Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Wednesday our attention turns to Tokyo for a solid card from Yokohama Hikari. The show isn't a massive one, by any stretch, but it has 3 very good bouts on it all of which could have headlined smaller shows.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (17-1, 11) look to make his third defense of the title, as he takes on the unbeaten Rei Nakajima (4-0). The talented and aggressive Matsunaga is one of the most fun Japanese fighters to watch in the "middle weight" range, as he's the type of fighter who brings incessant pressure, pushes forward and tries to force his will on his opponents. That has worked well for him over the last 5 years and he has won his last 11, against some pretty well established fighters on the Japanese scene. The challenger however is the exact opposite. Nakajima is a speed, slippery fighter, who uses good timing, good boxing IQ and quickness to land shots and avoid taking many. Nakajima isn't too well established, but really impressed last time out, beating Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa, and will come into this bout feeling he has the tools to defeat Matsunaga. This could be a very, very interesting bout. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Japanese champion Matsunaga clashes with Nakajima
In a second title bout we'll see Japanese Youth Minimumweight champion Kai Ishizawa (7-1, 7) defending his title against Yuni Takada (8-6-2, 3). The exciting and hard hitting Ishizawa won the title way back in 2018, when he stopped Yuga Inoue, but hasn't managed to defend it yet and will have to vacate it later this year, as he's now 24. It seems very clear that he and his team wanted to make at least one defense before handing it back. As for Takada he won't be expected to put up much of a challenge, having gone 2-4-1 in his last 7 and he's winless in his last 3. However Takada has been matched hard, having faced the likes of Norihito Tanaka, Toshiki Kawamitsu and Tetsuya Mimura, and will be there knowing this is a rare title opportunity for him. We suspect Ishizawa will be in here to make a statement and really test the heart and toughness of Takada from the off, before going on to bigger and better things. Our preview of this bout can be read here Ishizawa takes on Takada in Japanese Youth title defense
The third bout of note on this card will see highly skilled Japanese Featherweight Reiya Abe (20-3-1, 9) take on the once beaten Koshin Takeshima (4-1-1, 3). The brilliant Abe has gone 12-1-1 (5) in his last 14 bouts, scoring notable wins against the likes of Tsuyoshi Tameda, Joe Noynay, Satoshi Hosono and Daisuke Watanabe. Although not the most fun fighter to watch there is no doubting his talent, ability and high level boxing IQ. Traits that have seen him dubbed a boxing genius in Japan. Takeshima on the other hand turned professional with quite a bit of buzz around him, and there was high expectations on his shoulders, but he's gone 0-1-1 in his last 2 and has looked underwhelming at times. He's clearly a talented fighter, but he doesn't appear to have developed well since turning professional. Sadly for Takeshima we suspect he will come undone again here, especially given his poor performance last time out, against Yamato Hata.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday Yokohama Hikari are back with another show under the A-Sign Boxing banner, and as with other A-Sign cards it is a surprisingly deep and stacked card, and is expected to be streamed live on YouTube. The show has 6 bouts in total, from which 4 are worth genuine attention, with at least on JBC, OPBF or WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter involved.
The first of the 4 bouts worthy of attention is a bout between Kai Ishizawa (6-1, 6) and Masashi Tada (13-7-3, 8). The bout will see the all action, heavy handed and aggressive Ishizawa look for one of his biggest wins as he takes on the rugged former Japanese title challenger. The 23 year old Ishizawa lost last time out, losing a competitive decision to Masataka Taniguchi, but will know a win here will help put him right back in to the domestic title mix. At 31 years old Tada is coming to the end of his career, which began back in 2009, and has twice seen him fighting for domestic honours. Gone gone 2-4-2 in his last 8 Tada needs a win to remain relevant, but will be up against it as he takes on an excellent youngster. This has the potential to be the fight of the show.
On the subject of potential "fight of the show" it's hard to over-look the showdown between Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) and Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6), which promises fireworks. Both of these men are hard hitting, but have defensive flaws and both have been stopped. On paper Chiba is the more proven and he's also the more rounded, but Ishikawa is out there with a point to prove following a loss last year to Toshiya Ishii. We really are expecting big things from this one, and it has two guys whose style's should gel brilliantly!
Another supporting bout on the card will see the Japanese ranked Ryuto Araya (13-8-1, 4) risk his Super Featherweight ranking as he takes on Katsunori Endo (6-3, 3). The 32 year old Araya is a former OPBF title challenger who has had mixed successes in recently years. In the last 4 years he has gone 2-4 and really needs a big win soon if hg's to get a second shot at a title. As for Endo he's 29 and comes into the bout on the back of successive early wins. Expect to see Endo starting fast and then having questions asked of him as Araya's experience begins to show it's self.
