This coming Sunday is set to be a rather interesting, but low key, day for Asian boxing with two small shows in Japan, one in Hyogo and one in Mie.
Art Center, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
The Hyogo show is the much more notable of the two but is, sadly, a pretty weak show overall.
The main event here will see Hiroki Tokuyama (9-3-1, 2) take on Japanese ranked Super Flyweight Shunji Nagata (12-18-2, 4), who will be risking his #20 JBC ranking. The 29 year old Tokuyama is best known for reaching the final of the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, losing to Fumiya Fuse in the final. Since then he has gone 4-2, and hasn't really looked particularly impressive since his Rookie of the Year campaign. Nagata on the other hand is a 36 year old veteran who's record is under-whelming but he is much better than the numbers suggest and he can cause upsets. Whilst neither of these two are going to reach the top of the sport, they should make for a very competitive and well matched bout.
Another ranked fighter on this card is Noboru Osato (12-8-4, 3), who is risking his JBC and WBO Asia Pacific rankings against Retsu Kosaka (10-5, 4). Osato is a "win some, lose some" fighter who manages to lose bouts he's expected to win, and then upset fighters that are regarded as better than he is, such as in 2019 when he defeated Ryo Suwa. He's a bit unpredictable, but when he's on song he is a legitimate banana skin. As for Kosaka he now needs a win after going 3-5 in his last 8, after starting his career 7-0. Interestingly Kosaka has got a very notable win, stopping Ryo Sagawa in 2017, but has gone 2-3 since then and it seemed to be more a case of Sagawa being inexperience than Kosaka being the better fighter.
The under-rated Hiroyuki Takahara (8-3, 6) will feature in an 6 round bout as he takes on Tamaki Miwa (6-6-1, 1), and looked to keep his winning run going. Takahara has won his last 4, including a massive win in August 2020 against Tom Mizokoshi, and will not be wanting that run to end here. Especially not as he's heading towards a Japanese ranking, and a potential title fight. Miwa on the other hand will be there to give a legitimate effort, but has lost his last 2 and lacks the power suspect he'd need to get Takahara's respect.
One other bout of note will see the limited Takuya Fujioka (9-10-1, 1) battle against Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Shingo Kawamura (16-6-4, 8). The light punching Fujioka was last seen losing a competitive decision in 2019 to Juiki Tatsuyoshi and although no world beater he has shown himself to be a legit competitor who comes to win and put in a fair and honest effort every time. Kawamura on the other hand has really struggled since losing in an OPBF title fight to Satoshi Shimizu in 2018. Since that loss he has gone 0-2-3 and he desperately needs a win. Kawamura should be favoured, but it's hard to know just how badly damaged his confidence is having failed to win any of his last 6.
Messe Mie, Tsu, Mie, Japan
The show in Mie features a total of 6 bouts, with 5 of those being 4 rounders and one being an 8 rounder.
The most notable of the 4 rounders will see Ryumei Nakamura (3-1-1, 1) take on the amazingly named Turtle Nishida (6-10-2, 1). Nakamura is a 20 year old hopeful who sadly hasn't fought since late 2019 and hopefully his activity does pick up when Japan manages to get back on top of the Covid19 situation. He looked promising early in his career, but there is certainly a lot of work left for him to do. As for Nishida he's looking to bounce back from successive stoppage losses, but really is a very limited 33 year old who shouldn't pose too much of a test to Nakamura.
The main event of this show will be an a very good looking 8 rounder between Shuma Sugawara (6-2, 4) and Arashi Iimi (7-3, 7). For Sugawara this will be his first bout in over 2 years, following a 2019 loss to Roli Gasca, and despite his lay off the 25 year old was once highly regarded as a prospect and fingers crossed we can see him show some of that potential here. Iimi on the other hand impressed in 2017, losing in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, but has struggled since then and is 3-2 since then. Iimi is a big puncher, and is dangerous, but is also vulnerable and desperately needs a big performance after losing his last two inside the distance.
For those wanting to watch this card live, it will be streamed live on Youtube thanks to sakana 1976 who continues to be a massive asset for Japanese boxing and one of the biggest helps for fans wanting see what Japanese boxing in regions like Aichi and Mie is like.
This coming Saturday is set to be a solid, if somewhat overlooked, day with two world title fights, a notable unbeaten Kazakh in the biggest fight of his career and a show in Uzbekistan.
