The first Japanese show of the new month takes place this coming Wednesday and is an interesting one in Tokyo, featuring a very good step up for a promising professional novice.
The first bout of note on the show will see touted Bantamweight hopeful Kyotaro Yoshida (1-0) look to build on his 2021 debut win, over Hiroki Kinjo, as he takes on Kanta Sakai (4-4-1, 1). On paper this isn't a step up, more of a lateral step, but a good chance for Yoshida to another good 6 rounds under his belt as he looks to move onwards and upwards. He is an excellent talented, and we suspect it will only be a matter of time before he finds himself stepping up towards Japanese ranked opponents. Sakai has been stopped in 3 of his 4 losses, but if 4-1 in his last 5 and seems to have bounced back well from 3 stoppage losses in his first 4 bouts.
In the main event the hard hitting Daiju Hamaguchi (6-5, 4) will be going up against Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight fighter Naoto Mizutani (8-7-2, 3). Hamaguchi is limited, but very dangerous early on and his last 3 wins have all come in the opening round, which could make this interesting given that Mizutani has been stopped in 5 of his 7 losses. Despite having a reputation as being fragile Mizutani can box and wins over the likes of Joe Tanooka and Naoya Okamoto have shown that and he'll be looking to neutralise Hamaguchi and do what he needs to to take a decision.
Notably there was a planned OPBF female Minimumweight title fight, which was supposed to see defending champion Mizuki Chimoto (3-0, 1) taking on on Kaori Nagai (6-3-3, 2), the Japanese Atomweight champion. Sadly however this bout was cancelled back in February.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
To end February attention turns to Korakuen Hall for an excellent looking Phoenix Battle show, from the Ohashi Gym. The card is a double title, double header which not only has two excellent looking title bouts, but also two bouts featuring very promising prospects who look to continue their rise towards title fights of their own.
The main event sees double champion Andy Hiraoka (18-0, 13) looking to defend his WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Light Welterweight titles against the exciting and fun to watch Cristiano Aoqui (16-8-2, 11). For Hiraoka this will be his first defense, following an excellent win over Jin Sasaki late last year to win his title, and he'll know that if he wins here he takes a huge step towards a potential world title fight in a few years time. Given how we all expect the 140lb division to look when Josh Taylor inevitably moves up in weight he'll know that his wait for a world title fight might not be too long. For Aoqui on the other hand this will be his second title fight, and at 33 years old it really is now or never for him. Our preview of this bout can be read here Double champion Hiraoka takes on Aoqui in first defense
The other title fight will see the unbeaten Masayoshi Hashizume (18-0-2, 11) take on the under-rated and over-looked Akio Furutani (9-4, 3) in a bout for the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight titles. For Hashizume this will be his second title fight, after previously fighting to a draw in a Japanese title fight, whilst Furutani will be having his first bout for a title, though has beaten former title holders in his last two bouts. This is a really well matched bout, despite what the records suggest, and it will be an interesting chess match, pitching Hashizume's smoothness and speed against the awkwardness and accurate counters of Furutani. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Hashizume and Furutani face off for unified regional titles!
Whilst the two title bouts are great the under-card also promises a lot, especially with the bout between the unbeaten Katsuya Yasuda (8-0, 5), who will be looking to secure himself a title fight later this year, and Shuma Nakazato (10-2-3, 7), who is looking to bounce back from a loss in a Japanese title fight last August. Of the two men Nakazato is the more proven, but Yasuda has long been hailed as a real talent, and this bout should see him finally being forced to sink or swim. We don't expect this to be the most exciting bout of the show, but it is arguably just as compelling as the two title bouts.
Suntopia, Soja, Okayama, Japan
This coming Sunday the focus of boxing in Asia is on Okayama as we get a notable Japanese title fight, featuring someone who seems well on the way to getting a world title fight sooner rather than later.
The title bout will see hard hitting Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (16-2-1, 11) look to record his third defense of the title as he takes on Japanese veteran Takuya Kogawa (32-6-1, 14). Kogawa, a multi-time Japanese champion and a former world title challenger, has long been an amazing servant to Japanese boxing, and has been one of the best Japanese warriors to watch for close to 20 years, but in recent years he has slowed down and his career has shown signs of catching up with him, as we saw in 2019 against Jayr Raquinel. Akui on the other hand has proven to be something of a destructive freak, with 9 opening round wins out of 11 stoppages. Although incredibly dangerous early on he did prove his power carries to the later rounds last year, when he stopped the touted Taku Kuwahara in 10 rounds. A prime Kogawa would have been a very good test for Akui, but the 36 year old version of Kogawa could be in for a very rough night here. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Akui takes on veteran Kogawa in Japanese title defense
Sadly the under-card here is very weak, with the most notable bout on the under-card bout being a contest between Yasuhiro Kanzaki (6-2-1, 2) and Yudai Yoneda (4-3, 2), two 21 year olds. Of the two men Kanzaki is the more proven, and impressed in reaching the All Japan Rookie of the Year, he will know that Yoneda will be there to win, and will be looking to boost his career on a pretty notable card, at least by Okayama's standards.
