Super Arena, Saitama, Saitama, Japan
This coming Tuesday is one of the most anticipated days of the boxing calendar this year with a huge rematch taking place in Saitama, along with two other title bouts and notable bouts for two other prospects in what is a genuinely mouth watering Japanese show.
The main event of the card is a sensational match up as WBA "Super" IBF and Ring Magazine Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19) takes on WBC champion Nonito Donaire (42-6, 28) in a highly anticipated rematch. The two men had an instant classic in 2019, when Inoue dropped Donaire en route to a unanimous decision, in the WBSS Bantamweight final. That bout was however Inoue's toughest and the Monster suffered a number of serious injuries in the bout despite his win. Since then both men have looked destructive, with Inoue going 3-0 (3) and Donaire going 2-0 (2) and they come into this bout unifying 3 of the 4 major world titles. This is a bout that should have skills, fireworks and genuine excitement. Our in depth preview of this bout is available here The Drama In Saitama II - Inoue Vs Donaire "The Rematch"
In the chief support bout Andy Hiraoka (19-0, 14) will be defending his Japanese 140lb title against the hard hitting Shun Akaiwa (7-3-1, 5), in what is expected to be bit of a break out bout for Hiraoka. The talented, and world ranked, Hiraoka is expected to move towards major international bouts in the next year or two and a win over Akaiwa on a bit platform like this show is key to helping him build his profile. Although Hiraoka will be the favourite it is worth noting that Akaiwa is no push-over and he will be there looking to over-come Hiraoka and claim a career best win. Akaiwa will be dangerous, can hurt fighters, but we suspect his lack of overall polish will be the difference maker here. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hiraoka defends Japanese title against Akaiwa
Another major supporting bout will see former world title challenger Takuma Inoue (15-1, 3) face off with Gakuya Furuhashi (28-8-2, 16) in a bout to unify the WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Super Bantamweight titles. Coming in to this Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya, will be the favourite, and is expected to have the skills, speed and energy to take home the win, however Furuhashi has been on a roll in recent years and comes into this looking to make a war and keep his career alive. The bout should be a brilliant clash of styles with a boxer against a swarmer, and it could, genuinely, be a brilliant tease for the main event, even if international fans aren't too familiar with Furuhashi, who is a genuine warrior. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese titles to be unified as Inoue faces Furuhashi
In a notable, and mouth watering, non-title bout we'll see the highly touted Toshiya Ishii (5-1, 3) take on Hikaru Fukunaga (9-2, 6) in what is a brilliant teaser for the three title bouts. Ishii is widely regarded within Japan as a special talent, and his sole loss was a very controversial one to Sho Ishida in Osaka, one that we felt he was very harshly treat by the judges. Since then he has scored two solid domestic wins and will know that another win here will put him well in the mix for a Japanese title fight. As for Fukunaga, who won Rookie of the Year in 2020, the bout comes on the back of a good TKO win over Dominique Kenshin, and he also proved his quality last year in a loss to the much touted Rentaro Kimura. This won't steal the show, but is an excellent 8 rounder between two young, talented, promising fighters willing to take on tough tests.
Another of the notable prospects on this card is the unbeaten 19 year old hopeful Kanamu Sakama (5-0, 4), who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year back in February, as he takes on Fuki Ishigaki (4-4, 2). The bout will be Sakama's first contest since he won the Rookie of the Year and see him coming in with plenty of momentum and a lot of expectation on his hard hitting shoulders. As for Ishigaki the bout will be his first since losing in December against Daisuke Sumita, who stopped him in 4 rounders. Sakama should be too good, and too big, but we do expect to see him being made to work for his win here.
Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
The main action in a surprisingly busy Tuesday, comes from the Kokugikan in Tokyo as we get a world title double header, and in fact the last world title bouts to take place in Japan this year following numerous post-Christmas bouts being cancelled.
