There's quite a lot of title action this coming Friday with title fights in both Japan and the Philippines. Of those two shoes it's the Japanese card that looks the much better show.
The most significant bout on the card sees Japanese Light Middleweight champion Takeshi Inoue (11-0-1, 6) challenge OPBF champion Ratchasi Sithsaithong (9-3, 7), in a bout which will see the winner also claim the WBO Asia Pacific title. On paper it looks like a bout where Inoue should be favoured, and in all honesty if he wins he could be regarded as the Japanese break out fighter of the year, but Ratchasi is no mug. Coming into this Ratchasi has scored 3 wins in a row against Japanese fighters, including a 12th round TKO of Yutaka Oishi and an 11th round TKO of Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine, who subsequently retired. Whilst Inoue has had a great year a win for Ratchasi would see him going 3-0 in Japan and have a very legitimate claim to being the best 154lb fighter in Asia.
Although the bout above is the biggest bout of the card it's technically not the main event. Instead that will be a Japanese Flyweight title bout between defending champion Masayuki Kuroda (27-7-3, 15) and the limited but entertaining Mako Matsuyama (8-12-2, 3). The bout will be Kuroda's first defense of the title he won earlier this year, when he beat Takuya Kogawa, to become a 2-weight Japanese champion. Matsuyama is best known for his 2014 FOTY contender against Rex Tso, though has some how gotten this title shot having won just once in his last 7 bouts. Kuroda should easily retain his title here if we're being honest, but this should be a fun fight all the same.
A third title bout will see former world champions collide, with Naoko Shibata (17-4-1, 6) and Etsuko Tada (16-3-2, 5) facing off for the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title. These two fought back in September 2012, with Tada defeating Shibata to retain the WBA female Minimumweight title. Since then both women have held IBF titles, with Tada holding one at 105lbs and Shibata at 108lbs. Since there first bout Tada has gone 5-3 whilst Shibata has gone 8-3-1 but both have been fighting at the top level and know that a win here will help them remain relevant, whilst a loss could end their career as a world class fighter.
The only bout of note from the under-card sees the big punching Kazuto Nakane (8-2, 8) take on former Kuroda opponent Yuta Matsuo (12-3-1, 6), in what could be an entertaining lower tier scrap. Nakane has fought at a lower level, but has show natural power and is the bigger man, whilst Maysuo is more tested man, having shared the ring with Kuroda, Ardin Diale and Ryuto Oho. This is arguably the most well matched bout on the card, despite no title being on the line.
There is also a show in the Philippines full of title bouts, though if we're being honest it's not the most attractive of shows, despite 4 “title bouts”.
The most interesting looking title bout will see the once beaten Carlo Caesar Penalosa (9-1, 3) take on Salatiel Amit (10-3-2, 7) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Flyweight title. Neither man is very well known, even in Filipino boxing circles, but Penalosa is notable not just for his famous surname but also the fact he's one of the few to stop tough journeyman Vincent Bautista. As for Amit he's best known for losing to notable opponents, suffering losses to Jade Bornea, Jonathan Taconing and Froilan Saludar, though should prove to be a very solid opponent for Penalosa here.
In an interim OPBF Featherweight title fight we'll see Venezuelan Omrri Bolivar (5-0, 3) take on Filipino Jelbirt Gomera (12-4, 6), in a bout that makes very little sense. The OPBF champion, Satoshi Shimizu, won the full title in October and he's not injured, Bolivar isn't from the OPBF region and Gomera has lost his last 3. For the OPBF to sanction this bout is a mystery and really beggars belief. The one positive is that Bolivar will find himself involved in more notable bouts going forward, after he beats Gomera, and we'd quite like a Bolivar Vs Shimizu bout in 2018.
