This coming Saturday isn't a huge day for Asian boxing, but is an interesting one with a huge fight and several other bouts of note, as get a day to look forward to.
The most significant bout of the day takes place in the US as WBC Featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr (30-1, 18) defends his belt against unbeaten Mongolian challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-0, 9). Russell, who's reign has been among the worst in boxing, will be making his 5th defense of the title that he won way back in March 2015. Although a talented fighter he has completely wasted his prime years with a once a year schedule. Nyambayar on the other hand started his professional career with high activity, but has been a lot less active in recent years, following issues with his hands. The Mongolian, if he wins, will become only the second ever Mongolian world champion, but this is certainly not a gimme for a man looking to put his name in the history books. Although both have been inactive this is still a very interest match up and one we are really looking forward to. Our preview of this bout can be read here King Tug gets world title fight at last! But can he win?
San Jose, Costa Rica
Limited Filipino Carleans Rivas (8-6-4) will be getting a shot at the IBF female Minimumweight title, as she travels to Costa Rica to take on local star Yokasta Valle (19-2, 8). This looks like a really tough bout for Rivas who has struggled when she's stepped up in the past, and we expect her to struggle again here. Valle might not be a big name, but her title win last August against Joana Pastrana was impressive and we expect her to be far too much for Rivas here. This bout has been previewed here Rivas faces Valle in IBF title fight, but does she really have a chance?
La Union, Philippines
The most noteworthy or two Filipino cards will take place in La Union.
The main event here will see unbeaten American Rafael Marzan (12-0, 9) take on Jestoni Autida (12-11, 6). In reality this should be a straight forward win for the talented Marzan, who is fighting in a 4th different country in as many fights. The American has recently fought at home, in the US, as well as Mexico and Germany, and it's kinda cool to see a fighter getting experience around the globe. On the other hand Autida has lost 4 of his last 5, and we would be shocked to see him really testing Marzan.
In a support bout we are expecting to see OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante (16-11-4, 8) fighting in a tune up bout against Sulis Barrera (4-7). There is some doubt about this contest taking place, given Dante is booked for a title defense in March, but in reality he should steam roll Barrera, who has won 2 of his last 9 bouts.
In a bout that could be rather entertaining the heavy handed, but limited Alvin Lagumbay (11-5-1, 10) will be up against Bryan Macamay (10-10-3, 6). Lagumbay, best known for his 2018 upset win against Keita Obara, is 1-3-1 in his last 5 bouts, but should have far too much for the very limited Macamay.
Also on this card will be debuting Uzbek hopeful Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov (0-0), who kicks off his career with a bout against Benjie Ebido (0-2). The very talented Sharakhmatov, who has competed in the WSB and was a very good amateur, is expected to be fighting out of the UK in the future, having signed with Frank Warren, and has the talented and amateur experience to be moved quickly. This should be a very easy win for the 23 year old who is expected to go very, very far in his career.
A second Filipino show is pencilled in to take place in Cebu.
One of the bouts worthy of note here will see the unbeaten Bryan James Wild (4-0, 3) take on Margarito Moya (9-10, 3) in a 6 round contest. The 18 year old Wild made his debut in late 2018 and has looked promising but untested, and this will be a notable step up in class for him ahead of bigger and better fights in the coming years.
Another bout of note on this show will see former amateur standout Criztian Pitt Laurente (4-0, 3) face off with the experienced Romnick Magos (12-11, 7). Pitt is regarded as a top Filipino prospect and this should a straight forward win for him, but as with Wild it is a clear step up in competition from the opposition he has been facing previously.
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.
This coming Thursday attention turns back to the Korakuen Hall as we get a show with two title bouts, and several other interesting match ups.
One of those title bouts will see Filipino puncher Alvin Lagumbay (10-2, 9) attempt to score his second victory over Keita Obara (19-3-1, 17), and make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. These two fought earlier this year, with Lagumbay upsetting the former world title challenger courtesy of a 2nd round KO. The bout not only saw an upset, but did so in a spectacular way, with a double knockdown that saw Lagumbay manage to beat the count whilst Obara was counted out. For Obara another loss will likely spell the end of his dreams to get a second world title fight, as for Lagumbay a loss wouldn't be the end, but a win would certainly enhance his options going forward.
A preview for the rematch between Lagumbay and Obara can be read here.