The main event will see the highly skilled, though often frustrating, Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) take on the unbeaten Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6) in a bout that promises very high level boxing, but potentially frustrating action. The brilliant Abe had a forgettable 2019, with a draw against Taiki Minamoto and a loss to Ryo Sagawa standing out, but his resume is a deep one on the domestic stage and he will come into this bout as a very clear favourite. Sasaki on the other hand is clearly stepping up in class, though comes in as an unbeaten man, who knows a win will put him in the title mix. We suspect the skills of Abe will be too much for Sasaki, however Sasaki seems the more willing to let his hands go, and he could, potentially, take this on work rate. Either way this is going to be a high level match up, though it could be a very, very frustrating one.
This coming Saturday is a really busy day in Asia, but the standout card is a Japanese one with 4 notable bouts on it. Notably this card isn't just a good one on paper, but will also be available live, thanks to Boxing Raise.
The main event will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (18-3-1, 12) make his first defense, of his second reign, as he battles against the limited but typically fun to watch Yosuke Fujihara (18-6, 5). The hard hitting Kuga won the belt back earlier this year, winning a Japanese Fight of the Year Contender against Ryoichi Tamura, and will be looking to impress here as he attempts to put his 2018 loss to Shingo Wake behind him. The power, pressure and aggression of Kuga is likely to be too much for the challenger but Fujihara does make for fun fights and this should be a fan friendly 1-sided bout. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuga takes on Fujihara in first title defense!
A second title bout will see fast rising Japanese hopeful Tsubasa Murachi (4-0, 3) take on former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (30-3-1, 21) in a bout for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. Although not one of the big name hopefuls in Japan Murachi is very well regarded by those who have followed his career, and the plan had always been to fast track him, though we didn't expect such a big step up so early in his career. A win for Murachi at this stage will likely secure him a WBO world ranking but it's not an easy task. Saludar, who was once touted as a future world champion himself, has faltered in his biggest bouts, including bouts against Takuma Inoue and Sho Kimura, but is very capable. For Saludar another loss here would likely end his hopes of getting another world title fight, but he'll feel confident that his experience will be too much for the Japanese youngster. A very interesting match up. A full preview of this bout can be read here Murachi goes for gold in 5th fight, takes on Saludar for WBO regional title!
The third bout which is getting a lot of interest is a Japanese Minimumweight title eliminator. This bout, the second of the eliminators for the 2020 Champion Carnival, will see former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) going up against hard hitting youngster Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6). For Taniguchi this is a must win bout, but also a huge step backwards following a bout with Vic Saludar earlier this year. As for Ishizawa this is a massive step up in class, and a win will put him on the map and secure a title fight next year. Our view is that it maybe too much too soon for Ishizawa, but we understand why he has taken the fight. This is genuine high risk, high reward for both men. Our preview of this bout is available here Taniguchi and Ishizawa meet in Japanese title eliminator
The final of the notable bouts will see rising Afghan born Japanese based Welterweight hopeful Kudura Kaneko (10-0, 7) continue to step up as he takes on rugged veteran Moon Hyon Yun (18-7-3, 4) in what could turn out to be the best bout of the show. Kaneko is a very exciting, hard hitting boxer-puncher whilst Yun is a genuine tough guy who has scored more than his share of upset wins. This should be a real test for Kaneko, and could well be a genuine banana skin given the style that Yun brings to the ring. This bout has been featured as our One to watch-Kudura Kaneko vs Moon Hyon Yun this week.
In China we get an interesting card with an international feel to it.
In one of the main bouts we'll see Chinese puncher Jun Zhao (11-2-1, 8) take on Japanese foe Sonin Nihei (9-4-2, 1) in a contest for the WBA Asia Bantamweight title. Coming in to this the 26 year old Zhao has been in good form, winning his last 6, but hasn't looked sensational during that run and he certainly improvements to make. On the other hand Nihei has struggled for results, winning just 1 of his last 3, but will be travelling with the knowledge that he has the skills to spring in the upset.
In a supporting bout we'll see Mongolian hopeful Erkhembayar Batbayar (5-0, 3) take on Korean foe Jun Yong Lee (6-5-4, 3). This is a 10 rounder and on paper a big step up for the Mongolian, who has never been beyond 6 rounds so far. The Korean is a former national champion, but has won just 1 of his last 4, and is 2-4-1 in his last 7. Batbayar will be the favourite, and rightfully so, but this is certainly his biggest test to date.
Bang Phun, Thailand
We return to the Work Point Studio for a Thai card which will be available on Work Point in Thailand and DAZN in the US.
One of the main bouts on this card will see former Naoya Inoue opponent Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (43-9, 20) take on Filipino visitor Renz Rosia (15-8-1, 8). Petchbarngborn, also known as Karoon Jarupianlerd, has gone 8-1 since losing to Inoue in 2016 but has fought at a most limited level, with a loss earlier this year to Amnat Ruenroeng being the most notable of those bouts. Rosia on the other hand is 1-3-1 in his last 5 and despite once being a solid fighter at regional level looks like a man who is is often fighting above his best weight. Rosia always comes to fight, but there is a feeling that he probably won't have enough to over-come the Thai in Thailand, where an away win is never easy.
