Macao S.A.R., China
The biggest Asian show this coming Saturday comes from Macao, where we get several bouts of note thanks to the IBF, who are holding a convention and having boxing take place around that event.
On paper the best bout is an all-south Light Heavyweight clash between Fanlong Meng (14-0, 9) and Adam Deines (17-0-1, 8), who battle in what is an IBF final world title eliminator. Unbeaten fighters, with ambition, clashing is always a good thing, and whilst neither will be given a chance against IBF world champion Artur Beterbiev this should still be a worth while clash. With a world title fight up for grabs for the winner this is a really important contest, and potentially the hidden gem of the weekend.
Another unbeaten fighter on this card is Australian Steve Gago (10-0, 4), who takes on criminally under-rated Filipino Adam Diu Abdulhamid (14-7, 6), in what should be a much, much tougher test than it appears on paper. Although Abdulhamid has 7 losses to his name he is a very talented fighter and a real potential banana skin for the unbeaten Gago.
A third bout will see China's Sen Chen (11-1, 2) battle against Filipino veteran Richie Mepranum (33-7-1, 9), for a minor regional title. This is a big step up for Chen, but a win would help him out his name out there. At his best Mepranum is a solid fighter, but in recent years he has just been picking up more losses than wins, and has lost 3 of his last 5. A good test for Chen, but it should be a winnable one.
From the Korakuen Hall we'll get the next Dynamic Glove card, and unfortunately it won't be shown live, and instead it's going to be put on tape delay the following Wednesday.
The main event of the card was supposed to be the first defense of the Japanese Flyweight title by Junto Nakatani (18-0, 13), who was pencilled in to face Wolf Nakano (6-7-4, 2). That was a disappointing bout and was cancelled when Nakano suffered an injury in training, and he has now been replaced by Filipino foe Philip Luis Cuerdo (11-6-1, 4). On paper this is a better bout than the original match up, but should be little more than the next step forward for Nakatani, who is looking like one of the brightest prospects in Japan.
On paper the bout of the show looks likely to be the rematch between Charles Bellamy (28-3-2, 18) and Yuto Shimizu (12-4-2, 5), who had a cracking bout last September. The Bellamy, a popular Japanese based American, took a narrow win over Shimizu last year, and will be favoured here. Shimizu however is no push over, as he showed in their first bout, and this could be a very, very good bout.
Another really good looking match up here will see Japan's Ryota Toyoshima (10-2-1, 7) look to build on a big 208 as he takes on Korean visitor Woo Min Won (10-1, 6). Toyoshima went 3-0 (2) last year, with a very notable win over Moon Hyun Yun, and will be looking to continue that run here. The Korean fight will be fighting on Japanese soil for the second time, having beaten Daiki Koide in Nagoya in 2016. Interestingly this will be Kim's 4th straight bout against a Japanese foe, and so far he has a 3-0 (2) record against Japanese fighters.
Hard hitting Minimumweight prospect Kai Ishizawa (5-0, 5) might not be one of the most rounded prospects in Japan but he is a very heavy handed fighter with a lot of promise, and he's very, very young. On this show he will take on Indonesian journeyman Silem Serang (13-19-2, 1), in what should be little more than a show case for the very exciting Ishizawa.
One other bout of note will see Rookie of the Year runner up Hikari Mineta (5-1, 3) kick off his 2019 with a bout against 32 year old Motosuke Kimura (3-1-2, 1). We were impressed by Mineta in the Rookie of the Year, though he did have a nightmare in the early stages of the final, and it's going to be great to see what the Teiken man can go on to achieve over the coming years.
On the subject of Japanese fighters it's worth noting that Swiss based Japanese born veteran Aniya Seki (34-4-3, 5) will be up against journey woman Ivanka Ivanova (1-10-2) in Berne. Seki, now aged 40, is unlikely to achieve her dream of becoming a world champion, but she should pick up an easy win here against her Bulgarian foe who hasn't won in her last 9.
We turn to the US for much more notable action towards the end of the day, with a number of Filipino fighters in action.
Sadly whilst there are some talented fighters on the card, the most notable of the Filipino fighters looks to be, on paper at least, in a stay busy fight. That is former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (32-2, 15), the criminally under-rated southpaw, taking on Mexican foe Roberto Castaneda (23-11-2, 16). On paper this is a mismatch, though Castaneda has had some interesting performances in recent years coming close to upsetting Jose Lopez in 2014 and securing a draw Tyler McCreary last time out.
Another highly regarded Filipino on this card is the hard hitting Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17), who returns to the ring following a weight mishap earlier in the year. He'll be up against fellow puncher Jose Luis Gallegos (16-6, 12) and should manage to secure a pretty straight forward win, though has clearly lost some of his career moment after a huge 2018.
Filipino-America John Leo Dato (10-0-1, 7) looks to extend his unbeaten record, as he takes on tough veteran German Meraz (62-55-2, 39). The Mexican veteran has 120 bouts to his name, and although his losses are stacking up he has only 8 stoppage defeats with the latest coming more than 2 years ago to Tugstsogt Nyambayar. Meraz will test Dato, but isn't likely to score the upset.