Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This coming Sunday we get one of the biggest shows of the year, possibly in fact the show of the year, as Pacquiao fever takes over Malaysia for a stacked card with 4 world title fights, and a number of notable under-card fights.
The main event will see Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38) challenge WBA Welterweight champion Lucas Martin Matthysse (39-4-0-1, 36) in what is really a must win for both men. The Filipino icon, 39, hasn't fought in over a year with his last outing being a controversial decision loss to Jeff Horn in Australia. In fact we now need to go back to November 2016 to find Pacquiao's last win, which came against Jessie Vargas. At his best Pacquiao was a destructive dervish in the ring, but he is several years beyond his best. Matthysse also looks to be on the slide, and looked like a shadow of himself last time out against Teerachai Kratingdaenggym. Although a dynamite puncher, with under-rated skills, Matthysse can be out boxed, and can be made to look slow and predictable. We're not sure what to expect here, but with both men being past their prime neither can really afford a loss.
In another of the world title bouts we'll see former IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (35-2, 24) look to reclaim that title as he faces South Korean based Pakistani Muhammad Waseem (8-0, 6). The IBF Flyweight title became when Donnie Nietes vacated it, to move up to Super Flyweight, and as a result we have a brilliant match up here. At his best Mthalane was a leading Flyweight, an aggressive but technically sound fighter with wins against the likes of Hussein Hussein, Julio Cesar Miranda, Zolani Tete, Johnriel Casime and Ricardo Nunez. Sadly though the former champion is now 35, ancient for a Flyweight. Waseem on the other hand was on the fast track to the top to begin his career, but financial issues have slowed his rise and he's spent the last year treading water to keep off ring rust. At his best Waseem is an excellent boxer, but this is easily his toughest test to date. This could be a really high class contest.
Another of the title fights could, potentially, be an historic one. The bout in question sees WBA Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales (20-0-1, 16) defending his belt against Chinese novice Lu Bin (1-0, 1). The Chinese 23 year old is looking to become the new record holder for the fewest fights to win a world title, doing so in 2 fights, and the confidence of Bin suggests he believes he can do it. He was a former amateur stand out and, like Vasyl Lomachenko, wanted to be fast tracked in the professional ranks. A win for Bin really would raise the bar for what is expected of true “super prospects”. Canizales on the other hand is looking for his first defense, after winning the title against Reiya Konishi earlier this year. The Venezuelan puncher is a fearsome fighter who's only set back was a split decision draw with Ryoichi Taguchi, and coming into this bout he may well be the best fighter at 108lbs, though obviously has stiff competition from the likes of Ken Shiro. We suspect Canizales will be the favourite but Bin is not there to roll over and lose.
The 4th world title bout will see Filipino Jhack Tepora (21-0, 16) battle against Mexican Edivaldo Ortega (26-1-1, 12) for the WBA “interim” Featherweight title. The talented Tepora has long been tipped as one of the most promising young Filipino fighters and has picked up a number of minor titles in recent years but this is a big step up from the likes of Lusanda Komanisi, who Tepora stopped in eye opening fashion last September. The Filipino is flawed but has lights out power and will be a very dangerous fighter to go toe-to-toe with. Ortega is an all-action fighter with a come forward pressure style. He has scored notable wins over the likes of Juan Carlos Carlos Sanchez Jr, Tomas Rojas and Drian Francisco, but has never been in with someone who has power like Tepora. We're expecting to see Ortega bring the action and Tepora look for counters in what could be an absolute barn burner.
The under-card here is littered with great match ups, including a bout between unbeaten Chinese fighter Yongqiang Yang (10-0, 7) and once beaten Filipino Harmonito Dela Torre (19-1, 12), in what really could be a very special bout. Another good looking contest will see the hard hitting Filipino Jayar Inson (16-1, 11) taking on Aussie foe Terry Tzouramanis (20-3-3, 3) in what could be a very exciting contest.
As well as the big Malaysian show there will also be a smaller, though somewhat notable, card in Aichi.
