The first Chinese show in the new year sees us focusing on Diaobingshan. Whilst we do expect a lot from China this year this card isn't a huge, by any stretch, but is certainly still set to be an interesting one.
The main event will see in form puncher Chinese puncher Jun Zhao (12-2-1, 9) take on Jay Francis Buray (11-1-1, 2), in what will be Zhao's first defense of the WBA Asia Bantamweight title. Coming into this Zhao has won his last 7, with 5 stoppages, and has beaten the likes of Zafar Parpiev, Galih Susanto and Sonin Nihei. The 22 year old Buray, from the Philippines, is unbeaten in over 3 year, but this will be his first bout outside of his homeland, and he will also be stepping up in class. An interesting match up, but one where the local will be favoured.
In a supporting bout the unbeaten Fan Zhang (2-0-1, 2) will be up against Korean foe Hwang Kook Je (5-1-2, 1). Zhang began his career with a weird draw in June last year, but then took 2 early wins to get his career up and running. Je on the other hand is 4-0-1 in his last 5, but has never previously fought outside of Korea.
Another China Vs South Korea bout will see local fighter Yihao Wang (6-4, 2) take on unbeaten Korean Keon Woo Kim (5-0, 3). The 26 year old Wang is a "win some, lose some" type who has been stopped in 3 of his 4 losses, including a 2019 loss to Hyun Min Yang in his only other bout against a Korean fighter. Kim's competition so far has been limited, with 3 debutants and a win-less fighter, but he's been dangerous early and his KO over Moon Han Ji in December was brutal.
Also on this card will be Mongolian hopeful Erkhembayar Batbayar (6-0, 4), who continues to chug along without too much attention. The unbeaten 26 year old is a talent, but needs to decide what weight he intends to be fighting at, and start to make his mark sooner rather than later. At the time of writing his opponent for this bout hasn't yet been announced.
This coming Saturday is a really busy day in Asia, but the standout card is a Japanese one with 4 notable bouts on it. Notably this card isn't just a good one on paper, but will also be available live, thanks to Boxing Raise.
The main event will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (18-3-1, 12) make his first defense, of his second reign, as he battles against the limited but typically fun to watch Yosuke Fujihara (18-6, 5). The hard hitting Kuga won the belt back earlier this year, winning a Japanese Fight of the Year Contender against Ryoichi Tamura, and will be looking to impress here as he attempts to put his 2018 loss to Shingo Wake behind him. The power, pressure and aggression of Kuga is likely to be too much for the challenger but Fujihara does make for fun fights and this should be a fan friendly 1-sided bout. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuga takes on Fujihara in first title defense!
A second title bout will see fast rising Japanese hopeful Tsubasa Murachi (4-0, 3) take on former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (30-3-1, 21) in a bout for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. Although not one of the big name hopefuls in Japan Murachi is very well regarded by those who have followed his career, and the plan had always been to fast track him, though we didn't expect such a big step up so early in his career. A win for Murachi at this stage will likely secure him a WBO world ranking but it's not an easy task. Saludar, who was once touted as a future world champion himself, has faltered in his biggest bouts, including bouts against Takuma Inoue and Sho Kimura, but is very capable. For Saludar another loss here would likely end his hopes of getting another world title fight, but he'll feel confident that his experience will be too much for the Japanese youngster. A very interesting match up. A full preview of this bout can be read here Murachi goes for gold in 5th fight, takes on Saludar for WBO regional title!
The third bout which is getting a lot of interest is a Japanese Minimumweight title eliminator. This bout, the second of the eliminators for the 2020 Champion Carnival, will see former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) going up against hard hitting youngster Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6). For Taniguchi this is a must win bout, but also a huge step backwards following a bout with Vic Saludar earlier this year. As for Ishizawa this is a massive step up in class, and a win will put him on the map and secure a title fight next year. Our view is that it maybe too much too soon for Ishizawa, but we understand why he has taken the fight. This is genuine high risk, high reward for both men. Our preview of this bout is available here Taniguchi and Ishizawa meet in Japanese title eliminator
The final of the notable bouts will see rising Afghan born Japanese based Welterweight hopeful Kudura Kaneko (10-0, 7) continue to step up as he takes on rugged veteran Moon Hyon Yun (18-7-3, 4) in what could turn out to be the best bout of the show. Kaneko is a very exciting, hard hitting boxer-puncher whilst Yun is a genuine tough guy who has scored more than his share of upset wins. This should be a real test for Kaneko, and could well be a genuine banana skin given the style that Yun brings to the ring. This bout has been featured as our One to watch-Kudura Kaneko vs Moon Hyon Yun this week.
In China we get an interesting card with an international feel to it.
In one of the main bouts we'll see Chinese puncher Jun Zhao (11-2-1, 8) take on Japanese foe Sonin Nihei (9-4-2, 1) in a contest for the WBA Asia Bantamweight title. Coming in to this the 26 year old Zhao has been in good form, winning his last 6, but hasn't looked sensational during that run and he certainly improvements to make. On the other hand Nihei has struggled for results, winning just 1 of his last 3, but will be travelling with the knowledge that he has the skills to spring in the upset.
