This coming Saturday is a very busy day for Asian fight fans with shows taking place through Asia. The day not only features bouts across the continent, but also across all sorts of levels, including a former world title challenger in one bout, and a range from domestic and regional level bouts, right through to show cases for prospects.
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
The most notable single bout comes from Hyogo where we see former world champion Tomoki Kameda (38-3, 20) take on hard hitting Dominican William Encarnacion (19-3, 15) in an interesting 10 round Featherweight bout. Kameda is seeking his third straight win since a 2019 loss to Rey Vargas, and is taking a dangerous opponent here, whilst biding his time for another world title fight, but we don wonder whether he should really be at 126lbs given his lack of power and a physicality in his style Encarnacion is no world beater, and he has lost 3 of his last 4, but he's got power, and did give Adam Lopez a really close and solid test back in May. Kameda will be the favourite, but this is a live test for him.
On the same card we'll also see Japanese ranked Light Middleweight Kohei Miyamoto (5-1-1, 5) battle against limited veteran Mao Tameda (3-12-2). The 25 year old Miyamoto has stopped his last 3 in the opening round, and will come into this with a lot of confidence that he has the power and aggression to shine here. As for Tameda he is experienced and tough, having only been stopped in 3 of his 12 losses, but has been struggling to pick up wins recently and is 1-4 in his last 5 going back to 2020. This should be a test of Miyamoto's stamina see what he's like when a fighter can take his punch, but he should still be favoured.
Uchinada Town Sogo Gym, Kahoku-gun, Ishikawa, Japan
A second Japanese card will take place in Ishikawa where we get the debut of a brilliantly named fighter, and a Japanese Youth title fight.
The Japanese Youth title bout on this card will see Japanese Youth Featherweight champion Hiroki Hanabusa (9-2-3, 3) defending his title against Toshiyuki Takahashi (7-4, 4), in what will be Hanabusa's first defense, since winning the title last November. The talented Hanabusa has lost 2 of his last 3, though they have come to very good fighters in the form of Toshiki Shimomachi and Katsuya Fukui, and they helped prepare him for his upset win last time out against Kyonosuke Kameda for the title. As for Takahashi he has won his last 4, though this is a very step up in class for him, and he will go in as the under-dog. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Youth champion Hanabusa defends against Takahashi
The wonderfully named fighter on this card is Megaton Marina (0-0), who will be facing fellow debutant Reona Fukuoka (0-0) in a 4 round female bout at Super Bantamweight. Not really much to add here, other than that Megaton is a brilliant name, especially if it turns out that she's a puncher!
The Grand Ho Tram Strip, Vung Tau, Vietnam
Over in Vietnam we get a a trio of minor title bouts thanks to Cocky Buffalo.
The main event of the card will see Uzebkistani veteran Olimjon Nazarov (27-5, 15) defending his WBO Oriental Flyweight title against Filipino challenger Bienvenido Ligas (14-2-2, 9). The 36 year old Nazarov has a messy looking record, with 5 losses, but is currently riding an impressive 14 fight winning streak, dating back more than 5 years, and is banging on the door of a world title fight. Ligas on the other hand is 24 year old who has shown a lot of potential, and could well be only a fight or two from a world title shot of his own, if he wins here. The Filipino youngster already holds win against the likes of Alphoe Dagayloan and Roland Jay Biendima, and a win here would be a step in the right direction for his career.
A second title bout will see local hopeful Hong Quan Dinh (8-1-1, 4) make his first defense of the IBF Asia Lightweight title as he takes on Filipino visitor Jules Victoriano (11-4, 8). Dinh won the title last time out, taking a 10 round decision over Delmar Pellio, and he'll be looking to not just retain his title but also score a 7th straight win, and potentially move towards an OPBF title fight later in the year. As for Victoriano, he's very much a glass cannon, with 8 stoppage wins and 4 stoppage losses from his 15 fights and will be hoping to use his power here, before Dinh cracks his chin.