Another bout on this card pitting a Thai against a Filipino will see Nawaphon Kaikanha (46-1-1, 36) take the under-rated and tough Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-14-3, 11). The once beaten Nawaphon is a former world title challenger who is also the brother of former world champion Suriyan Sor Rungvisai. Since his loss, in a WBC Flyweight title bout to Juan Hernandez, Nawaphon has moved up to Bantamweight and reeled off 10 straight wins. On paper Ponteras doesn't look like much of a threat, but in reality he's a really good journeyman who should take Nawaphon some rounds, and be competitive at times. Saying that however there are question marks about what Ponteras still has left following his first stoppage defeat back in March, when he was stopped in the opening round by Seiya Tsutsumi. At his best he was very much an upset minded fighter, who scored more than his share of wins against the odds, but he's now without a win in 4 bouts and could well be past his best.
Another bout on this card will be part of the WP Boxing Super Flyweight tournament and will see novices Danai Ngiabphukhiaw (2-1, 1) and Yodtanong Chaepet (2-0, 1) face off. These two were supposed to fight in August but their bout was pushed back to here. On paper this 6 rounder promises a lot and should be competitive, and of course we're big fans of tournaments, so fingers crossed the winner of the overall competition will be given a career boost as Thailand looks to unearth it's next generation of talent.
A second show in Thailand is a much lower profile card. The bouts here are much less interesting and the main event will see Murodjon Yokubov (4-0, 3) battle against teenager Tanawat Ketsiri (2-5, 2). The 25 year old Yokubov is a Thai based Uzbek who turned pro last year and really needs a step up in the near future. Ketsiri on the other hand has lost 4 times this year, and looks almost certain to pick up another loss here.
Sadly not other bout on this card is really worth talking about.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Yet another show of some note is a Filipino card from the Elorde Sports Center in Paranaque City.
Among the bouts on this card is a clash of once beaten youngsters, as Arvin Magramo (10-1-1, 6) and Francis Jay Diaz (8-1-1, 1) face off in an 8 round Light Flyweight contest. Magramo is very much in the rebuilding stages of his career, following a defeat at the hands of Garen Diagan a year ago, but this is a tough match up on paper and his team are taking a risk here. The 21 year old Diaz, dubbed "The Amazing Boy" began his career 1-1-1 before reeling off 7 straight wins, but this is a bi step up for him. Although a low key bout, in the grand scheme of things, this is a very interesting match up
A second contest between fighters with a single loss to their name will feature Marlon Paniamogan (9-1-1, 5) and Jino Rodrigo (5-1-2, 4), who will also be involved in a 10 round fight. On paper this should be more explosive than the other bout however it's worth noting that Paniamogan was beaten last time out, losing a decision in Japan to Kuntae Lee. Rodrigo, on the other hand, is 3-1-2 in his last 6, suggesting neither has much moment coming into this bout.
A third bout of interest here sees unbeaten men battle, with Delmar Pellio (7-0, 3) and Marjon Piencenaves (6-0-1, 4) fighting in an 8 rounder. The 19 year old Pellio has only previously faced 1 opponent with a winning record and will be looking for his third win of the year. Piencenaves on the other hand is a 24 year old who is facing his first opponent with a winning record, so for both men this is a step up and their real, serious test.
New Delhi, India
There's also a small show in India.
The main bout on this card will see the unbeaten Rajesh Kumar (10-0-1-2) take on Filipino foe Ivor Lastrilla (11-7-1, 6) in an 8 round contest. The 25 year old Kumar has won his last 5, following a draw in October 2016, and is looking to build on those wins here. On paper Lastrilla is a step down from Kumar's last 2 foes, but could still make for an interesting test. The 27 year old Lastrilla has lost his last 3, but when on form he can be a good test. Lastrilla is unlikely to have the size, power or strength to be a physical threat to Kumar, but may have the skills to ask questions of him.
In a supporting bout female hopeful Ramandeep Kaur (5-0) will take on Thai journey-woman Saranyaphong Theinthong (2-13, 2), in what really should be an easy win for Kaur over 6 rounds.
Macao S.A.R., China
The biggest Asian show this coming Saturday comes from Macao, where we get several bouts of note thanks to the IBF, who are holding a convention and having boxing take place around that event.
On paper the best bout is an all-south Light Heavyweight clash between Fanlong Meng (14-0, 9) and Adam Deines (17-0-1, 8), who battle in what is an IBF final world title eliminator. Unbeaten fighters, with ambition, clashing is always a good thing, and whilst neither will be given a chance against IBF world champion Artur Beterbiev this should still be a worth while clash. With a world title fight up for grabs for the winner this is a really important contest, and potentially the hidden gem of the weekend.