In a supporting bout we'll see Mongolian hopeful Erkhembayar Batbayar (5-0, 3) take on Korean foe Jun Yong Lee (6-5-4, 3). This is a 10 rounder and on paper a big step up for the Mongolian, who has never been beyond 6 rounds so far. The Korean is a former national champion, but has won just 1 of his last 4, and is 2-4-1 in his last 7. Batbayar will be the favourite, and rightfully so, but this is certainly his biggest test to date.
Bang Phun, Thailand
We return to the Work Point Studio for a Thai card which will be available on Work Point in Thailand and DAZN in the US.
One of the main bouts on this card will see former Naoya Inoue opponent Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (43-9, 20) take on Filipino visitor Renz Rosia (15-8-1, 8). Petchbarngborn, also known as Karoon Jarupianlerd, has gone 8-1 since losing to Inoue in 2016 but has fought at a most limited level, with a loss earlier this year to Amnat Ruenroeng being the most notable of those bouts. Rosia on the other hand is 1-3-1 in his last 5 and despite once being a solid fighter at regional level looks like a man who is is often fighting above his best weight. Rosia always comes to fight, but there is a feeling that he probably won't have enough to over-come the Thai in Thailand, where an away win is never easy.
Another bout on this card pitting a Thai against a Filipino will see Nawaphon Kaikanha (46-1-1, 36) take the under-rated and tough Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-14-3, 11). The once beaten Nawaphon is a former world title challenger who is also the brother of former world champion Suriyan Sor Rungvisai. Since his loss, in a WBC Flyweight title bout to Juan Hernandez, Nawaphon has moved up to Bantamweight and reeled off 10 straight wins. On paper Ponteras doesn't look like much of a threat, but in reality he's a really good journeyman who should take Nawaphon some rounds, and be competitive at times. Saying that however there are question marks about what Ponteras still has left following his first stoppage defeat back in March, when he was stopped in the opening round by Seiya Tsutsumi. At his best he was very much an upset minded fighter, who scored more than his share of wins against the odds, but he's now without a win in 4 bouts and could well be past his best.
Another bout on this card will be part of the WP Boxing Super Flyweight tournament and will see novices Danai Ngiabphukhiaw (2-1, 1) and Yodtanong Chaepet (2-0, 1) face off. These two were supposed to fight in August but their bout was pushed back to here. On paper this 6 rounder promises a lot and should be competitive, and of course we're big fans of tournaments, so fingers crossed the winner of the overall competition will be given a career boost as Thailand looks to unearth it's next generation of talent.
A second show in Thailand is a much lower profile card. The bouts here are much less interesting and the main event will see Murodjon Yokubov (4-0, 3) battle against teenager Tanawat Ketsiri (2-5, 2). The 25 year old Yokubov is a Thai based Uzbek who turned pro last year and really needs a step up in the near future. Ketsiri on the other hand has lost 4 times this year, and looks almost certain to pick up another loss here.
Sadly not other bout on this card is really worth talking about.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Yet another show of some note is a Filipino card from the Elorde Sports Center in Paranaque City.
Among the bouts on this card is a clash of once beaten youngsters, as Arvin Magramo (10-1-1, 6) and Francis Jay Diaz (8-1-1, 1) face off in an 8 round Light Flyweight contest. Magramo is very much in the rebuilding stages of his career, following a defeat at the hands of Garen Diagan a year ago, but this is a tough match up on paper and his team are taking a risk here. The 21 year old Diaz, dubbed "The Amazing Boy" began his career 1-1-1 before reeling off 7 straight wins, but this is a bi step up for him. Although a low key bout, in the grand scheme of things, this is a very interesting match up
A second contest between fighters with a single loss to their name will feature Marlon Paniamogan (9-1-1, 5) and Jino Rodrigo (5-1-2, 4), who will also be involved in a 10 round fight. On paper this should be more explosive than the other bout however it's worth noting that Paniamogan was beaten last time out, losing a decision in Japan to Kuntae Lee. Rodrigo, on the other hand, is 3-1-2 in his last 6, suggesting neither has much moment coming into this bout.
A third bout of interest here sees unbeaten men battle, with Delmar Pellio (7-0, 3) and Marjon Piencenaves (6-0-1, 4) fighting in an 8 rounder. The 19 year old Pellio has only previously faced 1 opponent with a winning record and will be looking for his third win of the year. Piencenaves on the other hand is a 24 year old who is facing his first opponent with a winning record, so for both men this is a step up and their real, serious test.
New Delhi, India
There's also a small show in India.
The main bout on this card will see the unbeaten Rajesh Kumar (10-0-1-2) take on Filipino foe Ivor Lastrilla (11-7-1, 6) in an 8 round contest. The 25 year old Kumar has won his last 5, following a draw in October 2016, and is looking to build on those wins here. On paper Lastrilla is a step down from Kumar's last 2 foes, but could still make for an interesting test. The 27 year old Lastrilla has lost his last 3, but when on form he can be a good test. Lastrilla is unlikely to have the size, power or strength to be a physical threat to Kumar, but may have the skills to ask questions of him.
In a supporting bout female hopeful Ramandeep Kaur (5-0) will take on Thai journey-woman Saranyaphong Theinthong (2-13, 2), in what really should be an easy win for Kaur over 6 rounds.