Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Let's be honest April started like a month on fire with a lot of action in the first few days of the month, and it's been nice to have a few days to catch our breath. But we're back on April 8th with the next show from Korakuen Hall and it's one that we're really excited about. It features a Japanese title bout, the Japanese debut of a highly regarded prospect and the next bout in the career of a very exciting puncher!
The exciting puncher in question is Yasutaka Fujita (6-1, 6), who came runner up in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year. Since his Rookie run he has fought just 19 seconds, blowing Kensuke Nakamura out last September. Here he will be up against the decent Shun Akaiwa (5-2-1, 3) in a scheduled 6 rounder. Akaiwa started 2020 with a career best win, stopping Kenta Endo, but ended the year having been blitzed in 45 seconds by the destructive Jin Sasaki. We suspect Fujita will try to replicate Sasaki, and this could mean we get a very, very explosive match up. If you're in the venue for this one don't blink!
The prospect making his Japanese debut is Go Hosaka (4-0, 3), who fought his first 4 bouts in the Philippines under the guidance of the now defunct ALA Promotions. Since ALA folded, in 2020, he has signed with Misako in Japan and will be looking to show what he can do as he takes on Kanta Fukui (7-3-1, 5). So far in his career Hosaka has looked like a fantastic prospect, with lovely technical skills, sharp punching and good movement, though he hasn't really had to answer too many questions in his 4 fights so far. Fukui has proven to be a decent fighter on his day, had success in the 2018 Rookie of the Year, pushed Shuma Nakazato close and held Yoji Saito to a draw. He is however 2-2-1 in his last 5 and lacks the technical tools that Hosaka has. For a first fight in Japan this is a genuine test for Hosaka, but one he should pass, albeit one he'll have to work for.
The main event will see Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (23-4-1, 21) make his first defense, following his title win in February 2020, as he takes on the tough Shoki Sakai (25-11-2, 12). The 34 year old champion had sadly been out of the ring for well over a year now and his hopes of securing another big international fight, like his 2016 world title bout with Eduard Troyanovsky, appear to be over. As for Sakai he only made his Japanese debut last August and this will be his third fight on Japanese soil. Aged 30 Sakai is the younger man, but certainly has more miles on the clock and is very much a fighter who has taken significant punishment during his career. The styles here should gel well, with Sakai being a pressure fighter, marching forward and Obara being a rangy boxer, and we expect some genuinely exciting action here. The winner of this likely gets a defense towards the end of the year but for the loser, it's really hard to see where to go, and we suspect retirement may loom if either man gets stopped. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Obara faces Sakai in first Japanese title defense!
Through December every weekend seems to have something of note happening in the wonderful world of Asian boxing.
Thankfully for those who need a bit of a break this coming weekend looks like the best on to take some time to yourself, but is still a pretty interesting weekend with a female world title fight, a Japanese youth title fight and a GAB title fight all coming on Saturday!
The biggest of the shows takes place in Kagoshima, where we see a female world title fight, as well as domestic stalwart take on a Thai visitor and a Rookie of the Year winner taking on an unbeaten Thai puncher.
The world title fight will see Japanese veteran Tenkai Tsunami (26-12-1, 15) make her second defense of the WBO female Light Flyweight title as she takes on Filipino challenger Jessebelle Pagaduan (12-1-1, 5), who gets her third shot at a world title. The 35 year old Tsunami has held this title since March 2018, but has only defended it once due to challenging Naoko Fujioka for the WBA Flyweight title earlier this year, and fighting to a draw in a fantastic 10 round back and forth. Filipino fighter Pagauan, also 35 years old, has failed in 2 other title challenges, both in Japan. In the first she lost to Nao Ikeyama, in a bout for the WBO Atomweight title, before a headclash with Kumiko Seeser Ikehara saw her WBO female Minimumweight title fight end in a technical draw. Although Pagaduan will be hungry, she will be up against it here. Our preview of this bout can be read here Tsunami and Pagaduan clash in WBO world title fight!
