This coming Friday is certainly not a massive day for Asian boxing, but there some bouts worthy of our attention.
In Thailand we'll see former world title contender Teerachai Kratingdaenggym (43-1, 31) defending his WBA Asia Light Middleweight title against Congolese challenger Eric Kapia (22-3-2-1, 4). For the once beaten Thai this will be a chance to score a 6th straight win since his 2018 loss to Lucas Matthysse in a WBA Welterweight title bout, and see him look to continue his regional title reign. As for Kapia this will be his second bout out of Africa, and see him looking to rebuild after a loss in Russia last March.
Saint Petersburg, Russia
As well as the action in Thailand we also have several fights of interest in Russia.
The most noteworthy, as we write this, will see 28 year old Azeri Middleweight Ismat Guliyev (5-0, 5) take on Gergo Vari (22-26-1, 8). The heavy handed Guliyev will be making his Russian debut and and so far has blasted out every opponent in the first 2 rounds and will be expected to pick up another early win here. Hungarian fighter Vari is 36 and has been stopped in 12 of his 26 defeats.
Another unbeaten Azeri fighter on this card will be Rufat Hajiyev (4-0, 2), who will also be making his Russian debut, after wins in Georgia, Turkey and Germany. The unbeaten 26 year old Cruiserweight has been matched softly so far and that continues here as he takes on Serbian teenager Mateja Skapik (0-1) in a 6 rounder.
Uzbek Super Bantamweight hopeful Javlonbek Kurbanov (6-0, 4) will also be on the show. This will be his third bout in Russia, where he has taken two quick wins already. At the time of writing Kurbanov's opponent hasn't been named, but he is scheduled for a 10 rounder.
After a bit of a break from events at Korakuen Hall return to the Japanese boxing "Holy Land" this coming Thursday for a really good looking card featuring an OPBF title bout, two Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals and two under-card bouts featuring notable names!
The main event will see Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) take on unbeaten Japanese-Afghan Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Welterweight title fight. The talented Nagahama has won 3 in a row since losing to Yuki Nagano in May 2018, and will be getting his second title fight, follow a loss in a Japanese Light Middleweight title bout against Takeshi Inoue. Kaneko on the other hand is someone who is getting his first title fight, but has earned it on the back of impressive wins against the likes of Toshio Arikawa, Rikuto Adachi and Moon Hyon Yun. Neither of these two are well known, but a win here will put the winner on the map, and see them become the new OPBF champion. Our preview of this bout can be read here Kaneko and Nagahama clash for OPBF crown!
In one of the two Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals we'll see hard hitting and teak tough Korean fighter Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) take on Japan's Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5). On paper this could end up the more fun of the two semi final bouts, especially given the quarter final bouts the men were involved in. Jae Woo Lee got past Tsuyoshi Tameda in a 3 round war, whilst Kusano was dropped multiple times before bouncing back to beat Qiang Ma. This could be a thriller, but it's hard imagine Kusano handling the pressure of Lee.
The other semi final will see Filipino fighter Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6), who had a bye in the round of 8, take on Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6), who advanced on the basis of a technical draw against Koshin Takeshima. This is the tougher of the two semi finals to predict. Pumicpic is, and has long been, an under-rated terror to face off with, but he is the naturally smaller man and is on away soil. Watanabe has an incredibly under-rated record, and on his day is a threat with his solid boxing and heavy hand. We expect another exciting fight here, though this could easily end up being a real mess, with head clashes, if the fighters aren't careful.
One of two notable fighters on the under-card is former OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (14-1, 9), who will be up against Ariston Aton (9-2, 5). Koura, who hasn't fought since losing the OPBF title last year to Lito Dante, was originally scheduled to face Yujie Zeng (14-10-1, 6) before Zeng was replaced by Aton. For Koura the clear purpose of this bout is to rebuild however Aton is no push over and he was very competitive last December against Tatsuro Nakashima.
The other notable fighter on the under-card is former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-5, 18), who who has his first fight since June 2017, as he takes on Shogo Yamaguchi (11-5-3, 6). Tsuchiya was in the ring in January, albeit in a public exhibition, after his planned opponent failed to secure a visa, and we suspect he'll come on top here. As for Yamaguchi he has scored just 2 low level wins in his last 9, and was stopped last time out by Masanori Rikiishi.
