This weekend is a big one for fans of Asian boxing! The biggest show comes from Aichi on Saturday but that's not all we have, with notable action in the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Russia!
The big card in Aichi, will be headlined by a world title fight, and will have support bouts featuring a fast rising local prospect and a former world title challenger. It's not a monster card, but it is a very good one.
The main event will see 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (13-0, 7) defending the WBO Flyweight title against mandatory challenger Jonathan Gonzalez (22-2-1, 13). For Tanaka this will be his second defense of the title he took from Sho Kimura last year, and sees him looking to build on his win over Ryoichi Taguchi earlier this year. For Gonzalez this will be his first world title fight, and finally a chance for him to live up to the potential he showed as an amateur. This should be a really high speed and very technical bout, but the champion will clearly be the favourite. Interestingly if Tanaka wins there are murmurs he could be set for another step up in weight and another world title. Our preview of this world title bout can be read here Tanaka returns for next defense, faces "Bomba" Gonzalez
In an excellent supporting bout we'll see the hard hitting and wonderfully exciting Kento Hatanaka (9-0, 9) take on world ranked Filipino fighter Jaysever Abcede (19-8, 12). The unbeaten Hatanaka has needed just 32 rounds to get to 9-0 and already looks like he's a star in the making with major titles clearly in his future. On paper Abcede should be a straight forward step up for Hatanaka hwever the Filipino is no push over and he has regularly proven to be a banana skin, with upset wins against the likes of Pigmy Kokietgym, Stamp Kiatniwat and Seigo Yuri Akui. This should be a really good test for Hatanaka. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hatanaka steps up in class for Abcede test!
Another notable name in a supporting role is former world title challenger Genesis Servania (32-2, 15), who will be fighting for the first time since he lost to Carlos Castro back in February. The talented Japanese based Filipino is getting a clear confidence builder here as he takes on limited Indonesian foe Erick Deztroyer (12-5-1, 3), in a clear mismatch. Don't be surprised if this one ends very early!
A much more interesting match up on this card will see the limited but hard hitting Kanta Fukui (6-2, 5) take on the very talented and promising Shuma Nakazato (8-1-2, 6). Fukui came runner up in the West Japan Rookie of the Year last year, losing a razor thin decision to Takuya Ota in the final. Since then he has bounced back with a single win, but will be stepping up massively here. The 22 year old Nakazato is genuine talent, and someone who should be on the radar of hardcore Japanese. He's the son of former world title challenger Shigeru Nakazato, and has already held his own with Hironori Mishiro, losing a competitive decision to the current OPBF champion and beaten Lorence Rosas. Although in the middle of the card this is a very interesting match up, and one that could end in explosive fashion.
Also on this card will be Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion Yuto Nakamura (10-5, 7) who battles in an 8 round bout against Indonesian Muhammad Wahid (4-2, 1). Wahid impressed us, in some ways, this past May when he stood and took a 6 round pounding from Lap Cheon Cheong in Hong Kong, and he showed his bravery. We suspect that Wahid will again have to be brave, but can't see him lasting 8 round here.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Staying in Asia we also get a notable card in Metro Manila, featuring a great mix of fighters from world class to prospect level.
The world title bout, or rather the WBO "interim" world title bout, will see John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18) defend his Interim Bantamweight title against the limited Cesar Ramirez (18-3, 11). The talented Casimero, a true road warrior, won the title in April and will be looking to make his first defense here. Ramirez is yet to prove he belongs any where near world level, especially in this talent stacked division that we currently have. Although can blow hot and cold, it's hard to imagine him really being tested here. Our preview of this bout is available to read here Casimero set to face Ramirez in first interim title defense
In a pretty interest all Filipino bout between regional contender types we'll see Vincent Astrolabio (13-3, 9) take on Kevin Aseniero (9-2-1, 5). Astrolabio will be defending the WBO Oriental Bantamweight title, which he won in Indonesian back in April, for the first time. Aserniero on the other hand will be looking to stretch a 4 fight unbeaten run.
The most notable prospect on this card is former amateur standout Charly Suarez (2-0, 2), who takes a big step up in class to face the under-rated Virgil Puton (17-12-2, 8). The 30 year old Suarez, who made his debut in January, will be looking to get his career back on track after a 5 month break from action. He's incredibly talented, but doesn't have time to waste. In Puton we have a true regional journeyman, who picks up losses, but pushes good fighters, such as Ye Joon Kim and Shuya Masaki. This is a tough test for Suarez, but one he must pass if he's to make any noise at all in the pro ranks.
