This coming Saturday is almost certainly the busiest day we've had this year with a number of world title bouts across the globe, as well as top prospects and a a highly anticipated return to the ring of a former 3-weight world champion. This is a crazy weekend it is one to get very, very excited about.
Coca-Cola Arena, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Arguably the most notable card, at least for us, is in Dubai where we see two Philippines Vs UK world title, as well as the next step towards a major bout for a Filipino icon.
One of the world title bouts will see hard hitting WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21) make a mandatory defense of his title as he takes on Englishman Paul Butler (33-2, 15), himself a former IBF Bantamweight champion. Coming in to this Casimero is a huge favourite, though he has often blown hot and cold and Butler will go into the bout knowing that a loss here ends any hope he has of becoming a 2-time world champion. It's a must win for Butler, if he's to remain relevant, and a must win for Casimero if he's ever going to get a showdown with either Nonito Donaire or Naoya Inoue. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Casimero defends WBO crown against Butler in mandatory defense
The other world title fight on this show will see IBF Flyweight champion Sunny Edwards (16-0, 4) make his first defense, in a mandatory against unbeaten Filipino Jayson Mama (16-0, 9). Mama was supposed to get a world title shot at Moruti Mthlane last year, before the authorities in South Africa refused to sanction the event, he was then supposed to fight Edwards earlier this year, before Edwards pulled out. Coming in to this Edwards is the clear favourite, and the slippery English fighter will feel full of confidence for his first world title defense, however it's certainly not a foregone conclusion. Our preview of this bout, from the original date, can be read here Jayson Mama gets crack at IBF champion Sunny Edwards!
Another notable bout on this card will see Filipino icon Donnie Nietes (43-1-5, 23) battle against Norbelto Jimenez (30-9-5, 16), in what is essentially a must win bout for both men. At 39 years old Nietes is ancient for a Super Flyweight, but he has made it clear he wants a super fighter before he retires and wants to face the likes of Roman Gonzalez. For that to happen he needs to get past Jimenez. As for Jimenez, he is a multi-time world title challenger himself, and shouldn't be over-looked here, despite the fact he will be a very, very clear under-dog.
Dignity Health Sports Park , Carson, California, USA
Another major card will take place in California, where we see another world title bout, and a world title eliminator, in what could end up being a very, very explosive night of action.
The world title bout will see WBC Bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27) defending his title against mandatory challenger Reymart Gaballo (24-0, 20) in a rare All-Filipino world title fight. Of the two men Donaire is the much more proven, and established fighter, however at the age of 39 he is well past the typical prime of a fighter, and that's ignoring the type of incredible career he's had, and the punishment he's taken at times, including his hellacious 2019 bout with Naoya Inoue. Gaballo on the other is a young up and comer who has got power and speed, but did look less than stellar last time out, when he took a controversial decision over Emmanuel Rodriguez, and he'll be desperate to show what he can do, and rip the title, and proverbial torch, from Donaire. Given the style of the two men involved, this should be a brutal fire fight. Our in depth preview of this fight can be read here WBC champion Donaire faces Gaballo in all Filipino world title bout!
Talking about fire-fights we're expecting another of those in a main supporting bout, as Japan's Hiroaki Teshigawara (22-2-2, 15) fights outside of Japan for the first time, and takes on former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (34-3, 17) in what could be the sleeper of the weekend. Teshigawara is known in Japan, and has carved out a successful career at Korakuen Hall, where he has built himself a cult following, and he'll know that a win here helps set him up for a potential world title fight in 2022. Tapales on the other hand is more well known, in part due to his amazing bout with Pungluang Sor Singyu and his two wins over Shohei Omori. Despite the past Tapales didn't look great in 2019, when he beaten up and stopped by Ryosuke Iwasa, and Teshigawara will be looking to score a repeat of that outcome here.
KRK “Uralets”, Ekaterinburg, Russia
We get yet another world title fight over in Russia, as we actually get quite an interesting card from Ekaterinburg.
The world title bout on this card is a really good looking bout which will see Dmitry Bivol (18-0, 11) defending his WBA Light Heavyweight "super" title against the once beaten Umar Salamov (26-1, 19). On paper this is a mouth watering match up, but sadly it's becoming harder and harder to get excited about Bivol bouts in recent years. It's clear he is an exceptional boxer, but like a handful of other world champions he's unwilling to roll the decide and put on a show, event against opponents that he should be comfortable seeing off. Salamov is an interesting challenger, who has shown some power, and a willingness to throw heavy shots, but he's also the sort of fighter that Bivol should be able to shine against. Salamov is hard hitting but open, crude, and there to be countered, something Bivol should be able to do at will, if he chooses to. Our preview of this fight can be read here Bivol defends WBA crown against Salamov!
In a major supporting bout former world title challenger Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0-1, 12) will be looking to bounce back from his frustrating draw with Jo Jo Diaz as he takes on the unbeaten Rilwan Oladosu (16-0, 8). Rakhimov showed he belonged in the mix at world level, and hopefully 2022 will bring him a second world title bout, potentially against Kenichi Ogawa. Oladosu on the other hand is a Nigerian fighter with a nice looking record, but one that doesn't really stand up to much scrutiny and this will be his first bout outside of Nigeria. Oladosu could be a rare Nigerian fighter to get excited about, but we suspect he's there to make Rakhimov look good instead.