The first world title bout from the double header will see WBO Minmumweight champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6) defending his title against mandatory challenger Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9), in what could be a very interesting bout. This will be Mendez's third defense of the title, which he took from Vic Saludar in 2019, but he comes into the bout after almost 2 years of inactivity, and for his first bout in Asia. "Bimbito" is certainly a talented fighter, but he style may not have the success on the road as it has at home, and he can look very negative at times. Taniguchi has come up short at world level before, but he does seem incredibly focused on this bout, and has bounced back well from his last loss, to Vic Saludar, to score 3 notable domestic wins. His style could end up working against him at times, as Mendez is the much quicker man, but his physicality and power could be a major difference maker, especially with Mendez's recent inactivity. Our preview for this world title fight can be read here Taniguchi gets second WBO title shot as he takes on Mendez
The other title bout on this show, and the main event of the day, will see Japanese star Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) return to a Japanese ring for the first time in over 2 years to defend his WBA and IBF Bantamweight titles against hard hitting Thai challenger Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11). Inoue and his team have made it clear they wanted a bigger name than Dipaen for this bout, but were turned down by a number of more well known names, and that can be dangerous if they are over looking the Thai and looking towards unification bouts in the new year. Dipaen isn't so much a threat to Inoue here, but Inoue could be a threat to himself if he's over-looking the challenger. As for Dipaen no one is giving him a chance, but he will know he has nothing to lose and he will be in there looking to put in the performance his career. We don't see this one lasting long, but it could be a genuine test of Inoue's focus given such a frustrating end to the year. Our preview of this bour can be read here The monster returns to Japan to defend against Dipaen!
As well as the two main bouts this card has several notable prospects on it, with youngster Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) taking on the much very experienced Takahiro Araki (12-10, 4), former Kickboxer Yoshiki Takei (2-0, 2) taking on Kazuhiro Imamura (2-0-1, 1), in what looks set to be his toughest bout to date, and the very exciting Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) taking on Takuya Fujioka (10-10-1, 1), in what looks to be a stay busy fight before bigger things in 2022.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The show at the Kokugikan isn't the only one in Tokyo, with Koakuen Hall playing host to an OPBF title double header. The bouts here aren't huge, but both the title bouts do promise a lot of exciting action, and there is also a solid under-card match up as well.
One of those OPBF title bouts will see Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (23-2, 8) take on Japanese veteran Koichi Aso (24-9-1, 15). Naito has looked like something of a suspect champion since winning the title a few years ago, and was pushed hard in a number of defense, but there's no doubting his skills and ability with the main questions being about his power and stamina. As for Aso, the veteran is a former Japanese national champion, but is very much a fighter coming to the end of his career, and he no longer has the energy and aggression he did in his prime. This should be straight forward win for Naito on the cards, but Aso will make him for it. Our preview of this regional title bout can be read here OPBF champion Naito takes on Aso at Korakuen Hall
The other title fight promises violence as the hard hitting Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18) takes on the under-rated Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2-1, 7) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Super Featherweight title. Saka has looked a brute in recent bouts, smashing up both Masaru Sueyoshi and Takuya Watanabe, in two very impressive back to back performances, though it's fair to say that he can be beaten and there are always question marks about his chin and his mental application in the ring. As for Kimura this will be his second shot at the title, having previously coming up just short against Hironori Mishiro, and he really has shown he belongs at this level. He will go in as the man with no momentum, but he has the skills and tools to spring the upset, in what should be a genuinely spectacular bout for those at Korakuen Hall. Expect a lot of heavy leather here, and some thrilling exchanges. Our preview of this bout can be read here Saka and Kimura battle for OPBF Super Featherweight title!
In one under-card bout worthy of some attention, we'll see boxing police officer Daisuke Sugita (6-2, 3) look to bounce back from a June loss to Ryo Akaho as he takes on youngster Ryuto Owan (7-1, 5). Sugita is a fun guy to watch, but he has been matched rather hand and losses to Akaho and Reiya Abe were both very one sided and showed he didn't belong in that company. Despite that he's a solid fighter and he has the tools to be a solid competitor on the Japanese domestic scene, albeit below domestic title level. Owan on the other hand is a promising and talented young fighter who seemed destined for big things until a loss in 2018 slowed his momentum, and a 2 year break from the ring followed. Since returning to action in October 2020 he has looked really impressive and he'll be looking to shine again here and move towards a potential title fight in 2022.
Outside of Japan there is also a very notable card in Thailand, headlined by WBA Minmumweight "Super" champion Knockout CP Freshmart (22-0, 8), who will be up against once beaten Filipino challenger Robert Paradero (18-1, 12). The talented Knockout is seeking his second defense of the year, after a long break from the ring following his 2020 win over Norihito Tanaka, and he'll be looking to end the year with an impressive performance here before moving onto a potential unification bout in 2022. As for Paradero he's looking to bounce back from his sole professional loss, which came earlier this year to Vic Saludar. The challenger showed plenty to like in that loss, but a lack of experience was an issue, and he'll be wanting to prove he has learned from that set back. It's always hard to bet against a Thai in Thailand, but it is worth noting that Filipino do historically have more success as challengers in the Land of Smiles than almost any other country and Paradero will not be there to make up the numbers. Or in deoth preview of this bout can be read here WBA champion Knockout takes on Filipino Challenger Paradero
This coming Saturday isn't a big day for Asian action, but the little bit we do get is set to be something a little bit special as the US plays host to a Japan Vs Philippines world title bout, as we see the face of Japanese boxing show what he can do in front of a crowd in Las Vegas. We also get one of the most exciting prospects in world boxing take a massive step up in class as he begins to knock on the door of a world title fight.
