Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Our focus this Tuesday will be on Japan with Korakuen Hall hosting a title double header. Originally the show was planned to be a triple header, though one of those bouts was sadly cancelled back in November, though thankfully it was the least notable of the originally planned title bouts.
The first of the two title bouts will see female veteran Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) and Etsuko Tada (19-3-3, 6) clash for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title, in a very interesting match up. These two faced off this past January in a 10 round draw, and will be looking to end their rivalry here as we head towards the end of the year. Of thee two we feel Miyao is the quicker, sharper and fresher, but at 37 and with a style that relies on her movement she could age very quickly. At 39 Tada is showing signs of clear slowdown, but she is the naturally bigger, stronger and more powerful fighter. Given their competitive first bout it's hard not to intrigued by this one, and we suspect the loser may well call time on their long, and successful career. We've previewed this title bout here Miyao and Tada battle again for WBO world title!
The other title fight will see Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) and Hizuki Saso (12-6-2, 4) battle for the vacant Japanese Minimumweight title. Of the two men it's fair to say that Taniguchi is the much more established fighter, being a former WBO Asia Pacific champion and world title challenger, though it's also fair to say the pressure is on him here. Taniguchi is the big favourite, and the man with a point to prove, however he has come up short in the past and another loss here could be hard to rebuild from for the Watanabe gym fighter. Saso on the other hand hasn't really impressed in his 22 fight career and will need a career best performance to even be competitive. However with no pressure on his shoulders Saso could surprise us all with a relaxed, comfortable performance in what is likely to be one of his very, very few bouts at title level. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Taniguchi and Saso battle for vacant Japanese title
Fortitude Music Hall, Fortitude Valley, Queensland, Australia
Outside of Japan we will also see Indian born Australian based fighter Tej Pratap Singh (16-4-3-1, 8) look to score his first win of the year, and notch a notable upset, as he takes on the very promising Issac Hardman (7-0, 6). The 34 year old Singh hasn't lost since a close decision loss in 2017 but has been matched somewhat softly in recent bouts, barring a controversial 2018 bout with Sam Soliman. Harman on the other hand looked very impressive earlier this year, stopping Jamie Weetch, and he will be looking to impress again here. Hardman is the "novice" here he looks like a genuine prospect and we suspect he'll be too good, too young and too strong for Singh.
For the second time this month we head to the Korakuen Hall for a tournament final, and this time around we also have a lot of title action on the show, with the "God's Left" Bantamweight final coming on a show that also features 3 title fights, including a female world title fight!
The tournament final will see unbeaten Ohashi gym hopeful Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) take on Kadoebi gym hopeful Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) in a very, very, explosive looking God's Left Bantamweight tournament final. Tsutsumi, who was the only seed in the tournament, has gotten through to the final with out fighting in a single bout, getting a bye in the quarter final stage then a walk over in his semi-final. Nakajima on the other hand has blitzed Kenichi Watanabe and Jin Minamide to reach the final, beating both men inside a round. Both of these fighters can bang, and we expect this to be fireworks almost from the off.
The female world title bout will see Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6) take on Etsuko Tada (19-3-2, 6) for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title. For Miyao this bout will see her moving up in weight, abandoning the Atomweight division that she has been such a major force in over the years, whilst Tada will be looking to become a 4-time world champion. Given the styles of the two women involved in this one we expect fireworks, as both like to let their hands go. Tada is certainly the bigger, stronger fighter but she's also the older slower fighter, whilst Miyao is faster and more energetic. A very, very interesting match up. Our preview of this can be read here Veterans Tada and Miyao face off for WBO title!
Another title fight on this show will see second generation fighter Kaiki Yuba (6-0-2, 4) take on Kanta Takenaka (7-4-1, 2) for the vacant JBC Youth Lightweight title. For the unbeaten Yuba this is a second shot at the title, following a technical draw when he fought Izuki Tomioka for the belt almost 2 years ago, whilst Takenaka will be looking to build on his win over Kazuaki Miyamoto from last April. This bout has an in depth preview here Yuba and Takenaka clash for Japanese youth title!
The other title bout on this card is actually a rematch, as Kanako Taniyama (2-0-1, 1) and Tomoko Okuda (5-2-2, 1) battle for the vacant JBC female Bantamweight title. These two women fought to a draw last September, in what was a genuinely entertaining bout, though it felt like Taniyama deserved the win but didn't get it in Okuda's home city. We can't help but think Taniyama will take the win here, in another entertaining battle. Our preview of this bout is here Taniyama and Okuda face off again for Japanese female title!