Echo Arena, Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom
As well as the world class men in action, we'll also be seeing a world class woman in action, as undisputed female Lightweight champion Katie Taylor (19-0, 6) defends all her titles against Kazakh challenger Firuza Sharipova (14-1, 8). On paper this one looks good, but in reality this should be little more than a public showcase for Taylor, one of the best female fighters on the planet, with Sharipova not fit to lace her boots. We know Taylor has beaten almost everyone of note at Lightweight, but they are really scraping the bottom of the barrel if they really think Sharipova will give her anything resembling a fighter. Our preview of this major female bout is available here Taylor defends unified crown against Sharipova
International Conference Hall, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Away from world title action we're set for a really good bout in Japan as former 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) looks to bounce back from his 2020 loss to Kazuto Ioka, by taking on Ioka's former stable mate Sho Ishida (29-2, 15), himself a former world title challenger. This bout, being dubbed a "survival bout" in Japan, is a really interesting match up and will put the speed and aggression of Tanaka against the long and gangly frame of Ishida, with both men knowing they can't afford a loss, especially not if they intend to get a big fight any time soon. Tanaka will go into the bout as the favourite, though we do need to wonder what his loss to Ioka, and the loss of his unbeaten record, will have done to him. As for Ishida, a win here could potentially set him up for a second world title fight.
Staying in Asia we also get a compelling card in Kazakhstan, where we see some very highly touted prospects in action.
The most notable of the bouts on this card will be a Cruiserweight bout between the very highly touted Kamshybek Kunkabayev (3-0, 3) and Steven Ward (13-1, 4), who clash for the vacant WBA "Gold" Cruiserweight title. Kunkabayev, a former amateur stand out, has hardly put a foot wrong in his first 3 bouts, but this is a step up in class against someone who will be in the ring to win, rather than to collect a pay check or just survive. Sadly for Ward he is the naturally smaller man and he was stopped just 2 fights ago, however he will come in to this hungry and should be a genuine test for the promising Kunkabayev.
Also on this card will be a number of top Kazakh prospects, such as Talgat Shayken (6-0, 4) Sultan Zaurbek (11-0, 7) and Ray Seitzhanov (8-0, 5) who will all be looking to pick up wins and move their career forward.
This Saturday promises to be a great day with a brilliant Japanese card being shown live on Boxing Raise, and a live show being streamed from the Philippines!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
That Japanese card comes from Tokyo and features 4 bouts of note, none are world title bouts, but there are two less title bouts on the show, and a mouth watering domestic show down, as well as a bout featuring a former Japanese national champion.
In the main event OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (22-2, 7) will battle against fellow Japanese fighter Yusuke Konno (16-4, 9), with both Naito's OPBF title on the line. Coming in Naito will be the clear favourite, he's the more proven man, the Oriental champion and the quicker more skilled fighter. We shouldn't write off Konno however, and he's a big, strong, powerful fighter, with good stamina and he'll be desperate to force his will on Naito. This is very much a match up of skill Vs will and knowing that Konno will be pressing and pressuring through out we can't help feel that Konno is a very live under-dog here. Our full preview of this bout is available here Naito and Konno clash for OPBF title
The chief support bout is a mouth watering match up between youngsters as Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2, 7) and Shuma Nakazato (10-1-2, 7) clash, in a truly brilliant match up. Kimura is coming in on the back of a split decision loss to OPBF 130lb champion Hironori Mishiro, which was a great clash last year, and he'll have given his standing and confidence a huge boost despite the lost. Incidentally Nakazato's sole loss also came to Mishiro, but since then he has gone 4-0-1 and will know a win here moves him to within touch distance of a title bout. We expect this to be highly technical but also really exciting with Kimura being the aggressor, applying calculated pressure and Nakazato looking to play the role of a puncher. We wouldn't be surprised if this was the bout of the week.
The other title bout promises to be just as good as the main event, with Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) defending his title against Hiroto Yashiro (2-0, 2), in what will be Takayama's first defense. Unlike most countries Japan matches their young up and comers against each other often and the Youth title has seen that happen more and more often in recent years. Prior to turning professional both of these youngsters had made their marks on the amateur scene and seeing them face off at this ultra-early point in their professional careers is really exciting. This is a hard one to call and we are expecting a brilliant, tactical, hard hitting battle here. A fantastic match up and credit to both men for accepting the bout. This should be something special. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Novices clash in Japanese Youth title clash!
Also on this card will be former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura (15-5-1, 7), who is always worth watching. The all action Tamura will be expected to pick up a relatively easy win here, as he takes on Ryu Oba (5-4, 3), though in fairness Tamura makes even mismatches fun and exciting with his action style and aggression. Although Oba is the under-dog he'll have some confidence having won his last 2 and will be here to win. This should be fun, even if it does have a very predictable winner.
The restart in Filipino boxing has been a slow one, though we do get another show in the country today as Sanman puts on a card with several notable names on it.
The main event will see former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (33-3, 16) battle against Eden Sonsona (36-11-2, 13) in a bout at a contracted 132lbs, well above Tapales' best weight. This will be Tapales's first bout since losing to Ryosuke Iwasa in an IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title bout, and to see him going up the scales this much is a worry, though he should still have enough to beat Sonsona.
Another notable fighter on this card is 2-time world title challenger Aston Palicte (26-4-1, 22), who will be in action at Bantamweight, where he takes on Reymark Taday (10-12-1, 5), in what looks very much like a confidence builder for Palicte following 2 losses last year, including one to Kazuto Ioka.
Other notables involved on the show are Joey Canoy (15-4-1, 8) and the talented Dave Apolinario (13-0, 8), who are both facing domestic foes that they shouldn't struggle with.