One actual "full" OPBF title bout will see Yuko Henzan (5-6-3, 2) take on Kongsang Palum (2-3, 1) in a bout for the OPBF female Bantamweight title. It's fair to say that this isn't a very attractive bout given the limited records of both fighters, but given that both fighters are limited the bout at least be relatively competitive. Coming in Henzan has won her last 3, and is unbeaten in her last 4, but has faced limited foes in that run. As for Palum she has never scored a win over a fighter with a positive record.
In another female title bout we'll see former world title challenger Erika Hanawa (7-1, 2) take on Thai foe Sornsawan Sarakarngym (2-4, 1) for the OPBF interim Female Minimumweight title. Last time out we saw Hanawa lose to Japanese veteran Kayoko Ebata, in a bout that showed up Hanawa's limitations at that point, but it's hard to see anything but a win for her here. The Thai has been stopped in 3of her losses, including the aforementioned Ebata, and we wouldn't be shocked to see her being stopped again here.
In Australia we'll see a notable Filipino and a novice Indonesian.
The Filipino in action is the world class Randy Petalcorin (27-2-1, 20), who returns to Australia for his first bout in the country since his controversial loss to Omari Kimweri in 2016. The talented Filipino will be up against faltering Indonesian Oscar Raknafa (13-15, 5), who was once world ranked but has gone 2-12 in his last 14 bouts and is now essentially a record padder on the Asian scene.
In the other bout on the card we'll see Daniel Huculak (1-0, 1) take on Indonesian novice Mujiyono (0-1). It's hard to say much about these two, but Huculak won his debut with an opening round stoppage and it's clear that he will be favoured here.
At the Korakuen Hall we see a small, yet notable card featuring a former Japanese champion and a former world champion.
The main event of the card will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (16-2, 5) take on a Thai foe. The talented Naito will be fighting for the second time since suffering his second loss to Kenichi Ogawa and should be expected to pick up a confidence building win before having a more meaningful bout towards the end of the year, potentially with that being another title fight for the once touted youngster.
The former world champion on this card is former IBF Female Light Flyweight queen Naoko Shibata (16-4-1, 5), who returns 6 months after losing her title, to take on Thai novice Shisa Manopgym (0-2). The bout should be an easy win for the 36 year old Japanese veteran but it's still going to be good to see her back in the ring, for what will be her first fight in Tokyo in almost 2 years.
In a supporting bout we'll also see Hideyuki Watanabe (8-9-3, 6) battle Ryuto Oho (9-4-1, 2) in a must win for both men. Watanabe has lost his last 3, why Oho has lost his last two, and neither man can really afford another set back here if they are ever going to make much of a mark on the Japanese domestic scene going forward.
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia fans will see local prospect Kye MacKenzie (16-1, 14) take on Filipino visitor Jonel Alibio (21-18-5, 12). MacKenzie has only been beaten once, by the under-rated Jack Asis, and has bounced back well with two wins since then. Alibio will be the under-dog here, and is certainly no world beater, but he has won his last 5, with 4 stoppages, and picked up wins on the round in Japan, Korea and Australia during that run. He's a very live under-dog here.
In Ghana we'll see Indonesian journeyman Hero Tito (23-12-2, 8) take on Albert Mensah (29-6-1, 13) in what should be a mismatch in favour of Mensah. It's fair to say Tito has been around for a while, debuting more than 13 years ago, but his career has rarely seen him shine. Mensah might not be a world beater, but he should be far too good for the visitor.
Action in the ring has been great recently and this coming weekend it's set to stay great with a host of notable bouts taking place all over the globe. As usual we'll focus on the Asian fighters, but we know there are a lot of other notable bouts taking on the same day.
