This coming Sunday is a somewhat unusual day in that India becomes the focus for Asian boxing. Not only that but the country hosts 2 boxing shows on the same day, a real rarity.
Delhi Ruler Boxing Academy, Delhi, India
Of the two cards the more interesting appears to be a show from Delhi, which features some of the more notable Indian prospects.
One of the fighters on this card worthy of some attention is Sanjay Thapa (6-0, 3), who looks for his 7th win as he takes on novice Yash Malik (1-0). The 23 year old Thapa has been building a nice record for himself since his 2016 debut, but has yet to face anyone resembling a test and we suspect this will be another win over a very inexperienced novice. Malik on the other hand debuted in 2019 and took a decision win over a fellow debutant, and has been out of the ring since then. We suspect Thapa will be too good here, but it's nice to see someone building their record in India and hopefully he will land some more meaningful bouts in the future.
Another fighting looking to move to 7-0 on this show is Akashdeep Singh (6-0), with the feather fisted 26 year old taking on Suresh Pasham (1-0, 1). Singh made his debut in 2019, fought 4 times in 2019 and once last year. It seemed he was building plenty of momentum prior to 2020 and he'll want to kick start that again here. Pasham on the other hand made his debut in December 2020 scoring an opening round win and will be looking to build on that debut victory.
One other bout of note on this show is a 6 round match up between Sandeep Kumar (7-1-1, 4) and Arman (2-1, 1). Coming in to this Kumar is riding a 7 fight unbeaten rung, following an early career loss, but his competition has been awful and his opponents during his unbeaten run have a combined 2 wins. The 17 year old Arman was beaten last time out, but was matched rather hard for a novice, losing a close split decision to Rakesh Lohchab, and he could well be a banana skin for Kumar here.
Hilldale Matric School, Thinnanur Nadu, India
Despite thinking the show in Delhi is the better one, the other show, from Nadu, is also arguably a more competitive one.
In an 8 round bout we'll see 20 year old Mohd Azahar (2-3, 2) look to rebuild from back to back losses as he takes on the win-less Sediqi Wahedulla (0-2). We're not really sure why these two have been scheduled for 8 rounds, but it's clear that both men will feel this is a great chance to pick up a win against someone with no momentum and it could end up being a much more competitive bout than some of the ones in Delhi.
Another 8 rounder on this show will see the promising 25 year old Sachin Dekwal (9-0, 6) take on Kuldeep Singh (0-1), who had a draw on his debut in 2020. We think Dekwal has the potential to make a mark on the regional scene, though it's clear his competition will need to step up in the next year old two. Fingers crossed that when the world gets back to some sort of normality we get to see Dekwal face a test or two, rather than continue to rack up wins against novices at home.
A third bout of note on this show will be a female bout, as Urvashi Singh (7-2, 5) battles 20 year old novice Priyanshee Priyanshee (1-1). Although not a star Singh is a somewhat established fighter who has previously fought in Thailand and the Philippines and has got the potential to compete against decent fighters on the regional female scene. Sadly however Singh is going over old ground here, and she stopped Priyanshee last year, making us feel this is a bit of a meaningless re-run for a genuinely promising young Indian female fight.
February has been a worryingly quiet month for fans who follow Asian fighters. Thankfully however there is a real pick up in activity this coming Saturday with a host of Asian fighters in action all around the globe.
Bula Gym, General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
The most meaningful bout of the day comes from the Philippines where we get world title action from General Santos City. The bout in question will see IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-2-1, 11) defending his title against Rene Mark Cuarto (18-2-2, 11), with Taduran looking to record his second defense of the belt.The aggressive and heavy handed Taduran has impressed in several bouts, notably his loss to Wanheng Menayothin and his title win against Samuel Salva, however he has been out of the ring since a technical draw against Daniel Valladares just over a year ago. Cuarto on the other hand lacks a real win of note, though is a hungry 24 year old challenger looking to make his mark on the sport. Sadly Cuarto hasn't fought since late 2019 and is 2-1-1 in his last 4, but is very much a live under-dog and is technically more rounded than the champion. A full preview of this bout can be read here Taduran takes on Cuarto in All-Filipino world title fight!
Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Although the biggest bout of the day is in the Philippines the most interesting card is actually in Kazakhstan where we get the chance to see a number of exciting prospects in action.