In a supporting bout Naoya Haruguchi (15-11, 6), one of the most over-looked fighters in Japan, will take on Thai visitor Sanchai Yotboon (6-3, 6). Although Haruguchi's record is patchy at best his last 4 defeats have come to current Japanese champion Norihito Tanaka, current OPBF champion Lito Dante, former world champion Tatsuya Fukuhara and former world title challenger Riku Kano, and he wasn't embarrassed in any of those bouts. As for Yotboon he is 0-3 in Japan and was actually the debut opponent for Ginjiro Shigeoka in September 2018. Incidentally Yotboon was stopped by another fighter on this card, Sora Takeda, back in April.
Talking about Sora Takeda (5-1, 1) the 2018 Rookie of the Year winner is in an interesting bout of his own as he takes on unbeaten Thai puncher Phanuwit Siriwong (7-0, 6). Since winning Rookie of the Year last December Takeda hasn't really done much, with his sole bout being his 3rd round KO win over Yotboon. The 18 year old Siriwong on the other hand has notched up 6 stoppage wins this year and will be in Japan looking to score his biggest win to date.
A second Japanese show is headlined by a Japanese Youth title bout, as Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2, 4) looks to make his first defense of the Japanese Youth Featherweight title. The under-rated Tonomoto, who suffered early career losses to Shingo Kawamura and Reiya Abe, has won his last 4 and took the title last time out with a decision win over Hikaru Matsuoka. On the other hand the once beaten Ryotaro Motohashi (9-1, 2) is on a 7 fight winning run, including a credible win over Noboru Osato back in April. This isn't a bout that will get much attention but could end up being a very compelling bout for those in Kishiwada. Our preview of this bout can be read here Tonomoto to defend Youth crown against Motohashi!
As well as the action in Japan we're also set for some Filipino action, with the most notable of two Filipino cards coming from Cebu.
Sadly this card isn't a particularly strong one, with the only bout of real interesting being the main event, which will pit the hard hitting Jeo Santisima (18-2, 15) against former OPBF Super Flyweight champion Rene Dacquel (20-9-1, 6). This should be a good test for Santisima, but Dacquel has lost his last 3, and suffered his first stoppage loss last time out. Santisima will be favoured, but this is still a solid test for him at this stage in his career.
In the main support bout Peter Apolinar (10-1, 7) will take on former OPBF title challenger Lloyd Jardeliza (8-10-4, 6). Although Jardeliza did once fight for an OPBF title, way back in December 2015, he has gone 1-5-1 in his last 7 and appears to have essentially given up actually trying to win fights
On the under-card the unbeaten Regie Suganob (3-0, 1) will take on Rolly Dorong (1-1- 2) and Go Hosaka (4-0, 3) takes a good step up in class to battle Boyce Sultan (10-12-1, 5). These bouts will see Hosaka and Suganob fighting their third bout in the space of 5 months, though it's unclear on just how much ALA can really push them at this moment in time.
Metro Manila, Philippines
There will also be a small card in Metro Manila, which will be headlined by a bout between Cris Paulino (20-4, 8) and Mateo Handig (15-20, 9), who clash for the GAB Super Flyweight title. On paper this should be an easy win for Paulino. Although limited the 26 year old dubbed "The King" is a solid fighter on the Filipino scene, and all 4 of his losses have come to fighters above domestic level. On the other hand Handig has picked up just 2 wins since he upset Katsunari Takayama back in 2012, going 2-15 in his last 17. A mismatch to say the least.
This Saturday is a huge one for Asian fight fans with notable bouts taking place on 3 different continents.
New Jersey, USA
The biggest card for us is North America where we see a headlining bout between two established fighters and get a supporting card featuring major Central Asian prospects.
The card is headlined by Dmitry Bivol (14-0, 11)defending his WBA Light Heavyweight title against veteran Jean Pascal (33-5-1-1, 20). The talented Bivol has been busy this year with wins against Sullivan Barrera and Isaac Chilemba and a win over Pascal would see him ending a good year with a big name on his record, albeit a faded force in Pascal. The 36 year old Pascal is well beyond his best, but was competitive with Eleider Alvarez last year and the hope will be for Bivol and Alvarez to face off in 2019. A prime Pascal would have given Bivol a real test, but he's now little more than a name. An in depth preview of this bout can be read here - Can Bivol over-come Pascal in one of the final HBO shows?
