The first major show of the new year takes place in China this coming Saturday, and it really is a great show with several bouts of note, in what will see 4 different title bouts taking place.
The main event is a fantastic match up between unbeaten Chinese Flyweight Wenfeng Ge (11-0, 6) and once beaten Filipino Giemel Magramo (22-1, 18), who will be fighting for the WBO International Flyweight title, with Ge making his first defense of the tite. So far Ge has scored notable wins over Amnat Ruenroeng and Ivan Soriano, and looked solid, but at the age of 31 will know he can't afford a loss. Magramo on the other hand looks like a star in the making, and his sole defeat was a razor thin one in Korea to Muhammad Waseem. Since his loss Magramo has reeled off 5 stoppage wins and looks to be a fighter intent on making a statement. This really could be a brilliant way to break in the new year. A preview of this fantastic clash can be read here -Ge and Magramo look to begin year with mouth watering match up!
Another fantastic match up will see Chinese Light Flyweight Jing Xiang (15-4-2, 3) take on Thai veteran Kompayak Porpramook (59-6, 40) for the WBC silver Light Flyweight. The 28 year old Chinese fighter will be making his first defense of the title, which he last September when he defeated Merlito Sabillo, and he'll be looking to record an 8th straight win. Porpramook, best known for his wars with Adrian Hernandez and Koki Eto, is now 36, but showed he was still a capable fighter last year, when he defeated Pongsaklek Sithdabnij in the first of two bouts. The winner of this will be in the world title mix, but it's hard to see where the loser goes. A preview of this bout can be read here - Chinese novice Jing Xiang takes on Thai veteran Satorn
China's Jian Wang (7-1, 2) will be looking for his 6th straight win as he takes on Korean visitor Sung Young Yang (6-2-4, 3) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Youth Super Bantamweight title. The Chinese fighter looks to be in good form on paper, but his competition during his winning run has been poor, and his only real win of note came back in November 2015, when he beat the then debuting Wulan Tuolehazi. Yang is a 22 year old Korean fighter who has won his last 4, and is unbeaten in his last 6, though like Wang he's untested and a win here would be the biggest of his career,
The other title bout on this card pits unbeaten men against each other, as local hopeful Xiang Li (3-0, 2) faces off with Filipino Ryan James Racaza (10-0, 6) in a contest for the WBO Oriental Youth Lightweight title. The local novice debuted back in November 2016 but hasn't been particularly active in a pro ring, avoiding the ring through 2017 and only fighting once on 2018. Despite the inactivity Li is regarded highly as a prospect and a win here would be huge proof of his ability. Racaza isn't one of the more well known prospects in the Philippines but the 22 year old southpaw has scarcely lost a round since his debut and has already stopped both Jayar Estremos and Junar Adante. Racaza looks like one to watch, and a win here, on his international debut, would be a potential statement of intent. Although neither man in this bout is well known, this is a very interesting match up.
In the Philippines we'll see the unbeaten Roy Nagulman (6-0-1, 4) battle against experienced journeyman Albert Alcoy (15-27-8, 5), in what should serve as little more than a record padding win for Nagulman, who is just 17 and really shouldn't be rushed. The 35 year old Alcoy has been stopped 16 times, and has just 1 win since the start of 2013, despite that he is actually a step up for Nagulman.
To end 2018 we turn to Macau for a monstrous show featuring 3 world title fights, as well as bouts featuring prospects from Hong Kong and Macau.
The main event of the card is one of the best match ups we could imagine, as Japan's Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) and Filipino Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23) battle for the vacant WBO Super Flyweight title. The winner of this bout will become a 4 weight champion, with Ioka battling to become the first Japanese man to win 4 divisional world titles and Nietes looking to become the third Filipino, and both men attempting to become just the third man to win titles in the 4 lowest divisions in the sport. Both are gifted boxers, with Ioka being the more aggressive and Nietes being the more patient, and both know that a win here could end up defining their careers. To end the year with such a massive bout really is something special. Our excellent preview of this fantastic fight can be read here Neites Vs Ioka - The pursuit of destiny!
A Flyweight title fight will see IBF champion Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24), from South Africa, make his first defense, as he takes on once beaten Japanese fighter Masahiro Sakamoto (13-1, 9). The South African champion won the title in July, when he defeated Muhammad Waseem with a close decision, and became a 2-time champion. At the age of 36 we do wonder what Mthalane has left, but against Waseem he did, for the most part, look great and should be favoured. Sakamoto is an unknown outside of Japan, and even then he's only really known in Osaka, but will know this is a huge chance to make his mark on the sport and become a notable name. It's a huge ask for Sakamoto, but he has nothing to lose. Our preview of this bout can be read here Sakamoto looks to shock the Flyweight division, faces Mthalane!