The most notable bout on this show will see fast rising Kazakh standout Kamshybek Kunkabayev (2-0, 2) battle in his first title fight, as he takes on the once beaten Steven Ward (13-1, 4) for the WBO Asia Pacific Cruiserweight title. Kunkabayev was an amateur standout who has been hugely impressive since making his pro debut last year, and has notched two very solid wins in as many fights. In the opposite corner is Ward, a Northern Irish fighter who's record looks good, but under the surface his competition has been poor and his sole loss, an opening round TKO to Ricards Bolotniks, does not bode well for him here. On paper Ward is probably the first opponent who is coming to beat Kunkabayev, though we suspect he'll be taken out relative early on here. Our preview of this one can be read here Kunkabayev goes for gold as he battles Ward!
(Editor's note - Kunakabayev's opponent has been changed, he will now be facing Ukrainian fighter Server Emurlaiev (23-1, 8), unfortunately these articles are scheduled more than a week in advance, and the previews are written 2 to 3 weeks before a bout.)
In a much more interesting looking bout we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Nurtas Azhbenov (10-0, 4) take on once beaten Russian Evgeny Smirnov (13-1-3, 3). The 26 year old Azhbenov has shown some promise, but doesn't appear to be a star in the making, with a lack of power likely to be one of the things holding him back from the big time. He has also been matched relatively softly through his 10 bout career. Smirnov on the other hand has been matched harder, but has struggled and has gone 0-1-3 against unbeaten fighters. Smirnov is also win-less in his last 3, going 0-1-2 since late 2018. This one should be "interesting" but we suspect it will lack drama, as neither man is known for having much power.
Exciting youngster Talgat Shayken (3-0, 2) will be looking for his 4th professional win as he takes on Russian fighter Evgeny Pavko (18-3-1, 13). Although not the most talented or polished fighter out there Shayken is a very entertaining fighter, who comes to rumble, presses forward with a high intensity and really lets his shots fly when in range. He's a very fan friendly fighter who needs time to mature and develop, but should be on the radar for fans who follow the Central Asian scene. Pavko on the other hand is a very decent, well respected and experienced fighter who will be looking for a victory here, rather than rolling over and just losing. His 3 losses have all been struggles for the winners and we suspect Shayken will need to work hard for a victory here, though his natural size should be the difference here.
A potentially explosive bout will see once beaten Kazakh Abay Tolesh (6-1, 4) take on Russian Vasily Shtyk (2-2, 2). The talented Tolesh is looking to score his second win following a 2020 loss to Saparbay Aidarov and will be wanting to make a statement. Shtyk on the other hand is a limited but tough fighter who has heavy hands, as he showed last time out against Sergey Kozhukhar. We expect Shtyk to be a potential banana skin here for Tolesh.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
Staying in Asia we'll also get the first Thai show of 2021 as TL Promotions give us a card in Bangkok.
The main event here will see former IBF Flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng (21-4, 6) take on the once beaten Arnon Yupang (6-1, 3). Despite now being 41 Amnat is proving to be a slippery and talented fighter, who is still putting in solid performances, as we saw last year against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Pungluang Sor Singyu. Aged 23 this is a big step up for Yupang, but also a great chance for him to put his name on the map. For Yupang the key is to outwork Amnat, but that is easier said than done.
On the under-card we're expecting to see the unbeaten Yuttapong Tongdee (5-0, 4), a wonderfully talented and highly promising Thai, take on Arthit Kaewbantid (3-1, 2). We regard Tongdee as on of the brightest hopefuls in Thailand but, and although this looks like an easy match up we're really just wanting to see Tongdee kept busy this year before bigger and better things in 2022.
London, United Kingdom
In London we'll see UK based Afghan fighter Quaise Khademi (8-0, 2) battle against Ijaz Ahmed (7-2) for the WBO European and the vacant IBF European Super Flyweight titles in a very good looking match up. For Khademi this will be his first defense of the WBO European title, which he won back in 2019, and will see him looking to build on a solid start to his professional career. As for Ahmed he'll be looking to bounce back from a close loss to Harvey Horn, at Flyweight. Khademi should have the edge in natural size and power, but Ahmed will not be there to suffer a second successive loss.