The most notable bout of the day comes from Thailand where we see a WBC Flyweight title fight. The bout, for the title vacated by Roman Gonzalez last year, will see unbeaten Thai Nawaphon Por Chokchai (36-0, 28) take on in form Mexican Juan Hernandez Navarrete (33-2, 24) in a mouth watering bout. Nawaphon holds one of the longest unbeaten runs in the sport today, but his record lacks names of any real quality with his best wins coming against fighters like Mateo Handig, Donny Mabao and Rey Megrino. Despite the lack of competition the Thai has passed the eye test and matured into a vicious fighter at the regional level. This is however a huge step up for the unbeaten man. Although he has tasted defeat twice Hernandez has fought at the top and holds wins over the likes of Moises Fuentes, Denver Cuello – albeit controversially, Saul Juarez, Ramon Garcia Hirales, Jesus Silvestre and Omar Nino Romero, with his only loss in he last decade coming to Kazuto Ioka. This is a big test for both men, with Nawaphon facing his toughest foe and Hernandez facing the horrific conditions of Thailand, though his team has managed to get the bout in doors which could make a huge difference here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
We'll also get a Japanese card this Saturday with G+ airing the card live in Japan.
In the main event of this show we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (22-4, 18) make the first defense of his title as he takes on mandatory challenger Kazuhiro Nishitani (16-4-1, 8). Tsuchiya won the title last year, when he stopped Masashi Noguchi in 3 rounds, and will be hoping to have a distinguished reign as champion. The heavy handed champion has shown flaws in the past but is an exciting and heavy handed fighter who has proven his toughness and hunger in the past. Nishitani has never been stopped, and has proven his toughness, but has suffered notable losses to fighters less accomplished than Tsuchiya. This will be the challenger's second shot, following a December 2015 loss to Kota Tokunaga, but sadly he's been inactive with only one bout in the entire of 2016. Given Nishitani's toughness and Tsuchiya's power this could be a lot of fun!
The chief support bout will see former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada (14-0, 10) take on Filipino journeyman Rodel Wenceslao (11-13-1, 4). During a 2 year reign Okada defended the Japanese title 6 times, though looked rather poor in the final 2 defenses and it seems that he and his team and looking for more serious challenges this year. Despite looking for bigger bouts he begins his year against the limited Wenceslao, who has lost 11 of his last 15. Wenceslao has been matched hard, with losses to the likes of Keita Obara, Adones Cabalquinto and Adones Aguelo, ad we expect to see him come up short against Okada here too.
A little lower down the card we'll see Japanese ranked Takenori Ohashi (13-4-2, 8) up against Yutaka Motoyoshi (7-9, 5). Ohashi, a ranked Featherweight, will be hoping to get a title fight in the near future and can't afford a slip up here against Motoyoshi. Although he is a potential banana skin Motoyoshi has been stopped 5 times and will be expected to struggle with the power of Ohashi here.
In another under-card bout we'll see Shingo Koike (9-2, 5) take on Jin Miura (9-1, 1) in a very well matched and competitive looking contest. The 26 year old Koike has won his last 4 and seemed to have found some recent belief in his power. Miura on the other hand has won 3 in a row, following an opening round defeat to Reni Ichimura in the 2015 East Japan Rookie of the Year final. Both men will know they need to win here.
Also on this card will be the very promising Kazuki Saito (2-0, 2), who moves up in class to face Jimmy Borbon (5-4-3, 3) over 8 rounds. Saito has been very impressive so far, against limited Thai foes, but this will be a good test for the youngster who was a former amateur standout. Borbon has fought in Japan just once, where he suffered his only stoppage loss though that was against Takashi Miura, and will see this as a chance to prove himself in front of a Japanese audience.
Back on the road, in Mexico, we'll see IBF Light Flyweight champion Naoko Shibata (16-3-1, 5) defending her title, for the 6th time, against the woman she originally beat for the belt, Alondra Garcia (16-3-1, 1). Although both fighters have very similar records Shibata has gone 7-0-1 (2) in her last 8 whilst Garcia has gone 5-2-1, including a draw with a debutant in late 2014.
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia we'll see even more title action as Australian Valentine Borg (13-2, 8) takes on Filipino puncher Junjesie Ibgos (11-1, 9) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Light Welterweight title. The once beaten Ibgosa will be making his international debut and although a clear under-dog he does look like he has the power to be a nightmare for Borg, who has been stopped twice. Borg is the more proven fighter but this is an interesting contest and the winner could open the door for bigger and better fights in the near future.
