This coming Friday is set to be an incredibly busy day for Asian fight fans, with cards of note taking place in Japan, Thailand, Russia and Tanzania. The days also has a nice mix of rising youngsters looking to make their way in the sport, a veteran looking for his 98th professional win, and several contenders also in action.
Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California, USA
We'll start not in Asia but in the US, where rising Uzbek sensation Bektemir Melikuziev (5-0, 4) will be defending his WBA Continental America's Super Middleweight title against Mexican challenger Alan Campa (17-5, 11). This, in reality, should be little more than a stay busy bout for the talented Uzbek, who looks set to become a star in the coming years. Sadly the "Bully" hasn't been as active as we'd have liked, though given how 2020 has been we are glad we're going to see him get a run out here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
One of the many cards comes from Korakuen Hall, and will be made available on demand on Boxing Raise. The card has several good looking bouts on it, and several others worthy of note.
the best of the bouts on this one will see rising Japanese Lightweight Shu Utsuki (6-0, 5) look for win #7 as he takes on Takayuki Sakai (9-2-2, 6). The heavy handed Utsuki had a great 2019, scoring 4 stoppages, but has been out of the ring since October 2019, and has lost much of the momentum he had. As for Sakai he's no push over, and scored a notable 2018 win over Amphol Suriyo, aka Pharanpetch Tor Buamas, but has gone 1-1 since then. We expect Utsuki to come out on top here, but it should be a very, very fun bout.
Another unbeaten man on this card will be Ryo Nakai (1-0-1, 1), who looks for his second professional win as he takes on Mirai Naito (8-1, 3). Nakai turned professional last year with some solid amateur credentials but was held to a draw in a tough debut, before picking up his first win in November. He has the amateur background but Naito has the blood line, with his father, Cassius Naito, and brother, Rikki Naito, both being notable fighters. Naito also has the edge in professional experience and has notched 3 wins since his solitary loss. We expect this one to be the hidden gem of the show.
In a female bout the unbeaten Sayo Segawa (1-0, 1) will be up against Natsuki Tarui (3-6-2). The talented Segawa ran up over 30 wins in the amateurs and placed 3rd in an All Japan amateur tournament before turning professional last year and looking good on her debut. Sadly she's been out of the ring for a year as we enter this bout and her career has clearly stalled before it's even got going. Tarui on the other hand is a 29 year old domestic level fighter who isn't expected to go far, but should serve as a good opponent to help Segawa shake some ring rust and get back up to speed.
Rangsit International Stadium, Rangsit, Thailand
Over in Thailand we get a small show featuring two notable names, and a promising youngster. Sadly however it's hard to get invested in this show.
The main event will see the young, and somewhat unproven, Kittithat Ungsrivongs (16-1, 9) fight for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Super Featherweight title. Sadly his opponent is the win-less Omar El Ouers (0-1-1). Kittithat, also known as Wanchana Menayothin is only 21, so it's harsh to complain too much about an easy bout, but he's been a professional for almost 4 years now and is still fighting very limited opposite. Notably El Ouers did fight to a draw last time out with Kongfah CP Freshmart, but Kongfah is very much a Super Flyweight, and El Ouers success there is unlike to carry up to 130lbs.
Talking about Kongfah CP Freshmart (33-1-1, 16) he will also be on the card, along with Petch Sor Chitpattana (57-1, 42). Sadly however neither man has had their opponent made clear at the time of writing. Given how Petpiya fights go, and how these two have been matched previously, we don't really expect anything exciting for either man.
PTA Hall, Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania
On the subject of Thai's it's worth noting that former 2-weight world champion Sirimongkol Singwancha (97-4, 62) is also scheduled for action, albeit in Tanzania, where he is set to face local fighter Twaha Kassimu Rubaha (15-6-1, 8) for the WBC Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title. Despite once being a brilliant fighter Sirimongkol is now a 43 year old, former blown up Bantamweight with over 100 bouts to his name and is not the fighter he once was. Although Rubaha is moving up in weight for this bout he is the naturally bigger man, and the much younger man, and we think those advantages will take him to victory here.
