This coming Saturday is set to be a great day for Asian boxing, with notable action in Thailand, Japan, Russia and the US.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
For once we'll start in Thailand as WP Boxing give us one of their most interesting shows of 2020, and do so free on their YouTube and Facebook pages. The card isn't a monster card, but it does have two very interesting main bouts on it.
The highest profile bout on the card will see former world champions colliding for a regional title. In one corner will be former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-8, 36), who showed there was still something left in the tank with a recent upset win over Campee Phayom, whilst the other corner will host Amnat Ruenroeng (20-4, 6), himself a former IBF Flyweight champion. On paper it seems easy to favour the hard hitting, and naturally bigger, Pungluang, however Amnat showed he still have plenty to offer when he ran Srisaket Sor Rungvisai close a few months ago. This is a really intriguing match up and will be for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Featherweight title.
A second WBC Asian Boxing Council title fight on this card will be at Flyweight, with rising youngster Thananchai Charunphak (10-1, 8) defending his title over battle worn veteran Pigmy Kokietgym (61-13-2, 25). We are huge fans of the 20 year old Thananchai, who has been very impressive in recent bouts and will be looking to secure a third notable win here. Sadly Pigmy Kokietgym is about 10 years beyond his prime, and about 7lbs north of his best weight. We suspect Pigmy will give it a go early on, before being broken down and stopped by Thananchai. Although a mismatch we can't recommend fans following Thananchai enough, this youngster is one of the best prospects in Thailand.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
As well as as the action in Thailand we also get a pretty notable show at Korakuen Hall, sadly however this show won't be getting live TV coverage and instead will be televised a few days after the event takes place.
Originally the main event here was supposed to see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 11) make a mandatory defense of his title as he takes on unbeaten youngster Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2), as part of the Champion Carnival. Sadly the bout was cancelled just over a week before the show due to Takesako suffering a training injury.
Due to the main event bout being cancelled the headline bout here will see former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (16-1-1, 10) fight in what is supposed to be a tune up contest against the unbeaten Nath Nwachukwu (6-0-2, 3), who will likely see himself as a live under-dog. Inoue, best known for his 2019 bout with Jaime Munguia, will be seeking a 4th straight win and will be hoping to move into a second world level bout next year. Notably he won't be defending his WBO Asia Pacific title here, which he did defend back in January. The 23 year old Nwachukwu won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Middleweight in 2018 and has picked up 3 wins since then. Although he's the under-dog Nwachukwu will know a win here would genuinely change his career.
Another bout of note on this card will see flawed puncher Takuma Takahashi (5-0, 5) take on Kodai Kiyota (9-6-2, 9), in what could be a very explosive contest. Takahashi has looked very, very heavy handed, but he also showed some real vulnerability last time out, getting dropped and cut against Leonardo Doronio, and there are worries about his punch resistance. Kiyota is no world beater, and hasn't fought in over a decade, but he is heavy handed and could well have the power needed to take out Takahashi, if he lands clean.
Also on this card will be recent Japanese title challenger Koki Koshikawa (9-2, 6), who takes on Yuichi Ideta (13-15-1, 7), with Koshikawa looking to bounce back from a loss to Hironobu Matsunaga.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
The WP Boxing event isn't the only one we'll be getting for free on YouTube as RCC will also be giving us a show, this time from Russia, with several Central Asian fighters on it.
One of the bouts on this show will see once beaten Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov (10-1, 7) take on really talented Ukrainian Zoravor Petrosian (9-0, 4), in a bout that was originally for September. Umurzakov was upset back in January by Esneiker Correa, in a genuine surprise, and has been out of the ring since then. Petrosian on the other hand is a 22 year old who turned professional in 2018 and has scored 3 wins this year, whilst looking very highly skilled. This should be a very, very interesting match up.
In a supporting bout baby faced Kazakh fighter Yerzhan Zalilov (11-2-1, 5) take on Russian fighter Evgenii Liashkov (6-1, 1). At one point Zalilov looks like a fighter with the potential to go places, but sadly 2 losses in is last 3 bouts have pretty much ended his hopes of reaching the top of the mountain. Liashkov is a light puncher who lost on but has reeled off 6 wins and comes into this with real momentum.
