The most notable action this coming Wednesday comes from Thailand, where we see a much anticipated bout, that is sadly being fought after it was allowed to marinate too long and lost of the lustre it once had.
The bout in question will see WBA Minimumweight "super" champion Knockout CP Freshmart (23-0, 9) defending his title against former long term WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin (55-2-0-1, 19). This bout was the most demanded bout at 105lbs, just 2 years ago when both men were world champions. Since then however Wanheng has suffered two losses to Panya Pradabsri, though both were razor thin and controversial, and the loss of the WBC title has seen this bout lose a lot of the shine it had. The bouts also suffers from the fact Wanheng is now 36, and has suggested retiring in the past. As for Knockout, the 31 year old is a long reigning champion and will be favoured here. Saying that a win over Wanheng, even a Wanhneg with 2 losses, would be the biggest win in Knockout's career, and help further enhance his reputation as one of the best fighters at 105lbs. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Knockout and Wanheng clash at last!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Over in Japan we have a low level card, which is being held in honour of former Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto, who will be taking part in his retirement ceremony, which will include a public sparring session with former world champion Takashi Uchiyama. Outside of that spar there isn't much which will get attention, but the card does have two that are noteworthy.
The main bout will see JBC ranked Middleweight Ran Tomomatsu (2-2) battle against the once beaten Eiki Kani (5-1-2, 2), in what could be something of a thrilling 8 rounder. The hard hitting and somewhat brutish Tomomatsu is no world beater, but he's strong, flawed and exciting, which makes for great action bouts. His limitations will likely hold him back from even winning a domestic title, but his style will lead to some very fan friendly wars. Kani on the other hand comes into this less than 18 months removed from a loss in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, where he impressed with his exciting style. We suspect the physicality of Tomomatsu will be the difference maker here, but the styles of the men should really gel to give us something of a thrilling, and brutal 8 round war.
The other bout of note on this card will see JBC ranked Featherweight Kimihiro Nakagawa (8-5-2, 4) battle against Tamaki Miwa (8-7-1, 1). On paper Nakagawa will be the favourite here, but he has really been struggling the last few years and he is 3-4-1 in his last 8 bouts, going back 6 years. Miwa on the other hand has won his last 2, but is 2- in his last 5, and hasn't looking too threatening in the ring, with a lack of power, and a questionable chin. The winner of this will take a step towards a Japanese title fight, but in reality neither is even close to being ready for one.
Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
As well as the action in Asia, we'll also see a notable bout in Australia, as former Filipino world title challenger Juan Miguel Elorde (29-2, 15) takes on unbeaten Australian hopeful Sam Goodman (11-0, 6), in a bout for the IBF Inter-Continental and WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight titles. Elorde has fought just once since being stopped by Emanuel Navarrete in September 2019, and now aged 35 we can't help but think we've seen the best of him. Goodman on the other hand will be returning to the ring for the first time since beating Japan's Fumiya Fuse in May, and looks to be heading towards bigger and better things. Aged 23 Goodman is not the complete article, but is certainly developing fight by fight and should have too much for Elorde at this point in time.
Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
The main action in a surprisingly busy Tuesday, comes from the Kokugikan in Tokyo as we get a world title double header, and in fact the last world title bouts to take place in Japan this year following numerous post-Christmas bouts being cancelled.