Another unbeaten fighter on this card is Australian Steve Gago (10-0, 4), who takes on criminally under-rated Filipino Adam Diu Abdulhamid (14-7, 6), in what should be a much, much tougher test than it appears on paper. Although Abdulhamid has 7 losses to his name he is a very talented fighter and a real potential banana skin for the unbeaten Gago.
A third bout will see China's Sen Chen (11-1, 2) battle against Filipino veteran Richie Mepranum (33-7-1, 9), for a minor regional title. This is a big step up for Chen, but a win would help him out his name out there. At his best Mepranum is a solid fighter, but in recent years he has just been picking up more losses than wins, and has lost 3 of his last 5. A good test for Chen, but it should be a winnable one.
From the Korakuen Hall we'll get the next Dynamic Glove card, and unfortunately it won't be shown live, and instead it's going to be put on tape delay the following Wednesday.
The main event of the card was supposed to be the first defense of the Japanese Flyweight title by Junto Nakatani (18-0, 13), who was pencilled in to face Wolf Nakano (6-7-4, 2). That was a disappointing bout and was cancelled when Nakano suffered an injury in training, and he has now been replaced by Filipino foe Philip Luis Cuerdo (11-6-1, 4). On paper this is a better bout than the original match up, but should be little more than the next step forward for Nakatani, who is looking like one of the brightest prospects in Japan.
On paper the bout of the show looks likely to be the rematch between Charles Bellamy (28-3-2, 18) and Yuto Shimizu (12-4-2, 5), who had a cracking bout last September. The Bellamy, a popular Japanese based American, took a narrow win over Shimizu last year, and will be favoured here. Shimizu however is no push over, as he showed in their first bout, and this could be a very, very good bout.
Another really good looking match up here will see Japan's Ryota Toyoshima (10-2-1, 7) look to build on a big 208 as he takes on Korean visitor Woo Min Won (10-1, 6). Toyoshima went 3-0 (2) last year, with a very notable win over Moon Hyun Yun, and will be looking to continue that run here. The Korean fight will be fighting on Japanese soil for the second time, having beaten Daiki Koide in Nagoya in 2016. Interestingly this will be Kim's 4th straight bout against a Japanese foe, and so far he has a 3-0 (2) record against Japanese fighters.
Hard hitting Minimumweight prospect Kai Ishizawa (5-0, 5) might not be one of the most rounded prospects in Japan but he is a very heavy handed fighter with a lot of promise, and he's very, very young. On this show he will take on Indonesian journeyman Silem Serang (13-19-2, 1), in what should be little more than a show case for the very exciting Ishizawa.
One other bout of note will see Rookie of the Year runner up Hikari Mineta (5-1, 3) kick off his 2019 with a bout against 32 year old Motosuke Kimura (3-1-2, 1). We were impressed by Mineta in the Rookie of the Year, though he did have a nightmare in the early stages of the final, and it's going to be great to see what the Teiken man can go on to achieve over the coming years.
On the subject of Japanese fighters it's worth noting that Swiss based Japanese born veteran Aniya Seki (34-4-3, 5) will be up against journey woman Ivanka Ivanova (1-10-2) in Berne. Seki, now aged 40, is unlikely to achieve her dream of becoming a world champion, but she should pick up an easy win here against her Bulgarian foe who hasn't won in her last 9.
We turn to the US for much more notable action towards the end of the day, with a number of Filipino fighters in action.
Sadly whilst there are some talented fighters on the card, the most notable of the Filipino fighters looks to be, on paper at least, in a stay busy fight. That is former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (32-2, 15), the criminally under-rated southpaw, taking on Mexican foe Roberto Castaneda (23-11-2, 16). On paper this is a mismatch, though Castaneda has had some interesting performances in recent years coming close to upsetting Jose Lopez in 2014 and securing a draw Tyler McCreary last time out.
Another highly regarded Filipino on this card is the hard hitting Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17), who returns to the ring following a weight mishap earlier in the year. He'll be up against fellow puncher Jose Luis Gallegos (16-6, 12) and should manage to secure a pretty straight forward win, though has clearly lost some of his career moment after a huge 2018.
Filipino-America John Leo Dato (10-0-1, 7) looks to extend his unbeaten record, as he takes on tough veteran German Meraz (62-55-2, 39). The Mexican veteran has 120 bouts to his name, and although his losses are stacking up he has only 8 stoppage defeats with the latest coming more than 2 years ago to Tugstsogt Nyambayar. Meraz will test Dato, but isn't likely to score the upset.
Attention turns to the Korakuen Hall once again this coming Saturday for a stacked Dangan card, with 4 very good bouts on it.
