Action really begins to pick up this coming weekend with a host of fights taking place that are worthy of attention. We get the first televised Japanese card of the year, the first televised Korean card of the year and the first world title fight involving an Asian of the year.
The Japanese card, which will be aired live on G+ as part of their Dynamic Glove series, is an interesting card with a fantastic main event and two notable fighters in supporting bouts.
Tha main event looks set to be a genuine shoot out as Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) defends his Japanese Middleweight title against Japanese national champion Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11). Whilst Takesako's title isn't on the line we still see this as being a very special and explosive bout between two hard hitters each out to make a statement. We do not expect this one to go the distance, and instead we expect bombs to be fired off until one man ends up being saved by the referee. It might be a short bout, it might be a long one, but with the power of the two men combined this is going to be a brutal for as long as it lasts. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hosokawa and Takesako battle in clash of champions
In the chief support bout we'll see former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (15-1-1, 9) make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title, as he takes on Chinese challenger Cheng Su (14-2-1, 8). Although this looks interesting on paper, with both men having similar looking records, we really can't see it being anything more than an easy defense for Inoue. Footage of Su shows him to be a slow, open and clumsy fighter and Inoue's pressure should grind him down in the middle rounds. Anything other than a stoppage for the champion should be seen as disappointing for a man who will be hoping to get a second world title fight in the near future. Our preview of this fight can be read here Takeshi Inoue takes on Cheng Su in WBO Asia Pacific title defense
Also on this card will be unbeaten prospect Takuma Takahashi (4-0, 4), who looks for his 5th straight win as he takes on Filipino journeyman Leonardo Doronio (17-17-3, 11). The talented Takahashi is likely to be looking at title fights by the end of 2020, and already holds a win over recent OPBF title challenger Sitthidet Banti, and this seems an easy first bout of the year. Doronio was once a capable Lightweight, and scored good wins against Al Rivera and Burning Ishii among others, but has gone 3-8-1 (2) in his last 12 and shouldn't be competing at Welterweight, a weight that really doesn't suit him.
We get more title action in Mexico, as WBC "interim" female Light Flyweight champion Kenia Enriquez (22-1, 9) defends her title against Japanese challenger Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5). For Minowa this is a must win after coming up short in 2 previous world title bouts, and given her amateur reputation if Minowa does fail to claim some version of a world title it would be regarded as a huge achievement. Sadly for Minowa we've been very impressed by what we've seen of the technically sound Enriquez, who will be expecting to notch her 4th defense of the WBC interim title. We've previewed this bout here Chaoz Minowa returns to Mexico to face WBC interim queen Kenia Enqiruez!
Jeonju, South Korea
Back in Asia we also get an interesting card in South Korea, featuring 5 title bouts! These are 3 WBA Asia title bouts and 2 KBM title bouts.
One of those WBA Asia title bouts will see the heavy handed Yang Hyun Min (8-3, 7) take on Italian born Australian Danilo Creati (4-0, 1) for the WBA Asia Middleweight title. For Min this is a second regional title fight, after he gave Yuki Nonaka a surprisingly tough test last September in a WBO Asia Pacific title bout. Min is no world beater, but he hits hard, takes a short and is aggressive. As for Creati this will be a notable step up in class for the unbeaten Australian and will be his first bout in Asia. This could be a very interesting clash of styles.
In a WBA Asia Super Bantamweight title fight the unbeaten Min Jang (9-0-2, 2) will take on limited Chinese foe Junhui Zhao (4-5-2 1). Jang is a former Korean Super Flyweight champion but is said to have out grown the 115lb weight class and the 19 year old is expected to make a splash, at least domestically, at Super Bantamweight. Zhao will be a clear under-dog here, but should make for a good foil for the local hopeful.
The most interesting of the WBA Asia title bouts comes at Super Flyweight where former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-5-2, 5) take on once beaten Korean Woo Hyun Kim (8-1, 1). The local, a former "interim" PABA Bantamweight champion, has fought just once in the last 3 years, but that was a win against the previously mentioned Junhui Zhao, and he'll feel confident of picking up a career best win here. Nakayama on the other hand is 1-3-1 in his last 5 and has not looked good recent performances. Nakayama needs a win to keep his career alive, but we wouldn't be surprised at all if this was a third straight defeat for him.