The first world title bout from the double header will see WBO Minmumweight champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6) defending his title against mandatory challenger Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9), in what could be a very interesting bout. This will be Mendez's third defense of the title, which he took from Vic Saludar in 2019, but he comes into the bout after almost 2 years of inactivity, and for his first bout in Asia. "Bimbito" is certainly a talented fighter, but he style may not have the success on the road as it has at home, and he can look very negative at times. Taniguchi has come up short at world level before, but he does seem incredibly focused on this bout, and has bounced back well from his last loss, to Vic Saludar, to score 3 notable domestic wins. His style could end up working against him at times, as Mendez is the much quicker man, but his physicality and power could be a major difference maker, especially with Mendez's recent inactivity. Our preview for this world title fight can be read here Taniguchi gets second WBO title shot as he takes on Mendez
The other title bout on this show, and the main event of the day, will see Japanese star Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) return to a Japanese ring for the first time in over 2 years to defend his WBA and IBF Bantamweight titles against hard hitting Thai challenger Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11). Inoue and his team have made it clear they wanted a bigger name than Dipaen for this bout, but were turned down by a number of more well known names, and that can be dangerous if they are over looking the Thai and looking towards unification bouts in the new year. Dipaen isn't so much a threat to Inoue here, but Inoue could be a threat to himself if he's over-looking the challenger. As for Dipaen no one is giving him a chance, but he will know he has nothing to lose and he will be in there looking to put in the performance his career. We don't see this one lasting long, but it could be a genuine test of Inoue's focus given such a frustrating end to the year. Our preview of this bour can be read here The monster returns to Japan to defend against Dipaen!
As well as the two main bouts this card has several notable prospects on it, with youngster Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) taking on the much very experienced Takahiro Araki (12-10, 4), former Kickboxer Yoshiki Takei (2-0, 2) taking on Kazuhiro Imamura (2-0-1, 1), in what looks set to be his toughest bout to date, and the very exciting Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) taking on Takuya Fujioka (10-10-1, 1), in what looks to be a stay busy fight before bigger things in 2022.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The show at the Kokugikan isn't the only one in Tokyo, with Koakuen Hall playing host to an OPBF title double header. The bouts here aren't huge, but both the title bouts do promise a lot of exciting action, and there is also a solid under-card match up as well.
One of those OPBF title bouts will see Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (23-2, 8) take on Japanese veteran Koichi Aso (24-9-1, 15). Naito has looked like something of a suspect champion since winning the title a few years ago, and was pushed hard in a number of defense, but there's no doubting his skills and ability with the main questions being about his power and stamina. As for Aso, the veteran is a former Japanese national champion, but is very much a fighter coming to the end of his career, and he no longer has the energy and aggression he did in his prime. This should be straight forward win for Naito on the cards, but Aso will make him for it. Our preview of this regional title bout can be read here OPBF champion Naito takes on Aso at Korakuen Hall
The other title fight promises violence as the hard hitting Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18) takes on the under-rated Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2-1, 7) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Super Featherweight title. Saka has looked a brute in recent bouts, smashing up both Masaru Sueyoshi and Takuya Watanabe, in two very impressive back to back performances, though it's fair to say that he can be beaten and there are always question marks about his chin and his mental application in the ring. As for Kimura this will be his second shot at the title, having previously coming up just short against Hironori Mishiro, and he really has shown he belongs at this level. He will go in as the man with no momentum, but he has the skills and tools to spring the upset, in what should be a genuinely spectacular bout for those at Korakuen Hall. Expect a lot of heavy leather here, and some thrilling exchanges. Our preview of this bout can be read here Saka and Kimura battle for OPBF Super Featherweight title!
In one under-card bout worthy of some attention, we'll see boxing police officer Daisuke Sugita (6-2, 3) look to bounce back from a June loss to Ryo Akaho as he takes on youngster Ryuto Owan (7-1, 5). Sugita is a fun guy to watch, but he has been matched rather hand and losses to Akaho and Reiya Abe were both very one sided and showed he didn't belong in that company. Despite that he's a solid fighter and he has the tools to be a solid competitor on the Japanese domestic scene, albeit below domestic title level. Owan on the other hand is a promising and talented young fighter who seemed destined for big things until a loss in 2018 slowed his momentum, and a 2 year break from the ring followed. Since returning to action in October 2020 he has looked really impressive and he'll be looking to shine again here and move towards a potential title fight in 2022.