Another bout pitting South Africa against Japan will see Japanese fighter Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8) challenge WBA Light Flyweight champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10). This will be Budler's first defense of the title, which he won from Kyoguchi's stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi, and it's an incredibly tough first defense. Although a tough bout Budler is a genuinely world-class fighter, one of the sport's most underrated fighters in fact, and certainly has the experience and skills to be trouble for anyone in the division. Kyoguchi, a former IBF Minimumweight champion, will be looking to become a 2-weight champion and is one of the most exciting little men in the sport, however this is a really tough test so soon after moving up. This is a hard bout to call and a really special contest, much like the Ioka Vs Nietes one. We've previewed this bout here Kyoguchi challenges Budler in Macau!
One of the prospects on this card is Light Flyweight Raymond Poon KaiChing (6-1, 3), who is from Hong Kong and is regarded as the country's most promising professional following Rex Tso's announcement that he was going back to the amateur ranks. Another is Macau's exciting Lap Cheong Cheong (4-0, 3). Both of these fighters will be up against novices.
The final two days of 2018 are set to be huge for Asian combat sports, with several major shows. For us it's the boxing that is key and this coming Sunday we'll see a triple header being shown on Fuji TV.
Technically the main event of the show will see WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12) make his first defense, as he takes on unbeaten mandatory challenger Evgeny Chuprakov (20-0, 10). The talented Ito won the title earlier this year in the USA, defeating the touted Christopher Diaz, and now looks to build on that win. The unbeaten Chuprakov didn't look great last time out, being pushed very hard by Ernie Sanchez, but is a good fighter and should make for an interesting first defense by the popular Japanese fighter. This is a really good bout on paper, but one where we suspect the champion has to be favoured. Our full in depth preview of this bout can be read here - Masayuki Ito faces mandatory Evgeny Chuprakov
The second champion defending their title on this show is WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (14-0, 8), who will be looking to make his 5th defense of the title. The talented champion will be up against Mexican foe Saul Juarez (24-8-2, 13). On paper this isn't an awful bout, especially given that Juarez is proven at world level, but is 1-4-1 in his last 6 bouts, dating back more than 2 years. Kenshiro has been one of Japanese's boxing big success stories of the last few years, and looked sensational in beating Milan Melindo earlier this year. If Kenshiro can put on a similar performance here to the one he put on against Melindo he has to be in the running for the Asian Fighter of the Year. A preview of this bout can be read here Kenshiro seeks 5th defense, takes on Baby Juarez
The third bout of note on this card will see unbeaten fighters collide, as Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3) battles Petch Sor Chitpattana (48-0, 33), who is also known as Petch CP Freshmart and Tasana Salapat, for the WBC "Interim" Bantamweight title. Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue, is well know in Asian boxing circles and has a number of good wins, beating the likes of Tatsuya Fukuhara, Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, Rene Dacquel, Froilan Saludar, Hiroyuki Kudaka and Mark John Yap already in his short career. Petch on the other hand has one of the longest unbeaten records in the sport, but totally lacks in terms of quality, with his best wins coming against Jestoni Autida and Jeson Umbal. A preview of this bout can be read here - Petch Sor Chitpattana and Takuma Inoue clash for WBC interim title!
The first post-Christmas show in Japan this year will held at the EDION Arena Osaka and will be a small card promoted by the Hiroki Ioka Boxing gym.
The main event sees rising hopeful Rikuto Adachi (11-1, 8), who is currently ranked by the OPBF, taking on Thai visitor Phongsathon Sompol (9-4, 5). The talented Adachi, who impressed last time out by stopping Jonel Dapidran in 3 rounds, will be strongly favoured here. The visitor is 0-2 when he fights outside of Thailand and we are expecting to see him suffer another stoppage loss on the road here, especially given how good Adachi is.
In a supporting bout we'll see Japanese based Korean Tae Il Atsumi (14-2, 7) take on Filipino Jerry Castroverde (10-4, 5), who will be fighting for the first time since joining the gym run by Nobuhiro Ishida. This will be Atsumi's second bout since losing a close decision to Shingo Kawamura, and he'll be looking to shine as he tries to end the year on a high. As for Castroverde the bout is his first of the year, and follows a 21 month break from the ring.