The KBM title bout which has caught our attention sees all action Han Bin Suh (5-0-3, 4) defending his KBM Super Middleweight title against former amateur standout Dong Myung Shin (2-0). Suh really caught our attention last year, with the 19 year old going 2-0-2 for the year and being involved in some sensational bouts. Although not the most polished of fighters he did give us the vibe of being an old school Korean fighter. Shin is a talented fighter, and was a very experienced amateur turning professional, but with his 32nd birthday coming in March his best years are likely behind him. Interestingly when this bout was first announced Korean sources stated that if Suh won he would be chasing an OPBF title fight with Hiroaki Teshigawara later in the year, in what would be a massive step up in class.
The other KBM title fight takes place at Super Featherweight and will see unbeaten Korean based Kyrgyzstan fighter Urmat Amankulov (4-0-2, 3) battle against Seung Yoon Shin (4-3-3, 2) for the vacant title. Shin has scored 1 win in his last 3 and it would be a genuine surprise if he was competitive with Amankulov.
Camarines Sur, Philippines
One more Asian show of note will come from the Philippines, where we get some low level action.
In one of the most noteworthy bouts on this card the once beaten 21 year old local Michael Mendoza (10-1-2, 3) will battle Indonesian journeyman Stevanus Nana Bau (10-12-2, 2), with the two men trading blows for the lightly regarded WBF International Flyweight title. Coming in to this Mendoza has won 5 in a row since his soul defeat, to Arvin Magramo, almost 2 years ago and appears to be building some genuine momentum. Bau on the other hand has lost 4 of his last 6 and is win-less outside of Indonesia, with an 0-8 record on the road. Fair to say we're not expecting much of Bau here.
The only other bout of note here will see the once touted Al Sabaupan (25-3-1, 20) end a lengthy break from the ring to take on Benny Tamaela (4-9-1, 1) in an 8 rounder. Although Sabaupan hasn't fought since November 2016, when he was stopped by Jheritz Chavez, he'll be strongly favoured here. Tamaela is a 36 year old who has 1 win since the start of 2016 and is 2-9-1 in his last 12. An easy comeback for Sabaupan.
This coming Friday is a busy day for Asian boxing, and there's a nice mix of fights across the globe. The most notable, for us, is in Thailand however as WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) looks to make his next, facing off with unbeaten Filipino ArAr Andales (10-0, 2). The talented Knockout, who has now scored 4 straight decision wins, will be fighting for the first time since November 2018, and will be hoping not to carry much ring rust into this bout. Andales on the other hand is a 19 year old who has already had a huge 2019, thanks to a massive win last time out against Cris Ganoza. This is a really interesting match up and one where the visitor can't be written, though will be the clear under-dog. We've previewed this bout here Unbeaten Andales looks to upset WBA champion Knockout
The second most compelling match up for the day comes from the US and will see us re-run the match up between Koki Eto (24-4-1-1, 19) and Jeyvier Cintron (10-0-0-1, 5), who had an opening round No Contest earlier in the year. Their first bout promised a lot, with Cintron using his speed and movement and Eto trying to use his power and, but ended in weird fashion following an accident headclash that left the touted Cintron stumbling around the ring. Whilst Cintron certainly looked the better boxer it's going to be very interesting to see how this rematch plays out. Our preview of this bout can be read here Eto and Cintron battle in rematch following No Contest
It's not just the bout in Florida that will see an Asian looking to pick up a win in the US but also Uzbek fighter Ravshan Hudaynazarov (17-1, 13), who will be looking to bounce back from a stoppage loss Ronald Cruz. The 35 year old Hudaynazarov isn't in easy here easy, and will be taking on fellow once beaten fighter John Vera (18-1, 11), Vera, like Hudaynazarov, is coming in to this on the back of a loss but the American "Phenom" lost at fringe wold level to the excellent Michel Soro. On paper a very, very interesting match up, but one where we feel the younger Vera will come out on top.
Back in Asia we get a small, but pretty interesting card in Japan.
The main event of the card will see Japanese ranked fighters clashing with Lightweight hopeful Kei Iwahara (10-6, 5) taking on former Light Welterweight title challenger Vladimir Baez (24-5-2, 22). On paper this looks like a straight forward win for Baez, other wise known as Destino Japan, given his better record and natural size but Baez has has lost his last two and is without a win in well over a year. At 35 Baez may well be a shot fighter. The 28 year old Iwahara is a long way from a world beater, and is 4-3 in his last 7, but has piclked up good domestic wins over Daiki Ichikawa and Mao Kawanishi.
