This coming Saturday isn't a huge day for fights involving Asian fighters, but it is a pretty interesting day with thanks to other fights, including the Heavyweight debut of Oleksandr Usyk.
On the same card as Usyk's Heavyweight debut will be a WBA Light Heavyweight world title defense for Dmitry Bivol (16-0, 11), who takes on the unheralded Lenin Castillo (20-2-1, 15). On paper this isn't the bout that Bivol, and his fans, would have wanted but it should still be a good test against a big, talented and tough challenger. Castillo isn't well known, but has never been stopped and gave Marcus Browne a really competitive test. Bivol will, obviously, be strongly favoured here but he will have to work hard for the win against a capable, yet relatively obscure, challenger. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Will Bivol be tested by unheralded Castillo?
The biggest Asian card for the day takes place Kazakhstan as MTK go to Almaty for a pretty notable, yet not hugely exciting, show.
The main event here will see the hard hitting and unbeaten Ali Baloyev (9-0, 7) take on Venezuelan veteran Gusmyr Perdomo (26-9, 17). Baloyev is a genuine one to watch, and on paper this is a credible step up in class for him, after a string of relative limited opponents. Despite that it does need noting that Perdomo is now 42 and it's more than a decade ago that he fought Mikkel Kessler. Perdomo was once a solid fighter but now he's an old man and will have to rely on wiles to survive with Baloyev.
In an 8 round support bout we'll see Abilkhaiyr Shegaliyev (6-0, 4) likely pick up a straight forward win as he takes on Georgian Sandro Jajanidze (5-19-1, 3). It's hard to see anything but a win for Shegaliyev, but Jajanidze is a tough, rugged guy and could well see out the distance with the Kazakh prospect.
Arguably the pick of the bouts will see Chinese-Kazakh fighter Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (14-0-1, 5) take on Filipino Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-14-3, 11). On paper this is a horrible mismatch, but paper only tells half the story and Ponteras is an upset minded Filipino who travels to win, and he will be here looking to end the unbeaten run of his foe. Whilst Ponteras was stopped last time out, by Seiya Tsutsumi, we still expect to see a gutsy, determined and rough effort from him and this could be a much better fight than it looks on paper.
Others on this card include unbeaten hopefuls Nurtas Azhbenov (6-0, 2), Hurshid Tojibaev (2-0, 1) and the debuting pair of Nurdos Tolebay (0-0) and Miras Ali Sarsenov (0-0). These 4 are tipped for big things, especially Tojibaev and Sarsenov who both had very strong amateur careers, and it's going to be interesting to follow their progress. Sadly however MTK aren't known for pushing their prospects quickly, and it could be a while until we see any of these talented fighters given a serious test.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Over in the Philippines we'll see a small yet noteworthy card.
In the main event we'll see former world title challenger Denver Cuello (38-5-6, 26) take on Jesse Espinas (19-4, 11) in an IBO world title eliminator. Cuello has only fought 3 times in the last 4 years and although he's not the fighter he once was the 32 year old southpaw is still a very dangerous and will know that a win will open doors for him. Espinas on the other hand will be looking to bounce back from successive defeats and will know that another loss here will be hard to bounce back from. A very interesting match up
One of the other notable bouts here will see Cris Alfante (17-7-1, 9) take on Mateo Handig (15-19, 9). The 27 year old Alfante has reeled off 3 straight stoppage wins since his last loss, to Ardin Diale, and despite his less than stellar record he is 6-1 since a June 2016 loss to Andrew Moloney. Handig is no push over, but with 3 straight losses, and only 3 wins since an upset loss over Katsunari Takayama back in 2012, he's not expected to be competitive here.
In a more interesting bout on the same card we'll see the unbeaten Ranelio Quizo (6-0, 1) take on Ronel Dela Cruz (6-1-1, 4). The 21 year old Quizo is unbeaten since his debut in early 2018 but this is a step up in class for him. On the hand Dela Cruz is 1-1-1 in his last 3, but is certainly no push over, he was just unlucky to face April Jay Abne last time out in a Ultimate Boxing Series bout, with Abne winning the tournament this past August. This is a really, really match up.