USC Soviet Wings, Moscow, Russia
In Moscow we have some fighters from Central Asia in action.
The most notable of the Central Asian fighters in action here is Kazakh female fighter Firuza Sharipova (11-1, 6), who has often received a lot of media attention but appears to be under-the-radar for this fighter, likely due to the backlash her last bout had. The frustrating Kazakh will be up against Serbian fighter Sara Marjanovic (7-7, 3), who's record is very padded thanks to 5 successive wins against very low level opposition. This should be an easy win for Sharipova,
Another central Asian fighter on this show is 26 year old Kyrgyzstan fighter Turat Osmonov (3-0, 3), who looks for his next win as he takes on the win-less Mutrib Karambakhshov (0-3), a Russian based Tajik. Really is hard to get too excited about this one, though we have liked what we have seen of Osmonov and hopefully he will be stepped up in his next fight or two.
This coming Saturday is a busy day for fight fans wanting to follow Asian fighters, with shows in Japan, China, Russia and the US all needing to be mentioned. For us it's the Japanese show that's the most interesting, though both of the Russian shows have the potential to be very good shows, even if the Asian bouts aren't the biggest.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese show will be held at Korakuen Hall and will see Boxing Raise return for their first live stream since February. The event isn't a massive card, but is a very noteworthy one, with a tournament final, a former world title challenger and a former Japanese champion involved.
The main event will see Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6) and Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) clash in the final of the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament. Both men have had to dig deep, and notch an upset or two along the way to get here. Neither man was favoured to reach the final and both men had to battle hard knowing a tournament win would be a massive boost to their career's. Originally this bout was planned for much earlier in the year, though due to the on-going situation it has been pushed back and back. On paper Watanabe will be the favourite, but the negative style of Kusano could really give him fits in an intriguing match up.
In the main support bout we'll see former world title challenger Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18) take on the talented, but light punching, Shohei Kawashima (18-4-2, 4). On paper this is a must win bout for the 33 year old Wake, who was upset last year by Jhunriel Ramonal and desperately needs to make a statement, if he's to get a second world title shot. Kawashima is a talented fighter, but has gone 3-3 in his last 6 and was stopped last time out by Hiroaki Teshigawara. Despite being talented we don't really expect to see him holding his own with Wake here, who is fringe world class, despite the loss to Ramonal last year.
A third bout worthy of note will see former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-6, 18) face off with George Tachibana (8-4, 2). Tsuchiya is looking to pick a win following a loss in February, in what was a big upset against Shogo Yamaguchi, though it seems likely his glory days are gone and he isn't anything like the fighter he once was. As for Tachibana, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2018, the bout will be a chance for him to rebuild following a blow out loss in December to Tomoki Takada, in what was also a notable upset.
Fenghuang Streat commercial square, Changsha, China
Action continues to trickle through form China with another small card, this time in Changsha. Like many of the other recent Chinese cards this is packed with novices, including 8 debutants from the 14 bouts.
With so many debutants on the show we only actually have a single bout not featuring a debutant and that's the 6 round main event between Sheng Peng (4-6-1, 2) and Xing Xie (1-5, 1). Although it's the main event we aren't expecting anything too excited here from fighters who have little power and little in terms of form. Still there maybe a diamond in the rough on the under-card for those who are going to tune in here.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Over in Russian we'll see unbeaten Kazakh born Russian hopeful Stanislav Kalitskiy (10-0, 3) look to extend his unbeaten record as he takes on 25 year old Russian southpaw Dmitrii Khasiev (9-2-2, 3) in a 10 round. Kalitskiy has looked talented but lacked power and that may be an issue when he steps up in class, and takes on imposing fighters. Here however w edon't see it being an issue. Khasiev appears to be a solid professional, but it would be his biggest win if he was to take a victory here.
Pyramide, Kazan, Russia
On a second Russian show is the enigmatic Kazakh fighter Firuza Sharipova (10-1, 5), who takes on Tanzania's Happy Daudi (8-6-1, 4) in a contest for the IBA female Light Welterweight title. Although talented Sharipova is a frustrating fighter to follow, and seems to be more of a celebrity in Kazakhstan than a boxer now a days. This will be her first bout since April 2019, since which she has retired, had a child, and decided to return to the sport. Daudi on the other hand has never fought out of Tanzania and has never scored a win over a fighter with a win.
