USC Soviet Wings, Moscow, Russia
In Russia this coming Friday Uzbek promotional outfit Shamo Boxing put on their next show, and it's a lengthy card with a number of exciting Asian fighters on it and a number of very talented fighters, from both Central Asia and Russia.
The most notable of the fights to feature an Asian fighter will see unbeaten Uzbek hopeful Ravshan Makhamadjonov (10-0, 7) battle against once beaten Ukrainian Volodymyr Hordiienko (8-1, 3) for a WBC Youth title. Although not regarded as highly as some of the other Uzbek youngsters Makhamadjonov looks like a real classy prospect, and unlike many of his top countrymen he's able to build his record away from the eyes of the wider boxing world, and take his time to develop. Sadly we were unable to find footage of Hordiienko, but this looks like it's a step up for him and one of his toughest bouts, on paper. As with many WBC Youth title bouts, the winner will be taking a notable step forward with their career.
In a rather weird looking match up Russian based Kazakh born fighter Vladimir Kelesh (7-0, 5) will be taking on Russian veteran Valery Brudov (44-15, 30), who was last seen in the ring in December 2018 and us without a win since a victory back in April 2017. We've yet to see Kelesh in action but this is a huge chance for him to get a recognisable name on his record. Brudov is shot to pieces, but does have some name value, still.
Russian based Uzbek Ravshan Ergashev (5-0, 2) looks to continue his development as he takes on ISreal born Russian novice Mikhail Ostroumov (1-0, 1). On paper this looks like one where Ergashev should be favoured, but Ostroumov's sole win, over Karen Avetisyan, is far better than anything on Ergashev's record. This should be a very interesting match up, even if neither man is particularly experienced.
One other man pencilled in for this show is Kazakh fighter Iskander Kharsan (7-1, 6), who will be looking to bounce back from his 2019 upset loss to Thomas Essomba. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent for this bout hasn't been named, and isn't expected to be anyone too testing given his loss last time out.
This coming Monday focus heads to a Kadoebi card at Korakuen Hall, where we get an OPBF title fight, a really good looking novice pro bout, and several decent supporting bouts.
The main event will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Akinori Watanabe (38-7-1, 32) making his first defense of the title, as he take on Thai challenger Sitthidet Banti (12-5, 6), in what looks like a very, very soft first defense. Watanabe has mixed against stiff competition through his career, and last December's war with Nobuyuki Shindo was truly sensational, so for him to have an easy bout isn't too bad, but it is a weak title defense. To show how weak it is, Banti was stopped by Japanese novice Takuma Takahashi back in August. Our preview of this bout can be read here Does Watanabe get an easy first defense of OPBF crown?
Whilst the main event is a mismatch there is some really interesting action on this card, including a brilliant match up between Ran Tomomatsu (1-0) and Mikio Sakai (1-0). Despite both men being professional novices both were talented amateurs and they both looked great, albeit in very different ways, on their debut. Of the two Tomomatsu looks the more physical and stronger fighter, but the less technical, whilst Sakai has a flash and speedier look to him. This is a huge risk bout for both, and something to get very excited about.
In another interesting support bout we'll see the talented Yuichiro Kasuya (13-2-1, 4) take on 2-time Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (15-6-1, 10). Since moving over to the Kadoebi gym we've seen Kasuya show more some real development, and belief in his punching, and with 3 wins already this year he does now seem to have some momentum behind him. As for Sugita this is a real must win after going 4-4 in his last 8, including his two losses in Japanese title fights. As his best Sugita would favoured against the best we've seen from Kasuya, though it's unclear what Sugita still has left and how much more Kasuya can improve.
Another bout worth noting here will see talented youngster Yuki Nakajima (2-1, 2) look to bounce back from his first defeat as he takes on Yasuhiro Tanaka (6-4-2) in a good looking comeback bout. Nakajima was beaten back in August, by the excellent Ryu Horikawa and although he was beaten it wasn't a loss to be ashamed by and he's certainly not having an easy blow out here, despite Tanaka's record. Tanaka has proven to be a competitive fighter at the lower levels of the Japanese scene and went 5 rounds with the excellent Rikito Shiba last year. That will be the target for Nakajima, and if he can beat what Shiba did then we'll be impressed.
As well as the action in Japan there is also a notable card in Kazakhstan, though one that appears to have gone through a number of changes in recent days. The card is being hosted to celebrate Kazakhstan Independence day, and should be a great show if you're a Kazakh with a great array of Kazakh talent on the show.