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
The headline of the day, at least for us, will see Japanese star Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) defending his WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight titles against IBF mandatory challenger Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20). The bout will be Inoue's first since beating Jason Moloney last August, and his second as a Top Rank fighter. Unlike that Moloney bout however this will be the first time he has fought in front of fans in Las Vegas, and the atmosphere is expected to be solid for the popular Japanese puncher. As for Dasmarinas, he is thought to be nothing more than a lamb to the slaughter, and a necessary hurdle for Inoue before unifications bouts late in the year and in 2022. The challenger has been out of the ring since October 2019, and is really lacking in terms of world class wins, though as we all know the IBF do order some rather poor mandatory defenses for their champions. On the other hand Dasmarinas has nothing to lose here, there is no real pressure on him, and the focus is purely on Inoue. With that in mind we might see a relaxed Dasmarinas and he could, given he's a tall southpaw, frustrate Inoue at times. Though a win for the challenger would be one of the biggest upsets in recent years. Our full in depth preview of this bout can be read here The Monster faces IBF mandatory Dasmarinas!
Don Haskins Center, in El Paso, Texas, USA
As well as the world title fight in Las Vegas there will also be some notable action in Texas, as hard hitting Uzbek Bektemir Melikuziev (7-0, 6) faces his most notable opponent to date, veteran Gabriel Rosado (25-13-1, 14). It's fair to say that 2021 has been a frustrating year for Melikuziev, who had seen a fight with Sergey Kovalev fall through and was then banned by AIBA for historic drug issues, but that will likely only fire him up here. Rosado, at his best, is a very good gate keeper, and he was unlucky not to get the win against Danny Jacobs recently, and he won't be wanting to roll over against the "Bek Bully". Melikuziev on the other hand will know that a stoppage win here will put him right on the verge of a world title fight.
We expect to see Rosado trying to show the "novice" some veteran tricks, but in the end Melikuziev.s power, strength, body punching, and amateur fundamentals should be enough to see him take home the W and get in the position to call out world champions.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
It's fair to say that February is set to be a very, very quiet month with less action scheduled for the month than there was in January, also a super quiet month. Thankfully however this coming Thursday there is a notable show taking place at Korakuen Hall, and it's a genuinely exciting card with a Japanese Youth title fight and Japanese title fight both set for the show. Better than that, is the fact both of the title fights look very, very even and very interesting on paper..
The show only has 4 bouts on it in total. The most interesting of those will see Shinnosuke Kimoto (6-4, 2) take on Shota Ogasawara (5-3, 3) in a 6 round Super Bantamweight bout. Incidentally this is their second bout, but more about that in a moment. Coming in to this Kimoto is looking to rebound from a majority decision loss to talented youngster Tom Mizokoshi, a loss than ended a 2-fight winning run for him. As for Ogasawa he'll be fighting for the first time in over a year, following his loss in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year. Although he lost last time out in a notable bout Ogasawara is better for a different loss, his thrilling 2019 loss to Ryugo Ushijima. As mentioned these two have fought before, with Ogasawara beating Kimoto back in 2017, in what was Kimoto's debut. Fair to say Kimoto will want revenge here!
The first of the two title fights on the show will see Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1) clash with Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) in a sensational looking Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title fight, for the vacant title. The 20 year old Horikawa impressed in his 2019 debut and impressed even more in his second professional bout, when he beat Yuki Nakajima, though was unlucky in his third bout when he was controversially held to a draw in China against Xiang Li. Horikawa is a very skilled and quick boxer-mover and will be looking to make the most of his slick footwork here. On the other hand Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, looked promising on debut and sensational in his second bout, as he calmly outboxed OPBF Lito Dante over 6 rounds. Shigeoka looks the more imposing fighter, the physically stronger and more polished, but also the man with the slower footwork. This should be a genuinely fantastic match up, and a really high level bout between two sensational youngsters. Our preview of this bout can be read here Horikawa and Shigeoka battle for Youth crown in Tokyo!
