This coming Saturday is set to be a great day for fight fans, some major bouts taking place around the globe, some with and some without Asian fighters involved. For fight fans who have been starved of big fights this month, things really do step up a gear this weekend.
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas, USA
The biggest show of the day, by far, is from Texas where we see the long awaited rematch between Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada as well as the massive female rematch between Jessica McCaskill and Cecilia Braekhus.
The show will also feature the US debut of Japanese star Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9), as he looked to defend his Ring Magazine and WBA "super" Light Flyweight titles against Mexican youngster Axel Aragon Vega (14-3-1, 8).
Kyoguchi turned professional in 2016 and raced away to his first world title, the IBF Minimumweight title, before moving up in weight in 2018, and winning the WBA Light Flyweight title in Macau, by stopping Hekkie Budler. Since winning the title he has defended the belt twice, and had planned to defend the title in 2020, before he had one bout cancelled due to Covid19 in May and then had to cancel a second bout when he himself tested positive. For the 20 year old Vega, who also debuted in 2016, this will be his second shot at a title, following a 2019 loss to WBO Minimumweight champion Wilfredo Mendez. Despite putting in a good performance against Mendez, and running him close, it's assumed this will be too much, too soon, for the Mexican youngster as he takes on one of the best Light Flyweights out there. Our in depth preview of this world title fight can be read here Kyoguchi makes his US debut, takes on Vega!
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Before the Texas card DAZN we get the chance to see an interesting Thai card, featuring a man who holds a win over both Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada, and two very promising Thai prospects.
The man who has beaten both Estrada and Gonzalez is, of course, former 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvidai (49-5-1, 42), who looks to kick his 2021 campaign off with a tune up bout. In the opposite corner to the destructive southpaw will be former world WBA Minimumweight world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng (50-7-1, 27). The hard hitting Srisaket is expected to face the winner of the Gonzalez Vs Estrada rematch later in the year, and is the WBC mandatory challenger for the winner. Rather than risking that title shot he'll be up against someone who has been stopped in 4 of his last 7, and scored his last major win more than a decade ago. Thankfully NKL and Work Point, in Thailand, are not dressing this up as a serious match up, and neither will we. This should be a regarded as a tune up for Srisaket before a big fight later in the year, and nothing else.
In a really good supporting bout WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Flyweight champion Phongsaphon Panyakum (11-1, 6) will be defending his title against former Naoya Inoue opponent Karoon Jarupianlerd (44-10, 20), also known as Petchbarngborn Kokietgym. The once beaten Phongsaphon has reeled off 11 straight wins since a loss, on debut, to Kai Ishizawa, and has looked like a genuinely promising young prospect in recent bouts. Despite now having 10 losses to his name Karoon is certainly no push over, and he gave talented youngster Nattapong Jankaew genuine fits last November, and could end up being a very game challenger here. Aged 35 now Karoon has seen better days but mixing with the likes of Inoue, Akira Yaegashi, Kohei Kono and Sho Ishida has seen him pick up some tricks and he's a good domestic gatekeeper for the Thai scene.
In another good supporting bout the unbeaten Chainoi Worawut (13-0-1, 12) will be defending his WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on former 2-time WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-9, 36). The hard hitting Chainoi has been really exciting and destructive since beginning his professional career back in 2018, and despite an early draw he has looked like one of the most promising young Thai's in the sport. Despite looking promising he has been matched relatively softly and this is a genuine step up in class for him. Pungluang is very much a faded force from what he once was, but he's still a handful and his pressure and work rate should guarantee a really fun fight here. He might be past his best but Pungluang doesn't really understand how to take a step backwards and even got a fun and exciting fight out of Amnat Ruenroeng. We expect this to be a bit of a sleeper hit.
Metro Manila, Philippines
The most botable card in Asia is the next in the ESPN5 line of shows, stacked with prospects.
One of top prospects on the show is Jayson Mama (12-0, 6), who takes on former world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng (49-6-1, 26). The talented Filipino is a real talent and will be expected to win here, though the question is how he wins and how good he looks against the Thai veteran. Kwanthai was very good, once, but is a long way removed from his best years.
Another of the notable prospects in action here will see the all action Carl Jammes Martin (12-0, 11) take on unbeaten Indian visitor Rakesh Lohchab (6-0, 2). On paper this looks like a decent test for Martin, but in reality the Filipino youngster should pick up his next win with no problems. Martin is one of the sports true "made for TV" fighters and we suggest fans do all they can to catch every bout of his that they can.
