Balbir Singh Juneja Stadium, Chattisgarh, India
This coming Wednesday there is some very notable action in India, where several of the biggest names in Indian boxing will be in action.
The biggest of the bouts on this show is set to be the comeback of former amateur standout Vijender Singh (12-1, 8), who will be fighting for the first time since losing to Artysh Lopsan back in March 2021. In the opposite corner to the 36 year old Singh will be the unbeaten Eliasu Sulley (8-0, 8), from Ghana, who fights for the first time since December 2020, and only the second time since 2017. At his best Singh was a fringe top 15 type of fighter, who had plenty to off, but at 36 this feels like something of a farewell bout, to end his career on a win. Sulley's record looks good on paper, but his 8 wins have come against opponents with a combined 7 wins and 73 losses, which suggests he's incredibly limited.
The unbeaten Karthik Kumar (8-0, 3) will be seeking his first win of the year as he takes on fellow Indian Ashish Sharma (2-1). Kumar has been unbeaten since debuting in 2019, and has stepped up well, with his last bout being a good win over Hero Tito, which showed there was some genuine talent with Kumar. As for Sharma, he has won his last two, after losing on debut, but his competition has been really limited so far and this is a big step up for him.
A third bout of note will see 21 year old hopeful Faizan Anwar (12-0, 5) battle against the out of form Sachin Nautiyal (6-2, 5), who has been stopped in 2 of his last 3. Anwar is one of the better Indian prospects, but amazingly this will actually be his Indian debut, with all of his bouts taking place outside of his homeland, with most taking place in Dubai. As for Nautiyal his wins so far have come against novices, all in India, whilst his two losses have come away from home. It's hard to imagine Anwar being really tested here, but Nautiyal is danger and has stopped 5 opponents in the first 2 rounds.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The most notable show for us this coming Friday comes from Korakuen Hall as Yokohama Hikari put on a really interesting card, with an excellent main event, and several solid under-card bouts, which will go under the radar of many Western fans.
The main event will see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (19-1, 12) take on the hard hitting Ryota Yada (20-7, 17) in a potential war. The 34 year old Matsunaga has been on a great run in recent years, not just winning and defending the Japanese title but also scoring a recent in Mexico on a rare international excursion. Given his aggressive style Matsunaga is a great fighter to watch, he always come forward and he looks to pressure opponents into mistakes. Yada on the other hand is looking to rebuild his career as a massive 2020 loss to Yuichi Ideta, and he'll know another loss here essentially ends his his hopes of winning a major title before his career comes to an end. Yada is aggressive, heavy handed and exciting, but flawed and he would need a career best performance here to take home a victory.
Recent Japanese youth title challenger Yuni Takada (8-8-2, 3) will be in a notable support bout as he takes on Yoshiki Yamashita (8-3). On paper this looks like a mismatch, especially given that Takada has gone 0-4-1 in his last 5 bouts, but he has fought at a decent level, with competitive losses against Kai Ishizawa and Norihito Tanaka, and he'll see this as a chance to get his first win since July 2019. Yamshita on the other hand is 4-1 in his last 5, including a really good win over Hizuki Saso back in June, and he'll be looking to continue building momentum and head towards title fights of his own.
Another noteworthy bout on this card will see former world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi (19-4-1, 8) take on veteran Hyuma Fujioka (11-10-1, 1). The 31 year old Takahashi is best known for his 2019 loss to TJ Doheny, and since then he has scored 3 wins, but the most recent of those was a controversial one more than a year ago against Kiyohei Endo. Fujioka on the other hand is man with a win some lose record, and can be a banana skin for decent fighters, when he turns up. He's certainly no world beater, but he is better than his record suggests and could be a bit of a nightmare for Takahashi here.
Motospace Dubai Investment Park, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
As well as the action in Japan we also have a card of note in Dubai, where we'll see a talented Pakistani fighter in action, against a former world title challenger, and a bout featuring a promising Indian fighter.
The talented Pakistani fighter on this card is former IBF world title challenger Muhammad Waseem (11-1, 8), who looks to score his first win of 2021 as he takes on Colombian fighter Rober Barrera (23-3-0-1, 13), who is best known for his 2017 bout with Ryoichi Taguchi. Once regarded as the big hope of Pakistani boxing, Waseem is with out a doubt a talented fighter, but like too many talented fighters he has let his talent go to waste, and now aged 34 it's hard imagine him getting another world title fight. In fact it seems almost like he has aged out of contention, and that's not much of a surprise given this will be only his 5th bout since 2018! Barrera, on paper, looks a good opponent, but in reality he has he's been beaten in 3 most notable bouts and is a natural Light Flyweight. We suspect Barrera will put up an effort, but natural size will play a part and he'll come undone here against the bigger, more skilful Waseem.
As well as Waseem's bout there is another interesting one as 20 year old Indian fighter Faizan Anwar (9-0, 4) takes a huge leap up in class and takes on Viktor Plotnikov (33-13-0-1, 15). Anwar has shown some promise, but has also had some luck, and was very fortunate this past August when he took a decision over Ricky Sismundo. At his best Plotnikov was a very solid European level fighter, though sadly those days are well behind him and the 44 year old has now lost 10 in a row, leaving him without a win since 2015.