This coming Saturday is a really interesting day for fans of Asian fighters with 3 different world title bouts featuring Asian fighters taking place on 3 continents. Not only do we have 3 world title bouts but we also get a bout featuring a former world champion and a fighter returning after more than 6 years out of the ring.
BT Sport Studio, Stratford, London, United Kingdom
The most interesting of the world title bouts comes from London, England, where Downua Ruawaiking (16-0, 13), aka Apinun Khongsong, will challenger IBF and WBA Light Welterweight champion Josh Taylor (16-0, 12). The Thai enters as the IBF mandatory title challenger, having earned that shot last year, but he will be regarded as a huge under-dog against the very talent Scottish world champion. For the Thai the bout is a massive step up in class, and despite stopping Akihiro Kondo last year there is still a lot of questions for him to answer. As for Taylor he is regarded by many as the #1 in the division and comes into this on the back of his victory over Regis Prograis in the WBSS final last October. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Unbeaten Thai takes on unified champion Taylor!
Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA
The second most notable world title fight will see WBO Bantamweight champion Johnriel Casimero (29-4, 20) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Duke Micah (24-0, 19) in the US. Originally the plan had been for Casimero to take on Naoya Inoue, to unify the WBO, IBF and WBA titles, but due to the on going situation the two men have gone in different directions. That opened the door for this bout with Casimero taking on the relatively unknown Micah. For Casimero this is a chance to build on his 2019 upset win over Zolani Tete, when he stopped the South African in the UK to claim his title, whilst Micah will be looking to make his mark on the highest level and adding some quality to quite a weak record. Although Casimero will be the favourite he is inconsistent and the last few months have been very frustrating ones for him, so this could end up being more interesting than many predict. Our full preview of this can be read here Casimero defends against the unbeaten Micah
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
In Hyogo we get a card from Shinsei who don't just have a world title bout on the card, but also two interesting support bouts. For those wanting to watch this show it will be streamed on BOXING REAL.
The main event of the card will see former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) take on Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5). This will be Kubo's first since being stopped by Can Xu last year and it's fair to say that he can't afford any more losses if he's to get another world title fight. Thankfully for him this is actually a very winnable contest, where he should be favoured. Although Igarashi has a similar looking record to Kubo he was beaten last time out by Toshiya Yokogawa, who had more losses than wins, and that bout was almost 2 years ago. Igarashi has been in active and hasn't scored a single win of any real note.
The world title bout here is actually the co-feature and will see WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) defending her title against fellow Japanese fighter Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1). Iwakawa won the title in July 2018, when she beat Nao Ikeyama, but sadly hasn't defended it, due to a lack of challengers. Now, more than 2 years on, the 37 year old looks to extend her reign and finally get a defense under her belt. For Suzuki this is a shot that she should feel fortunate to get given that just 18 months ago she did lose to the then 2-0 Eri Matsuda. Thankfully for the challenger she has picked up a couple of wins since then and has done enough to earn a shot at a champion who really needed a challenger. At the age of 28 this could be a case of right time, right place for Suzuki. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Iwakawa defends WBO title against Suzuki.
One other bout on this card worthy of a mention will be the ring return of Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14), more than 6 years after his last bout. The former Japanese Bantamweight champion will be up against 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3) in a 6 rounder. At his best Oba, dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya" would be very strongly favoured, but having bout of the ring for so long we really do wonder what he has left in the tank here. Sadly for Minato since winning Rookie of the Year he has gone 0-2 and and he is the naturally smaller man, being a natural Flyweight. This is really a case of "what does Oba have left?" If he's 80% of the fighter he once was he should take a win, but 6 years out is a very, very long time.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
As well as the Japanese we also get an interesting bout in Thailand where Atchariya Wirojanasunobol (12-0, 5) will take on veteran Kaewfah Tor Buamas (29-6, 10) in a rematch between the two men who fought in 2018. Originally Atchariya was supposed to face teenage sensation Phoobadin Yoohanngoh (9-0, 5), but sadly Phoobadin was injured and has been replaced by Kaewfah. Whilst this bout does give Kaewfah a chance to avenge his 2018 loss it should be noted that Atchariya has got a point to make, following a wrongful arrest in 2019, and could be out there to make statement and get something off his chest.
This coming Sunday is set to be a hectic day for fight fans in Japan with 5 different shows across the country. They include 4 different title fights, ranging from Japanese youth to female world title fights, and a number of other notable fighters in action in what is genuinely a crazy day.
