Super Arena, Saitama, Saitama, Japan
This coming Saturday is set to be one of the biggest days in Asian boxing this year, as we get a hugely anticipated card from Saitama, headlined by a long over-due Middleweight unification bout between two fan friendly and aggressive fighters. Not only is the main event a great one, but the card in general is also a mouth watering one., with a second world title bout and a regional title bout.
The main bout on the card is the rescheduled bout between hard hitting Kazakh Middleweight star Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1-1, 36) and Japanese star Ryota Murata (16-2, 13), who were meant to clash on December 29th before the Japanese government made the bout impossible to stage due to covid regulations. The bout will see Golovkin enter as the IBF champion, seeking his second defense of this current reign. Although he will be the big favourite coming in to this bout, he is now 40 years old, with well over 400 bouts in total, as an amateur and professional, and he's been out of the ring since the end of 2020. It may well be the right time to face him, given his battle with father time. As for Murata, this is the bout he's been chasing for years, and at the age of 36 it really is now or never for him to show what he's capable of. Like Golovkin we've also not seen Murata fight recently, with his last bout coming at the end of 2019, and we expect him to be rusty, but he is so much younger than Golovkin. In regards to this one, it could be a very brutal, explosive, hard, tough and rough bout, which will likely see bombs thrown by both, with both likely needing to prove their toughness in what could be a very can friendly bout. Our in depth preview of this super clash can be read here The Middleweight Division gets a super fight as Golovkin and Murata face off!
In another world title fight we'll see WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (22-0, 17) make his second defense, as he takes on the heavy handed Ryota Yamauchi (8-1, 7) in an all Japanese title fight. The talented Nakatani, arguably the best fighter at 112lbs, won the title in 2020, with a brilliant win over Giemel Magramo, but he has a frustrating reign with his single defense coming last year against Angel Acosta in the US, in a bout marred by a brutal cut to Acosta. It's clear Nakatani is a special fighter, but the 24 year old needs to have a big year now and begin to really establish his reign, which has had a faltering start due to the pandemic. As for Yamauchi, the aggressive, heavy handed 27 year old is a really fun fighter to watch, but also a defensively flawed one, who was dropped in his 2019 loss to Wulan Tuolehazi, and although he's had some good wins so far this is a major step up in class for him. This should be a very entertaining bout, but one where Nakatani will enter as the clear favourite, though for those wanting a more in depth look at this bout our preview can be read here Nakatani seeks second defense as he takes on aggressive Yamauchi!
In another major supporting bout we'll see regional Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (14-0, 11) defending his WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF titles against former WBO Super Featherweight world champion Masayuki Ito (27-3-1, 15). As with the Golovkin Vs Murata bout this was scheduled to take place last year, before being postponed when the December 29th card was cancelled, and much like that bout this is one that has got a lot of expectations on it, with over a year of back story. Whilst we won't go into all the backstory of the bout, it is worth getting very excited about with Yoshino looking to throw his hat into the ring for a major Lightweight bout, with the likes of George Kambosos, Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia or Vasyl Lomachenko. For Ito the bout is about rebuilding his career after recent losses to Jamel Herring and Hironori Mishiro. Like the main event this should be a very, very compelling 12 rounder, and one that will see skills and power punching on show. Our preview of this bout can be read here Double champion Yoshino faces former WBO king Ito
In an interesting under-card bout we'll see former amateur standout Kazuki Anaguchi (1-0,1) take on the hard hitting Ryuji Yamamoto (6-1, 6). Anaguchi made his debut last year, and did so with a good win over Atsushi Takada, and it's clear from that performance, and his amateur pedigree, that he has the potential to be moved quickly and moved towards title fighters sooner rather than late. As for Yamamoto the 23 year old is a heavy handed youngster, who stopped his first 5 opponents before suffering a close decision loss in 2017. Notably he was out of the ring for close to 4 years after that loss before returning last year and stopping Takahiro Murai, in a very good win. It'll be interesting to see how Yamamoto deals with the skills of Anaguchi, and whether Anaguchi can handle the power of Yamamoto in a very good under-card fighter.
Abeno Ward Center, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Staying in Japan there is also set to be a show in Osaka, with this show being a West Japan Rookie of the Year event.
This show has 8 bouts set for it, between Light Flyweight and Welterweight. We won't go into too much details for this show, though one bout that did catch out attention was the all debutant bout between Yuichi Ikeda (0-0) and Jop Mustafa Jom (0-0), who will be facing off at Welterweight. We expect this one will be a wild, and open brawl, with both men being youngsters each looking to kick off their career with an eye catching win. Maybe not an amazing bout, but it should be a very fan friendly one.
Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, USA
We're not just getting unification bouts in Japan, as we also get a female world title bout in the US as Japanese female boxing legend Naoko Fujioka (19-2-1, 7) takes on Marlen Esparza (11-1, 1) in a bout to unify the WBA and WBC female Flyweight titles. For Fujioka this bout comes following her US debut win over Sulem Urbina last year and given her age it really is now or never for her to to make a name internationally and a win over Esparza would see her improve her already very impressive resume and reputation. As for Esparza the bout will serve as her second defense of the title, and will see her looking to build on an excellent 2021, which saw her beating Ibeth Zamora Silva and Anabel Ortiz. Given the styles of the two women this could end up being a genuinely thrilling action bout. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Fujioka and Esparza clash in Flyweight unification!