A third title fight on this show will see the unbeaten Korean teenager Chan Ho Song (7-0, 3) defending his WBO Youth Light Welterweight title against Thai foe Bunchuai Phonsungnoen (4-1-1, 3). Song won the title in April, with a narrow win over Romer Pinili, and should be favoured here, but this is certainly not a gimme for a first defense. The 22 year old Bunchuai was stopped on his debut, in 4 rounds against Toshio Tarumi in Japan, but showed enough there to catch the eye, and has gone unbeaten in the 4 years following the defeat. This is a genuinely solid first defense for this level of title.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In Metro Manila we'll see rising star Carl Jammes Martin (19-0, 16) defending his WBA Asia Super Bantamweight title against Charles Tondo (12-5-2, 5). The hard hitting Martin won the title last time out, when he stopped Ronnie Baldonado in 11 rounds, and had to show some grit to pull himself off the canvas early on. As for Tondo, from Tanzania, he was recently beaten by rising British fighter Dennis McCann in a bout where he looked limited but tough, and that toughness will be tested again here.
Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Ona separate card in the Philippines we'll get a battle of unbeaten punchers, as Kenneth Llover (5-0, 4) takes on Ridick Tablanza (4-0, 4). On paper this looks like an excellent match up between two young men each looking to move their careers forward. Of the two men Llover is the more notable, having turned professional in 2020 and racking up two wins already this year. As for Tablanza he debuted in late 2018, and ran up 4 wins in a combined 6 rounds, but has now been out of the ring since December 2019, and it's hard to know what desire he has given that lengthy lay off.
Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California, USA
In the US we'll see once beaten Kazakh hopeful Ali Akhmedov (18-1, 14) take on Mexican veteran Ricardo Adrian Luna (23-8-2, 15). The hard hitting and exciting Akhmedov has picked up 2 low key wins since his thrilling 2020 loss to Carlos Gongora, and is rebuilding his confidence against low key opponents. Luna is a big step up from Akhmedov's recent opponents, and he recently held Vyacheslav Shabranskyy to a shock draw, but he is a naturally smaller man who has really been more of a gym fighter in recent years, notable as a main sparring partner for Ryota Murata.
The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
The biggest show for Asian fight fans this Saturday comes from the Philippines, where fans get a genuinely great looking card.
The best bout on this card will see former Filipino amateur stand out Charly Suarez (9-0, 6) take on the once beaten Tomjune Mangubat (15-2-1, 12), in a bout for the WBA Asia Super Featherweight title. Of the two men there is no doubting that Saurez is the more talented, and the one with the bigger reputation, however he is now 33 and it seems he could end up aging out of the sport before ever landing a massive fight, and getting a chance to show what he's really capable of. Aged 24 Mangubat is an exciting hopeful, who has won his last 4, following a thrilling loss in Vietnam to Jong Seon Kang in a very over-looked 2019 war. This is a step up for Mangubat, but he'll know a win here puts him in the mix for some interesting fights later in the year.
Another really interesting match up on this card will see GAB Super Bantamweight champion Carl Jammes Martin (18-0, 15) look to add to his title collection, as he takes on Ronnie Baldonado (15-2-1, 9) in a bout for the WBA Asia title. Martin has long been seen as a future star for the Philippines and is one of the countries most highly regarded prospects, despite still only being 22 years old. He's exciting, aggressive and explosive, but will be expected to work incredibly hard to win here as he takes on the solid, though naturally smaller, Baldonado. Notably Baldonado has mixed with good company, with his 2018 loss to Kosei Tanaka standing out, but will be up against a naturally much bigger and stronger man.