Originally Yuki Nonaka (32-10-3, 10) was planned for this card, he is however not going to compete here due to his recently announced bout against Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-3, 10) on February 24th.
Agusan del Norte, Philippines
In the Philippines we'll get two smaller shows. One of those will be headlined by Jobert Alvarez (18-2-2, 7), as he takes on Michael Bravo (13-2, 6). This looks good on paper, with both having winning records, and both coming in to this bout in the hope of a win. Alvarez was once touted as a special fighter, but in recent times has failed to deliver on that early promise. Bravo on the other hand never got the same hype, and was stopped last time out by Giemel Magramo. We suspect Alvarez will win, but he is a live under-dog.
Metro Manila, Philippines
A second Filipino card will see former world title challenger Toto Landero (10-4-2, 2) take on Oliver Gregorio (10-8-3, 5). We think Landero is a very good fighter, with the potential to win a world title in the future, and should win here. However Landero has lost his last 3, and 4 of his last 6 and may be lacking confidence. Gregorio on the other hand has gone 1-5-2 in his last 8 bouts.
Another bout on this card will see Vergil Puton (17-11-1, 8) take on Landy Cris Leon (11-18-4, 5) in what should be a straight forward win for the under-rated Puton, who has proven himself as an excellent gate keeper. Leon should be the smaller man, the lesser skilled man and the clear under-dog.
Christmas is creeping up on us and on December 24th we have a really intriguing card from Osaka, which features an OPBF title fight and two hotly tipped Japanese prospects.
The title bout promises to deliver explosive action, as the heavy handed Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) take on the limited but hard hitting Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-7, 8) for the OPBF Bantamweight title, which was vacated by Mark John Yap earlier this year. On paper the bout doesn't look like anything special, but given the styles of the two fighters we're expecting a very exciting brawl. Coming in Kurihara has scored 3 straight wins of note, stopping Ryan Lumacad, Tetsuya Watanabe and Kazuki Tanaka, all since a 5th round TKO loss to Hiroaki Teshigawara. As for Kobayashi he is himself riding a 4 fight winning run, including a win last time out against Vincent Astrolabio on the Manny Pacquiao Vs Lucas Matthysse under-card. Both of these guys are defensively flawed, but both can bang and that should make this fight very exciting. A preview of this bout is available here Kurihara and Kobayashi battle for OPBF title in Christmas Eve treat!
One of the prospects on this card is Rio Kuwabata (1-0, 1), who takes a notable step up in class to face off with Yosuke Taniguchi (7-5-1, 2). The 22 year old Kuwabata made his debut back in China, in a 4 rounder, and this is a notable step up for a man who is tipped to be a success. As for Taniguchi he has gone on a 5 fight unbeaten run, including a win over Shachihoko Dragons Keita last time out. Although this is expected to be another win for Kuwabata it's fair to say he's in with a live opponent here and should consider this a serious test.
The other prospect of note on this show is Riku Kunimoto (2-0), who has shown touches of genius, but really appears to be lacking just one or two things at the moment. Aged 21 Kunimoto is a Japanese Middleweight worth making a mental note of, though it could be a few years before we see him really being tested. Saying that however he's not being matched softly and his third bout will see him in with the experienced Toshihiro Kai (6-10-2, 2), who has gone 2-4 in his last 6 bouts but has scored a notable win over Yutaka Oishi.
One other bout of note on this card will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-2, 11) take on Japanese based Filipino Jayar Estremos (11-14, 4). This is Kudaka's first bout since losing the Japanese title to Takayuki Okumoto in August and we do wonder what the highly experienced 4-time world title challenger has left in his 33 year old body, after what has been a relatively exciting yet over-looked career. Estremos on the other hand has won just 1 of his last 10 bouts, but he has been matched hard with bouts against notable foes in Thailand. If Estremos has found his desire to fight he could make for a tough opponent for Kudaka, but the reality is that Kudaka should be strongly favoured here, and should be able to come out on top of an exciting contest.
A second card will also take place in Osaka, albeit a much less notable card.
The main event of the card will see Tomoko Okuda (4-2-1) taking on Thai visitor Anchalee Mankong (2-3), in what looks like a very weak main event contest. It's hard to imagine Okuda losing, despite her limitations, but regardless it's not a main event that will draw much interest.