Holywings Club, Gatot Subroto, Jakarta, Indonesia
The Japanese show isn't the only notable one this Sunday, as we also get a notable Indonesian card, thanks to Armin Tan and Probellum. The card won't get much international attention, but has several fighters of note on it.
The main event will feature a very interesting match up, as WBC International Light Flyweight champion Tibo Monabesa (21-1-2, 8) takes on unbeaten Filipino Jayson Vayson (9-0-1, 5), with Monabesa looking to make his first defense of the title which he won last April. The talented Monabesa has only lost once, losing in 4 rounds to Hiroto Kyoguchi in 2018, and has scored wins over solid opponents since then, including Toto Landero and Samartlek Kokietgym. As for Vayson he's not yet scored a win of note, but does hold a very notable draw against current world champion Rene Mark Cuarto, and will be looking to build on that standout result here.
Another notable bout on this card will see the once touted Defry Palulu (23-2-1, 14) take on Thai veteran Aekkawee Kaewmanee (24-14, 12). At one point in time Palulu was regarded as one of the emerging forces of Indonesian boxing, but a loss in 2014 to AJ Banal exposed him, and he's never really got close to reaching the heights expected of him since then. Now aged 31 it feels like father time has defeated Palulu. As for Kaewmanee, also known as Patomsith Pathompothong, he has been around, for a long time now, and aged 40 it's hard to imagine him having anything in the tank to even make this mildly interesting.
Karapapag Sport Hall, Baku, Azerbaijan
As well as the show in Japan and the one in Indonesia, there will also be a very, very low key show in Azerbaijan.
The most notable action in Asia this coming Saturday will be in Thailand as we get the next show in the WP Boxing series of events, and it's a show that will look to highlight two of the hottest prospects in Thailand.
One of the promising Thai's in question is Phongsaphon Panyakum (12-1, 6), who will be looking to defend his WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Flyweight title against Adrian Lerasan (10-4, 3). The 21 year old Panyakum is one of the best prospects in Thailand, and has gone on a great run since a defeat to Kai Ishizawa on debut back in 2017, and is looking to continue his rise through the ranks towards a WBC world title fight, something we expect to see him in in 5 or 6 years time. Despite Panyakum being a great prospect this won't be an easy one for him and Lerasan can't be over-looked, especially given his recent form in Thailand, that included a massive upset win over Tanes Ongjunta in 2020. This should be a very interesting match up.
Sadly the other main bout on this show is less likely to be an interesting one, as the hard hitting Chainoi Worawut (14-0-1, 12) takes on the much older, much smaller Suriyan Satorn (61-12, 41). A prime Suriyan was always great fun to watch, and a legitimately great warrior, but he was at his best at 108lbs and is now fighting up at 122lbs for this bout. Chainoi Worawut is a genuinely promising prospect, and hopefully we see him in with some interesting international opponents in the near future, but at the moment he's a long way from being a legitimate threat in the Super Bantamweight division. Despite being a long way from a top fight he should be far too big and too strong here to even be tested.
CAA Centre, Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Over in Canada we'll see a new Canadian Middleweight champion being crowned, as Canadian based Indian born fighter Sukhdeep Singh Bhatti (9-0, 3) takes on Jordan Balmir (11-1, 6) for the vacant title. Bhatti slowly been making a name for himself on the Canadian scene, and despite having a frustrating level of inactivity in recent years, with just a single fight in 2020 and a single fight in 2021, he is clearly a promising fighter who could help kick start the love of professional for Indian youngsters. Balmir on the other hand is a Canadian fighter best known for losing in 2018 to Steven Butler, who stopped Balmir in 3 rounds. That loss aside there's not much on Balmir's record to talk about, though he was inactive through 2019 and 2021 and has had just 6 rounds of action since losing to Butler in October 2018.
Olympic Arena, Andijan, Uzbekistan
Staying in notable Asian boxing countries we see Uzbekistan, an amateur boxing power house, hosting a show in Andijan. It's not a big show but there are some interesting fighters on the card.