After a few quiet days, without much in terms of action, we suddenly get a burst of activity with a host of title bouts and name fighters in action.
The most notable in Asia comes from Saitama where we get two world title bouts, along with a champion in a stay busy non-title bout and a really promising prospect.
The most notable of the bouts on this card will see IBF female Light Flyweight champion Naoko Shibata (15-3-1, 5) face off against old foe Maria Salinas (11-4-3, 4) in a mouth watering rematch. These two fought to a split decision draw last November, with Shibata recording her 4th defense of the title, but Salinas will be coming in looking for revenge. Salinas hasn't fought since the first meeting whilst Shibata scored a stay busy win earlier in the year, despite that Salinas will have stayed sharp in the gym and will be very hungry here.
In another title bout on the same show Yunoka Furukawa (7-1-2, 5) will be battling Satomi Nishimura (9-2, 1) for the currently vacant WBA Atomweight title. Coming in to this one Furukawa is on a 6 fight winning streak following a peculiar 1-1-2 start to her professional career. The best of those 6 wins was a 4th round TKO over Aiko Yamagishi. Nishimura is 3-2 in her last 5 but has mixed with very good fighters like Asemi Hanagata and Ayaka Miyao, who she challenged for this very same title back in October 2010.
Having mentioned the WBA Atomweight title it's worth noting that former champion Momo Koseki (21-2-1, 7) will be in action on the same show. Koseki gave up the title to focus on keeping her WBC title, and will be in a stay busy bout on this card against a Thai opponent.
A really good prospect on this card will be the former amateur stand out Kazuto Takesako (3-0, 3) who takes on Hiroshi Ohashi (7-9, 3) in an 8 rounder. The touted Takesako will be expected to beat Ohashi, who hasn't scored a win in over 6 years, but will perhaps need to do more than just win to be impressive. Notably Ohashi was stopped in 6 rounds by Koki Tyson in 2014 and that will likely be the target to beat for the unbeaten 25 year old.
Staying in Japan there will also be a show in Osaka, featuring an impressive 12 bouts in total.
The main event will see world ranked Atomweight Masae Akitaya (10-6-2, 3) face off against Thai visitor Sornsawan Sarakarngym (0-2) in what looks like a stay busy bout for the OPBF Atomweight champion, and mutli-time world title challenger.
Sadly whilst the card does have 12 bouts it's hard to find some that are actually worth noting, with the only 8 rounder being a bout between Kazuma Fukuyama (6-6-3, 1) and Shohei Kanemoto (9-11-1, 3). This should be an interesting 8 round but certainly nothing brilliant.
The action isn't just in Japan with several Asian's fighting in Australia.
One of those is the tough Hurricane Futa (20-6-1, 11) who will be up against Will Tomlinson (25-2-1, 13) in what looks likely to be an action packed bout for the WBA “Interim” Oceania Lightweight title. Although both men are flawed both come to fight and it should be one of those all action wars between guys who enjoy having a tear up.
Another Japan Vs Australia bout will see Japanese visitor Kimika Miyoshi (13-8-1, 5) battle against Shannon O'Connell (12-4-1, 7) for the WBC Silver female Super Bantamweight title. O'Connell will be looking to make the first defense of her title but is 1-1-1 coming in to this bout whilst Miyoshi is in the form of her career and has won two OPBF titles this year, to become a 3-weight OPBF champion. This could be another really good match up.
On the same card Thailand's Tabthong Tor Buamas (14-4, 12) will be up against the unbeaten Qamil Balla (8-0-1, 3), in a bout that we suspect Balla will be the favourite for.
This Sunday is a busy day in Japan with a trio of shows, though all of them are relatively low key affairs with nothing too big, despite some well known names being in action.
One of those shows is a Suruga Danji show in Shizuoka, this card is headlined by one of those known names and is expected to be an exciting card, with bonuses available to the fights if they can score stoppages.