This event is set to be streamed on the Sanman Facebook page for those wanting to enjoy some Filipino action.
Xi An, China
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a show in China. This is another low key Chinese card, as we still see the sport re-finding it's feet in the Middle Kingdom.
One of the few interesting bouts on this show will see Jin Ping Yang (2-0-1) take on Xiaokang Song (4-0) in a battle of unbeaten men, over 10 rounds. The 23 year old Yang made his debut in October 2018, with a 4 round decision, and stepped up to 6 rounders earlier this year. He's now leaping up to a 10 rounder in what is very, very clearly a step up in class. Song on the other hand is a 21 year old and has been a fighting in 4 rounders. This isn't an easy one to call, but is an interesting one on paper, and a somewhat compelling match up, given that the promoter is trusting the two men to headline the card.
In a second bout on this card Shichao Gao (5-1-1, 2) will take on JiZhong He (2-1, 1) over 8 rounds. We have been impressed by Gao in the past, and he seemed to be on the fast track to the top when he beat Koji Igarashi and Anurak Thisa last year, but a loss in June has slowed his rise. As for He it's hard to say anything at all about him given the very low level of competition he has faced so far, and this is a very, very big step up in class for him.
This coming Saturday is a hectic day for Asian fight fans with a lot of action all crammed into a single day, and taking place all over the place. It might not be Christmas yet, but this weekend is set to feature a lot of gifts for us fight fans.
On paper the most significant bout of the weekend, at least in terms of Asian boxing, will see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) take on Chilean challenger Miguel Gonzalez (31-2, 8), in Mexico. This bout has been arranged in a haste after a previously scheduled bout for Ancajas fell though, and although it looks good on paper we don't see this being anything other than a straight forward win for Ancajas. The Filipino has been frustrating at times, but he is a world class fighter and Gonzalez on the other hand has been easily beaten by the two world level guys he's faced. We're expecting a stoppage from Ancajas here, even if Gonzalez does end up being an awkward assignment. A full preview of this can be read here IBF king Ancajas faces Chilean challenger
New York, USA
Another bout with meaning at world level will see former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (33-2, 16) take on former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa (26-3, 16) in a bout for the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title. The interim title has been created due to injuries suffered by Danny Roman, and despite interim titles not being great for boxing this bout is a brilliant one, and we're looking forward to this. Both fighters are world class, both can bang and they should be well matched, with styles that we're expecting will gel well. This should be very exciting, and we'd be shocked if we get through 12 rounds here.
In Japan we have a lot of action, with the most notable of the Japanese action coming from Tokyo, where we'll get a title double header, featuring two Super Featherweight title bouts. For fans wanting to watch this the show will be broadcast live on G+.
The most notable of the title fights will see WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight champion Joe Noynay (18-2-1, 7) defending his title against Kenichi Ogawa (24-1, 18). This year has been a huge one for Noynay, who has already travelled to Japan and stopped Kosuke Saka and Satoshi Shimizu, and a win here against Ogawa will put him well and truly in the world title mix. For Ogawa a win here would put him on the verge of a second world title fight. We expect bombs to be thrown, we wouldn't be surprised if both men were badly hurt at some point, and this is an ideal headliner for a televised card. Our preview of this fantastic match up can be read here Noynay looks to extend "Japanese Killer" run as he takes on Ogawa
The other title bout on this show will see Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (19-1-1, 11) defending his title against former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (19-5, 16). For Sueyoshi this bout will be his 5th defense, and if he wins we wouldn't be massively surprised to see him vacating the title in the new year to pursue regional, if not world, honours. For Saka this is a chance to put a very mixed 24 months, in which he has gone 3-2 (2), behind him and would end the year on the high following a loss to Noynay back in April. Saka has the power to hurt Sueyoshi, but Sueyoshi has the skills to outfox and out think Saka, in what is a compelling match up. Our preview of this bout can be read here Sueyoshi takes on Saka in next Japanese title defense
Also on this card will be Teiken trio Hikari Mineta (7-1, 4), Daiki Funayama (10-3-1, 3) and Koki Mioya (6-1-2, 1) who will all be taking on limited Thai opposition in what look like stay busy fights to close out the year.
A second Japanese show takes place in Kanagawa, and although much lower profile it features another title bout.
That title bout will see Japanese female Featherweight champion Kimika Miyoshi (14-12-1, 5) defending her belt against unbeaten novice Aira Midorikawa (5-0, 1), in what will be Mioyoshi's first defense of her second reign. Miyoshi claimed the belt in September, when she took a split decision win over Miki Mitsuda, ending a 4 fight losing in a bit of an upset. Although Mitsuda was no world beater we hadn't seen Miyoshi win a fight in over 3 years! Midorikawa is taking a huge step up, and although she's unbeaten she is very untested ahead of this bout, her first title bout. It'll be a huge ask for Midorikawa, but Miyoshi is certainly not unbeatable. An in depth of preview of this bout can be read here Veteran Miyoshi takes on Midorikawa in Featherweight title bout
Despite the title bout on this show the main event is technically a rematch between Yui Oikawa (7-5, 4) and Seiryu Toshikawa (11-5, 7). Coming in Oikawa has been stopped in his last 2, and desperately needs a win. He'll be driven on not only by the need of a win, but by a chance of getting to avenge a 2016 loss to Toshikawa, who beat him with a 4 round split decision. On paper Toshikawa might not look great but he's much better than his record suggests and he'll be looking to score his second win since suffering a razor thin loss in a Japanese Youth title fight to Shawn Oda in 2018.