In an all-Filipino show down we'll see the very highly regarded Dave Apolinario (10-0 6) take on the out of form Dexter Alimento (13-6, 9). Apolinario looks to be up there with the top prospects in Asia, and he should be too strong and too powerful for Alimento. Alimento's career once promised a lot, but it really has faltered in recent bouts and it's hard to know what he really has left.
In one other bout of note we'll see former world title challenger Randy Petalcorin (29-3-1, 22) take on Thai journeyman Worawatchai Boonjan (14-21-1, 13), aka Phupha Por Nobnom. This will be Petalcorin's first bout since losing to Felix Alvarado in an IBF Light Flyweight world title fight last October and will likely be little more than a confidence building win for the talented Filipino.
A second notable card this coming Sunday takes place in Hiroshima, Japan, and features a female OPBF title fight, and a couple of interesting, but low level, domestic bouts.
The main event of this show will see unbeaten teenager Eruka Hiromoto (4-0) taking on Korean foe Chan Mi Lim (4-6-1, 4) in a bout for the OPBF female Minimumweight title. The talented Hiromoto comes into this bout having already scored a win over Lim, just over a year ago, and will be hotly tipped to pick up the victory here and claim her first title. Lim has gone 2-1 since losing to Hiromoto in their first bout but is 0-2 on the road, having twice lost in Japan.
Another female bout on this card will see Yumi Narita (3-3-3, 1) battle Sana Hazuki (6-4-1, 2). Coming in to this both fighters are ranked by the OPBF and JBC, and will know that a win here could open the door to another title fight. We say another title fight as both women are, 0-1-1 in Japanese female title bouts, so both will be hoping to secure another shot and make it third time lucky.
One other female bout of note will see JBC ranked female Flyweights Sachiko Kondo (2-3-2) and Yume Hirayama (3-0) face off in a pretty good test for the 19 year old Kondo.
In a male Flyweight bout we'll see Taiyo Inoue (8-4-2, 5) take on Akira Kokubo (7-8-3, 2). Coming in to this Inoue is ranked by the WBO Asia Pacific , thanks to a win in November against Roland Jay Biendima, and will be risking that ranking here. On paper Inoue will be favoured, though it's worth noting that Kokubo has won 5 of his last 6, turning around a really bad start to his career.
As well as the shows in Asia there is also a show in Russia featuring several Asian fighters.
The most notable of the Asian fighters on this card is unbeaten Uzbek puncher Shohjahon Ergashev (16-0, 14). Ergashev struggled last time out, narrowly over-coming Mykal Fox, and we're expecting him to have an easier time here against what appears to be a very late notice opponent
The other is Russian based Korean fighter He Su Khan (5-4-1, 1). Although Khan is 0-3-1 in his last 4 he has been unlucky in some of those set backs, and he is much, much better than his record suggests. At the time of writing Khan's opponent hasn't been named, though given how Khan has been facing fighters with better record we are hoping for him to get an easy win here.
This coming Sunday is a busy day in Japan with 3 shows in the country, with 2 of those taking place in Osaka.
The most significant of those is a multi-title show from Muto promotions, with the card being headlined by OPBF Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (13-2-2, 11), who faces off with veteran Yasuyuki Akiyama (11-7-1, 8). The bout will see Tyson defending his OPBF title and also look to add the WBO Asia Pacific title, which is currently vacant but on the line for this bout. It's hard to see past a win for Tyson, given he holds almost every advantage, but the bout is likely to be the final one of Akiyama's career, and he will almost certainly give everything he has here.
A second OPBF title fight will see Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (27-12, 13) seek his second defense, as he puts his title on the line against Japanese foe Seizo Kono (19-8-1, 12). The Japanese based Filipino champion will be making his second defense of the title, following his dramatic win over Kentaro Masuda, and knows that if he can continue on his current winning streak there is a chance he will be able to move towards a world title fight. For Kono the bout perhaps comes at the perfect time, with the Japanese man having won his last 4, and seemingly ended his blotchy form, which saw him going 2-5. Despite being on a bit of a run this is still a big ask for Kono.
In a rematch we'll see former multi-time world title challengers collide, as Hirofumi Mukai (14-5-3, 4) and Inthanon Sithchamuang (31-9-1, 19) battle for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, just as they did in November 2016. In their first meeting Mukai stopped the Thai in 3 rounds, but since then he has gone 1-1, beating a novice Thai and being stopped in a war with Rex Tso. As for Inthanon, he's fought once since losing to Mukai, also a win over a novice Thai. It's fair to say that Mukai will be favoured, given how easily he won the first contest between the two, but it'll be interesting to see what the Tso bout took out of him.
