Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
On the fin al day of January we get the first 4 round Dangan Card of the year. As with all these types of card, the fighters on it are novices, and the show doesn't have any type of big name involved, but the action should come thick, and fast, and these usually deliver some thrilling wars and excellent finishes.
This show has a combined 9 bouts on it with 4 all debutant bouts, including a Middleweight clash between Hikaru Suzuki (0-0) and Ryuya Moriai (0-0). Middleweight bouts in Japan are relatively rare, so this is already worthy of some interest, and even more so given both men are young. Suzuki is 24 and Moriai is just 20, and is a giant compared to Japanese standards standing at 6'2". Middleweight bouts in Japan tend to be exciting, crude, and hugely entertaining, and we suspect this one will follow that trend.
As well the debutant bouts there is actually one bout worthy of some attention on it's own merit, and that's a bout between 32 year olds Megumi Watanabe (1-0, 1) and Hamburg Hiroko (1-0). Coming in to this bout both the ladies are ranked by the JBC, with Watanabe ranked at Atomweight and Hiroki ranked at Minimumweight, and with that in mind this could up pushing the winner towards a title fight. Again this is a 4 rounder, and between two novices, but it should still be a very, very interesting one and one with genuine significance and meaning.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This coming Saturday we have action in Malaysia, where the unbeaten Adli Hafidz (9-0, 5) takes on Thai veteran Komsan Polsan (40-12-1-1, 26), aka Patomsuk Pathompothong in a bout for the UBO Middleweight title. The 33 year old Hafidz is one of the very, very few noteworthy fighters from Malaysia, and whilst he is a notable local face it's hard to imagine him stepping up to making a mark on the wider regional scene. As for Komsan, he is very under-sized at Middleweight and despite his solid looking record his is 10-10-0-1 in his last 21 bouts, dating back 7 years, including 6 losses by stoppage. It would be a huge surprise to see the 38 year old Thai take home a win here
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
also set for a decent looking show in Tokyo as we get the second Japanese title fight of the year, as well as a couple of bouts featuring promising young prospects.
The main event of the show is a rematch of the 2021 Asian Boxing fight of the year as Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Gakuya Furuhashi (28-8-1, 16) defends his title against Yusaku Kuga (20-5-1, 13), the man he beat for the title last January. In their first bout we got a thrilling clash that saw Furuhashi finally break down Kuga to claim the title, in a performance that was genuinely inspired. It seemed, that day, nothing was going to deny Furuhashi. Since then Furuhashi has defended his title once, beating Seigo Hanamori in a short but thrilling little war. Aged 34 it's hard to know what Furuhashi's body has left in it, but he 2021 was a huge year for him and we feel he has a lot of momentum coming in to this bout. As for Kuga, who's 31 himself, he has taken a lot of punishment in recent years, the stoppage to Furuhashi was a big beating in the end, and he only just scraped a win over Ryoichi Tamura, in their bout back in October. This will be brutal, exciting and action packed, though we suspect it not quite live up to the level of their first bout. Out in depth preview of this potential barn burner can be read here Furuhashi and Kuga go again in Japanese title rematch!
The most interesting of the under-card bout will see former 2-time world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16) take on professional novice Kantaro Juri (3-0, 2), in a really compelling match up. Kuroda hasn't fought since May 2019, when he lost to Moruti Mthalane, and has had major injuries since then that delayed his in ring return. Now aged 35 it's really, really hard to know what he has left to offer the sport, but this fight should let us know whether he still has enough to be a force on the domestic scene. Juri on the other hand was an excellent amateur, who debuted in 2019, but has sadly lacked activity. On paper this is a massive step up up Juri, though he may well be getting Kuroda at the right time, and a win here would be huge for his career, even against the 35 year old, inactive, Kuroda. There are a lot of questions over both men here, and we suspect we will see a lot of them being answered with this bout.
Another prospect on this card is the debuting Kotoji Irita (0-0), who takes on the once touted Kosuke Tomioka (4-2, 3) in a very interesting match up. The 20 year old Irita went 36-11 in the amateurs and is kicking off his career in a 6 rounder, with Dangan Aoki promoting him. Although he wasn't a standout amateur he did look very good in the unpaid ranks and certainly has the skills to make a good mark in the professional ranks. Tomioka on the other hand desperately needs a win, after back to back stoppage losses to Shunpei Kubo and Suzumi Takayama. Tomioka has flare and skills, but his questionable chin will always be a problem and we suspect it will hold him back, whether he over-comes Irita here or not.
