This coming Saturday isn't a huge day of boxing in terms of quality, but there is actually quite a lot to talk about, with former world champions and promising hopefuls in action, and with fighters competing as far afield as Tijuana and Victoria.
Metro Manila, Philippines
The most notable show, for us at least, comes from Metro Manila, where we see a host of minor title bouts, and a clash between two former world champions.
The main event of this card will see former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11) take on former WBO Minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo (27-7-1, 13), in what must be viewed as a must win bout. The rugged Kimura didn't look his usual self last time out, losing to Carlos Canizales but will be strongly favoured over Sabillo, who has lost his last 3 and is moving up to Flyweight for the contest.
Way up the scales we'll see Cambodian Heavyweight Eric Pen (5-0, 4) defending his WBA Asia title against Indonesian veteran Alexander Bajawa (43-10-4, 16). Pen is not going to be competing on the world stage, but could be in the mix to face the top fighters from around Asia in the coming years. Bajawa on the other hand is an under-sized and under-powered fighter who fought as low as Bantamweight earlier in his career. Bajawa has gone 2-8 in his last 10, and we suspect this will be another loss for the 37 year old.
In a bout that looks more interesting than it is Vietnamese hopeful Dinh Hoang Truong (1-0, 1) will face off with Thailand's Yuttana Wongda (14-25, 10) for the WBA Asia Super Middleweight title. Truong made his debut last May, with an opening round win, and on paper it looks good that he's fighting for a title this early. Sadly however Wongda is a blown up former Lightweight who has been stopped 17 times in his 25 loses. This shouldn't be a problem for the Indonesian novice.
Another horrific mismatch on this card will see Korean veteran Hee Jung Yuh (22-3, 11) take on Thai novice Kanyanat Chotchun (2-1, 1). The bout, for the WBC International female Super Flyweight title, should be a very easy win for the talented Korea, and we wouldn't be surprised by an early stoppage for the 40 year old Korean fighter.
On a different Filipino show we'll see Roberto Gonzales (28-6, 17) and Jason Egera (24-22-2, 11) clash in an 8 round bout. On paper this looks like a mismatch, but in reality it could be a lot more competitive than it looks. The 29 year old Gonzales has been stopped in 4 of his last 5 and has just a single win in the last 3 years. Egera is no world beater but he has been a banana skin in the past, and could be slip in another upset here, as he did in 2017 against Glenn Suminguit.
Back to mismatches! In Australia fans will see the world class Susie Ramadan (27-3, 12) take on Filipino visitor Gretel de Paz (6-5-2, 2) in a bout for the WIBA Super Flyweight title. In recent weeks we've ranted about mismatches for titles and this is another case where the title body involved, in this case WIBA, need to take a look at themselves. Whilst Ramadan hasn't fought in over a year she is still a world-class fighter and we expect to see that here. On the other hand de Paz I 1-2-2 in her last 5, and doesn't have the natural size or power to hold her own with Ramadan. Come on WIBA you can do better for "world" title fights!
Also in action is unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Ablaikhan Khussainov (10-0, 7), who will be fighting Mexico where he will take on local foe Mauro Loreto (20-10-2, 8). The unbeaten Khussainov began his career in China, fought 8 bouts in Canada and was last seen in Kazakhstan, and this will be his Mexican debut. Loreto shouldn't serve as much of a test here, and he is 3-5 in his last 8 bouts.
Gimhae, South Korea
The most notable show of the day comes from Korea, where the we get top Korean female fighter making a defense of one of her titles.
The aforementioned female fighter is Hee Jung Yuh (20-3, 10), who will be defending her WBF Intercontinental Female Super Flyweight title against Thai foe Saowaluk Nareepangsri (7-14, 1). Yuh is an interesting and skilled fighter, though she is well below elite level, and her only loss in the last 10 years has come to Naoko Fujioka. Despite only losing once in 10 years her competition, Fujioka aside, has been appalling. Saowaluk has lost her last 5, including 3 by stoppage. She's very much a fight who will travel to pick up a loss, and that seems to be the case again here as she returns to Korea for the fourth time in her career, still seeking her first win in the country.
There will also be a bout featuring Seung Ho Lee (4-0, 4). Lee will battle for the WBF Asia Pacific Welterweight title as he takes on Thai visitor Girapan Boonpeng (4-1, 4), who was last seen losing inside a round to Rivo Kundimang in Indonesia in November. We'll get a chance to compare Lee to Kundimang, but that's about the only thing this bout will actually do.
As well as the title action in Korea there will also be a small, yet noteworthy, card in Osaka featuring two bouts of interest.
In a bout that genuinely excites us we'll see the inform Dynamic Kenji (10-3, 7) take on the once touted Naoto Iwai (5-2, 3). Coming in to this Kenji has won his last 5 by stoppage, including big wins over Futa Akizuki and Shota Kawaguchi. That winning run has taken him from 5-3 to 10-3 and he's quickly climbing up the rankings towards a potential title fight. Iwai was tipped highly as a prospect from Hyogo but the youngster suffered back to back defeats in 2017 and he's yet to really recover from those set backs. He's notched a couple of wins over Thai's since suffering his defeats but this is a clear step up, and it feels like Morioka will be looking to see if he sinks or swims against someone as good as Kenji.