Over in Canada unbeaten Uzbek Hurshidbek Normatov (9-0, 3) is scheduled to be in action in a 6 round bout, though his opponent has yet to be named. This will be the unbeaten Uzbek's first professional bout outside of the US, and will see him look to build on what has been a pretty slow build career thus far.
The Victoriva series of shows is different to pretty much anything else we get in professional boxing, as the shows don't just embrace female fighter, but sell completely on it. They are, for all intents and purposes, female boxing show cases, with some of the biggest female names in Japanese boxing taking part.
This coming Thursday we get the next show in the series and it's a title triple header, with two world title bouts, an Japanese female title bout and a real focus on the Atomweight division, a division only recognised in female boxing.
The main event of the card will see Saemi Hanagata (16-5-4, 7) and Nao Ikeyama (18-5-4, 5) fight in their third bout, with Hanagata looking to make her first defense of the IBF Atomweight. In their first two bouts these two actually fought to draws, showing how well matched they were, not however Ikeyama is heading towards her 50th birthday whilst Hanagata, for the first time in her career, is fighting as a world champion and looking to keep the title she tried so hard to win. We expect this to be a hotly contested bout, though feel that Ikeyama's age may finally have caught up with here. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hanagata and Ikeyama set to meet for third time, following two draws!
In the co-feature we'll see the WBA Atomweight title being unified as regular champion Monserrat Alarcon (12-4-2) takes on interim champion Ayaka Miyao (23-7-1, 6). These two were meant to fight in 2018, though Alarcon was injured in the lead up to the fight, leading to Miyao fighting Hanagata for the interim belt. Sadly Miyao has been inactive through the whole of 2019, and this is a tough return to the ring after so long out. We're expecting this to be a really fun, eye catching fight, and the styles should gel well, though we do feel the local fighter has the edge. Our preview of this contest is available to read here Miyao and Alarcon fight to unify WBA Atomweight crown!
The third title bout will see the fast rising Eri Matsuda (3-0) defending her Japanese Atomweight title, as she takes on Mont Blanc Miki (4-2-1, 1). Matsuda, who has already unified JBC and OPBF titles, is one of the most natural boxers on the female scene, and has a very text book style, basing things off her jab and movement. She should be far too good for Miki, who has been stopped twice already. We assume that the plan is for Matsuda to move to world level if she looks impressive here. Our preview of this national title fight can be read here Matsuda seeks first Japanese title defense!
One other bout of note here will see Nanae Suzuki (8-3-1, 1), who lost to Matsuda in March, battle against Minayo Kei (6-4, 1), who actually lost to Matsuda last year. The winner of this may well find themselves picking up the pieces after Matsuda steps up to world class, making this a genuinely significant match up in terms of the divisional development.
Whilst we understand most fans aren't too interested in female boxing, or the lower weights, we love these themed cards and this one certainly appears to be setting up longer narratives in terms of the Atomweight division. The bouts are all meaningful and potentially help set up future bouts, which is something the sport needs to try and do more often to try and get fans coming back and remaining interested in a longer vision.
This coming Tuesday we'll see a female card from Watanabe, under the Victoriva banner. The card isn't a big one, but is headlined by the third meeting between two world class Japanese fighters, fighting for an interim world title, and a Japanese female title fight. It was also supposed to feature Chaoz Minowa as well, but she got removed from the show so that she could fight for a world title in Mexico instead.
The main event will be the third bout between Ayaka Miyao (22-7-1, 6) and Nao Ikeyama (18-4-3, 5), as the two women trade blows for the WBA interim Atomweight. Originally Miyao was supposed to fight for the full version of the title, challenging Monserrat Alcaron, but the Mexican suffered an injury whilst lead to Ikeyama taking her place in the bout, and the interim title being on the line. These two have a lot of history, with Ikeyama beating Miyao twice, both times by stoppage. The first of those came very early in both fighters careers, and they would both go on to claim world titles. Miyao would go on to hold the WBA Atomweight title whilst Ikeyama would later win the WBO version of the title. The two fought for the second in 2016, and Ikeyama would win by TKO when Miyao suffered a freak knee injury. Now neither is a world champion, but both will know this is a major bout, not just for their rivalry, but also so for their futures, with the loser really having nowhere to go, whilst the winner has a WBA title shot lined up for 2019. A full preview for this bout can be here Miyao Vs Ikeyama III- WBA interim title on the line!