A third Japanese show takes place in Hyogo, where fans get a card with several noteworthy names on it.
In the main event we'll see Japanese and OPBF ranked Minimumweight Ryoki Hirai (12-6-1, 4) take on the limited Hirohisa Ichikawa (7-7-2, 2). We've long seen Hirai as a fighter with a lot of potential, but someone who has faltered in many of his toughest bouts. Here we expect him to shine, as he looks to build to a title fight of some kind in 2020. With just 1 win in the last 4 years it's hard to imagine Ichikawa giving Hirai much of a test, but he could give Hirai some rounds.
World ranked fighter Kazuhiro Nishitani (20-4-1, 12) looks to continue his slow build towards a meaningful fight as he takes on Filipino veteran Monico Laurente (30-15, 7). The 32 year old Nishitani has won his last 5 by stoppage, including a notable upset win against Shuhei Tsuchiya for the Japanese Lightweight title in 2017. Sadly he has failed to make anything of his career after that win and vacated the title rather than defend it, which has done his career no favours as he continues to meander in the middle of cards in meaningless bouts like this one. Laurente isn't an awful opponent, but is certainly not a step forward for Nishitani who really has lost all the momentum of his win over Laurente.
Another bout of some note on this card will see Hiroki Tokuyama (9-1-1, 2) take on Chikato Sumida (8-3, 1). This will see Tokuyama defending his JBC and OPBF rankings and score a 5th straight win. Sumida isn't terrible, but we don't see him posing much of a test for Tokuyama here.
Yet another show with an Asian fighter in action is being held in Quebec, where fast rising Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov (10-0, 9) takes on rugged Argentinian Jose Antonio Villalobos (12-5-2, 7). Akhmedov missed quite a bit of this year, whilst he recovered from injury and got married, but has still been busier than most and has began answering more and more questions, proving his stamina, his ability to box and move and that he can box on the back foot. There are still areas for him to work on, but for a 21 year old kid his incredibly impressive and a win here is seen as a formality before a potentially huge 2020. Villalobos will be there to try and ask questions of Akhmedov but we really don't see this as anything but an easy win for the talented Kazakh.
Diriyah, Saudi Arabia
On a show that features more morally objectionable content that we can remember for a boxing card, including 4 fighters who have failed drug tests and the show taking place in a country with a terrible history human rights, we'll see Azeri fighter Mahammadrasul Majidov (1-0, 1) take on Tom Little (10-7, 3).
Macao S.A.R., China
The biggest Asian show this coming Saturday comes from Macao, where we get several bouts of note thanks to the IBF, who are holding a convention and having boxing take place around that event.
On paper the best bout is an all-south Light Heavyweight clash between Fanlong Meng (14-0, 9) and Adam Deines (17-0-1, 8), who battle in what is an IBF final world title eliminator. Unbeaten fighters, with ambition, clashing is always a good thing, and whilst neither will be given a chance against IBF world champion Artur Beterbiev this should still be a worth while clash. With a world title fight up for grabs for the winner this is a really important contest, and potentially the hidden gem of the weekend.
Another unbeaten fighter on this card is Australian Steve Gago (10-0, 4), who takes on criminally under-rated Filipino Adam Diu Abdulhamid (14-7, 6), in what should be a much, much tougher test than it appears on paper. Although Abdulhamid has 7 losses to his name he is a very talented fighter and a real potential banana skin for the unbeaten Gago.
A third bout will see China's Sen Chen (11-1, 2) battle against Filipino veteran Richie Mepranum (33-7-1, 9), for a minor regional title. This is a big step up for Chen, but a win would help him out his name out there. At his best Mepranum is a solid fighter, but in recent years he has just been picking up more losses than wins, and has lost 3 of his last 5. A good test for Chen, but it should be a winnable one.
From the Korakuen Hall we'll get the next Dynamic Glove card, and unfortunately it won't be shown live, and instead it's going to be put on tape delay the following Wednesday.
The main event of the card was supposed to be the first defense of the Japanese Flyweight title by Junto Nakatani (18-0, 13), who was pencilled in to face Wolf Nakano (6-7-4, 2). That was a disappointing bout and was cancelled when Nakano suffered an injury in training, and he has now been replaced by Filipino foe Philip Luis Cuerdo (11-6-1, 4). On paper this is a better bout than the original match up, but should be little more than the next step forward for Nakatani, who is looking like one of the brightest prospects in Japan.
On paper the bout of the show looks likely to be the rematch between Charles Bellamy (28-3-2, 18) and Yuto Shimizu (12-4-2, 5), who had a cracking bout last September. The Bellamy, a popular Japanese based American, took a narrow win over Shimizu last year, and will be favoured here. Shimizu however is no push over, as he showed in their first bout, and this could be a very, very good bout.
Another really good looking match up here will see Japan's Ryota Toyoshima (10-2-1, 7) look to build on a big 208 as he takes on Korean visitor Woo Min Won (10-1, 6). Toyoshima went 3-0 (2) last year, with a very notable win over Moon Hyun Yun, and will be looking to continue that run here. The Korean fight will be fighting on Japanese soil for the second time, having beaten Daiki Koide in Nagoya in 2016. Interestingly this will be Kim's 4th straight bout against a Japanese foe, and so far he has a 3-0 (2) record against Japanese fighters.
Hard hitting Minimumweight prospect Kai Ishizawa (5-0, 5) might not be one of the most rounded prospects in Japan but he is a very heavy handed fighter with a lot of promise, and he's very, very young. On this show he will take on Indonesian journeyman Silem Serang (13-19-2, 1), in what should be little more than a show case for the very exciting Ishizawa.