Outside of Japan there is also a very notable card in Thailand, headlined by WBA Minmumweight "Super" champion Knockout CP Freshmart (22-0, 8), who will be up against once beaten Filipino challenger Robert Paradero (18-1, 12). The talented Knockout is seeking his second defense of the year, after a long break from the ring following his 2020 win over Norihito Tanaka, and he'll be looking to end the year with an impressive performance here before moving onto a potential unification bout in 2022. As for Paradero he's looking to bounce back from his sole professional loss, which came earlier this year to Vic Saludar. The challenger showed plenty to like in that loss, but a lack of experience was an issue, and he'll be wanting to prove he has learned from that set back. It's always hard to bet against a Thai in Thailand, but it is worth noting that Filipino do historically have more success as challengers in the Land of Smiles than almost any other country and Paradero will not be there to make up the numbers. Or in deoth preview of this bout can be read here WBA champion Knockout takes on Filipino Challenger Paradero
Chang Arena, Buriram, Thailand
The Minimumweight division has been horribly quiet this year as Covid has pretty much derailed the division. Thankfully however we do get a huge bout at the division this coming Wednesday as we see the WBA "super" champion return to the ring for the first time since March 2020! Sadly though he's not expected to be given a real test.
The match up in question, originally planned for May, though pushed all the way back to October, will see unbeaten world champion Knockout CP Freshmart (21-0, 7) battle against fellow Thai Pongsaklek Sithdabnij (23-6-1, 13). On paper this isn't a great match up, and whilst most "Bloodline Battles" are good, we're not expecting anything too memorable here. We suspect Knockout, even with over a year of inactivity, should be too good, too skilled, and too smart in the ring for the naturally bigger, but much clumsier, Pongsaklek. Fingers crossed however that we do end up seeing Knockout being forced to earn a win here, rather than being able to cruise to victory like we've seen so many times before. Our full, in deoth, preview oif this one can be read here Knockout faces Pongsaklek in WBA title defense!
This coming Saturday is set to be a solid, if somewhat overlooked, day with two world title fights, a notable unbeaten Kazakh in the biggest fight of his career and a show in Uzbekistan.
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
the earliest of the action comes from Thailand, where we'll see long reigning WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (21-0, 7) defending his "Super" title against fellow Thai Pongsaklek Sithdabnij (23-6-1, 13) in what looks likely to be little more than a stay busy defense for Knockout. The talented yet highly frustrating, world champion is a man who could, and probably should, do so much more in the ring. He's probably the best in the division, but his performances often leave us feeling under-whelmed. Here his challenger will be a naturally bigger man, but also a man who is cruder, slower and more open. We suspect Knockout will win this one based on his extra class, and nous, but don't expect to be impressed by a man who needs renaming "Unanimous Decision CP Freshmart" sooner rather than later. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Knockout returns after more than a year out to defend WBA Super title!
Dignity Health Sports Park , Carson, California, USA
Thankfully we're expecting a much, much better world title bout in the US later in the day on a card that features a couple of notable Asian names.
Before we get to the world title fight on this show we'll talk about one of the supporting bouts, as it's a brilliant match up pitting unbeaten Kazakh Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-0-0-2, 14) against bit punching Puerto Rican Subriel Matias (16-1, 16), in what could be a bit of a show stealer. Jukembayev has been wanting a big fight for years, and the technically sound boxer-puncher, who has been based in Canada, very much seems like the type of fighter who needs a big chance to show what he can really do. Matias on the other hand is a very dangerous fighter, who has seriously heavy hands, but can be outboxed. We expect this one to start pretty technically but break down into an all put war of attrition in the later rounds.