That “known” name is former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (19-2, 11), who faces Takashi Omae (13-5-5, 1) in an intriguing 8 rounder. The bout will be Hara's first since his stoppage loss, last year, to Katsunari Takayama last September. As for Omae he too will be looking to bounce back from a stoppage loss, following a 4th round TKO defeat to Ken Shiro. With both men fighting for a career reviving win and for a financial reward this really could be very exciting.
Another bout of note on this card will see Ryusei Nakajima (8-1, 3), the 2015 Lightweight Rookie of the Year, battle against Daiki Ichikawa (6-1, 4). Ichikawa last fought in November, when he was stopped in 3 rounds by Tomoaki Matsumura, who actually lost to Nakajima, in December, in the All Japan Rookie of the Year. Looking at it Nakajima should be favoured, but Ichikawa will know this is a chance to get his career back on track.
Arguably the most notable of the shows takes place as a charity event in Saitama, where we see a former and a current world champion.
That current world champion is Naoko Shibata (14-3-1, 4), the IBF female Light Flyweight champion, who will be up against Thai novice Tanuthong Sor Kunlawong (0-0). This is a stay busy for the champion who will be looking to defend her title later in the year.
The former champion in action is Ayaka Miyao (20-6-1, 4), the former WBA Atomweight champion. She will be up against the very limited Krikanok Islandmuaythai (4-5-1, 2). Krikanok is a former world title challenger, though was stopped in 5 rounds by Momo Koseki back in May 2011, and has fallen to 5 straight losses including that defeat to Koseki.
The third show comes from Osaka and features some notable bouts of it's own.
The main event here sees OPBF and JBC ranked Featherweight Ryota Kajiki (27-9, 18) battling against Thailand's Noppakao Saknarong (0-2) in what looks to be a stay busy fight for Kajiki. It's expected that Kajiki will get a title fight later in the year and this bout will be little more than a tune up for him.
Another ranked fighter in action here is Ken Osato (7-1-1, 3), who risks his JBC Super Featherweight title against domestic foe Shota Suito (10-5-1, 1). On paper it looks like an easy win for Osato, however Suito is better than his record suggests and could prove to be a good test for the ranked fighter.
A third notable fighter on this card is Kenbun Torres (10-2, 8), a Japanese based Mexican fighter. Torres hasn't fought since 2007 though he should have enough in the locker to over-come Thailand's Kaosaen Kaolamlekgym (0-0).
For the third time this week Japanese fans get female world title action at the Korakuen Hall.
This time around it's the turn of IBF female Light Flyweight champion Naoko Shibata (14-3, 4) who looks to defend her title against former WBC “youth” champion Maria Salinas (11-4-2, 4). The champion, who claimed her title 2 years ago, will be hoping to record her 4th defence and move towards bigger and better fights in the near future whilst the challenger will be looking to claim her biggest scalp to date. Given what we know about the two fighters this one promises a lot of action though we do need to favour the home fighter who is the more proven of the two women.
Whilst the main event is a really good bout we've also got to admit that the one of the support bouts is also brilliant as the very promising Takeshi Inoue (4-0-1, 2) battles the “better than his record suggests” Hideo Mikan (7-9-1, 2). On paper it's a mismatch but in reality this should serve as a great test for the unbeaten 25 year old title hopeful.
In Osaka there is an Harada promoted card that has only one notable bout.
That bout will see Japanese ranked Light Flyweight Tetsuya Hisada (29-3-2, 13) battle against Il Che (7-9-5, 1) in what looks to be a tune up bout for Hisada before a potential title clash in 2016. Hisada comes into this bout with a 3-2-2 record in his last 7 bouts but has stopped his last two opponents and and another stoppage here is certainly not out of the question.
As well as the Japanese action there is also two bouts of note in Bangkok, both being aired on Channel 7.