Whilst Sharipova should be criticised for her competition we do wonder what on earth is going on in the IBA to allow this to be for their "world" title. Disgraceful.
Bonita Springs Elks Lodge, Bonita Springs, Florida, USA
In the US Azeri born fighter Fardi Pashazade (2-0, 2) will look to score his third win. The unbeaten, but untested, Pashazade will be up against Daniel Mitchell (0-2) in what looks like a third straight meaningless bout for the Azeri. So far Pashazade has blown out his first two opponents in double quick time and Mitchell has been stopped in both of his bouts. Worse than the stoppages for Mitchell is the fact he's not fought in almost 3 years. This really is an exercise in pointlessness for the 31 year old Pashazade.
This coming Saturday is set to be a busy day for fans of Asian boxing with bouts involving Asian fighters taking place in 3 different continents. Although not of the bouts are massive we do have several very notable contests taking place.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
The two most notable fights both take place on a Matchroom Show in Tulsa, where we see two top Uzbek fighters each taking the next step forward in their career's.
The more promising of of the Uzbek's on this show is the sensational Israil Madrimov (5-0, 5), who faces off with American veteran Eric Walker (20-2, 9) in a WBA Light Middleweight world title eliminator. The talented Madrimov is stepping up slightly here, but the general feeling is he will be too good, too powerful, too heavy handed, too quick, and too accurate for Walker. The American has never been stopped, but at the age of 37 he is probably beyond his physical best and Madimov will be looking to make a statement. Saying that however Walker has scored good wins in recent years, including wins over John Jackson and John Thompson in 2018, as part of "The Contender". Madrimov should win without many problems, but he really can't afford to over-look Walker, who will look to ask him serious questions and could be his first real test as a professional.
The second Uzbek fighter on this card is Olympic Silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov (9-0, 7), who will be up against Francisco Hernandez Rojo (22-3, 15). The unbeaten Giyasov, dubbed the "Wonder Boy", had some problems last year when he faced Emanuel Taylor, in a surpisingly competitive bout. Since then he has scored a blow out over Darley's Perez, but there are a lot of questions for him to still answer. Giyasov will be looking to shine again here, but Rojo is no push over and he gave Ryan Martin hell in 2017, losing a controversial split decision to the then unbeaten Martin. Sadly for those expecting a truly competitive match up it is worth noting that Rojo hasn't fought in 3 years and will almost certainly be rusty coming into this one.
Daytona Beach, Florida, USA
Staying in the US there is also a bout featuring unbeaten Kazakh Nikolay Shvab (4-0, 3) pencilled in to take place in Flordia. Sadly Shvab is being matched softly as he is scheduled to take on win-less Brazilian Marcello Williams (0-5), who has already lost 3 times this year. We understand match making is harder right now, but what is the point here? Shvab has already picked up 4 wins against very limited opponents and this type of match making isn't doing his development any favours at all.
WoW Arena, Krasnaya Polyana, Russia
Over in Russia we get more interesting action, with two more central Asian fighters.
On bout will see talented Russian prospect Albert Batyrgaziev (1-0, 1) take on unbeaten Russian based Kyrgyzstan fighter Erzhan Turgumbekov (8-0-1, 2). This is gutsy and exciting match making from Batyrgaziev's team, especially given he's fighting well above his natural weight, though the belief is that he's a special talent. It's fair to say that Batyrgaziev's record is somewhat under-whelming, but he does hold a very good win over Heorhii Lashko, and showed enough in that one bout to suggest he's one to watch. This could be the hidden gem for the if we're being honest and certainly looks like it could be a lot more interesting than many would assume.
Also on this card is the enigmatic Kazakh fighter Firuza Sharipova (10-1, 5), who takes on Tanzania's Happy Daudi (8-6-1, 4) in a contest for the IBA female Light Welterweight title. Although talented Sharipova is a frustrating fighter to follow, and seems to be more of a celebrity in Kazakhstan than a boxer now a days. This will be he first bout since April 2019, since which she has retired, had a child, and decided to return to the sport. Daudi on the other hand has never fought out of Tanzania and has never scored a win over a fighter with a win.