This coming Saturday was supposed to be a huge day for female boxing, as well as a huge day for Heavyweight boxing. Sadly the Coronavirus forced the cancellation of the big female bout, which would have been a major unification at 130lbs, but thankfully there is still a lot to look forward to over the day!
The biggest show of the day comes from Las Vegas where we see the highly anticipated rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. Whilst that bout doesn't have an Asian interest one of the supporting bouts.
The bout will see WBO Super Bangamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26) defending his title against Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16). The unbeaten Mexican champion has been one of the busiest champions since winning his title in late 2018, but his competition is somewhat disappointing. On paper this isn't really a step up for the heavy handed Mexican, who will be expected to defend against a worthwhile contender sooner rather than late. For Santisima this is a big chance, but one we don't think he's ready for. The Filipino is an exciting fighter but really isn't yet experienced enough to be given much of a chance with Navarrete. Our preview of this fight is available here Santisima challenges Navarrete, but will he stand a chance?
Metro Manila, Philippines
For a second weekend in a row we get action in Metro Manila as the fast rising, and amazingly exciting, Carl Jammes Martin (15-0, 14) takes on the rugged and experienced Renoel Pael (23-11-1, 12) in a bout for the PBF Bantamweight title. This will be Martin's second defense of the title and whilst he will be expected to win, this is a legitimate test as he takes on a man who doesn't ever get blown away. Pael has been shown up to be a long way from world class, but he's an excellent regional gatekeeper, and a stoppage win for Martin would be a massive, and surprising statement. We expect to see the young being forced to answer new questions, and for us that's exactly what a bout like this is for.
The next card under the Evolution Fight Series takes place this Saturday as well, with a show in Bangkok. This show has massively changed of the weeks in the build up to it, and has sadly seen Ongen Saknosiwi being listed, and then removed from it.
The show will have 3 title bouts in total, one of those is a Thai Middleweight bout between Thai based British fighter Thomas Newton (3-3, 2) and 17 year old Apisit Sangmuang (1-0, 1), in what could be an interesting match up. Another title fight will see Artavazd Aroyan (6-1, 4) battle with Yousof Mohammadiosmanvandi (4-0-1, 4), for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Cruiserweight title. The third of the title fights will see Gaganpreet Sharma (9-2, 5) battle against former OPBF champion Ratchasi Sithsaithong (9-8, 7) for a regional WBC title Middleweight.
Sadly it's hard to care much about any of those title bouts, which appear to be title bouts, just to try and add some kind of silverware to the show. It's cynical and not-really needed given that none of the fighters are actual title level fighters
Canadian based Indian Sukhdeep Singh Bhatti (7-0, 3) looks to continue his development as he takes on 32 year old Jamaican Richard Holmes (19-11, 9). On paper this looks like a logical next step forward for Bhatti and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him really needing to work for this win. Holmes is no world beater, but has the experience to ask questions of someone like Bhatti.
Over in Canada this Friday we'll see unbeaten Kazakh prospect Nurzat Sabirov (10-0, 9) take his next step forward and return to the ring for the first time since June 2019. The talented, and heavy handed Sabirov is one of a number of Canadian based Kazakh fighters and has shown real potential, despite being over-looked by those who have been more impressed by the likes of Batyrzhan Jukembayev and Sadriddin Akhmedov, though he is very much one to keep an eye on himself.
Sabirov is expected to be facing Elio German Rafael (15-3, 9), a Mexican based Argentinian. Althought not a great name Rafael has mixed with good company, including losses to Marco Antonio Periban and Adam Deines. Although not an amazing opponent for Sabirov it's a decent opponent given the lay off, and a chance for him to shake some ring rust before some bigger bouts later in the year.
This coming Sunday we were expecting to get a card from South Korea but that has become of the many boxing casualties of the on going Coronavirus. Despite that card being off we do still have Asian action.
The most notable of two Asian cards takes place at the Metro TV Studio in Jakarta, and will be promoted by former world champion Chris John.
The main event of the card will see veteran's colliding with Stevie Ongen Ferdinandus (31-17-1, 17) taking on Eddy Comaro (34-32-5, 13) in an 8 rounder. The 39 year older Ferdinandus, who started his career way back in 2009, will be seeking a 5th straight win whilst the 34 year old Comaro, who debuted in 2002 at the age of 16, will be looking to build on his November win over Hendy Luis.
