The main focus for us this coming Friday is Uzbekistan, as Matchroom put on their second Uzbek card, and it's an interesting one with a great main event and several other bouts worthy of attention.
The main event is a world title eliminator at 154lbs as unbeaten, and highly touted, Uzebekistani fighter Israil Madrimov (7-0, 5) takes a huge step up in class and takes on the skilled and experienced French fighter Michel Soro (35-2-1, 24). Madrimov has been put on the fact track since turning professional in 2018 and despite some wobbles recently, notably in a tough one against Eric Walker last year, he has looked like a very special fighter. Albeit one that looks bored at times and looks like he is trying to entertain himself against lesser opponents. Soro on the other hand is a perennial contender who has one of the best resumes of any active fighter to have never won a legitimate world title. Aged 34 Soro won't get many, if any, more chances if he loses here and we suspect to see him put it all on the line here in what could be a really sensational 12 rounder. Sadly we're not sure either man would have the tools to dethrone WBA champion Jermell Charlo, but as a stand alone bout, this one is a very, very interesting one and the winner would, rightfully, deserve a shot at the champion.
In one of the main supporting bouts we'll see Olympic silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov (11-0, 9) take on the tricky and awkward Cristian Rafael Coria (29-8-2, 13), in what should be a much tougher bout than it looks on paper. Giyasov, dubbed the "Wonder Boy", is a talented fighter but one who has shown some cracks during his professional career, and is certainly a work in progress. Saying that however he's talented, heavy handed, accurate and has the tools to go all the way to the top, in the future. We still feel he needs some seasoning, but he certainly has what's needed to be a champion. Coria on the other hand is a 39 year old journeyman who constantly looks for the upset, having given Hiroki Okada hell in 2018 and beaten Joel Diaz Jr in 2019. He was stopped last time out, by the awkward Alberto Puello, but he's tough and will be looking to make Giyasov pay for his numerous errors.
Another very notably fight in this card will be the return of Bektemir Melikuziev (7-1, 6), who looks to bounce back from his upset loss to Gabe Rosado. Interesting Melikuziev isn't being matched mega softly here, and instead of taking on a patsy after such a brutal KO loss he's up against the capable Sergei Ekimov (18-3, 9), who has never been stopped and pushed recent world title challenger Umar Salamov close in his most recent bout. This shouldn't be a problem for Melikuziev, but we suspect he will have to go rounds and this should serve him well given the loss to Rosado.
There also a number of other touted hopefuls on this card, such as 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Hasanboy Dusmatov (3-0, 3), who takes on tough Mexican journeyman Jose Rivas (18-12-4, 10). On paper this is a mismatch, but Rivas has only been stopped twice with the most recent of those coming to Jose Argumedo more than 6 years ago. He should extend Dusmatov a few rounds.
Likewise we expect to see Elnur Abduraimov (7-0, 6) have to work for a win over Filipino Jhon Gemino (22-12-1, 12), whilst former amateur standouts Ikboljon Kholdarov (1-0, 1) and Dilshodbek Ruzmetov (0-0) should both be taking home very easy wins as they they begin their professional journey's, and they are two men who have the potential to go very far, very fast.
Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
In Canada we'll see the talented Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-1-0-2, 14) look to bounce back from his thrilling loss to Subriel Matias, back in May. The exciting Canadian based Kazakh showed lots to like there against one of the true dangermen at 140lbs, and will be given a chance to get a confidence building win here as he takes on limited Mexican Juan Jose Martinez (28-10, 20). It's fair to say that Jukembayev isn't world class, but he's certainly someone who can mix with the top 10 type of fighters and hopefully after this bout we see him mixing at a good level again in the new year.
Vysotsky Sports Palace, Samara, Russia
Over in Russia we'll see a couple of low level bouts with Central Asian fighters in action, playing the B-sides.
