Some days are massive in boxing and we often hear that. This Saturday is one such day as we have potentially one of the biggest shows in history and several other notable shows around Asia as well as Asian fighters in action around the world.
The most noteworthy action of the day happens in Macau as we get “The Clash in Cotai” a show that some are dubbing “the biggest...ever in Asia” and with good reason due to the expected viewership of the show and the anticipation of the main event. In fact the show as whole has the potential to touch almost every part of Asia in one way or another.
The headline bout sees Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38) returning to the ring for the first time since being knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez back in December 2012. Pacquiao, fighting in Asia for the first time since 2006, will be taking on the always fun to watch American Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 23) in a bout that has “all action” written all over it. Unfortunately the fight is already being marred by the actions of both camps but it's certainly a fight that has piqued the interest of boxing fans around the world.
Whilst the Pacquiao/Rios bout is the head-liner it's not a world title fight, just a WBO international title fight, in fact rather staggeringly the only world title fight on the show sees Russian Evgeny Gradovich (17-0, 8) in action. The IBF Featherweight champion will be looking to make the second defence of his title as he takes on Australian Billy Dib (36-2-0-1, 21) for the second time. This promises to be just as heated as the main event.
Whilst the shows sole Heavyweight clash, Andy Ruiz Jr (20-0, 14) against Tor Hamer (21-2,14) doesn't feature an Asian is an interesting bout in a division that is not really one that has seen an Asian impact, despite the recent rise of Kyotaro Fujimoto in the local area.
With the show being in Macau it's fair to say we expect Chinese fighters on the card and that's exactly what we get. Not only do we have the promising IK Yang (13-0-0-1, 9) fighting Indonesian Hero Tito (7-2, 3) but also 2-time Olympic gold medal winner Zou Shiming (2-0) who battles the unbeaten Juan Tozcano (4-0, 1). Shiming may not be the future star Bob Arum was hoping for but he certainly helped Top Rank set off on this interesting Macau journey and Yang certainly looks like a fighter that can draw fans.
As well as Shiming and Yang there is a third Chinese native on the show, You-Jie Zeng (4-4, 4). Zeng however won't be the favoured fighter here as he faces Macau's very own Kuok Kun Ng (1-0).
Although Pacquiao and Shiming are big draws Top Rank have tried to squeeze even more on the card and have also included Hong Kong's Rex Tso (10-0, 6) who fights on his second successive Macau card. Tso will be hoping to have a more impressive performance this time out as he takes on limited Thai Susu Sithjadaeng (7-3, 2). In fact the two Thai's on the show appear to have been brought in to lose with the other being Petchsamuthr Duanaaymukdahan (8-1, 1) who takes on Puerto Rican prospect Felix Verdejo (8-0, 6) in what is a genuine mismatch.
It's worth nothing that Pacquiao isn't the only Filipino on the show, in fact two of his countrymen are scheduled to be on the show. One of those, Harmonito Dela Torre (10-0, 5), is expected to win as he battles the limited but experienced Indonesian Jason Butar Butar (15-11-1, 11). The other, Dan Nazareno Jr (17-10, 13), is expected to lose as he battles once beaten Brit Liam Vaughan (8-1, 2).
In fact the only parts of the boxing community of Asia not represented are Japan, South Korea and some of the Western Asian countries. Not bad for one show.
Although no Japanese fighter is on the Macau show they aren't totally missing out as Japan has it's own show in the Sunpia Hall, Kochi.
The Japanese show begins with Takuya Sugiyama (1-1) in action against Go Mitaka (0-3) in a Super Flyweight contest. This bout is one of five scheduled for the 4 round distance and will be followed by a contest involving Kenjiro Shibata (0-1) against an opponent we've struggled to name.
In the shows third bout Kazuma Uemura (1-1) will be in action, though again we've struggled to track down the other fighter in the contest. The penultimate 4 rounder will see Takaaki Kitagawa (1-2) up against Koji Okubo (1-1-1), we believe.
The final of the 4 rounders will see Takuya Yamamoto (3-7, 2) facing Hiroshi Okano (1-9) who ends a 20 month break from the ring for this contest. Following this final 4 rounder we get two bouts scheduled for 6. Unfortunately we've struggled to find the names of those four men.
In the main event Shota Yamaguchi (10-1, 7) will be looking for his biggest win to date as he fights Filipino Raymond Sermona (15-3-5, 8) in what looks like an excellent 8 rounder.
It's not just Japan and Macau hosting shows, in fact we have a solid looking show in the Philippines as ALA promotions put on a show in Misamis Oriental.
This Filipino show is expected to open up with the debut of Junjie Codella (0-0) who is set to face Freddie Bisande (0-0-2). This is thought to be one of three bouts scheduled for 4 rounds alongside a contest between Junel Lacar (2-0-1) and Paulo Perono (2-1, 2) and one between Lito Dante (6-3-3, 3) and Jovel Romasasa (10-11, 4).
