This coming Saturday is an incredibly busy day for Asian boxing, with a two notable shows in Japan and very high profile bouts in the US.
The most notable of the bouts takes place in California, and is world title fight, with a supporting that also features an Asian fighter.
The main event will see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) battle against Mexican challenger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1, 15). For Ancajas this will be his 8th defense, though it's not the type of defense which will really improve his profile. Ancajas is incredibly talented, but seems to have been kept away from most of the other top Super Flyweights, which is incredibly disappointing and frustrating. For Rodriguez this bout is a big step up, and despite a win over Felipe Orucuta last time out there's very, very little quality on his record. Our full preview of this bout can be read here IBF king Ancajas takes on Rodriguez
On the same show we'll see Japan's Hiroki Okada (19-1, 13) attempt to bounce back from his first loss, as he takes on 2008 Olympian Javier Molina (20-2, 8) in a very interesting looking bout. Okada was stopped last time out, by Raymundo Beltran in a very entertaining bout, and is not being given an easy comeback bout here. Molina isn't a big puncher, but is skilled and has won 3 in a row since his most recent loss, a 2016 decision loss to Jamal James.
Las Vegas, USA
A second US show of note will see two very interesting looking match ups.
The most interesting of those will see the once beaten Romero Duno (21-1, 16) take on unbeaten American Ryan Garcia (18-0, 15). The talented Duno has won 12 in a row since suffering his sole defeat, a 2016 loss in Russia to Mikhail Alexeev. During his winning run he has scored some solid wins but a win here would put him on the map in a big way. On the other hand Garcia is a hotly tipped prospect, and is a hugely popular fighter who will be expected to get a real test here. Garcia has been able to build his record with noteworthy wins over the likes of Jayson Velez and Jose Lopez, but has yet to fight a young prime fighter. This is a big step up for both men and the winner will be ear marked to go a very long way.
The second bout featuring an Asian fighter will see Kazakh fighter Meiirim Nursultanov (12-0, 8) take on tough Mexican fighter Cristian Olivas (16-5, 13). The talented Kazakh has looked good coming through the ranks but this is set to be a genuine test against a flawed but tough and heavy handed for. A very interesting match and a great test, on paper, for Nursultanov.
The most significant show in Asia for the day is at the Korakuen Hall and will be shown on G+ in Japan. The card has 6 bouts scheduled for it, but 2 of those really stand out.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (15-1, 9) defending his belt against Koki Koshikawa (9-1, 6). The talented and exciting Matsunaga will be looking to make his first defense of the belt, following his title win over Nobuyuki Shindo earlier this year, and is riding a real hot streak with 9 straight wins. For Koshikawa, who was once tipped as a future star following a strong amateur background, this will be a big step up and marks his first title fight. A very interesting match up, and a very hard one to call. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Matsunaga seeks first defense as he goes up against talented Koshikawa
The chief support bout on this show will be a Japanese Light Middleweight title eliminator, as former champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-5-2, 8) takes on Yuto Shimizu (13-4-2, 5). This a match that will decide who challenges for the title in next year's Champion Carnival and is another hard one to call. Shindo is the more accomplished fighter but Shimizu has impressed in recent fights and will be there to build on a recent win over Charles Bellamy. Our preview of this eliminator can be read here Shindo and Shimizu battle in eliminator
As well as the two main bouts there will supporting bouts featuring former world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi (17-4-1, 7) and the once beaten Kai Chiba (11-1, 7).
A second show at Korakuen Hall on Saturday, though the one which will actually take place first, is a Teiken show featuring 6 of their brightest hopefuls all in 8 round bouts.
One of those hopefuls is Shuya Masaki (13-1, 5) who looks to be heading towards a title fight in the near future. He will be up against Filipino foe Roman Canto (14-13-3, 8) in what should be a relatively easy bout for Masaki. The Japanese fighter is only a bout or two from a title of some kind, though is likely to head for an OPBF or WBO Asia Pacific title fight in 2020. Canto has lost in 5 previous visits to Japan and it's hard to imagine him getting a win here.