One other bout of note will see Rookie of the Year runner up Hikari Mineta (5-1, 3) kick off his 2019 with a bout against 32 year old Motosuke Kimura (3-1-2, 1). We were impressed by Mineta in the Rookie of the Year, though he did have a nightmare in the early stages of the final, and it's going to be great to see what the Teiken man can go on to achieve over the coming years.
On the subject of Japanese fighters it's worth noting that Swiss based Japanese born veteran Aniya Seki (34-4-3, 5) will be up against journey woman Ivanka Ivanova (1-10-2) in Berne. Seki, now aged 40, is unlikely to achieve her dream of becoming a world champion, but she should pick up an easy win here against her Bulgarian foe who hasn't won in her last 9.
We turn to the US for much more notable action towards the end of the day, with a number of Filipino fighters in action.
Sadly whilst there are some talented fighters on the card, the most notable of the Filipino fighters looks to be, on paper at least, in a stay busy fight. That is former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (32-2, 15), the criminally under-rated southpaw, taking on Mexican foe Roberto Castaneda (23-11-2, 16). On paper this is a mismatch, though Castaneda has had some interesting performances in recent years coming close to upsetting Jose Lopez in 2014 and securing a draw Tyler McCreary last time out.
Another highly regarded Filipino on this card is the hard hitting Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17), who returns to the ring following a weight mishap earlier in the year. He'll be up against fellow puncher Jose Luis Gallegos (16-6, 12) and should manage to secure a pretty straight forward win, though has clearly lost some of his career moment after a huge 2018.
Filipino-America John Leo Dato (10-0-1, 7) looks to extend his unbeaten record, as he takes on tough veteran German Meraz (62-55-2, 39). The Mexican veteran has 120 bouts to his name, and although his losses are stacking up he has only 8 stoppage defeats with the latest coming more than 2 years ago to Tugstsogt Nyambayar. Meraz will test Dato, but isn't likely to score the upset.
Quintana Roo, Mexico
In theory the most meaningful bout, as it's a world title fight, this coming Saturday will take place in Mexico, as WBC Female Light Flyweight champion Yesenia Gomez (14-5-3, 6) defends her title against Japan's Erika Hanawa (10-3, 4). For Gomez this will be her first defense, following a big win over veteran Esmeralda Moreno in September, and a good test for what's going to she's going to be able to do as a champion. Hanawa, who is fighting in her second world title bout, is talented but has got a reputation as someone who comes up short in her biggest bouts. Fighting outside of Asia for the first time won't do Hanawa any favours, but she does seem like she's really up for this fight. Our preview of this bout is here Hanawa gets world title shot at Gomez!
Another really meaningful contest will take place in California, as Ryosuke Iwasa (25-5, 16) clashes with Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17) in an IBF Super Bantamweight world title eliminator. Iwasa, a former world champion, will be making his US debut against a very exciting and aggressive Mexican in what could be one of the most exciting bouts at 122lbs this year. Both men are flawed, but both are exciting, and their styles should gel. Iwasa is the bigger puncher, on a single punch basis, but Juarez is tough and sets a higher pace, making this a very hard to call bout. Our preview of this fight can be read here Iwasa and Juarez meet in IBF eliminator!
Also on this card will be former WBO Bantamweight world champion Marlon Tapales (31-2, 14), though his opponent is still yet to be announced and there is a chance this bout could fall through by the time the show takes place.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines we get a televised show courtesy of ESPN5, and it's a card with a number of good looking fights on it.
The main event will be a 12 round contest between the unbeaten Dave Penalosa (14-0, 10) and Mexican visitor Marcos Cardenas (19-6-1, 15), who battle for the WBO Oriental Featherweight title. The unbeaten Penalosahas had a stop start career but two quick wins last year has seen him build some momentum to begin 2019 and a win here will give his career the big shot in the arm that it needs. Cardenas however won't be travelling to just lose however and he is riding a 3 fight winning run into this bout. Penalose will be strongly favoured, but Cardenas will have travelled to win, and has sort of proven his toughness, lasting 8 rounds with Miguel Marriaga and 5 rounds with Rey Vargas.
The main supporting bout will see former 2-time world champion John Riel Casimero (25-4, 16) take on exciting Japanese brawler Kenya Yamashita (13-4, 10). The 29 year old Casimero, who won world titles at Light Flyweight and Flyweight, hasn't looked great recently, with a loss to Jonas Sultan last time he fought on home soil, but will be under pressure to perform here. Yamashita is crude, but exciting and powerful and will be looking to shine on his international debut. Should be a huge gulf in technical ability, but also a potential gulf in desire and hunger.
A second supporting bout on this card will see teenage prospect Carl Jammes Martin (11-0, 10) take a huge step up in class to face off with Thai foe Petchchorhae Kokietgym (17-2, 8). The unbeaten Martin scored 4 wins last year, all by stoppage, and seems like one of the most promising young Filipino fighters beginning to break out. Petchchorhae on the other hand has failed to impressive despite winning some minor titles earlier in his career. The Thai was last seen being stopped in 3 rounds by Giemel Magramo, and was stopped in his other loss by Iwan Zoda, suggesting he can be taken out, something that Martin will be looking to do here.
Suwon, South Korea
There will also be a domestic card in Korean, albeit at a relatively low level.
