The big headline bout this coming weekend sees us focus on Glasgow, Scotland, as the WBSS moves towards the final bouts. The bout of interest for us is the highly anticipated WBSS Bantamweight semi-final bout between WBA "regular" champion Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) and IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12). The bout is a clash between unbeaten world class fighters, who are both looking to move one step closer to proving they are the best Bantamweight on the planet. For Inoue this will be his first bout in Europe, and he will be looking to become the first Japanese fighter to win a world title bout in the continent, whilst Rodriguez returns to the country that he won the IBF title in, when he beat Paul Butler. Coming in both are in great form, though it should be noted that Rodriguez went 24 rounds last year, Inoue has only gone 20 rounds combined in his last 6 fights. If Rodriguez can survive the early going Inoue's lack of activity could be a problem here, as could history. A full review of this bout can be read here Inoue and Rodriguez go one on one in semi final!
Before the action in the UK there will be some action in Asia, including a notable show at Korakuen Hall in Toyko.
The main event of this show will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) make his first defense, as he takes on former champion Yusaku Kuga (17-3-1, 11), in what will be a second bout between these two. Thee two men fought in 2017, with Kuga taking a narrow decision win over Tamura to retain the title, since then however Kuga has been stopped by Shingo Wake and Tamura has bounced back from losing to Kuga to win the title. Given their first bout was a brilliant and violent fight we're expecting something really special here. A full preview of this bout is available here Tamura and Kuga to meet again, potential war set?
In a major supporting bout we'll see Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-2, 6) and Koichi Aso (23-8-1, 15) clash at Lightweight, in a bout that should be very fan friendly. Coming in to this Yanagi is unbeaten in 5 bouts, including a draw in a Japanese title eliminator last year with Accel Sumiyoshi, but this is likely to be a really tough bout for him. Aso, a veteran and former Japanese Light Welterweight champion, will be dropping down in weight but always brings intense pressure and will be looking to break down Yanagi. This could be an all out war if Yanagi can't keep Aso at range.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see ranked fighters clash, as Naoya Okamoto (13-7-1, 6) and Yosuke Fujihara (17-6, 4) face off in a bout that could well set up a future title fight with the winner of the main event. Okamoto narrowly missed out on a title fight, when he lost a technical decision in October in a Japanese title eliminator, and will be hungry here to shine. Fujihara on the other hand is someone who has challenged for a title before but has lost 3 of his last 4 and really needs a good performance here.
Another bout featuring domestic ranked fighters will see Kenta Nakagawa (16-3-1, 11) take on Ryosuke Nasu (10-4-3, 2). Nakagawa is a former Japanese Super Flyweight champion, holding the title in 2016-2017, and has won 3 in a row since losing the belt to Ryuichi Funai. Nasu on the other hand is a former Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion who will know that a win here will prove to be a huge step towards a potential senior title fight later in the year.
Another name worthy of noting on this card is Kazuki Saito (6-1, 5), though our understanding is a planned bout has been cancelled and he will instead compete in a spar rather than an actual fight.
Bang Phun, Thailand
At the Workpoint Studio we'll former world title challenger Nawaphon Por Chokchai (44-1-1, 34) take on former champion Sonny Boy Jaro (45-14-5, 32), in what looks almost certain to be a fun fight. Nawaphon, at 27, is the much younger man and needs a big win, and a win over Jaro would be among his very best. Jaro, who is known in Thailand due to his shock win over Pongsaklek Wonjongkam back in 2012. At the age of 37 it's hard to know what Jaro really has left, though he was stopped in 2017 by Jonas Sultan, a none puncher, and surely has to be coming very close to the end of his career.
In Russia we'll see a couple of hard hitting Uzbek fighters in action.
One of those fighters is Ravshanbek Umurzakov (7-0, 7), who takes on Anthony Moloisane (11-3-1, 7) in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds. The talented Umurzakov has shown a lot of promise but isn't being moved up through the levels yet, sadly, and that shows again here, with South African fighter Moloisane, who isn't bad, but also isn't a clear step up for the Uzbek who should be taking on much better opponents now.
