Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
This coming Saturday our attention turns to Kobe for a Japanese card that features two title bouts, and a couple of well matched lower level bouts.
The main event of this show will be the rescheduled bout between Japanese veteran Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13) and promising youngster Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5), who battle for the vacant OPBF Light Flyweight title. Originally this bout was supposed to take place in March before the boxing calendar got shaken up by the lengthy hiatus caused by the on going global situation. Thankfully this bout, which looked good back in February when we were waiting for it, looks just as good now, and we are anticipating a really well contested battle between two men at very different stages of their careers. Our preview of this bout can be read here Tomita clashes with veteran Horikawa for OPBF title!
In a Japanese Atomweight title bout we'll see Kaori Nagai (4-2-3, 2) and Momoko Kanda (10-12-2, 4) clash, in what will be the second bout between the two women. The title, which was vacated by Eri Matsuda, isn't a well established one with a long history, but the winner here will likely see themselves taking a huge step towards a potential world title fight. Of the two Nagai probably has the advantage, given she won the first bout, but the experience Kanda could be the difference here, with this likely to be her last big opportunity if she loses. Our preview of this fight can be read here Nagai and Kanda battle for Japanese national crown!
In a supporting bout we'll see Japanese ranked Bantamweight Koichi Wakita (7-2-2, 2) take on Kaito Takeshima (6-3, 1) in what looks like it could be a competitive bout. Sadly despite being in good form, having gone 5-0-2 in his last 7, Wakita is now 30 years old and it's hard to imagine him going through the rankings and getting a title fight. On the other hand Takeshima, who's only 21, is needing to rebuild following a recent upset loss to Takuya Fujioka and we expect to see him give his all here.
In another well matched under-card bout the 20 year old Aoba Mori (6-2) will take on 25 year old Keisuke Iwasaki (4-2, 1). The young Mori may have won 6 of his 8 bouts but he has had 5 very close decisions in his favour and it seems hard to imagine him going far unless he can start to make himself stand out in bouts. Iwasaki on the other hand was last seen in the 2019 Rookie of the Year final, losing to Seiya Meguro last December. Both men will come in to this bout hungry and both are young, so we expect a high energy bout here between two men looking to make a point.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
There is also a show in Thailand as we see the sport begin to resume in the Land of Smiles.
The main event here will see former world title challenger Nawaphon Kaikanha (48-1-1, 38) battle against Suradech Ruhasiri (6-2, 5) in a bout for the WBC Asia Banatamweight title. We expect this to be little more than a mismatch in favour of Nawaphon, who should be too good, too experienced and too big for the limited Ruhasiri.
On paper the co feature is a much better bout and will see Phongsaphon Panyakum (8-1, 3) take on Sophon Klachun (5-4-1, 1). Although a more competitive bout than the main event we don't see this as being a very high level contest.
Antai Tennis Park, Rizhao, China
As well as the Japanese and Thai shows we'll also be getting a small card in China. This card, like many of the other recent Chinese ones, is a novice show, where most of the fighters are taking one of their first steps as a professional.
Despite most of the bouts being between two novices it is worth noting that the show will have an interesting match up on it between Ju Wu (9-0-2)* and Wei Liu (1-0, 1). We've been impressed by the talented young Wu, who has shown a good boxing brain and ring craft and it's hard to see him losing to a 1-0 debutant. Saying that however over 4 rounds a quick start by Liu could see him potentially playing the role of a human banana peel, and the bout is more interesting than it looks on paper.
*It appears that Ju Wu and Lei Wang's draw from earlier in the year is no long on either man's record
The first bit of post Christmas action featuring an Asian comes in Switzerland, of all places, and will see unbeaten Chinese fighter Ju Wu (8-0-2) battle against once beaten local fighter Alain Chervet (16-1-2, 10) in a bout for the IBO International Lightweight title. The Chinese fighter is making his international debut here and although not very well known he has been impressive recently, scoring wins over Adones Aguelo and Rimar Metuda earlier this year. The 29 year old Chervet has notched 3 wins since suffering his sole loss, back in May 2017, and will be favoured here in front of his home crowd. Although Chervet will be the favourite this will be not be an easy bout for the local hopeful.
The most notable show for us this coming Friday takes place in China, and although it's not a huge show it does have some interesting local fighters on it.
One of the local hopefuls is unbeaten teenager Ju Wu (6-0-2), who takes a massive step up in class to take on Filipino veteran Adones Aguelo (31-19-2, 21) in a very tough looking 8 rounder. This is a legitimately tough bout for the unbeaten man, but a win here really would leave it's mark on the regional scene.
A local we're next expecting to be tested too much is Yu Che Li (5-1-2, 3), who should easily over-come Indonesian veteran Waldo Sabu (13-14, 3). Sabu can be a banana skin, as seen when he stopped Ernesto Saulong, but in reality those performances where he actually turns up to win are few and far between.
Baja California, Mexico
Once beaten US based Kazakh Sagadat Rakhmankul (4-1, 2) makes his Mexican debut as he takes on highly experienced Daniel Armando Valenzuela (36-36-2, 21), who is fighting for the 75th time. The 25 year old Rakhmankul bounced back from a November loss to Nicklaus Flaz by beating Brandon Adams in March and will be looking to notch another win here, a win that is expected for him. Despite having 74 bouts to his name Valanezuela is only 29. Sadly 31 of his 36 losses have been inside the distance and whilst he is at home, in Mexico, he will be expected to be stopped against.
Unbeaten Azeri born American based Elvin Gambarov (4-0, 4) takes a huge step up to face off with veteran Larry Smith (10-40-1, 7). On paper this should be an easy win for the 27 year old Gambarov, as Smith is 40 and is 1-38-1 in his last 40, but it is still a step up for the Azeri who has really only faced total novices so far.