After the Jukembayev bout we'll then see WBC Bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12) take on mandatory challenger Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26), with Donaire looking to add one more title to his amazing legacy. Originally this bout was supposed to take place late last year, but due to Covid19 the bout was cancelled, and as a result both men have now been out of the ring for well over a year. In fact the last time the men fought, they shared a card in Japan, which saw Oubaali beat Takuma Inoue and Donaire lose to Naoya Inoue. On paper this is one of the most interesting bouts the Bantamweight division will give us any time soon, and it's a chance for Oubaali to face a genuine legend of the ring, and a chance for Donaire to prove his performance against the "Monster" wasn't just a last hurrah. Whilst neither man has fought recently we are still expecting a brilliant match up here, and the winner could be in line for a major unification bout towards the end of the year with Naoya Inoue. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Oubaali faces Donaire in WBC mandatory title bout!
Universal Sport Hall, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
As well as the higher level action there is also a show set to take place in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. This is a small card, but a pretty interesting one all the same.
The main event will see professional novice Islombek Pirmanov (2-0, 2) take a huge step up in class as he takes on experienced Afghan fighter Rauf Aghayev (31-7, 14), in a bout for the WBC CIS and Slovac Boxing Bureau (CISBB) Super Bantamweight title. Pirmanov only made his debut this past February and has fought just 7 professional rounds so this is a hugely dangerous step up for him. As for Aghayev the 37 year old "Lion" has been a professional since 2010, and has a good looking record, though is the naturally smaller man and a lot of padding to his record. On paper this is a big ask for Pirmanov but it's fair to say that he will be the favourite here.
Also on this card are promising prospects Abdulkhamid Khakimov (6-0, 4), Shukrulla Vokhidov (6-0, 4) and Bekhruz Rakhmonov (0-0). All three were solid amateur fighters and this will be a chance for all three to take a step forward with their careers. None are set to be matched hard, but given how early in their careers all three men hard the key is for them to pick up wins and develop their skills. Something all 3 should be able to do here.
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
This coming Tuesday we'll not see a lot of action, but we will get a world title fight, as attention turns to Thailand. Here we'll see WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (20-0, 7) take on Japanese challenger Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10). For Knockout this will be his 8th defense, and see him looking to build on a frustrating 2019, a year in which he fought just once and escaped with a technical decision against ArAr Andales. Although Knockout has failed to shine in a long time, seemingly going through the motions in bouts, the same can't be said of Tanaka. The 35 year old Japanese fighter scored a career best win in early 2019, when he stopped Shin Ono for the Japanese title, and avenged one of his losses later in the year, easily out boxing Naoya Haruguchi.
Tanaka has the momentum, but history is well against him, and no Japanese born fighter has ever brought back a world title from Thailand.
Our full previews of the WBA title bout can be read here Knockout defends WBA title against Norihito Tanaka!
Also on this card will be the professional debut of Muay Thai star Petchdam Petchyindee Academy (0-0), who we believe will be facing fellow debutant Omar Elouers (0-0). This bout will be a 10 round contest at Lightweight, and could be the start of another legendary Thai career by someone who has converted from Muay Thai to western style boxing. Petchdam is a genuinely bright hope, if he decides to dedicated himself to the sport, so fingers crossed that's what he does!
This coming Friday is a busy day for Asian boxing, and there's a nice mix of fights across the globe. The most notable, for us, is in Thailand however as WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) looks to make his next, facing off with unbeaten Filipino ArAr Andales (10-0, 2). The talented Knockout, who has now scored 4 straight decision wins, will be fighting for the first time since November 2018, and will be hoping not to carry much ring rust into this bout. Andales on the other hand is a 19 year old who has already had a huge 2019, thanks to a massive win last time out against Cris Ganoza. This is a really interesting match up and one where the visitor can't be written, though will be the clear under-dog. We've previewed this bout here Unbeaten Andales looks to upset WBA champion Knockout
The second most compelling match up for the day comes from the US and will see us re-run the match up between Koki Eto (24-4-1-1, 19) and Jeyvier Cintron (10-0-0-1, 5), who had an opening round No Contest earlier in the year. Their first bout promised a lot, with Cintron using his speed and movement and Eto trying to use his power and, but ended in weird fashion following an accident headclash that left the touted Cintron stumbling around the ring. Whilst Cintron certainly looked the better boxer it's going to be very interesting to see how this rematch plays out. Our preview of this bout can be read here Eto and Cintron battle in rematch following No Contest
It's not just the bout in Florida that will see an Asian looking to pick up a win in the US but also Uzbek fighter Ravshan Hudaynazarov (17-1, 13), who will be looking to bounce back from a stoppage loss Ronald Cruz. The 35 year old Hudaynazarov isn't in easy here easy, and will be taking on fellow once beaten fighter John Vera (18-1, 11), Vera, like Hudaynazarov, is coming in to this on the back of a loss but the American "Phenom" lost at fringe wold level to the excellent Michel Soro. On paper a very, very interesting match up, but one where we feel the younger Vera will come out on top.