Potentially the most interesting fight on the show is a 10 rounder between Khusniddin Pulatov (11-3, 7) and the debuting Dilshod Sodikov (0-0), in what seems a really strange one. Pulatov has been quietly making a name for himself in Uzbekistan and South Korea, scoring a notable win over In Duck Seo in 2019, and should be heavily favoured here, however it's clear that Sodikov and his team are confident in his potential and are throwing him in deep here in what could be a great chance for him to announce himself on the regional scene.
Another interesting looking bout will see 23 year old Ulugbek Sobirov (11-1, 6) take on Argentinian fighter Brian Damian Chaves (14-1, 5). Sobirov had a fair bit of momentum build at one point, but a loss in 2020 to Dmytro Mytrofanov slowed his rise and he's yet to really rebuild from that defeat, with just a single win since then. Chaves on the other hand has won 3 in a row since being blasted out by Jeremias Nicolas Ponce. Notably Chavez has shown a questionable chin, but will feel confident of having the tools to over-come Sobirov in a good looking match up.
Dubai Marina, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Over in Dubai we're set to see the next chapter in the long running saga of Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-2-0-1, 13) versus the Philippines, as he takes on Vincent Astrolabio (16-3, 12) for the vacant WBC International Bantamweight title. The Cuban veteran has faced numerous Filipino's over the years, and was unbeaten against them until his 2021 loss to John Riel Casimero last year, and it did seem like he had slowed significantly from the man who beat Nonito Donaire, in what is still the career defining win for Rigondeaux. Despite the Cuban's slow down he should have way too much for Astrolabio, who is very much a Filipino level domestic fighter who has fallen short against his most notable opponents, such as Yuki Strong Kobayashi and John Mark Apolinario.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
At Korakuen Hall this coming Friday we have an all female card as we get the next show under the "Victoriva" banner of events. The card isn't the strongest Victoriva show, but it is a very interesting one and one that should set the stage for a potential unification bout at Atomweight later in the year, given there will be two world title bouts at the weight on the show.
One of the two Atomweight world title bouts will see WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (10-5-1, 3) make her second defense, as she takes on Nanae Suzuki (10-4-1, 1), the woman she successfully defended against in September 2020. In their first bout we saw a really entertaining bout, as Iwakawa tried to box and use technical skills and Suzuki tried to pressure and use her incredibly work rate. The result of the first fight was a split decision win for Iwakawa, but an unconvincing one and she'll be looking to do better here. Sadly however with their first bout coming well over a year ago, it's really hard to know what the two women will be like here, especially given neither has fought since their first bout. One major thing to consider is that Iwakawa is now 38 and the long lay off for her is not likely to help her here, whilst Suzuki is 29 and a lengthy lay off is not likely to affect her like it will with Iwakawa. Our in depth preview of this fight can be read here Suzuki seeks revenge in rematch against Iwakawa!
The other title bout will see unbeaten novice Eri Matsuda (4-0-1, 1) battled against veteran Ayaka Miyao (24-9-2, 6) in a bout for the vacant IBF Atomweight title, which was vacated by Saemi Hanagata. For Matsuda this will be her second world title bout, following a draw with the previous champion, and this is a great chance for the talented 27 year old to make a statement at the top of the sport, in just her 6th professional bout. As for Miyao, the 38 year old has been competing at world level for almost a decade now, having held the WBA Atomweight title from 2012 to 2015 and remained a top level fighter since then. The bout will be a case of Matsuda's boxing skills against Miyao's tenacity, which should make for an excellent contest. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Matsuda and Miyao clash for world title!
As well as the two world title bouts, this card will also feature 3 under-card bouts, all featuring novices.
USC Soviet Wings, Moscow, Russia
This coming Monday our focus will be on Russia for a very interesting, though easy to over-look, card from Moscow. The show won't get much attention, but it features a host of talented hopefuls all looking to move their careers forward, including several Asian fighters.
The most notable of the Asian men involved on the show is former Mongolian amateur standout Tsendbaatar Erdenebat (3-0, 1), who takes a notable step up in class to face the experienced Oleksandr Yegorov (20-7-1, 10). The hopes have been very high for Erdenbat, dating back to his days as an amateur, but he's yet to shine in the professional ranks, and this could be his chance to change that against an experienced and proven opponent. The 33 year old Yegorov is a Ukrainian who has lost his last 6, but has mixed with good company, including Kamil Laszczyk and Vladimir Nikitin, so this should serve as a good test for the Mongolian hopeful.