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
the earliest of the action comes from Thailand, where we'll see long reigning WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (21-0, 7) defending his "Super" title against fellow Thai Pongsaklek Sithdabnij (23-6-1, 13) in what looks likely to be little more than a stay busy defense for Knockout. The talented yet highly frustrating, world champion is a man who could, and probably should, do so much more in the ring. He's probably the best in the division, but his performances often leave us feeling under-whelmed. Here his challenger will be a naturally bigger man, but also a man who is cruder, slower and more open. We suspect Knockout will win this one based on his extra class, and nous, but don't expect to be impressed by a man who needs renaming "Unanimous Decision CP Freshmart" sooner rather than later. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Knockout returns after more than a year out to defend WBA Super title!
Dignity Health Sports Park , Carson, California, USA
Thankfully we're expecting a much, much better world title bout in the US later in the day on a card that features a couple of notable Asian names.
Before we get to the world title fight on this show we'll talk about one of the supporting bouts, as it's a brilliant match up pitting unbeaten Kazakh Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-0-0-2, 14) against bit punching Puerto Rican Subriel Matias (16-1, 16), in what could be a bit of a show stealer. Jukembayev has been wanting a big fight for years, and the technically sound boxer-puncher, who has been based in Canada, very much seems like the type of fighter who needs a big chance to show what he can really do. Matias on the other hand is a very dangerous fighter, who has seriously heavy hands, but can be outboxed. We expect this one to start pretty technically but break down into an all put war of attrition in the later rounds.
After the Jukembayev bout we'll then see WBC Bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12) take on mandatory challenger Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26), with Donaire looking to add one more title to his amazing legacy. Originally this bout was supposed to take place late last year, but due to Covid19 the bout was cancelled, and as a result both men have now been out of the ring for well over a year. In fact the last time the men fought, they shared a card in Japan, which saw Oubaali beat Takuma Inoue and Donaire lose to Naoya Inoue. On paper this is one of the most interesting bouts the Bantamweight division will give us any time soon, and it's a chance for Oubaali to face a genuine legend of the ring, and a chance for Donaire to prove his performance against the "Monster" wasn't just a last hurrah. Whilst neither man has fought recently we are still expecting a brilliant match up here, and the winner could be in line for a major unification bout towards the end of the year with Naoya Inoue. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Oubaali faces Donaire in WBC mandatory title bout!
Universal Sport Hall, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
As well as the higher level action there is also a show set to take place in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. This is a small card, but a pretty interesting one all the same.
The main event will see professional novice Islombek Pirmanov (2-0, 2) take a huge step up in class as he takes on experienced Afghan fighter Rauf Aghayev (31-7, 14), in a bout for the WBC CIS and Slovac Boxing Bureau (CISBB) Super Bantamweight title. Pirmanov only made his debut this past February and has fought just 7 professional rounds so this is a hugely dangerous step up for him. As for Aghayev the 37 year old "Lion" has been a professional since 2010, and has a good looking record, though is the naturally smaller man and a lot of padding to his record. On paper this is a big ask for Pirmanov but it's fair to say that he will be the favourite here.
Also on this card are promising prospects Abdulkhamid Khakimov (6-0, 4), Shukrulla Vokhidov (6-0, 4) and Bekhruz Rakhmonov (0-0). All three were solid amateur fighters and this will be a chance for all three to take a step forward with their careers. None are set to be matched hard, but given how early in their careers all three men hard the key is for them to pick up wins and develop their skills. Something all 3 should be able to do here.
This coming Friday is a small but notable day in Asia, with a potentially very exciting, but easy to over-look show in Tokyo and an Uzbek hopeful getting a chance to show what they can do.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The card in Tokyo is small one but a pretty notable one.
The main event here will see former world title challenger Akihiro Kondo (32-9-2, 18) take on Japanese Brazilian Cristiano Aoqui (15-8-2, 11) in what should be a really exciting and action packed bout. The tough and aggressive Kondo is certainly a rough around the edges fighter but is rugged, comes to fight, and can be a nightmare for much better fighters, as we saw against Sergey Lipinets. As for Aoqui he's not the best fighter out there, but he's explosive, exciting and hard hitting. Aoqui is, like Kondo, quite rough around the edges, but his style should gel with Kondo's to give us something brilliant to watch. This will be Kondo's pressure and toughness against Aoqui's explosive aggression.