Also on this card will be a bout between the unbeaten pairing of Katsuma Akitsugi (8-0, 1) and Gregory Morales (13-0, 8). Akitsugi is a US based Japanese fighter who debuted back in 2018 and has already ended a number of unbeaten streaks, beating Arnold Dinong (then 7-0), Eros Correa (then 10-0) and Rasheem Brown (then 11-0) in his last 4 bouts. Morales on the other hand is a Mexican born American fighter who beat former world champion Rodrigo Guerrero last year, but has been feasting on limited or smaller men and will be stepping up in class here.
Rizal, Laguna, Philippines
As well as the action in Japan there's also a notable show in the Philippines, with a regional title bout in the headline bout, and several other notable contests. The show is certainly not a monster card, but it's a solid domestic level show for Pinoy fight fans.
The main event will see ArAr Andales (13-2, 5) take on Joey Canoy (17-5-1-1, 9) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Minimumweight title, with Andales seeking his first defense of the title. Of the two men Andales is more well known, having challenged Knockout CP Freshmart in 2019, and he has bounced back from back to back losses, to win his last 3, including his title win in 2021 against Minh Phat Sam. Andales is still just 22 years old and seems destined for another world title fight down the line. As for Canoy, he is one of the many Filipino fighters who's record is misleading with numerous close and controversial losses and notable wins against the likes of Melvin Jerusalem and Toto Landero. Given what we know of the two men this should be a very good fight, with two men each looking to move towards a major bout later in the year.
In a main supporting bout we'll see the hard hitting Weljon Mindoro (6-0, 6) take on the limited Jerwin Mejes (4-6-6, 3), in a scheduled 8 rounder. Mindoro debuted in 2019 and has never been beyond round 3 in his short career, though in fairness he has only faced very low level competition and this is a notable step up in class for him. As for Mejes, who has one of the oddest looking records in the sport, he has gone 0-4-4 in his last 8 though has been stopped in 4 of his 6 losses and will need to be wary of Mindoro's power early on.
One other notable bout on this card will see the once touted Al Sabaupan (26-3-1, 21) face off with the very limited Jason Egera (24-23-3, 11), with Sabaupan looking to get his career back on track with just his second fight since 2017. He was once regarded as a genuinely bright hopeful for Filipino boxing, but losses to Marvin Quintero, in 2012, and Ricardo Dominguez, in 2013, ended much of the hype around him. Although he's been inactive in recent years, he should have too much for the very poor Egera.
Others on this card include unbeaten 25 year old Ryan James Racaza (11-0, 7), who takes on Monico Laurente (30-17, 7), and 26 year old Denmark Quibido (11-0-1, 6), who takes on Jovel Romasasa (10-19, 4), with the unbeaten men in these bouts expected to extend their unbeaten runs.
Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California, USA
The biggest bout involving an Asian fight this coming Saturday is a bit of an unexpected one as Mongolian fighter Tugstsogt Nyambayar (12-1, 9) took a short notice chance to face unbeaten American Chris Colbert (15-0, 6), for Colbert's WBA interim Super Featherweight title. Originally Colbert had been set to face Yuriorkis Gamboa, but Gamboa had to pull out due to injury with Nyambayar replacing him. The Mongolian will be moving up in weight for this bout, but he will likely be aware that he's also being over-looked, and has nothing to lose here. He'll be hungry to claim a "world title", even a WBA interim belt, and it would open big doors for him. Colbert on the other hand looks like one of the future stars of American boxing, and a good performance by him could open the doors to some potentially huge fights at 130lbs down the line.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the great fight in California, it's also a busy day through Asia this Saturday, with the most meaningful single bout coming from Korakuen Hall, in the main event of a Dynamic Glove show.
That main event will see former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (26-3-1, 14) take on former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (25-8-3, 12) in a bout at Lightweight. Coming in to this both men will feel they need to win. Ito was beaten last December, losing a close decision to Hironori Mishiro, and has lost 2 of his last 3, including a loss to Jamel Herring in 2019. He really needs a big win to get his career back on track. The 40 year old Hosokawa on the other hand was last seen losing to triple crown Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino and he will be hoping that a win over Ito will secure him one more shot at a title. This should be a great mix of skills, excitement, and under-rated power from both men. It just really is a shame the rest of the card is rather weak on paper.
IPI Tingub Gym, Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines
As well as the card in Japan we have more action across Asia with shows in the Philippines and Korea. Of those shows it's the Filipino show which is the much more interesting and features a number of very notable fighters.
The main event here will see the once beaten Pete Apolinar (14-1, 8) battle against the regularly entertaining Jess Rhey Waminal (14-3-1, 8) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Featherweight title. Coming in to this both men are 26, but that's almost where the similarities end. Apolinar has been busy over the last 12 months, with 3 fights since October 2020, and has put his sole loss well behind him, winning his last 9. Waminal on the other hand hasn't fought since November 2019 and has lost 2 of his last 5. Regardless Waminal is a live opponent and will be here looking for the win.