One more bout on this show will see Uzbek born Russian Dmitry Yun (4-0, 1) taking on Sherzodjon Abdurazzokov (1-0). Yun is a really skilled boxer-mover, who looks like a brilliant talented, with lovely speed, movement and accuracy. Sadly however his lack of power, and questionable durability, seem likely to hold him back, despite how fantastic he is to see in full flow. Aged 20 Abdurazzokov is an Uzbek youngster who made his debut in 2019, and will go into this as the under-dog.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
We will also Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (21-0, 16) in action, as he begins his relationship with Matchroom Sports. The 37 year Chinese fighter, who has been spoken about as a future opponent for Anthony Joshua, will be up against 38 year old American Devin Vargas (22-6, 9). Sadly for a man that Eddie Hearn wants to talk about big fights for, time is rapidly running out for Zhang, and it seems highly unlikely that he will ever manage to reach the heights some expected of him.
This coming Saturday had promises of a lot for fight fans in Asia, with a brilliant looking show in Tokyo, running alongside a bout in Australia featuring a Japanese fighter in a sure fire thriller. Sadly Coronavirus saw the Japanese show being cancelled and an injury saw Jacob Ng pull out of his fight with Valentine Hosokawa.
Despite the changes we still have a decent amount to look forward to though!
The best of the action, at least in our eyes, is from Russia, where we see several really good bouts, and a very talented young prospect.
One of the best bouts on the card will see the unbeaten Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (15-0, 9) battle against former world champion Tomas Rojas (51-18-1-1, 34), in what will be Yaqubov's third defense of the WBC International Super Featherweight title. The unbeaten Russian based Tajik fighter notched 3 wins last year and appears to be heading towards a big fight, and Rojas should be a decent. Rojas, who won the WBC Super Flyweight title way back in 2010, is a true veteran of the sport but is very much a man who has seen better days and at 39 father time is snapping at his heels.
In a very attractive looking bout we'll see Russian Mark Urvanov (17-2-1, 9) take on exciting Kyrgyz Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (15-0, 8) in what could be the bout of the weekend. The 23 year old Urvanov enters this bout on a 6 fight unbeaten run, including a stoppage over former world title challenger Evgeny Chuprakov and will be entering with plenty of confidence. Uulu on the other hand is unbeaten and has been scoring solid wins over the likes of Jon Jon Estrada and Mike Tawatchai in recent bouts. This could well be a genuinely fantastic little fight, and it's been previewed by George Delis here
A third bout of note will see talented youngster Dmitry Yun (3-0) take on Stanislav Maksyuchenko (2-1-1, 1). Yun, a Russian-Uzbek, is a genuine joy to watch and has an excellent amateur background, though does lack power. Ukrainian fighter Maksyuchenko shouldn't be much of a threat to the talented Yun, and is more than a year removed from his last win.
In Victoria fans will be able to see a local hopeful take on an upset minded Filipino. The bout in question will see Kayne Clarke (9-0, 6) look to score his fifth straight stoppage as he takes on Pinoy puncher Rodynie Rafol (14-7-2, 7) in a bout for the IBO Asia Pacific Lightweight title. Clarke has been impressive in terms of results, but this is a very clear step up in class for him. Rafol, who is now based in Australia, has scored back to back upsets coming in to this, stopping James MacDonald and Tyson Lantry and shouldn't be seen as a push over for Clarke
New South Wales, Australia
Staying in Australia we'll see the unbeaten Sam Goodman (6-0, 3), a 21 year old and a genuine bright hope for Australian boxing, take on former world title contender Noldi Manakane (33-30-4, 18) from Indonesia. Goodman has looked fantastic so far, and a TKO win over Claudevan Sese last year is impressive and something we see as a real marker of how good Goodman is, putting him on par with Yuki Yamauchi. Manakane was once a serviceable regional level fighter, and on his day can show a bit of grit, but we don't see him lasting with Goodman for the scheduled 8 rounds.