One other bout of note will see Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific ranked Lightweight Toru Kiyota (11-4, 8) taking on Taison Mukaiyama (6-2, 3) in a scheduled 8 rounder. Coming in to this Kiyota has proven to be better than his record, and despite having 4 losses to his name 3 of them have been in very close bouts. He could, easily, be 14-1 (8) and if that was his record we suspect he would be on the verge of a title fight right not. Mukaiyama on the other hand is an explosive fighter, but someone who has started to learn his craft, and despite his first 5 fight bouts ending early his last 3 have gone the distance, including two wins over Ryugo Ushijima. This should be a lot more interesting than it looks on paper, though will be over-shadowed by the other match ups on the show.
Borgata Hotel Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
This coming Saturday attention turns to New Jersey for an interesting card from PBC. The show isn't a massive one, but it does feature two very notable bouts with Asian fighters involved, one a world title fight and one a major crossroads fight for two men who can't afford another loss to begin this year.
The world title fight sees WBC Featherweight champion Gary Allen Russell Jr (31-1, 18) end 2 years of inactivity as he takes on his latest mandatory challenger, Filipino fighter Mark Magsayo (23-0, 16). Russell Jr is one of the most talented fighters in the sport, and there is no denying his ability, but there is major question marks as to how the WBC haven't yet stripped him, and a massive question mark about his hunger for the sport. Hunger that doesn't appear to be there, and that's a shame as his career could have been something very special. As for Magsayo this is a huge opportunity for a Filipino fighter who was tipped for huge things right from the off, but has struggled in recent bouts and whilst this is the right time to fight Russell, we do feel Magsayo could have done with a few more tough fights. Especially given how bad he looked against Rigoberto Hermosillo. This is a massive opportunity for Magsayo but also a major ask for him. Our preview of this bout can be read here Unbeaten Magsayo gets shot at WBC king Russell Jr
In an excellent supporting match up former Russell foe Tugstsogt Nyambayar (12-2, 9) takes on Vic Pasillas (16-1, 9), in what could be a show stealer. The talented Nyambayar lost to Russell Jr in 2020 and lost last time out, when he moved up in weight and was out pointed by Chris Colbert. He now needs a win to remain relevant after those two losses. Thankfully for him this bout is at his natural Featherweight and he is very dangerous at 126lbs. Pasillas, who is great fun to watch, has been out of the ring for almost a year, and was last seen losing in a brilliant action bout with Ra'eese Aleem, for the interim WBA Super Bantamweight. Notably it is Pasillas moving up in weight for this bout, and that should help Nyambayar out. Regardless, expect fireworks with this one.
Halyk arena sport complex, Aktau, Kazakhstan
As well as the US action there is also a show in Kazakhstan.
In the main event of the card unbeaten Kazakh Middleweight hopeful Meiirim Nursultanov (15-0, 8) will be up against Russian fighter Andrey Sirotkin (19-1-1, 7), with the men battling for the WBO International Middleweight title. Coming in to this Nursultanov will be looking to show what he can do, and to prove himself after really treading water in recent years. He has long shown potential, but that potentially really hasn't been delivered on, yet, but a win over Sirotkin would help him move towards a world title fight. As for Sirotkin, he will be looking to bounce back from a draw last time out with Danny Dignum, but he will know he's the away fighter and the crowd will be backing Nursultanov.
Also on this card will be Bekzad Nurdauletov (3-0, 1) and Bekman Soylybayev (12-1, 4), who are both looking to kick off 2022 and move their careers forward. Although neither are major names Nurdauletov is certainly a prospect to keep an eye on and someone we tend to think has the potential to go all the way, though him reaching those hieghts is, admittedly, still some years away from happening.
Sanman Gym, General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
This coming Monday SANMAN will be putting on their next show as their gym in General Dos Santos. Sadly as we write this the bouts for the show haven't been announced, though the most notable fighters for the event have been.
The only bout to be confirmed, at the time of writing, will see the unbeaten Dave Apolinario (15-0, 10), a man we rate really highly as one to watch for the future, taking on the limited Mike Kinaadman (7-14-2, 5). This really is little more than a stay busy bout for Apolinario, who we hope to see step up in class over the next 12 months. Apolinario is undeniably talented, moves well around the ring, was a good amateur and clearly has the potential to mix in, and around, world level. Kinaadman on the other hand is best known for going the distance with some good Filipino fighters earlier in his career. Sadly though he is a natural Minimumweight and he will look the much smaller man against Apolinario, a natural Flyweight.
Also on this show will be former would title challenger Vince Paras (15-2, 13), who has really not been able to build on a solid performance, in a losing effort, against Hiroto Kyoguchi back in 2018. He has sadly seen his career derailed by the pandemic and he's now not fought since September 2019, when he beat Vincent Bautista. It's a shame his career has been slowed in the way it has, and it's also hard to imagine him facing anyone decent this year, but it's obvious he has talent, and we wouldn't be surprised to see SANMAN getting him big fights in the near future. Sadly his opponent for this show is unknown at the time of writing, and isn't expected to be anyone testing.
