This coming Saturday isn't a huge day of boxing in terms of quality, but there is actually quite a lot to talk about, with former world champions and promising hopefuls in action, and with fighters competing as far afield as Tijuana and Victoria.
Metro Manila, Philippines
The most notable show, for us at least, comes from Metro Manila, where we see a host of minor title bouts, and a clash between two former world champions.
The main event of this card will see former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11) take on former WBO Minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo (27-7-1, 13), in what must be viewed as a must win bout. The rugged Kimura didn't look his usual self last time out, losing to Carlos Canizales but will be strongly favoured over Sabillo, who has lost his last 3 and is moving up to Flyweight for the contest.
Way up the scales we'll see Cambodian Heavyweight Eric Pen (5-0, 4) defending his WBA Asia title against Indonesian veteran Alexander Bajawa (43-10-4, 16). Pen is not going to be competing on the world stage, but could be in the mix to face the top fighters from around Asia in the coming years. Bajawa on the other hand is an under-sized and under-powered fighter who fought as low as Bantamweight earlier in his career. Bajawa has gone 2-8 in his last 10, and we suspect this will be another loss for the 37 year old.
In a bout that looks more interesting than it is Vietnamese hopeful Dinh Hoang Truong (1-0, 1) will face off with Thailand's Yuttana Wongda (14-25, 10) for the WBA Asia Super Middleweight title. Truong made his debut last May, with an opening round win, and on paper it looks good that he's fighting for a title this early. Sadly however Wongda is a blown up former Lightweight who has been stopped 17 times in his 25 loses. This shouldn't be a problem for the Indonesian novice.
Another horrific mismatch on this card will see Korean veteran Hee Jung Yuh (22-3, 11) take on Thai novice Kanyanat Chotchun (2-1, 1). The bout, for the WBC International female Super Flyweight title, should be a very easy win for the talented Korea, and we wouldn't be surprised by an early stoppage for the 40 year old Korean fighter.
On a different Filipino show we'll see Roberto Gonzales (28-6, 17) and Jason Egera (24-22-2, 11) clash in an 8 round bout. On paper this looks like a mismatch, but in reality it could be a lot more competitive than it looks. The 29 year old Gonzales has been stopped in 4 of his last 5 and has just a single win in the last 3 years. Egera is no world beater but he has been a banana skin in the past, and could be slip in another upset here, as he did in 2017 against Glenn Suminguit.
Back to mismatches! In Australia fans will see the world class Susie Ramadan (27-3, 12) take on Filipino visitor Gretel de Paz (6-5-2, 2) in a bout for the WIBA Super Flyweight title. In recent weeks we've ranted about mismatches for titles and this is another case where the title body involved, in this case WIBA, need to take a look at themselves. Whilst Ramadan hasn't fought in over a year she is still a world-class fighter and we expect to see that here. On the other hand de Paz I 1-2-2 in her last 5, and doesn't have the natural size or power to hold her own with Ramadan. Come on WIBA you can do better for "world" title fights!
Also in action is unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Ablaikhan Khussainov (10-0, 7), who will be fighting Mexico where he will take on local foe Mauro Loreto (20-10-2, 8). The unbeaten Khussainov began his career in China, fought 8 bouts in Canada and was last seen in Kazakhstan, and this will be his Mexican debut. Loreto shouldn't serve as much of a test here, and he is 3-5 in his last 8 bouts.
Attention turns to Kazakhstan this coming Friday for a Qazaq Promotions card from Almaty. The card isn't a massive one, but it is a notable one, with the ring return of a popular unbeaten Kazakh contender, who has had his career ruined by injury, a Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful against a former world title challenger and several rising hopefuls.
The main event of the show will see the unbeaten Kanat Islam (25-0, 20) return to the ring, for the first time since September 2017, to take on Dominican puncher Julio De Jesus (27-1, 24).Islam was on the verge of a world title fight when he beat Brandon Cook in his last bout, but repeated injuries have kept him out of the ring since then really destroying his chances of a world title fight. De Jesus, on paper, looks like a good test though is the naturally smaller man and we do wonder how his power holds up here against a solid fighter like Islam.