In a truly fantastic match up we'll see Mark Vicelles (13-0-1, 7) take on Jerven Mama (12-0-1, 7) in a fantastic bout between unbeaten fighters. This is almost as good as it gets for All-Filipino bouts. The 25 year old Vicelles is world ranked and is looking to build on two wins in the last 12 months, but the southpaw is certainly not going to have things all his own way here. Aged 24 Mama is the slightly younger man and the slightly taller man, but will need to rely on more than those two small advantages. We genuinely wouldn't be surprised if this stole the show here.
In a likely mismatch we'll see the fringe world class Christian Araneta (19-2, 15) take on veteran puncher Richard Claveras (19-7-2, 16). On paper this isn't an awful match up, but it's hard to imagine Araneta losing. In fact it seems to be a clever bit of match making to get Araneta a win after his controversial decision loss to Sivenathi Nontshinga back in April. Claveras has the power and aggression to make this interesting, if he lands, but that's a big if.
On paper we're also set to get a mismatch between Tomjune Mangubat (13-2-1, 11) and Ernie Sanchez (19-15-1, 10), however this might be a lot tougher than it looks on paper. Sanchez, at his best, is a very upset minded fighter, with under-rated power, very high level experience, and the ability to take out opponents if they make a mistake. Mangubat should be favoured, but he'll need to make sure not to take liberties with Sanchez, or he could be made to pay.
Urdaneta Cultural Sports Complex, Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, Philippines
A second Filipino card will be coming from Urdaneta City, and this is a much less interesting event than the one in Cebu.
The star of the card here is the unbeaten Charly Suarez (6-0, 5), who will be expected to pick up an easy win as he takes on the limited, but experienced, Eduardo Mancito (18-11-2, 9). Suarez is one of the best natural talented in the Philippines, but the 32 year old now needs to step up, massively, and sadly for him it seems unlikely he'll be able to get the competition he needs to have a genuinely meaningful somewhere down the line. Mancito is a good, solid stalwart of Filipino boxing, but should be very clearly out of his depth here.
Another noteworthy name on this card is the upset minded, and heavy handed, Jhunriel Ramonal (17-8-6, 10), who looks set to shake some ring rust as he takes on the very limited Landy Cris Leon (13-22-5, 6). Sadly for Ramonal, who had such much momentum at the end of 2019, his career hit a brick wall due to the Covid19 pandemic and he's not fought since scoring a brutal KO win over Yusaku Kuga at the very end of 2019. He should pick up an easy win here, though we suspect he might want to get a few rounds before taking Leon out.
DND Boxing Gymnasium, Hwaseong, South Korea
On a KBM show in Hwaseong we'll see an international title fight as Min Ho Jung (10-3-2, 1) clashes with Hwang Kook Je (6-2-2, 2) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council silver Welterweight title, which is currently vacant. Coming in to this the 27 year old Jung will be the favourite, given his better record and the fact he's the slightly bigger man, but he's lost 2 of his last 3 and is really struggling for form coming in to this one. Je on the other hand has stopped two of his last 3 and was more active in 2020. Although this isn't for a major title the bout is still a pretty interesting one and should provide great entertaining for fans at the DND Boxing Gymnasium
Songwon University, Nam-Gu, Gwangju, South Korea
The card in Hwaseong isn't the only one in Korea this Saturday as we'll also be getting action from Gwangju, thanks to KBA who show case one of the most exciting talents in Korea in what appears to be a mismatch.
The exciting local headlining the event is the unbeaten Jong Seon Kang (12-0-2, 6), who will be facing John Ray Logatiman (6-9-2, 2), who is a late replacement on this show. Originally Kang was supposed to defend his WBO Oriental Featherweight title but his original opponent was injured and has had to be replaced.
As well as the chance to see Kang we'll also see Jung Woo Kim (4-3-1, 2) defending his KBA Welterweight title in the co-feature bout.
For those who want a late Christmas present, we have one of those for you this coming Saturday as Japan put on two shows and China also put on a show. One of those Japanese shows is a mouth watering card from Tokyo, which is set to be streamed live on the A-Sign YouTube channel whilst the second, from Aichi, will be shown on delay on Boxing Raise.
Christmas might be over, but the gifts keep coming!
Sumida City Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan
The more significant of the two shows is the Tokyo one, and it's a genuinely stacked domestic card that should give us a big of everything. The main event should be a fairly technical contest, the opening bouts should be competitive under-card bouts, and we get at least one, if not two, shoot outs on a genuinely fantastic show.
The main event will see former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (26-2-1, 14) take on current OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (9-0-1, 3). Mishiro won't be risking his title here, in a 10 round bout at Lightweight, but the winner will certainly see their standing improve, and we could end up seeing the winner being just a fight or two away from a potential world title fight. Ito is, of course, the more well known fighter and the more established but he has only fought once since losing the WBO title to Jamel Herring in May 2019, and since then he has had a bout cancelled and has had surgery. Mishiro on the other hand is bit of advanced novice, who has been fast tracked to an OPBF title and already has several wins of note to his name, and other here would really boost his standing in the sport. We expect this to be a tactical early on, but will, sooner or later, descend into more of an exciting back and forth war.