Amazing we'll have a third world title fight, with WBO Minimumweight champion Vic Saludar (19-3, 10) making his second defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Wilfredo Mendez (13-1, 5) in Puerto Rico. The under-rated champion, who won the belt in July 2018, was successful this past February when he beat Masataka Taniguchi in his first defense and now fights outside of Asia for the first time. Although not a major global name Saludar is very talented, heavy handed and has under-rated boxing skills. For Mendez this will be his first world title fight, and it looks like a massive step up in class for the talented, though rather negative, Puerto Rican hopeful. This could be a very interesting clash of styles, though will of course be over-shadowed by the other world title bouts earlier in the day. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Vic Saludar and Wilfredo Mendez clash for WBO title!
In Russia we get a pretty big card headlined by Sergey Kovalev and Anthony Yarde. Although that bout doesn't have an Asian interest the under-card does, and it has quite a few in fact with several different bouts featuring an unbeaten Central Asian fighter.
Arguably the most interesting of the Central Asian hopefuls on this card is the always fun to watch Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (14-0, 7) defending his WBA Asia Super Featherweight title. Originally he was pencilled in to face off with Sibusiso Zingange (13-3-2, 3), though Zingange was removed from the bout and at the time of writing, his replacement hasn't been named. Uulu, whilst flawed, would have been strongly favoured to beat the South African.
Another really interesting bout will see Uzbek Super Middleweight Azizbek Abdugofurov (12-0, 4) risk his WBC Silver title against once beaten Russian Andrey Sirotkin (16-1, 5). The talented Uzbek has been out of the ring since beating Wuzhati Nuerlang last November, and has lost much of the early momentum his career once had. Despite that he will be favoured over the 34 year old Sirotkin, who is best known for being stopped last October by John Ryder in the UK.
Unbeaten Kyrgyzstan born Russian based Erzhan Turgumbekov (6-0-1, 2) looks to bounce back from a draw against Javokhirbek Karimov just a few weeks ago, as he takes on unbeaten Ukrainian teenager Heorhii Lashko (9-0, 5). The unbeaten Turgumbekov rushed to 6-0 in just over 13 months but the draw last time out certainly slowed his momentum. Lashko on the other hand scored his biggest win in March, when he beat Ryo Takenaka in China, and will be looking for his 5th win of the year here. Takenaka aside there is little on his record of any note at all.
Kazakh Meiirim Nursultanov (11-0, 8) will also be looking to extend his unbeaten record as he takes on the once beaten Artur Osipov (15-1, 10). The 26 year old Kazakh, who is managed by Egis Klimas, has been out of the ring since beating Luis Hernanez in March, and will be looking to impress on what will be his first bout outside of the US in close to 2 years. Osipov on the other hand is coming in to this bout after a loss in March to Evgeny Terentiev, and will likely be low on confidence, for what looks like his toughest bout so far, on paper.
Another bout on this Russian card worthy of interest ins a contest between Aleksei Papin (11-0, 10) and Ilunga Makabu (25-2, 24) in what is a must watch bout on paper, promising a lot of explosive fireworks and a real feeling that this one will not see the final bell. A full preview of this bout is available here Dynamite meets TNT as Papin and Makuba clash!
The most notable card for us this coming Saturday is in Ekaterinburg, where we will see several promising Central Asian fighters in action.
The most notable bout will see Russian based Kyrgyzstan born Super Featherweight hopeful Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (12-0, 6) facing off with hard hitting Filipino Jon Jon Estrada (11-4-1, 10). Uulu looks to be a real prospect, and is coming in to this bout on the back of wins over Leonardo Padilla and Aristides Perez. Despite those wins the unbeaten man has been down a number of times, and that could be his biggest problem. Estrada is flawed, can be stopped and can be outboxed himself, but he's a serious puncher and recent wins over Brian Lobetania and Tasuku Nakagawa show that he is a real danger man at this level. This could be a very interesting bout.
One of the other central Asian's on this card is Uzbek Sardor Muzaffarov (3-1, 2), who goes up against veteran Andrei Isayeu (30-14, 9). The 23 year old Muzaffarov has notched up two wins since suffering his maiden defeat and will be taking a big step up here, to face off with a very well travelled 38 year old who had gone with a number of notable names, like Rendall Munroe, Oleg Yefimovych and Kevin Mitchell. Although this is a step up, it is worth noting that Isayeu is 1-9 in his last 10 going back more than 3 years.
Another Uzbek on this card is Jaloliddin Uktamov (3-1, 2), who faces off with the unbeaten Timur Pashaliev (1-0-2, 1) of Russia. This is an interesting novice match up that should be competitive, though both men are so early in their career's that it's hard to say too much, especially given the level of competition both men have faced so far.