The main event of this Aichi card will see 2017 Super Featherweight Rookie of the Year Musashi Mori (6-0, 5) battling against Filipino foe Allan Vallespin (12-2, 9). The 18 year old Mori is one to watch, blessed with natural power, speed and skills he appears to be a fighter who could find himself in the title mix in 2 or 3 years, if he can continue to rack up wins. On paper this is a notable step up in class for the Japanese teenager, given that Vallespin's only losses have come to very decent fights in the form of Masaru Sueyoshi and Denys Berinchyk. This is a a really interesting bout and a very tough test for Mori.
Also on this card is the hard hitting Arashi Iimi (5-1, 5), who takes on Suntorn Panhom (2-2, 1) on Thailand. The Japanese fighter came runner up in the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Super Bantamweight and has since bounced back with a stoppage over Shuto Takase in April. This will be his first bout against a non-Japanese fighter. Panhom comes into this on the back of back-to-back losses and we're not expecting him to to handle the power of Iimi, at all.
There is also a small card in Korea courtesy of the KBA.
The headline bout here will see WBA female Super Featherweight champion Hyun Mi Choi (15-0-1, 4) defending her title against Argentinian challenger Mayra Alejandra Gomez (18-7, 4). Choi, the only current Korean world champion, will be looking to extend her reign and increase her profile with this win as she attempts to make her 6th defense of the title. The champion, a tall and rangy fighter, should be strongly favoured, but Gomez has fought at world level before and has proven to be no push over against the likes of Jackie Nava.
Also on this card will be Ji Hyun Park (22-3, 6), who will be up against a Thai foe. The Korean is a IFBA, WIBA and WIBF world champion who will be looking to add a WBF International Minimumweight title to her collection. Although she's a multi-time title winner Park was beaten last time out in a WBO world title fight by Kayoko Ebata, in what was her first defeat in over a decade. We suspect she'll be back to winning ways here.
This coming Friday is a crazy day in the world of Asian boxing with a trio of Chinese cards, as well as a notable Japanese show. The bouts aren't likely to have much global attention, but they range from a really high profile debut, to a potentially thrilling war on the verges of world class.
For us the biggest show of the day is from Beijing, where we see a number of prospects in action, in bouts of varying quality.
One of the really good looking bouts will see Filipino Ronnie Baldonado (9-0-1, 6) defending his WBO “interim” Oriental Flyweight title against touted Indonesian puncher Iwan Zoda (14-2-1, 13). For the champion the bout will be his first defense of the title he won back in April, when he stopped Yiming Ma inside a round whilst Zoda will be looking to rebuild after a year that has seen hi suffer a stoppage to Robert Onggocan and a surprising draw with Ical Tobida. It's fair to say Zoda can ill afford a set back but Baldonado is on a role with a trio of first round blow outs.
Another really interesting contest will see Filipino prospect Mark Anthony Barriga (6-0, 1) take a huge step up to face former 2-time world title challenger Samartlek Kokietgym (33-6, 12) in a contest for the WBO International Minimumweight title. The 24 year old Barriga was a top Filipino prospect and it's clear his team view him as a special talent but this is a massive step up in class, and should tell us a lot about just how far Barriga could go. Samartlek, who is best known for losing in world title bouts to Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegashi, does have a padded record, but is a very decent fight and will certainly not be afraid of Barriga's amateur background.
Another title bout featuring an unbeaten fighter on this show will see Jin Xiang Pan (7-0, 4) take on James MacDonald (8-1-1, 4) for the WBO Youth Super Featherweight title. On paper this bout doesn't have the appeal of the ones above, but it's a step up for both fighters and it should be very interesting to see where both men are going in their career.
Arguably the most notable title bout on the card, yet potentially the most one-sided, will see former Chinese amateur stand out Lu Bin (0-0) take on Thai foe Chatchai Or Benjamas (8-9, 6) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Flyweight Title. Making his professional debut in a 10 rounder is clearly Bin and his team looking to make a statement and given his background in amateur boxing and the APB there is real star potential here. It should be noted that Chatchai isn't great, and was an early opponent for the likes of Yohei Tobe and KJ Cataraja, but Bin's willingness to fight for a title early is still a statement from his team.
One other bout of note from this show will see big punching Filipino Jayar Inson (13-1, 9) take on China's Yangcheng Jin (5-1-2, 1). This is likely to be a straight forward win for the visitor, but he is coming in to the bout on the back of a loss on the road in South Africa, and may be wearing the mental scars of that defeat.
