This weekend seems to be the next step in the rise of boxing's "Russian Revolution" with numerous major bouts, ranging from world title to possible break out bouts, many of which will feature Russian fighters.
The card of the day, by a long shot, is in Russia where we get four very interesting title bouts as well as two contests involving unbeaten Russian prospects taking a step up in class. It is the sort of card that we want to see more of though sadly boxing seems to be having of them.
The first of the prospects expected to be in action is Alexander Sharonov (2-0, 1) fighting in a 6 rounder against Ghana's Godwin Cudjoe (8-6, 7). Cudjoe comes into this fight on a 6 fight winning streak though he will still be seen as an under-dog against the 22 year old Sharanov. The second prospect in action is the very highly touted Sergey Lipinets (3-0, 2) who attempts to record his 4th win as he steps up to fight Daniel Lomeli (22-4, 11) in an 8 round bout. Lipinets was a former kick boxing star with strong amateur pedigree and it seems clear his team are confident in his ability. Some will suggest that Lomeli is an under-sized opponent which is fair but for a main in fight #4 this is an acceptable step for Lipinets who some are tipping very highly.
In a female world title bout we see a re-run of a bout we saw earlier this year. This will see the unbeaten Svetlana Kulakova (9-0-1, 1) battle against WBA female Light Welterweight Ana Laura Esteche (10-3-2, 2). In their meeting earlier this year the two fought to a draw with Kulakova twice being deducted a point. Had it not been for those deductions the Russian would have won the title with a majority decision and many who saw the bout know that that would have been an unjust result. Hopefully we'll see a less scrappy performance form Kulakova who looked really good for 4 round before showing signs of exhaustion in the middle and later rounds.
In a regional title fight we will get to see Andrey Knyazev (10-1, 5), the current Russian Cruiserweight champion, battle against Shalva Jomardashvili (37-8-2, 28) for the vacant WBO Oriental Cruiserweight title. This will be one of three Cruiserweight bouts on the show and is by far the weakest of the three. Knyazev may enter as the Russian champion but he's well down the picking order of top Russian Cruiserweights whilst Jomardashvili has gone 6-5-1 in his last 12 fights and shown that he's never going to be world class.
The two main events of the show are both Cruiserweight title fights. One of those is a WBC Cruiserweight title fight as Poland's Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (49-2-1, 35) attempts to defend his belt against once beaten Russian Grigory Drozd (38-1, 27). The 32 year old Wlodarczyk will be looking for his 6th defence of the WBC title and will be returning to Russia 15 months after stopping the then unbeaten Rakhim Chakhkiev, also in Moscow. As for Drozd this will be his first world title fight, finally getting his shot at the big time. Drozd will be taking part in this fight about a year after his stand out win over the then unbeaten Mateusz Masternak. This is one of those great Cruiserweight bouts that has gone under-the-radar but really does look to be something a bit special.
The other event will see the long awaited return to the ring of WBA champion Denis Lebedev (25-2, 19) who will fight for the first time since his painful loss to Guillermo Jones last year. The all action and always fun to watch Lebedev will be battling against Poland's Pawel Kolodziej (33-0, 18) though there are worries about Lebedev who took a real beating at the hands of Jones and has been inactive, courtesy of an aborted rematch with Jones that saw the Panamanian fail a drugs test on the day of the fight. Kolodziej isn't as good as fellow Pole Wlodarczyk but is still a world class Cruiserweight and could be too much for Lebedev if the Russian isn't 100%.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In Metro Manila we have yet more title action with 2 titles fights and various other domestic contests.
The headline bout of this Filipino show will see Filipino fighter Renan Trongco (15-4, 9) take on Japanese visitor Hayato Yamaguchi (12-4-1, 2) in a battle for the WBC International Flyweight title. For Trongco this will be the first defense of the title he won a year a go when he defeated China's Wang Xin Hua via decision. Yamaguchi is 0-2 in title fights going into this fight, with those losses coming in a Japanese Light Flyweight title fight against Masayuki Kuroda and a WBC Youth Intercontinental Flyweight title fight against Cris Paulino.
A second title fight on this show will see Carleans Rivas (3-1-3) battle against Lady Love Sampiton (1-2, 1) for the Philippines Games & Amusement Board (GAB) female Flyweight title. As far as we are aware this is the inaugural title bout for this title which is a newly created title.
A third notable bout on this show will see Jeffrey Arienza (11-2-1, 6) battle against journeyman Ronald Postrano (7-20-2, 3) in a domestic 12 rounder. Arienza will be looking for his third straight win after suffering back to back defeats last year. As for Postrano he comes into this bout after suffering a trio of defeats and has won just one of his last 11 bouts!
On a small show in Japan we're expecting to see a total of 8 bouts, most of which are 4 rounders.
The main event will see Tatsuya Takahashi (17-5-3, 12) battle against win-less Thai novice Kittichai Or Boonchuay (0-3). On paper this looks like a mismatch and, whilst it's likely to go the way we all expect, Takahashi isn't anything special and is unlikely to ever become a real challenger even on the Japanese domestic scene. We do doubt Kittichai's record and assume that it's incomplete but he should provide little challenge for the Japanese fighter.
As well as a the main event and the 5 bouts scheduled for 4 rounds this show will also feature a pair of 6 rounders though none of the 4 men involved will be known by anyone other than the most hardcore of the hardcore of Japanese boxing fans.
It's not just in Russia that we will see Russian fighters in action and in Canada we will see the very exciting Artur Beterbiev (5-0, 5) taking on his biggest challenge to date. Beterbiev will be attempting to claim the NABA Light Heavyweight title as he battles against former IBF world champion Tavoris Cloud (24-2, 19) and although this is a big step up we're still expecting to see Beterbiev defeat Cloud and announce himself as the most exciting Light Heavyweight prospect on the planet.
(Image courtesy of http://akboxing.ru)