Despite not being the main event, the best match up, on paper at least, will see Hirokazu Okajima (8-6-2, 4) battle against the hard hitting Kazuaki Miyamoto (6-2, 5). The 33 year old Okajima has been out of the ring for over a year, following a 5th round KO loss to Masashi Wakita, and is more than 6 years removed form his last win, against Akira Shono in 2012. Miyamoto is limited himself, and both of his losses have been by stoppage, including one early this year to a very faded Seiichi Okada. This is one where we expect both men to have the power to stop the other in what could an entertaining lower level scrap.
The 2018 Rookie of the Year comes to an end this coming Monday as the East Japan and West Japan representatives face off in the All Japan final. The competition isn't a prestigious as the WBSS, for example, but is a major launchpad for Japanese novices, many of whom go on to make a mark in the years that follow a Rookie of the Year triumph, such as Masayuki Ito.
As with the regional finals we won't go through the whole show with a break down but we will look at some selected bouts.
The Light Flyweight bout will see East Japan champion Daiki Kameyama (6-2-1, 2) take on the unbeaten Tetsuya Mimura (6-0), who was crowned the West Japan champion. This bout isn't expected to be the most explosive, with just 2 stoppages among their 15 career bouts, but should be a hotly contested one, with a lot of skills on show. Also, given that both are in their early 20's, the winner here will have a lot of time to develop and move into bigger fights down the line.
On paper one of the best bouts is the Super Bantamweight clash between Koki Mioya (5-1-1) and Hiroki Hanabusa (5-0-1, 2). Again both men have similar looking records, a lack of power and both are in their earlier 20's. The Super Bantamweight division is currently one of the most stacked in Japan and we don't expect to see either of these two being fast tracked following the Rookie tournament, but to see them in the mix with Japanese ranked fighters over the coming years will certainly be something to keep an eye on.
Probably the best match up is at Featherweight, as East Japan and West Japan MVP's collide. The East Japan representative is the unbeaten 22 year old Hikari Mineta (5-0, 3), who debuted in October 2017 and has gone 4-0 (3) this year. From the West is the once beaten southpaw Yuri Takemoto (4-1-1, 3), who also debuted in 2017, but has come into his own this year, going 3-0 (2). This is the most mouth watering bout given the fighters records, performances in the regional finals, with both men stopping their opponents.
Interestingly the Middleweight final pits unbeaten fighters against each other, with Nath Nwachukwu (3-0-1, 1) taking on Kazuki Kyohara (3-0, 2). Given how relatively thin the Japanese scene is at Middleweight we do tend to see the All-Japanese Rookie of the Year at 160lbs move into title contention quite quickly, with 2017 Rookie of the Year winner Shuji Kato now lined up for a national title fight in 2019. It does need saying however that Nwachukwu and Kyohara aren't likely to be moved that aggressively over the coming 12 months.
Agusan del Norte, Philippines
We're set to have a small card in the Philippines. The most notable bout on the card appears to be a bout between Angelito Merin (9-9-3, 3) and Holly Quinones (3-10-1, 1). Given this is the main event of the card it shows how low key the show is, even if it is the final Filipino card before Christmas
As well as the Rookie of the Year action in Japan there is also a bout of note in Russia, as Kazakh Nursultan Zhangabayev (5-0, 4) faces off with experienced Filipino Arnel Tinampay (25-22-1, 11) in a bout for a WBC regional title. On paper this looks like a mismatch, but the Filipino has never been stopped and has scored more than his share of upsets, especially against Japanese fighters. Zhangabayev is a very good prospect, but this is by far his stiffest test to date.
Zhangabayev isn't the only Kazakh on this card. Another, in a title bout, is Aidos Yerbossynuly (9-0, 7), who will be taking on Belgian national champion Ilias Achergui (12-3-1, 6) for a minor WBO title. This looks a decent bout on paper, though in reality it's a huge step up in class for Achergui, who has never fought anyone with the quality of Yerbossybuly.
In a supporting bout the Kyrgyzstan born Kazakh Ali Baloyev (7-0, 6) will battle Ecuadorian Jean Carlos Mina (6-1, 2) in a bout we suspect will be very competitive. Baloyev will be favoured, but Mina is no push over and he could give the Kazakh puncher some real questions to answer here.
Also announced for this show is debutant Konstantin Brusensky (0-0), though his opponent isn't currently known.
Action returns to Osaka this coming Saturday for what is a pretty notable card at the EDION Arena. The card features a second generation fight and a former world title challenger.