A second Japan Vs Thailand bout for a WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title will see the once beaten Masahiro Sakamoto (10-1, 6) take on veteran former world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng (50-4-1, 27). Aged 26 Sakamoto is just coming into his prime and the Flyweight will be looking to claim the biggest win of his career here. His only loss came in a bout for this very same title last year, when he suffered a very close loss to current WBO world champion Sho Kimura, and he will know that a win against Kwanthai could push him into the world title mix. As for Kwanthai, he's a long way removed from the man who claimed the WBA Minimumweight title in 2010. He has gone 19-4 since that win, but suffered 2 stoppages and only beaten very limited opposition. This should be a win for Sakamoto, but the question is really “how impressive does he look here?”
A second show in Osaka will be promoted by Green Tsuda and although not a big card does have one of the day's most interesting contests on it, as well as the continued push of a man who has been matched hard through his career.
That hard matched man is Takayuki Okumoto (18-8-3, 8), who's record doesn't suggest anything special but he did recently challenge Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai, and ran Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking close in 2016. The Japanese fighter will be up against a Thai foe here, and should, easily, pick up the win in the card's main event.
Arguably the most interesting match up of the day is a supporting contest between two once tipped amateur stars, both in need of a big win after recent set backs. In one corner will be Kazuki Tanaka (7-1, 5), a Green Tsuda man who was tipped as a star but was stopped last time out by Ryohei Takahashi. Like Tanaka we saw Hikaru Marugame (6-2-1, 4) turn professional with high expectations, having competed on the international stage in the amateurs, but with 2 losses and a draw in his last 4 bouts those expectations are quickly dying. A loss here for either man would likely spell the end of any hope of them becoming a notable name, and the bout really is a must win for both.
A third card from Japan this coming Sunday is from Aichi, and is certainly one with an international feel, given the three most notable bouts all feature a visitor.
The main event sees former Japanese Light Middleweight title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (14-4-1, 9) take on Indonesia's Filipus Rangga (10-17, 1). The Japanese fighter looked like one to watch when he lost to Yuki Nonaka, with some suggesting just a tiny bit of seasoning was needed, and since then he has picked up two stoppage wins and looks like a genuine domestic contender, with a second title fight perhaps only a few bouts away. Rangga began his career 5-1 but since then has gone 5-16 and really is a very limited fighter on the domestic scene, and has fought at much higher weights. Not only is Rangga smaller, older, and less talented but he is also making his international debut. In all honesty Maruki should be disappointed if this goes beyond 6 rounds.
In an interesting support bout fans will see the pretty solid Shogo Yamaguchi (10-3-2, 5) take on domestically ranked Indonesian Lightweight Sam Puadi (7-8, 5). Yamaguchi has gone 1-3-1 in his last 5, though has faced the likes of Akihiro Kondo and Andy Hiraoka during that run, and really needs a win to kick start his once fledgling career. The visitor is 0-2 outside of Indonesia, including a loss earlier this year in Japan to Yuki Harada, though it's fair to say that the visitor will feel he has half a chance here against a very out of form Yamaguchi.
Also on this card will be a Heavyweight bout, as top ranked Japanese Heavyweight Kotatsu Takehara (13-11-3, 7) takes on Korean visitor Hoo Won Lee (4-3). The 39 year old Takehara is a 2 time Japanese title challenger and although he came up short in both bouts, to Kyotaro Fujimoto, he is a game fighter. Interestingly Takehara will be fighting for the first time since May 2016, when Japanese rules actually forbid him from fighting, and will surely be wanting to prove age is just a number. The 24 year old Korean visitor has age on his side, but the former Korean Heavyweight champion is stepping up in a big way here, and was stopped in a round back in June. If Takehara is half the fighter he was he should win, if he loses however it's got to be the end for him.
Seoul, South Korea
Fans in Korea will get their own title bout, as the unbeaten In Duck Seo (8-0-1, 5) takes on the limited Joong Kyung Lee (3-2) in a bout for the KBF Light Middleweight title. Seo is unbeaten, but could only a manage a draw last time out, in a very good match up against Dong Hee Kim down at 140lbs. As for Lee, who will be having his 6th bout of the year, this bout follows an 8 round loss to Moon Sung Choi and he will certainly be coming into this one looking to score a big domestic win.
It's fair to say we, boxing fans, have been treat especially well to begin the start of May, at least in terms of great match ups. That run continues on May 6th as we get a genuinely brilliant Super Featherweight title fight headlining a title triple header in Japan
The Japanese show is a fiesta of sorts for Watanabe gym who have 2 of their 3 world champions in action whilst another of their fighters attempts to become a world champion and finish their long career with a world title.