The other title bout will see Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto (15-5, 12) make his first defense, as he faces voluntary challenger Tatsuya Otsubo (12-8-1, 4). The champion impressed in his title winning performance earlier this year, when he stopped Takenori Ohashi but will now need to continue the momentum with his first defense. At his best Minamoto looks fantastic, and we're hoping the title boosts his performances going forward. For Otsubo this is a second shot at the Japanese title, following a 2015 loss to Satoshi Hosono. Since the loss to Hosono we've not really see Otsubo impress, despite going 4-1 (1) he has really been lucky in 3 of those wins, and could well have been 1-5 in his last 6 contests. Interestingly the winner of this will likely face Raiye Abe in early 2019.
On paper the best of the under-card fights will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight title challenger Ryoichi Tamura (10-3-1, 6) take on upset minded Filipino visitor Jestoni Autida (11-8, 5). The exciting Tamura gave Yusaku Kuga absolute hell last year, and proved to be one of the few fighters who could not only take Kuga's power but could also force the champion onto the back foot. Autida is 0-2 in Japan but has managed to be a nightmare for fighters like Ratchasak KKP and Petch Sor Chitpattana and could give Tamura some real questions.
Other bouts on this card will include Japanese ranked Middleweight Shuji Kato (8-1-1, 5) take on Naritsugu Nishihara (5-2-1, 1) and former Japanese title challenger Masaki Saito (14-13-6, 5) take on Takashi Sakamoto (7-10, 2). These should both see the more experienced men come out on top, but neither should be a mismatch.
This coming Wednesday fight fans in Japan will get the chance to see a title double header at the Korakuen Hall, with both bouts being for WBO Asia Pacific titles, and pitting Japanese fighters against Filipinos. As well as the two title fighters there's also a Japanese ranked fighter and a very highly touted debutant.
The first of the two title fights is the more interesting as WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Richard Pumicpic (20-8-2, 6) takes on the unbeaten Yoshimitsu Kimura (9-0, 4). The Filipino won the title last year, when he upset former world title challenger Hisashi Amagasa, and will be returning to the scene of that win. Although his record doesn't suggest he's anything great Pumicpic is a total nightmare to fight, and has given problems to fighters like Yohei Tobe, Ryosuke Iwasa and Cesar Juarez. As for Kimura this is a massive step up in class,and he's yet to fight anyone of any note. In fact the challenger is stepping up from low level domestic competition to facing one of the most tricky fighters on the regional scene. A win for Kimura would be both a huge statement, and a massive upset.
The other title fight will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (19-2-1, 17) take on Filipino foe Alvin Lagumbay (9-2, 8), with Obara seeking his second defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. The heavy handed Japanese fighter is looking to move towards a second world title fight, now at a more natural Welterweight, but opponents like Lagumbay aren't going to help him get fights at the top level. For those unaware Lagumbay has fought in Japan before, and was stopped by the then 3-0 Lightweight prospect Kazuki Saito, which should sum up why he's such a terrible opponent for a Welterweight like Obara here.
In a domestic Middleweight bout we'll see Japanese ranked Shuji Kato (7-1-1, 5) take on Sosuke Sakata (5-4-1, 2). Kato won the 2017 Rookie of the Year, and is riding a 5 fight winning streak, to show that he deserves some attention. However this is a clear step up in class from the fellow novices he has been fighting, despite Sakata himself being a limited fighter. As for Sakata he has been plying his trade at Welterweight though could see the move up in weight give his career a new lease of life.
The debutant of real note on this card is former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita (0-0), who went 110-31 (47) in the unpaid ranks before turning professional at the start of this year. The talented Sugita will be up against hard hitting Filipino visitor Jun Blazo (7-5-3, 6). The Filipino is 0-4 in Japan, but has fought very good competition, losing to Koki Eto, Daisuke Watanabe, Hayate Kaji and Ryuto Owan. This is a really tough debut bout for Sugita, but there is very high expectations on his shoulders and this sort of debut is a great statement of intent.
Originally there was also a Japanese Bantamweight title bout set for this card, between Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) and Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8). Sadly this bout has been cancelled, with Suzuki pulling out of the bout due to an injury suffered in training. From what we under-stand Muranaka will be fighting for the vacant title down the line, though this is understandably a cruel twist for Suzuki who already missed out on a title fight this past January when Ryo Akaho was forced to cancel a fight against him.