Another Mongolian on this card is is Welterweight Bayarkhuu Ganbaatar (1-0, 1), who looks to make a return to professional boxing for the first time in more than 3 years, as he takes on Khikmet Garaev (0-1). Ganbaatar is a talent, and he showed than on his debut, stopping Yajie Ding in 99 seconds, but he needs to kick on with his career now, especially given that win over Ding came back in 2018. As for Garaev, he will come into this feeling he can get his first win, and this could make for a very interesting contest over 6 rounds.
Another Asian fighter on this card will be Uzbekistani fighter Sherzodjon Abdurazzokov (2-3), who will be up against it as he takes on Nachyn Chambaldoo (5-0-1, 3). Sadly Abdurazzokov has been thrown to the wolves several times already and this seems like a bout where he is, again, up against it. He'll give a good effort but we suspect he will come up short again.
Universum Gym, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
This coming Saturday our focus, at least partially, will be focused on Germany, as unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Zhan Kossobutskiy (17-0, 16) takes on French veteran Johann Duhaupas (39-6, 26), in a very notable step up in class, for the WBC International Heavyweight title. The unbeaten Kossobutskiy has promised. a lot since turning professional, but has yet to break out from and really launch himself to the next level. A win here however would be huge for his career and see him score a win over a former world title challenger. At his best Duhaupas was a durable and solid European level fighter able to pick up big wins on his day, as he did against Robert Helenius in 2016. Sadly however he is now 40 and looked very poor in 2020 when he was stopped in a round by Tony Yoka.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
As well as Kossobutskiy's bout we'll also see Kyrgyzstan fighter Erzhan Turgumbekov (9-2-1, 2) look to build on his January win over Khasanboy Mirzahamrayev, as he takes on Vildan Minasov (6-1, 3). Sadly for Turgumbekov this will not be an easy one, as Minasov is a handful, as shown in 2020 against Dastan Saduuly and Bakhodur Usmonov, and he could be too strong for his man here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday attention returns to Korakuen Hall for a small, but noteworthy, show as Ichiriki put on a 4 round show under their "Fresh Boy Banner". The show won't feature any notable names, at all, but is instead a Rookie card featuring 11 bouts in total. Whilst the 4 round shows aren't everyone's cup of tea, they are always fun to watch, and a good chance to spot some future domestic contenders, whilst giving us a lot of action very quickly.
We won't go through the whole bout list here, but the show will feature a host of debutants, and youngsters including 19 year old Rikito Hirayama (2-0), who is up against 32 year old Yuki Funyu (1-1, 1). We love seeing youngsters get the chance to build up their profile and skills on shows like this and hopefully we see something of Hirayama over the coming years.
Another youngster on this show will be the debuting Ryoto Uchimura (0-0), a 19 year old who is looking to begin his career with a win against 23 year old Ryunosuke Takaguma (1-0, 1), who looked good in his debut last December. Given neither of these two are particularly old it's going to be fun to follow both, especially knowing that Takaguma does want to compete in Rookie of the Year.
The Melbourne Pavilion, Flemington, Victoria, Australia
This coming Wednesday attention turns to Australia, where we are set to see several Asian fighters competing, albeit as major under-dogs.
The main bout featuring an Asian fighter will see popular local fighter Joel Camilleri (21-7-1, 9) battle against Indonesian visitor Geisler AP (15-11-2, 12). Camilleri is not world champion in the champion and can be upset as we saw last year against Koen Mazoudier, but is a tough guy who comes to fight and makes for fun to watch battles. His toughness can't be questioned, after going 10 rounds with Tim Tszyu in 2019, but he is technically quite limited, and lacks the tools to have success at a higher level. Despite that he should be too big, too strong, too good for the limited Geisler, who is now 38 and is a natural 140lb fighter, not 154lbd'er like Camilleri.
The other bouts on this card featuring Asian fighters are both novice bouts. One will see Australian based Nigerian Ojo Sikiru (0-2) take on Australian based Thai fighter Gen Hongthonglek (0-0), in what could be an interesting match up, but will likely be Sikiru's first win. The other will see Chatchanok Boonyo (0-1) battle against the debuting Connor Read (0-0), in what is thought to be Boonyo's first fight since 2015, when he was stopped in Japan by Akira Shono.
Rangsit International Stadium, Rangsit, Thailand
This coming Tuesday attention turns to Thailand, where we'll see once beaten 26 year old Kongfah CP Freshmart (40-1-1, 20) defending his WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Flyweight title against Lerdchai Chaiyawed (6-6, 2). On paper this is a massive mismatch, not just due to the records of the two men, but also natural size, with Kongfah being a good sized Super Flyweight and Lerdchai having fought as a Light Flyweight just a few years ago. Despite that Kongfah isn't a future world champion, and whilst he should win here, we do expect to see him needing to work for a victory in what could be a relative fun fight to watch