Xi An, China
We get more title action in Xi An as novices Yiran Li (3-0, 3) and Super Top Singnamchai (2-0, 1) battle for the WBC Youth Featherweight title. Li made his professional debut back in April and has needed just 7 rounds to despatch his first 3 foes whilst the Thai visitor apparently debuted in 2012, and hasn't had a boxing contest in more than 5 years, making this a very perplexing contest on paper.
Staying in China just a little longer fans will get card in Jinan where the headline bout will see Indonesian veteran Hero Tito (23-12-2, 8) battle with local Aizi Aili (5-2-1, 2), in what could be a pretty solid match up between well matched fighters at different stages of their career.
As well as all the action in China there will also be a notable card at the Korakuen Hall, which will be available on the A-sign service.
The main event of the card is a potential war as former world title challenger Hisashi Amagasa (33-6-2, 21) takes on Richard Pumicpic (19-8-2, 6) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title, essentially securing the winner a top 15 WBO ranking. Of the two men Amagasa is the more well known, given his bouts with Guillermo Rigondeaux and Josh Warrington, and will be favoured, however Pumicpic is no pushover and he has has pushed fighters like Ryosuke Iwasa, Cesar Juarez and Yohei Tobe all really close in thrilling fights. We're expecting this fight to be the bout of the day.
In another good looking contest we'll see veteran Takafumi Nakajima (28-9-1, 12) take on Jin Miura (9-2, 1). Coming in to this Nakajima has a little bit of momentum, with 3 straight wins to put back to back losses behind him, whilst Miura comes in on the back of a narrow loss in Russia. This could be a highly skilled battle with both men looking to really boost their hopes of a potential domestic title bout.
One other fighter of note on this card is Naoki Mochizuki (11-2, 6), who will be facing off with a Thai visitor.
The main action of the day sees action return to the Korakuen Hall for what looks to be a genuinely interesting looking card.
The main event will be a real treat for fight fans as punchers collide in a bout for the OPBF 140lb title. The match up will see former Japanese champion Shinya Iwabuchi (26-5, 22), fighting in his third OPBF title fight, face off against Filipino puncher Al Rivera (14-2, 12), who comes into the bout on the back of a stoppage win over Adones Cabalquinto last November. This will almost certainly be a fire fight and, given the power and style of the two men involved we wouldn't be surprised if this ended with an eye catching KO.
As well as the mouth watering main event this card features 3 other bouts of note. One of those is an evenly matched Flyweight bout between Yuta Matsuo (9-2-1, 5) and Seiya Fujikita (8-2, 1). This is a wonderfully matched bout between two fighters with similar looking records. Matsuo has won his last two bouts but was beaten last May by Ardin Diale whilst Fujikita has been very close in both of his losses. This really could be a very competitive and exciting bout.
A less competitive, yet still very relevant match up, will see the unbeaten Daishi Nagata (5-0-1, 3) battle against Kentaro Endo (5-6, 4). It's hard to see anything but a win for the unbeaten 26 year old here, however Endo is no push over and could test Nagata.
Possibly the most eye raising bout on the card will see the much touted Shuichiro Yoshino (1-0) battle against Thai veteran Chaiyong Sithsaithong (39-14-4, 28) in what will almost certainly see Yoshino answering questions about his potential. This really is a risky match up for the unbeaten 24 year old.
As well as the action in Japan there is also set to be a very interesting card in Chin where two codes of professional boxing collide in what is being regarded as a very unique show to begin the Chinese new year.
The main event of the card will see former WBC Minimumweight champion Xiong Zhao Zhong (26-6-1, 14) face off with APB champion Lu Bin. The bout between the two has been hyped by Chinese boxing sources as a “Super Bowl” of boxing and is a real oddity in boxing where the “normal” professional fighters and the “APB” professionals have stayed away from each other. Unfortunately a lack of clear details on this bout do leave us wondering if the contest will be counted officially on either man's record.
The show will feature three other, similar bouts, one of which will be between the under-rated Xinghua Wang (12-13-1) and Jiawei Zhang.