In, what we expect to be a 6 rounder, Albert Villacampa (15-6-1, 3) will be fighting Roger Echavez (7-10-1, 4) before we get the first really interesting bout as the hotly tipped prospect Vic Saludar (2-0, 2) faces Powell Balaba (7-9-1, 4). Although Balaba isn't seen as a great fighter he should prove to be a good test for Saludar who many are tipping as one of the new generation of Filipino stars. The main event here sees Jimmy Paypa (14-2, 4) fighting Jovill Marayan (8-14-3, 3) in what appears to be little more than a stay busy fight for Paypa.
As well as the fights in Asia, it's also worth noting the fights outside of Asia.
In Germany we get several interesting contests.
The main event on the Germany show sees Russian Cruiser Alexander Alekseev (24-2-1, 20) fighting for the IBF Cruiserweight title against world champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez (27-1, 13). Although we think Hernandez has to be the favourite it's fair to say that Alekseev has the skills and ability to beat anyone in the the division. Unfortunately however Alekseev will need to make the absolute most of those skills if he's to win this one.
The same card will also see Denis Boytsov (33-0, 26) fighting Australian Alex Leapai (29-4-3, 24) for the WBO Asia Pacific Heavyweight title. The strong rumour coming from Germany is that if Boytsov wins here he'll be granted the next shot at Wladimir Klitschko some time in early 2014. Also on this card is a contest between Light Heavyweights as Russian Dmitry Sukhotsky (20-2, 15) battles Eduard Gutknecht (25-2, 9). A win here should see Sukhotsky's name being thrown in to the mix for a world title fight in 2014, though beating Gutknecht is far from a given.
These will also see Jose Maxian (9-2, 7) will be in action in Mexico. The Filipino youngster will be hoping to claim the WBC FECARBOX Super Featherweight title though is genuinely up against it as he fights the destructive Adrian Estrella (14-0, 14).
In the US this Saturday may be amongst the busiest days in the boxing year, in Asia however it's a quiet day with just 2 domestic cards and only a few fighters with Asian roots in action outside of "The East".
One of those domestic cards takes place in Japan at the Yodogawa Ward Community Center in Osaka thanks to Apollo Promotions.
The show opens with Fukunaga Tatsunori (3-2, 1) battling Shogo Takenaka (3-5, 1) in a 4 round bout, this is then followed by two more bouts scheduled for the short distance as Takashi Okura (1-1) fights Yukitaka Nishida (2-7-2, 1) and the debuting Tatsuya Terada (0-0) faces Tomonori Ota (2-3, 1). Of the trio of bouts over the 4 round distance it's fair to say that Terada/Ota is the most interesting bout with Terada making his debut against a man ending a 5 year sabbatical from the sport.
Following the trio of 4 round bouts we then get a duo of bouts scheduled for 6. These will see Tomohiro Iwasaki (3-4-2) fighting Fumio Yoshida (4-9, 1) and Sho Horii (6-4-1, 1) up against Yu Iwasaki (6-1, 2). We'll be honest we expect Iwasaki to over-come Horii in the second of those, but the first fight does look like a genuinely even match up with the possibility to go either way.
The first of the show's 8 round bouts sees Masato Morisaki (6-2-1, 3) up against Shun Ishibashi (7-14-1, 2) in what looks to be a mismatch, even more so when you consider that Ishibashi is winless in the last 5 years. Thankfully the second of the 8 round contests is an evenly matched bout as Yusaku Suzuki (8-10-2, 5) fights Takashi Nishimura (7-10-1, 1) in a match that we imagine will be close even if it's not the best in terms of quality.
In the show's closer we drop back down to a 6 rounder as Hiroyuki Ukawa (10-11-1, 8) and Takayuki Morimoto (4-6, 2) get it on with each other. Sadly for a main event this is weak, though in all honesty the entire card is pretty poor.
The other Asian card, and by far the more interesting one, is in the Molo Covered Gym in the Philippines. This show, consisting of 6 bouts, doesn't scream out "world level competition" but is much better overall.
In the Filipino main event we get the very promising Mark Andrew Acub (12-0, 9) battling the limited Giovani Rota (7-4, 4). Acub is seen as another of the promising young Filipino's and shouldn't struggle to get past Rota here.
The chief support bouts see Albert Villacampa (14-6-1, 3) taking on Ryan Bongcawil (7-6-5, 3) and Lito Dante (5-3-3, 2) fighting Rodante Suacasa (1-5-2, 1). It's hard to see anything but victories for Villacampa and Dante though with it being the Philippines upsets do happen on a regular basis.
On the undercard there are 3 more bouts with Brian Lobitania (5-0-2, 4) battling Ivor Lastrilla (6-2-1, 3), the highly touted Vic Saludar (1-0, 1) fighting Camilo Rey Seneres (0-5) and Elmo Traya (1-1, 1) faces John Rey Lorico (2-3).