Talking about wars we are really exciting about the Japanese Youth Light Welterweight title bout on this show, between Jin Sasaki (9-0, 8) and Aso Ishiwaki (8-2-1, 6), and this really should be a war. The hard hitting Sasaki has been creating a buzz with quick knockout and early wins, including a trio of success opening rounds wins, but Ishiwaki is the more proven man and a tough warrior. The 19 year old Sasaki really is a brutal boxer-puncher, and he's been swiping opponents aside with ease but has faced little in terms of competitive opposition. Ishiwaki has faced the much better competition, and has done so without much fuss, whilst creating a bit of an international following with his heart, energy, toughness and physical strength. This could be incredibly brutal war, and we do not expect it to go the scheduled 8 rounds. Our full preview of this one can be read here Sasaki and Ishiwaki clash for Youth Honours in potential Christmas Cracker!
On the subject of bouts not going the distance we don't imagine the 8 rounder between Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) and Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6) will see the final bell either. The hard hitting Kai Chiba was one looked at as a future regional champion, but a 2018 loss to Brian Lobetania, in a major upset, slowed his rise and he has only really began to rediscover his form in recent bouts, have now scored 5 straight wins. Ishikawa on the other hand is an explosive, heavy handed and wild fighter who comes into the ring with a war monger attitude and may well be too aggressive for Chiba to cope with. Interestingly this bout was delayed from earlier in the year following a positive Covid19 test for Ishikawa.
Former 2-time world title challenger Ryo Akaho (35-2-2, 23) looks to extend his current winning streak as he takes on youngster Yuto Nakamura (11-5-1, 8). The 34 year old Akaho has won his last 9 in a row though it does seem unlikely that he will land a third shot at a world title, following losses to Yota Sato and Pungluang Sor Singyu. At just 23 years old this is a great chance to Nakamura to show what he can do at a higher level following a short reign as the JBC Youth Super Flyweight champion. Sadly however it's hard to Imagine Nakamura coping with the power and strength of Akaho at Super Bantamweight.
One other bout worthy of attention is the second bout in Japan of "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (24-11-2, 13), who made his name in Mexico and the US. The exciting and rugged Sakai will be up against Takeru Kobata (8-4-1, 3). This really should serve as little more than a showcase for Sakai who should be too good, too strong and too powerful. Despite being the under-dog Kobata has some momentum coming into this, on the back of a solid win over Change Hamashima back in February. Even with that in mind it would still be a huge ask for him to be competitive with Sakai here.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
The other show, the one from Aichi, is easier to over-look but does promise a very exciting main event between one of the biggest punchers at 108lbs and, strangely, just a single supporting bout.
The main event will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Masamichi Yabuki (11-3, 11) making his first defense of the belt as he takes on veteran Toshimasa Ouchi (22-9-3, 8). The hard hitting Yabuki moved down to Light Flyweight last year, stopping Rikito Shiba in 4 rounds and then blasting out Tsuyoshi Sato inside a round this past July to claim the title. Originally he had made his mark at Flyweight, losing in the 2016 Rookie of the Year final to Junto Nakatani, but looks much more suited to the 108lb limit and could find himself fighting for a world title in 2021. Ouchi on the other hand is a 35 year old, potentially getting his last notable fight. Although no world beater Ouchi has shared the ring with some notable names, including going 12 rounds with Kenshiro Teraji in 2016, and facing Kenichi Horikawa, shin Ono and Ryoichi Taguchi earlier in his career. Ouchi is tough, but we do wonder what his 35 year old body will do when it's caught by the power of Yabuki. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Japanese champion Yabuki faces first challenger as he takes on Ouchi
The only under-card bout scheduled for this show will see Teru Nobita (5-3-1, 2) face John Yano (5-6, 2). Nobita went through a run where he won 1 in 5, going 1-3-1, but did win last time out and will look to build on the momentum that December 2019 win over Kenshin Megumi. Yano on the other hand is a Japanese based Filipino who has stopped 2 of his last 3 and will be looking to show that power against Nobita. Potentially a much better bout than it looks on paper.
TSSG Center, Qingdao, China
As well as the action in Japan we also get a show from China, which is set to be one of their best of 2020.
In a bout at 154lbs we'll see Tonghui Li (12-2, 6) take on Dacong Wang (7-1-1, 1) in a bout for the interim WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental title. This will be Li's third bout since a loss to Jung Kyoung Lee, and at 30 years old it really is now or never for him to move his career forward. For Wang this is a massive step up in weight, but he has momentum on his side and is riding an 8 fight unbeaten run, and a 6 fight winning run. On paper this looks interesting, though we suspect Li's power and higher level experience will prove to be the difference.
The second bout of note will be an IBO International Lightweight title bout, pitting the unbeaten Ju Wu (9-0-2) against Xiao Tao Su (11-1, 6), with Wu looking to defend his minor IBO title for the first time. The talented Wu is the more skilled man and the naturally bigger fighter, but we do wonder how he will cope with Su's power, which has seen him score stoppages in his last 3.
This coming Friday is a really notable one, with a lot of exciting action, even with the biggest bout of the weekend, for us, being cancelled.
New York, USA
The bout that was cancelled, would have seen the unified Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman (27-2-1, 10) defending his WBA "super" and IBF titles against fast rising Uzbek amateur standout Murodjon Akhmadaliev (6-0, 5). Sadly this was called off due to an injury to Roman, however the plan seems to be to reschedule the bout for when Roman is 100%.
Despite the main bout being called off the card will still feature 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov (7-0, 3), who has promised a lot but is yet to truly shine as a professional. The unbeaten Kazakh will be up against unbeaten American Reshard Hicks (12-0-1, 6). On paper this looks a good test for the Kazakh but in reality he shouldn't struggle with Hicks, if he's as good as many hoped he'd be.