In the chief support bout the once beaten Takuya Uehara (16-1,10) will be looking to bounce back from a 2018 loss to Satoshi Shimizu. Uehara has sadly been out of the ring for well over 2 years but will be looking to prove a point here and get his career back on track. In the opposite corner to Uehars will be Ryusei Ishii (8-6-1, 5), who has been very out of sortes in recent bouts and is 2-4-1 in his last 7.
Reed Arena, College Station, Texas, USA
As well as the action in Japan we're also expecting to see some action in the US of interest as once beaten Uzbek fighter Jamshidbek Najmitdinov (16-1, 13) makes his US debut. Although not a well known fighter Najmitdinov is a very dangerous fighter, and is well over-due a chance to show what he can do on a big stage. The now 31 year old is not among the top amateurs from Uzbekistan, but he is someone who should be more well known and was legitimately robbed in 2017 when he faced Viktor Postol in Ukraine. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent for this bout hasn't been confirmed, though hopefully it will be someone capable of asking him questions, as he can ill afford to waste more time with mismatches.
176BOX, Toyonaka, Osaka, Japan
This coming Saturday we'll see one of Japan's most popular current fighters returns to the ring after almost 2 years of inactivity. Not only that but it's also the start of a new venture from a well known former Japanese fighter.
The show, which is promoted by Shinsei Promotions, will feature several fighters from the 3150 Gym, the newly founded gym from former world champion Koki Kameda who is looking to reinject excitement into boxing in West Japan.
As part of putting excitement back into boxing in Osaka we'll see this show being promoted by former Bantamweight champion Tomoki Kameda (36-3, 20), as he takes on the underwhelming Hironori Miyake (9-10-2, 1). The talented Kameda hasn't been seen in the ring since July 2019, when he lost to Rey Vargas, and had plans that needed cancelling last year due to the on going pandemic. At his best Kameda is a fantastic fighter, one of the most eye pleasing in Japan, but fighting at Super Bantamweight or Featherweight his lack of power is a massive issue, at least at the higher levels. Thankfully for Kameda his lack of power is unlikely to be an issue here as Miyake has lost his last 4, and was stopped last time out by the debuting Keisuke Matsumoto.
Also on this card is former world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa (36-5-4, 21), who take on Chiharu Takasuka (7-7-1, 4). The now 35 year old Osawa is highly ranked by the WBA but was out of the ring for the entire of 2019, due to the pandemic, and has lost all the moment he had been rebuilding since his 2016 loss to Oscar Valdez. With that in mind it's hard to complain about him having an easy bout here. Takasuka, also aged 35, has been stopped in 3 of his last 4 and is 2-6 in his 8, against much more limited fighters than Osawa. This really is just a case of Osawa shaking some ring rust, nothing more and nothing less.
Whilst we won't go into the under-card there are 3 other 3150 Gym fighters on the card, along with Tomoki Kameda, as the gym starts to get it's self off the ground and as the Kameda's continue their long relationship with the Abema streaming service.
Booysens Hall, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
For a second day in a row we get action over in South Africa featuring local fighters against Filipino fighters, in bouts where the locals will be favoured of their visiting foes.
The most notable of the fighters in action is popular South African warrior Hekkie Budler (32-4, 10) who battles Filipino youngster Jonathan Almacen (7-3-2, 2) in a bout for the WBC Silver Light Flyweight title, and a potential crack at Kenshiro Teraji. The talented Budler, a 2-weight and former unified champion at Light Flyweight, hasn't fought since losing to Hiroto Kyoguchi at the end of 2018 and it's hard to know what such a long break from the ring will will do for him. At his best he would easily beat Almacen but at 33 years old and with so much inactivity this bout is more interesting than it would once have been. As for Almacen this is a massive step up in class and is, by far and away, his toughest bout to date.
The other bout will see local fans cheering on Simpiwe Konkco (19-6-0-1, 7) as he takes on Pinoy visitor Ariston Aton (9-3, 5). The talented Konkco was last seen in the ring in October 2019, when he lost to the then defending WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin, in what was a clear win for the Thai great. Sadly with a long lay off, it's now almost 3 years since Konkco last scored a win. As for Aton he's lost his last two, being out pointed in 2019 by Tatsuro Nakashima and being stopped last year by Tsuabasa Koura. Despite the 21 year old Aton being the more active recently, it would be a huge shock if he picked up the win against the often under-rated Konkco.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The next week or so set to be a good one in Tokyo, with three shows in 3 days at Korakuen Hall. The third of those is an Ohashi promoted event that is headlined by a fantastic main event, and has some very notable supporting bouts.