The more intriguing of the two bouts will see highly regarded Thai Welterweight Teerachai Kratingdaenggym (31-0, 24) defending his PABA title against the criminally under-rated Arnel Tinampay (22-19-1, 8). On paper this is a mismatch of the highest order however Tinampay has been a banana skin for various other fighters and he's not only better than his record suggests but also hits harder than the numbers state and can really take a shot, in fact he's never been stopped. Not only is this a tough assignment for Teerachai but it's also a high pressure one with the Thai risking a potential WBA interim title fight with this contest.
The other bout is a contest for the interim WBA Asia Lightweight title and will see Thai based Nigerian Taiwo Ali (18-3-1, 13) battles against Filipino foe Leonardo Doronio (14-11-3, 9). Althogh not a great fighter Doronio is better than his record suggests and recent wins over Al Rivera, Burning Ishii, Jose Ocampo and Jeffrey Arienza do show that, however Ali is an under-rated fighter himself and this could be a really competitive match up despite the records not looking very even on paper.
For a second day running we get to see notable name fighters at the Korakuen Hall. On Wednesday it was the highly regarded Ryosuke Iwasa whilst on Thursday it's going to be a pair of female world title bouts in what appears to be a great day for fans of female boxing.
The main event will see IBF female Light Flyweight champion Naoko Shibata (13-3, 4) defending her belt for the third time as she takes on fellow Japanese fighter Saemi Hanagata (9-5-2, 4). Hanagata, a former OPBF title holder at 105lbs, is stepping up in weight for this bout and it could be that she's better suited to Light Flyweight than Minimumweight, Shibata however has been improving in recent bouts and her win over Ana Arrazola last time out was certainly her best so far.
The co-main event will see WBA Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (16-2-1, 6) attempting to record her 15th world title defence as she takes on the frankly hapless Aisah Alico (5-4, 4). We do like Koseki and think she's a fantastic fighter but bouts like this don't do her any justice and Alico won't be expected to last more a few rounds, at best.
As well as the two title bouts there is also an interesting under-card. One of the bouts featured on that will see Takashi Sakamoto (6-3, 1) fight against Tatsuya Otsubo (6-6-1, 3). Although neither of these look great we have seen Otsubo begin turning his career around and he has won his last 4 bouts as he has begun to enter his physical prime. Sakamoto has the better record but should be viewed as the under-dog here.
Possibly an even better under-card bout however will see Takeshi Inoue (1-0-1) battle against Japanese ranked Kota Oguchi (10-13, 1). Inoue has been tipped by those in the know as "one to watch" and with Oguchi being ranked at 140lbs by the JBC this is a major opportunity for Inoue to score a statement win so early in his career.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Some times we get days that are ridiculously busy, and we mean ridiculously busy! This Coming Saturday is one such day with more action and more fights that we are used to seeing on a single day!
New Jersey, USA
The most notable of the fights will feature former WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Heavyweight champion and current WBO Light Heavyweight world champion Sergey Kovalev (24-0-1, 22). Kovalev will be defending the WBO title for the third time since winning less than a year ago. The unfortunate man to share the ring with the "Krusher" will be the unbeaten, but light hitting, Blake Caparello (19-0-1, 6) who is almost certainly going to be the next victim of Kovalev's thudding power and vicious assaults. Going in to this bout Kovalev has stopped his last 8 opponents in a combined 31 rounds! The general view seems to be that Caparello won't last more than 3 or 4.
New York, USA
Kovalev isn't the only Russian in a world title fight and in New York Anton Novikov (29-0-0-1, 10) will be challenging for the WBA Light Welterweight title currently held by the unbeaten Jessie Vargas (24-0, 9). Vargas, who beat Khabib Allakhverdiev back in April, will be making the first defence of his title but the challenger, a former WBC Asian Boxing Council Welterweight champion, will be looking to upset the once touted American fighter. This bout certainly looks more competitive than the Kovalev fight and looks a bit like a coin toss right now.
As well as title action in the US we also get a female double in Japan in one two Tokyo shows.