One other notable fighter on this card is former WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Ben Mananquil (17-2-3, 4). This will be his first fight since being stopped by Yuki Strong Kobayashi back in 2019, and we really can't imagine him facing anyone of any quality given that long lay off and his loss last time out.
This coming Sunday is set to be a relatively quiet day, but there is 3 Asian shows, with two of those set to take place in the Philippines and one in India.
The most notable of the three cards is from Cebu where we see two promising and unbeaten Filipino prospects kick off their new year.
The more notable of the two is Criztian Pitt Laurente (7-0, 4), who looks to begin 2022 with a bout against Vicente Casido (6-3-1, 2). Laurente had a decent 2020, with a tough win over Ernesto Saulong and a win over Kim Lindog, but will be expected to step up this year and look to move onward and upwards. As for Casido he has lost his last 3 and is 1-3-1 going back to October 2015. It's fair to say this is a step backwards for Laurente and will hopefully be one of 3 or 4 fights for him this year.
The other Pinoy prospect on this card is Kenneth Llover (3-0, 3), who takes on Jimpol Dignos (2-2, 1). The "Loverboy" debuted in 2020 and picked up two wins last year, with all 3 coming against fellow novices. It's unlikely he'll be stepping up his quality any time soon but he's promising, heavy handed and explosive. Dignos on the other hand has lost his last 2 and is almost 2 years removed from his last win, making him a clear under-dog.
Brgy. Lumbo, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental, Philippines
The other Filipino card is from Misamis Oriental and features a trio of unbeaten hopefuls facing off with opponents with losing records.
Of the three unbeaten fighters in action Roslan Solilawan Eco (5-0, 3) is the one who should be given the most attention, especially because he's the one taking on the most notable opponent, Michael Camelion (11-14-3, 9). Eco debuted in 2019 and has slowly been stepping up the level of his competition, with Camelion being a respectable opponent for this stage of his career. On paper this looks like a gimmie, but Camelion can put in surprising performance when he wants to, and should ask some questions of Eco, even if Eco should still clearly take home the W.
Banarsi Dass Arya College, Jalandhar, India
In India the action really is low level, with the most notable bout on the card being a 6 rounder between Honey (1-1) and Deepak (1-1, 1), who clash in a 6 rounder at Super Bantamweight. For the next few years we expect this will be the level of bout we become accustomed to in India, but they are putting down the groundwork for the future and that's great.
Auditorio Jacales, Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico
This coming Friday Mexico is the place for our attention as unbeaten Filipino Jade Bornea (16-0, 10) takes one the once beaten Mohammed Obbadi (22-1, 13), an Italian based fighter from Morocco, in an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator. Potentially setting up a bout with Jerwin Ancajas for later in the year. Of the two men the one we've followed the most is Bornea, who turned professional along with brother Jake Bornea, who were both tipped to be future stars following successful runs in the amateurs. Sadly neither of the Borena brothers has really lived up to the expectations, yet, but this is a great chance for Jade to move onwards and upwards to something big. He's a huge talent with solid power, good movement, but a bit a lazy attitude and loose defense, which could be an issue here. As for Obbadi he is a former multi-time European Union Flyweight champion who has bounced back really well since losing in 2017 to Cristofer Rosales. Sadly, though like many fighters in Italy, his competition hasn't been great over-all, with his most notable win coming in 2016 against former world title challenger Silvio Olteanu. Despite that it's clear he's got talent, some lovely quick hands and sharp movement and footwork. He's slippery and he makes people pay.
If we're being honest Bornea should be the betting favourite, but Obbadi is a very, very, very live under-dog, and he has the tools to upset the touted Pinoy here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
After a very quiet start to the boxing year, something we're used to by now, we're set to get the first Japanese show of 2022 this coming Tuesday, and it's one that has a brilliant main event, as well as number of good supporting under-card bouts. It's not a big domestic show, not by any stretch, but it's a solid show to begin a new year.
The excellent main event will see the hard hitting Kai Ishizawa (9-1, 8) take on the hugely skilled, but light punching, Katsuki Mori (9-0, 2) in a bout for the vacant Japanese Minimumweight title. The title was vacated late last year by Masataka Taniguchi, who went on to win the WBO title in December, and it's fair to say that the winner of this bout will likely have eyes on Taniguchi for the future, especially Ishizawa given his only loss came to Taniguchi. The 25 year old Ishizawa has been on the radar for a while now and is a genuinely exciting Minimumweight, with brutal power, naturally heavy hands and some brilliant body shots. Unlike most at 105lbs he is a pure pressure fighter who hurts people, and breaks them. Mori on the other hand is a wonderful pure boxer, who won Rookie of the Year in 2019 and looks like a genuine prospect, but at 21 he also looks like he's not yet a fully matured fighter and it might be a few years before we see the best from him. Regardless, it's great to see Mori and his team take a dangerous fight like this and the bout should deliver a lot of great action, in what is, of course, the first Japanese title fight of the year. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Ishizawa and Mori clash in first Japanese title fight of 2022!
