For us the biggest show this Saturday is in China where we get a China Vs Japan card featuring a number of bouts between fighters from those two countries. Not only is there the China Vs Japan theme, but also the return to the ring of a popular Japanese former world champion.
The former world champion is Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10), who despite being Japanese is hugely popular in China following his title win over Zou Shiming in 2017. Kimura was dethroned of the WBO Flyweight title in September, by Kosei Tanaka, but will be strongly favoured to pick up a win here as he takes on Thai veteran Pigmy Kokietgym (60-10-2, 24) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Flyweight. Pigmy was once a solid fighter, and is a 2-time world title challenger, but is not a natural Flyweight, he's 37 and has been stopped 7 times in his career, with Kimura likely to make that 8.
One of the many China Vs Japan bouts will see China's Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (15-2-1, 6) take on Yusuke Konno (14-4, 7) in a bout for some minor WBA Light Welterweight title. Originally the title was listed as the WBA "International" title, though their is now speculation that it will be for the WBA "Asia" title. Nasiyiwula is a talented fighter, but often comes across as a man with a bad attitude, and a real arrogance. He has impressed in the past, but didn't look good last time out, when he fought Ernesto Espana. Konno on the other hand has a poor looking record, but comes into this bout on the back of 3 good domestic wins, including an excellent victory over Vladimir Baez in December and will be full of confidence.
Another China Vs Japan bout, with a title on the line, will see world ranked Chinese fighter Wulan Tuolehazi (10-3-1, 5) battle against highly regarded Japanese prospect Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4) in a bout for the WBA International Flyweight title. Tuolehazi has impressed in recent years, turning around a 0-2 start to professional boxing to have a 10-3-1 record including a big win over Jayr Raquinel last year. Yamauchi has impressed us since his professional debut, and already has a couple of solid wins on his record, but this is a big step up for him. We suspect Yamauchi has the tools needed to over-come Tuolehazi, but he will need to answer serious questions here, and prove himself more than he has at any other point in his career. A full preview of this bout can be read here Yamauchi and Tuolehazi battle in mouth watering Flyweight clash
The China Vs Japan rivalry may be set to give us a very special bout as Fangyong Zhang (11-4-1, 3) and Ryuto Maekawa (11-1-1, 7) clash in a potential war. Neither of these are world beaters, but both are happy to let their hands go and be involved in a fight. Maekawa is best known for his insane bout with Rex Tso whilst Zhang is less well known he is certainly not a bad fighter to watch and should make for the perfect partner with Maekawa for a brilliant fight.
As well as the big card in China there will also be a big one in the US, in fact the US card in Pennsylvania is the biggest of the day in terms of general boxing. The card isn't just big in a wider boxing sense but also features several Asian fighters.
The most significant bout, in regards to Asian interest, will see the unbeaten Uzbek fighter Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 6) take on Japanese puncher Keita Obara (20-3-1, 18) in an IBF Welterweight world title eliminator. The talented Abdukakhorov will be making his US debut and begin a 3 fight deal with Top Rank with this fight, and will know that a win will open up major doors, though he is up against a serious puncher in Obara. For Obara, who has been stopped in all 3 of his losses, this is a must win but he has failed to win his biggest bouts and at the age of 32 he is likely on the slide. Our preview of this bout is available here Abdukakhorov and Obara battle for mandatory position
Once beaten American based Kazakh Askhat Ualikhanov (4-1, 2) will take on Puerto Rican puncher Jose Lopez (11-1, 9) in an 8 round bout. The 28 year old Ualikhanov was beaten on debut, in 2016, when he was controversially DQ'd and since then has reeled off 4 wins, to rebuild his reputation. Lopez on the other hand was stopped last time out by journeyman Carlos Winson Velasquez and is may not find this bout to be the confidence builder he needs.
New South Wales, Australia
There will also be a show in Australia, featuring a couple of Filipino fighters.
The main event of this card will see WBSS participant Jason Moloney (17-1, 14) return to the ring for the first time since losing to IBF Bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez. The talented, once beaten, Australian will be up against Filipino visitor Cris Paulino (19-3, 8) in a bout for the WBA Oceania Bantamweight title. Given that all 3 of Paulino's losses have come by stoppage it's hard to imagine him lasting with the hard hitting Moloney, who will likely get to Paulino sooner or later.
Another Filipino on this card is Rey Juntilla (23-8-5, 14), who takes on Billel Dib (22-3, 10). The 29 year old Juntilla has lacked activity in recent years, with only 1 bout in the last 2 years, and although he has a good looking record he has lost against almost every noteworthy name he's faced. Dib is no world beater, and has lost 2 of his last 3, but he should pick up an easy win here.
In a bit of an oddity we'll see German based Moroccan Bilal Messoudi (6-4-1, 2) take on Chinese fighter Shayilanbieke Kadeerbieke (2-3-2, 1). Although Messoudi has lost 4 bouts he has mixed with decent fighters and is better than the numbers suggest. As for Kadeerbieke this will be his first bout outside of China, and we'll be honest and admit that is strange he's set to fight in Germany.
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.