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.
With the week starting on a high with the action on Tuesday it feels a bit strange to need to wait until Friday for any sort of action, though that's what we've had to do this week. Thankfully after a couple of quiet days the action really does get immediately back under swing with decent cards in both Thailand and the Philippines.
We'll start by looking at the Thai card which will be televised by Thai Channel 7.
The main event in Thailand sees former world champion Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (28-5-1, 11) defending his WBC Asian Boxing Council Bantamweight title against Filipino journeyman Edison Berwela (11-26-6, 2). This looks like a mismatch but Berwela does have the potential to give Suriyan a genuinely tough contest.
Although their is a former world title holder in the main event there is also a current world champion on the card with Suriyan's stablemate Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (20-3-1, 19), the current WBC Super Flyweight champion, fighting in a none title bout. Srisaket will, like Suriyan, be fighting a tough Filipino journeyman in the form of Roque Lauro (9-15-4, 2), a fighter who has been stopped just twice.
As was as Suriyan's sablemate being on the card, so to is his brother Nawaphon Por Chokchai (16-0, 11). Nawaphon will be facing the very limited Phalangchai Sithsaithong (0-1) in what appears to be little more than a record padding bout for the very promising Nawaphon.
The remaining bouts on the show see Yodchanchai Nakornloung Promotion (22-3, 17) taking on Phissanuthep Chaiyonggym (3-10-1, 2) and the unbeaten Kongfah Nakornluang (5-0, 2) taking on the debuting Manachai Sor Ratidech (0-0).
Over in the Philippines ARCI Boxing Promotion appear to put on an excellently deep card.
The show is expected to kick off with the debuting Jim Claude Manangquil (0-0) taking on Romnick Dejano (2-6, 1) and fellow debutant Daffy Dempo (0-0) battling Valeriano Gabriel (1-3) in the two bouts scheduled for 4 rounds.
The sole 6 round bout on the show sees Menard Abila (3-1, 1) takes on Mabert Paulino (2-15) before a series of 3 bouts scheduled over the 8 round distance,. These 8 round bouts will see Zoren Pama (4-7-3, 2) facing Raymond Empic (2-2, 1), JC Francisco (3-6-1) battling Sherwin McDo Lungay (7-23-2) and Renerio Arizala (6-0-1, 3) fighting Rey Morano (8-36-1, 1).
The reamining 6 bouts on the show are all scheduled for 10 rounds.
These first of the 10 rounders will see Renren Tesorio (11-3-3, 3) battling Ricky Oyan (4-17-2, 2), Rennel Flechero (9-4-1, 5) fighting Jeson Berwela (4-14, 2) and Felipe Cagubcob Jr (1-0-3) fighting Rowel Rosia (4-2, 2).
In a much more interesting contest former world title challenger Jether Oliva (18-1-2, 10) takes on Rissan Muelas (6-5, 4). This looks like a mismatch but Oliva did suffer an unexpected draw last time out to Lester John Pronco and will know that a lot is riding on this contest.
On paper the second most noteworthy contest sees the unbeaten Renren Pasignahin (5-0-1, 1) taking on the experienced Richard Garcia (24-16-1, 6). This is far from an easy assignment for Pasignahin though he'll be aware that a win will see him really moving up the domestic rankings and possibly moving into a national title fight.
Talking about national title fights the main event is actually one such fight as the very promising Harmonito Dela Torre (9-0, 5) fights for the vacant Philippines Boxing Federation (PBF) Super Featherweight title. Dela Torre, a fighter who does appear to be one of those hidden Filipino gems will be facing off against the much more experienced Richard Olisa (23-21-2, 12).
Although Olisa is 1-10 in his last 11 bouts those losses have generally come to solid fighters such as Roberto Gonzales, Bernabe Concepcion, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo and Marlon Tapales, so he's certainly not a shot fighter just a very hard matched on.