The other title bout on this card will see Nanae Suzuki (7-2-1, 1) defending her JBC Atomweight title against Sayaka Aoki (4-3-2, 3). Suzuki lost 2 of her first 3 bouts, but has since gone 6-0-1 to win, and defend the title. Sadly whilst talented Suzuki really lacks power and is almost 2 years removed from her last stoppage win. Aoki also started her career badly, going 1-3, but she has since gone 3-0-2 and has shown power, albeit against novices. For Aoki this will be her best opponent, whilst Suzuki will be facing off with her most dangerous foe to date.
This coming Thursday sees Dangan put on a really low key but very interesting card stacked with B license fighters, in really well matched bouts as well the ring return of a former world champion.
The best of the bouts on this card will see the very promising Junpei Inamoto (1-0, 1) take on the promising Taiga Higashi (5-2, 2) in a really mouth watering bout B class tournament bout at Bantamweight. We caught Inamoto's debut last year and were immediately raving about the teenager, who appeared to have the aura of a star in the making and the confidence of someone who would be fast tracked. This is however a very tough assignment for Inamoto give than Higashi's two losses were very close bouts, to good fighters, in the form of Matcha Nakagawa and Kazuki Nakajima. The winner of this is scheduled to take on Seiya Tsutsumi later this year, in another fantastic bout.
Another of the B Class tournament bouts, this time at Featherweight, will see 20 year old Tasuku Suwa (5-2-1, 1) battle against out form 22 year old Nakagawa Kanehiro (4-5, 3). Suwa has lot 2 of his last 3, but strangely he has never lost a bout scheduled for less than 6 rounds, being 4-0-1 in 4 rounders and 1-0 in 5 rounders, which is notably here given that this bout will be fought over 5 rounds. Coming in to this Kanehiro has lost his last 3, and 4 of his last 6, but could see this as a chan e to get back to winning ways. It's a really good match up between two men who will both feel like they can win here. The winner of this bout will be facing Ren Sasaki in the tournament final.
The least interesting looking of the B class tournaments bouts is at Flyweight and feature Yasuhiro Tanaka (4-3-2) battling namesake Satoshi Tanaka (4-4, 1). The 26 Satoshi Tanaka has lost his last 3 bouts, and can be hurt, with a couple of stoppage losses against him. Yasuhiro Tanaka has also lost his last 3, bit has really struggled more generally, winning just 2 of his last 7. These is by far the weakest of the B class tournament bouts, but both men will feel they can score the win here, and it should be competitive, even if it does perhaps lack in term of quality. The winner of this is set to battle former amateur stand out Rikito Shiba.
One of the most intriguing bouts on this card will see former amateur stands collide. In one corner will be Watanabe gym's Shu Utsuki (1-0, 1) whilst the other man will be Kadoebi debutant Yoji Saito (0-0), with the two men clashing in a 6 rounder. Utsuki had a reported amateur career of 81-27 and is tipped to be a star of the future. We've not been given Saito's amateur record, but we have been informed that he was also very accomplished in the amateur ranks which makes this a really baffling bout, but one we're really interested in and can't wait to see.
Another really interesting bout will see 2017 Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year Mirai Imagawa (8-3, 2) battle for the first time since his Rookie of the Year win over Katsuki Matsuura. The 22 year old Imagawa will take on Koya Sato (10-4-1, 2), who has won his last 3 and started to turn his career around following a 4 bout losing streak. This is a good test for Imagawa but one that he should be able to pass, if he's as good as the Rookie win suggests.
Also on this card will be former female world champion Ayaka Miyao (21-7-1, 5), who returns to the ring for the first time since being stopped against Nao Ikeyama. The former WBA Atomweight champion suffered a serious leg injury in that bout, back in December 2016 and has been out of the ring ever since. Her return will see her battle against Filipino foe Aisah Alica (7-8, 5), who has lost in 7 of her last 9, including a stoppage loss to the then WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki. This should be a easy match up for Miyao, but we can't begrudge her that after the injury she suffered.