It's also been reported that Makhmud Gaipov (1-0, 1) will be on this show as well, though details of his bout haven't yet been announced.
Over in Texas we'll see a couple of promising US based Kazakh prospects.
One of those prospects is Iskander Kharsan (4-0, 4), who takes on fellow unbeaten Jorge Ramos (6-0-1, 3) in a bout for the WBC Youth Youth Intercontinental Super Bantamweight title. Kharsan made his debut in July 2017 and has looked destructive so far, but has been matched very softly so far with Manuel Rubalcava being his toughest opponent so far. The 19 year old Ramos actually debuted against the aforementioned Rubalcava back in July 2017. His competition has also been poor so far, though did step up last time out, and fought to a draw with Eric Manriquez
Kharsan's countryman Askat Zhantursynov (2-0, 2) is being matched easier on this card as he takes on Michael Coronado (1-1-1). The Kazakh Cruiserweight debuted in July of this year and is staying active, though could certainly do with a step up in class next year. Coronado is yet to face a fighter with a win, and we suspect he'll come up very short here. Coronado's opponents so far have done little to suggest he has a chance against Zhantursynov.
Also in the US, albeit in California, we'll see the professional debut of former Japanese amateur standout Shokichi Iwata (0-0), who is basing his career in the USA during it's formative years, something we don't usually see from Japanese fighters. The hope for 2019 is to keep Iwata busy, but we suspect his debut will be a pretty simple bout, as he takes on 29 year old American Joel Bermudez (0-1), who was stopped in 71 seconds on debut in August.
In the Philippines we'll get a pretty notable card, featuring a trio of title bouts which were originally stated to take place on December 7th but appears to have been pushed back a day.
The main event of the show will see former world title challengers collide for the PBF Minimumweight title. The bout will see Pedro Taduran (12-2, 9) go up against Jeffrey Galero (15-7, 8) in what could a very good action bout. Both men have come up short to WBC world champion Wanheng Menayothin, but neither embarrassed themselves against the unbeaten Thai. Taduran's not fought since losing to Wanheng earlier this year whilst Galero has gone 6-4 since facing the Thai, though all 4 losses have been in Japan with one of them being a TKO loss to the excellent Tsubasa Koura. Taduran will be the favourite, but this is no gimme for the 22 year old.
A second PBF title bout takes place at Bantamweight, as the unbeaten Denmark Quibido (8-0, 5) takes on Joel Taduran (8-10-1, 2). The 22 year old Quibido is slowly stepping up the quality of his opposition, and this is a good step forward, but a step forward that he will be expected to make with no real issues. Taduran has really lacked form recently, going 1-8 in his last 9, with losses to the likes of Toshiyuki Igarashi, Junto Nakatani and Mark Anthony Barriga, with his last win coming almost 2 years ago against the very limited Noel Guliman. Hard to see anything but a win for Quibido here.
The least significant of the title bouts will see Kevin Aseniero (7-2, 4) take on Jayar Diama (7-16-7, 3) for the vacant LuzProBA Super Flyweight title. Of the two men it's the experienced Diama who is more well known, having fought in Thailand, Japan and China, and despite his record he is actually a good test at the type of level, with a "potential banana skin" feel about him. Aseniero has the much better record on paper, but has lost 2 of his last 3, and will know that another slip up here will be a major set back. The reality is that Aseniero should be favoured, but he will have to work for a win here.
Seoul, South Korea
There is also a small South Korean card. Sadly it's a show really lacking in quality, and the stand out bout is a 6 round contest between Tae Yun Baek (2-0-1, 1) and Seung Hee Lee (2-4, 1) in what doesn't look like a particularly interesting fight, if we're being honest. The good news however is that the Korean scene does, finally, seem to be picking up and we are seeing more and more Korean cards, even if some are really weak like this one.
On the subject of Korean's it's worth noting that Korean Hopeful Deok No Yun (2-0, 1) will take on the debuting Regan Slade (0-0) in Australia. This is Yun's second bout of the year, with the other also being in Australia, and it would be nice to see a Korean making a mark down under. Sadly we're really unconvinced by how much promise Yun really has and he will certainly have to show more in upcoming fights, if he's to be regarded as an actual prospect.
In Nevada we'll see Uzbek hopeful Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (10-1-1, 5) look to bounce back from a recent loss to Marquis Taylor. Rakhmanov will go up against the once beaten Jonathan Steele (8-1-1, 6) in what looks like an excellent match up. Both fighters will know that another loss, this early in their careers, is a massive set back, but they will also know that a win here gives them a bigger boost than facing some over-matched foe just to get a win.