The second generation fighter is Juiki Tatsuyoshi (9-0, 6), the boxing son of the enigmatic Joichiro Tatsuyoshi. The unbeaten Tatsuyoshi will be taking a notable step up in class as he goes up against 35 year old veteran Yuki Hirashima (9-2-1, 3), in what looks like a solid test for the youngster. Tatsuyoshi turned professional under the shadow of his father but has slowly started to make his own mark and has now shown the ability to go 8 rounds, as he did against Shun Ishibashi. Hirashima lacks a notable win, but he comes into this bout as someone who knows a good performance could secure him a lot of attention in the new year, whilst a third career defeat may well end his career.
The former world title challenger on this card is Japanese veteran Hiroshige Osawa (33-5-4, 19), who is likely aware that can't afford another loss if he wants a second world title fight. Osawa is best known for losing to Oscar Valdez in a show for the WBO Featherweight title, and since then he is 3-1, losing last time out to former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo. In the opposite corner to Osawa will be world ranked Colombian Belmar Preciado (18-1-1, 11), who is fighting in Asia for the first time in his career. It's hard to say much about Preciado, but his competition so far does little to suggest he's actually a world class fighter, and Osawa will certainly feel confident of picking up a win here. We've done a full preview of this fight here Osawa and Preciado fight in must win contest!
Originally announced for the card was a bout between Ginjiro Tsutsumimoto (2-0, 2) and Thailand's Amphol Suriyo (23-3, 19), sadly however Tsutsumimoto has been removed from this bout and replaced by 28 year old countryman Takayuki Sakai (7-1-2, 5). The Thai visitor is a former OPBF title challenger who will be riding a high coming in to this bout, on the back of a huge upset win over Kazuki Saito in Tokyo. As for Sakai, he is riding a 4 fight winning run, with 3 straight stoppages, but this is a big step up in class for him.
Although Ginjiro is off this card his brother, the heavy handed Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto (8-1, 7), will be on the show. The once beaten Tsutsumimoto and Anurak Madua (6-2, 4), a Thai who is riding a 4 fight winning run. Tsutsumimoto is a big puncher, and has won his last 4 by stoppage since losing a decision in 2016. Interestingly both of Madua's losses have come in previous visits to Japan.
Having mentioned a couple of Thai's it's worth noting that Thailand will host a show of it's own, as former amateur stand out Apichet Petchmanee (1-0, 1) takes on the hard hitting Sadudee Tor Buamas (8-0, 6) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Light Welterweight title. Apichet impressed on debut, stopping the then 13-0 Attanon Kunlawong, and looks like he might be one of the brightest hopefuls in Thailand, and at 29 he knows he will need to be moved quickly. The 25 year old Sadudee Tor Buamas hasn't fought in a while, but is a former PABA Light Welterweight champion and can punch. This a very interesting match up and one we're really looking forward to.
In the Philippines we'll see unbeaten puncher Christian Araneta (16-0, 14) take on journeyman Vincent Bautista (5-11-4, 1). This is little more than a stay busy fight for Araneta, who really is on the verge of a major fight, and really we do expect him to score a clear win. It is however worth noting that Bautista was generally regarded as being durable, but he has suffered 2 recent stoppage losses and looks to be a man feeling the effects of a hard career.
Also on this card is Harmonito Dela Torre (19-2, 12), who is looking to bounce back from successive losses. The once touted Dela Torre, who has been beaten by Tugstsogt Nyambayar and Yongqiang Yang, will be up against experienced veteran Richard Betos (20-21-2, 7). Betos is very limited and shouldn't be competitive with the talented Dela Torre.
New South Wales, Australia
This coming Friday our attention jumps to Australia where a number of Indonesian fighters will be in action, and will be expected to pick up their next defeats as they go in against decent locals.
One of the local hopefuls is the unbeaten Paul Fleming (25-0, 17), who will be up against the badly faltering Isack Junior (25-10-3, 8). Fleming has been out of the ring for a little over a year, and understandably has an easier bout here than he's been in his last bout or two, as he looks to shake some ring rust. Junior on the other hand is a very limited fighter who has gone 1-6-1 in his last 8 bouts, dating back more than 5 years. It's worth noting that Junior was once 22-1-2 (8) but has really been exposed as he's moved up in class.