In one of the main supporting bouts we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Ruslan Myrsatayev (5-0, 5) take on English Heavyweight veteran Danny Williams (53-26-0-1, 40). The unbeaten Kazakh is talented and heavy handed, but at 34 years old time is running out if he's really after a big fight he needs to make his move this year. Williams, best known for beating Mike Tyson and being dominated by Vitali Klitschko in a WBC world title bout, is now 45 and needs to really consider walking away from the sport before getting seriously injured.
Another bout will see Madiyar Ashkeyev (12-0, 6), fresh off throwing water over a journalist, take on Estonian journeyman Pavel Semjonov (24-11-2, 9). This should be a straight forward win for Ashkeyev, but Semjonov tends to be a tough foe so we're expecting a decision win for the unbeaten Kazakh here.
Also on this card will be unbeaten teenager Dastan Saduuly (3-0, 3) and Ablaikhan Khussainov (9-0, 6), though it's unclear who these two will be up against at the time of writing.
Gimhae, South Korea
The most notable show of the day comes from Korea, where the we get top Korean female fighter making a defense of one of her titles.
The aforementioned female fighter is Hee Jung Yuh (20-3, 10), who will be defending her WBF Intercontinental Female Super Flyweight title against Thai foe Saowaluk Nareepangsri (7-14, 1). Yuh is an interesting and skilled fighter, though she is well below elite level, and her only loss in the last 10 years has come to Naoko Fujioka. Despite only losing once in 10 years her competition, Fujioka aside, has been appalling. Saowaluk has lost her last 5, including 3 by stoppage. She's very much a fight who will travel to pick up a loss, and that seems to be the case again here as she returns to Korea for the fourth time in her career, still seeking her first win in the country.
There will also be a bout featuring Seung Ho Lee (4-0, 4). Lee will battle for the WBF Asia Pacific Welterweight title as he takes on Thai visitor Girapan Boonpeng (4-1, 4), who was last seen losing inside a round to Rivo Kundimang in Indonesia in November. We'll get a chance to compare Lee to Kundimang, but that's about the only thing this bout will actually do.
As well as the title action in Korea there will also be a small, yet noteworthy, card in Osaka featuring two bouts of interest.
In a bout that genuinely excites us we'll see the inform Dynamic Kenji (10-3, 7) take on the once touted Naoto Iwai (5-2, 3). Coming in to this Kenji has won his last 5 by stoppage, including big wins over Futa Akizuki and Shota Kawaguchi. That winning run has taken him from 5-3 to 10-3 and he's quickly climbing up the rankings towards a potential title fight. Iwai was tipped highly as a prospect from Hyogo but the youngster suffered back to back defeats in 2017 and he's yet to really recover from those set backs. He's notched a couple of wins over Thai's since suffering his defeats but this is a clear step up, and it feels like Morioka will be looking to see if he sinks or swims against someone as good as Kenji.
The other bout of note will see 2016 Rookie of the Year runner up Hibiki Jogo (7-2, 4) take on Tricky Kumagai (9-8, 6). The 25 year old Jogo was stopped in 4 rounds in the Rookie of the Year final and was also stopped last time out, by Yoshihiro Utsumi, suggesting that perhaps he's lacking in durability. Kumagai has also been stopped, in fact 4 of his 8 losses have been inside the distance, and he is 2-6 in his last 8, meaning he can ill afford another loss here. This isn't a massive fight for the Japanese domestic scene, but is massive for both fighters, who will have a long road to climb if they come up short here.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines fans get a small card, expected to be headlined by the unbeaten Marlon Paniamogan (8-0-1, 5) taking on Jimmy Borbon (7-6-4, 4). This is a less than great match up, but the card looks like it will feature a bunch of more recognisable names.
Listed for the show are Wilbert Berondo (12-3-2, 5), Juan Miguel Elorde (26-1, 14), Arvin Magramo (8-1-1, 5) and Delmar Pellio (5-0, 3). Sadly none of those fighters have had their opponents named at the time of writing.
Kazakh fans get the chance to end the year on a high with a number of their fighters in action on a special card promoted by the Astana Arlans and Qazaq Promotions. The show will be free to attend, but sadly the level of bouts is a bit of a mystery.
Whilst full details on this card haven't been announced we do know that is it will feature Aidar Sharibayev (7-1, 6), Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (14-0-1, 5), Askhat Ualikhanov (4-1, 2), Ablaikhan Khussainov (9-0, 6) and Ruslan Myrsataev (5-0, 5), all of whom likely to be up against limited opponents in what we suspect will be little more than show case bouts.