A second Uzbek on this show will see Elnur Abduraimov (4-0, 4) in action, as he hunts his 5th straight stoppage. He's stepped up in his last two bouts, but it's clear he needs a real test in the near future, so fingers crossed that happens sooner rather than later. He's too good to be wasting his time against limited opposition and would be served much better by take on someone to extend him some rounds and help prepare him for bigger and better bouts. At the time of writing the opponent for this bout hasn't been named, suggesting a limited and late notice opponent for the Uzbek.
Also on this card is unbeaten Kazakh youngster Stanislav Kalitskiy (7-0, 3), who will be stepping into his first 8 round bout. Sadly there is not currently an opponent confirmed for Kalitskiy, and as with Abduraimov it seems like he will be matched softly with a late notice foe.
Another Asian card will take place in Taiwan, though this is a very low level card, headlined by an 8 round bout between Chia Ching Hung (4-1-1, 4) and Anurak Madua (6-3, 4). Hung is a local to Taiwan, but hasn't fought in over a year, and is 1-1-1 in his last 3. Madua on the other hand was stopped in 77 seconds last time out, when he fought in Osaka against Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto.
The rest of this card is mostly novices bouts with debutants.
This coming Saturday is a crazy day in Asian boxing, with the welcome return of one series of shows from Thailand as well as notable and large shows featuring Asian fighters in the Philippines and Russia as well as other action!
Metro Manila, Philippines
The most interesting card of the day is an MP Promoted card from Metro Manila, featuring a couple of world title eliminators, along with some other interesting supporting bouts.
One of the world title eliminators comes at Bantamweight, where Michael Dasmarinas (28-2-1, 19) and Kenny Demecillo (14-4-2, 8) battle to become the IBF mandatory challenger at 118lbs. Of the two men Dasmarinas is the more experienced and more proven man, but Demecillo has proven to be capable of upsets in the past and will know that Dasmarinas looked less than his best last time out, being gifted a draw with Manyo Plange. A very interesting bout, with real significance in the packed Bantamweight division. Our full in depth preview of this contest can be read here - Demecillo and Dasmarinas clash in eliminator!
Another world title eliminator on this card is an IBF Minimumweight eliminator, as Samuel Salva (16-0, 10) and Rene Mark Cuarto (16-1-1, 9) battle for the right to become the mandatory challenger. This is, on paper, more interesting than the Bantamweight bout due to how similar the records of the two men are, but will likely get over-looked in the west due to the weight class. Both will be aware that they could book a bout with Deejay Kriel with a win here, and that will drive both on in what could be a real classic. An indepth preview of this bout can be read here Salva and Cuarto battle in eliminator
In supporting bouts we'll see Singaporean fighter Muhamad Ridhwan (11-1, 8) take on Landy Cris Leon (11-18-5, 5), in what should be a good confidence building bout for Ridhwan after a loss to Paulus Ambunda last September.
Other supporting bouts will include Chinese prospect Lei Wang (2-0, 1) battling Adam Diu Abdulhamid (13-7, 5), in a tough test for the unbeaten novice, a brilliant all-Filipino match up between Ronnie Baldonado (13-1-1, 9) and Elias Joaquino (12-3-2, 6) and a potentially very fun contest between Orlie Silvestre (12-5-1, 8) and Joel Taduran (8-10-2, 2).
As well as the Filipino show there's also a stacked RCC Promotions show in Russia.
One of the main bouts here will see Tajik born Russian Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (13-0, 10) battle against South African Rofhiwa Maemu (18-7-2, 12), in what will be Rakhimov's third defense of the IBO Super Featherweight title. On paper this doesn't look great, but a lot of that is due to Maemu's 7 losses. Whilst that is notable we do need to put it into context and explain that 5 of those came in his first 11 bouts, and he has since gone 14-2. It should however be noted that Rakhimov is in amazing form and is expected to win and go on to much bigger and better things in the near future.
Russian based Kyrgyzstan born fighter Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (13-0, 6) will be expecting his next win as he takes on Thai veteran Mike Tawatchai (45-12-2, 28), who will be fighting for the 61st time as a professional. At his best Tawatchai could be a good test for Uulu, but at the age of 33 and more than 3 years removed from a win of note it's hard to see Tawatchai being much of a threat for the unbeaten hopeful.