In a clash of 23 year olds Flasidus Nuno (2-1, 1) will clash with Dedi Saputra (3-5), both of who, come in to this bout with wins in their last 2 bouts.
There is also a card set to take place in India, where we get novices in action as the Indian scene continues to take baby steps.
In one bout Parminder Singh (1-2, 1) will be taking on Ankit Chaudhary (0-0) in the only 6 rounder on the show. Singh is one of the few none debutants on this show, and it really does show the level of domestic boxing in the country.
Another fighter with a little bit of experience on this show is Sanjeet Gill (2-0, 1) who will be up against 22 year debutant Shalinder Singh (0-0) in a 4 rounder.
This coming Saturday isn't a huge day of boxing in terms of quality, but there is actually quite a lot to talk about, with former world champions and promising hopefuls in action, and with fighters competing as far afield as Tijuana and Victoria.
Metro Manila, Philippines
The most notable show, for us at least, comes from Metro Manila, where we see a host of minor title bouts, and a clash between two former world champions.
The main event of this card will see former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11) take on former WBO Minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo (27-7-1, 13), in what must be viewed as a must win bout. The rugged Kimura didn't look his usual self last time out, losing to Carlos Canizales but will be strongly favoured over Sabillo, who has lost his last 3 and is moving up to Flyweight for the contest.
Way up the scales we'll see Cambodian Heavyweight Eric Pen (5-0, 4) defending his WBA Asia title against Indonesian veteran Alexander Bajawa (43-10-4, 16). Pen is not going to be competing on the world stage, but could be in the mix to face the top fighters from around Asia in the coming years. Bajawa on the other hand is an under-sized and under-powered fighter who fought as low as Bantamweight earlier in his career. Bajawa has gone 2-8 in his last 10, and we suspect this will be another loss for the 37 year old.
In a bout that looks more interesting than it is Vietnamese hopeful Dinh Hoang Truong (1-0, 1) will face off with Thailand's Yuttana Wongda (14-25, 10) for the WBA Asia Super Middleweight title. Truong made his debut last May, with an opening round win, and on paper it looks good that he's fighting for a title this early. Sadly however Wongda is a blown up former Lightweight who has been stopped 17 times in his 25 loses. This shouldn't be a problem for the Indonesian novice.
Another horrific mismatch on this card will see Korean veteran Hee Jung Yuh (22-3, 11) take on Thai novice Kanyanat Chotchun (2-1, 1). The bout, for the WBC International female Super Flyweight title, should be a very easy win for the talented Korea, and we wouldn't be surprised by an early stoppage for the 40 year old Korean fighter.
On a different Filipino show we'll see Roberto Gonzales (28-6, 17) and Jason Egera (24-22-2, 11) clash in an 8 round bout. On paper this looks like a mismatch, but in reality it could be a lot more competitive than it looks. The 29 year old Gonzales has been stopped in 4 of his last 5 and has just a single win in the last 3 years. Egera is no world beater but he has been a banana skin in the past, and could be slip in another upset here, as he did in 2017 against Glenn Suminguit.
Back to mismatches! In Australia fans will see the world class Susie Ramadan (27-3, 12) take on Filipino visitor Gretel de Paz (6-5-2, 2) in a bout for the WIBA Super Flyweight title. In recent weeks we've ranted about mismatches for titles and this is another case where the title body involved, in this case WIBA, need to take a look at themselves. Whilst Ramadan hasn't fought in over a year she is still a world-class fighter and we expect to see that here. On the other hand de Paz I 1-2-2 in her last 5, and doesn't have the natural size or power to hold her own with Ramadan. Come on WIBA you can do better for "world" title fights!
Also in action is unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Ablaikhan Khussainov (10-0, 7), who will be fighting Mexico where he will take on local foe Mauro Loreto (20-10-2, 8). The unbeaten Khussainov began his career in China, fought 8 bouts in Canada and was last seen in Kazakhstan, and this will be his Mexican debut. Loreto shouldn't serve as much of a test here, and he is 3-5 in his last 8 bouts.