In another really interesting match up we see young southpaws collide as Japan's Kento Yabusaki (7-2-1, 5) takes on Filipino Michael Mendoza (9-1-2, 3). Both of these men are 21 year olds and although neither is a bit name both have shown some solid promise at this stage. Yabusaki reached the Rookie of the Yearfinal in 2017, losing to Joe Shiraishi in the final, and has bounced back with 3 straight wins against progressive better competition. That progress looks to continue here against Mendoza. Mendoza on the other hand has won 4 in a row, and took the PBF Flyweight last time out. It's worth noting that Mendoza has been picking up his wins at a lower level than Yabusaki but does have the small edge in experience.
Another noteworthy fight on this card is the talented, but light punching Joe Tanooka (15-6-5, 1), who faces against Naoto Mizutani (5-6-2, 2) in a rematch of a technical draw they had in May. On paper this is a huge mismatch but we expect it to be pretty competitive. The 25 year old Tanooka has picked up just a since victory in his last 5, going 1-3-1 and he's had a really tough career so far. Mizutani on the other hand can score upsets, as he did against Mirai Imagawa, and can be a good test against light punchers, as we saw in February against Fumiya Fuse. This could be far better than the records suggest.
In Australia we'll see Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (33-20-3, 18) continue his incredibly long career. The 35 year old Indonesian, who has lost his last 4 and 8 of his last 10, will be expected to come up short again here as he takes on the unbeaten Mark Schleibs (11-0, 7). It's hard to know how good Schleibs is, given the level of his competition so far, but it's hard to imagine anything but an easy win here for the unbeaten man.
Arguably the most notable show this coming Friday is from Tokyo, where we see a relatively low level Japanese domestic card.
The main event of the card will see Japanese ranked Light Welterweight Ryuji Ikeda (14-5-2, 9) facing off with domestic journeyman Joji Tsuchiya (8-5-2, 5) in what should be a straight forward win for Ikeda. Ikeda has lost 2 of his last 4, but he is better than that would suggest, and one of those losses was on the road to Darragh Foley. Tsuchiya is in better form, going 4-1 in his last 5, but this is a big step up from the competition that those wins have come against.
Japanese ranked Flyweight Wolf Nakano (5-7-4 1) looks to build on a good win over Mako Matsuyama as he takes on Shogo Sumitomo (6-13-1, 5). This isn't a great bout, in terms of how significant it is, but should be competitive and entertaining with both men going to be in there for the win.
Former kick boxer turned boxer Kanako Taniyama (1-0, 1) will step up in class as she battles Thai visitor Phannaluk Kongsang (5-7-1, 2). Taniyama had been a top kick boxer before a knee injury left her career in tatters and forced her into boxing. She looked promising, but flawed, on her debut last year but we're expecting to see a more rounded performance here. Phannaluk is no patsy here, and was in action in November, when she won the WBC Asian Boxing Council Female Bantamweight title, so should provide a test for the Japanese novice.
La Union, Philippines
As well as the card in Japan we also get a low key one in the Philippines.
The main event of this card will see Michael Mendoza (8-1-2, 3) battle against Vincent Bautista (5-12-4, 1), in a bout for the PBF Flyweight title. Mendoza will be strongly favoured here, given his record but he could be tested by Bautista who is typically a tough nut to crack. Although Bautista has gone 0-7-1 in his last 8, we wouldn't be surprised by him making this a competitive contest.
In a supporting bout Ryan Torres (8-2-1, 7) will battle against Jerry Mae Villagracia (6-7, 2). Torres was beaten last time out, and is almost 2 years removed from his last win, but will still be the favourite, especially given that Villagracia has been stopped in his last 6, and 7 of his last 8. If we're being honest this looks little more than a confidence builder for Torres.
In Thailand fans will be able to see once beaten Thai Nop Kratingdaenggym (22-1, 8) , aka Anurak Thisa, fighting for the WBA Asia Featherweight title against JR Magboo (17-2-2, 8). The Thai is currently riding a 5 fight winning run following his 2016 loss to the then WBA Super Bantamweight champion Nehomar Cermeno in China. Magboo on the other hand has lost 2 of his last 3, though is a solid Filipino domestic level fighter.