On such bout will see 25 year old Russian hopeful Rokhman Akhmetkhanov (2-0, 2) look to continue his impressive start to live as a professional boxer as he takes on Alexandr Zhuravskiy (13-8-1, 11), of Kazakhstan. Akhmetkhanov made his debut in March, has just 3 rounds to his name, but already looks like a genuine handful at Middleweight or Super Middleweight, and has two solid wins to his name. At his best Zhuravskiy was a tough, durable, reliable test for fighters, though he is now looking a bit shot and past his best. We expect Akhmetkhanov to win, but if he scores another quick win here it's going to be very, very hard to get him rounds over the next year or two.
A similar match up to the one above will see Chingiz Natyrov (2-0, 2), another hard hitting Russian hopeful, take on veteran Rauf Aghayev (33-12, 15), from Afghanistan. The 29 year old Natyrov looked tremendous last year, when he picked up two wins in the space of a few weeks including a stoppage of Oleksandr Hryshchuk, but with more than a year out of the ring he'll be hoping to get some rounds in here and move on to bigger things in 2022. The 38 year old Aghayev has amazingly fought 8 times this year! Though has sadly been stopped in 3 of those, and would be shocked if he avoided another stoppage loss here against someone as good as Natyrov.
A third bout of interest to us on this card will see Russian based Kazakh Ilya Ochkin (6-2, 2) look to bounce back from his 2020 blow out loss to Magomed Kurbanov, as he takes on Azeri fighter Elvin Akhundzada (4-8, 2). Coming in to this Akhundzada has been stopped very early in his last 3, and has lost 8 in a row. We do not expect him to put up much of an effort, but it'll be good to see Ochkin back in the ring after a length break from action, and after such a loss last time out.
The most notable show this coming Monday comes from Tokyo as the Korakuen Hall .
In the main event of this card we'll see the hard hitting Japanese Bantamweight Yuki Beppu (18-1-1, 18) take on Filipino veteran Jason Egera (24-20-2, 11). This should be little more than a bounce back win for Beppu, who was beaten last October in a Japanese title eliminator by Yuki Nagano in a Japanese title eliminator. With 9 stoppage losses on his record Egera will not be expected to see out the scheduled 8 rounds with Beppu.
In a supporting bout former Japanese Bantamweight challenger Tatsuya Takahashi (30-8-5, 21) will take on the limited but hard hitting Masayasu Nakamura (6-3-1, 6). Coming into this Takahashi will be seeking a third straight win, whilst Nakamura will be looking for a career best victory. A loss for Takahashi is likely to cost him his Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific rankings.
A third bout of note will see Japanese ranked Minimumweight Desierto Nagaike (11-4-2, 2) face off with Shuri Hasebe (7-5, 2). Nagaike has won just 1 of his last 4, but will be confident of picking up a win here. Hasebe on the other hand will be looking to build on a win against Yoshimitsu Kushibe from back in December.
Once beaten hopeful Tetsuya Watanabe (4-1, 3) looks to record his second win since losing to Keita Kurihara, as he takes on Masajiro Honda (6-10, 4). This should be a pretty straight forward win for Watanabe, especially given that Honda has been stopped in his last 5 and is more than 4 years removed from his last win.
As well as the show in the Philippines there is also set to be a show in the Philippines, sadly though this is a much less significant show with only one bout of real note.
That one bout is set to be a 12 round contest between the in form Jhon Gemino (19-11-1, 9) and Juanito Paredes (8-5-1, 3). On paper this doesn't look amazing but both have been in notable runs, with Gemino upsetting Carlos Ornelas and Sho Nakazawa in his last 2 bouts and Paredes riding a 5 fight winning run with victories over the likes of Lloyd Jardeliza and Jestoni Autida. This could be very interesting.
Although there is only a single bout of note, at least at the time of writing, it is worth noting that the 21 year old Jahzeel Trinidad (3-0) will be in action here, and he is expected to go on to do big things in the near future.
This coming Monday Japanese fight fans get a genuinely exceptional card, headlined by an OPBF Featherweight title fight, between unbeaten fighters, and stacked with several other notable bouts, including 2 genuinely brilliant support bouts.
