The most notable Asian action this coming Saturday comes from Kazakhstan where we'll get the chance to see some of the top Kazakh hopefuls in action.
In one of the main bouts the unbeaten Meiirim Nursultanov (16-0, 9) will be looking to defend his WBO International Middleweight title, as he takes on Argentina's Sebastian Horacio Papeschi (18-3, 6). The talented Nursultanov is now 28 and will be looking to move towards a more serious title fight in the near future, but will have to work his way there and the WBO International title will be his key to climbing up the WBO rankings towards a shot. As for Papeschi this bout will be only his second outside of Argentina, following a 2021 win in Panama. Notably the Argentinian does hold a win of note over over former world title challenger Marcelo Esteban Coceres, but a win here would be regarded as an upset by him.
In another leading bout the once beaten Bekman Soylybayev (13-1, 5) will be up against former world champion Tomas Rojas (52-20-1, 34). The 31 year old Soylybayev suffered his first loss last year, losing a close decision in Dubai against Ramiro Cesena, and has picked up a low key win since then though if we're being honest the jury is still out on how far he can go, especially as a 31 year old in the talent laden Super Featherweight division. If he can come close to a world title fight we would be very surprised. As for Rojas the Mexican veteran, who had his biggest success at 115lbs more than a decade ago, is now 41 and is still, surprisingly, having some success with recent wins coming against Jhonny Gonzalez, Jairo Lopez and Ranfis Javier Encarnacion. It's easy to pick against Rojas here, especially with 4 losses in his last 5, but he is upset minded and will not be there to just roll over for the local.
Arguably the most notable hopeful on this card is former amateur standout Bekzad Nurdauletov (4-0, 2), who is looking to score his 5th win as he takes on Argentinian Durval Elias Palacio (9-2, 6). The talented Nurdauletov is one of the best talents in Kazakhstan and we suspect over the next 12-18 months we'll see him face progressively better opponents with a potential bout against a notable name in late 2023 or early 2024. He is a genuine talent, though his opponents so far really haven't asked many questions of his ability so far. Palacio on the other hand won his first 9 bouts, but has lost his last 2, and will come into this fight with no real confidence or momentum. This should be a good chance for Nurdauletov to get some more rounds under his belt, but we don't imagine Palacio really testing him here.
One other bout of note will see former Kazakh amateur Berik Jedibayev (0-0) make his professional debut, taking on Uzbek fighter Burgut Hodjiboyev (8-4, 3) in a 6 rounder. We can't find much about Jedibayev's amateur days, but he does pop up in a few reports of amateur shows, and when a fighter begins their career in a 6 rounder it is a good sign that they will be moved quickly. As for Hodjiboyev he comes into this on the back of 3 straight losses, but all of his losses so far have come to unbeaten fighters, and he'll be there looking to upset the local hopeful
Rumours International, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
In Queensland we'll see former world title challenger Apinun Khongsong (18-1, 15) take on Steve Spark (14-2, 13). The heavy handed Apinun, also known Downua Ruavaiking, is best known for his 2020 loss to Josh Taylor, in which he was stopped in a round. Since then he has bounced back with two low wins but will be looking to give his career a big shot in the arm here as he takes on Steve Spark, a gutsy and exciting Australian fighter who has plenty of power his own. Although Spark, like Apinun, lost his most notable bout, a 2021 clash with Tim Tszyu, he showed his toughness and fire in that bout, and we'd expect this one to be a genuinely tense, yet exciting bout that could end at any moment.
Hobart Netball and Sports Centre, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Staying in Australia we'll also see Indonesian veteran in action, as Arief Blader (27-33-3, 11) takes on Luke Jackson (19-2, 8), in what looks like an horrendous mismatch against Blader. The 36 year old Blader, dubbed "The Ice" has got some rare momentum coming in to this, having won his last 4 bouts, but that momentum is unlikely to help when you consider those wins came against very poor domestic foes, and he has never scored a win on his travels. As for Jackson a win is expected as he looks to bounce back from a 2020 loss to Tyson Lantry. A bit of a confidence builder for Jackson and little else.