This Saturday is a huge one for us with a host of notable fights, including a possibly historic bout in Mexico for one of our favourite fighters in the sport today.
Nuevo Leon, Mexico
For us the biggest fight, by a long way, is in Nuevo Leon where IBF Minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama (27-6-0-1, 10) attempts to become the first Japanese fighter to complete a grandslam. For Takayama to claim the grandslam he will need to get past hard hitting Mexican Francisco Rodriguez Jr (14-2, 10), the current WBO champion. This is much easier said than done and Rodriguez is a hard hitting and tough Minimumweight who is likely to make a serious name for himself in the coming years. This is one of those rare bouts which pits two world class fighters against each other but gets over-looked by the wider boxing public, a huge shame for what has the potential to be one of the best bouts of the year.
Takayama isn't the only man of note involved in a world title fight and in Crimea fans will get to see Russia's unbeaten Dmitry Chudinov (13-0-2, 8) defending his WBA interim Middleweight title against French veteran Mehdi Bouadla (30-5, 11). Bouadla, who is ranked #12 by the WBA, shouldn't be getting this shot considering his recentactivity and the fight also shouldn't be in Crimea given the political issues there between Russia and Ukraine though it is a pleasure to see Chudinov develop from crude slugger into a heavy handed boxer-puncher and we imagine he could become one of the names to follow in the division in the coming years.
On the same card as Chudinov are 2 other bouts of note. For us the key one, is that of the very promising Arif Magomedov (11-0, 8) who battled against the usually durable Patrick Mendy (15-7-1, 1). Mendy fought to an 8 round draw with Chudinov last July but was stopped, inside a round, by Callum Smith 2 months later. We'd imagine Magomedov stops Mendy, though we're unsure when. We'll admit that we think Magomedov's a better talent than Chudinov and at just 22 years old Magomedov is a baby, his potential is phenomenal.
The remaining bout on this card will see Pavel Doroshilov (0-0) make his debut against the very experienced Danny Williams (46-22-0-1, 35). We don't know much about the debutant though one would assume that if he wins here he will quickly become one of the men to keep an eye on in coming years, especially given the lack of talent in the Heavyweight.
Gauteng, South Africa
Another "world" title bout will be fought in South Africa as former OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Roli Gasca (22-4-1, 6) attempts to claim the IBO Super Bantamweight title. Sadly for Gasca he is up against the monstrously hard hitting Thabo Sonjica (19-2, 14) who has stopped 4 of his last 5 opponents, including Gasca's compatriot Silvester Lopez. This is a tough one for the Filipino but it is winnable if Gasca is on song.
On the same card Russia's Denis Grachev (13-3-1, 8) will be trying to claim the WBC Silver Light Heavyweight title as he battles the unbeaten Ryno Liebenberg (15-0, 11). This is potentially Grachev's 4th loss in 5 fights and this could well be an "all or nothing" fight for the Russian.
New South Wales, Australia
In another title bout Filipino Ryan Sermona (16-5, 9) will be trying to capture the WBC International Super Featherweight title as he takes on the light hitting Corey McConnell (13-1-1, 1). McConnell will be best know by international fans who saw him being stopped by Lee Selby and really shouldn't be that much of a favourite against the capable Sermona.
The undercard here will feature 2 other Filipinos. One of those will be the hard hitting Joebert Delos Reyes (12-4-1, 9), who is looking to build on his win over Valentine Borg by taking on John Min (7-6, 4). For those who remember Delos Reyes stopping Borg that was one of the KO's of the year and if he lands that shot anyone he has a chance of stopping them, sadly however he is limited and lacks a certain kind of toughness himself, at least he did early in his career.
The other Filipino will be Joel Dela Cruz (17-21-3, 7) who will be looking to secure a victory over Wade Ryan (5-2). Sadly for Dela Cruz it's hard to see him coming out on top here given that Ryan is a naturally bigger man and given that Dela Cruz has now gone well over 2 years since last scoring a win.
Staying in Australia Arnon Yuchareon (0-4) will be battling against the debuting Luke Hall (0-0) in a 4 rounder. With both men battling for their first win this could be interesting though we tend to feel that Arnon is being selected to lose to Hall.