A third title bout on this show will see GAB Flyweight champion Bienvenido Ligas (13-2-2, 9) and defending his title against Roland Jay Biendima (15-10-1, 8), in a bout that looks like a mismatch, but should be more competitive than the records of the men suggest. Ligas is a genuine talent, but has struggled in recent fights, fighting to a draw with Miel Fajardo and losing to April Jay Aben in his last two fight, and needs a solid win here to get things back in track. Biendima on the other hand has lost his last 5, but has mixed at a very good level, with those losses to Kento Hatanaka, Christian Araneta, Jade Bornea Esneth Domingo and Aston Palicte. We suspect this one will end up being the stealing bout, and is a real test for the champion.
One of the most notable names on this card will be former world title challenger Michael Dasmarinas (30-3-2, 20), who will be fighting for the second time since losing in 2021 to Naoya Inoue. The talented Dasmarinas will be in what should be a very, very easy bout here as he takes on the limited Danny Tampipi (9-14-2, 5), who has shown himself to be tough, but very limited.
Also on this card is an interesting match up between Jess Rhey Waminal (14-4-1, 8) and the big punching Jon Jon Estrada (14-8-1, 13), which is a genuinely tough one to call, and a stay busy bout for the criminally under-rated Richard Pumicpic (22-12-2, 7), who faces Pablito Canada (7-20-4, 1) in what should be little more than a straight forward win for Pumicpic.
Saigon Sports Club, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Staying in Asia, there is also set to be an interesting show in Vietnam, where we see a regional title fight, along with a couple of local prospects in interesting fights against hard hitting visitors.
The main event will be a battle of unbeaten men, as 29 year old local hopeful Huu Toan Le (3-0, 2) takes on 19 year old Thai fighter Kitidech Hirunsuk (8-0, 5) for the WBA Asia Minimumweight title. The unbeaten Lee debuted in 2019 and has had his last two fights on the road, fighting in Thailand and the Philippines, against very low level foes, with the most recent of those coming way back in 2020. As for Hirunsuk the teenager debuted in 2020 and fought as recently as February, picking up his 8th win in just 15 months. Notably the Thai has scored 5 wins in just the first 3 rounds, and will be looking to set a fast start here, in what is a notable step up for both men.
Talking about stepping up, that's also the case for 23 year old local Hong Dat Vo (1-0, 1), who takes on in form Thai puncher Jirawat Thammachot (6-2, 6). The unbeaten Vo made his debut in 2019, stopping Ramly Pasaribu, but then vanished from the pro-ranks, and will be looking to make up for lost time in the near future. This is a great chance for him to make up for almost 3 years of lost time, but it's a step up that comes up with genuine risk. Thammachot made his debut in 2020 and lost his first two bouts to highly regarded local fighters, but has bounced back with 6 straight wins, albeit against incredibly poor opponents.
In a battle of teenagers we'll see Arvin Jhon Paciones (0-0) make his debut against Adisak Ketpiam (7-2, 6). Paciones is a 17 year old Vietnam based Filipino fighter who will be looking to kick his career off here in a 6 rounder, which always catching the attention no matter how old a fighter is. Ketpiam on the other hand is an 18 year Thai who debuted in 2018 against current world champion Panya Pradabsri, losing in 5 rounds, but has rebuilt and shown some impressive power, albeit against very poor local opponents. It's an interesting match up and one that features two youngsters who aren't afraid to pick up losses early in their careers.
Rumours International, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
Over in Australia we'll see some we'll also see an Asian fighter in action.
The Asian in question will be Australian based Filipino veteran Jack Asis (38-24-5, 19), in what will be his 68th professional bout. The 38 year old, dubbed "The Assassin", hasn't had his opponent named at the time of writing, but with 4 straight losses, 3 by TKO, the hope is that this will be an easy one for him, and a chance for him to bow out on a win, rather than another painful loss.
Cathedral Room at St. Nicholas, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Over in the US 30 year old Basyzbek Baratov (5-1-2, 1), from Kyrgyzstan, will be taking a notable step up in class to take on Alexander Castellano (6-1, 2) over 8 rounds. To date Baratov's opponents have had a combined record of 6-3, with 3 of his 8 foes being debutants. It's worth noting that Baratov isn't the only one stepping up here, with Castellano fighting his only his second opponent with more wins than losses, and he lost the last time he faced an opponent like that. It's an interesting one, and a hard one to predict, but it's clear that neither of these men have the tools or ambition to go too far in the sport.