Whilst Sharipova should be criticised for her competition we do wonder what on earth is going on in the IBA to allow this to be for their "world" title. Disgraceful.
OB Boxing Gymansium, Busan, South Korea
In Asia we get action thanks to a South Korean card. This is a small, card and in reality there is little to get excited about.
One of the man bouts on the card will see Dae Young Lee (2-13-2) take on Min Guk Ju (5-3, 2) in a 6 rounder, which will actually serve as a rubber match between the two men. Coming in to this Lee has failed to win any of his last 9 bouts, with 7 losses and 2 draws. Interestingly Lee beat Ju back in 2017, Gu avenged that loss in 2018 and we now get this third meeting between the two men. This isn't worth getting excited about, but it is interesting to note the history between the two men.
One other 6 rounder on here will see Jun Gyu Oh (4-2, 3) take on the once beaten Moo Hyun Kim (4-1, 1), in what should be a much better and more competitive bout that then the other 6 rounder. Kim is a pretty notable fighter, having twice picked up wins over in Japan, where he has beaten Hironori Shigeta and George Tachibana, so is worth mentally noting. Oh on the other hand will be taking on his most experienced and notable foe so far.
This coming Sunday attention turns to Wakayama for a small card, featuring some young talent. On paper this is a very easy show to over-look but there are certainly some fighters on it worthy of some attention.
The most notable fighter involved on this show is 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Yuri Takemoto (6-1-1, 3), who seeks his second win of 2019 as he takes on Indonesian foe Kiki Marciano (1-3). Coming in to this Takemoto has won his last 5, including taking the Featherweight Rookie of the Year crown last December Hikari Mineta, and will be flying high with confidence. The 34 year old Marciano was in Japan last year, when he was stopped in 2 rounds by Koshin Takeshima, and we wouldn't be surprised by him being stopped again here.
Another Rookie king on this show is 2015 Super Featherweight Rookie of the Year Retsu Kosaka (9-4, 3), who takes on Indonesian foe Anshori Anhar Pitulay (9-17-2, 6). Kosaka won his first 7 bouts in a row but has since gone 2-4 and looks like his ceiling is less high than many expected. Saying that however it is worth noting that 1 of those 2 wins came over the very fast rising Ryo Sagawa. The 33 year old Pitulay has suffered 15 stoppage losses so far through his career and we're expecting his 16th stoppage to come here, especially given that he has been stopped in 5 of his last 6 bouts.
A third bout on this card worthy of some note will see Taichi Sugimori (7-5, 2) battle against Wataru Ikegami (6-4-1, 3) in what looks like a competitive match up. Neither of these men are likely to make a big name for themselves but this match up, by it's self, is a solid and competitive one. Between them both have been beaten by their better opposition, though it is worth noting that Sugimori does hold a very good win over Dynamic Kenji from back in 2017, in what is the best either man has so far.
In Russia we'll see a rematch between Kazakh Firuza Sharipova (10-1, 5) and Russian Yuliya Kutsenko (7-1-1, 3), with Sharipova looking to score her second win over Kutsenko. Shripova gets a lot of attention in the Kazakh press, though much of it is to do with her looks rather than her boxing skill, but she doesn't seem to have the desire to really make the mark that her media suggest. It's hard to see anything but a win for Sharipova, but it's really time she started to take her boxing career seriously and take on serious challengers, rather people she has already beaten and second rate foes.
As with the last few years this year is set to end with a spate of Japanese action. The first of two big shows to end 2017 is in Yokohama, where Ohashi and Fuji TV put on an interesting looking show.
The main event of this year closer will be the end in the latest chapter of Naoya Inoue's (14-0, 12) career, as he makes his 7th, and likely final, defense of the WBO Super Flyweight title. The talented Japanese fighter had been ruining out of willing opponents and will close 2017 with a bout against the inform Frenchman Yoan Boyeaux (41-4, 26). On paper it looks good but the reality is that this is a huge step up in class and likely serves as a dummy run for the “Monster” before he moves up to Bantamweight in pursuit of a third divisional world title.