The main event of the show will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai (30-7, 21) take on Mexican youngster Victor Emanuel Olivo (15-2-1, 7) in an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator, with the winner moving towards a world tittle fight against Jerwin Ancajas. Funai has been on a good run since losing in a Japanese title fight to Sho Ishida way back in 2016. He claimed the Japanese title last year and the WBO Asia Pacific belt earlier this year, and he's actually 6-0 (5) since the loss to Ishida. When it comes to assessing Olivo's career things aren't that impressive, with his most notable result being a narrow loss to Milan Melindo back in 2015. Aged 22 Olivo is a fighter who is developing but he was beaten just 2 fights back by Jose Briegel Quirino, in what looks to have been a home town decision. Olivo is probably better than his record indicates, but this is still a big step up in class for the Mexican. We've a full preview of this bout here Funai and Olivo battle in world title eliminator!
The chief supporting bout will match once beaten fighters, as Shuya Masaki (10-1, 5) takes on recent OPBF title challenger Izuki Tomioka (5-1-1, 1). The talented Masaki was tipped for big things, but his rise through the ranks was slowed this past January, when he was out pointed by Hironori Mishiro. Masaki has bounced back since his loss, with a decision win over Korean Hyun Je Shin, but this is a big step back up since that loss. On the other hand the 21 year old Tomioka surprised the Japanese scene this year when he pushed OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani very close in July, losing an 11th round TKO in a very competitive bout. Tomioka's biggest issue is his lack of power, but we wouldn't be surprised by him relying on his skills and picking up a career best win here.
Another mouth watering support bout will see Seiryu Toshikawa (10-4, 6) face off with the unbeaten Shawn Oda (9-0, 8) for the Japanese Youth Lightweight title. The more experienced man is 22 years old and debuted back in August 2014. He suffered a few early career set backs, losing 3 of his first 6, but has since gone 7-1 with a very notable win last time out against Ryuji Ikeda. On the hand Oda is a 20 year old with insane upside, as he showed when taking the 2016 Rookie of the Year crown at the age of 18. Oda hasn't been the busiest since his Rookie win, but has impressed, with 3 solid wins this year including a stoppage against Masashi Wakita in August. Oda is the more naturally gifted man, but this is likely to be his stiffest test to date. A preview of this bout is here Oda and Toshikawa battle for Lightweight youth crown!
A fourth major bout on this card will see 2017 Rookie of the Year Yuga Inoue (7-0-1, 1) take on the hard hitting Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) for the vacant Japanese youth Minimumweight title fight. The 19 year old Inoue, no relation to Naoya Inoue, really impressed last year before taking the Rookie crown in December against Retsu Akabane. Since that Rookie win Inoue has scored his only stoppage win, taking out Daisuke Sudo in 5 rounds this past May. As for the 21 year old Ishizawa he made his debut in June 2017 and has impressed ever since, scoring a huge win over Tatsuro Nakashima back in April. It should be noted that Ishizawa was supposed to fight for this title earlier in the year, against Daiki Tomita, but the bout was cancelled when Ishizawa suffered an injury, which he has now recovered from. Our in depth preview of this bout is here Ishizawa and Inoue battle for Japanese youth title!
As well as the stacked show in Japan there's also a notable card in the Philippines, headlined by former world title challengers facing off, and featuring several prospects in supporting bouts.
The main event will see Melvin Jerusalem (13-2, 8) battle against Toto Landero (10-3-2, 2). Both of these men have fought for world titles in recent years, with Jerusalem giving Wanehng Menayothin arguably the toughest bout of his career, in 2017, and Landero recently losing to Knockout CP Freshmart. The loser will have some serious rebuilding to do, but given that both men are still young that won't be a huge issue with the right mind set. The winner however will have taken a huge step towards getting a second shot at a world title. Our preview of this bout is here Jerusalem and Landero battle in brilliant all Filipino clash!
In one of the supporting bouts fans will see unbeaten 20 year old Esneth Domingo (10-0, 6) risk his unbeaten record against Reymark Taday (9-6-1, 4), in what could be a good test for the 20 year old Domingo. Another of the supporting bouts will see will see the unbeaten Christian Bacolod (9-0, 7) taking on fellow unbeaten Christoval Furog (5-0, 2) in what should be a compelling bout, though we do feel that Bacolod's power and extra experience will be the difference.
Lancashire, United Kingdom
The Funai bout isn't the only world title eliminator taking place as the UK plays host to a Lightweight world title eliminator between Indonesian warrior Daud Yordan (38-3-0-1, 26) and popular Englishman Anthony Crolla (33-6-3, 13), who will be hoping to take a step towards a WBA title shot. Yordan has been one of the few Indonesian fighters in recent years to make a mark internationally and his win earlier this year against Pavel Malikov was one of the best bouts of 2018. He is however up against here, with Crolla being a former WBA world champion and one of the best contenders in the division, with great stamina and under-rated skills. With a big reward for the winner we're expecting this to be a very exciting and action packed contest, with a lot of leather being thrown. We've previewed that bout here Yordan and Crolla set for a thriller...
