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.
It's rare to have the attention of the whole boxing world pointed towards Asia but that's what we have on Saturday thanks to Bob Arum's "Top Rank Promotions" who bring the action over to Macau for the second time this year.
The show, dubbed "Fists of Gold II" is nothing short of spectacular the sort of action that needs to be brought over to the East more often.
The headline man is of course 2-time Olympic Gold medal winner Zou Shiming (1-0). The Chinese national hero, who made his debut back in April, returns to action as he takes on Jesus Ortega (3-1, 2) in a bout that is supposed to help Shiming get used to the 6 round distance.
Shiming isn't the only Chinese based fighter on the show with the unbeaten and highly popular Rex Tso (9-0, 6) of Hang Kong also on the card. Tso is being given a genuinely testing contest as he faces the experienced Rusalee Samor (20-4-2, 9) of Thailand. Samor may not be a former world champion but he has been the distance with popular Filipino Denver Cuello and could pose Tso some questions.
As well as the two Chinese based fighters there is also action for promising Filipino Dave Penalosa (6-0, 4) on the undercard as he takes on debuting Wisaruth Wor Khunkhiri (0-0). Wisaruth is actually one of three Thai's on the card with the others being Samor, see above, and the experienced Chaiyong Sithsaithong (31-10-3, 22) who takes on unbeaten Australian Paul Fleming (18-0, 13) in an 8 round contest.
Dave Penalosa is actually 1 of 3 Filipino's on the card with the highly regarded Genesis Servania (21-0, 8) taking on former world title challenger Konosuke Tomiyama (23-5-1, 8) and of course Milan Melindo (29-0, 12) challenging Juan Francisco Estrada (24-2, 18) for the WBO and WBA "super" titles at Flyweight. For many this is the stand out bout of the card and easily the one that has the potential to be a thriller.
The Estrada/Melindo bout isn't the only world title bout on the card however as "Russian Mexican" Evgeny Gradovich (16-0, 8) defends his IBF Featherweight title against Argentinian Mauricio Javier Munoz (26-3, 12). This will be Gradovich's first defense of the title which Munoz will be challenging for a world title for the second time in his career having previously been thwarted by Toshiaki Nishioka.
The Macau card also has a single featuring no Asian interest as America faces in Mexico in a Heavyweight tussles. American Joe Hanks (21-0, 14) puts his record on the line against fellow unbeaten Andy Ruiz Jr (19-0, 13). Whilst we're really looking forward to the title bouts this isn't far behind in our chart of excitement.
Rather amazingly attention will be turned to an Asian fighter later in the day as Japan's Nihito Arakawa (24-2-1, 16) looks to claim the WBC interim Lightweight title in his American debut. Arakawa will need to over-come the destructive Omar Figueroa (21-0-1, 17) if he hopes to become just the fifth Japanese fighter to claim a world title in the USA. This bout, televised in the US on "Showtime" is part of the "Knockout Kings II" card promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
In Mexico we have even more action of international note as Tenkai Tsunami (18-7, 7) battles Jessica Chavez (18-3-2, 4) for the WBC Silver female Light Flyweight title. This will be Tsunami's 4th successive bout in Mexico.
Of course not all the action is internationally notable and we also have two domestic cards in the Philippines.
The most notable of the Filipino cards is held at the Barangay San Dionisio Covered Court in Paranaque City as a 10 fight show is put on.
The card sees the WBC Youth Silver Bantamweight champion Richard Pumicpic (12-5-2, 4) taking on the experienced Richard Betos (20-6-1, 7) in arguably the match up of the card. Although Pumicpic's record is messy he's much better than the numbers suggest and is unfortunate not to have victories over both Allan Tanada and Yohei Tobe, we'd expect him to get the better of Betos here.
Amazingly Pumicpic/Betos is one of 6 bouts scheduled for 10 rounds with arguably the most "important" being the female bout between Jessebelle Pagaduan (5-0, 3) and Carleans Rivas (2-0, 3). This bout is for the Philippines Games & Amusement Board (GAB) female Minimumweight title, the only title bout on the card.
In terms of the biggest name on the card there is no one who really challenges the oce highly touted Eden Sonsona (32-6, 10). Sonsona looks for his 7th successive victory as he takes on Daniel Ferreras (12-5-1, 4). Interestingly both men have lost in OPBF title bouts to former world champion Kohei Kono.