The biggest show in Asia takes place in Hyogo and will feature two notable bouts.
The main event will see Japan's Shohei Kawashima (16-2-2, 3) take on Filipino Ronnie Campos (8-3-3, 5). The Japanese fighter has impressed over-all, and pushed Cristian Mijares surprisingly close in 2016. Sadly for Kawashima he did suffer a KO loss last year to Gaku Aikawa and this is his first step up in class since that loss. The 21 year old visitor will bee fighting in Japan for the second time, having lost in 2017 to Junki Sasaki, and will feel like he could pick up a win against Kawashima, who may be low on confidence here.
Also on this card is unbeaten prospect Yuki Yamauchi (1-0, 1), who was originally announced to have a 10 round bout, but has since had the bout rescheduled to a 6 rounders, take on Alvin Medura (8-2, 7). The Japanese novice is tipped to be a massive star in the future and this is a really good test for him against a limited, but dangerous, Filipino puncher. Medura is no world beater, but at this level he is very dangerous if he lands, and he's a hungry fighter, but was out boxed a year ago by Ryuto Owan, who showed that he can be out boxed.
This show will also feature the retirement ceremony of Japan's Ryuya Yamanaka, who has had to hang up the gloves on medical grounds. It's a shame to see Yamanaka hang up his gloves at just 23 years old. Despite his early retirement we do expect the fans to send him into a retirement with a serious send out.
Cebu also plays host to a small card, which really hasn't got much attention or much worth talking about, if we're being honest.
The main event will see local loser Wilbert Rota (0-4) take on unbeaten Taiwanese fighter Ming Hung Lee (6-0, 4), in what should be a mismatch in favour of the 29 year old Lee.
A slightly more interesting bout on the same card will see Cris Ganoza (15-2, 8) take on Ernesto Alera (5-5-1). The 24 year old Ganoza is a talented fighter who has only suffered losses to Edward Heno and John Michael Zulueta, two very talented unbeaten youngsters. The light punching Alera has won just 1 of his last 5 bouts and isn't expected to be much of a test for Ganoza, despite the fact Ganoza was beaten last time out.
Busan, South Korea
There is also set to be a small novice show in Korea, headlined by Suk Joon Hwang (3-1-2) and Urmat Amankulov (2-0, 1). The 23 year old Hwang lost after 103 seconds on his debut but has since gone on a 5 fight unbeaten run. The unbeaten Amankulov is a Korean based Kyrgyzstan born fighter who debuted in July and has already racked up a couple of wins. Although not a mouth watering match up on paper this could be very fun for the fans in Busan.
Other notable prospects will be in action in Canada, with a duo of Central Asian prospects taking on interesting tests in Quebec.
One of those prospects is Kazakh Lightweight Ablaikhan Khussainov (8-0, 5), who takes a notable step up up in class, as he takes on the experienced Jesus Laguna (22-12-3, 19) in an 8 round bout. The 27 year old Kazakh is a talent but has been moved very slowly since making his debut in December 2015 and this step up is well over-due. The 30 year old Laguna has been around the block but has failed to win any of his more notable bouts. On paper this is a step up, but a manageable one for the Kazakh.
Originally the talented Sadriddin Akhmedov (3-0, 3) was pencilled in to face off against Norberto Gonzalez (23-11, 13) on this card. Gonzalez has however been removed from the card, and Akhmedov will instead face off with Jesus Javier Mendoza (7-5-1, 6), in what looks like a big downgrade. The unbeaten Akhmedov, from Kazakhstan, has looked excellent since making his debut in April and will be looking to leave an impression here as well.
Sadly it seems like the previously reported match up between Nurzat Sabirov (7-0, 6) and Adrian Luna Flores (20-5-1, 13) has been cancelled in the days leading up to the fight. On paper this was an excellent match up for Sabirov and a great test against a fighter who has been a long term sparring partner for Ryota Murata, so it's a shame to see the bout falling through.