The main bouts are 6 round contests, with one of them being a bout between Ki Hyun Park (2-2-2) and Han Bin Suh (3-0-1, 2) whilst the other will be between Jong Won Jung (5-7-1) and Dae Young Lee (2-9-1). We'll be honest and admit that it's hard to get excited about either of these bouts, of the card in general.
In Liege fans will be able to see Belgian based Kyrgyzstan born Faroukh Kourbanov (16-1, 3) battle against Ukrainian 36 year old Volodymyr Matviichuk (4-1). Kourbanov suffered his sole defeat last year, to the experienced Devis Boschiero in Italy, and will be looking to score his second win since that defeat. Matviichuk, who competed at the 2016 Olympics, only debuted as a professional in 2017 and will clearly see this bout as a chance to get into the mix at European level. Whilst Matviichuk does have a loss, it appears to be a suspect one, losing a split decision in Latvia to Ivans Levickis, in a bout that one judge scored 60-55 to the Ukrainian.
Metro Manila, Philippines
The biggest show this Sunday comes from the Philippines and features some very notable fighters, including an interim world champion, a former world champion and three touted prospects.
On paper the main event will see WBA “interim” Bantamweight champion Reymart Gaballo (19-0, 16) battling against the horribly limited Julias Kisarawe (29-6-1, 15) of Tazania. The talented Gaballo claimed the interim title earlier this year, when he upset the unbeaten Stephon Young in the US, and showed that he was world class. Sadly Gaballo was one of the many talented Bantamweights who missed out on the World Boxing Super Series but as long as he stays active between now and the end of the tournament he will be in with a great chance of facing the eventual winner. Sadly this really is just a stay busy for Gaballo, and Kisarawe was stopped back in 5 rounds in July by Prince Patel, showing just how limited he is.
The former champion on the card is former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (30-2, 13), who will be fighting for the first since he scored an 11th round KO against Shohei Omori in April 2017, a bout that saw him being stripped of the title for failing to make weight. Given his long break from the ring few we can't complain much about Tapalese being matched softly, and he has been. On paper Goodluck Mrema (22-3, 12) looks to be a decent opponent but the man from Tanzania has been matched very softly and has lost in his two bouts outside of homeland, including a stoppage loss in June in Scotland to the then 3-0 Lee McGregor. Tapales should have no problems dealing with the visitor here.
One of the prospects on this card Dave Penalosa (13-0, 9), the nephew of promoter Gerry Penalosa, who looks to be taking a step up in class, at least on paper. The unbeaten southpaw will be up against Twalib Tuwa (21-5-2, 14), another import from Tanzania. Tuwa is 0-3 on the road, including a loss to to Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym. When you consider Kwanpichit is a Flyweight and Penalosa is a Featherweight we really should be questioning why Tuwa's team are throwing him in here.
Another Penalosa on this card is Carlo Caesar Penalosa (12-1, 5), who will also be taking on an opponent from Tanzania, Jemsi Kibazange (11-2-2, 1). On paper this actually looks the most compelling of the Philippines Vs Tanzania bouts, despite Kibazange being very feather fisted. Kibazange hasn't never been stopped and despite suffering a couple of losses at least looks like he could be a test for Penalosa. Even if we are expecting the contest to be a mismatch.
In Japan there will be two shows at the Kagoshima Arena,
On paper the more notable of those two cards is the second show, which features a couple of notable bouts.
The main event of this card will see Naoya Haruguchi (15-9, 6) take on Filipino visitor Lito Dante (14-10-4, 7). This will be Haruguchi's first bout since a loss to Tatsuya Fukuhara in July and although he's lost 2 of his last 3 he has proven to be a very credible fighter around the Japanese and OPBF title scene, with notable wins against the likes of Norihito Tanaka and Jeffrey Galero. On paper Dante looks like a limited fighter, but like Haruguchi he is much better than his record suggests and has gone the distance twice with Vic Saludar and also took Simphiwe Khonce the schedule. Dante is tough, talented and will be there to pick up a win on the road. This could be a thrilling and hotly contest contest.
In the chief support bout we'll see OPBF female Bantamweight champion Miyo Yoshida (10-1) make her first defense, just weeks after winning the belt, as she takes on Thai challenger Phannaluk Kongsang (4-6-1, 2). Yoshida won the title on October 20th, to unify the OPBF and Japanese titles, and this will be her first defense of the regional belt as she gets a homecoming contest in Kagoshima, with the plan being for her to move on to world title fights in the near future. Coming in to this the Thai has lost 3 of her last 4, including a previous challenge for this title, and a win would be the biggest of her career, by far. We don't see the upset happening, but we do imagine the Thai will be able to last the distance, given Yoshida's lack of power.
The other card in Kagoshima is a Rookie of the Year card, pitting the Western Japan champions against the Central Japan champions. The winners of these bouts will then find themselves one bout away from an appearance at the All Japan Rookie of the Year final in December. This card will feature 9 bouts in total with contests taking place from Minimumweight to Welterweight. We won't go through the bouts, but we are expecting some very competitive contests.
The key Asian show this coming Saturday comes from Malaysia, where fans will see a number of promising fighters in action.
The most promising fighter on the card is WBC Silver Welterweight champion Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (13-0, 9), who will be making his second defense of the title as he takes on Hungarian foe Laszlo Toth (25-3-1, 17). The Uzbek fighter had a fantastic 2017 with notable wins over Charles Manyuchi, to win the title, and Dmitry Mikhaylenko to defend it, and he looks like a future world title challenger, possibly fighting for a world title later this year. The visitor is a bit of an unknown, though unlike most Hungarian fighters he's not collapsed in his defeats, instead he has gone the distance against the likes of Vyacheslav Senchenko and Kerman Lejarraga. This could be a decent test for the Uzbek fighter, but one that we expect him to come through as he continues his march to a world title fight.