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida, USA
We also have action in the US as unbeaten Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (22-0, 17) takes on Jerry Forrest (26-4, 20). The 37 year old Chinese fighter really has let his career slip away with father time and the promise he had following a successful amateur career is unlikely to ever be realised due to his age and relatively weak match making. Aged 32 Forrest is no push over, and despite having 4 losses is a live under-dog here, having pushed Jermaine Franklin and Carlos Takam close in recent bouts. Forrest is tough enough, experienced enough and good enough to test Zhang, and if Zhang is on the slide this may turn out to be a genuine banana skin for the big guy from China.
USC Soviet Wings, Moscow, Russia
Over in Russia this coming Friday we get a number of Uzbek fighters in action, albeit in low profile bouts.
One of the bouts to feature an Uzbek on this card will see unbeaten 23 year old Mirzakamol Nematov (3-0, 1) take on the experienced Marat Khuzeev (20-17-1, 8) in 10 rounder at 154lbs. On paper this looks like is a massive step up for Nematov, who only debuted back in September and has never faced a fighter with a winning record, or gone beyond 6 rounds. Whilst it is a step up for Nematov it is worth noting that Khuzeev's record is not a good one and he has been picking up a lot of stoppage losses in recent years, and has lost his last 9 in a row, all within 3 rounds and only has a single win since 2011.
In a more competitive looking match up we'll see an all-Uzbek clash as Bakhromjon Fozilov (1-1-2, 1) takes on Nozimjon Tojiboev (2-6, 2) in a 6 rounder at Middleweight. Neither of these men are expected to go far in the sport, but they should make for an interesting clash, and we wouldn't be surprised by this being a very competitive 6 rounder.
One other man on this show who needs a mention is Eldor Abdukodirov (3-1, 1), who is scheduled to compete in a 6 rounder, though his opponent hasn't been named at the time of writing. He's another Uzbek and will be looking to build on a 2020 win against Roman Klemeshov.
Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, Almaty, Kazakhstan
We return to Kazakh action this coming Monday thanks to a show inn Almaty promoted by Tukeshov. It's not a big show in terms of names on the event but there will be a lot of bouts on the card, with 13 bouts listed. From those 13 bouts we're expecting 14 debuts and not a single fighter on the card has more than 5 bouts to their name.
Despite the inexperience of the men on the show the card does have some interesting potential action on it, most notably the main event. That will be a scheduled 8 rounder between teenage hopeful Dastan Saduuly (4-1, 4) and the debuting Yernar Kiyatov (0-0). We know pretty much nothing about Kiyatov, though we're always interested when a fighter debuts in an 8 round bout, and he may be a hidden gem of sorts. As for Saduuly his competition so far has been incredibly poor, except for Vildan Minasov, who battered him last September. This could be an easy one for Saduuly, or another lesson for the youngster.
One other potentially interesting bout on paper will be the second bout for Artem Pchelyakov (1-0, 1) who faces the debuting Shynarbek Batinuly (0-0) in a 6 rounder, with Batinuly the only other debutant scheduled for more than 4 rounds. Pchelyakov debuted in January in an opening round win and is looking or his second win in less than a month. Sadly so little is known about Batinuly, though we do know he competed in international amateur competition, and was involved in the 2018 Kazakh national championships as an amateur.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Sunday we will see last year's All Japan Rookie of the Year tournament come to an end, ending a tournament that has seen it's final pushed back 2 months, from it's original December date, due to Covid19. Despite the delay the finals are still set to be something special, and will be shown live on G+, though sadly the event will be a fan-less one.
Rather than going through the full card, which will feature 12 bouts in total, we'll just talk about a few that we think will be the most fun to watch, or have the best long term prospects involved.
The first bout we think could be a little bit special is the Super Flyweight bout, which will see Shunpei Kubo (6-1-1, 4) clash with Taichi Sugimoto (6-0-1, 1). To reach this bout Kubo had to upset Kosuke Tomioka in the East Japan final, in what was a genuine surprise, and he'll be flying high here. Despite his loss, suffered in 2019, Kubo has gone 4 fights unbeaten and will feel a huge boost of confidence following the win over the highly fancied Tomioka. Sugimoto on the other hand is a 22 year old who drew his secnd professional bout, but has since bounced back with 5 straight wins, and has shown he's very comfortable with the 4 round distance.
At Super Bantamweight Yuki Yazan (7-2, 4) will battle the unbeaten Sora Fukunaga (8-0, 4) in a really good looking match up. The 29 year old Yazan has won his last 4 and was incredibly active last year, fighting 4 times in 2020. Despite that he did struggle in one of those bouts, but his route to the Rookie of the Year final did look rather easy, as he barely lost a round in his 3 Rookie bouts. Fukunaga on the other hand is 23 years old, has stopped 4 of his last 5 though did struggle against Ren Nishimura in November, and it's clear that if he can't take opponents out he might be well struggle.