The main event of this card will 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (7-0, 7) take on Takuya Uehara (16-0, 10). The bout will be Shimizu's 4th defense of the OPBF Featherweight title and if he wins he's expected to be moved aggressively into a world title fight in the new year. Despite being a stand out amateur Shimizu has looked like a flawed professional, but with his unbeaten record and perfect T/KO run it's hard to double the results, even if the performances haven't been the best. The 23 year old Uehara is a former WBC Youth champion but this is a massive step up in class, and is likely to be his first bout against a genuine puncher. This could be a good test for Shimizu, but one he'll be expected to pass. A full preview of this bout can be found here - Olympic hero Shimizu takes on Uehara in next OPBF title defense!
The co-feature looks even better than the main event, and is a really well balanced match up that should give us a combination between explosive heavy handed blows and skills. The match up pits the very heavy handed Tsuyoshi Tameda (18-3-2, 16) against the incredibly highly skilled Hinata Maruta (7-1-1, 6), in a bout that will likely lead the winner to a regional title fight in 2019. Tameda is the more raw fighter, but also the hard hitting and the one with real explosive power. Maruta is the more skilled man, but has failed to deliver on the promise he has in recent bouts, and some are perhaps not doubting the Morioka man. This really could be something very, very special. A preview of this can be read here - Preview - Maruta and Tameda to fight on December 3rd!
Another interesting all prospect match up is a mouth watering 8 rounder between Taku Kuwahara (2-0, 2) and Takamori Kiyama (2-0, 2), which may well go down as the best match up between a couple of 2-0 fighters ever. As an amateur Kuwahara was a 2-time national champion and the Ohashi gym view him as a potential major player in their gym, this is however a massive step up in class from the Indonesian fighters he has faced in his first two bouts, neither of which have lasted a round. Kiyama, from the Atsumi gym, was also an amateur standout, and he's has looked fantastic since turning professional as well. This is really a risky bout for both fighters but they should both be admired, for willing to risk their "0" against a fellow prospect this early on.
Former Japanese Supe Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (21-6-1, 12) looks to record his 4th straight win, as he takes on the limited Takahiro Araki (12-7, 4). Okada is a faded force to the man who had pushed Takashi Miura hard in 2010 and had gone on to win the Japanese title the following year, running up 3 defenses before losing to Daiki Kaneko. He is however capable against the lower level domestic fighters and will see this as a good chance to score his 22nd professional win. The 31 year old Araki however is no push over and will see this an opportunity to get a win against a former national champion.
The once touted Sho Nakazawa (11-2, 5) looks to continue rebuilding his career after a 2017 loss to Ryo Hino. The former amateur standout will be looking for a second straight win as he takes on Filipino journeyman Jhon Gemino (17-11-1, 7). On paper this looks like a mismatch but Nakazawa really has failed to shine as a professional and Gemino is the sort of fighter who can be a very tricky out. We suspect Nakazawa gets the win, but Gemino won't have travelled to just roll over.
Another prospect on this card is the highly touted Kazuki Nakajima (5-0, 4), who takes a notable step up in class to fight the experienced Yoshihiro Utsumi (15-8-3, 10). So far Nakajima has only been tested one, with Taiga Higashi giving him issues last December, and has otherwise had things all his own way. Utsumi on the hand has collected losses, but has faced tough competition with losses to Yasutaka Ishimoto, Ye Joon Kim and Hiroaki Teshigawara. It's worth noting that coming into this bout Utsumi scored a huge upset win over Hibiki Jogo and is riding a 3 fight stoppage run into this contest.
There isn't much Asian action this coming Monday but there is a somewhat notable Filipino journeyman in action, with Jhon Gemino (16-9-1, 7) fighting in Moscow, Russia. The well travelled fighter form Lipa City will be up against the unbeaten Evgeny Smirnov (10-0-1, 2), in what will be Gemino's 9th bout outside of the Philippines. Although well travelled the Filipino has only scored two wins on the road, both by stoppage, and may need another bomb to land here as he takes on a very talented Russian foe. Smirnov has beaten Filipino's in the past, out pointing both Neil John Tabanao and Silvester Lopez, and is likely to be favoured here to continue his unbeaten run