Other Asian fighters involved on this card include Uzbek born prospect Mukhammad Shekhov (3-0, 2), Kyrgyz fighter Erzhan Turgumbekov (5-0, 1), Filipino puncher Jon Jon Estrada (11-5-1, 10) and highly touted Uzbek fighters Makhmud Gaipov (2-0, 1) and Elnur Abduraimov (3-0, 3).
Bang Phun, Thailand
We return to the Workpoint Studio for the first WP Boxing show of 2019 and although the details aren't totally clear we do know that the show will feature hotly tipped Apichet Petchmanee (2-0, 2), who will be taking on Shota Suito (11-9-1, 1) for a WBC regional silver title. Apichet is one of the best talented in Thailand, and finers crossed he will be kept busy in 2019, because at the age of 2019 he sadly doesn't have much time to waste. Unfortunately this bout does look to be a step backwards for the Thai, but picking up some WBC title could open doors for him in the future.
We have also been informed that Thai based Dutch fighter Nick Frese (8-0, 6) is expected to be on this card.
Johore Bahru, Malaysia
We're also expecting a card to take place in Malaysia, which again lacks in terms of details. The one bout that is listed for this show is a WBC Asian Boxing Council silver Super Middleweight title bout, with unbeaten local Adli Hafidz (5-0, 2) taking on Indonesian foe Bambang Rusiadi (9-8, 4), who is 0-5 outside of Malaysia.
Over in the US we get an excellent match up as Filipino journeyman Ricky Sismundo (35-12-3, 17) hits the road again and takes on unbeaten Russian puncher Maxim Dadashev (12-0, 10). On paper this looks like a mismatch but the reality is that Sismundo is among the very best journeymen on the planet and the 31 year old has picked up upset wins against the likes of Yoshitaka Kato, Ghislain Maduma, Akihiro Kondo and Shuhei Tsuchiya. Dadashev is a great talent, but this should be a very good test for the Russian puncher.
This coming Saturday is an incredibly busy day for Asian fight fans.
We get the show of the day in Tokyo, with the Korakuen Hall hosting a title double header and a really good under-card.
The main event sees a trilogy come to a close as Yuko Kuroki (18-5-1, 8) and Saemi Hanagata (14-7-4, 7) fight for the IBF female Atomweight title. So far Hanagata is winning the series, 1-0 due to a draw in their second bout. Since their bouts together both fighters have proven to be world class, with Kuroki holding the the WBC female Minimumweight title for over 3.5 years, whilst Hanagata would hold her own in 3 world title fights but never manage to get the win. Given how competitive their first two bouts were and how both have developed since 2013 we're expecting a very exciting contest with a lot of leather being thrown between two fighters who know each other very well. - A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuroki looks to settle the score with third bout against Hanagata!
The second title bout on this card promises fire works as heavy handed OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (13-0, 9) takes on talented youngster Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4). The champion will be looking to record his third defenses of the title, following very good wins over Masataka Taniguchi and Norihito Tanaka, and this promises to be another very tough test. Tomita, the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year has had a frustrating time since his Rookie win, being matched against some very poor opponents and having one fight cancelled, but he is a talent and should give Tomita a lot of questions to answer. A full preview of this bout can be read here Unbeaten men Koura and Tomita collide for OPBF honours!
The leading support bout will see hard hitting Japanese Flyweight prospect Masamichi Yabuki (7-2, 7) take on Panamanian based Cuban Daniel Matellon (7-0-2, 4). The Japanese puncher has only gone beyond 2 rounds once in his career, a 4 round decision loss to Junto Nakatani, and he is naturally very heavy handed. On the other hand Matellon is a world ranked fighter with real skills, but he will be the smaller man here. This will put power against speed, and should be a very compelling contest.
Former OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (16-3-1, 9) will be returning to the ring following his title loss, in June 2017, as he takes on the always testing Vergil Puton (17-10-1, 8). The talented Takenaka was going through a solid run run when he was the OPBF champion, making 3 defenses of the title, before losing via KO to Sa Myung Noh last year. On his return he will be moving up in weight to face Puton. The Filipino visitor doesn't have a great looking record, and has failed to win in his last 3 bouts, but he's tough and has proven to be a very good opponent at this type of regional level. Takenaka should be able to win, but this is a tough return for the man from the Misako gym.