The fantastic main event will see WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) take on OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (9-1, 9) in a massive regional unification bout. The talented Mori has been on a great run recently, with recent wins against Richard Pumicpic, Takuya Mizuno and Tsuyoshi Tameda, but he is now set for his most dangerous bout. Shimizu on the other hand is a very dangerous fighter, but has continually looked crude, easy to hit and defensively flawed. Give the styles of the two men this should be a thrilling bout, and a real test of Mori's chin and patience, as well as a test to see whether Shimizu can adjust against a speedy smart fighter.
A second title bout on this show will see the unbeaten Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) take on the under-rated Kai Chiba (13-1, 8) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title, which was given up by Takuma Inoue. Although not as interesting as the main event, this has the potential to be a fight that breaks into a war. Neither of these men are too well polished, though with Nakajima being a very puncher and Chiba being a boxer-puncher it has the potential to erupt into a war at any moment. We expect this to be slow at times, but once the touch paper is lit expect this to give us serious fireworks until one of the fighters forces a stoppage, and claim the title.
Third generation fighter Keisuke Matsumoto (2-0, 2) looks to build on his early development as he takes on Hiromu Murota (6-4-2, 4). The 21 year old Matsumoto has looked a mixed bag so far. He's clearly talented, but we do have questions about his defense and his durability, and it seems he's a work in progress. Despite that he's being matched tough here against Murota, who recently held former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seichi Okada to a draw and is unbeaten in his last 5. Matsumoto should win, but we expect to see Murota asking genuine questions of him here.
One other bout on this card worthy of some attention will see rising Lightweight hopeful Katsuya Yasuda (7-0, 4) battle against Tomoki Takada (8-5-2, 5), in a battle between two JBC ranked Lightweights. The 29 year old Yasuda is a legitimat talent, with under-dated defense and an excellent boxing brain, but he is also someone who has yet to be given the chances to shine, and is sadly getting older without having made much of an impact on the sport. Here against Takada we see Yasuda getting a chance to move towards a national title fight. As for Takada he is showing power recently and has scored 3 opening round in his last 5 bouts. We expect to see Takada's power going up against Yasuda's defense and counter punching here.
International Convention Centre, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa
As well as the action in Japan there is also action in South Africa where Filipino fighter Joey Canoy (16-4-1-1, 9) takes on Nhlanhla Tyirha (4-1, 2), in a bout for the WBA Inter Continental Light Flyweight title. Although not too well known internationally Canoy is very much an under-rated fighter with wins against Toto Landero and Melvin Jerusalem, but it's fair to say that Filipino fighters rarely have any luck in South Africa and that's unlikely to change here. Tyirha isn't a big name but he did give Nkosinathi Joyi a close run bout in 2019 and he's certainly someone with the potential to be a contender in the lower weights in the coming years.
Bryan Glazer Family JCC Auditorium, Tampa, Florida, USA
Over in Florida we're expecting to see a trio of Japanese hopefuls in action as Teiken and All Star promotions look to develop some of the best talented in Tokyo.
The most established of the trio is Mikito Nakano (5-0, 4), who has looked brilliant on the Japanese scene and is coming through the deep Featherweight and Super Featherweight ranks at home. Although not a complete fighter yet, he is developing well and this should be a good chance to see what he can do on foreign soil, though his opponent has yet to be named
Another man on this card is Kenji Fujita (1-0, 1), who looked fantastic on debut earlier this year and looks like the type of fighter of who can be moved incredibly quickly. There is clearly a lot of work for him to do with Fujita, but he's a very advanced fighter for a 1-0 boxer, and he seems to have the potential to go a very, very long way. He's skilled, has a high level boxing IQ and fighting over in the US will do him the world of good, especially this earlier in his career. Sadly however he also hasn't had his opponent named fro this event.
The third Japanese fighter on this show is the debuting Subara Murata (0-0), a former amateur stand out who is tipped to go to the top very quickly. Murata turned professional last year, but was unable to kick things off due to the Covid19 pandemic. It's a shame he's had to wait so long to make his debut, but given his style and amateur pedigree is seems almost certain that he's set to be a major success in the pros. As with his two countrymen he has not had his opponent named for this bout, but it's still great to see him making his debut, at long last!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
For a second day running we're at Korakuen Hall for title action in what is a very easy to over-look event, but one that has several very interesting match ups on it including a huge regional title unification bout, and a bout between two talented novices each looking to take huge strides forward with their careers.