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia we're set for a bit of a mismatch, with the all action Joel Brunker (33-3, 19) battling Indonesian journeyman Rivo Rengkung (37-27-6, 14). The 32 year old Brunker isn't going to reach the heights many had hopes for, but Rengkung shouldn't pose any sort of a threat at all, and will instead be expected to pick up his 28th career defeat.
In Russia we'll see former Uzbek amateur stand out Makhmud Gaipov (0-0) make his professional debut. Sadly at the time of writing no opponent has been named for Gaipov, but we're expecting him to be moved quickly and in 2019 we'll expect to see him fighting in 6 or even 8 rounders.
The biggest card this coming Friday is in Qingdao as we get two world title fights and several other minor title contests.
One of the world title bouts will see WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (16-1-2, 9) return to China, where he won the title last year against Zou Shiming, to defend the belt against Froilan Saludar (28-2-1, 19). Kimura has made just a single defense of the title, but looks like a solid champion who is strong, hungry and hard hitting, much more so than his record suggests. As for Saludar he was once tipped as a major star but has failed to reach the heights expected of him. Saying that however Saludar has seen his brother, Vic Saludar, score a massive win recently over Ryuya Yamanaka and will feel full of confidence following his brothers win. We're expecting heavy leather to be thrown here and we suspect both have the power to hurt the other.
The other world title fight will see unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (17-0, 7) defending his title against China's very own Xiong Zhao Zhong (27-7-1, 14). This will be Knockout's first bout outside of Thailand and will see him hunting a 5th defense of the WBA regular title. Although talented Knockout does have flaws and with the Chinese crowd against him he may need to up the pace in the later rounds, something he's rarely done when he's been fighting at home. For Zhong the bout is one final chance to become a 2-time world champion, though at the age of 35 it's hard to know what he really left in the tank.
In another title bout we'll see China's Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (13-2-1, 6) take on Filipino fighter Sonny Katiandagho (12-2, 7) for a couple of regional titles. Coming in to this Nasiyiwula will be trying to bounce back from his April loss against Fredrick Lawson in the US, and will be dropping back down from Welterweight to Light Welterweight for this bout. As for Katiandagho he was stopped 2 fights ago, and has been down a few times during his career, though will feel confident here having gone 2-0 in fights in China.
Other bouts on this card include Can Xu (13-2, 1) against Jelbirt Gomera (13-4, 7) and an interim regional Flyweight title bout between Wulan Tuolehazi (7-3-1, 3) and Yokthong Kokietgym (18-4, 11).
Fight fans in Tokyo will get something a bit special as reason put on a stacked card at the Korakuen Hall.
The major attraction here is an amazing match up for the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, as defending champion Yusaku Kuga (16-2-1, 11) takes on former world title challenger Shingo Wake (24-5-2, 16) in what is essentially a world title eliminator between two world class fighters. The hard hitting Kuga has made two defenses of the title that he won in February 2017, though certainly got pushed hard in the first of those against the aggressive and hard hitting Ryoichi Tamura. Wake on the other hand is a former OPBF champion who's only loss in the last 6 years came to the hard hitting Jonathan Guzman in 2016. This is a puncher against a boxer, and we're expecting a compelling stylistic match up here.
Whilst the main event is brilliant it may end up being outshone by a supporting bout between unbeaten Minimumweight prospects, who trade blows for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title. The bout in question will see 2016 Minimumweight Rookie of the Year Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4) take on the heavy handed Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) in what is really a fantastic match up. The 20 year old Tomita had a break out 2016 with his Rookie of the Year triumph and since then has gone 4-0 (2) with a notable domestic win over Desierto Nagaike. On the other hand Ishizawa, who debuted in June 2017, has just been destructive with his April win over Tatsuro Nakashima being a huge statement. This really has the potential to be a very special bout.
Former Japanese and OPBF champion Takuya Kogawa (29-5, 13) will be returning to the ring for his first bout of the year, as he takes on former Japanese title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (16-8-2, 11). At his best Kogawa was world class, and has long been a fan favourite due to his high octane style and willingness to have a tear up against anyone. Sadly though at the age of 33 we suspect his career is catching up with him and he may not have too long left at the top. Saying that however we still suspect Kogawa will have more than enough to over-come the somewhat limited Sakashita who has gone 4-4 in his last 8, losing to the 4 notable fighters that he's shared the ring with in that time.