Another promising Uzbek fighter on this card is Azizbek Abdugofurov (9-0, 4), who kicks off his 2018 with a bout against Alfonso Tissen (10-1-2, 5). The 25 year old Uzbek Middleweight looked like a star in the making as we entered 2017, but some of the excitement has been lost for him, despite going 6-0 (1) for the year. He's still very promising and hotly tipped, but some of the hype has certainly gone. Tissen on the other hand is a bit of an unknown from South Africa, who looks to be stepping up in class, after 13 straight fights on the South African domestic scene. With 2 draws in his last 4 Tissen has shined recently and will not expected to pick up a win, but if this is competitive Abdugofurov will see his rise take another hit, and he really wouldn't want that to happen at the moment.
A third Uzbek on this card is Jasur Akhmadjanov (3-0, 2), who looks to take on his most notable foe so far as he battles former world title challenger Roy Mukhlis (29-7-3, 22). Aged 21 Akhmadjanov is a promising youngster, but this is a monster step up in class, following 3 fights on the Uzbek domestic scene. Interestingly this will be the Uzbek's third bout of the year, following two bouts in January. Mukhlis challenged the then WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama in 2010, but since then his career has really faltered, going 5-4-1 with 3 stoppage losses. Mukhlis has looked shot in recent fights and this could be why he has been selected for Akhmadjanov's first step up, though he may still have the tool to ask questions of the youngster.
A final bout of potential interest here will be a rematch between Malaysia's very own Muhammad Shehran (6-1, 1) and Indonesian Erick Deztroyer (11-4-1, 2). These two fought last December, with Deztroyer defeating Shehran, who was then 5-0, courtesy of a majority decision. Shehran will be seeking revenge here, whilst Deztroyer will be looking to double down and get a second win over the 22 year old Malaysian fighter.
As well as the action in Malaysia there is also a show worthy of note in Victoria featuring a former world champion.
That former world champion is former WBO Bantamweight king Marlon Tapales (30-2, 13), who will be up against Indonesian foe Rivo Rengkung (36-24-6, 14). The under-rated Tapales hasn't been seen in the ring since his second bout with Shohei Omori, a bout he won by 11th round TKO but was stripped of his world title for failing to make weight, way back in April 2017. The Filipino is likely to be a real handful for anyone at 122lbs with his toughness and under-rated skills, and despite his long break from the ring he should have no issue with Rengkung. The Indonesian has been stopped in 9 of his 24 defeats, and whilst he could see out the bell, as he did against big punching South African Macbute Sinyabi, it really is hard to see anyway for him to be competitive with the Filipino.
Another Filipino on this card will be the once touted Neil John Tabano (14-4, 10), who will take on Thai puncher Yodchanchai Nakornluang (25-4-0-1, 20). Tabanao won his first 11 bouts, but has gone 3-4 in his last 7 and really needs to inject some momentum back into his career as soon as possible. The 39 year old Thai veteran hasn't fought in over 4 years and although he will still have his heavy hands he was never the toughest fighter and really should be fodder for the significantly younger and fresher Filipino hopeful.
In Russia local fans will be able to see the unbeaten Vyacheslav Mirzaev (10-0, 1) take on Filipino foe Kenny Demecillo (13-4-2, 7). The unbeaten 29 year old Mirzaev has shown nothing in terms of power but has shown some nice skills so far, including last December when widely out pointed Sukkasem Kietyongyuth. The Filipino visitor likely isn't expected to be a threat, but he is a talented fighter and should be regarded as a live under-dog here, despite his less than amazing record. Demecillo is better than the numbers suggest, and if he performs to bis best he can be a handful for a fighter like Mirzaev.
The biggest show of the weekend, and one of the biggest Japanese shows of the year so far, takes place in Osaka on Sunday
The main event of the card will see WBA Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (21-1, 13) look to extend his reign as the champion as he takes on highly experienced Thai foe Noknoi Sitthiprasert (62-4, 38), who has won his last 61 fights! On paper this looks good, but it's a bout that really is based on smoke and mirrors with Noknoi's record being very padded so far. Interestingly this will be Ioka's 5th defense of the Flyweight title and if he wins he will become just the second Japanese man to win 14world title bouts!
The card feature a really good supporting bout as WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12) defends his belt against Shohei Omori (18-1, 13). These two men fought in 2015, with Tapales dominating the then unbeaten Omori, and since then the Filipino had gone on to win the WBO title, taking a thrilling victory over Pungluang Sor Singyu. Although he was dominated, suffering a 2 round loss to Tapales, it does seem like Omori has looked at their first bout and admitted he was over-confident, making this rematch very interesting.
The most interesting of the under-card bouts will see Japanese based Korean Teiru Atsumi (12-1, 6) battle against the once touted Filipino Neil John Tabanao (13-3, 9). This really could be a very fun bout, with both men having good styles that should gel well for an exciting contest.
The under-card is also packed with a number of notable names, such as Sho Ishida (23-0, 12), Takahiro Yamamoto (18-5, 15), Masayoshi Hashizume (12-0, 9) Hayate Ikuta (7-0, 3) and Tatsuya Ikemizu (14-2, 6) all of whom will be facing Thai imports.
As well as the card in Osaka there will be a second notable show in Japan, with Aichi hosting a show featuring a mouth watering Japanese Featherweight title bout, and an interesting looking non-title bout.