That novice bout will see former amateur standouts clash as Junya Shimada (0-0) makes his debut and takes on Shigetoshi Kotari (2-0, 1). Although it's his professional debut there are huge things expected from Shimada, who is tipped as a future face of the Teiken Gym and a future world title contender. Kotari turned professional with a decent amount of hype himself, but a disappointing performance against Motosuke Kimura last time out did see some of that hype die down. Here we're expecting a highly skilled and very competitive bout, and the winner will almost certainly be pushed quickly towards a title fight. As for the loser, it's early days and they will not be written off.
The bout on this show will see the once touted Junpei Tsujimoto (7-2-3, 5) take on Hideo Mikan (9-13-2, 2) in what looks like a total mismatch, but could be a very dramatic bout. The talented Tsujimoto is very much a man who has a questionable chin and he was stopped 2 fights ago, and was almost stopped last year as well, in a remarkable bout with Daiki Ogura. Despite having won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2018 his career really has not kicked on. Mikan on the other hand is a limited fighter, but comes into this unbeaten in his last 3 and will be looking to build a little bit more momentum with his career. Sadly for Mikan he had lost 6 in a row before his current unbeaten run.
In the chief support we'll see a very interesting match up as Japanese ranked Welterweight Masaya Tamayama (13-2, 7) takes on WBO Asia Pacific ranked Light Middleweight Hisashi Kato (10-9-2, 6). On paper this looks like a one sided bout, with Tamayama the clear favourite, and he certainly has momentum on his side going 9-1 (4) in his last 10. Kato however isn't the push over his record suggests and he can spring the upset and has faced a string of very good domestic fighters. This could be genuinely well contested, though obviously Tamayama will go in as the favourite.
The main event is a potential Japanese fight of the Year contender as Ryota Toyoshima (13-2-1, 8) the OPBF Welterweight champion takes on WBO Asia Pacific champion Yuki Beppu (21-1-1, 20) in a regional unification bout that promises so much. Toyoshima won his title earlier this year and showed himself to be a tough, aggressive fighter with clear technical limitations but a good work rate, good power and a good chin. Beppu on the other hand is a monstrous puncher, with very heavy hands, under-rated boxing skills and a shaky chin, but incredible powers of recover, as we saw against Ryota Yada in 2019. Given the styles of the two men this should be an all out war, and one that really could see both men being dropped, multiple times. If you can tune in to this one live, on G+, you're in for a genuine treat. The only real shame is that Beppu has been inactive for over a year coming in to this. Our full, in depth, preview of this one can be read here Beppu and Toyoshima clash to unify regional titles!
Lokomotiv Arena, Novosibirsk, Russia
As well as the Japanese show we also have an event in Russia featuring some Central Asian hopefuls.
One of the notable hopefuls on this show is talented Kazakh Bek Nurmaganbet (3-0, 2), who takes on Tazania's Twaha Kassim (17-7-1, 8), in what looks like a very nice test for the unbeaten Kazakh. The unbeaten Nurmaganbet was a sensational amateur and it's going to be very interesting to see how he developes in the professional ranks. Kassim is certainly not a bad fighter, but he has gone 5-5 in his last 10 and has struggled when fighting outside of Tanzania. On paper a very decent test for the Kazakh, but one he should pass with fly colours.
Nurmaganbet isn't the only Kazakh on this card as compatriots Yevgeniy Pavlov (3-0, 2) and Danila Semenov (2-0, 1) are also in action on this card, looking to build on their own fledgling careers. Sadly at the time of writing they don't have their opponents confirmed for this show.
Another unbeaten Asian fighter on this show is Indian fighter Gurpreet Singh (2-0-1, 1), who battles fellow novice Nachyn Chambaldoo (0-0-1) in a 6 rounder. Singh will be fighting for the first time in almost 2 years, though his last performance suggested there was something to him, fighting to a draw with the then 6-0 Rakesh Lohchab. The 27 year old Chambaldoo also had a draw last time, but to a professional loser, suggesting he's not a hugely promising fighter himself.
