This coming Saturday is a big day for Asian fighters, with two being involved in world title bouts, several notable rematches, and some notable hopefuls from Japan, Philippines and Tajikstan in action.
City Gym, Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
For us the most notable card of the day takes place in Kyoto as we see a major rematch at world level, and two pretty interesting, though easy to over-look, domestic level bouts.
The main event of the card will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Masamichi Yabuki (13-3, 12) make his first defense, as he takes on former champion Kenshiro Teraji (18-1, 10), who is looking to avenge his sole and reclaim the title that he lost last year. The hard hitting Yabuki stopped Kenshiro last year, but did so following a controversial headclash, which lead Kenshiro's team to petition for a rematch, that the WBC decided to order. For Yabuki this is a huge chance to prove that his first win wasn't a fluke, and the headbutt ultimately didn't matter, whilst Kenshiro will be determined to reclaim the title, and prove that he wasn't his usual self during that loss. This is a great bout and one that every fan of the lower weights should be very interested in, especially due to the involvement of DAZN in the lower weights. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Yabuki Vs Kenshiro - The Rematch
In a notable supporting bout Japanese youth Flyweight champion Yuga Inoue (12-2-1, 2) will be facing off with Shota Asami (9-9, 4). On paper this looks likely to be an easy win for Inoue, however he has struggled several times in recent years, and whilst Asami is no world beater. Inoue is a talented fighter, but lacks power, and can be dragged into close and hotly contested bout against fighters over 8 rounds. As for Asami he is better than his record indicates, and can be very much a banana skin for decent domestic fighters, as we've seen in his wins over Sho Omote and Shun Kosaka.
An other support bout is a must win for both men involved as recent Japanese title contender Rikito Shiba (5-2, 3) takes on the once touted Shisui Kawabata (2-3, 2) in a bout that really neither man can afford to lose. Shiba turned professional following a strong amateur background and quickly won the Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title, before losses to Masamichi Yabuki and Shokichi Iwata left his career hanging by a thread. Kawabata on the other hand was regarded as a major prospect when he turned professional in 2019 but has suffered 3 successive losses. Notably not only is this a must win for both men, but also a rematch of a 2019 bout between then, that saw Shiba give Kawabata his first loss, a loss he will be looking to avenge. We don't think this will out-shine the main event, but it will be a very compelling contest in it's own right.
Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The other major show for the day takes place in Dubai, where we get another world title fight, and a very interesting support bout.
The world title bout with see English slickster Sunny Edwards (17-0, 4) hunt his second defense of the IBF Flyweight title as he takes on Pakistani challenger Muhammad Waseem (12-1, 8), who gets his second shot at a world title. The slippery and talented Edwards impressed in his title win last year, dethroning Moruti Mthalane, and has been talking very confidently as if he felt he's the man to beat in the division. Hoepfully he'll get the chance to back up his talk later in the year against a fellow champion. As for Waseem, he was a fantastic fighter as an amateur, and a very capable professional, but at the age of 34 it's hard to see him being competitive with the fleet footed champion, though it Waseem will know it's now or never for his career. Or preview of this bout can be read here Waseem takes on IBF champion Edwards
In one of the main support bouts unbeaten Tajik fighter Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (18-0, 10) will take on in form American O'Shaquie Foster (18-2, 11), in a bout at Super Featherweight. Yaqubov has been making a name for himself in Russia, where he has scored decent wins over the likes of Tomas Rojas, Emanuel Lopez and Mark Urvanov, but has lacked a major win so far and needs a break out win. As for Foster he appears to be on a good run with recent wins over Jon Fernandez, Alberto Mercado and Miguel Roman, though has only fought once since the start of 2020, and is more than a year removed form his last fight, so this might be the ideal time to face him.
Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines
It's not just Japan that will be having rematch, with a notable one in the Philippines between Garen Diagan (8-1, 4) and April Jay Abne (7-1, 3). These two clashed last year with Diagan scoring a notable upset against the wonderfully talented Abne, who was stopped inside a round. For Diagan that's his biggest win so far, and the "Hellboy" will be looking to show he didn't just catch Abne cold, but is the better fighter. As for Abne that was a very embarrassing loss, and one he'll be wanting to avenge and put behind him.
Sadly other details relating to this card are few and far between though we do know the unbeaten 20 year old Bryan James Wild (6-0, 5) will be seeking his next win. Sadly his opponent for this show hasn't been announced yet, and we're not expecting anyone too testing, but it's going to be great to follow his exciting career over the coming years.
Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, Albert Park, Victoria, Australia
At the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre we'll see unbeaten Australian hopeful Kayne Clarke (11-0, 8) looking for his 12th straight win as he takes on Indonesian visitor Agus Kustiawan (18-9-2, 8), who has never won a bout outside of Indonesia and is 0-2 in Australia. Kustiawan is unlikely to pose much of a test for Clarke, but Clarke will likely be wanting to better the 2016 result of Ibrahim Balla, when he stopped the Indonesian in 5 rounds.
The Melbourne Pavilion, Flemington, Victoria, Australia
Staying in Melbourne, there's going to be a pair of bouts of some Asian interest at the Melbourne Pavilion, sadly though both bouts look like easy wins for locals over poor Thai's.
One of the bouts will see Tom Fitzgerald (1-0) seek his second win, as he takes on Thatthakan Samanthong (0-2), in what is a reasonable second bout for the Australian hopeful. The other will be the debut Kha Lu (0-0), who faces win-less 40 year old Prakob Nuankaew (0-2). Hard to complain about bouts like this over 4 rounds, but also very hard to say much more than the obvious, the locals should win, with out too many problems.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
In Malaysia we're expecting to see a bout that was scheduled for back in January, as the unbeaten Adli Hafidz (9-0, 5) takes on Thai veteran Komsan Polsan (40-12-1-1, 26), aka Patomsuk Pathompothong in a bout for the UBO Middleweight title. The 33 year old Hafidz is one of the very, very few noteworthy fighters from Malaysia, and whilst he is a notable local face it's hard to imagine him stepping up to making a mark on the wider regional scene. As for Komsan, he is very under-sized at Middleweight and despite his solid looking record his is 10-10-0-1 in his last 21 bouts, dating back 7 years, including 6 losses by stoppage. It would be a huge surprise to see the 38 year old Thai take home a win here.