Another really interesting match up will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Masaaki Serie (27-9, 10) return to the ring after more than 2 years away from the ring. Unfortunately for the 35 year old Serie he will be up against the fast rising Daisuke Sugita (2-0, 1), who is tipped for big things. At his best Serie was a really solid fighter, who scored notable wins against the likes of Mikihito Seto, Shoji Kimura and Yasutaka Ishimoto. Sadly for Serie he was showing signs of his age before his break from the ring, and had gone 3-4 in his previous 7 bouts. Sugita is a former amateur stand out who debuted in April and is taking a big step up here, but one that we expect him to make with ease given just how good he was as an amateur, and how good he's been since turning professional.
A second Japanese card will be held in Osaka where we see several rising prospects and a former Japanese champion in action. Sadly however this card really lacks in terms of quality match ups.
The main event on this card will see second generation fighter Juiki Tatsuyoshi (8-0, 5), the son of the legendary Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, take on Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (32-24-2, 18). The Japanese fighter will be fighting in his first 10 rounder and taking a notable step up in class as he battles his first former world title challenger. Sadly though Manakane is a long, long way from the fighter who challenged Koki Kameda or the WBA Bantamweight title back in 2012 and the 34 year old has won just 8 of his last 21 fights.
The former champion on this card is former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (17-4, 14), who continues to rebuild his career following his shock loss to Takenori Ohashi last December. The heavy handed Saka shouldn't struggle at all with the light hitting Gusti Elnino (4-12-1, 1), who fights outside of Indonesia for the first time. Saka might not be the best fighter, or the smartest, but he should be far too strong and powerful for Elnino.
The once beaten, and heavy handed, Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto (7-1, 6) will be looking to score his 4th straight stoppage as he takes on Arega Yunian (6-10, 1). The Japanese fighter has rebuilt well since a loss in a 4 rounder to Bunta Okamoto back in 2016, and looks to be rising through the ranks, helped in part to a big win in April against Engelbert Moralde. The Indonesian fighter also fought in April, but unlike Tsutsumimoto he was himself stopped, being taken out in 3 rounds by super prospect Hintata Maruta. Given how their performances went in April it's hard to see anything but a stoppage win for Tsutsumimoto.
Also on this show will be the highly promising Ginjiro Tsutsumimoto (1-0, 1), who impressed us back in his amateur days. The talented Japanese hopeful will be up against his own Indonesian foe in the form of Iwan Sanca, who has been stopped in both of his defeats. We've got big hopes for Tsutsumimoto and really can't imagine him struggling, at all, in this bout as he moves towards bigger and better fights.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Outside of Asia the most interesting match up will see once beaten South African fighter Yanga Sigqibo (10-1-1, 3) face off against Filipino foe Rene Dacquel (20-7-1, 6) in a bout for the WBC international Super Flyweight title. The South African fighter won the national title last year and made one defense, but this is a big step up for him as he takes on a former OPBF champion. Dacquel was dominated last time out, by Andrew Moloney, but is a very capable fighter and has got a real chance of picking up a solid win on the road here.
The more notable of two Australian cards comes from Victoria where Brian Amatruda gives us a pretty interesting match up with a Thai involved, and also a bout with a notable Filipino.
The interesting bout, for us, will see the once touted Kaewfah Tor Buamas (27-4, 17) take on rising Australian hopeful Liam Paro (14-0, 10). The Thai would win his first 23 bouts but has since gone 4-4 as his career has began to go backwards and he has suffered recent defeats to Czar Amonsot, Masayoshi Nakatani, George Kambosos and Atchariya Wirojanasunobol all in the last 24 months. As for Paro this is a slight step up in class, but the 22 year old looks a class act and should have the edge in size, power, youth and skills as we go into this bout. A win from Paro is expected, but the real question will be about how he wins.
The Filipino on the other hand is Czar Amonsot (34-4-3, 22). He hasn't had his opponent for the contest announced as of yet, but isn't expected to face much of a test as he competes in a 6 rounder and looks to bounce back from an October 2017 loss to Carlos Manuel Portillo.
Western Australia, Australia
Staying in Australia there will also be a couple of mismatched featuring Indonesian fighters.
One bout will see the under-rated Brandon Ogilvie (19-2-1, 10) take on Indonesian journeyman Rusmin Kie Raha (15-15-3, 3). Although no world beater Ogilvie is certainly not a bad fighter, and his 2016 draw in Tokyo against Yoshitaka Kato was impressive, as was his stoppage win against Pharanpetch Tor Buamas. As for the Indonesian he has suffered 9 stoppage losses in his 15 defeats and has gone 3-13-1 in his last 17 bouts.
The other match up with an Indonesian visitor will see the once beaten Jackson Jon England (4-1, 3) battle against the very limited Arief Blader (23-28-2, 8). Although England was beaten last time out, losing to the then debuting Richard Lockett, he should easily pick up a win here against a very out of form Blader, who has lost his last 6 and has started to collect losses on a very regular basis.