Former world champion Hekkie Budler was originally announced for main event of this show, but it now appears that the main event will see Viktor Kotochigov (10-0, 4) take on Javier Jose Clavero (27-5, 5). On paper this looks like a good test for the unbeaten 26 old Kazakh, but in reality Clavero should be seen as a clear under-dog against an unbeaten prospect fighting in front of his home fans. This is a step up for Kotochigov, but one he will be be expected to win with out too many issues.
A solid supporting bout will see the highly touted Sultan Zaurbek (8-0, 6) take on China's Leshan Li (16-3-2, 9), in what is Zaurbek's first title bout as they face off for the WBC Youth Super Featherweight title. We've been wanting to see Zaurbek take a step up for a while and this is exactly the sort of bout that should tell us more about the talented 23 year old. Impressive Zaurbek will be fighting for the 6th time in 2019. As for Li he's unbeaten in 3, but has yet to score a win of note in his 21 bout career.
Other fighters on this card include an array of Central Asian prospects and hopefuls. They include 22 year old American based Kazakh Iskander Kharsan (7-0, 6), 2-time Olympian Khurshid Tojibaev (3-0, 2) and 2016 Olympic champion Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (7-1, 4).
Eastern Cape, South Africa
In South Africa we'll see another bout in the excellent Philippines Vs South Africa rivalry. This time around it'll be unheralded Filipino Joey Canoy (15-3-1, 8) taking on South African Nkosinathi Joyi (28-5-1-1, 19) in a bout for the IBO Minimumweight title. On paper Joyi will be the favourite, the former IBF world champion is the more proven and more experienced man, however Canoy will be confident of picking up the win, in what is his third visit to South Africa, and he'll be boosted by John Riel Casimero's recent win against Zolani Tete.
The biggest bout involving an Asian fighter this coming Sunday comes from Maryland, as former world champions collide! The bout will see Lamont Peterson (35-4-1, 17) take on Kazakh-Russian Sergey Lipinets (14-1, 10), in what should be a tremendous bout. Both of these men need a win if they are to remain in the world title mix, and both will be looking to bounce back from a recent loss, with Lipinets losing to Mikey Garcia and Peterson losing to Errol Spence Jr. Their styles should make for a fun fight and this is a really good quality match up between world class fighters.
Staying in the US there's also a couple of unbeaten Kazakh prospects in action in California.
One of those is Ali Akhmedov (13-0, 10), who will be dropping down to Super Middleweight to face off with Mike Guy (9-3-1, 5). The unbeaten Akhmedov wasn't as active as we'd have hoped in 2018 but with his first bout of 2019 taking place this early he could end up having a really big year this year. Guy is a solid enough opponent, who has done 8 rounds with Tyron Zeuge and came close to doing the same with Sergiy Derevyanchenko, show he's durable. This might be a very tough test for Akhmedov but is also a chance for him to make a statement.
On the same card will be Meiirim Nursultanov (10-0, 8), who will be fighting his second bout of the year and looks likely to have a huge year. He fought 4 times in 2018 and although his competition hasn't been the best he is making noise as one to watch. At 25 years old he has time to really build his record and reputation before moving onto big fights. He will be up against Puerto Rican fighter Luis Hernandez (16-7, 9).
Staying with Kazakh's there is also set to be a show in Almaty featuring a couple more notable Kazakh fighters.
In one of the main bouts Aidos Yerbossynuly (10-0, 8) will take on tough Namibian Lukas Ndafoluma (15-1, 6) in a bout for minor titles from the WBO, WBA and WBC. This could end up being one of the low key bouts of the weekend and is a very real threat to Yerbossynuly's unbeaten record. The Kazakh has shown promise but has been down in a couple of his fights whilst Ndafoluma has managed to show toughness and skills on the road, upsetting British fighter Craig Cunningham in the UK in 2017. This is a potential banana skin for the unbeaten Kazakh.
On the same card Nursultan Zhangabayev (6-0, 4) is scheduled to make his first defense of the WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Middleweight title. His opponent will be 25 year old Venezuelan fighter Ivan Matute (28-1, 23), who has a really good looking record, but there is no real quality on there. The unbeaten Zhangabayev won the belt last December, when he took a decision over tough Filipino Arnel Tinampay, and was given a real test, so we're hoping for another test here.