Back in Asia we get a small, but pretty interesting card in Japan.
The main event of the card will see Japanese ranked fighters clashing with Lightweight hopeful Kei Iwahara (10-6, 5) taking on former Light Welterweight title challenger Vladimir Baez (24-5-2, 22). On paper this looks like a straight forward win for Baez, other wise known as Destino Japan, given his better record and natural size but Baez has has lost his last two and is without a win in well over a year. At 35 Baez may well be a shot fighter. The 28 year old Iwahara is a long way from a world beater, and is 4-3 in his last 7, but has piclked up good domestic wins over Daiki Ichikawa and Mao Kawanishi.
In another really interesting match up we see young southpaws collide as Japan's Kento Yabusaki (7-2-1, 5) takes on Filipino Michael Mendoza (9-1-2, 3). Both of these men are 21 year olds and although neither is a bit name both have shown some solid promise at this stage. Yabusaki reached the Rookie of the Yearfinal in 2017, losing to Joe Shiraishi in the final, and has bounced back with 3 straight wins against progressive better competition. That progress looks to continue here against Mendoza. Mendoza on the other hand has won 4 in a row, and took the PBF Flyweight last time out. It's worth noting that Mendoza has been picking up his wins at a lower level than Yabusaki but does have the small edge in experience.
Another noteworthy fight on this card is the talented, but light punching Joe Tanooka (15-6-5, 1), who faces against Naoto Mizutani (5-6-2, 2) in a rematch of a technical draw they had in May. On paper this is a huge mismatch but we expect it to be pretty competitive. The 25 year old Tanooka has picked up just a since victory in his last 5, going 1-3-1 and he's had a really tough career so far. Mizutani on the other hand can score upsets, as he did against Mirai Imagawa, and can be a good test against light punchers, as we saw in February against Fumiya Fuse. This could be far better than the records suggest.
In Australia we'll see Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (33-20-3, 18) continue his incredibly long career. The 35 year old Indonesian, who has lost his last 4 and 8 of his last 10, will be expected to come up short again here as he takes on the unbeaten Mark Schleibs (11-0, 7). It's hard to know how good Schleibs is, given the level of his competition so far, but it's hard to imagine anything but an easy win here for the unbeaten man.
This coming Friday out attention turns to Russia for the next RCC card, which features several notable fighters from across Asia.
One of those is Russian based Tajik Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (12-0, 8), who will be looking to make his first defense of the WBC International Super Featherweight title. The unbeaten 23 year old will be up against experienced Mexican Emanuel Lopez (29-9-1, 13), who has had mixed success in recent years, losing 3 of his last 5. If Yaqubov is as good as he has looked in recent bouts then we'd expect him to win here, and take a huge step towards a potential world title eliminator later in the year.