The most notable show in Japan is in Osaka, where we get an OPBF title fight along with two bouts featuring former world title challengers and several prospects.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani (16-0, 10) seek his next defence, as he faces off with Japanese Youth champion Izuki Tomioka (5-0-1, 1). The challenger has shown a lot of skill, but his lack of power has been a problem, and he has struggled to get the respect of fighters so far, notably Yuichiro Kasuya and Kaiki Yuba. Nakatani on the other hand has been the OPBF champion for more than 4 years, and has already recorded 9 defenses, though sadly the quality of those defenses has gone down hill and there is clearly frustration with Nakatani who has long looked like he is ready for a world title fight, before he out grows the division.
One of the former world title challengers on this show is Shohei Omori (18-2, 13), who will be fighting for the first time since April 2017, when he was stopped in 11 rounds by Marlon Tapales. The once touted Omori was supposed to return earlier this year, but saw that bout being cancelled when his opponent for it failed to make weight. Omori will be up against recent OPBF title challenger Brian Lobetania (13-5-3, 11) in what is a really tough match up. The heavy handed Filipino announced himself to Japanese fans when he stopped Kai Chiba in January but came up short in March against Hidenori Otake. Chiba is limited but is a serious puncher and could give Omori real issues if he can land.
Another bout actually pits two former world title challengers against each other, as former Super Flyweight title challenger Sho Ishida (25-1, 14) faces former Light Flyweight title challenger Richard Claveras (18-4-2, 15). For Ishida this will be his second bout since a 2017 loss to Kal Yafai in the UK, in what was a genuinely forgettable contest. As for Claveras ,who was stopped by Pedro Guevara back in 2015, this bout comes after his loss to Andrew Moloney back in May. This should be a good match up, but it's hard to imagine Calaveras being big enough or strong enough to stop Ishida.
Also on this card are two pretty lower level fights. One of those will see the once touted Tatsuya Ikemizu (18-2, 7) take on once beaten Filipino Conrado Tanamor (10-1, 4), who was stopped last time out. The other will see the unbeaten Masayoshi Hashizume (15-0-1, 10) risk his unbeaten record against Marjun Pantilgan (18-4, 14), who was beaten last time out, losing an 8 round decision to Ryusei Kawaura.
The Japanese youth fight will be held in Aichi and see Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Takuya Mizuno (14-1-1, 12) defending his title against fellow youngster Jinya Ito (7-3-1, 2). The hard hitting Mizuno will be seeking his third defense of the title and looking to build on recent wins over Ryota Ishida, Yuki Iriguchi and Daiki Maniwa. This will be a huge step up in class for Ito, but he has won his last 3 and does have a little bit of momentum coming into this, it should however be noted that he had lost his 3 previous bouts and does lack of win of note.
Also on this card is the debut of Koshin Takeshima (0-0), who went 82-19 in the amateurs and shined in the unpaid ranks. He'll be battling against Indonesian Yohanis Tatul (3-1, 2), who appears to have been a relatively late replacement for Jundullah M Fauzan (5-1, 2). Given the expectation on Takeshima's shoulders anything barring a dominant win would be considered a disappointment for the new Matsuda gym fighter.
One of those female world title bouts comes from Kyoto, where WBO Atomwieght champion Nao Ikeyama (18-3-3, 5) defends he belt in a rematch against Mika Iwakawa (7-5-1, 3). The 48 year old champion has made 6 defenses already, and has really shone since defeating Iwakawa way back in December 2013. Despite the good run for the champion there is always a question as to how much longer she can continue at the highest level. As for Iwakawa her form has been pretty poor, going 4-3 in her last 7, though she did run Yunoka Furukawa incredibly close in a WBA title fight back in 2016.
In Kumamoto fans will see former WBO Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (20-6-6, 7) taking on domestic foe Naoya Haruguchi (15-8, 6). Originally this bout was announced as a world title prelude for Fukuhara, who is looking to have another reign as a world champion, but it's unclear which champion he is looking to fight. Coming in to this it's also worth noting that Fukuhara has lost 2 of his last 3, losing the WBO title to Ryuya Yamanaka and losing in a WBC world title fight to Wanheng Menayothin. As for Haruguchi he will be seen as a straight forward for for Fukuhara but Haruguchi has shown he can upset fighters, as he did against Norihito Tanaka and Jeffrey Galero. This could be much better than the records suggest.
Also on this card, in much lesser bouts, will be Ryotaro Motohashi (7-1, 2) and Tamao Ozawa (13-5, 5), who both take on limited foreign visitors.