In the UK the unbeaten Muheeb Fazeldin (2-0-1), originally from Yemen, gets a chance to correct the only blotch on his record as he rematches Leo D'Erlanger (3-0-2). The two men fought to a 4 round draw in June and it's fair to say that neither man will be wanting to let the same result occur for a second fight in a row.
There is also a much more meaningful bout in the UK as Qatar born Abdul Barry Awad (14-0, 7), AKA Kid Galahad, takes on fellow promising fighter James Dickens (16-0, 5) in a bout that British fans will get to see courtesy of Channel 5 in the UK.
In the US the Korean-Ameran Han sibling's are in action. In the more notable of the two bouts the fun to watch Abraham Han (19-1, 12) takes on Bernardo Guereca (17-19-1, 4) in what appears to be a confidence rebuilder for "Abie" after his recent loss to Glen Tapia. On the same card Abie's sister Jennifer Han (9-2-1, 1) is in action takings on novice Lesly Morales (3-2-1) what should be a perfect 1-2 for the Han family.
It's not too often that we get to see Asian's competiting in 3 seperate would title bouts but that's exactly what this Saturday brings with 3 world title bouts spread across 3 countries. As well as the world title bouts there are also some other notable bouts taking place around the world.
The first fight involving an Asian is expected in Australia as Filipino Allan Tanada (11-2-3, 5) takes on fellow Filipino Michael Correa (3-5-3, 1). Although Correa is based in Australia and will be the "home" fighter here it's hard to see him defeating the very talented Tanada.
We expect the next show to take place will be in the Philippines as we get to the only major card held in Asia.
The main attraction here is the first defense of the WBO Minimumweight title by the unbeaten Merlito Sabillo (22-0, 11) who takes on Jorle Estrada (17-6, 6). This will be Sabillo's second successive bout against against a Colombian following his 8th round stoppage of Luis De la Rosa in March. We've previewed this bout in full here.
The card starts off with the two very promising youngsters. Firstly the debut of Vic Saludar (0-0) the former amateur standout and brother of the highly touted Froilan Saludar. Saludar will begin his professional campaign by taking on Juanito Hundante (1-1). Don't be surprised if Saludar makes a very impressive deubt.
The second of the promising yougster's is Albert Pagara (16-0, 11) who faces Thailand's hard hitter Phupha Por Nobnom (10-8-1, 9). This will be the second meeting between these two fighters with the first seeing Pagara easily despatching the Thai last year. This seems more about keeping Pagara busy than anything else.
The undercard also features the former world title challenger AJ Banal (28-2-1, 20) returns to the ring for the first time since last October, when he was stopped by Pungluang Sor Singyu in a bout for the WBO Bantamweight title. The 24 year old Banal will be facing the naturally bigger Mexican Abraham Gomez (18-7-1, 9) in a bout that could spell the end of Banal's career if he doesn't come out with a victory.
In the chief support bout the very highly regarded Arthur Villanueva (22-0, 12) takes on Mexican banger Arturo Badillo (21-4, 19). The 24 year old Villanueva will be hoping to add the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title to his ever growing collection of belts and knows that a victory here could move him to within a fight or two or a world title bout.
In Europe we have two Asian fighters in title fight action.
In Monaco the unbeaten Russian, Khabib Allakhverdiev (18-0, 8) looks to make the first defense of WBA Light Welterweight title as he takes on the experienced Frenchman Souleymane M'baye (40-4-1, 22). Although M'baye is close to home it's hard to imagine him beating Allakhverdiev who looks like one of the most over-looked fighters at 140lbs. We've previewed this fight in full here.
The other European based world title fight sees Japanese Super Middleweight Yuzo Kiyota (23-3-1, 21) attempt to claim the WBO Super Middleweight title from Robert Stieglitz (44-3, 25). A victory for Kiyota has been ruled out by most though if he can upset Stieglitz he would become Japan's first ever champion above Middleweight and their first ever WBO champion. As with the other world titles bouts we've previewed this contest in full here.
In Mexico the hard hitting Riyo Togo (10-4-1, 9) looks to repeat history as she takes on Mariana Juarez (36-7-3, 16) for the second time. When the women first met in April, Togo shocked "Barbie" Juarez by stopping her in 118 seconds to claim the WBC International female Super Flyweight title and this will be the first defense of that title by Togo. It's fair to say that if Togo wins again here she'll be in line for a world title fight.
Togo and Kiyota aren't the only Japanese fighters fighting on the road with former WBC Super Featherweight champion Takahiro Ao (23-3-1, 10) also fighting away from home.
Ao makes his US debut as he takes on the US based Chilean Hardy Paredes (16-11, 10). A loss here for Ao would really dent his hopes of returning to the top of the sport though with Paredes being little more than a journeyman there really shouldn't be an upset against the often over-looked Ao.