Also on this show will be 21 year old Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov (7-0, 7) who will be fighting for a WBC Asia title. The talented Kazakh will be up against John Ruba (17-5-1, 9), who shouldn't really be much of a match for Akhmedov, who will be expected to move to 8-0 (8) without too many problems.
The under-card is also set to feature a number of prospects, including Dastan Saduuly (2-0, 2), Iskander Kharsan (5-0, 4) and Ulugbek Khakberdiev (5-0, 3).
As well as all the Kazakh's in action there is actually set to be a couple of Japanese shows on the same day. The more notable of those takes place in Hyogo and is a Shinsei promoted card.
The main event of this card will see Japanese ranked fighters clashing, as Shun Kosaka (15-5, 4) takes on Shunji Nagata (12-17-2, 4) in an 8 round bout at a contracted 51.5KG's. The winner of this could end up finding themselves in a Japanese title bout later this year. Coming in Kosaka has lost his last 2, being stopped in an OPBF title fight by Jayr Raquinel and being out pointed by Junto Nakatani, but remains #2 ranked by the JBC at Flyweight. Nagata on the other hand has struggled for consistent results, with 6 losses in his last 8, but has shown the ability score an upset on his day and is better than his record suggests.
World ranked Lightweight Kazuhiro Nishitani (19-4-1, 11) will be taking on Filipino visitor Glenn Medura (10-4-1, 6), in what looks like a straight forward bout for Nishitani. Medura has lost 3 of his last 5, losing all 3 of them in Japan by stoppage. Although Nishitani isn't anything special he has won his last 4 by stoppage and is a former Japanese national champion, so should have little problem picking up the win here.
Talented and highly touted prospect Yuki Yamauchi (2-0, 1) will seek his third win as he takes on unbeaten Filipino Claudevan Sese (7-0-3, 1). This looks like a good step forward for Yamauchi, who will be in his first 8 rounder just 8 months after his debut. For Sese this will be his international debut, and a big step up in class, though he has never tasted defeat and has gone 8 rounds twice during his career.
One other bout of note on this card will see Yuri Takemoto (5-1-1, 3) take on Reymond Empic (6-2, 2), in what looks like a pretty even match up. Takemoto left his mark last year, when he took the All Japan Rookie of the Year crown at Featherweight, and he looked to hit much harder than his record indicates in his final win over Hikari Mineta. Empic should prove to be an interesting assignment for Takemoto, but one that Takemoto will be confident of passing.
It's also worth noting that this show will feature the retirement ceremony of Eita Kikuchi (21-6-4, 8), who challenged for both the OPBF Super Bantamweight and Japanese Bantamweight title during his 31 fight career that began back in 2005.
As well as the Shinsei card there will also be a Western Japan Rookie of the Year card in Fukuoka. Among the bouts on this card is an interesting bout between Ryusuke Ushihara (4-1-1, 1) and Yutaka Asakura (3-1-1, 2), which looks really competitive on paper.
The most notable card for us this coming Saturday is in Ekaterinburg, where we will see several promising Central Asian fighters in action.
The most notable bout will see Russian based Kyrgyzstan born Super Featherweight hopeful Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (12-0, 6) facing off with hard hitting Filipino Jon Jon Estrada (11-4-1, 10). Uulu looks to be a real prospect, and is coming in to this bout on the back of wins over Leonardo Padilla and Aristides Perez. Despite those wins the unbeaten man has been down a number of times, and that could be his biggest problem. Estrada is flawed, can be stopped and can be outboxed himself, but he's a serious puncher and recent wins over Brian Lobetania and Tasuku Nakagawa show that he is a real danger man at this level. This could be a very interesting bout.
One of the other central Asian's on this card is Uzbek Sardor Muzaffarov (3-1, 2), who goes up against veteran Andrei Isayeu (30-14, 9). The 23 year old Muzaffarov has notched up two wins since suffering his maiden defeat and will be taking a big step up here, to face off with a very well travelled 38 year old who had gone with a number of notable names, like Rendall Munroe, Oleg Yefimovych and Kevin Mitchell. Although this is a step up, it is worth noting that Isayeu is 1-9 in his last 10 going back more than 3 years.
