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.