Another Indian fighter on this card is 22 year old Suraj (2-2, 1) who will be taking on the unbeaten Shahriyor Akhmedov (1-0, 1), originally from Tajikistan. Akhmedov looked decent on debut, winning his first bout by TKO due to cuts, though it's hard to read into that debut too much. As for Suraj he's not impressed since turning professional and both of his wins came against debutants. This is likely a bout to make Akhmedov look good, but it's still way too early to get too excited about him.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Over the last few weeks the Japanese boxing scene has been frozen over almost due the State of Emergency ordered in certain areas of the country, which saw a number of shows in Tokyo and Osaka being postponed. This coming Wednesday we finally see the first of those postponed shows, taking place around 2 weeks after it's originally planned date. Despite the delay it's a show that is still anticipated and should have some genuine drama and excitement.
A lot of the drama and excitement will come in the main event as Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 11) battles mandatory challenger Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2), at long last. This bout had multiple dates set for it last year, before the pandemic and injuries forced it to be delayed over, and over, and was then delayed earlier this year. Due to the delays Takesako will have been out of the ring for 16 months, following an excellent win over Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa but he's likely to be very fresh having had time to recover after 3 successive tough bouts. As for Kunimoto we expect him to be very rusty, and it's more than 2 years since his last fight, with the pandemic really slowing his career down massively. Despite being inactive for 2 years Kunimoto is still only 23 and the long delay may actually help him, giving him time to mature into a young man. Either way this promises to be Takesako's power and strength against Kunimoto's speed and youth and should be a really intriguing match up. Our full in depth preview of this bout can be read here Power punching Takesako takes on unbeaten challenger Kunimoto in over-due fight!
The main support bout will be a bit of a strange one as Japanese ranked Bantamweight Yoshihiro Utsumi (16-9-4, 10) drops down in weight to Super Flyweight to take on Japanese ranked Flyweight Kento Yabusaki (8-4-1, 5). The 37 year old Utsumi has had some mixed results through his career, but can clearly fight, having beaten Hibiki Jogo in 2018 and going the distance with Hiroaki Teshigawara. Sadly though his best days are well behind him. Yabusaki on the other hand is 23 and looking to build on a major upset win over Shin Ono that he scored in 2020. This is two men in different divisions, going in different directions, meeting in a bit of crossroads fight.
Other bouts on this card include a toss up between Yuki Uchida (7-8, 1) and Yoshimitsu Kushibe (7-8-2, 1) in what should be a very competitive 8 round bout, and a battle of teenagers, as Sho Nagasato (2-0, 1) takes on the debuting Kanamu Sakama (0-0).
This coming Saturday we had hoped to see the ring return of Hyun Mi Choi, who was pencilled in to unify her WBA Super Featherweight title with the WBC and IBO titles of Terri Harper. Sadly that bout, which was to take place in Manchester was cancelled earlier this month when Harper had to pull out with a hand injury. That bout has left the day looking rather empty for notable Asian action, but we do have some minor bouts taking place in Russia,
USC Soviet Wings, Moscow, Russia
The show in question is a Shamo promoted event in Moscow which features a rather easy to over-look line up, but several Central Asian fighters.
One of those hopefuls is Uzbekistan's Mirzakamol Nematov (4-0, 2) who fights for the third time this year, as he takes on Evgeny Nikitin (5-5, 2). In all honesty this isn't a great bout, but it's great to see Nematov staying busy, and he only turned professional late last year with his debut in September. As long as he stays active it's hard to complain about this level of competition, this early in his career, though steps up in class will be expected in the next 12 months. Nikitin has lost his last 3 and is 1-5 against fighters with winning records, though is clearly there to allow Nematov to pick up another win and continue building some momentum at this early stage in his career.
Another fighter from Uzbekistan in action here is Bakhromjon Fozilov (2-1-3, 1) who faces Russian Alan Dzhanaev (3-2-1) in an 8 round Middleweight bout. Interestingly these two fought to a technical draw in April and both will be hoping to pick up a victory in this rematch. It's hard to imagine either man being on their way to anything big, but it is worth noting that Fozilov is unbeaten in his last 5.
Sokol Club, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Over in the US American based Basyzbek Baratov (2-1-2), originally from Kyrgyzstan, is set to return to the ring for the first time in over 4 years as he's pencilled in to face the unbeaten Ronald Harrison (2-0, 2). For Baratov his career really seemed to end after a 2017 draw with Harold Lopez, but now, aged 29, he seems set to get back into the ring and move up the weights, from Flyweight to Featherweight to face the 31 year old Harrison. Sadly for Baratov he's taking on a man who's a reported 8" inches taller and will physically dwarf him. On paper this is technically a step up for Harrison, with Baratov being his most experienced opponent by far, but Harrison's natural size is likely to be far too much for Baratov to over-come
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
Former world champion Yasuei Yakushiji puts on his next show this coming Sunday as boxing returns back to the Aioi Hall for the first time since March. As with most Yakushiji promoted shows this isn't a big card, but we do expect some great as these smaller shows from the Aioi Hall do have a knack of over-delivering.