Former OPBF Welterweight champion Jack Brubaker (14-2-1, 7) looks to score his second win of the year as he faces the battled tested Larry Siwu (27-11, 23). Brubaker really impressed in 2016, when he defeated Suyon Takayama in Japan, though sadly hasn't really built on that win, going 3-1 since then and only making a single successful defense of the OPBF title, against the very limited Mark Sales. As for Siwu the Indonesian fighter has faced real notable fighters on the regional scene, including Keita Obara, Sirimongkol Singwancha, Teerachai Kratingdaenggym and Kudratillo Abdukakhorov...but he's lost to that level of fighter and was last seen being stopped by Tim Tszyu earlier this year. Brubaker should be favoured, though we're not sure if he'll manage to get Siwu out of there.
Former "world title" challenger Luke Jackson (16-1, 7), who was stopped by Carl Frampton in a WBO "interim" title fight earlier this year, looks to bounce back from his sole loss as he takes on the experienced but limited Rivo Rengkung (37-28-6, 14). Although Jackson wasn't competitive with Frampton, who is top class, he showed more than enough to suggest this will be a very easy win for him.
The final bout will see Wellem Reyk (19-19-4, 5) battle against unbeaten prospect Youssef Dib (10-0, 4). With 42 bouts to his name Reyk is a veteran, but a very limited one and shouldn't give Dib too many issues here, though may ask one or two questions before ultimately coming up short.
Despite Christmas now only being a few days away the scheduled for boxing for boxing is certainly not slowing down and this coming Thursday we see a really notable Dangan card from the Korakuen Hall, feature a Japanese unification bout, a Japanese interim title bout and the return of a former Japanese champion.
The Japanese title unification bout will come at Light Middleweight, as "regular" champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) takes on "interim" champion Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31), in what looks like a really interesting match up. Shindo won the title in May, when he took a razor thin decision over Ryosuke Maruki at the champion carnival. Despite winning that bout Shindo suffered a hand injury that forced him out of the ring. During Shindo's recovery period Watanabe blitzed Maruki for the interim title. The winner of this will go into the champion carnival next year, with a mandatory hanging over their head, whilst the loser will have to question their future in the sport. A full preview of this bout can be read here Shindo and Watanabe battle to unify Japanese title!
The interim Japanese title bout comes at Bantamweight, where Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) will face Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) in what is a more confusing situation. The Japanese Bantamweight title has seemingly been cursed in 2018 with numerous bouts falling through, often at short notice. In September Yuta Saito eventually took the vacant title, stopping Eita Kikuchi in 2 rounds, but has since suffered an illness which has forced him out of the ring until the new year. That has caused this interim title fight, which should be an entertaining bout. Things get more confusing however when the winner of this bout then has to face Saito in early 2019, with the winner of that bout then face Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) before July 2019 in a mandatory title defense. Our preview of this bout can be read here Kimura and Kono battle for interim Japanese title!
In regards to the fight between Kimura and Kono we expect the two to be well matched, and it should be a compelling 10 round contest, it's just a shame that the whole Japanese title picture has been such a nightmare in 2019 and we've ended up in such a convoluted situation. Both have picked up recent losses, though Kimura certainly appears the more proven fighter at title level, and we suspect he comes into this bout as the marginal favourite.
As for the former champion that is Yusaku Kuga (16-3-1, 11), who returns to the ring since losing the Japanese Super Bantamweight title to Shingo Wake back in July. The hard hitting fighter from the Watanabe man is expected to get an easy confidence building win a he takes on the out-of-form Filipino John Mark Apolinario (20-12-3, 5), who was recently stopped by the limited but hard hitting Kenya Yamashita. Apolinario should offer little competition for Kuga, who we expect will be too big, too strong and too powerful.
In Kazan this coming Tuesday we get the chance to see a few Asian fighters in action, one of who should be in a very explosive contest for a minor title.
That potentially explosive match up will see hard hitting Armenian fighter Gor Yeritsyan (8-0, 7) face off with Filipino banger Alvin Lagumbay (10-3-1, 9) in a bout for the WBO Youth Welterweight title. The Armenian is one of boxing's best kept secrets, and already has notable wins over the likes of Ali Funeka and Jose Luis Prieto. Lagumbay on the other hand is a huge puncher, who notably stopped Keita Obara earlier this year, before being stopped himself in a rematch. Both of these guys can punch, and we expect them to show that here.
In another bout of Asian interest we'll see Kazakh born Russian based debutant Vakhid Akchurin (0-0) take on Uzbek foe Otabek Ibragimov (2-3, 1). With Akchurin being a debutant it's hard to read too much into him, however Ibragimov has been stopped in all 3 of his losses, so we suspect he'll be stopped again here, unless Akchurin is very limited.