Another really notable under-card bout on this card will see the all action Kenya Yamashita (12-4, 9) take a huge step up in class to face off with former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (20-11-3, 5) in a Bantamweight bout. The exciting, but flawed, Yamashita has often been in some thrilling contests, but has shown issues with his chin and has lost 3 of his last 7 inside the distance. On the other hand Apolinario has won just twice in the last 30 months, with 5 losses in that same time period.
As well as the big show in Japan there is also a very notable card in Singapore, with two title bouts and several other bouts of note.
The main event of the card will see unbeaten local Muhamad Ridhwan (11-0, 8) take on former world champion Paulus Ambunda (26-2, 11) in a contest for the IBO Super Bantamweight title. The unbeaten Ridhwan, regarded as Singapore's biggest hope, has already noted two wins this year and his team will be seeing this as a logical step up in class. As for Ambunda this is probably his last chance saloon, and at the age of 38 it's hard to see where he would go if he lost here. Saying that however Ambunda has only lost to world class fighters, Tomoki Kameda and Moises Flores, and he could well have one final performance left in him.
Another major bout on this card will see Filipino Bantamweight contender Michael Dasmarinas (28-2, 19) face off against Ghanaian puncher Manyo Plange (17-0, 15). Coming in to this Dasmarinas has won his last 10, with 8 stoppages, including a big victory over Karim Guerfi last time out. Not much is known about Plange, however this will be his first bout outside of Ghana, and will be a massive step up in class for him.
In another title bout Malaysian fighter Muhammad Meeraj (8-2-1, 4) will take on teenager Natthawut Masamin (7-3, 5). The 28 year old Meeraj has won his last 2 bouts, including a win that saw him become the WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Heavyweight champion. He will be defeating that title here against his Thai foe. Masamin, the Thai Middleweight champion, has a very misleading record and gave Yuki Nonaka real issues earlier this year. We think Meeraj should have the size to win, but this is no gimme and could be a very tough contest to call.
In a potentially fan friendly contest fans will see Keng Fai Hui (4-0-1, 4) take on Abdelelah Karroum (3-0, 3). Both men have a reputation for being heavy handed and it seems likely that both will come out swinging here. Hui, a 23 year old from Malaysia, was held to a draw last time out, against Alexander David. Karroum on the other hand is a Singaporean based French born fighter who has stopped his first 3 opponents in a combined 4 rounds. Expected explosive action here!
History is set to be made in Taiwan as the country hosts it's most notable show in history, with a couple of title fights in Taipei.
The main event of the card will see teak tough Japanese Super Feather Takuya Watanabe (34-8-1, 19) take on Thai foe Paiboon Lorkham (19-10, 8), aka Maxsaisai Sithsaithong, fight for the OPBF Silver Super Featherweight. Although his record doesn't show it Watanabe is a very talented fighter who has mixed at a very good level, losing to the likes of Masayuki Ito, Satoshi Hosono, Jae Sung Lee and Hisashi Amagasa. Although a talented boxer Watanabe is best known for his insane toughness, which saw him fight through a crimson mask against Lee for almost the entire fight. The Thai is much less well established, despite being 39 years old. His most notable bout to date have been losses to the likes of Hisashi Amagasa, AJ Banal and Joel Brunker, and they were all several years ago. Lorkham at his best might have been an interesting test for Watanabe, but this version or Lorkham is little more than body for Watanabe to beat in the main event of the show.
The other title fight will see Chinese fighter Wensi Huang (9-3-1, 3) take on Thai foe Jutamas Jitpong (4-2, 2) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental female Super Flyweight title. The 29 year old Huang lost 3 of her first 6 bouts, including a contest against Ji Hye Woo, though has since gone unbeaten, albeit against dreadful opposition. Aged 20 the Thai is the younger fighter by far, but she has also come up short, losing to Yuko Henzan and Olga Gurova. This is a very limited match up, but does give the fans in Taipei a chance to see a female title bout, as well as the male one.