With all the big fights at the end of the year it's fair to say that there is a lot set to happen in Japan before the end of 2016. The wait for world title action does however end this coming Tuesday as Japanese fans get a world title double title header at the Korakuen Hall as part of Dangan Ladies 3.
The main event of the card sees WBA Atomweight champion Yunoka Furukawa (8-1-2, 6) battle against OPBF female Light Flyweight champion Mika Iwakawa (6-4-1, 2). For Furukawa this will be her first defense and a chance to establish herself as one of the rising young female stars of Japanese boxing. Coming into this the champion has stopped her last 4 foes, including Satomi Nishimura last time out, and is unbeaten in her last 9, following a 1-1 start. For Iwakawa the bout will be her first world title bout, but she has mixed with good company including Brisa Hernandez, Kumiko Seeser Ikehara, Nao Ikeyama and Mako Yamada.
The second title bout sees WBO Atomweight queen Nao Ikeyama (17-3-2, 4) defending her title against former WBA champion Ayaka Miyao (21-6-1, 5). The 47 year old Ikeyama, the oldest world champion ever from Japan, will be looking to record her 5th defense of the title, a title that she won back in May 2014, but is taking on a world class fighter here in the form of Miyao. The challenger held the WBA title from 2012 until 2015, when she lost a narrow decision to Momo Koseki, and will be looking to become a 2-time champion here.
A third title bout on this card will see the incredibly exciting Chaoz Minowa (2-0, 2) face off against Filipino Carleans Rivas (5-3-3) for the OPBF female Flyweight title. Minowa, who only debuted back in September, has been put on the fast track to the top and will know that a win here would see her winning her first title less than 3 months after debuting. She's spoken about being a multi-weight world champion and will know that to do that she will have to win an Oriental title first. As for Rivas she has gone 3-3-2 in her last 8 and whilst she is more experienced than Minowa she will be the huge under-dog here.
This Sunday is a busy day in Japan with a trio of shows, though all of them are relatively low key affairs with nothing too big, despite some well known names being in action.
One of those shows is a Suruga Danji show in Shizuoka, this card is headlined by one of those known names and is expected to be an exciting card, with bonuses available to the fights if they can score stoppages.
That “known” name is former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (19-2, 11), who faces Takashi Omae (13-5-5, 1) in an intriguing 8 rounder. The bout will be Hara's first since his stoppage loss, last year, to Katsunari Takayama last September. As for Omae he too will be looking to bounce back from a stoppage loss, following a 4th round TKO defeat to Ken Shiro. With both men fighting for a career reviving win and for a financial reward this really could be very exciting.
Another bout of note on this card will see Ryusei Nakajima (8-1, 3), the 2015 Lightweight Rookie of the Year, battle against Daiki Ichikawa (6-1, 4). Ichikawa last fought in November, when he was stopped in 3 rounds by Tomoaki Matsumura, who actually lost to Nakajima, in December, in the All Japan Rookie of the Year. Looking at it Nakajima should be favoured, but Ichikawa will know this is a chance to get his career back on track.
Arguably the most notable of the shows takes place as a charity event in Saitama, where we see a former and a current world champion.
That current world champion is Naoko Shibata (14-3-1, 4), the IBF female Light Flyweight champion, who will be up against Thai novice Tanuthong Sor Kunlawong (0-0). This is a stay busy for the champion who will be looking to defend her title later in the year.
The former champion in action is Ayaka Miyao (20-6-1, 4), the former WBA Atomweight champion. She will be up against the very limited Krikanok Islandmuaythai (4-5-1, 2). Krikanok is a former world title challenger, though was stopped in 5 rounds by Momo Koseki back in May 2011, and has fallen to 5 straight losses including that defeat to Koseki.
The third show comes from Osaka and features some notable bouts of it's own.
The main event here sees OPBF and JBC ranked Featherweight Ryota Kajiki (27-9, 18) battling against Thailand's Noppakao Saknarong (0-2) in what looks to be a stay busy fight for Kajiki. It's expected that Kajiki will get a title fight later in the year and this bout will be little more than a tune up for him.
Another ranked fighter in action here is Ken Osato (7-1-1, 3), who risks his JBC Super Featherweight title against domestic foe Shota Suito (10-5-1, 1). On paper it looks like an easy win for Osato, however Suito is better than his record suggests and could prove to be a good test for the ranked fighter.