One of the prospects on this card is Uzbek sensation Murodjon Akhmadaliev (4-0, 3), who will be looking to make his first defense of the WBA Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title. The unbeaten Akhmadaliev was a former amateur stand out will be up against American foe Isaac Zarate (16-3-3, 2) , who comes into this bout on the back of a 5 fight unbeaten run including wins over Carlos Carlson and Horacio Garcia. This is a good step up for the Uzbek, who's is set to have his fight televised on HBO, and hopefully bigger and better opportunities will come his way in 2019.
One of the other major prospects on this card is the debuting Israil Madrimov (0-0), who looks to instantly announce himself as one to watch, as he takes on Vladimir Hernandez (10-2, 6) in a 10 rounder, on debut. The highly regarded Madrimov is tipped to be a major success, and it seems clear that his team have big expectations for him, putting him in such a tough bout to begin his career. Hernandez might not be a major name but he's a very solid opponent for a debut, and has only lost a couple of close decisions, to Humberto Velazco Torres and Adrian Luna Flores. Not only has Hernandez been competitive with good opponents, but he has scored decent wins over Elco Garcia and Danny Valdivia. This is a serious debut.
Another prospect on this card is 2016 Olympic silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov (5-0, 4), who will be up against the very experienced Miguel Zamudio (41-11-1, 25). The unbeaten Giyasov has been very impressive this year, beating good opponents like Gabor Gorbics, Albert Mensah and Julio Laguna, defeating Laguna at Wembley on a massive international card. Zamudio is a 27 year old Mexican veteran, who debuted back in 2009 and has been ultra-active. Despite being active Zamudio has lost to the notable opponents he's faced, such as Jose Zepeda, Sharif Bogere and Will Tomlinson.
Kazakh Heavyweight Ivan Dychko (7-0, 7) was also scheduled to be on this card, though was pulled in the weeks leading up to the show, without a reason being given.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Another international card with notable action comes from Monaco, where we get a couple bouts involving Asian fighters.
A second unbeaten Chinese fighter on this card is Meng Fanlong (13-0, 8) who goes up against popular Englishman Frank Buglioni (22-3-1, 16). The bout will be Fanlong's first defense of the IBF Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight title, a title he won in October 2017 when he defeated Ammanuel Danso. The Chinese fighter has looked good at times, but has been shown to have a less than amazing chin and although Buglioni is not a world beater, he does have respectable power. If Buglioni lands clean this could be a night to forget for Fanlong, who will be making his Euroipean debut.
Another Olympic medal winner on this card will be 2016 gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov (4-0, 2) of Kazakhstan. The 2016 Olympic champion will be battling against Nicaraguan Marcos Mojica (16-2-2, 12) and this is another good platform for Yeleussinov to shine on, as he did last time out, when he stopped Matt Doherty. If Yeleussinov can continue to develop his style he could become a star, but there is still a long way for him to go. Mojica is the under-dog, but is a live under-dog here.
We were also hoping to see unbeaten Chinese hopeful Zhang Zhilei (20-0, 16) take on veteran Alexander Ustinov (34-2, 25), but that bout was cancelled at late notice due to Zhilei having visa issues in the weeks running up to the fight.
Despite the notable action in the US and Monaco there is actually a stacked card in the Philippines, courtesy of ALA Promotions who are putting on a show with several WBO affiliated titles.
One of those title bouts will feature the hard hitting Jeo Santisima (16-2, 14) making his first defense of the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on Mexican visitor Victor Uriel Lopez (13-6-1, 6). The champion won the title earlier this year, when he stopped Yodsingdaeng Jor Chaijinda and this should be a good defense against a fighter who has proven he can fight on the road. Lopez first came to our attention in 2016, when he upset Ryo Matsumoto, and despite a loss to Matsumoto in a rematch he has remained relevant, with a big win this past August against Antonio Tostado. We're expecting an interesting bout here.
Another title bout on this card will see the once beaten Albert Pagara (30-1, 21) make his first defense of the WBO Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on Ghanaian puncher George Krampah (14-3, 12). On paper this looks dangerous for Pagara, but the visitor has been stopped in 2 of his last 3 bouts, and he lacks any win of note. This is a great chance for Pagara to make his first defense, and we suspect his aim will be on stopping Krampah in under 4 rounds, to try and beat the result Isaac Dogboe had against him.