The female double header will be held at the Adachi Ward Sogo Sports Center and will be headlined by female IBF Light Flyweight champion Naoko Shibata (12-3, 3) who will be seeking the second defence of her title. Unfortunately for Shibata she's in a very tough one with the experienced Ana Arrazola (20-9-2, 13). Arrazola has been in with some of the best around and will be expected to give Shibata an incredibly hard fight here and we'd not be shocked by the title changing hands in what is truly a hard bout to call.
Although Shibata/Arrazola is the main event we dare suggest that the other female title fight, between long reigning WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (18-2-1, 5) and former Muay Thai sensation Denise Castle (2-0, 2). Castle really was tremendous in Muay Thai though this will be a big test of ho those skills transfer over. For Koseki we'd like to see her box more than usual, like she did against Maria Jimenez, as opposed to using the billy goat tactics that she has used through her career. If Koseki gets into a war this is anyone's fight whilst if she boxes she should win with out too many issues.
In the chief support bout fans will get the chance to see two debutants in action in a 6 round bout at Welterweight. From what we understand this contest will see Takeshi Inoue (0-0) fighting Daishi Nagata (0-0). It's rare for debutants to collide in 6 rounders but both guys are B Class licensed fighters are have shown that they are capable meaning that this is a seriously tough way to start their careers.
The other Tokyo show will be at the Korakuen Hall and feature several interesting fighters and match ups.
The most interesting of the fighters is former WBA Super Featherweight world title challenger Daiki Kaneko (20-3-3, 13) who will be hunting his second win since losing his world title bout to Takashi Uchiyama. Kaneko will be fighting the limited but tough Filipino visitor Cirilo Espino (19-13-3, 12) who has only suffered a controversial stoppage loss in his 35 fight career. Disappointingly Espino as beaten last time out by Ryota Kajiki a man who Kaneko stopped back in December 2012 and with that in mind we can't see anything but a win for Kaneko. The question here is just how long can Espino last with the heavy handed Kaneko.
Whilst Kaneko is the most interesting fighter on the card he's not in the most interesting fight. That honour belongs to Ryo Akaho (23-1-2, 16) and Masaaki Serie (25-6, 10) who get it on in a potential fire cracker. Akaho goes in to this bout hunting a second world title tilt though, as shown in his fight with Jacker Buhawe, he will need to tidy up his boxing if he wants to have any chance of winning a world title. Serie is probably past his prime but has the toughness, experience and skills to make life very difficult for Akaho here.
The most interesting of 2 Filipino shows will take place in Batangas an will feature two title fights. The most interesting of these is a bout between the unbeaten JR Magboo (15-0-2, 7) and the the promising youngster Virgil Puton (14-3, 7). The men, who battle for the vacant IBF Pan Pacific Super Bantamweight title have been matched up very well here and the winner will likely earn an IBF ranking position next month meaning there is a lot to gain by wining this all Filipino clash.
Unfortunately the other title fight is a mismatch to say the least as the talented and unbeaten Ben McCulloch (13-0, 10) defends his PABA Super Middleweight title against the very limited Yodkhunsuk Mor Poowana (3-1-1, 1). There is little one can say to defend this type of match up though we do question why the PABA would allow this contest to go ahead.
Although there are 5 other bouts on the card there was only one that really stood out and that was the contest between Roberto Gonzales (23-2, 14) and the exciting and under-rated Allan Tanada (13-2-3, 5). Gonzales won his first 20 fights but has gone 3-2 in his last 5 with both of those losses coming by stoppage as he career has began to falter. Tanada is best known for his upset win over Japan's Rikiya Fukuhara for the OPBF Super Featherweight title though he has struggled himself since then and this should prove to be a very important cross roads fight for both men.
The second of the Filipino cards seems to be more of a prospect show than one one with really interest contests. It does however have 2 bouts of note.