This coming Saturday is a busy day for Asian fight fans with several shows in Asia and some Asian fighters fighting in the US.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The best looking Asian card of the day, by some margin, comes from Tokyo, though is sadly set to be on behind a paywall. The card features just 4 bouts, but all 4 of those are very interesting match ups, including a Japanese title eliminator.
The Japanese title eliminator will be at Lightweight as former Japanese 140lb champion Masahiro Suzuki (6-0, 4) takes on Seiryu Toshikawa (14-5, 8), in a very interesting match up. Suzuki looked sensational in his title win at 140lbs when he stopped Daishi Nagata but he knew it wasn't his best weight and he decided to begin a pursuit of the Japanese title at 135lsb. In his way is the under-rated Toshikawa, who has won his last 4 and is 8-1 since the start of 2017. Toshikawa hasn't been beating top, top domestic names, but he's been in good form, beating solid domestic fighters and could be a very solid test for the very good Suzuki.
Whilst the title eliminator is a great bout we're even more excited about a clash between Kai Chiba (13-2, 8) and Suzumi Takayama (4-0, 4). The talented Chiba will be looking to bounce back from a loss to Kazuki Nakajima in an OPBF title bout back in May, and he'll know another loss here puts him a very, very long way from another title shot, of any kind. As for Takayama, a former Japanese Youth champion, he's been highly impressive to begin his career, and a win here against Chiba would be a huge announcement, and a massive chance for him to put his hat into the mix for a title fight. Although he's only had a combined 13 rounds as a professional, Takayama does look like an incredible prospect with power, skills and heart, and this is a great chance for him to show exactly what he can do.
In an interesting match up we'll see the teak tough Takuya Watanabe (37-10-1, 21) look to bounce back from a brutal and punish loss to Kosuke Saka in a Japanese Super Featherweight title fight. He's in an easier bout here ad he takes on the limited Kazuma Sanpei (20-6, 9), who is who has won 5 of his last 6, but has been fighting at a lower level than Watanabe, who has mixed at title level numerous times. Sanpei will feel confident of continuing his good run, and may feel he's getting Watanabe at the right time, but he will still be regarded as the under-dog here.
The other bout on this card will see the hard hitting, and incredibly fun to watch, Yasutaka Fujita (7-1, 6) take on the light punching, but very skilled, Izuki Tomioka (7-4-1, 2). Of the two men Fujita is the naturally bigger, heavier, hard hitting, but the man with questionable stamina and the much less skilled and accomplished boxer. Tomioka is light punching, but very skilled, tricky, and is battle tested at Japanese and OPBF level. On paper this is an easy bout to over-look but should prove to be a genuinely compelling 8 rounder.
Talisay City, Cebu, Philippines
In the Philippines ARQ Promotions will be putting on a small card, with a brilliant main event, as one of the brightest young prospects in the country takes a massive leap up in class. Sadly outside of that bout there isn't too much to be excited about.
That bout will see the unbeaten April Jay Abne (6-0, 3) battle for the OPBF "Silver" Flyweight title as he takes on the once beaten Bienvenido Ligas (13-1-2, 9), in a truly mouth watering clash. The talented, though inexperienced, Abne, is one of the best natural talents in the country, and seems like the type of fighter who has the technical abilities to go a long way, though does need to find his man strength. Ligas is the bigger puncher and the more naturally forceful fighter, but does leave holes and can be out boxed at times. Despite having holes Ligas is very solid, and he was very impressive Alphoe Dagayloan back in February, in a career best win. This is a genuinely excellent match up.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
There is also Asian action in Thailand, with a show being broadcast under the "The Fighter" banner, thanks to TL Promotions. Sadly whilst it does feature two very notable Thai hopefuls, neither man is in with someone expected to test them.