Unbeaten Uzbek fighter Ravshanbek Umurzakov (6-0, 5) had an interesting 2018, going 5-0 (4) but having a big asterisks over his biggest win, a 58 second victory over Eden Sonsona who looked like he didn't want to be in the ring. Umurzakoz will be up against Filipino Rimar Metuda (12-4-1, 7), who has proven himself as durable, though is 2-4-1 in his last 7 and is 0-3-1 outside of the Philippines. We suspect Metuda will put up a good effort against the Uzbek, but not really test him.
Unbeaten Kazakh Stanislav Kalitskiy (6-0, 3) will be risking his unbeaten record against Filipino Venson Delopere (6-3-4, 2). The 21 year old Kalitskiy scored 3 wins last year, including a notable one against Jestoni Autida, but it's unclear what he can really do in the ring and he should be tested here. Delopere is a 23 year old who has proven tricky to beat, but is winless outside of the Philippines. This should be a good test for Kalitskiy and we wouldn't be surprised to see him struggle at times with the Filipino.
Another Filipino on this card is Arnold Garde (10-6-3, 4), who will be up against unbeaten Russian fighter Mekhdi Abdurashedov (5-0, 2). The Russian really impressed last time out, stopping Filipino Prince Andrew Lauro in 5 rounds, and this bout seems to be a good step up for him. Garde has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, but is going to have travelled with some ambition. Sadly for Garde we don't question his desire, but we do doubt he has the skills to handle Abdurashedov
In Hungary fans a bout is scheduled between Russian born Azeri Roman Zakirov (8-0, 7) and Mexican foe Daniel Vega Cota (13-2-1, 10). The unbeaten Zakirov is a 22 year old who only turned professional a year ago but has been ultra active, with fights in Uzbekistan, Georgia and Russia and now looks to add Hungary to passport. Cota on the other hand has only fought outside of Mexico once and should be easy enough for the Azeri, given he has been stopped in both of his losses.
In Thailand we'll see unbeaten Thai hopeful Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (10-0, 4) battle against experienced Filipino Crison Omayao (24-18-4, 8) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Light Flyweight title. This bout will be the Thai's first at 108lbs and it's hoped that he will show what he can really do at the new weight after looking less than great at Minimumweight.
A second title bout on this show will see Kanyarat Yoohanngoh (4-2, 2) take on Japanese fighter Umi Ishikawa (7-2, 5) for the OPBF silver Female Minimumweight title. This is a low key bout but the winner should find themselves moving towards some bigger and better fights in the near future.
Interestingly this Thai card will also feature Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) and Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) playing some part in the show, though the specifics of their appearances seem to be an exhibition or a live public training event rather than any kind of fight.
London, United Kingdom
In London we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Sultan Zaurbek (3-0, 2) take a small step up in class as he takes on Lyuben Todorov (6-3, 2). The unbeaten prospect will be facing his first opponent with a winning record, but the Bulgarian is 0-3 outside of Bulgaria and isn't expected to be much of a threat for Zaurbek, who is scheduled to fight again a week later.
This coming Wednesday is a notable day in Asian boxing, with a big fight in Thailand, and a small yet noteworthy card in Japan.
The Thai show will be headlined by the rematch between WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (18-0, 7) and Nicaraguan foe Byron Rojas (25-3-3, 11), who he actually beat for the title in 2016. Knockout had been the interim champion prior to taking the full title from Rojas, and since winning the full title he has made 5 defenses including wins over Shin Ono, Rey Loreto and Xiong Zhao Zhong. In recent fights the champion has looked solid and dependable, rather than sensational and exciting, with an going joke that his name should be Unanimous Decision CP Freshmart. As for Rojas he comes into the bout on an 8 fight winning streak, though those wins have come at a much lower level than Knockout's and it's unclear how he will cope with the step back up in class. Given their first bout we're not anticipating a thrilling clash here. A preview of this bout is available here Knockout and Rojas meet in rematch for WBA crown!
In Tokyo we'll get another in the Japan Vs China series of shows that Dangan have been putting on.