The main event here will see Japanese ranked Flyweight Katsuya Murakami (9-2-1, 2) take on Daisuke Sudo (7-6-3). The unheralded Murakami is a 26 year old who managed to pick up 2 solid wins over Shin Tomita in 2019 before a loss to Yuga Inoue slowed his momentum. Despite that he is still ranked and will be hoping to move towards a potential Japanese title fight in the coming years. Sudo on the other hand is a very limited southpaw, but someone with some momentum following 3 successive wins coming into this bout. Whilst this might look like a mismatch we are expecting a genuinely competitive contest here, but we do think Murakami will do enough to take home a victory.
Sadly all the other bouts on this card are 4 rounders, but that's not a bad thing, as 4 rounders typically provide a lot of action in Japan. And we expect a lot of action from a match up between Yosshah Matsumoto (1-2-2) and Ryusuke Harada (1-2-2) who face off in their 4th bout against each other in just 18 months! We're not sure if Matsumoto and Harada hate each other or not, but they sure do like fighting each other, and through their first 3 bouts we've seen Harada win one and two draws. The two are really well matched and always put on a great show, and we wouldn't be surprised at all by the men sharing the spoils with another draw here.
One other bout that will be very much worth watching will see 22 year old debutant Riku Umemura (0-0) take on unbeaten 18 year old Yuki Morikawa (0-0-1) in a Super Flyweight bout. We don't expect high quality boxing, but we do expect some very entertaining action here between two young men each wanting to make a point.
Sadly a scheduled bout between Hiroya Nojima (6-1, 2), the 2020 All Japan Rookie of the Year at Welterweight, and Shoma Okada (4-3, 2) was unfortunately cancelled. This was cancelled when Okada pulled out of the contest in late April, though hopefully it won't be too long until we see Nojima back in the ring as he looked so much fun to watch during the Rookie of the Year tournament.
For fans wanting to watch this event, the fantastic sakana 1976 is set to stream live on YouTube for free. Go subscribe to them and tune in to what should be a fun, if low level, card of boxing and something very different to the action in the US on Friday night in Arlington, Texas.
Note - There was also plans for a show in Tokyo on Sunday, that card has now been postponed due to the on going State of Emergency in Tokyo.
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, USA
This coming Saturday is a relatively quiet one for Asian fighters but, and there isn't really too much to talk about. Thankfully however there is something huge taking place in the US and we do get a bout with a Japanese fighter, in what could end up being something a little bit special. Especially for fans who still tend not to make an effort to see the little men in action.
Of course the main event this weekend is a super fight between global boxing star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders, but on the under-card of that we'll see popular Japanese warrior Katsunari Takayama (32-8-0-1, 12) challenge WBO Light Flyweight champion Elwin Soto (18-1, 12), in a bout that has the potential to give us something amazing.
For fans who haven't seen Takayama before, the Japanese veteran is one of the sports real warriors and he has been in with a legitimate who's who of the lower weights since his debut back in 2000. He has faced the likes of Eagle Den Junlaphan, Yutaka Niida, Roman Gonzalez, Nkosinathi Joyi, Mario Rodriguez, Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, and Jose Argumedo, among others. Not only has he faced the best but he's also beaten a number of the best and is a multi-time former champion at 105lbs who is now looking to become a 2-weight champion.
Soto on the other hand has been making quite a name for himself in the last 2 years as a huge punching youngster with a solid chin and a thrilling style. He won the WBO title in 2019, with a big upset over Angel Acosta, and is looking for his third defense here. Despite being a huge puncher Soto is regarded as a work in progress, and his win, last year, against Carlos Buitrago showed there was still a lot of work for him to do, though at the age of 24 there's also no rush.
Given the styles of the two men this has the potential to be a brilliant war between an old veteran, looking to go to the well one last time, and an emerging force of the lower weights. Don't be surprised if this is a lot more exciting than the main event of the show.
Our full, in depth, preview of this bout, can be read here Takayama gets a chance to become 2-weight champion! Faces hard hitting Soto