The other bout of note will see 2016 Rookie of the Year runner up Hibiki Jogo (7-2, 4) take on Tricky Kumagai (9-8, 6). The 25 year old Jogo was stopped in 4 rounds in the Rookie of the Year final and was also stopped last time out, by Yoshihiro Utsumi, suggesting that perhaps he's lacking in durability. Kumagai has also been stopped, in fact 4 of his 8 losses have been inside the distance, and he is 2-6 in his last 8, meaning he can ill afford another loss here. This isn't a massive fight for the Japanese domestic scene, but is massive for both fighters, who will have a long road to climb if they come up short here.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines fans get a small card, expected to be headlined by the unbeaten Marlon Paniamogan (8-0-1, 5) taking on Jimmy Borbon (7-6-4, 4). This is a less than great match up, but the card looks like it will feature a bunch of more recognisable names.
Listed for the show are Wilbert Berondo (12-3-2, 5), Juan Miguel Elorde (26-1, 14), Arvin Magramo (8-1-1, 5) and Delmar Pellio (5-0, 3). Sadly none of those fighters have had their opponents named at the time of writing.
Kazakh fans get the chance to end the year on a high with a number of their fighters in action on a special card promoted by the Astana Arlans and Qazaq Promotions. The show will be free to attend, but sadly the level of bouts is a bit of a mystery.
Whilst full details on this card haven't been announced we do know that is it will feature Aidar Sharibayev (7-1, 6), Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (14-0-1, 5), Askhat Ualikhanov (4-1, 2), Ablaikhan Khussainov (9-0, 6) and Ruslan Myrsataev (5-0, 5), all of whom likely to be up against limited opponents in what we suspect will be little more than show case bouts.
This coming Sunday we see action all across Asia in one of the busiest days of the year so far.
The main action for the day comes from Kumamoto in Japan, where fight fans get the chance to see a local star attempt to open the doors to some major fights.
That local star is the unheralded Tatsuya Fukuhara (18-4-6, 7) who faces Mexican Moises Calleros (25-6-1, 14) in a bout for the WBO Interim Minimumweight title, with the winner set to get a fight at regular champion Katsunari Takayama later in the year. Fukuhara has come a long way since suffering a defeat to the the debuting Takuma Inoue in 2013 and has gone 6-0-3 with wins over Takumi Sake and Genki Hanai to earn this shot, as well as draws with Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and Shin Ono. Although Fukuhara is one of Japan's hidden gems he will be stepping up here to face a Mexican who is riding high following a win over Mario Rodriguez. Interesting Calleros has fought as high as 120 recently and will be fighting at 105lbs for the first time in over 7 years, so he's likely to be bigger and stronger that Fukuhara. Notably the Mexican has suffered a few poor losses and will be fighting outside of his homeland for the first time.
On the under-card we'll see Japanese and OPBF ranked Light Welterweight Ryusei Yoshida (29-8, 15) take on limited Thai Lekker Bangkok 2007 (0-3), in what should be an easy win for Yoshida. The Thai visit or has been stopped in all3 of his previous bouts, including loss last June to then debuting Kazuki Saito.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
In Cotabato del Sur we'll get a notable Filipino card.
One of those title bouts will see Lolito Sonsona (20-1-4, 9) face off with Renren Tesorio (15-9-3, 4) in a bout for the WBF Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. Coming in to this Sonsona is on a 7 fight unbeaten streak, including a notable win over Bobby Concepcion. Whilst Sonsona has been in form the same cannot be said of his foe, with Tesorio having lost his last 3, including a 10th round TKO loss to Daigo Higa.
A much better looking bout sees the under-rated Ben Mananquil (12-1-2, 3) take on Glenn Porras (29-5, 17) for the WBF International Bantamweight title. Mananquil is one of the hidden jewels of the Filipino boxing scene. His only loss was a controversial one in China it Jing Xiang and he was also controversially denied a win against Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym. Porras on the other hand Porras has been relatively inactive with just a 1-1 record in the last 4 years, he was however once a touted fighter and did show a lot of potential early on. This could be a very interesting match up.
In a WBF International Super Featherweight title bout we'll see the in form Eden Sonsona (35-6-2, 12) take on Jovany Rota (9-9, 6). Sonsona is 9-0-2 in his last 11, including a massive win in 2015 over Adrian Estrella, and although he fought only once last year he will be full of confidence coming into this bout. Rota on the other hand is a bit of a domestic journeyman and shouldn't provide much of a test for Sonsona.