In the Super Featherweight bout the heavy handed Tsubasa Narai (6-0, 5) will take on fellow unbeaten fighter Seika Fukuda (5-0, 1). The 21 year old Narai has been really impressive in the Rookie of the Year, reaching the all Japan final with 3 straight stoppage wins, and it's clear he'll enter with the confidence of a man in great form and self belief. Fukuda on the other hand is a 21 year old non puncher. Despite not having much in terms of power Fukuda looked very good last time out, and, as an unbeaten fighter himself, will also be full of confidence. This should be a very interesting match up.
Another match up pitting unbeaten men against each other will see Eiki Kani (3-0-2, 1) take on Katsuhiro Nakata (5-0, 4). The 19 year old Kani reached the final following a brilliant 4 round bout with Kenji Yoshino, and he has shown an aggressive, exciting style, but it looks like he can be hurt. At 19 he is still a kid, but he has a very, very fan friendly style and will mature into a better fighter in the years to come. Nakata on the other hand is 29 years old and is an out and out puncher, with 4 stoppages in his 5 career bouts. If Kani gets into a fire fight he could be in trouble but his tenacity could be a problem for Nakata, and this could be a very, very explosive match up.
This coming Saturday isn't a big day for Asian fight fans, but there is plenty of action to get excited about, including a solid looking card in the Philippines, an unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful and a couple of Uzbek fighters.
Binan City, Laguna, Philippines
The main focus for us will be the Philippines where we get two mouth watering match ups.
The most notable of the two will be a bout between Vic Saludar (20-4, 11) and Robert Paradero (18-0, 12), which is expected to be for some form of WBA title at Minimumweight. The bout will see Saludar looking to secure his second win since losing the WBO world title in 2019 to Wilfredo Mendez and could help him move towards a showdown with Knockout CP Freshmart. The heavy handed former champion is the more proven man but we need to wonder what he'll be like after more than a year away from the ring. As for Paradero he's yet to face anyone of real note, though has long been touted as a really bright prospect. Sadly, aged 24, Paradero appears to be coming in to this bout without having had the developmental fights he'd need to hold his own against someone like Saludar. Saying that however he will clearly be there to make the most of this huge opportunity. An in depth preview of this bout can be read here Sure Thing: Vic Saludar and Roberto Paradero in all-Filipino WBA ‘not-quite’ title fight
In a supporting bout the talented 21 year old Carl Jammes Martin (16-0, 14) looks to extend his unbeaten record, as he takes on the battle tested Joe Tejones (13-7, 7). The hard hitting Martin has long been regarded as a thrilling, fun to watch prospect, but one who is somewhat open and needs polishing before stepping up in class. Tejones on the other hand has been matched hard and has already shared the ring with the likes of Hinata Maruta, Tenta Kiyose and Tsuyoshi Tameda. We suspect Martin will be too good and too strong, but this is a genuine test for the youngster.
Universum Gym, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Over in Germany we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Zhan Kossobutskiy (14-0, 13) take part in his first bout of the new year as he battles heavy handed Nigerian Onoriode Ehwarieme (18-1, 17) for the WBA International Heavyweight title. The unbeaten Kossobutskiy was a talented amateur and has shown some promise since turning professional in 2017, however at the age of 32 he is at the point where he needs to begin making a move towards bigger and better fights. He has been active, with 14 fights in less than 4 years, but he needs to begin facing name quality foes this year. Ehwarieme on the other hand hasn't faced too many fights of note but is, surprisingly, well travelled with fights in Indonesia, Ghana, Nigeria, Argentina and the USA. Sadly his most notable result is an opening round loss to Rodney Hernandez, which sums up his level pretty well.
If we're being honest we suspect Kossobutskiy ends up stopping Ehwarieme relatively early on here in what will look like a pointless mismatch, despite looking interesting on paper.
Doubletree Miamimart Hotel, Miami, Florida, USA
American based Kazakh fighter Dimash Niyazov (13-1-3, 6) ends a lengthy break from the ring as he takes on feather fisted Argentine Jonatan Hernan Godoy (5-7). The 32 year old Niyazov hasn't fought since April 2018, when he lost a decision to Angel Sarinana. Since then he has been working as a police officer in New York. Amazingly since Niyazov last fought Godoy has fought 11 times. If activity is the key here, Godoy has a chance, otherwise we suspect Niyazov's class and skills will be the difference.