In one of the major supporting bouts we'll see former world title challengers face off with Jonas Sultan (14-4, 9) taking on Ardin Diale (34-12-4, 16). Sultan failed to shine in his recent world title fight with Jerwin Ancajas, but he is a talented fighter and will be wanting to bounce back from that setback. A win over would certainly help him go into 2019 with some momentum. As for Diale his record has been patchy recently, though he has mixed with top quality fighters such as Daigo Higa, Moruti Mthlane and Andrew Selby. We suspect Sultan's youth will get him over the line here, but this could be more competitive than the records suggest.
Sultan isn't the only former world title challenger on this show as the once touted Arthur Villanueva (32-3, 18) looks to rebuild his career after his loss earlier this year to Luis Nery. Villanueva will be up against countryman Carlo Demecillo (11-5, 5) who is less than 2 years removed from a brutal KO loss to Satoshi Shimizu. He is 5-1 (4) since that loss, but this is a big step back up in class and is certainly his toughest bout since the Shimizu bout. Hard to see anything but a win for Villanueva, but he will have to work for it.
Unbeaten prospect KJ Cataraja (8-0, 7) takes a step up as he faces Victor Hugo Reyes (9-1-1, 7) for the WBO Youth Super Flyweight title. Cataraja is widely regarded as one of the top Filipino prospects but hasn't yet had the opponents to really show what he's capable of. This is a good chance to Cataraja to prove what he can do and potentially convince his team to give him better match ups in the new year. Reyes is a live fighter, but his record doesn't have much quality on it, with his most notable bout being his loss to Ricardo Rafael Sandoval back in March. Reyes will travel to win, and should give Cataraja a good teat, but one that we expect Cataraja to pass.
Japanese prospect Go Hosaka (1-0, 1), who is signed with ALA Promotions, will be having his second professional bout. The talented former amateur stand out will be up against the hard hitting but limited Jason Tinampay (8-11-1, 7). Hosaka is a real talent and ALA may well have a future world champion on their hands here, if they manage his career properly. At this stage putting him in with Tinampay seems a good choice. Tinampay was once a dangerous fighter, but has gone 1-10-1 since a 7-1 start to his career.
We see yet more prospects in Canada, where two Kazakh hopefuls will be looking to extend their unbeaten records.
One of those prospects is the very talented Sadriddin Akhmedov (4-0, 4), who goes up against the experienced Jose Francisco Zuniga (14-11-2, 5). On paper this is a slight step up in class for Akhmedov, who has stopped his first 4 opponents in a combined 8 rounds, but one he should manage without any issues. It's worth noting Zuniga has only been stopped once in his 11 losses, but we feel he will have to put in a real survival effort to hear the final bell here.
The other is prospects is 24 year old Nurzat Sabirov (7-0, 6), who a huge step up in class to battle Rocky Montoya (32-2, 22). Sabirov is tipped to be a star, like many of the Kazakh's currently based in Canada , and has looked very promising since his debut in June 2017. This is however a step up and Montoya has only been stopped once, by the under-rated David Lopez. Whilst Montoya is a test on paper it's hard to know how good he is given that, for the most part, his competition has been dreadful. We suspect Montoya's record will be exposed here by the talented Kazakh.
In less notable action we'll see Filipino Adam Diu Abdulhamid (13-6, 5) look to build on a recent big win in China, over Youli Dong. The under-rated Filipino will be facing off with Australian Joel Camilleri (15-5-1, 7) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Welterweight title, which is currently vacant. Although relatively unknown Abdulhamid is a very good fighter and seems happy fighting on the road, despite bein 1-3 outside of the Philippines. Camilleri has won just 1 of his last 3 fights, and really lacks a good wins, but was competitive with Dwight Richie last time out, and is better than his record suggests. This looks like it could be a very interesting match up.
This coming Saturday is set to be a huge day for Asian boxing, with a number of fighters taking place across a number of shows. This includes a big bout in Mexico, a pair of shows in China and a pretty notable card in the Philippines.
