This coming Saturday isn't a big day for Asian fight fans, but there is plenty of action to get excited about, including a solid looking card in the Philippines, an unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful and a couple of Uzbek fighters.
Binan City, Laguna, Philippines
The main focus for us will be the Philippines where we get two mouth watering match ups.
The most notable of the two will be a bout between Vic Saludar (20-4, 11) and Robert Paradero (18-0, 12), which is expected to be for some form of WBA title at Minimumweight. The bout will see Saludar looking to secure his second win since losing the WBO world title in 2019 to Wilfredo Mendez and could help him move towards a showdown with Knockout CP Freshmart. The heavy handed former champion is the more proven man but we need to wonder what he'll be like after more than a year away from the ring. As for Paradero he's yet to face anyone of real note, though has long been touted as a really bright prospect. Sadly, aged 24, Paradero appears to be coming in to this bout without having had the developmental fights he'd need to hold his own against someone like Saludar. Saying that however he will clearly be there to make the most of this huge opportunity. An in depth preview of this bout can be read here Sure Thing: Vic Saludar and Roberto Paradero in all-Filipino WBA ‘not-quite’ title fight
In a supporting bout the talented 21 year old Carl Jammes Martin (16-0, 14) looks to extend his unbeaten record, as he takes on the battle tested Joe Tejones (13-7, 7). The hard hitting Martin has long been regarded as a thrilling, fun to watch prospect, but one who is somewhat open and needs polishing before stepping up in class. Tejones on the other hand has been matched hard and has already shared the ring with the likes of Hinata Maruta, Tenta Kiyose and Tsuyoshi Tameda. We suspect Martin will be too good and too strong, but this is a genuine test for the youngster.
Universum Gym, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Over in Germany we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Zhan Kossobutskiy (14-0, 13) take part in his first bout of the new year as he battles heavy handed Nigerian Onoriode Ehwarieme (18-1, 17) for the WBA International Heavyweight title. The unbeaten Kossobutskiy was a talented amateur and has shown some promise since turning professional in 2017, however at the age of 32 he is at the point where he needs to begin making a move towards bigger and better fights. He has been active, with 14 fights in less than 4 years, but he needs to begin facing name quality foes this year. Ehwarieme on the other hand hasn't faced too many fights of note but is, surprisingly, well travelled with fights in Indonesia, Ghana, Nigeria, Argentina and the USA. Sadly his most notable result is an opening round loss to Rodney Hernandez, which sums up his level pretty well.
If we're being honest we suspect Kossobutskiy ends up stopping Ehwarieme relatively early on here in what will look like a pointless mismatch, despite looking interesting on paper.
Doubletree Miamimart Hotel, Miami, Florida, USA
American based Kazakh fighter Dimash Niyazov (13-1-3, 6) ends a lengthy break from the ring as he takes on feather fisted Argentine Jonatan Hernan Godoy (5-7). The 32 year old Niyazov hasn't fought since April 2018, when he lost a decision to Angel Sarinana. Since then he has been working as a police officer in New York. Amazingly since Niyazov last fought Godoy has fought 11 times. If activity is the key here, Godoy has a chance, otherwise we suspect Niyazov's class and skills will be the difference.
Shelby Co Fairgrounds, Shelbyville, Kentucky, USA
We can't help but feel that unbeaten American based Korean fighter Jongin Choi (5-0, 3) needs a step up now, at the age of 29. Sadly however that won't be happening here, as he takes on win-less 43 year old Muhammad Adams (0-5-1). Disappointingly this looks to be little more than a record padding effort for Choi, who really needs to be facing someone coming to win. To date Choi's first 5 opponents have a combined record of 1-35-1 and this low level of competition is doing nothing to advance his career.
Vegas City Hall, Krasnogorsk, Russia
Over in Russia we'll see two Uzbek fighters in action.
The most notable of the two is unbeaten Lightweight Ulugbek Qayumboev (3-0, 3), who has taken out his first 3 opponents in a combined 7 rounds. Sadly, at the time of writing, Qayumboev hasn't had his opponent for this bout named, though given his first 3 opponents we're not expecting anyone too testing for the unbeaten 20 year old.
The other Uzbek on this show will be Muzaffar Rasulov (5-2, 3), who looks to continue a 4 fight winning run as he takes on the limited Arkadi Harutyunyan (4-14-0-1, 1). The 24 year old Rasulov lost 2 of his first 3 but has began showing some genuine promise, though he is obviously still a work in progress. Armenian born Russian Harutyunyan scored one of the biggest upsets of 2020, stopping Andrey Klimov in February, but then lost 6 in a row as he failed to build on a career best win. Notably the win over Klimov was his first since 2013! With that in mind we're not giving him much of a chance here.
Whilst the biggest name from the Ohashi gym is set to fight in early November, with Naoya Inoue of course facing Nonito Donaire in the WBSS Bantamweight final early in the month, the rest of the gym isn't just sitting still. This coming Tuesday we see a number of notable Ohashi gym fighters in action on their next domestic card.
