denis Shafikov (32-0-1, 17) of Russia, makes his US debut and faces Santos Benavides (23-3-2, 17) in a promising 10 round bout.
It's not only the Lightweight bout in Texas that's worth our attention but also a trio of bouts in Utah. The most interesting of these sees the once beaten Bahodir Mamadjonov (13-1, 9) taking on Rynell Griffin (7-16-2, 2). Mamadjonov, of Uzbekistan, is a very strong fighter who impressed many last time out when he stopped the previously undefeated Cuban Angelo Santana and we're hoping that he'll manage to build up to a world title fight in the next 2 or 3 years as.
On the same card as the Mamadjonov fight we also expect to see Russian youngster Evgeny Chuprakov (5-0, 2) and Light Welterweight prospect Fedor Papazov (12-0, 8) though neither man appear to have an opponent at the moment.
Staying on international soil there is also action for Filipinos in Australia with journeymen Robert Oyan (20-39-5, 7) taking on the hotly tipped George Kambosos Jr (1-0, 1) and Aswin Cabuy (14-41-3, 7) faces Costa Katsounis (8-1, 5). Whilst we don't give Cabuy any chance we do feel that Oyan should be able to pose Kambosos some interesting questions in their bout.
Staying in Australia, though on a different card, Gretchen Abaniel (12-4, 3) will face Fahpratan Looksaikongdin (7-5), James Mokoginta (24-11-2, 12) will look to claim the Interim PABA Super Bantamweight title as he takes on Terry TJ Doheny (4-0, 3) and the experienced Jonathan Simamora (23-23-5, 8) looks for a major upset against Ben McCulloch (11-0, 8) for the PABA Super Middleweight tit;le.
Despite all the international action there is also action in Asia with 2 cards in the Philippines. Unfortunately details on both cards are scarce.
In Dipolog City the once beaten Marco Demecillo (18-1-1, 14) faces the unbeaten Giovanni Escaner (10-0, 6) in a battle for the Philippines Games & Amusement Board (GAB) Super Flyweight title. Although we don't know the rest of the card we'll admit that if we were around the area we'd be watching to catch this one live.
The other Filipino card takes place at Aurora, Zamboanga del Sur and so far we have details on just 2 contests from it as Powell Balaba (6-9-1, 3) takes on Thai visitor Panmongkol Ekarin (10-4, 5) and Bernard Alipan (3-4, 3) faces Jomar Ministerio (5-5-1, 2). It's fair to say that neither of these bouts will get many excited, especially with the fight that's taking places in Dipolog city.