Kadoebi are perhaps not one of the real big name promoters in the eyes of many but the Japanese stable consistently put on interesting shows in Tokyo, and this Friday they put on another at Korakuen Hall.
In the main event will be former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title against Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11). The experienced Saludar won the title last year, when he stopped the touted Tsubasa Murachi and he returns to Japan for this fight against the heavy handed Fukunaga, who is crude but dangerous. A win here will push Saludar one step closer to a second world title bout. Whilst Fukunaga may have home advantage he is very much the under-dog, but is the naturally bigger man. Our preview of this bout can be read here Saludar returns to Japan to defend regional title against hard hitting Fukunaga!
World ranked Japanese Flyweight Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4), who is bizarrely highly ranked by the WBA, will look to build on his 2019 Alphoe Dagayloan as he takes on MJ Bo (8-3-2, 4). It's fair to say that 2019 was a frustrating year for the talent Yamauchi, who lost a hotly contest decision to Wulan Tuolehazi in March, beat Dagayloan in August then missed out on a Japanese title eliminator due to injuries suffered against Dagayloan. We expect him out there to impress here. As for Bo the Filipino will be returning to Japan just 5 months after being stopped by Yuta Nakayama, and it's hard to imagine anything but another loss here for the Filipino visitor. We expect Yamauchi to go to the ring with the intention of making a real statement.
Foor us the real pick of the gems on this show is a potentially explosive bout between Yuki Nakajima (3-1, 3) and Shisui Kawabata (2-1, 2). Although on paper this might just look like a typical novice bout the reality is that both of these men were solid amateurs, and both are regarded highly by those in Japan. Nakajima is regarded very highly and racked up more than 50 wins in the amateurs whilst Kawabata fought for a Japanese youth title in just his third bout. We expect explosive action here in what is our "One to watch" for this week.
Over in the US we'll see fast rising Uzbek hopeful Bektemir Melikuziev (4-0, 3) take on his most notable opponent to date, as he battles former world title challenger Marco Antonio Periban (25-5-1, 16). The bout will be "Bek Bully's" 5th in just over 8 months, and it's clear he and his team have got their eye on the fast track to the top. After going 10 rounds with Vaughn Alexander in December we know the Uzbek can box, as well as bang. Periban is a long way removed from the fighter lost a razor thin decision to Sakio Bika and fought to a draw with Badou Jack, back in 2013, but is still a solid name and someone who could ask questions of Melikuziev. Whilst Melikuziev is expected to win, the real question will be how, and if stops Periban early it would be a genuine statement from the 23 year old.
The big focus this coming Thursday is on Korakuen Hall, where we get a very interesting Diamond Glove card featuring a rising a second generation hopeful, a former world champion and a Japanese title fight.
The main event is the Japanese title fight, which will see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) defending his title against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) as part of the Champion Carnival. Yoshino, who holds the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles, will only be defending his national title, but a loss would seriously hamper his chance to advance to world level in 2020. As for Tomioka he's getting his second fight at the type of level, having previously lost to Masayoshi Nakatani in an OPBF title. On paper the stronger, heavier handed, and more powerful Yoshino should be favoured, but Tomioka certainly has the size and speed, both hand and feet, to make life very tricky for the champion. This bout has been previewed here Yoshino defends against mandatory Tomioka!
The former world champion on this show is former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) who returns to the ring for the first time since his 2018 loss to Cristofer Rosales. The talented and aggressive Higa was given an indefinite suspension by the JBC following the Rosales loss, for his failure to make weight, with that suspension only being lifted late last year. On his return he's being matched with Filipino visitor Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3), in what could turn out to be a rather solid test. Although Buenaobra is no world beater he has gone the schedule with Carl Jammes Martin, the only man to have heard the bell against the "Wonder Boy" and could prove to be a very durable test for the returning Higa. We really are looking forward to this one. Our preview of this bout can be read here Higa returns, but can he over-come the rugged Buenaobra?
Another bout of some note on this card is a contest between Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kazuma Sanpei (18-5, 7) and Soreike Taichi (7-2, 5), who will know that a win here boosts their chance to get a Japanese title fight later this year. Coming in the 25 year old Sanpei is the more well established fighter and despite his record being blotted with losses he is 6-1 (3) in his last 7 and did show real promise early in his career, winning Rookie of the Year back in 2013. Taichi is less well known but has won his last 4, including good wins over Yusaku Sekishima and Masaki Saito. Interestingly Taichi's last loss was in 2014, when he was stopped in a round bye Reiya Abe.