A third notable fighter on this card is Kenbun Torres (10-2, 8), a Japanese based Mexican fighter. Torres hasn't fought since 2007 though he should have enough in the locker to over-come Thailand's Kaosaen Kaolamlekgym (0-0).
Ohashi gym see some of their fighters return to the ring this Thursday on an interesting card which features a couple of title bouts, including a long awaited unification contest.
In the main event fans will see former world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (28-2-1, 20) defending his Japanese Featherweight title against the tough and gutsy Takuya Watanabe (26-5-1, 12), who is best known for his bloody war with Jaesung Lee. Hosono, who only defended his title a few weeks ago against Tatsuya Otsubo, will be hunting his 4th defense and will be hoping to get another world title fight before his career is over. For Watanabe this is a great opportunity to announce himself domestically though it's hard to see him beating the heavy handed Hosono.
In the co-feature but we'll see world titles unified as WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (20-2-1, 7) puts her title on the line against WBA champion Ayaka Miyao (20-5-1, 4). For both fighters this will be their first unification bout, but both are well established at world level, in fact for Koseki this will be world title fight #19. The rough and tough WBC champion will be hoping to extend her long unbeaten run, of 18 bouts, however WBA champion Miyao has really grown and will not be there to just make up the numbers. This really could be an outstanding match up.
On the under-card the world ranked Ryo Matsumoto (15-0, 13) will be facing Thai visitor Saensak Sithvarunee (0-2) in what looks like a stay busy fight for Matsumoto. It's thought that a win here for the Japanese youngster will be followed, later in the year, with a big bout, possibly in December.
(Image courtesy of www.boxmob.jp)
The most notable bout of the day comes from Thailand where a young and unbeaten fighter takes on a true veteran of the sport.
The youngster involved here is the WBA interim Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (9-0, 5) who attempts to defend his belt against Indonesian veteran Muhammad Rachman (65-11-5, 35). For Rachman this is a chance to become a 3-time “world champion” and become a title holder at the advanced age of 43 whilst for Knockout it's a chance to defend the title he won last October, when he narrowly out pointed Carlos Buitrago.
The biggest name fighter on the undercard will be Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (43-2, 25) who will be defending his PABA Bantamweight title against Filipino challenger Mateo Handig (13-8, 7) in what appears to be a horrible mismatch. Handig was world ranked not too long ago, and does hold a major win over Katsunari Takayama, but is a Minimumweight jumping up to Bantamweight and Panomroonglek will simply be too big and too strong for his challenger.
Another support bout will see Flyweight contender Noknoi Sitthiprasert (52-4, 30) put his 51 fight winning streak on the line against Filipino journeyman Donny Mabao (21-24-1, 4). Noknoi, who is unbeaten since 2005 and brings the longest active winning streak into the ring, sadly however Mabao has lost his last 4, including an OPBF Minimumweight title bout to Ryuji Hara and a WBC Asian Boxing Council Flyweight title bout against Nawaphon Por Chokchai.
Another notable fighter on this card will be former WBA interim Flyweight champion Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (34-3, 20) who makes his return to the ring for the first time since losing a WBA Flyweight unification bout against Juan Carlos Reveco last year. Yodmongkol has had a trio of hard fights coming into this bout and is now expected to face a very low level opponent.
The final bout we've been made aware of will feature the very exciting Chanachai Cp Freshmart (2-0, 1), who currently holds the WBC Youth Minimumweight title. Chanchai will be battling fellow unbeaten Chatpetch Por Pakdee (2-0) in a non-title bout that comes just weeks after Chanachai defended his belt with a clear decision against Wilber Andogan. Chanachai is fun to watch and we're fans though we know that he's being matched in a way to make him look good stylistically and this should be another bout like that.
Japanese fans have seen March kicking off with a swathe of nationally ranked fighters in action. Now they get the chance to see a trio of champions as the month really moves up a gear and Ohashi gives us their first show of the new year.
Technically the highest level of champion is a world champion and this shows sees a world champion in action. Sadly however it's WBA Atomweight champion Ayaka Miyao (19-5-1, 4) who fights in a non-title bout scheduled for 6 rounds with Momoko Kanda (8-6-2, 2). On paper this a great contest and it should prove to be a hit with the fans however as a female bout we suspect some fans, especially those in the West, will ignore this one.