The remaining trio of 10 round contests see Jaymart Toyco (12-3, 8) facing Jeffrey Cerna (13-7, 5); Ronelle Ferreras (11-5-2, 4) facing former OPBF title holder Michael Landero (16-9-4, 5) and Virgil Puton (9-3, 3) faces the experienced Prell Tupaz (8-20-4, 1).
As well as the staggering 6 contests scheduled for 10 rounds the card several other bouts. These include bouts for the unbeaten pair of Reymon Dayham (3-0, 3) and Jhon Rey de Asis (3-0, 3) who will both be attempting to extend their stoppage runs. Dayham will be facing JC Francisco (2-6-1) whilst Asis will be fighting Rowel Rosia (3-2, 2), both of these contests are scheduled for 6 rounds if needed.
The show also features another 6 round contest between Bebong Manalo (5-1, 3) and Eljohn Evangelista (2-2) and a 4 rounder between debutant Iluminado Bismanos Jr (0-0) and Eric Pansa (0-1-1).
The second Filipino card, held at the Makati Cinema Square Boxing arena in Makati City sees a 7 fight show.
The main event on this card is a sole 10 round contest as Junard Postrano (7-3, 2) takes on Gabriel Royo (7-7-2, 6). We've got to admit that this doesn't look great for a main event, in fact the best fight on the show looks to be Lolito Sonsona (16-1-3, 6) versus Zoren Pama (3-7-2, 1). Although it looks a mismatch, it really just sums up the card.
The other bouts on the card see Jerron Talaman (2-4, 2) taking on Edsil Jungco (0-4-4); Joel Taduran (2-0) facing JR Florendo (2-1); Jayson Nicart (1-2, 1) fighting Junar Adante (0-0-1); Antonio Melencion (0-3-1) against Raymark Calumpad (0-5-1) and the debuting Darly Gamboa (0-0) fighting Fidel Cuyno (0-2). See, pretty hard to get excited about any of these, especially considering the other bouts on the same day.
Venetian Casino & Resort, Macao, Macao S.A.R., China
flyweight Juan Francisco Estrada SC Milan Melindo 12 (double world title)
featherweight Evgeny Gradovich SC Mauricio Javier Munoz 12 (World title)
super bantamweight Genesis Servania SC Konosuke Tomiyama 10
heavyweight Andy Ruiz Jr SC Joe Hanks 10 (none Asian, BUT, on Asian soil)
super featherweight Paul Fleming SC Chaiyong Sithsaithong 8
flyweight Zou Shiming SC Jesus Ortega 6
super flyweight Rex Tso SC Rusalee Samor 6
super bantamweight Dave Penalosa SC Wisaruth Wor Khunkhiri 4
Barangay San Dionisio, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
featherweight Bernabe Concepcion SC Richard Betos 10
super flyweight Jaymart Toyco SC Jeffrey Cerna 10
minimumweight Ronelle Ferreras SC Michael Landero 10
super bantamweight Virgil Puton SC Prell Tupaz 10
super bantamweight Eden Sonsona SC Daniel Ferreras 10
featherweight Bebong Manalo SC Eljohn Evangelista 6
bantamweight Larry Abarra SC Zoren Pama 6
light flyweight Reymon Dayham SC JC Francisco 6
flyweight Jhon Rey de Asis SC Rowel Rosia 6
minimumweight Jessebelle Pagaduan SC Carleans Rivas 6x2
super flyweight Eric Pansa SC Allan Refuela 4
Makati Cinema Square Boxing Arena, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines
super featherweight Gabriel Royo SC Junard Postrano 10
bantamweight Lolito Sonsona SC Zoren Pama 6
super featherweight Jerron Talaman SC Edsil Jungco 6
minimumweight Joel Taduran SC JR Florendo 6
featherweight Jayson Nicart SC Junar Adante 4
light flyweight Antonio Melencion SC Raymark Calumpad 4
flyweight Darly Gamboa SC Fidel Cuyno 4
Ahmed Samir SC Elvin Sanchez (USA)
lightweight Omar Figueroa SC Nihito Arakawa (int. world. title)