Shelby Co Fairgrounds, Shelbyville, Kentucky, USA
We can't help but feel that unbeaten American based Korean fighter Jongin Choi (5-0, 3) needs a step up now, at the age of 29. Sadly however that won't be happening here, as he takes on win-less 43 year old Muhammad Adams (0-5-1). Disappointingly this looks to be little more than a record padding effort for Choi, who really needs to be facing someone coming to win. To date Choi's first 5 opponents have a combined record of 1-35-1 and this low level of competition is doing nothing to advance his career.
Vegas City Hall, Krasnogorsk, Russia
Over in Russia we'll see two Uzbek fighters in action.
The most notable of the two is unbeaten Lightweight Ulugbek Qayumboev (3-0, 3), who has taken out his first 3 opponents in a combined 7 rounds. Sadly, at the time of writing, Qayumboev hasn't had his opponent for this bout named, though given his first 3 opponents we're not expecting anyone too testing for the unbeaten 20 year old.
The other Uzbek on this show will be Muzaffar Rasulov (5-2, 3), who looks to continue a 4 fight winning run as he takes on the limited Arkadi Harutyunyan (4-14-0-1, 1). The 24 year old Rasulov lost 2 of his first 3 but has began showing some genuine promise, though he is obviously still a work in progress. Armenian born Russian Harutyunyan scored one of the biggest upsets of 2020, stopping Andrey Klimov in February, but then lost 6 in a row as he failed to build on a career best win. Notably the win over Klimov was his first since 2013! With that in mind we're not giving him much of a chance here.
Govardhan stadium, Agra, India
This coming Sunday attention turns to India for a show at the Govardhan stadium courtesy of Project Solutions and Raftaar Promotions.
The most notable name on the show is veteran Shiva (12-3-1, 5), who who fighters for the 17th time in his career. The 25 year old, who will be seeking his second win of the year, is matched in a total mismatch here, as he takes on the win-less Rajendra Rajput (0-2), in what should be a very, very easy win for Shiva.
Another clear mismatch on this card will see unbeaten 25 year old Gaurav (4-0, 2) battle against Pawan Saxena (0-5), a win-less 24 year old. As with Shiva's fight it's almost impossible to see Gaurav suffer a loss here, though sadly the bout won't tell us much at all about his longer term potential.
A third mismatch worthy of a little bit of attention here will see Dharmender (4-0, 2) risk his unbeaten record against the win-less Manjeet (0-1-1). Unlike the two other win-less fighters against more established fighters Manjeet does have a draw, though that's unlikely to help him here in what should be Dharmender's 5th straight victory.
Sadly whilst this show does feature promising Indian fighters, it's hard to get too excited given they all seem to be in easy match ups, rather than anything representing a test.
It's not often we're going to get the chance to talk about world title action this month, but thankfully this Saturday is one of those rare chances, as we get a really interesting day. Not only do we have a solid looking Filipino card, but also a show in California featuring a world title bout and a very highly regarded Uzbek hopeful.
Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California, USA
The most notable of the shows will be taking place in California on a Golden Boy Promotions show.
The world title fight will see IBF Super Featherweight champion Joseph Diaz (31-1, 15) defending his title against mandatory challenger Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12), from Tajikistan. For Diaz this will be the first defense of the title he won last year, when he fought through a nasty cut to pound out a win against Tevin Farmer, in what was a stellar performance by Diaz. In the opposite corner will be the technically limited, but strong and heavy handed Rakhimov, who has been owed at the title since 2019, when he stopped Azinga Fuzile in South Africa. Although Rakhimov is flawed he does have a fun, exciting style and can make for very fan friendly bouts, much like Diaz. With that in mind we could end up with a genuine instant classic here as two aggressive guys clash in a very meaningful mean event on DAZN. Our full, in depth, preview of this one can be read here Rakhimov takes on Diaz in IBF title fight
We're also expecting two very talented and promising Uzbek's to be in action on this show.
One of those Uzbek fighters is Super Middleweight contender Bektemir Melikuziev (6-0, 5), who was originally supposed to fight at the end of January before Sergey Kovalev failed a drug test. Sadly his opponent for this show hasn't yet been announced.