Due to the world title fight being called off in the US, the best card appears to be in Japan where we see a former world champion, a Japanese title fight, a Japanese youth title fight and a Japanese title eliminator.
The main event will see former WBO Super Featherweight world champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) fight for the first time since losing his belt to Jamel Herring. The talented Ito will be up against Indonesian foe Ruben Manakane (25-18-1, 14), who despite only being 26 will be fighting in his 45th pro bout. This is expected to be an easy win for Ito, who is flirting with the Lightweight division, but it's clear there is a lot to work on given before he returns to facing world class opposition, at least based on his performance against Herring. Despite this being a pretty obvious mismatch Manakane does enter as the Indonesian champion and is 7-1 in his last 8.
Despite the main event being a mismatch the supporting card is solid with the best of the bouts being a Japanese Featherweight title bout, with Reiya Abe (19-1-2, 9) and Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) battling for the title that Taiki Minamoto vacated earlier in the year. This has the hall marks of a very, very special bout with both fighters being very highly skilled but having different styles and mentalities. Abe is the more pure counter puncher, a sharp shooting, back foot fighter, whilst Sagawa is a more offensively minded boxer-puncher. These style really should gel and the two fighters will both be looking for their most significant win to date. This could be one of the most thrilling bouts of the month. Our preview of this bout is available to read here Abe and Sagawa battle to crown new Japanese Featherweight champion!
In what looks likely to be an exciting brawl we'll see Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) and Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) battle in a JBC Super Bantamweight eliminator. The experienced Furuhashi is trying to secure a third Japanese title fight but will be the under-dog here against Tamura, who held the title earlier this year. Furuhashi is a solid national contender but he has been in tough bouts through his career and it's hard to know what he has left in the tank. On the other hand Tamura's last 2 bouts have been really hard wars, with his last bout being a brutal war with Yusaku Kuga, and they may well have added a lot of miles to his clock. A preview of this bout can be read here Tamura and Furuhashi to battle in eliminator!
A second title fight will see fast rising youngsters Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) and Shisui Kawabata (2-0, 2) battle for the JBC Youth Light Flyweight title. Both of these youngsters are tipped for big things, and in fact Shiba is pencilled in for a Japanese title eliminator later in the year, so to see them clash at this point is rather surprising, despite the Youth title. So far Shiba has looked the better fighter, and he really does look the goods, however Kawabata has sparred with Naoya Inoue among others and is very highly regarded. This could be another thriller. Our preview of this contest is here Shiba and Kawabata face off for Japanese youth title!
The rest of the card is full of small but still interesting bouts. These include a battle between Japanese ranked fighters, as Kanehiro Nakagawa (7-6, 4) looks to build on a career best win against Seiichi Okada as he takes on Ryuto Araya (13-7-1, 4). Other smaller bouts on this card include Satoru Goto (4-4-2) taking on the unbeaten Ryugo Ushijima (3-0-1, 2) and the debuting Taison Morishita (0-0) battling Kojiro Nishikawa (5-1, 2) in a tough 6 round debut.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Another notable fighter pencilled in for the day is former world title challenger Muhammad Waseem (8-1, 6), who will be in action in Dubai. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent hasn't yet been announced.
Our attention turns to Florida this Saturday where two Asian fighters will be involved in a notable Top Rank card.
The main bout will see Japan's Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13) make his second defense of the WBO Super Featherweight title, as he takes on American challenger Jamel Herring (19-2, 10). Originally the WBO stated this bout wouldn't take place for their title, though it appears the organisation quickly back tracked, and in fairness it is a really interesting match up. The champion, who won the title last year when he beat Christopher Diaz in his US debut, looked solid in December, when he made a mandatory defense, but this looks likely to be a much tougher bout. Herring, a 2012 Olympian, has lost 2 of his last 6 but those losses were at Lightweight and he looks much better suited to Super Featherweight. This is an interesting match up, but one where the champion should be regarded as the favourite. A full preview of this bout is available here Ito returns to the US to take on Herring!
The other bout with an Asian fighter will see former WBA "interim" Flyweight champion Koki Eto (24-4-1, 19) take on 2-time Olympian Jeyvier Cintron (10-0, 5) in a WBO Super Flyweight world title eliminator. Those who have seen Eto will know what to expect from him. He's a wild, fighter who could probably be knockdown shadow boxing, but he's fun to watch, aggressive and has been involved in some incredible bouts during his career, which began in 2008. Cintron, on the other hand, is a talented former amateur standout who turned pro in 2014 and looks like he is on the fast track to success. Cintron looks like he has all the tools to deal with Eto, but the Japanese fighter does have incredible will to win and will not go down without a fight. We've previewed this bout here Eto makes US debut, takes on unbeaten Cintron
Staying in the US fans will also be able to see 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov (6-0, 3) battle against limited veteran Miguel Zamudio (43-12-1, 27), who has previously lost to Shakhram Giyasov, the man Yeleussinov beat in the Olympic final. It's hard to see anything but a win for the unbeaten Kazakh here.