Negros Occidental, Philippines
A second Filipino card is set to be headlined by a match up between will see the hard hitting, but technically flawed, Joepher Montano (10-5-2, 9) take on former OPBF title challenger Benjie Suganob (10-7-1, 5). Given that Suganob's biggest bout to date took place at 122lbs it's hard to see what he has to offer at 140lbs, the weight for this bout.
Yanggu, South Korea
Another Asian card will take place in South Korea, and this is another less than great card.
The main event will see unbeaten Korean fighter Hye Soo Park (5-8-1, 1) take on Chinese visitor Jinyan Gao (2-1) in a bout for the WIBA Super Flyweight title. The Korean took the bout on short notice, after the unbeaten Soo Rin Kim was forced to pull out of the bout with around 10 days notice due to a back issue, and is likely to be too small for the naturally bigger Chinese fighter.
A second title fight will see Yong Hwan Jun (5-4-1, 2) make his first defense of the KBM Welterweight title, as he takes on Hae Myung Jung (3-1-1, 1). Jun won the title last time out, when he defeated Dong Young Kang over 10 rounds, but didn't really blow anyone away with his performance. The challenge was actually held to a draw last time out, when he failed to get past Gi Won Shin. This should be competitive, but it's hard to get too excited about the contest, and it showed how much the Korean scene needs to work together to have a decent domestic title picture.
New South Wales, Australia
At the East Cessnock Bowling Club in New South Wales we see two Indian fighters in action.
One of those Indian fighters is the unbeaten Sagar Narwat (9-0-1, 3), who takes on fellow unbeaten fighter Troy O'Meley (9-0, 2) in a good looking bout, but one that perhaps isn't as interesting as it looks. Narwat began his career in the Philippines, but his last 6 bouts have been in India and have all been against very limited opposition. O'Meley has also faced mostly limited opposition, though he got through a bit of a gut check last time out when he was pushed hard in a 6 rounder against Isaac Buckley. This looks good, and may turn out to be good, but really both men have mostly padded their records.
The other Indian on this card is Shivani Dahiya (1-1) who is up against it here, as she takes on Bianca Elmir (4-1, 3). On paper this doesn't look much of a mismatch, but Elmir ran Shannon O'Connell close just 2 fights ago and should have way too much for Dahiya here.
New South Wales, Australia
Also in Australia we'll see once beaten local Tyson Lantry (7-1, 3) take on Filipino visitor Rodynie Rafol (13-7-2, 6), on a separate show in New South Wales. This bout, for the lightly regarded WBF Asia Pacific Lightweight title, looks like a mismatch and we would be surprised by anything but a win for the local. Coming in Lantry has won his last 6, since a stoppage loss in his second pro-bout, whilst Rafol has lost 2 of his last 3, and has only had 1 win since 2015. Notably however Rafol's only recent win was an upset in Australia against James MacDonald, over a year ago.
This coming Wednesday attention turns back to the Korakuen Hall where Kawasaki Nitta will be putting on a small but notable show with a Japanese title eliminator and the second bout for a very highly touted novice.
The Japanese title fight eliminator will see former champion Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) battle against 2017 Rookie of the Year Shuji Kato (9-1-1, 6), with the winner set to get a title shot at the title in early 2019. Nishida lost the title earlier this year to Kazuto Takesako, who stopped him in just over 90 seconds, with that loss ending a reign of almost 2 years. Sadly Nishida hasn't fought since that defeat and he's now 18 months removed from a win of note. Kato on the other hand hasn't scored a major win yet, but did win the 2017 Rookie of the Year crown and has gone 7-0-1 since his sole loss, back in 2015. A full preview of this bout can be read here Former champion Nishida takes on Rookie winner Kato!
In the only notable supporting bout we'll see the hotly tipped Takuma Takahashi (1-0, 1) take a clear step up in class as he takes on Filipino Joepher Montano (9-3-2, 8). The unbeaten Japanese fighter debuted back in June, when he defeated a Thai visitor in 2 rounds, and this is a clear step up from that bout. Takahashi is regarded as one of the most promising Japanese fighters above 130lbs though we're yet to to see him really face any adversity as a professional. The Filipino isn't a world beater by any stretch, but did give Atchariya Wirojanasunobol a decent test in August and will be hoping to do the same to Takahashi, despite being a very clear under-dog. We're hoping to see Takahashi being asked some new questions here, but we would be very surprised if he didn't come out on top.