The main event here is really mouth watering and will see WBA Super Featherweight “super” champion Takashi Uchiyama (22-0-1, 18) defending his belt for the 10th time. In the opposite corner will be unbeaten Thai Jomthong Chuwatana (9-0, 4), a Muay Thai exponent who has had a very interesting boxing career and shown that his skills can generate genuine success in western boxing. The bout isn't expected to be a “FOTY” style war but technically we may struggle to find a better bout between two heavy handed technicians who are both very capable fighters. This is really, as good as it gets.
In the co-feature Uchiyama's young stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi (21-2-1, 8) looks to make the first defence of his WBA Light Flyweight title. This is another Japan Vs Thailand bout and will see Taguchi battle against Thai veteran Kwanthai Sithmorseng (49-3-1, 26) in a bout that looks really good on paper though is likely to be relatively one sided with Kwanthai not looking like a “world class” fighter in recent years. For a first defense this is acceptable though hopefully Taguchi's next bout comes against a more interesting opponent, such as Ryo Miyazaki or Randy Petalcorin, both of which would be mouth watering bouts.
A third world title bout here will see Kayoko Ebata (8-5, 4) attempt to claim the WBO female Minimumweight title as she battles defending champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (6-1-2, 3). The 39 year old Ebata will be in her 4th world title bout and it comes 7 years after her first, a very close and controversial loss to Samson Tor Buamas. As for Ikehara this will be her second defense of the title, though her first was a less than memorable opening round technical draw with Jessebelle Pagaduan back in February.
As well as the 3 bouts which have been mentioned there will be a further 2 on this card, one of which will feature Japanese ranked Light Flyweight Takumi Suda (11-10-2, 3) who will be risking his ranking against Yoshinori Wakahara (7-4, 4).
As well as the Japanese card there will also be a show in Thailand where we get the chance to see some recognisable faces in action.
The main event here will see former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (49-3, 33) defending his WBO Asia Pacific title against former world title challenger Nouldy Manakane (29-16-1, 18). Pungluang, best known for being stopped by Tomoki Kameda, will be seeking his 4th straight win and shouldn't really struggle here against a man who is 0-6 in Thailand and a long way removed from his WBA Bantamweight title fight with Koki Kameda, back in 2012. Incidentally it's thought that if Pungluang gets through this he may get a chance to recapture his old title with a bout against Ryo Akaho looking very possible for later in the year.
In the co-feature fans will see 2-time world title challenger Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (53-2, 34) in action against Indonesian visitor Yakobus Heluka (8-10, 1) in what should be little more than a tune up bout for the talented Chonlatarn. Although the Thai was made to look absolutely terrible by Vasyl Lomachenko last year he is a capable fighter and this really does have “ugly mismatch” written all over it.
(Image courtesy of http://www.watanabegym.com)
For the second day running Thai fans get treat to televised title action with Channel 7 showing a card from the Thai capital of Bangkok. We won't pretend the card is great but there interesting fighters involved in it.
One of those interesting fighters takes part in the main event which will see PABA Welterweight champion Teerachai Kratingdaenggym (28-0, 22) defending his belt against against South African fighter Nthuthuko Memela (10-1-2, 7), who looks like a puncher according to the numbers though sadly hasn't beaten anyone to really make a note of. Teerachai brings both the PABA and world ranking into this bout and will be hoping to get a world title shot in the future, sadly however bouts like this won't prepare him for a fight at the top level.
Another of the interesting fighters on this card is Nop Kratingdaenggym (11-0, 1)* who fights a stay busy fight against Indonesian foe Boido Simanjuntak (18-26-1, 7). Simanjuntak has lost his last 8 bouts, including a KO loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and will be expected to suffer another defeat here. As for Nop he looks a talented fighter and fights in a very a-typical style for a Thai however he does lack power and we suspect that will, ultimately, hold him back from reaching his potential.
A third notable fighter on this card is former WBA Minimumweight world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng (48-3-1, 25) who is fighting for the third time since he was beaten by teenage hopeful Stamp Kiatniwat back in August. The 30 year old Kwanthai hasn't had his opponent named so we're expecting a very poor foe
In the US fans will get the chance to see Jordanian fighter Ahmed Majed Mahmood (3-0-1, 3) attempting to secure a 4th straight win as he takes on Carlos Alcala (2-5, 1).
*Boxrec.com don't recognise Nop's win over Skak Max which can be seen here.