As well as the action in the US there is also a fight of some minor note in Australia. The bout here sees unbeaten prospect Conor Wallace (5-0, 4) take on limited Indonesian visitor Marco Tuhumury (13-23-2, 5). The Indonesian has lost his last 6, and will likely pick up another loss here. Wallace is a decent prospect, but a win over Tuhumury will prove little, and it seems his team are aware of this with another bout for the prospect looking like it's already been arranged for July.
Pyeongtaek, South Korea
There will also be a small 7 rookie card in Korea. This isn't part of Battle Royale tournament but is being sold as a Boxing M 4 round Parade show with 7 bouts, all between novices, set to compete on the card.
The final two days of 2018 are set to be huge for Asian combat sports, with several major shows. For us it's the boxing that is key and this coming Sunday we'll see a triple header being shown on Fuji TV.
Technically the main event of the show will see WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12) make his first defense, as he takes on unbeaten mandatory challenger Evgeny Chuprakov (20-0, 10). The talented Ito won the title earlier this year in the USA, defeating the touted Christopher Diaz, and now looks to build on that win. The unbeaten Chuprakov didn't look great last time out, being pushed very hard by Ernie Sanchez, but is a good fighter and should make for an interesting first defense by the popular Japanese fighter. This is a really good bout on paper, but one where we suspect the champion has to be favoured. Our full in depth preview of this bout can be read here - Masayuki Ito faces mandatory Evgeny Chuprakov
The second champion defending their title on this show is WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (14-0, 8), who will be looking to make his 5th defense of the title. The talented champion will be up against Mexican foe Saul Juarez (24-8-2, 13). On paper this isn't an awful bout, especially given that Juarez is proven at world level, but is 1-4-1 in his last 6 bouts, dating back more than 2 years. Kenshiro has been one of Japanese's boxing big success stories of the last few years, and looked sensational in beating Milan Melindo earlier this year. If Kenshiro can put on a similar performance here to the one he put on against Melindo he has to be in the running for the Asian Fighter of the Year. A preview of this bout can be read here Kenshiro seeks 5th defense, takes on Baby Juarez
The third bout of note on this card will see unbeaten fighters collide, as Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3) battles Petch Sor Chitpattana (48-0, 33), who is also known as Petch CP Freshmart and Tasana Salapat, for the WBC "Interim" Bantamweight title. Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue, is well know in Asian boxing circles and has a number of good wins, beating the likes of Tatsuya Fukuhara, Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, Rene Dacquel, Froilan Saludar, Hiroyuki Kudaka and Mark John Yap already in his short career. Petch on the other hand has one of the longest unbeaten records in the sport, but totally lacks in terms of quality, with his best wins coming against Jestoni Autida and Jeson Umbal. A preview of this bout can be read here - Petch Sor Chitpattana and Takuma Inoue clash for WBC interim title!
This coming Saturday our attention turns to the US as we get the chance to see a Japanese fighter compete for the WBO Super Featherweight title in Florida.
The match up in question will see former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (23-1-1, 12) take on the unbeaten Christopher Diaz (23-0, 15) in what looks like an excellent match up to fill the void left when Vasyl Lomachenko moved up in weight. The 27 year old Ito has been waiting a while for a shot at a world title, and although his last couple of fights have been stay busy contests he does hold good wins against the likes of Shinto Eto, Takuya Watanabe and Lorenzo Villanueva. This will however by Ito's first bout outside of Japan. At 23 years old Diaz is the younger fighter and also the bigger puncher but his competition has been slightly softer than that of Ito and he's yet to prove he can go 10 rounds, something that Ito has done in the past. This really could be one of the highlights of the month.
Another title bout Stateside of note will take place in Kentucky, as Uzbek born Russian based Batyr Akhmedov (4-0, 3) defends his WBA Inter-Continental Light Welterweight title against the heavy handed Ismael Barroso (20-2-2, 19). This is another tough test, on paper at least, for Akhmedov but he has shone since making his debut in February 2017 and looks like one of the most exciting prospects in world boxing. Barroso was highly touted a few years ago, and claimed the WBA "interim" Lightweight title with a win over Kevin Mitchell. Since then however he has gone 1-2 and is an old 35 year old.
Staying in the US there will also be a couple of bouts of note in Texas.
One of those will see Kyrgyzstan born Kazakh fighter Ali Baloyev (5-0, 4) battle against American foe Richard Urquizo (3-4-2, 1) for the lightly regarded NABF Junior Cruiserweight title. It's hard to imagine anything but a Baloyev win here, especially given his power and 3 stoppage losses that Urquizo has suffered in his 4 losses.
Another Kazakh in action on this show is Askhat Zhantursynov (0-0), who will be making his debut against American Michael Coronado (1-1-1). Hard to say too much about this bout, but we have been informed that Zhantursynov was a former kick boxer and could end up being the next guy to switch codes with some genuine success.
This coming Saturday we get a world title in the West and we'll also see two very interesting and notable Japanese cards, both taking place in the Kanto region of Japan.
New York, USA
The world title bout is one of a trio of bouts at Madison Square Garden to feature Asian fighters, in what should be a great chance for a number of fighters to shine.
The world title bout will see Kyrgyzstan born Russian based Light Heavyweight Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10) defending his title against once beaten Cuban Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14). For both men the bout is a major step forward for their career with Bivol facing his most notable opponent to date and Barrera really fighting in a must win, against his second most significant opponent to date,only behind Andre Ward who beat him 2 years ago. The bout pits two top Light Heavyweights against each other, and could well be a very special bout.