In Belgium fans will see Kyrgyzstan born Super Featherweight hopeful Faroukh Kourbanov (15-1, 3) take on Frenchman Sylvain Chapelle (17-25-2). The talented Kourbanov, who is bow based in Belgium, is a former EBU European Union champion who suffered his first loss this past May against Italian veteran Devis Boschiero, in a close bout on the road, and he'll be looking to bounce back. The 32 year old Chapelle is very limited but typically fights at Lightweight or Light Welterweight and is very tough and well travelled. Chapelle has never been stopped and has fought the likes of Scott Cardle, Yvan Mendy, Romain Jacob and Emiliano Marsili. This should be a clear win for Kourbanov, but he will be expecting to be taken the distance.
The main card card for us this coming Saturday comes from Aichi, where we'll see a 2-weight world champion along with several prospects.
The former world champion is Kosei Tanaka (10-0, 6), who has won world titles at both Minimumweight and Light Flyweight. Tanaka's pursuit for a Flyweight title kicks off with a bout against unbeaten Filipino Ronnie Baldonado (10-0-1, 7), who had a huge 2017 with stoppages against Ma Yi Ming and Iwan Zoda. A win for Tanaka is likely to set up a world title fight at Flyweight later this year. Saying that however Baldonado will know a win here will give his career a massive boost in the arm and move him onto a world title fight of his own.
In a major supporting bout fans will see unbeaten prospect Kento Hatanaka (4-0, 4) take on former Japanese Minimumweight title challenger Kenta Matsui (8-7, 1). The hard hitting Hatanaka has looked fantastic so far, but this is a huge step up in class following fights against very limited opposition. Matsui may not have a great record but he's a massive step up in class for Hatanaka, and is an upset minded fighter, as seen with his wins against Rikito Hattori and Genki Hanai. This is a big step up, but a win for Hatanakawould have him instantly in the domestic title mix.
Also on this card will be 2-time Japanese Bantamweight title contender Yushi Tanaka (21-2-3, 14), who will be battling against Jinya Ito (6-3-1, 1). The 26 year old Tanaka has scored a couple of low key wins since losing a decision to Ryo Akaho just over a year ago. Ito has lost 3 of his last 5 and is very unlikely to pose much of a threat to Tanaka who will be looking to earn a third Japanese title fight in the near future.
As well as the the card in Aichi Japanese fans will also get a card in Shizuoka.
The main event of the card will see OPBF ranked Super Bantamweight Takashi Igarashi (12-3, 5) battle against Yutaka Motoyoshi (7-11, 5),in an 8 rounder. On paper this isn't that mouth watering, but Igarashi isn't as much of a foregone winner as his record suggests, and with two stoppages against his name he is certainly not the toughest man out there. Motoyoshi has been stopped in 3 of his last 4, but he has mixed at a decent level and could well have the power to give Igarashi problems if he can connect .
Another man at risk if gets caught is Omrri Bolivar (5-1, 3), who will be up against bit punching Filipino visitor Junny Salogaol (13-12-4, 12). Last time out Bolivar was stopped in 5 rounds by Jelbirt Gomera and will be looking to get his career back on track here. Salogaol looks like an easy win for the South American on paper, but Salogaol is tough and dangerous and will be looking to score one of the best wins of his career. This could be a very tough contest if Bolivar isn't careful.
One other bout of note on this card will see Asami Jinnari (5-2-1, 2) battle against Wakako Fujiwara (4-2-2, 2) for the Japanese female Featherweight title. These two fought to a draw in December last year and we're expecting another close and competitive match up here.
In Indonesian we'll see the unbeaten Tibo Monabesa (16-0-2, 8) continue his climb to a world title fight as he takes on former OPBF title challenger Lester Abutan (12-7-3, 6). The unbeaten Monabesa is one of the best hopes for the Indonesian scene but this is a step up and one of the first real tests for the 27 year old southpaw. Abutan was last seen being stopped by Ryota Yamauchi but despite that loss he is still a very capable fighter, and should bring the best out of Monabesa, especially given that a win for Abutan will give his career a boost and he'll be there to win. Interestingly this will be Monabesa's second defense of the World Boxing Council International Silver Light Flyweight title.
A second title fight on this card will see the huighly experienced Samuel Tehuayo (21-43-2, 6) battle against former Hinata Maruta foe Hamson Lamandau (8-2-1, 5), who has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3 bouts. The winner of this will become the new Universal Boxing Organization (UBO) International Flyweight champion.