We have yet another Russian in action in the US as Vasily Lepikhin (15-0, 8) puts his unbeaten record on the line against Robert Berridge (24-1-1, 20). Berridge has won his last 9 by T/KO and it wouldn't be a huge shock for him to take the "0" from Lepikhin here.
(Image courtesy of nakazatoboxing.com)
This week has been a funny one in the world of boxing with the stand out day of the week being a Wednesday which is pretty rare. Oddly though Wednesday isn't the only notable week day with some interesting action as Friday follows suit with a much anticipated world title rematch and a range of bouts across the globe.
The biggest show of the day, by a margin, is in Moscow as WBA Cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev (25-2, 19) seeks redemption over Panama's Guillermo Jones (39-3-2, 31). The men fought in an amazing war last year though the bout was shrouded in controversy regarding drug tests that found something in Jones's system effectively force the WBA to give Lebedev his title back despite the fact he was eventually stopped. If this bout is half as good as their first then we're in for a great fight.
In the chief support bout the once beaten Andrey Klimov (16-1, 8) takes on Francisco Contreras (22-4, 17) of the Dominican Republic. Contreras is best known to us for his opening KO loss to Jorge Linares late last year and we'd not be shocked if he suffered another, similar, loss to Klimov.
Although not one of the top 2 fights we think the pick of the fights here is the all prospect Middleweight clash between Russia's very own Arif Magomedov (10-0, 7) and promising Colombian Alex Theran (16-0, 9). Going in to this bout Theran has a top 10 ranking with the WBA and Magomedov will certainly be targeting that ranking with a victory here though it's clear that this will be his toughest bout so far.
Another notable bout on this show is the debut of former kick boxer Sergey Lipinets (0-0) who battles the experienced and tough Venezuelan Franklin Varela (21-14, 10). Varela, who has been in the ring with Anselmo Moreno and Scott Quigg amongst others, is an amazing test for Lipinets and should give us a glimpse as to whether or not the Russian has the ability to become a star in pro boxing.
Whilst the show in Moscow is clearly the more significant of two shows in Russia there is also one in Podolsk. This one is headlined by the unbeaten
Nikolay Potapov (11-0, 6) battling against Mexico's Martin Casillas (14-2, 8) in a 10 round bout at Bantamweight. In our eyes this is a good step up for the Russian prospect who is in with a genuinely live foe here.
A second notable bout on this show sees PABA Lightweight champion Roman Andreev (15-0, 11) taking on Mexico's Juan Antonio Rodriguez (26-4, 23) in what should be an explosive encounter. Rodriguez is the more experienced man, and a former WBC Youth champion, but Andreev has looked very heavy handed and is naturally bigger than the Mexican.
In another notable bout on this show Cruiserweight Maxim Maslov (13-1-1, 8) will battle journeyman Arturs Kulikauskis (13-18-3, 6) in what is likely to be be a one sided battle for Maslov. Although the bout is very one sided on paper Kulikauskis is tough and will be expected to to get a fair few rounds from Maslov.
As well as the Russian action we'll also be having notable fighters in the ring in Thailand where former WBC Minimumweight champion Oleydong Sithsamerchai (53-1-1, 19) will be defending his WBC International Super Flyweight title against Filipino Noli Morales (10-4, 3). This will be Oleydong's 8th defence of the title and remarkably it's his 19th bout since being beaten by Kazuto Ioka back in early 2011.
In Mexico we see yet another Russian in action as the unbeaten Andrey Meryasev (15-0, 11) takes on former Welterweight champion Carlos Manuel Baldomir (49-15-6, 15). Just shy of his 43rd birthday Baldomir isn't the fighter who once beat Zab Judah or Joshua Clottey but should still be the toughest test that the unbeaten Meryasev has faced so far. What makes this a little but more interesting is that it's the Russian's first fight in American and just his second outside of his homeland
On the same card fans will also get to see Mikhail Lopatyuk (1-0), also of Russia, take on the debuting Jesus Cupul (0-0).
(Image courtesy of Notifight and Hrunov)