One of the promising Thai fighters on this show is the once beaten Tanes Ongjunta (8-1, 4), who looks notch a 5th straight win, as he takes on the limited Lerdchai Chaiyawed (6-5, 2). Ongjunta, looking to defend his WBA Asia Flyweight title, should be too good, too skilled, and too smart for his foe, though to credit where it's due, Chaiyawed does tend to offer plenty of resistance, even in his losses, and won't be there to just make up the numbers. We expect Chaiyawed to come to win, but simply not be good enough.
The other notable bout on this card will see the once beaten Arnon Yupang (7-1, 3) take on Filipino novice Fritz Biagtan (1-0, 1). Yupang was once a Thai amateur standout who has a lot of potential, and was last seen beating Amnat Ruenroeng for the WBA Asia South Featherweight title. He won't be defending that title here, but will be expecting to pick up a win. As for Biagtan, he made his debut in 2018, but has sadly been out of the ring for well over 40 months and is the naturally smaller man. Sadly we do not expect this one to be a particularly competitive match up.
Madison Square Garden Theater, New York, New York, USA
Former world title challenger Jonas Sultan (17-5, 11) looks to keep himself in the world title mix as he takes on the hard hitting, and unbeaten, Carlos Caraballo (14-0, 14), in a brilliant match up. The technically well schooled Sultan, who holds a very good win over John Riel Casimero, is often under-rated but has shown what he can do in the ring and should be regarded as a leading contender in the Super Flyweight division. Sadly however he is stepping up in weight here, to take on the very exciting Caraballo. The unbeaten Caraballo has stopped everyone so far, including former world title challenger Christian Esquivel, and is a very dangerous fighter. Although technically gifted this is a very tough ask for Caraballo.
Hilton Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Also in the US we'll see the limited Jeronil Borres (11-5-1, 6), another Filipino fighter, take on unbeaten American Dylan Price (14-0, 10). The 26 year old Borres is now world beater, but he was very competitive against Matthew Griego last time out, also in the US, and will be looking to show what he can do against Price here. The 23 year old Price is a genuine prospect, and he has scored 3 wins already this year, with a 4th expected here. Although not a world beater Borres is better than a TKO1 loss to Junto Nakatani suggests, and he could ask questions of Price here, but we don't expect him to run the unbeaten man too close.
It's not often we're going to get the chance to talk about world title action this month, but thankfully this Saturday is one of those rare chances, as we get a really interesting day. Not only do we have a solid looking Filipino card, but also a show in California featuring a world title bout and a very highly regarded Uzbek hopeful.
Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California, USA
The most notable of the shows will be taking place in California on a Golden Boy Promotions show.
The world title fight will see IBF Super Featherweight champion Joseph Diaz (31-1, 15) defending his title against mandatory challenger Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12), from Tajikistan. For Diaz this will be the first defense of the title he won last year, when he fought through a nasty cut to pound out a win against Tevin Farmer, in what was a stellar performance by Diaz. In the opposite corner will be the technically limited, but strong and heavy handed Rakhimov, who has been owed at the title since 2019, when he stopped Azinga Fuzile in South Africa. Although Rakhimov is flawed he does have a fun, exciting style and can make for very fan friendly bouts, much like Diaz. With that in mind we could end up with a genuine instant classic here as two aggressive guys clash in a very meaningful mean event on DAZN. Our full, in depth, preview of this one can be read here Rakhimov takes on Diaz in IBF title fight
We're also expecting two very talented and promising Uzbek's to be in action on this show.
One of those Uzbek fighters is Super Middleweight contender Bektemir Melikuziev (6-0, 5), who was originally supposed to fight at the end of January before Sergey Kovalev failed a drug test. Sadly his opponent for this show hasn't yet been announced.