This card will also feature a pair of Kazakh hopefuls. One of those is Meiirim Nursultanov (5-0, 4), who risks his unbeaten record against Alejandro Torres (9-3-2, 4). Nulrsultanov has looked really good since his debut in late 2016 and will be looking to launch himself up towards the world rankings by the end of 2018, with Torres being his first bout of the year. As for Torres the Mexican 24 year old has proven to be tough and should serve a good test for the Kazakh, who will be hunting his 5th straight stoppage.
The other Kazakh on this show will be Madiyar Ashkeyev (8-0, 4), who faces live under-dog Jose Antonio Abreu (13-3, 8). The Kazakh isn't as touted as his aforementioned countryman but is a skilled operator who will be looking to make up for lost time after having fought just once in 2017. Abreu, from the Dominican Republic, has lost 3 of his last 4, all in the US, and will likely come up short again here, though has been matched hard in those losses and is certainly no push over.
New York, USA
On a separate US card in New York, fans will see Kazakh hopeful Shyngyskhan Tazhibay (5-0, 2) risk his unbeaten record. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced, but it's unlikely to be too much of a step up in class for the unbeaten man.
On paper the Japanese card with the best single bouts take place in Kanagawa on a Kawasaki Nitta promoted card where fans will get two Japanese title fights and another solid support bout.
The main event of the card is a Japanese Flyweight title bout between defending champion Masayuki Kuroda (28-7-3, 16) and mandatory challenger Katsunori Nagamine (14-1-1, 10), who meet in a Champion Carnival bout. The champion will be seeking his second defense of the title, and will be expecting a much tougher bout than his last defense, which saw him dominate the limited but entertaining Mako Matsuyama. Nagamine on the other hand will be getting his first title bout, and, on paper, his toughest bout since his sole loss to Ken Shiro.
The other title bout is likely to be even better and will see teak tough Japanese Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida (17-8-1, 8) take on the explosive Kazuto Takesako (7-0, 7) in another of the 2018 Champion Carnival bouts. Nishida has held the title for almost 2 years, but has only managed a single defense, due to an out of the ring accident which forced him out of the ring for a while. Despite the lack of defenses he's a tough, aggressive and exciting champion with a solid mentality and style. Takesako is a talented slugger, and should take the fight to Nishida in a potential war. We are expecting this bout to be a potential Japanese fight of the year and something very special.
Also on this card will be the always fun to watch Gakuya Furuhashi (20-8-1, 9), who faces Masashi Kamon (7-2-1, 4) in an 8 rounder. Furuhashi has long been one of the fringe contenders on the domestic scene, and is far better than his record suggests, despite 3 losses in his last 6. Kamon on the other hand began his career 1-2 but has gone on a good run, going 6-0-1 in his last 7. Despite being on a good run Kamon is taking a notable step up in class here.
The other Japanese card will be televised on G+ and despite being higher profile in it's coverage it's arguably a lesser card, despite having a number of notable fighters on it.
The main event here will see WBO #1 ranked Super Featherweight contender Masayuki Ito (22-1-1, 11) take on under-rated Filipino Vergil Puton (17-9, 8), in a bout which appears to be a world title prelude for Ito. The talented Japanese fighter, a former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific champion, will be expected to easily over-come Puton but the visitor is no push over, and has asked genuine questions to the likes of Paul Fleming, Ibraham Balla, Shuya Masaki and Ye Joon Kim. Ito should win, but this will be much tough than a public spar for the Japanese fighter.
In a really good chief support bout fans will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (12-2-1, 8) take on Hajime Nagai (15-9-2, 5), with both men risking JBC rankings. Coming into this Tobe is ranked #7 by the JBC and Nagai is ranked #10. Tobe is riding a 4 fight winning run since losing the Japanese title to Sho Ishida, in a very competitive bout back in 2014, and despite issues with activity he is still a top domestic talent. Nagai on the other hand has lost 2 of his last 3, bith technical decisions,but does have under-rated skills, as he's shown against the likes of Yuji Shimizu back in 2016. This should be Tobe's to lose, but is a very good test on paper for the Misako gym fighter.
Another support bout will see the often fun to watch Koki Eto (21-4-1, 16) take on Filipino journeyman Marzon Cabilla (16-15-1, 5). Eto is currently riding a 4 fight winning run, albeit against limited competition, since his 2015 loss to Carlos Cuadras. Despite his low level of competition the Japanese fighter is a fringe world class talent, and is well known for his thrilling bouts against the likes of Kompayak Porpramook, Yodmongol Vor Saengthep and Ardin Diale. Cabilla enters this bout in the form of his career, riding a 7 fight winning run, but is stepping back up in class here and is likely to see that run of success come to an end.
One other bout of note will see Japanese ranked Light Flyweight Kenji Ono (11-2-1, 6) take on former Japanese Minimumweight contender Masashi Tada (11-5-2, 7). Ono is best known for his up-and-down war with Jun Takigawa from 2016, and has gone 1-1-1 since that bout, suffering an opening round loss to Seigo Yuri Akui in late 2016. He needs a win if he's to move into a title bout. As for Tada he has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3, and over 4 years removed from his last win, however at the age of 28 he does still have time to rebuild his career and a win here would see him move into the JBC rankings.