Arguably the best of the bouts is an IBF Youth Super Flyweight title bout between the super talented Jade Bornea (6-0, 4) and once beaten puncher Raul Yu (9-1-2, 8). Bornea was an amateur standout, and holds a notable amateur win over Kosei Tanaka, but is stepping up as a professional here and Yu is certainly his biggest test since his pro debut in October 2014. Yu is a series puncher and although he has suffered a loss, a decision loss in February 2015, he is a dangerman who will be looking to make a point here. Coming into this Yu is unbeaten in 6 and will looking to claim his first professional title.
Also on this card will be world class Light Flyweight Randy Petalcorin (25-2-1, 18), who fights in a stay busy fight against compatriot Mark Anthony Florida (9-6, 7) in what should be an easy win for Petalcorin, who will have bigger fish to fry.
On a second card in the Philippines we'll see a less exciting series of fights.
In the main event we'll see the once beaten Pedro Taduran (9-1, 7) take on Jerome Clavite (6-3-2, 2). The 20 year old Taduran, nicknamed “Rattle Snake”, is a good puncher at domestic level but did suffer a loss 10 months ago to Joel Lino. Since that loss he has bounced back with 3 wins an will be looking to keep that run going here. Whilst Taduran is back to winning ways it's hard to really know where Clavite's career is going. He has won just once in his last 5, but has been matched against some very decent domestic competition and should be seen as a step up for Taduran in what could be a very good match up for both men.
In an under-card bout from this show fans will see Rex Tito (5-7-2, 2) battle Marlon Arcilla (8-5, 1) in a bout between limited guys. Tito will be returning to the ring following a break of more than 4 years. Prior to his sabbatical he had gone 0-7-1 in his previous 8, with set backs to the likes of Jerwin Ancajas and Giovnni Escaner. As for Arcilla,he has lost his last 3, though has been matched hard with bouts against Ryosyuke Iwasa and Reymart Gaballo. He should be strongly favoured here but a hungry Tito could make life tricky for the 22 year old Arcilla.
Gimhae City, South Korea
We're also set for some title action in South Korea courtesy of a KBA show.
The main event of the show will see former world title challenger Young Gil Bae (27-6-1, 21) battle against Thailand's Chatchai Or Benjamas (7-8, 6) (7-8, 6) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Flyweight title. The bout will be Bae's first since his 4th round TKO loss last year to Rex Tso, 15 months ago, and see him entering on a 2-2 record in the last 24 months. Although talented at this level Bae's future, at the age of 37, looks to be very limited. On paper Chatchai has been in good form, winning 6 of his last 7, but his competition during that run has been awful with only Kevin Jake Cararaja being of any note, and he stopped Chatchai in 4 rounds last year.
The co-feature will see Hee Jung Yuh (17-3, 8) take on novice Nongkiat Saithonggym (1-1) in about for the WBC Asian Boxing Council female Super Flyweight title. As with the other bout it's hard to see the local losing here with Yuh being a very solid fighter, even if that wasn't evident in her wide decision loss last year to Naoko Fujioka. The Thai, who possibly has an incomplete record, is best known for a 2011 stoppage loss to Yuko Kuroki and we don't imagine she'll see the distance here.
Amazingly there will also be action in China, though the show is relatively weak over-all.
The most notable of the bouts on the show will see the light hitting Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (8-0-1, 1) battle against Thai visitor Petchwanchai Sor Visetkit (14-9, 6). On paper the Thai looks like he has a fighting chance here but he has lst his last 3 bouts, all by stoppage in a combined 7 rounds, and is almost 3 years removed from a win. Although the unbeaten Nihemaituola isn't a puncher it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see him win here.
In another bout of some interest Maimaitijiang Nuermaimaiti (3-0-1, 3) will risk his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Hongfeng Li (4-0, 1) in what looks likely to be a power vs skill match up with genuine intrigue.
Fans in Tokyo get another treat this month with a “Fighting Bee” show that features a trio of really interesting bouts.
The main event of the show sees former 2-weight world champion Naoko Fujioka (13-1, 6) go for a third divisional world title as she battles South Korean fighter Hee Jung Yuh (15-2, 6) in a bout for the WBO female Bantamweight title. This is a big ask for Fujioka, who claimed her first title at 105lbs, however the talented Japanese fighter will be favoured against Yuh, who has an impressive record on paper but is stepping up, massively, in class. For a main event this is a well matched fight on paper and really could be a fantastic fight between highly skilled women.
The chief support bout sees the unbeaten, and touted, Hikaru Marugame (5-0, 3) take on the experienced Japanese based Filipino Jonathan Baat (30-6-3, 14). Coming in to this one Baat is on a 3 fight winning streak including wins over Kenta Onjo and Takahiro Shigee however the unbeaten Marugame is tipped for the top and if he's as good as they say he should see off the 35 year old Baat.
The third bout of note sees the return to the ring of Naoto Uebayashi (7-1-1, 4), who was stopped last time out by Giovanni Escaner. The one beaten 28 year old will be up against Atsushi Hosogai (7-9) in what is a real must win for Uebayashi. It seems clear that Uebayashi's team have little belief in his toughness, and as a result have matched him with a clear non-puncher here.