In one of the numerous solid supporting bouts we'll see unbeaten prospect Narumi Yukawa (3-0, 2) take on Kanta Fukui (8-4-1, 6) in a Lightweight bout. Yukawa looks the part, with an energetic, aggressive, pressure style, and he's determined to put some questionable past activities behind him as he pursues professional success in the ring. Fukui is a good opponent for Yukawa at this point in time, with Fukui having the power, skills and toughness to keep Yukawa honest, and we wouldn't be surprised if the unbeaten prospect really needs to work for his win here.
Another unbeaten hopeful on this card is the under-rated Tentaro Kimura (7-0-2), the cousin of the very highly regarded Rentaro Kimura, who takes a credible step up in class to face off with Kaito Takeshima (6-3-1, 1) in what should be a very good technical bout. Kimura is a naturally gifted boxer, but he lacks stopping power, and his team will know that, and that likely explains why he's not being rushed into taking on punchers. In Takeshima we have another talented fighter, but another man who lacks power, and someone who has had some set backs in recent years. Interestingly both of these men are 23 and we really wouldn't be surprised by seeing them collide again down the line.
One other bout that needs a mention is a stay busy bout for JBC ranked Light Middleweight Makoto Kawasaki (11-8-1, 2) as he takes on Fumisuke Kimura (9-8-1, 6). The 37 year old Kawasaki will likely be looking to land a Japanese title fight later in the year, before heading off in to the sunset, but he's not fought since the pandemic and will have some ring rust to shake here, with Kimura serving as something of a tough and dangerous test. Although Kimura is without a win in his last 5 he is dangerous and cannot be over-looked by Kawasaki here.
Hanaspace, Taipei, Taiwan
This coming Saturday is another quiet day for Asian fighters, but there is set to be a small card in Taiwan, as the country continues to put down it's foundations for a domestic boxing scene. For a country without the boxing base of many of its neighbours Taiwan doesn't have a fighter who looks to be a star in the making, but the country is set for some interesting looking minor regional title bouts here.
One of those title bouts will see Yu Che Li (6-2-2, 4) and Chia Ching Hung (5-1-1, 5) battle for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Featherweight title. Of the two men Li is the more notable, so far at least, having debuted back in 2016 and has fought some notable names, such as Da Xu, who he is 0-1-1 against, and former world title contender Noldi Manakane, who he stopped in a round. Notably however he has been out of the ring since August 2019. Hung on the other hand is limited but aggressive and has scored all 5 of his wins in the first 3 rounds, sadly though he has also been inactive, and was shown to be fairly limited in his most notable bout to date, a loss to Koji Igarashi in 2017. Given the title and the men's record, we expect this one will be explosive.
The other title bout will see Chuan Hsun Hong (2-2, 1) face off with 18 year old novice Wei Lin Liu (1-0) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Featherweight title. The 22 year old Hong debuted in 2018, and won his first two bouts, but has lost his last 2 including a defeat to De Kang Wang last time out. He's been inactive for over 2 years now and we do wonder what his desire for the sport is like. Liu on the other hand made his debut last November and his team are clearly confident in the teenager moving him from a 4 rounder to an 8 rounder so quickly.
DLF Club, Gurgaon, India
This coming Friday is a quiet day for Asian boxing, but there is a show set to take place in Gurgaon, in India. The show is a small one, but it does have two bouts worthy of some attention, at least on the Indian domestic scene.
One of those bouts is a bout between Gaurav (6-0, 3) and Saurabh Kumar (3-0, 2), who clash at Super Flyweight. The two men are both 26 and both debuted in March 2020, though Guarav has been the busier man, with 3 fights in 2020 and 3 fights in 2021. If activity is going to be the key to victory here, it is worth noting that Kumar has been more active in recent months, fighting in September and December 2021 whilst Guarav has been out of the ring since March 2021.
The other match up of note for this show will see Manish Ahlawat (3-0-1, 2) clash with Rahul Singh (3-0, 2), up at Welterweight. At 30 years old Ahlawat is the older man, and he has bounced back well from his sole set back, a majority draw with Naresh Kumar, whilst Singh is a 24 year old who is coming into the new year with some momentum thanks to back to back stoppage victories. On paper the winner here will have a career best win, but they are a very, very long way from notable international bouts.