This coming Saturday is set to be an incredibly busy day for fighters from Asia, with a host of Asian fighters competing in the US and a handful also competing in Russia
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
The biggest card for us this weekend comes from Las Vegas and is a Top Rank card with 4 different Asian fighters involved, including a debutant from Japan, an Olympic gold medal winner from Uzbekistan, a world ranked Kazakh and a talented and tricky Japanese Lightweight.
The debuting Japanese fighter is former amateur standout Subaru Murata (0-0), who looks to kick off his professional career with a 4 round bout against fellow professional novice Keven Monroy (1-1, 1). Murata is tipped incredibly highly after a strong amateur career, and some in Japan do view him as a future world champion in the making. Despite the hype and the expectations he will need to impress here, and is getting a chance to shine, in front of a global audience, on a major US show.
The Uzbekistani Olympic gold medal winner is Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (9-1, 5), who also needs to shine as he takes on the unbeaten Quinton Randall (8-0, 2). Gaibnazarov won gold at the 2016 Olympics and was tipped for big things, but has struggled to acclimatise to the professional ranks and hasn't really bounced back from a 2019 loss to the awkward Mykal Fox. Randall on the other hand is 30 years old and fighting in his most notable bout to date. Coming in to this one neither man can really afford a loss and although we're not expecting a fight of the year contender this could be a very, very interesting contest between two men who will both be looking to prove a point
On the subject of interesting contests the chief support bout on this card will see talented Kazakh Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (9-0, 5) take on former WBA "regular" Middleweight champion Rob Brant (26-2, 18), in a huge step up in class for Alimkhanuly. The Kazakh is already world ranked, after just 9 bouts, and has been calling out Demetrius Andrade over the last 12 or so months. A win against Brant here will really strengthen his call outs and could help him land a world title fight later in the year. As for Brant this will be his second bout since losing to Ryota Murata in 2019 and he'll know that a win over Alimkhanuly could, potentially, lead to him getting a chance to become a 2-time world champion. This is a true 50-50 style match up and one of the most interesting looking bouts on the schedule right now, with both men likely feeling they have what it takes to score a victory here.
As for the main event we'll see once beaten Japanese Lightweight Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13) taking on former Ukrainian amateur boxing god Vasyl Lomachenko (14-2, 10), in a really important bout for the Lightweight division. The tall, rangy, tough Nakatani has impressed in his last two bouts, losing a competitive bout with Teofimo Lopez and stopping Felix Verdejo, and he'll know that a win here would almost certainly secure him a world title bout, potentially even a rematch with Lopez. As for Lomachenko he looked rather poor last time out, losing a decision to Lopez, and there are question marks about whether he's a natural Lightweight, and at 33 what his long in ring career has taken from him. This is a great opportunity for Nakatani, though he will be the clear under-dog against the magical Lomachenko.
State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
As well as the collection of Asian fighters competing on the Top Rank show in Nevada we also bet the chance to see once beaten Uzbekistan born fighter Batyr Akhmedov (8-1, 7) take on Dominican veteran Algenis Mendez (25-6-3, 12) in a very good looking match up. This is Akhmedov's second bout since his fantastic 2019 bout with Mario Barrios, in what was a legitimate Fight of the Year contender, and is a big step back up in class after a win last September against the limited Rey Perez. Mendez on the other hand is a faded for from the fighter he once was, but he's still a smart and capable fighter, and he'll know that a win here puts him in the mix for some big fights. Expect to see this being a really interesting clash of styles with Akhmedov's pressure and aggression matching up against Mendez's guile and boxing brain.
801 Event Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
On a third US card we'll see Uzbekistani veteran Ravshan Hudaynazarov (18-4, 14) battle against the unbeaten Sergio Sarabia (5-0, 4). The 37 year old Hudaynazarov won his first 17 bouts before disappearing from the sport in 2014. Sadly when he returned in 2018 he lost 4 in a row, before picking up a very low key win in April this year. The 29 year old Sarabia on the other hand hasn't fought since 2013, and although he's unbeaten we have to assume ring rust will be a major issue for him here.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
As well as the action in the US there's also a show in Russia that features some Asian fighters.
One of the Asian fighters on this card is Southpaw Erzhan Turgumbekov (8-2-1, 2), who looks to bounce back from back to back losses as he takes on Zhora Hamazaryan (10-3-2, 7) in a very good looking 10 round Super Featherweight bout. After going unbeaten in his first 9 bouts Turgumbekov will now have low confidence and be questioning his place in the sport, knowing another loss could be the end of his place in notable bouts on RCC shows. On paper Hamazaryan doesn't have the best of records, but the Armenian is a genuine handful and with his aggression, power, work rate and will to win, he should be regarded as the favourite here, in what could be the hidden gem of the weekend.