The other female world title fight will see WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami (25-12, 14), who makes her first defense as she takes on Filipino challenger Gretchen Abaniel (18-9, 6). The talented Tsunami won the belt earlier this year, when she wore down Chaoz Minowa, but will be up against a very different challenge here. Unlike Minowa, who is an aggressive and wild fighter, Abaniel is a skilled and experience boxer who will look to keep Tsunami at range and out manoeuvre her in what could be a very interesting stylistic clash.
The only other bout of any interest on this card will see OPBF #1 ranked female Flyweight Yumemi Ikemoto (5-1) take on the #4 ranked Carleans Rivas (6-5-3) in what should be a much better fighter than it looks on paper.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
In the Philippines there will also be a pretty notable card, featuring two fast rising Uzbek stars, some unbeaten Filipino prospects and a former world title challenger.
One of the Uzbek prospects is Jasur Akhmadjonov (5-0, 3) who will be looking to secure his 5th win of 2018 as he takes on Filipino foe Rodel Wenceslao (12-16-1, 5). The Uzbek has impressed so far and looks to be having a very busy 2018. As for the Filipino he's very limited and with 7 stoppage losses it's hard to imagine him lasting the 10 round distance here.
The other Uzbek is teenager Ulugbek Sobirov (5-0, 3), who faced 34 year old Dennis Padua (11-14-2, 6). The 19 year old Sobirov debuted in January and looks like a real prospect to keep an eye on. Sadly however this bout won't really help Sobirov build his reputation, though should help him secure his 6th win as a professional. As for Padua he has been stopped in 11 of his 27 professional bouts, and we expect to see him being stopped again here.
In terms of local prospects the card will feature Jade Bornea (11-0, 7), Jerven Mama (5-0-1, 3) and Jerry Francisco (4-0, 1). Sadly from those 3 only Mama is the only one set to face a notable foe, as he takes on Rey Tagulaylay (6-1, 2).
Also on this show will be former world title challenger Richie Mepranum (32-7-1, 9), who faces Jetly Purisima (21-2-4, 6) in what will be a rematch of a 2015 clash between the two men.
Seoul, South Korea
There is also a triple title show in Seoul.
The most notable bout on the card will see WBA Asia Welterweight champion Ma Roo Jung (8-4-1, 2) defending his title against the unbeaten Heuk San Lee (6-0-1, 3). Of the two fighters it's Lee who has the more interesting story, having been a refugee from Cameroon who has since gone on to claim the Boxing M Light Middleweight title. Although Lee has impressed this looks set to be his toughest fight so far. Jung impressed us last time out, in what was his title winning effort, as he out pointed the very capable Moon Hyun Yun. We're expecting this to be a genuinely exciting bout for the fans in Korea.
At Super Middleweight fans will be able to see Joon Yong Lee (6-4-4, 3) take on Tae San Kil (4-0, 2) for the vacant Boxing M title. Lee is best known for his 2016 draw against Koki Tyson and showed there was something about him in that loss. Kil on the other hand is another Cameroon born fighter based in Korea. His competition so far has been very unremarkable but this should be a good step up and we should be in for a very decent bout here.
The remaining title bout on this card will see O Gon Kwon (6-2-2, 4) battle against Tae Seung Kim (7-3-1, 5) for the Boxing M Lightweight title. Kwon is unbeaten in his last 3, but was stopped back in March 2017 by Beom Kyu Lee. Kim has been stopped in all 3 of his losses, and is now 43, but has got power. We're not expecting this one to go the distance but we are expecting this to be very fun.
This coming Sunday attention turns to Tokyo, with a world title triple header from the Kokugikan.
The biggest of the bouts is a rematch between Ryota Murata (12-1, 9) and Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam (36-2, 21), with the Japanese fighter seeking to avenge his sole defeat and claim the WBA Middleweight title. These two fought back in May, with N'Dam winning a very controversial split decision over Murata, in a bout that many felt the Japanese fighter had clearly won, especially given that he dropped the Frenchman and had him rocked a number of times.
In another interesting match up we'll see WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (13-0, 13) defending his title for the first time as he takes on French challenger Thomas Masson (17-3-1, 5). The champion won the title back in May when he stopped Juan Hernandez in very impressive fashion to continue his perfect stoppage run. Masson on the other hand is fighting above European level for the first tine, having twice been a European champion. The challenger will be the taller, and longer man, and will be looking to fight at range, but this is a huge step up for him.
The third title bout on the show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (10-0, 5) defending his belt against mandatory challenger Pedro Guevara (30-2-1, 17), himself a former champion. The champion won the title back in May when he narrowly out pointed Ganigan Lopez and will seeking to continue his rise here against a very talented former champion. As for Guevara the bout will see him return to Japan to try and reclaim the title that he lost to Yu Kimura, also in Japan.