The second generation fighter mentioned above is Shinba Yamaguchi (1-0, 1), the son of former world champion Keiji Yamaguchi, who takes a significant step up from his debut. The 19 year old Yamaguchi who won his debut in just 40 seconds last October, will be up against Filipino Luis Borje (5-1-1, 2) in what should be a very credible test. It's hard to say much about Yamaguchi's professional career so far but it is worth noting that both of Borje's set backs have come to John Mark Tihuk, who should be seen as one to watch going forward. A very tough test this early in Yamaguchi's career.
Las Vegas, USA
As well as the Japanese action there is also a bout of interest in the US, where we'll see an Uzbek fighter in action. The Uzbek on this show is 35 year old Ravshan Hudaynazarov (17-3, 13), who looks to end a 3 fight losing streak. The US based Uzbek began his career 17-0 before seemingly ending his career in 2014. He returned to the ring in 2018 and since then has gone 0-3, and been stopped in 2 of those 3 losses. On paper we would expect Hudaynazarov to turn things around here in what looks like an easy bout against Cameron Krael (16-15-3, 4), however Krael has a very misleading record and the kid can fight. We wouldn't be surprised at all by an upset here.
This same show will also feature Kyrgyzstan born American based hopeful Andrei Odintsev (4-0, 4) take on Britton Norwood (9-4-1, 7) in a 4 round Light Heavyweight contest.
There isn't much of note happening this coming Wednesday, but there are a couple of fighters of note in action in Russia.
One of those is Turat Osmonov (2-0, 2), a former amateur fighter from Kyrgyzstan. Although not a hugely distinguished name on the amateur ranks Osmonov fought in numerous international tournaments and did prove himself a capable fighter, even if he failed to really make a mark in the final stages. At the moment it's unclear who he will be up against, but the 26 year old is apparently scheduled in for an 8 rounder, so it should be a clear step up from his previous professional bouts.
The card also features one of the more experienced Uzbek professionals out there, Bakhrom Payazov (22-11, 15), who takes on unbeaten Russian hopeful Valery Oganisyan (1-0, 1). The 34 year old Payazov is about as close as you can get to an Uzbek tomato can in the sport, and he's without a win in the last 4 years, losing his last 8 bouts. Notably however Payazov has been matched incredible tough and his last 8 opponents have had a combined 72-2-1 record. Prior that run he had gone the distance with Viktor Postol and 8 rounds with Dejan Zlaticanin. On the hand the Russian is a professional novice but looked very capable on debut, stopping the rugged Islomjon Salokhidinov in 6 rounds.
On Tuesday the focus goes to Kariya for a small, yet notable, card being put on by Kiyoshi Hatanaka and the Hatanaka Gym. The card isn't huge, but does feature two unbeaten Japanese prospects, both worthy of attention.
The most notable of those is the WBC Youth Flyweight champion Kento Hatanaka (10-0, 9), who will be defending his title against Filipino challenger Roland Jay Biendima (15-5-1, 8). Last time out we saw Hatanaka getting a serious gut check as he went in with Jaysever Abcede, going the distance for the first time and being dropped for the first time. We expect a more polished performance this time around from the second generation fighter, however it does feel like his team are just taking their foot off the gas, just slightly, with this fight. As for the challenger he is very much coming to win, but will be regarded as a clear under-dog. Notably this will be his second fighter in Japan, where he came close to scoring a win against Taiyo Inoue.
For fans wanting to watch the main event this will be available online, for free, through CBC's High Five WEB youtube channel, and can be watched live all over the globe, here.
The other is Hiroki Hanabusa (7-0-3, 2), who looks to kick off his 2020 with a bout against Thai visitor Sorawit Bamrungrai (6-2, 3). The talented Hanabusa is only 21 years old but has already fought on foreign soil, gone the distance in a couple of 8 rounders and earned a Japanese ranking. As for the Thai Sorawit, also known as Petchtae Petchyindee, he has been stopped in both of his losses and has yet to score a win of any note.