That aforementioned title bout will see Japanese Featherweight champion Shota Hayashi (29-5-1, 17) make his second defense as he takes on mandatory title challenger Kosuke Saka (15-3, 12). Although this bout won't excite those outside of Japan too much, especially given the action in Osaka, we've got a genuine feeling that this will be a genuine barn burner. Hayashi is a busy, hard working yet basic fighter whilst Saka is a gutsy warrior with nasty power, and we're expecting those styles to gel perfectly for a war.
The other bout of note on this card will see the heavy handed Takuya Mizuno (10-1-1, 10) battle against Noboru Osato (7-4-4, 1). Although Mizuno is unproven, and is stepping up a bit in class here, he has shown real promise and his power certainly looks genuine. Osato will go in to this bout as the under-dog but has never been stopped, and could well use his experience and toughness to teach Mizuno some new lessons.
There will be a third Japanese show in Hyogo, where fans get some lesser action, but still manage to get a card worthy of some note.
In the main event of this show we'll see WBO ranked Minimumweight hopeful Ryoki Hirai (8-4-1, 3) battle against the heavy handed Ryoya Ikema (11-3, 10). The little known Hirai really is ranked thanks to a technical decision win over the low-on-confidence Takumi Sakae from last December, other than that however his record has little to note. The huge punching Ikema was beaten last time out by Koki Ono, but is an interesting prospect and will be looking to score a career best win here.
The other bout of note on this card will see Giraffe Kirin Kanda (8-2, 5) battle against the very promising Ukyo Yoshigai (5-0, 4). It's hard to call this one, but a win for Yoshigai would put him in great position ahead of his bout in the Japanese Youth Tournament later in the year. Kanda was stopped just a few fights ago but will be looking to build on back-to-back blow out wins in what could be a really fun bout.
In Uganda fight fan will see Azeri born Shahin Adygezalov (8-0, 7) battle against Amos Mwamakula (15-6-2, 7) in a contest for the UBO Welterweight title. The bout is a low key affair but will see the winner score their best win to date.
The most notable action this coming Wednesday comes from Thailand where we will see a very intriguing world title bout.
That world title bout it the most significant bout of the day and sees WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (52-3, 35) defending his title against mandatory challenger Marlon Tapales (28-2, 11). The champion, who won the title last year against Ryo Akaho, will be making the second defense of his title and will be favoured given the bout is in Thailand. However Tapales has been an upset minded fighter in the past, as we saw last year when he blitzed the touted Shohei Omori in 2 rounds and when he was very narrowly beaten by David Sanchez in Mexico back in 2013.
As well as the show in Thailand fight fans in Japan will also get a card, albeit a low level one with only one notable name on it.
In the most notable bout on this card recent Japanese Super Flyweight title challenger Ryuichi Funai (24-7, 16) will be fighting in a stay busy bout against a Thai opponent, who's name we don't currently have. This is one of 3 bouts scheduled for 5 rounds on this card and Funai will know that a win could potentially help him get a second shot at the national title.
Another 5 rounder on this show will see the unbeaten OPBF ranked Erika Hanawa (5-0, 1) battle Thailand's win-less Sirisopha Sirisak (0-4). For Hanawa the bout could we be an OPBF title eliminator, and if she wins she may well move on to an OPBF Atomweight title fight in the coming months. For Sirisak the bout will be her first outside of Thailand and her first in more than 2 years.
One other bout from this card that caught our eye will see 19 year old Yoshimitsu Kimura (4-0, 2) face 25 year old Masaaki Shiraishi (3-0-2, 2) in what looks like a really intriguing 4 rounder.
December 16th-Omori battles Tapales for world title shot whilst Tokunaga and Nishitani face off for Japanese crown!
For a second day this week Japanese fans get a real treat with another double main event show. Unlike the first one however, this one is in Kyoto, not Tokyo.
The most notable of the main bouts is a WBO Bantamweight world title eliminator between Japanese national champion Shohei Omori (15-0, 10) and Filipino visitor Marlon Tapales (27-2, 10), with the winner to get a shot at the WBO crown in 2016. In recent bouts Omori has attracted the attention of international fans with some starting to see him as the the next great Japanese Bantamweight, following in the recent footsteps of Hozumi Hasegawa and Shinsuke Yamanaka, however this is a huge test for the youngster and one he will need to pass if he's to become the star some have suggested he will be. For Tapales, who's last loss came in a very close fight against David Sanchez almost 3 years ago, this is a huge opportunity and sees him returning to Japan for his 3rd bout in the country. Interestingly he is 2-0 in Japan and will be looking to continue that successful run.
The other main event will see Omori's stable mate Kota Tokunaga (16-2, 11) make the second defense of the Japanese Lightweight title. Tokunaga, who won the title earlier this year by stopping Yuya Sugizaki, will be up against the relatively unknown Kazuhiro Nishitani (15-3-1, 7) who is perhaps lucky to even be getting a title fight. Tokunaga isn't the best champion out there, and was relatively lucky in his last bout, where he scored a final round come-from-behind TKO, though his will to win is one of many positive traits for the fast improving champion. Nishitani will be the under-dog but should be regarded as a very live under-dog.
Chinese fans continue to have a wave of action as Top Rank continue their small foray into Shanghai, where they continue to put on shows at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. The show isn't a big one, in fact it's scarcely a footnote on the Asian boxing scene, but it is notable that Top Rank are continuing their commitment to China and seem to still view the area as a potential gold mine, even if Zou Shiming isn't the star that they were hoping for.