A fourth bout of note on this show will see Ryuto Owan (2-0, 2) take on fellow puncher Alvin Medura (5-1, 5) in a bout which should be an explosive encounter. Both guys can bang and both will be in there looking to secure their biggest win to date. Owan, has stopped his first 2 foes in a combined 3 rounds and will be stepping up in a big way here, whilst Medura has had 15 combined career rounds, with his 5 wins coming in just 9 combined rounds.
A much smaller Japanese show will be held in Tottori, where there is only really two fights of any note.
One of those is the main event, which will see former Japanese Lightweight champion Kazuhiro Nishitani (17-4-1, 9) take on a Thai foe, in his first bout since vacant the Japanese title, which he only won in March. Nishitani's opponent shouldn't be much of a threat, though we will admit we would have preferred to have seen him in with a domestic foe rather than a limited visitor.
The other will see former world title challenger Mika Iwakawa (6-5-1, 2) fight for the first time since coming up short against Yunoka Furukawa in a bout for the WBA Atomweight title. Like Nishitani she will be up against a Thai foe, and will be expected to pick up an easy win en route to bigger and better things.
Another small Japanese card will take place in Okayama and will be head lined by a low key match up between Kota Fujimoto (6-2, 2) and Kenta Sugimoto (11-10-2, 1). On paper this looks like a probable win for the 19 year old Fujimoto, but he has lost his last 2 bouts and his early career momentum has come to a screeching halt. Although his record might not show it Sugimoto is a real potential banana skin and he holds notable wins over Tetsuya Hisada and Shunji Nagata, showing that there is a good fighter there, and he shouldn't be over-looked against Fujimoto.
New South Wales, Australia
We'll see another notable Japanese fighter in title action in Australia, as the Ryuji Hachimitsu Ikeda (12-3-2, 8) takes on Darragh Foley (12-2, 8) in a bout for the WBA Oceania, WBC “interim” Asian Boxing Council and WBO Oriental Light Welterweight titles. The bout looks a really good one on paper and should see two well matched fighters going up against each other in a potentially explosive bout, with both men having enough bang to hurt the other.
Also on this card fans will see Thai Pakdee Tor Buamas (11-7-1, 7) take on the once beaten Ben Savva (7-1, 2), in a bout for the lightly regarded vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Welterweight Title. Interestingly the Thai is unbeaten in his last 4, albeit at a very low level, and does have some momentum coming in to this one. He is however up against a man who has won his last 6 and has shown some promise, even if he's not looking like a future world champion in the making.
With all the big fights at the end of the year it's fair to say that there is a lot set to happen in Japan before the end of 2016. The wait for world title action does however end this coming Tuesday as Japanese fans get a world title double title header at the Korakuen Hall as part of Dangan Ladies 3.
The main event of the card sees WBA Atomweight champion Yunoka Furukawa (8-1-2, 6) battle against OPBF female Light Flyweight champion Mika Iwakawa (6-4-1, 2). For Furukawa this will be her first defense and a chance to establish herself as one of the rising young female stars of Japanese boxing. Coming into this the champion has stopped her last 4 foes, including Satomi Nishimura last time out, and is unbeaten in her last 9, following a 1-1 start. For Iwakawa the bout will be her first world title bout, but she has mixed with good company including Brisa Hernandez, Kumiko Seeser Ikehara, Nao Ikeyama and Mako Yamada.
The second title bout sees WBO Atomweight queen Nao Ikeyama (17-3-2, 4) defending her title against former WBA champion Ayaka Miyao (21-6-1, 5). The 47 year old Ikeyama, the oldest world champion ever from Japan, will be looking to record her 5th defense of the title, a title that she won back in May 2014, but is taking on a world class fighter here in the form of Miyao. The challenger held the WBA title from 2012 until 2015, when she lost a narrow decision to Momo Koseki, and will be looking to become a 2-time champion here.
A third title bout on this card will see the incredibly exciting Chaoz Minowa (2-0, 2) face off against Filipino Carleans Rivas (5-3-3) for the OPBF female Flyweight title. Minowa, who only debuted back in September, has been put on the fast track to the top and will know that a win here would see her winning her first title less than 3 months after debuting. She's spoken about being a multi-weight world champion and will know that to do that she will have to win an Oriental title first. As for Rivas she has gone 3-3-2 in her last 8 and whilst she is more experienced than Minowa she will be the huge under-dog here.