Another bout pitting a Japanese hopeful against a Filipino will see unbeaten Japanese puncher Hayate Kaji (13-0, 9) take on Diomel Diocos (14-4-3, 4). Early in his career Kaji looked like a star in the making, he looked like he had all the tools to go to the top, combining skills, power, speed and ambition. Sadly he's not really progressed as we'd hoped and his career seems to faltered, and he's had disappointing performances in his last two bouts. The Filipino has lost 2 of his last 3 and was stopped in 4 rounds last time he fought in Japan, being stopped in 2017 by Daigo Higa.
Former amateur stand out Kuntae Lee (2-0, 1) takes his next step up as he takes on unbeaten Indonesian hopeful Rivo Kundimang (9-0-1, 5). As an amateur Lee really was a stand out, and he is hotly tipped to be a a future star in Japan. Despite only being a novice Lee he has already taken one unbeaten record, beating Marlon Paniamogan back in July. Kundimang will be fighting outside of Indonesia for the first time, and has win his last 9 bouts in a row, following a draw on his debut back in September 2017.
In a good step up we'll also see Mikito Nakano (3-0, 3) take on Filipino foe KJ Natuplag (8-1-2, 7), in an excellent bout. The talented Nakano has adapted well to the professional ranks and looks to be on his way to real success at Featherweight in the coming years. On paper this is a step up, but Nakano has looked very good, and last time out he really impressed against Arvin Young. Natuplag has shown real promise, and back in March he stopped Robert Udtohan, but was beaten last time out by Joe Tejones. We're expecting an excellent showing from Nakano who will likely find himself in the title mix next year.
Also on this card will be Kenshin Oshima (6-1-1, 3) and Masaya Tamayama (12-2, 6), who look to continue their rise through the ranks and move towards a title fight in the coming 18 months or so.
One of the other interesting bouts for the day will see the unbeaten Tajik fighter Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (14-0, 9) take on the once beaten Abraham Montoya (18-1-1, 13), in what will be Yaqubov's second defense of the WBC International Super Featherweight title. The talented Yaqubov has impressed recently and moved towards a world title fight thanks to wins over the likes of Mark Urvanov, Victor Alejandro Zunigaabd Emanuel Lopez, and another win here would leave him on the verge of a shot. Montoya, from Mexico, is unbeaten in 19 but this will be his first bout outside of Mexico.
Unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight Issa Akberbayev (20-0-0-1, 15) takes on his biggest test so far as he battles against 2016 Olympic champion Evgeny Tishchenko (5-0, 3), who is of course best known for his controversial Olympic win over Vasiliy Levit in the Olympic final. Despite being unbeaten the Kazakh will be the very clear under-dog and the Russian will be the favourite. Notably Akberbayev has been away from the ring for almost 2 years, and it's hard to not imagine that being a major issue here, against his most notable foe so far.
In Australia we'll see the unbeaten Chris Brackin (7-0, 3), an Australian local, take on Indian fighter Balkar Singh (3-1, 1). Singh lost last time out, when he was out pointed by the unbeaten Andrew Hunt over 4 rounds, and we suspect he will suffer another loss here to the talented Brackin.
In Rizal we'll see a former world champion and a former world title challenger in action.
The former world title challenger is Denver Cuello (36-5-6, 24), who takes on Jack Amisa (21-45-2, 14). This will be Cuello's first fight since June 2015, when he beat Boy Tanto, and he will be looking to roll back the clock in a big way. He was once regarded as the most exciting little man in the sport, but his career was plagued by injuries that prevented him from fulfilling the promise he once had. A 15% of what he was Cuello should still have too much for Amisa, but clearly this is about more than just winning, and is likely to be the start of an comeback for Cuello, who has a lot of lost time to make up for.
As for the world champion on this card, that's former WBC Flyweight champion Sonny Boy Jaro (44-14-5, 31), who looks to continue his career with a bout against limited Indonesian foe Frans Damur Palue (15-21-3, 10). At 36 years old Jaro has certainly seen better days, and is now 7 years removed from his huge upset win over Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, but should still have too much for Palue, who was stopped in 2 rounds by Akira Yaegashi a year ago.
One other bout of note will see the unbeaten KJ Natuplag (7-0-2, 6) battle against the much more experienced Robert Udtohan (24-5-3, 15). On paper this looks a really tough test for Natuplag, but it should be noted that Udtohan has lost 4 of his last 5, including his last 3. Given how hard hitting the unbeaten 22 year old Natuplag is, this should be a straight forward win for the rising hopeful.
Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
Staying with Filipino's it's worth noting that unbeaten Filipino youngster Robert Paradero (17-0, 11) is set to face Wilfredo Mendez (11-1, 4), in a bout that has been rearranged a number of times already. This was originally meant to take place back in January as a world title eliminator, though visa issues has caused it to be delayed a few times, and hopefully it will take place this time, rather than slipping again. This bout has been previewed here Mendez and Paradero to battle for shot at WBO crown!
Western Australia, Australia
In Australia we have a few bouts of note.
One of those will see once beaten Australian Jackson Jon England (8-1, 4) take on Indonesian journeyman Rivo Rengkung (37-29-6, 14). The 34 year old Rengkung has lost his last 3, and 6 of his last 7, but does usually come to give an effort and went the 8 round distance with Luke Jackson in December. The 21 year old Jackson isn't a puncher but is a promising prospect and should secure a 5th straight win here.
Another local hopeful facing an Asian visitor is Michael Kaplan (6-1), who takes on Muhammad Wahid (4-1, 1), who like Rengkung is from Indonesia. Wahid is 0-1 outside of Indonesia, but has got a bit of talent and could be a potential banana skin for Kaplan, who is facing his first opponent with a winning record.
One other bout involving an Asian will see unbeaten Australian Steve Gago (9-0, 4) battle against Indonesian veteran Heri Andriyanto (24-28-2, 11). Andriyanto has been collecting a lot of losses in recent years, losing 8 of his last 10 including a defeats to Koki Inoue and Downua Ruawaiking, and we suspect another defeat will come here to Gago.
This coming Friday sees a relatively tame day in Asia, though there is shows across the continent.
Japanese promotional outfit “reason”, who are behind the Dangan cards, have seen Tokyo as their base and a huge amount of their shows have taken place in the Japanese capital. In recent times however they have branched out across Japan and this Friday they begin to make their mark in China as they promote a show in Shanghai.
The most notable bout on the card will see light hitting Chinese fighter Xian Qian Wei (12-6-1, 1) take on the crude but heavy handed Takuya Yamaguchi (11-11, 9) of Japan. Wei has impressed at times, and he scored a big win in 2015 against Rex Wao, but we don't really know how much actual promise he has going forward. Yamaguchi has been stopped in 2 of his last 3 but is a big puncher and should have the power to test Wei's chin. A very interesting match up for a low key regional title.
In another bout on this card we'll China's Chunlei Lin (7-2, 1) take on Shun Wakabayashi (7-3, 1) in a very evenly matched contest on paper. We don't see this one finishing early, but it should be a very competitive and enthralling bout between two men looking to win not only for themselves, but also for their country.
Strangely the top of the billing for this card appears to be a match between Wuhazi Ta La Pu Dan (1-1) and Igarashi Koji (4-1, 3). We can't really understand why the bout is higher up the card than the Wei Vs Yamaguchi bout, though there is a good chance this has been scheduled as a walk out bout, rather than the main event.
There will also be a relatively low key card in the Philippines.
The main event will see the unbeaten KJ Natuplag (6-0-1, 5) take on Ronnie Campos (7-3-2, 4) in what looks, at least on paper, a step up in class for Natuplag. The 21 year old Natuplag has looked really promising so far but this will be the first time he has taken on someone who has a chance to really test him. As for Campos his record isn't very flattering but he's no push over, and shold probe to be a tough, but perhaps under-sized, opponent.
Other fighters on this card include former female world title challenger Jessebelle Pagaduan (9-1-1, 4) and the experienced Diarh Gabutan (20-6-3, 11), who are both facing opponents that were late to be named. Pagaduan looks to score a third straight win, whilst Gabutan will be looking to build on his 2017 win over Roilo Golez, in what was their second bout.
There is also a card in Singapore pencilled in. Very few details for this card have been confirmed, but we have been told that Zakaria Bin Ismail (0-0-1) will be in action on the show.
In the US fans will see Miami based Kazakh puncher Aidar Sharibayev (7-0, 6) look to continue his unbeaten record as he takes on Enrique Tinoco (16-5-4, 12). On paper this looks like a decent enough test for Sharibayev, but reality is that this actually a little bit of a step backwards for the unbeaten man who blasted out Daulis Prescott in a round last time out. Tinoco has only been stopped once in his 25 fight career and should be tough, but we suspect the Kazakh will be too big and too strong for him over the 10 round schedule.