The main event here will see the highly touted Taku Kuwahara (5-0, 4) take a huge step up in class for face Filipino veteran Jonathan Refugio (21-6-5, 7) in a 8 rounder. The talented Kuwahara is stepping up massively, but has shown touches of brilliance since making his professional debut and has already been compared to Kazuto Ioka, among others. He's shown sensational body punching and is a really exciting youngster who will likely make a huge mark in 2020 if he gets past Refugio here. The Filipino has been around the block a few times, but has built a reputation as a tough, determined fighter capable of pushing fighters hard. Despite numerous losses Refugio has faced the likes of Knockout CP Freshmart, Hiroto Kyoguchi, Wanheng Menayothin and Merlito Sabillo. This should be a genuine acid test for Kuwahara. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Kuwahara takes big step up to face off with Refugio!
In the chief support bout, from the running order at least, we'll see Toru Kiyota (9-3, 7) take on Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kazuma Sanpei (17-5, 7) in another bout scheduled for 8 rounds. Kiyota is limited but heavy handed, with his last 4 wins coming inside the distance. Kiyota's power could be a real problem given that Sanpei has been stopped in 4 of his 5 losses, though Sanpei will be the favourite.
In a clash of former Hinata Maruta opponents we'll see the exciting, and thunderously hard hitting, Tsuyoshi Tameda (20-4-2, 18) take on skilled Filipino Joe Tejones (13-6, 7). Tameda has his flaws, and there is a lot of them, but his power is brutal and he is a nightmare for anyone just a step or two below regional title level. On the other hand Tejones has been really unlucky, and his record perhaps should have a few more wins on it than it currently does. This should be a really interesting fight, if Tejones can take the power of Tameda, which is certainly not a given.
Kuwahara isn't the only unbeaten prospect on this card, with Katsuya Yasuda (4-0, 2) looking to record his 5th win as he takes on Jack Dolu (4-4, 4). Yasuda hasn't really shown the type of potential that Kuwahara has, but was a notable amateur on the Japanese scene and should make this look easy against a very limited Indonesian foe.
The best show of the week, and one of the best of the month, comes on Wednesday when Morioka and Mutoh co-promote a great show with 5 title bouts in Osaka.
The “main event” of the show will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Takayuki Hosokawa (28-10-5, 9) look for his second defense of the title as he takes on fellow Japanese fighter Yutaka Oishi (13-5, 7). The bout will see Hosokawa looking for a much better performance than his last one, a hard fought struggle for a draw with Koshinmaru Saito, however there are some suggesting he is at the very end of his career with injuries and accumulated damage adding up. For Oishi this is a great opportunity to claim a major title, but he will be the big under-dog here.
The most exciting fighter on the card is 19 year old hopeful Hinata Maruta (3-0, 2), who looks to make his first defense of the WBC Youth Bantamweight. The talented Japanese youngster will be up against Filipino southpaw Joe Tejones (6-1, 2) in what should be a chance to Maruta to get rounds against a southpaw. From what we under-stand a win here will see Maruta progress towards either a Japanese, an OPBF or a WBO Asia Pacific title fight in 2017 with his team actively chasing tougher assignments. For Tejones the bout is a big step up and it's hard to see what he'll have to test Maruta.
The other OPBF title fight will see Middleweight champion Dwight Ritchie (14-0-0-4, 1) make the first defense of his title as he takes on the limited but heavy handed Japanese slugger Koki Tyson (10-2-2, 10). Ritchie won the title earlier this year in Japan, where he defeated Hikaru Nishida, and will be hoping for more success here. He is however up against a very different type of fighter here with Nishida being a basic pressure fighter whilst Tyson is a boxer-puncher, sadly for Tyson he is rather limited and comes into this on the back of a very poor performance against Joon Yong Lee.
In a WBO Super Flyweight Asia Pacific title bout we'll see former world title challengers face off as Japan's Hirofumi Mukai (12-4-3, 2) battles Thailand's Inthanon Sithchamuang (30-8-1, 18). Mukai has twice fought for world titles in Thailand, having a technical draw with Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and suffering a stoppage loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and has struggled against other notable opponents like Shohei Omori and Mark Anthony Geraldo. Inthanon on the other hand is best known for losing to Kohei Kono earlier this year, and has suffered other losses in Japan, where he is yet to score a win.
At Flyweight we'll see the unbeaten, and genuinely promising, Masahiro Sakamoto (8-0, 4) take on the once beaten Sho Kimura (12-1-2, 6) for the WBO Asia Pacific title. Sakamoto has been unbeaten since his debut back in December 2014, and has won the 2015 Rookie of the Year and holds wins over Atsushi Aburada and Il Che. As for Kimura he was beaten in his debut but has gone 14 fights unbeaten since fighting 3 of those bouts in Thailand. This is the first title bout for both men and should tell us a lot about both fighters.
In a notable non-title bout on the card we'll see exciting prospect Naoto Iwai (2-0, 1) take on Filipino veteran Donny Mabao (22-27-3, 4) in a 6 rounder. The bout is a good step up for Iwai, who was last seen beating Juan Purisima in the Philippines, and a win here is likely to see Iwai move into 8 rounders in 2017, with the teenager already showing glimpses of real talent like stablemate Maruta