The second tied of champion is a continental champion and we get one of those in action on this show as the sensational Ryo Matsumoto (13-0, 11) kicks off his year. Matsumoto, who won the OPBF Super Flyweight title at the end of last year, will be taking part in a bout contracted at 54KG's as he takes on Thai visitor Thanuthong Chor Kangwal (0-0). This bout is a complete mismatch on paper though we suspect it's hinting at a possible move to Bantamweight for Matsumoto who has always appeared to be a very big Super Flyweight.
Although neither Miyao or Matsumoto are defending their titles it doesn't mean there won't be title action on this show. The title action comes in the main event as Japanese Featherweight champion Satoshi Hosono (26-2-1, 20) battles against former foe Rikiya Fukuhara (30-7-1, 22) in a second meeting between the two men. The heavy handed Hosono, best known for a trio of failures at world level, stopped Fukuhara back in 2012 and will be hoping to do the same here whilst Fukuhara looks to become a 2-weight Japanese champion, adding the Featherweight title to a previous reign at Super Bantamweight.
As well as the three bouts featuring a champion the card also features some other recognisable fighters. One of those is former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (18-5, 11) who essentially battles for his career after 4 stoppage losses in his last 6 bouts. Okada should be safe here as he takes on the very light hitting Masaki Saito (11-10-4, 3). On paper this another mismatch but Okada is looking very much like a shot fighter whilst Saito has gone 5-2-1 in his last 8 bouts, dating back almost 3 years.
Former Japanese Featherweight title challenger Toru Suzuki (24-4, 8) is also in action as he takes on Tatsuya Yanagi (10-2, 4). This is an intriguing contest with Yanagi trying to bounce back from back-to-back losses, including a wide decision to the excellent Johnriel Maligro, whilst Suzuki tries to rebuild after going 2-3 in his previous 5, including a stoppage loss to Hisashi Amagasa. For both men this is a must win bout.
One notable under-card bout will see Kenichi Miyazaki (7-1-1, 2) attempt to record his 3rd straight win as he takes on Takuro Habu (11-9-2, 3). On paper this looks like a horrible match up however Habu has fought much, much better competition than Miyazaki and has suffered losses to the likes of Amnat Ruenroeng and Yu Kimura. This is one of those bouts which is likely to be much better than the records of the fighters suggest.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Not every weekend needs to be packed to be important and this Saturday is certainly an important but relatively quiet day, at least on paper for Asian boxing
The first major bout on this busy day comes from Nagano as WBA atomweight champion Ayaka Miyao (18-5-1, 3) defending her belt against first time world title challenger Satomi Nishimura (7-1, 1). For Miyao this will be the 5th defense of her title and she will go into the bout as a big favourite though Nishimura will know she has nothing to lose and no expectation on her shoulders, something that can bring out the best in some fighters.
Other than the Atomweight title fight this show is rather disappointing with a weak under-card and the only other thing of note on the card is the retirement ceremony of Yoshinori Nishizawa who has eventually hung them up and will walk away from active fighting at the age of 48. It is however a card sold on Miyao's return to Nagano, her first fight fight there in more than 9 years, and the first to be recognised by the JBC!
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Whilst Miyao is seeking a defense of her title we will see China's Xiong Zhao Zhong (24-5-1, 14) attempt to become the first man from China to become a 2-time world champion. Zhong, who has previously held the WBC Minimumweight title, will be hoping to capture the WBA title as he takes on South Africa's Hekkie Budler (26-1, 9) in a very important contest for both men. For Zhong this is a huge opportunity to prove himself as a world class fighter against a very talented champion, for Budler however it's an opportunity to impress not just his own fans in South Africa but also fans in Europe and Asia.
Another title fights takes place in Mexico as Japanese based Filipino fighter Jonathan Baat (25-5-3, 13) attempts to claim the WBC International silver Bantamweight title. Baat is is in a tough ask however as he Mexico's former world title holder Rodrigo Guerrero (21-5-1, 14). Guerrero comes in to this bout on the back of his recent stoppage win against Takahirio Shigee and has won impressive back-to-back fights since losing an IBF world title bout to Daiki Kameda last year. Baat will know he needs a career best performance to win, but it's not a total mismatch and he should be able to be competitive, at least for a few rounds.
(Image courtesy of Zovi.cn)