Over in the US we get the chance to see once beaten Filipino prospect Romero Duno (17-1, 14) look to build on his growing reputation. The 22 year old Filipino fighter will be up against Mexican foe Ezequiel Aviles (16-2-3, 6), who will be fighting outside of Mexico for the first time. It's worth noting that Aviles has only been stopped once in 21 bouts, but that loss was last time out, when Oliver Quintana stopped him in 10 rounds. It's also worth noting that Aviles has also been out of the ring for over a year following that loss
The card will also set to feature the debut of Uzbek prospect Elnur Abduraimov (0-0), though his opponent hasn't yet been announced.
New York, USA
Staying in the US fans in Brooklyn, New York, will be able to see Uzbek Heavyweight hopeful Bakhodir Jalolov (1-0, 1) continue his career. The highly touted Jalolov, a former amateur standout, will be up against Thomas Hawkins (4-3-0-1, 1) who has lost his last 3 and is without a win in over 4 years. Given how we have seen Uzbek fighters handled we're hoping this will be Jalolov's last bout at this level before he goes up against someone who can test him. He's too good to spend time against fighters like Hawkins.
This coming Thursday there will be interest for fight fans from across Asia, with shows in Japan and the Philippines and two central Asian fighters in action in New York.
The show in Japan is from the Korakuen Hall where Kaneko Boxing will be showing casing some of their most notable fighters.
The main event will see a bout between two Japanese ranked Middleweights, with the two fighters essentially fighting to become the leading contender to face Kazuto Takesako. The bout will see Hisao Narita (12-6, 6) face off with Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (9-3, 8) in what looks likely to be a very hotly contested bout. Of the two men it's Hosokawa who is ranked higher by the JBC, and is also ranked by the OPBF. Coming in to this he has stopped his last 3 opponents, and has looked like a genuine puncher whilst rising through the domestic scene. Despite having 3 losses against his name Hosokawa has gone 7-1 (7) since a faltering 2-2 (1) start to his professional career. On the other hand Narita was stopped last time out by Sanosuke Sasaki and will be looking to bounce back from that and score what would be a career best victory.
The main support bout will also feature two ranked fighters, as Welterweights Shusaku Fujinaka (16-8-2, 11) and Toshiro Tarumi (9-3-3, 5) clash in a very interesting match up. Fujinaka is best known for his 2015 loss to Randall Bailey, and since then he has gone 4-2, losing to Moon Hyun Yun in a thriller and being stopped by Keita Obara last December, despite those set backs he has proven to be a credible fighter on the domestic stage and will be wanting to get a shot at the national title. Tarumi on the other hand has had mixed success on the domestic level, but notable wins over Quaye Peter, Takashi Inagaki and Noriaki Sato show he can perform at this level, when it all clicks. If both men are on form this could be a very special bout, though obviously depends on both fighters, neither of whom have proven to be incredibly consistent so far.
Also on this card will be Takahiro Fujii (10-6-1, 3), though his opponent is yet to be announced, in an 8 rounder.
In the Philippines fans will get a title double header.
The main event will see the touted Carl Jammes Martin (8-0, 7) take on George Lumoly (10-4-1, 8) For the WBA Asia Bantamweight title. The hard hitting 19 year old Jammes has stopped his last 4 foes and picked up a few minor titles, and will expect to do the same again here, as he takes on a foe with 4 stoppages losses already. We've not managed to get too much information on Lumoly but given he has 8 stoppages it's fair to say that Martin won't want to take too many risks, but will be confident of stopping the visitor.
In a bout for the LuzProBA Flyweight title John Magagmoc (3-0-1) will battle against Enrique Magsalin (3-0-2, 1). The 17 year old Magagmoc made his debut last August and has been very easily matches so far, so this is a huge step up for him. At 23 years old Magsalin is the older man, and the more physially mature, but has also been matched lightly and will also be taking on his most notable opponent. This is an interesting one, and will answer questions about both men, but neither really look like they are ready for a title fight.
New York, USA
In New York it will be an Uzbek looking to shine with 24 year old Super Featherweight hopeful Elnur Abduraimov (0-0) making his debut. He won a Bronze medal at the 2015 AIBA World Champion and is expected to be fast tracked. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent hasn't yet been named.