A second world title bout on this show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (11-0, 5) make his second defense, as he goes up against confident Panamanian visitor Gilberto Pedroza (18-3-2, 8), who fights in his first world title bout. The talented Ken Shiro has had a career defining year with wins over Ganigan Lopez and Pedro Guevara and closing out the year with a third win would, in fairness, put him on the fringes of the Fighter of the Year shortlist. As for Pedroza this is a huge opportunity to claim a world title and make a name for himself ahead of the near year.
A third title bout on this card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (4-0, 4) make his first defense as he looks to move towards a world title fight. The talented Japanese fighter, who came to international attention in 2012 when he claimed a Bronze medal at the London Olympics, will be up against Filipino challenger Eduardo Mancito (15-7-2, 9). The champion won the title in impressive fashion earlier this year, when he stopped Korean Sa Myung Noh and is expected to make an easy first defense here. Although limited Mancito is tough and is expected to get some rounds out Shimizu, who can prove whether his power is legitimate or not here.
In one of the leading support bouts Takuma Inoue (9-0, 2) will take on 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (27-8, 15), in what looks likely to be a mismatch. The talented Takuma was supposed to fight for a world title a year ago, but an injury ruled him out and he now seems to be trying to get back to fully fitness and shake off any ring rust before moving back into the world title picture. Masuda is an exciting fighter, but with recent stoppage losses to Shohei Omori and Mark John Yap his limitations have been shown, and he's a fun but crude fighter who should be easily out boxed by Inoue.
A third Inoue on this card is the fast rising Koki Inoue (9-0, 8), who takes on Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (8-1-2, 3). The Korean enters the bout as the Korean Light Welterweight champion and an OPBF ranked fighter and it's clear that Inoue is chasing titles, with this bout potentially opening the door for an OPBF title fight in 2018. Inoue has been very impressive, very exciting and very aggressive since his debut however the Korean has never been stopped, looks to be tough and durable and will not have travelled to just roll over to Inoue.
Also on this card as Ohashi novices Katsuya Yasuda (1-0, 1) and Kazuki Nakajima (2-0, 2), who will both be in 6 rounders and will be looking to have big 2018's.
A second Asian show will take place in Kazakhstan where we get a number of interesting, though lower key bouts.
One of the key bouts from the show will see once beaten Kazakh hopeful Firuza Sharipova (7-1, 4) battle against Belgian fighter Djemilla Gontaruk (13-4-1, 2) in a bout for the WBC silver Female Super Featherweight title. The bout looks like a good one on paper, but coming in to this the Kazakh has won 7 in a row whilst Gonturak has lost against every notable opponent she has faced, including a loss last time out to Ramon Kuehne and her wins have been against very limited foes.
Another title bout on this card will see Aidyn Yelzhanov (4-0, 3) take on Sergey Dudinsky (4-1, 3) for a WBC regional title at Super Bantamweight. The 24 year old Yelzhanov has impressed so far,but has been fighting at a very liw level and will have to show something new to over-come the hungry Dudinsky, who has won his last two.
One other bout of note will be the home coming, of sorts, for Light Heavyweight prospect Ali Akhmedov (10-0, 7), who takes on Ismat Eynullayev (12-2, 8). Akhmedov has fought 5 of his last 6 outside of Kazakhstan, where he is incidentally 5-0 (5), and will be looking to put on a show here. Eynullayev, from Azerbaijan, has won his last 3 but will not be expected to put up much of a challenge against the home town hero.
In the Russian capital fan will be able to see Russian Uzbek Ulugbek Khakberdiev (4-0, 2) look to build on his solid 2017 as he takes on Ugandan puncher Med Sebyala (17-10-1, 14). The unbeaten Kazakh has gone under the radar this year, despite stopping Dmitry Sukhotsky in September and looks to end his year with a 5th straight win. The 37 year old Sebyala has lost 2 of his last 3, but does appear to be a legitimate puncher and could chin check the powerful Kazakh.