Nuevo León, Mexico
One of the Mexican fights takes place in Nuevo León and will see former IBF and WBO Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr (27-4-1, 19) battle against former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (13-2-1, 9) in a contest for the for Rodriguez's WBC Latino Silver Super Flyweight title. The Mexican is best remembered for his incredible 2014 bout with Katsunari Takayama but since then has gone 9-2-1 and moved up from Minimumweight to Super Flyweight, which doesn't appear to have suited him quite as well as the smaller divisions. Tobe was once one of the most touted prospects in Japan, and although he has failed to reach the expectations many had for him, this is a great chance to make a mark and put himself in the mix for a world title fight.
Of the actual shows in Asia the most notable is an ALA promoted card in Leyte.
The main event of the card will see the hard hitting Jeo Santisima (15-2, 13) take on Thai foe Yodsingdaeng Jor Chaijinda (16-5, 10) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title. The heavy handed Santisima has won his last 13 in a row, with 12 stoppage, and we expect to see him continue that run here. Despite that this isn't a foregone conclusion and Yodsingdaeng is a credible foe, with his only loss since 2015 coming in a decision to Juan Martin Elorde. This should be a good test for Santisima.
In the co-feature we'll see the touted Albert Pagara (29-1, 20) battle against Laryea Gabriel Odoi (20-3-2, 14), with this bout being for the WBO Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title. Pagara has been rebuilding well since his 2016 loss to Cesar Juarez, but on paper this bout is a step from his last 3 contests, all of which were pretty straight forward wins for the Filipino. Odoi, from Ghana, began his career by losing his first 2 bouts, and was 1-1-2 after 4 contests, but has rebuilt well with 19 wins from his following 21 bouts. Despite being a step up for Pagara from recent opponents we're not expecting the Filipino to come up short here, but he will be forced to work for his win.
In main supporting bouts we have two former world title challengers in action. One of those is Melvin Jerusalem (12-2, 7), who takes on fellow Filipino Philip Luis Cuerdo (10-4-1, 4) in what looks like an interesting match up. Jerusalem impressed in a narrow loss to Wanheng Menayothin, for the WBC Minimumweight title, but a loss to Joey Canoy last year does leave us wondering if he has the fire to prove himself. Cuerdo should be able to test Jerusalem here, but he been stopped in 2 of his last 3, and it would be a shock to see him pick up a victory over the former world title challenger.
The other former world title challenger on this card is Arthur Villanueva (31-3, 17), who has twice come up short when fighting for a world title. The technically well schooled Villanueva who has lost to McJoe Arroyo, Zolani Tete and Luis Nery, will be strongly favoured to pick up a win here as he take on domestic foe Renren Tesorio (16-12-3, 4).
Albert Pagara's older brother Jason Pagara (40-3-1, 25) is also on this card, and will be battling against Geisler Ap (12-10-1, 9). The 29 year old Pagara once promised so much but has disappointed in recent contests, including a draw with James Onyango and a loss last time out to Hiroki Okada. Despite those set backs it's hard to imagine Ap having much to test the Filipino.
The card is also set to see the debut of former Japanese stand out Go Hosaka (0-0), who will battle Holly Quinones (3-9-1, 1) in a “special attraction” bout. The 21 year old Hosaka signed with ALA not too long back and is tipped for big things. Despite this being his debut it's hard to imagine Hosaka losing to a fighter like Quinones, who has been stopped in 7 of his 9 losses.
On one Chinese show fight fans will see IBF female Minimumweight Zongju Cai (10-1, 1) battle against Mexico's Ana Victoria Polo (7-2, 1) for the IBO Female Minimumweight title. The Chinese fighter is looking to become a double champion, though from what is being reported won't be risking her IBF title here. Despite not risking her own title Cai will be strongly fancied here, and she is a genuine talent who is quickly become the face of female boxing in China. Aged 36 Polo is a fighter who has fought just once in the last 18 months and is unlikely to have the speed or skills match the local favourite.
The other title bout in China will see former world title contender Qiu Xiao Jun (21-4, 10) battle against the once beaten Petch Kokietgym (32-1, 5) in a contest for the OPBF “silver” Super Bantamweight title. The Chinese fighter hasn't fought since December 2016, when he suffered his second loss to Nehomar Cermeno, but will be favoured here against the very limited Petch. On paper the Thai looks a good fighter but his competition has been horrific so far and it's hard to image he has anything to test Jun with, even if Jun is rusty. Interestingly the winner of this will move towards a potential show down with Hidenori Otake.