Among the fighters included on this card is former amateur stand out Shu Utsuki (2-0, 1), who we believe is taking on fellow unbeaten Da Xu (3-0-1, 1) in an 8 round Super Featherweight bout. Utsuki is tipped to be a star and we have to strongly favour him to defeat the Chinese teenager.
Another unbeaten Japanese prospect on this card is Tsubasa Murachi (2-0, 2), who faces off with limited visitor Sheng Peng (3-5, 2), in another that should go Japan's way however we are interested to see what Murachi can show here.
One other Japanese prospect on this card is Kaiki Yuba (3-0-1, 2), though sadly we don't have the name of his opponent.
Arguably the best of the Japan Vs China bouts is a match up between the limited pairing of Shun Wakabayashi (8-3, 1) and Xian Qian Wei (13-6-1, 1). Both of these fighters are very flawed, lack power, but do make for entertaining contests and we wouldn't be surprised to see this being the potential bout of the day, with a high intensity and the belief that either man can win.
This card will also include an OPBF female title bout as Erika Hanawa (9-3, 3) battles Jujeath Nagaowa (13-18-1, 8) for the Minimumweight title. Both of these fighters have come up short at the top level, but they should make for a competitive bout against each other, with both being flawed and limited fighters. Despite their limitations they aren't actually bad fighters and this could be a very entertaining distraction from the Japan Vs China competition.
A third card for the day will come from Shenzhen in China, with a trio of title bouts on the card.
In a WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Crruiserweight title fight Chinese local hopeful Peng Qu (13-2-1, 9) will take on the hard hitting Abraham Tabul (14-1-1, 12). This will be Qu's second bout since abandoning the Light Heavyweight division at the turn of the year, following a loss to Gasan Gasanov, and we suspect his frame will suit Cruiserweight much better than it did at 175lbs. Saying that however Cruiserweights do hit significantly harder than the Light Heavyweights he had previously been fighting and we expect to see him being chin checked here. Tabul, from Accra in Ghana, is 0-1 outside of his homeland, and his competition so far lacks any real quality and it's very hard to know what he brings to the ring.
A second title fight on this show will see Cheng Su (12-2-1, 6) battle against Thai foe Panturak Namtong (10-4-1, 7) for the WBO Oriental Super Welterweight title. It's hard to know what either man has done to get a shot at this belt, given that neither has notched a win of note and both have suffered a recent stoppage loss to a poor opponent. All things considered we suspect the local will pick up the win, but he's not going to go much further as a professional.
Sadly the biggest name on the card, OPBF Silver Super Featherweight champion Takuya Watanabe (35-8-1, 20) is actually a man involved in the biggest mismatch on the card, as he defends his title against Wisitsak Saiwaew (6-7, 5), who is best known for being stopped by Watanabe's stablemate Sho Kimura, at Flyweight. We are huge admirers of Watanabe, and his career has been a thoroughly entertaining one as well as one which has seen him fighting in Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taipei and China, but this is his third limited foe in a row. This really is little more than a show case for the talented. tough and exciting Watanabe.
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.
A rare mid-week Thai show will take place this coming Tuesday in Chonburi as WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (16-0, 7) defends his title against Filipino challenger Toto Landero (10-1-2, 2). The unbeaten champion won the WBA in the summer of 2016, when he out pointed Byron Rojas, and has racked up 3 defenses, including a mandatory last July against the hard hitting Rey Loreto. Whilst Knockout is well known by fans of the little men there is little to really go on in regards to 22 year old challenger Landero. The Filipino made his debut in 2013 and went unbeaten in his first 10 bouts before suffering an upset loss to Joey Canoy in 2016. Since then however he has score back-to-back wins, including a decision over Vic Saludar, to earn this shot.
It's worth noting that this bout was originally supposed to take place last year, before the bout got cancelled with an expected showdown between Knockout and Xiong Zhao Zhong planned. That got scrapped and caused this bout to essentially be rescheduled for early 2018.