The other is Lightweight hopeful Elnur Abduraimov (6-0, 6) who will be taking on Colombian veteran Deivi Julio (21-9-0-1, 13), who is now 39 years old. The Colombian veteran was once regarded as a world ranked contender, but he has now lost 7 of his last 9 bouts and it's clear he is not the fighter he once was.
The Bubble, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Staying in the US Top Rank will be putting on their own show in Las Vegas. The main event here will be a WBO Light Heavyweight title fight, which will pit heavy handed American Joe Smith Jr (26-3, 21) against Russian veteran Maxim Vlasov (45-3, 26). This should be a really interesting match up and will pit Smith's power agains the skills, movement size and experience of Vlasov. Interestingly the loser of this is unlikely to get another chance, given both are the wrong side of 30, so it could be well be regarded as a must win, for both me. An indepth preview of this one thanks to George Delis can be read here Vlasov and Smith clash for WBO title!
2nd Floor, Mega Mart Burgos Poblacion Norte, Paniqui, Tarlac, Philippines
As well as the US action there is also a pretty interesting show in the Philippines. It's not a stacked card, but it is certainly an interesting one with plenty of promising talent.
In an excellent looking match up for the GAB Flyweight title we'll see the once beaten Bienvenido Ligas (12-1-1, 9) take on the criminally under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-6-1, 5), in a much better match up than the records suggest. Ligas has bounced back well following a technical draw and a loss in 2018 to Joseph Ambo, and has won his last 6, with 5 of those wins coming by stoppage. Dagayloan on the other hand has continually proven to be better than his record suggests and is 10-1-2 in his last 13, with his loss being a very close one in Japan to Ryota Yamauchi. A preview of this one by Troy Parslow can be read here Proving Ground: Ben Ligas steps up to Alphoe Dagayloan
In another interesting match up we'll see the unbeaten Charly Suarez (4-0, 4), who was a very highly regarded amateur before he turned professional, take on the hard hitting Jon Jon Estrada (11-7-1, 10). At the age of 32 Suarez really is in "now or never" territory, and if he doesn't get a move on this year there's a good chance he fails to ever come close to a world title fight. As for Estrada he's a flawed fighter, but a very serious puncher and a relatively tough guy who has only been stopped twice in his 7 losses, including in his 2013 debut. This should be a test for Suarez, but a test he passes without too many issues.
Another once beaten fighter on this show is Ranelio Quizo (7-1, 1) who takes on Prince Andrew Laurio (10-3-1, 7) in a very good looking match up. The 22 year old Quizo was beaten last February by the under-rated John Mark Tihuk, and will be looking to bounce back from that defeat after more than a year out of the ring. As for Laurio, who is also 22, his career is in some trouble after 3 successive KO losses, and he needs a win here. Interesting Laurio will be fighting for the first time since July 2019 and although his form has been poor he certainly has the power here, with Quizo being a non-puncher. This might not look like an amazing bout, but it's an interesting one, with a glass cannon taking on a non-puncher.
A third fight involving a once beaten fighter will see Lorenz Ladrada (7-1-1, 2) take on Remon Basas (5-4, 4). On paper it is very, very easy to see this as a complete and utter mismatch, however it's not as simple as it looks. In his 9 fight career Ladrada has struggled with the 6 round distance, and had several very close decisions over inexperienced and limited opponents. He could easily have more than just the single loss to his name. Basas on the other hand is a solid puncher, with a decent chin, who has faced better opponents. This is much more competitive than it looks on paper.
Also on this card is unbeaten novice Ali Canega (2-0, 2) who risks his unbeaten record against Glenn Bismanos (6-1-3, 4), yet another fighter with a single defeat to his name. For Canega this will be his first bout against an opponent with a win and his first 6 rounder. It is also expected to be the first time he goes beyond 2 rounds. As for Bismanos he is unbeaten in his last 8, after a loss to John Lawrence Ordonio back in 2016, and has fought at a much higher level than Canega. This could be another very good bout, and it's good to see two fighters with good records risking them against each other, something we rarely see in the Philippines.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
It's fair to say that February is set to be a very, very quiet month with less action scheduled for the month than there was in January, also a super quiet month. Thankfully however this coming Thursday there is a notable show taking place at Korakuen Hall, and it's a genuinely exciting card with a Japanese Youth title fight and Japanese title fight both set for the show. Better than that, is the fact both of the title fights look very, very even and very interesting on paper..