One of those will see the unbeaten Ardie Boyosi (10-0-1, 7) taking on the experienced and tough Richard Betos (20-8-1, 7). Boyosi has won his last 10 bouts including 6 successive T/KO wins whilst Betos has proven toughness having only been stopped once in his 29 fights. Sadly Betos's has lost 3 of his last 4 and is likely on a slide physically. Boyosi should win but we'd expect this to be a good test for the hard hitting prospect.
The other bout of note will see the unbeaten Neil John Tabanao (7-0, 6) battling against against Jhon Gemino (10-2-1, 4). Tabanao has looked good so far but this should be considered a step up for the unbeaten youngster who will be facing an opponent coming to win as opposed to someone with little self belief.
Back in the US we're expecting to see Filipino slugger Drian Francisco (24-2-1, 19) in action though his opponent has yet to be named. Francisco has been out of the ring for more than a year following his loss to Chris Avalos though he will be expecting to win here in an attempt to restart his career.
Quintana Roo, Mexico
In Mexico we will get to see Filipino Adones Aguelo (21-9-2, 13) battling against former world title challenger Sergio Thompson (29-3, 26). Thompson, best known for his thriller with Takashi Miura, is hoping to earn himself a second world title fight but will likely need to do more than just beat Aguelo here to secure a rematch with Miura, the current WBC champion. Aguelo will know that this is a huge opportunity for him to throw his name into the mix but he won't be expecting to over-come the tough and heavy handed Thompson.
(Image courtesy of http://boxenplus.com)
Female fighters in Europe and the US tend to often get over-looked. If you go into Latin America however there is plenty of fights involving female boxers. Like Argentina and Mexico, Japan also does female boxing and when it does it well it's arguably the best in the world.
On March 3rd Japanese people celebrate "Hina Matsuri", or "Dolls Day". To coincide with that boxing promoters have really jumped on the celebration and this year we have a genuine showcase of Japanese female boxing at close to it's best with a fantastic 6 fight card where all 6 bouts feature only females.
The show, dubbed "G Legend 6" features not only 6 bouts but also 3 world title bouts and one of the most dominant Japanese world champions in history, in fact one fighter, if she wins, will tie a national record for must successful world title defenses in history!
Lets start with that fight. It features WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (17-2-1, 4) who has already defended her world title 12 times. That's one behind the national record of 13, set by the ever popular Yoko Gushiken.
To tie the record Koseki will need to at least manage a draw with the currently perfect Thai Angor Onesongchaigym (5-0, 3). Although inexperienced Angor is a former Muay Thai fighter and will take a lot of confidence with her unbeaten record meaning we may have a very good fight on our hands. On the other hand Koseki is a very tough and rough woman and with Angor being just a youngster she may well end up roughed up a bit too much and eventually worn down in the later rounds.
Koseki isn't the only Asian woman with an Atomweight title, the other is Ayaka Miyao (16-5-1, 1) the current WBA Atomweight champion. Whilst our dream fight would have been Koseki against Miyao it seems the promoters had other ideas and instead Miyao will be fighting Angor's stablemate Buangern OnesongchaiGym (10-4-1, 1) in what is the show's main event. As with the other Atomweight bout we struggle to see a way in which the Thai wins, though it is for totally different reasons. Whilst Koseki is a rough, tough type Miyao is like a whirlwind and we feel she will simply our work Buangern.
The other world title fight on the show will see IBF Light Flyweight champion Naoko Shibata (11-3, 3) defending her title for the first time. Shibata has, on paper, the easiest task as she takes on the limited Guadalupe Martinez (6-5, 3). Although limited Martinez is the naturally bigger fighter and we do think she may be stronger than Shibata so could well prove to be a very tough opponent for the Japanese fighter who won her world title on her third attempt.
Although the 3 world title bouts are the stand out contests there is an under-card fight that has caught our eye. That bout sees Tamao Ozawa (6-1, 2), the #2 ranked OPBF Super Flyweight, fighting against Kai Johnson (3-5-3) in what we imagine will be a lot more competitive than the records suggest.