The other is Lightweight hopeful Elnur Abduraimov (6-0, 6) who will be taking on Colombian veteran Deivi Julio (21-9-0-1, 13), who is now 39 years old. The Colombian veteran was once regarded as a world ranked contender, but he has now lost 7 of his last 9 bouts and it's clear he is not the fighter he once was.
The Bubble, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Staying in the US Top Rank will be putting on their own show in Las Vegas. The main event here will be a WBO Light Heavyweight title fight, which will pit heavy handed American Joe Smith Jr (26-3, 21) against Russian veteran Maxim Vlasov (45-3, 26). This should be a really interesting match up and will pit Smith's power agains the skills, movement size and experience of Vlasov. Interestingly the loser of this is unlikely to get another chance, given both are the wrong side of 30, so it could be well be regarded as a must win, for both me. An indepth preview of this one thanks to George Delis can be read here Vlasov and Smith clash for WBO title!
2nd Floor, Mega Mart Burgos Poblacion Norte, Paniqui, Tarlac, Philippines
As well as the US action there is also a pretty interesting show in the Philippines. It's not a stacked card, but it is certainly an interesting one with plenty of promising talent.
In an excellent looking match up for the GAB Flyweight title we'll see the once beaten Bienvenido Ligas (12-1-1, 9) take on the criminally under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-6-1, 5), in a much better match up than the records suggest. Ligas has bounced back well following a technical draw and a loss in 2018 to Joseph Ambo, and has won his last 6, with 5 of those wins coming by stoppage. Dagayloan on the other hand has continually proven to be better than his record suggests and is 10-1-2 in his last 13, with his loss being a very close one in Japan to Ryota Yamauchi. A preview of this one by Troy Parslow can be read here Proving Ground: Ben Ligas steps up to Alphoe Dagayloan
In another interesting match up we'll see the unbeaten Charly Suarez (4-0, 4), who was a very highly regarded amateur before he turned professional, take on the hard hitting Jon Jon Estrada (11-7-1, 10). At the age of 32 Suarez really is in "now or never" territory, and if he doesn't get a move on this year there's a good chance he fails to ever come close to a world title fight. As for Estrada he's a flawed fighter, but a very serious puncher and a relatively tough guy who has only been stopped twice in his 7 losses, including in his 2013 debut. This should be a test for Suarez, but a test he passes without too many issues.
Another once beaten fighter on this show is Ranelio Quizo (7-1, 1) who takes on Prince Andrew Laurio (10-3-1, 7) in a very good looking match up. The 22 year old Quizo was beaten last February by the under-rated John Mark Tihuk, and will be looking to bounce back from that defeat after more than a year out of the ring. As for Laurio, who is also 22, his career is in some trouble after 3 successive KO losses, and he needs a win here. Interesting Laurio will be fighting for the first time since July 2019 and although his form has been poor he certainly has the power here, with Quizo being a non-puncher. This might not look like an amazing bout, but it's an interesting one, with a glass cannon taking on a non-puncher.
A third fight involving a once beaten fighter will see Lorenz Ladrada (7-1-1, 2) take on Remon Basas (5-4, 4). On paper it is very, very easy to see this as a complete and utter mismatch, however it's not as simple as it looks. In his 9 fight career Ladrada has struggled with the 6 round distance, and had several very close decisions over inexperienced and limited opponents. He could easily have more than just the single loss to his name. Basas on the other hand is a solid puncher, with a decent chin, who has faced better opponents. This is much more competitive than it looks on paper.
Also on this card is unbeaten novice Ali Canega (2-0, 2) who risks his unbeaten record against Glenn Bismanos (6-1-3, 4), yet another fighter with a single defeat to his name. For Canega this will be his first bout against an opponent with a win and his first 6 rounder. It is also expected to be the first time he goes beyond 2 rounds. As for Bismanos he is unbeaten in his last 8, after a loss to John Lawrence Ordonio back in 2016, and has fought at a much higher level than Canega. This could be another very good bout, and it's good to see two fighters with good records risking them against each other, something we rarely see in the Philippines.