This coming Sunday fight fans in Japan get 3 different shows across the country. On paper the most notable of those is from Okinawa, where fans will get three title fights and several notable fighters from recent Rookie of the Year competitions.
The main event of the card will see hard hitting Ryoya Ikema (12-4, 11) take on fellow puncher Mongkol Kamsommat (6-2, 5) in a bout for the WBC Youth Light Flyweight title. The 20 year old Ikema had a 2017 to forget, with losses to Koki Ono and Ryoki Hirai, but will feel confident of claiming his first title here as he takes on an opponent who has been stopped in both of his losses. The Thai however will fancy his chances to make a name for himself and will be coming in to this on the back of 4 straight wins.
A second title fight on this card will see Yuko Henzan (5-6-4, 2) battle Phannaluk Kongsang (3-4-1, 2) for the OPBF female Bantamweight title, in a less than great looking bout which will actually be a rematch from a bout back in November. When these two first fought, in the Philippines, they fought to an 8 round draw, and given how competitive that bout was we're expecting another close one here, but it's unlikely to be a high quality match up.
A really mouth watering bout will see Tatsuro Nakashima (7-0-1, 5) face off with Kai Ishizawa (3-0, 3) in a bout for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title. Nakashima got all the way to the 2017 Rookie of the Year West final, where he fought to a draw with Yuga Inoue, and certainly looks like a talented youngster with power and ambition. As for Ishizawa he was a pretty solid amateur, going 28-14, and turning professional with a B class license. Since turning professional last June Ishizawa has looked sensational, and the 21 year old will be looking to continue to demonstrate his brutal power, which has seen him stop his first 3 foes in a combined 5 rounds. This could be a very explosive and exciting match up.
Other fighters of note on this card are 2016 Light Welterweight Rookie of year winner Ukyo Yoshigai (5-2, 4) and 2017 winner Marcus Smith (4-0-1, 4), though both men are up against relatively weak opponents and not each other, in what would have been a genuinely notable bout.
In Okyama we'll be able to see two really interesting match ups on the Japanese domestic scene, despite neither fight being a hugely significant one, for now.
The more interesting of those two bouts will see talented 22 year old Seigo Yuri Akui (11-1-1, 7) return to the ring since his first loss, to Junto Nakatani, and battle against the heavy handed Masamichi Yabuki (6-1, 6). The promising Akui was looking like a star in the making before running into the naturally bigger Nakatani last August and simply being out power by his foe. As for Yabuki he's a big puncher who lost in the 2016 Rookie of the year final, with that loss also coming to Junto Nakatani. It's clear both men will be looking for a statement win here, and a chance to work their way towards a rematch with Nakatani. This could be very exciting with both men having hands, and both looking to push themselves to a bigger and better fight.
The other bout of note on this card will see Kota Fujimoto (7-2-1, 2) battle against Shunji Nagata (11-16-2, 3). Coming in to this Fujimoto is ranked by the OPBF, and will be favoured here, but Nagata could be a banana skin, and certainly not be there to roll over though will be giving away significant size to Fujimoto.
At the L-Theatre in Osaka fans will get a relatively notable card featuring several fighters with some form of ranking, and 3 bouts worthy of some note.
The main event will see OPBF ranked Super Flyweight Kenji Kihisa (8-3, 5) take on WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter Shota Kawaguchi (21-9-1, 9). Coming in to this Kihisa is on a 3 fight stoppage run, including a career best win over Futa Akizuki which pushed him into the OPBF rankings. If we remove the run from Kihisa he doesn't have much else on his record, but the 27 year old does look like he is hitting his stride now. Kawaguchi is a former WBO Asia Pacific “Interim” champion, but has gone 4-5 in his last 9, including a stoppage last time out to Ryuichu Funai in a Japanese title fight. Kawaguchi needs a win to remain relevant whilst a victory for Kihisa will put him into the title mix, a really key bout at this regional level.
In a supporting bout fans will see OPBF ranked Super Flyweight Tatsuya Ikemizu (17-2, 7) take on Naoto Fujimoto (9-8-1, 4). The 25 year old Ikemizu has rebuilt well from losses to Mark John Yap and Jonas Sultan, scoring 4 straight wins, but this bout is a step up from the 4 Thai's he has faced over the last 18 months. Although a step up for Ikemizu from recent bouts, it's hard to imagine Fujimoto providing any sort of real test for the 2013 Rookie of the Year winner.
One other bout of note on this card will see Noboru Osato (8-6-4, 1) take on Takuya Yamamoto (8-8, 4) in a bout that both men really need to win. Osata has gone 3-3-1 in his last 7, including a close loss to Yuki String Kobayashi last time out, and really needs a win to give his career any sort of momentum. As for Yamamoto he has lost his last 2, including a 109 second blow out loss to Satoshi Shimizu, and has gone 2-5 in his last 7, showing just how much he needs another win.