The show only has 4 bouts on it in total. The most interesting of those will see Shinnosuke Kimoto (6-4, 2) take on Shota Ogasawara (5-3, 3) in a 6 round Super Bantamweight bout. Incidentally this is their second bout, but more about that in a moment. Coming in to this Kimoto is looking to rebound from a majority decision loss to talented youngster Tom Mizokoshi, a loss than ended a 2-fight winning run for him. As for Ogasawa he'll be fighting for the first time in over a year, following his loss in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year. Although he lost last time out in a notable bout Ogasawara is better for a different loss, his thrilling 2019 loss to Ryugo Ushijima. As mentioned these two have fought before, with Ogasawara beating Kimoto back in 2017, in what was Kimoto's debut. Fair to say Kimoto will want revenge here!
The first of the two title fights on the show will see Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1) clash with Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) in a sensational looking Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title fight, for the vacant title. The 20 year old Horikawa impressed in his 2019 debut and impressed even more in his second professional bout, when he beat Yuki Nakajima, though was unlucky in his third bout when he was controversially held to a draw in China against Xiang Li. Horikawa is a very skilled and quick boxer-mover and will be looking to make the most of his slick footwork here. On the other hand Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, looked promising on debut and sensational in his second bout, as he calmly outboxed OPBF Lito Dante over 6 rounds. Shigeoka looks the more imposing fighter, the physically stronger and more polished, but also the man with the slower footwork. This should be a genuinely fantastic match up, and a really high level bout between two sensational youngsters. Our preview of this bout can be read here Horikawa and Shigeoka battle for Youth crown in Tokyo!
In the main event we'll see Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (10-1, 5) defend his belt against mandatory challenger Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8), in a bout that was originally scheduled for 2020 but was delayed due to Covid19. For Sagawa this will be his third defense since beating Reiya Abe for the vacant title in 2019 and he looks to continue an excellent 9 fight winning run which has seen him defeat Junki Sasaki, Ryo Matsumoto, Al Toyogon and the aforementioned Abe. The champion has looked fantastic in recent bouts, but there are question marks about his chin and durability. On the other hand Maruta, who turned professional with a lot of buzz, has failed to meet the expectations put on his young shoulders, however a win here would see that buzz return. Aged just 23 Maruta has the tools to go a very, very long way, but a 2017 loss to Hidenori Otake slowed his rise and a controversial draw against Ben Mananquil also slowed him down. Coming in this the challenger has won his last 3, and has shown a more aggressive side to his boxing than earlier in his career. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Sagawa and Maruta clash at last, in Japanese title bout!
Yoyogi First Gym, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the show at Korakuen Hall there will also be a special event at the Yoyogi 1st Gym in Tokyo. This however isn't one you'll find on Boxrec and is instead a charity event where we'll get 7 exhibition bouts, and nothing that will go down on a fighters record. Despite that it's something that is worth being aware of, in part due to the fighters featured on it, including several world champions, amateur standouts and genuine Japanese stars.
One of those will be an potential dream bout as WBA "Super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) shares the ring with the now retired Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16), who himself held the IBF Light Flyweight title along with titles at Minimumweight and Flyweight. It's a shame the careers of these two didn't over-lap as this is a brilliant match up.
Another retired former world champion on this show will be former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) who will be in the ring with current Japanese national Super Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18). Although Uchiyama would be strongly favoured to win, had the two men clashed for real, this could be an interesting exhibition, especially given that Uchiyama is in fantastic condition.
A third former world champion included in the event is former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) who will be battling with former K-1 fighter Yoshiki Takei (0-0), who makes his professional boxing debut in March. Whilst not the greatest match up it will be a chance to see what Takei brings as a boxer, and we always love seeing Sho Kimura in the ring.
Former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (17-1-1, 10) will be taking on amateur standout Yuito Moriwaki in one of several bouts between professional fighters and amateurs. Another of these will see 140lb hopeful Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) share the ring with Japanese Olympian Daisuke Narimatsu and the a third will see Japanese Youth champion Jin Sasaki (10-0, 9) [佐々木尽] face off with the very highly regarded Seon Okazawa.
We've saved the best until last, and that's a bout between WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) and former WBC Flyweight kingpin Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) [比嘉 大吾], in what should be a sensational exhibition bout over 3 rounds and something worthy of paying the hefty admission fee for. This is two big names, both in their primes, facing off in a bit of a dream fight, even if it is just an exhibition.