The main show for us this coming Saturday is a televised card from the Korakuen Hall, which will be covered live by G+.
The main event of the card will see talented Super Featherweight contender Masayuki Ito (21-1-1, 10) take on Filipino foe Glenn Enterina (11-2-1, 8) in what is expected to be one of Ito's final bouts before a potential world title clash. The talented Japanese fighter, who unified the WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF titles at the end of 2016 is regarded as top 15 fighter by 3 of the alphabet organisations and will be seeking a title fight sooner rather than later. In his way will be the big punching Enterina, who will be seeking his first win outside of the Philippines, but will be regarded as a huge under-dog against the highly schooled Japanese hopeful.
Arguably the best bout on this card will see the touted Sho Nakazawa (10-1, 4) take on Ryo Hino (10-1-1, 6) in a very even looking match up on paper. Nakazawa was once seen as a top prospect in Japan but a loss last year to Teiru Atsumi put the breaks on that and two subsequent wins have scarcely excited the fans who seem to know that he is talented, but isn't quite as exciting as they had first hoped. As for Hino he's a bit of an unknown, though he did give Reiya Abe a tough bout a couple of years ago and has stopped his last 4. This could be skills against power, and should be the best bout on the card.
Another competitive looking contest will see the Japanese ranked Yuta Horiike (12-5-3, 3) take on Kyosuke Sawada (7-2-1, 4) in what should be a good supporting contest, just like the bout between Yosuke Fujihara (16-5, 4) and Keita Nakano (14-11-6, 4), which is likely to be much better than it looks on paper. Both of these bouts will be over 8 rounds and could be very interesting contests for fans watching at the venue and on TV.
In Osaka we'll see the unbeaten Takuya Uehara (12-0, 7) look to extend his unbeaten record as he takes on a Thai visitor in an 8 rounder. Uehara, the WBC Youth Featherweight champion, will not be risking his belt here but shouldn't have any problems beating the Thai, who we have been informed is naturally smaller and is typically fighting as a Super Bantamweight.
Ansan, South Korea
There will also be a show in Ansan, South Korea, with this show being part of the rising Boxing M series of shows. The theme of the show is that it's the last 8 of a Korean Lightweight tournament, however those bouts are joined by an interesting 6 rounder between Jae Woo Lee (4-2, 4) and Young Hwan Jun (3-3-1, 1), who we believe will be fighting for the right to challenge for a Korean title.
Next Thursday we see another notable card from the Korakuen Hall, and this one really is a rather exciting one with a number of notable names features.
The main event of the card will see the criminally under-rated Masayuki Ito (20-1-1, 8) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title against big punching Filipino title challenger Lorenzo Villanueva (32-2-0-1, 28). For Ito the bout will be his first defense, since he claimed the title at the very end of 2016, and he should be looking to extend a current 4 winning run which which includes really good wins over Shingo Eto and Takuya Watanabe. For the Filipino the bout is his first outside of the Philippines since his thrilling 2012 loss to Daud Yordan in Singapore. The challenger will have the big edge in power, but he's up against a very talented boxer, and will need to show more than just brute force to over-come Ito.
In a major supporting bout we'll see former world title challenger Keita Obara (16-2-1, 15) take on Indonesian Larry Siwu (24-7, 20) in a Welterweight bout. For Obara the contest will be his first since losing in a world title bout to Eduard Troyanovsky last September. The talented Obara is taking off the shackles of making Light Welterweight and it seems likely that he will be continuing his career at 147lbs going forward. Although Siwu is a decent fighter he really shouldn't have anything to really test Obara, who will be looking to shake some ring rust and make a statement.
Arguably the most intriguing match up on the card will see former Japanese and OPBF Lightweight champion Yoshitaka Kato (30-7-2, 9) take on touted former amateur standout Shuichiro Yoshino (3-0, 2) in what looks like a must win for the veteran and a potential coming out party for the novice. Although now a faded force Kato, who is more than 2 years removed from a win of note, is tough, skilled and a nightmare for fighters who look to have a war. If Yoshino can avoid a war and rely on his amateur skills then he could announce himself as a serious play on the Japanese scene at 135lbs, but this is a huge step up for the 25 year old.
Another former champion on this card is former 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (26-7, 14), who vacated his title around the start of the year. The world ranked Masuda will be up against Filipino visitor Romel Oliveros (8-3-1, 3), who is fighting in Japan for the third time. The talented Masuda is hunting a world title bout later in the year and this is clearly a stay busy bout for him, but one that should help him get some rounds under his belt. Oliveros has been stopped in 2 of his last 3 bouts, being stopped in 2 rounds by Daigo Higa and in 5 rounds by Jonas Sultan, and it's hard to see him lasting the distance here against Masuda.
Yoshino isn't the only touted novice on this card as former amateur star Motoki Osanai (1-0) returns to the ring for his second professional outing, and takes on fellow unbeaten Takeshi Kaneko (4-0-1). The talented Osanai turned professional last year, along with Hiroto Kyoguchi and Masataka Taniguchi, but has failed to shine like those two and will be looking to make up for lost time here. As for Kaneko he is unbeaten, but his 0 has certainly come under challenger during his career and it'd take a career best performance to keep that 0 here.