Another Uzbek on this card is Jaloliddin Uktamov (3-1, 2), who faces off with the unbeaten Timur Pashaliev (1-0-2, 1) of Russia. This is an interesting novice match up that should be competitive, though both men are so early in their career's that it's hard to say too much, especially given the level of competition both men have faced so far.
It's also been reported that Makhmud Gaipov (1-0, 1) will be on this show as well, though details of his bout haven't yet been announced.
Over in Texas we'll see a couple of promising US based Kazakh prospects.
One of those prospects is Iskander Kharsan (4-0, 4), who takes on fellow unbeaten Jorge Ramos (6-0-1, 3) in a bout for the WBC Youth Youth Intercontinental Super Bantamweight title. Kharsan made his debut in July 2017 and has looked destructive so far, but has been matched very softly so far with Manuel Rubalcava being his toughest opponent so far. The 19 year old Ramos actually debuted against the aforementioned Rubalcava back in July 2017. His competition has also been poor so far, though did step up last time out, and fought to a draw with Eric Manriquez
Kharsan's countryman Askat Zhantursynov (2-0, 2) is being matched easier on this card as he takes on Michael Coronado (1-1-1). The Kazakh Cruiserweight debuted in July of this year and is staying active, though could certainly do with a step up in class next year. Coronado is yet to face a fighter with a win, and we suspect he'll come up very short here. Coronado's opponents so far have done little to suggest he has a chance against Zhantursynov.
Also in the US, albeit in California, we'll see the professional debut of former Japanese amateur standout Shokichi Iwata (0-0), who is basing his career in the USA during it's formative years, something we don't usually see from Japanese fighters. The hope for 2019 is to keep Iwata busy, but we suspect his debut will be a pretty simple bout, as he takes on 29 year old American Joel Bermudez (0-1), who was stopped in 71 seconds on debut in August.
In the Philippines we'll get a pretty notable card, featuring a trio of title bouts which were originally stated to take place on December 7th but appears to have been pushed back a day.
The main event of the show will see former world title challengers collide for the PBF Minimumweight title. The bout will see Pedro Taduran (12-2, 9) go up against Jeffrey Galero (15-7, 8) in what could a very good action bout. Both men have come up short to WBC world champion Wanheng Menayothin, but neither embarrassed themselves against the unbeaten Thai. Taduran's not fought since losing to Wanheng earlier this year whilst Galero has gone 6-4 since facing the Thai, though all 4 losses have been in Japan with one of them being a TKO loss to the excellent Tsubasa Koura. Taduran will be the favourite, but this is no gimme for the 22 year old.
A second PBF title bout takes place at Bantamweight, as the unbeaten Denmark Quibido (8-0, 5) takes on Joel Taduran (8-10-1, 2). The 22 year old Quibido is slowly stepping up the quality of his opposition, and this is a good step forward, but a step forward that he will be expected to make with no real issues. Taduran has really lacked form recently, going 1-8 in his last 9, with losses to the likes of Toshiyuki Igarashi, Junto Nakatani and Mark Anthony Barriga, with his last win coming almost 2 years ago against the very limited Noel Guliman. Hard to see anything but a win for Quibido here.
The least significant of the title bouts will see Kevin Aseniero (7-2, 4) take on Jayar Diama (7-16-7, 3) for the vacant LuzProBA Super Flyweight title. Of the two men it's the experienced Diama who is more well known, having fought in Thailand, Japan and China, and despite his record he is actually a good test at the type of level, with a "potential banana skin" feel about him. Aseniero has the much better record on paper, but has lost 2 of his last 3, and will know that another slip up here will be a major set back. The reality is that Aseniero should be favoured, but he will have to work for a win here.
Seoul, South Korea
There is also a small South Korean card. Sadly it's a show really lacking in quality, and the stand out bout is a 6 round contest between Tae Yun Baek (2-0-1, 1) and Seung Hee Lee (2-4, 1) in what doesn't look like a particularly interesting fight, if we're being honest. The good news however is that the Korean scene does, finally, seem to be picking up and we are seeing more and more Korean cards, even if some are really weak like this one.
On the subject of Korean's it's worth noting that Korean Hopeful Deok No Yun (2-0, 1) will take on the debuting Regan Slade (0-0) in Australia. This is Yun's second bout of the year, with the other also being in Australia, and it would be nice to see a Korean making a mark down under. Sadly we're really unconvinced by how much promise Yun really has and he will certainly have to show more in upcoming fights, if he's to be regarded as an actual prospect.