Another Asian on this card is Turkmenistan's Bahodur Yakubov (1-0), who looks to build on his debut win over Viktor Vezhlivtsev. At the time of writing his opponent here hasn't been named, though he's expected to be competing in a 4 rounder on this show.
The biggest bout featuring an Asian fighter here will see the hard hitting Uzbek born Batyr Akhmedov (7-0, 6) take on Mario Barrios (24-0, 16) for the vacant WBA "regular" Light Welterweight title. On paper this is a great match up between two unbeaten fighters who clearly feel they can hurt each other, and has a world title up for grabs, albeit the WBA's second title whilst the main belt is held by Regis Prograis. Akhmedov has looked really impressive since turning professional in 2017 whilst Barrios has had a slow burn career so far, but has looked excellent in recent bouts with 8 straight stoppages. We expect this to be very explosive and very exciting. A full preview of this bout can be read here Akhmedov and Barrios face off for WBA secondary belt!
As well as the "world" title bout in the US there will also be a small card in Singapore featuring a couple of local hopefuls in their own title bouts.
The main event will see Singapore's very own Nurshahidah Roslie (14-2, 11) face off with unbeaten Chinese foe Fan Yin (8-0, 2) in a bout for the WBC silver Female Super Bantamweight title. Roslie has got local appeal, and it's great to see Singaporean boxing having a fighter to get behind, but she's also proven to be very limited losing to her most notable opponents and stringing together wins against poor opposition. On the other hand Yin is a relative unknown, but did score a notable win last year over Yuko Henzan in Japan, and that win alone shows she's a very capable fight. On paper a win for Roslie would be the best of her career, though she will likely get the favours from the judges if this is close.
The co-feature sees Singaporean based Filipino born fighter Rey Caitom (8-0-1, 3) battle against limited Indonesian foe Frans Damur Palue (15-22-3, 10) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Minimumweight title. Caitom is no world beater but he's got some promise and should easily pick up a win here. Palue on the other hand is a 36 year old who has been racking up losses in recent years, including one last year to Akira Yaegashi. We suspect that Palue is there to make Caitom look good, and little else.
This coming Saturday our attention turns to the US as we get the chance to see a Japanese fighter compete for the WBO Super Featherweight title in Florida.
The match up in question will see former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (23-1-1, 12) take on the unbeaten Christopher Diaz (23-0, 15) in what looks like an excellent match up to fill the void left when Vasyl Lomachenko moved up in weight. The 27 year old Ito has been waiting a while for a shot at a world title, and although his last couple of fights have been stay busy contests he does hold good wins against the likes of Shinto Eto, Takuya Watanabe and Lorenzo Villanueva. This will however by Ito's first bout outside of Japan. At 23 years old Diaz is the younger fighter and also the bigger puncher but his competition has been slightly softer than that of Ito and he's yet to prove he can go 10 rounds, something that Ito has done in the past. This really could be one of the highlights of the month.
Another title bout Stateside of note will take place in Kentucky, as Uzbek born Russian based Batyr Akhmedov (4-0, 3) defends his WBA Inter-Continental Light Welterweight title against the heavy handed Ismael Barroso (20-2-2, 19). This is another tough test, on paper at least, for Akhmedov but he has shone since making his debut in February 2017 and looks like one of the most exciting prospects in world boxing. Barroso was highly touted a few years ago, and claimed the WBA "interim" Lightweight title with a win over Kevin Mitchell. Since then however he has gone 1-2 and is an old 35 year old.
Staying in the US there will also be a couple of bouts of note in Texas.
One of those will see Kyrgyzstan born Kazakh fighter Ali Baloyev (5-0, 4) battle against American foe Richard Urquizo (3-4-2, 1) for the lightly regarded NABF Junior Cruiserweight title. It's hard to imagine anything but a Baloyev win here, especially given his power and 3 stoppage losses that Urquizo has suffered in his 4 losses.
Another Kazakh in action on this show is Askhat Zhantursynov (0-0), who will be making his debut against American Michael Coronado (1-1-1). Hard to say too much about this bout, but we have been informed that Zhantursynov was a former kick boxer and could end up being the next guy to switch codes with some genuine success.