For Asian fans in China there will also be a low key card in Jinan from Top Rank and SECA Ltd. This card is set to only feature novices, but should be a pretty interesting card with every fighter on the card looking to take a step towards bigger and better things.
Seoul, South Korea
It's not only Chinese fans who get a low key novice card but also Korean ones with Boxing M putting on a a small card in Seoul. These match up here, like with the Chinese card, are all low key contests, but the winners will take a step towards something big, as this is part of a big tournament show.
Outside of Asia there will also be some Asian fighters in action in Canada, where they have been building their respective careers so far.
One of those is the promising Batyrzhan Jukembayev (11-0-0-2, 9) of Kazakhstan. The 26 year old will be facing off with Mexican Noe Nunez (18-5-1, 13). The Kazakh looks like a real prospect, and although he does look like he's treading water with this fight, given his other recent fights, it is worth noting that he should look good. For those who recognise Nunez's name he has been stopped in 3 rounds by Britain's Jack Caterall and in 6 rounds by Tony Luis, showing he's not the toughest fighter out there.
The other Asian fight on this card is Ablaikhan Khussainov (7-0, 5), also a a Kazakh, who will battle against Gilberto Meza (8-3-1, 5). Last time out Khussainov had some questions to answer, as Jesus Silveria pushed him hard through a 6 rounder, but the Kazakh will be out to make a statement here. It's worth noting that Meza has never been stopped, and did score a career best win last time out, when he stopped Francisco Javier Hernandez.
The biggest card, at least for us, this coming Thursday is a doubler header at the Korakuen Hall, with a WBO Asia Pacific title fight and a Japanese domestic title fight, along with a supporting bout involving a former Japanese champion.
The main event will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (18-2-1, 16) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title against the exciting Shusaku Fujinaka (16-7-2, 11). The bout will be Obara's first defense of the title, which he won earlier this year when he stopped Saddam Kietyongyuth, and should be a relatively straight forward one, against a limited but aggressive Fujinaka. The challenger is best known for a his 2015 loss to Randall Bailey and has shown a questionable chin, with 3 stoppage losses. Saying that however he's an exciting warrior and his recent bout with Moon Hyun Yun is one of the best Japanese fights of 2017. We expect action and excitement, but a clear win for Obara here.
The other title fight will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso (22-7-1, 15) taking on exciting challenger Valentine Hosokawa (21-6-3, 9). The bout is set to be one between two men who simply like to fight. They have styles that should gel, they have mentalities that should be made for each other, and it's hard to see how this bout will fail to be anything but thrilling. Aso, defending the title for the second time, is a high octane pressure fighter whilst Hosokawa is a bit more of a swarmer and the bout should be a balls to the wall war.
One other bout on this card worthy of note will see former Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (33-15-1, 7) fight for the 50th time! The 37 year old veteran will be up against a limited Thai foe, and will be expected to pick up a win to mark his half century of bouts.
In Canada we'll see a couple of talented fighters from Central Asia.
One of those will be heavy handed Canadian based Kazakh Ablaikhan Khussainov (6-0, 5), who faces off with Mexican Jesus Silveira (8-4-2, 3). The talented Kazakh has quietly gone about business and looks like a real talent but does still need some seasoning and it looks like that's the purpose of this bout. Silveira's record might suggest that he's a very limited fighter but but he's mixed with quality fighters, like Jose Zepeda, and no one has managed to stop him yet, suggesting he'll be a durable foe for Khussainov.
A second Canadian based Kazakh on this card will be Nurzat Sabirov (3-0, 3), who will be looking to record his 4th win in just over 6 months. The talented 23 year old has just needed 6 rounds to dispose of his first 3 opponents and if he keeps ripping through low tier foes it won't be long until they push him into bigger and better bouts against stiffer competition.
New York, USA
There will also be some central Asian interest in the US, courtesy of American based Uzbek fighter Hurshidbek Normatov (4-0, 2), who risks his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Nicklaus Flaz (5-0, 4). So far through his short career Normatov has impressed, not losing any of his 13 professional rounds, and looks like a potential one to watch. However the 25 year old born in Andijan hasn't really faced a notable test and this bout with Flaz should serve as a test of sorts. Puerto Rican puncher Flaz is a 22 year old with genuine bang, having stopped his first 4 opponents in a combined 5rounds, but was taken the distance last time out by Elie Augustama and may be biting off more than he can chew here.