In the main event we'll see Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (10-1, 5) defend his belt against mandatory challenger Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8), in a bout that was originally scheduled for 2020 but was delayed due to Covid19. For Sagawa this will be his third defense since beating Reiya Abe for the vacant title in 2019 and he looks to continue an excellent 9 fight winning run which has seen him defeat Junki Sasaki, Ryo Matsumoto, Al Toyogon and the aforementioned Abe. The champion has looked fantastic in recent bouts, but there are question marks about his chin and durability. On the other hand Maruta, who turned professional with a lot of buzz, has failed to meet the expectations put on his young shoulders, however a win here would see that buzz return. Aged just 23 Maruta has the tools to go a very, very long way, but a 2017 loss to Hidenori Otake slowed his rise and a controversial draw against Ben Mananquil also slowed him down. Coming in this the challenger has won his last 3, and has shown a more aggressive side to his boxing than earlier in his career. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Sagawa and Maruta clash at last, in Japanese title bout!
Yoyogi First Gym, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the show at Korakuen Hall there will also be a special event at the Yoyogi 1st Gym in Tokyo. This however isn't one you'll find on Boxrec and is instead a charity event where we'll get 7 exhibition bouts, and nothing that will go down on a fighters record. Despite that it's something that is worth being aware of, in part due to the fighters featured on it, including several world champions, amateur standouts and genuine Japanese stars.
One of those will be an potential dream bout as WBA "Super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) shares the ring with the now retired Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16), who himself held the IBF Light Flyweight title along with titles at Minimumweight and Flyweight. It's a shame the careers of these two didn't over-lap as this is a brilliant match up.
Another retired former world champion on this show will be former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) who will be in the ring with current Japanese national Super Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18). Although Uchiyama would be strongly favoured to win, had the two men clashed for real, this could be an interesting exhibition, especially given that Uchiyama is in fantastic condition.
A third former world champion included in the event is former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) who will be battling with former K-1 fighter Yoshiki Takei (0-0), who makes his professional boxing debut in March. Whilst not the greatest match up it will be a chance to see what Takei brings as a boxer, and we always love seeing Sho Kimura in the ring.
Former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (17-1-1, 10) will be taking on amateur standout Yuito Moriwaki in one of several bouts between professional fighters and amateurs. Another of these will see 140lb hopeful Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) share the ring with Japanese Olympian Daisuke Narimatsu and the a third will see Japanese Youth champion Jin Sasaki (10-0, 9) [佐々木尽] face off with the very highly regarded Seon Okazawa.
We've saved the best until last, and that's a bout between WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) and former WBC Flyweight kingpin Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) [比嘉 大吾], in what should be a sensational exhibition bout over 3 rounds and something worthy of paying the hefty admission fee for. This is two big names, both in their primes, facing off in a bit of a dream fight, even if it is just an exhibition.
It's fair to say this coming Saturday is mostly about one contest in the US, though surprisingly there is an incredible amount of action involving Asian fighters here, with bouts all over Asia. This is probably the busiest day we've had since boxing restarted back in the summer.
The Bubble, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
It goes without saying that our attention this coming Saturday is in Las Vegas, where we get two Japanese fighters on action on a Top Rank show.
The main event here will see WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) make his Las Vegas debut, as he takes on Australian challenger Jason Moloney (21-1, 18) in a much anticipated bout. For Inoue this will be his first bout since his World Boxing Super Series win against Nonito Donaire last year, and he has some questions hanging over him for once, such as whether or not his right eye is anything close to 100% following that Donaire bout. He also has questions hanging over him in regards rust and potentially being over-trained, given he was supposed to fight in March. As for Moloney he's the clear under-dog and this is a huge chance for him, though he will know that if he wins his career will change massively. Interesting Moloney was close to facing Inoue last year, and would have done so had he got the decision in the WBSS quarter final bout against Emanuel Rodriguez. Since his loss to Rodriguez, Moloney has racked up 4 wins and comes into this with momentum, despite being the big under-dog. Our full, in depth, previous of this bout can be read here The Monster takes on Moloney in Las Vegas!
The other Japanese fighter on this show is Andy Hiraoka (15-0, 10), who will be looking to extend his unbeaten record as he takes on Rickey Edwards (12-4, 3). For Hiraoka this will be his second bout in Las Vegas, where he fought last November. The Japanese Light Welterweight is being groomed for big things and he's expected to pick up an easy win here and more a step closer to a title fight, of some kind. Edwards on the other hand is struggling for form and has gone 1-4 in his last 5, and it unlikely to post any real questions to the talented Hiraoka. If you're tuning in for Inoue make sure to keep an eye out for Hiraoka, he's a genuine talent.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Staying with Japanese boxing for a moment it's worth noting that we are getting some East Japan Rookie of the Year bouts on the same day, as Korakuen Hall plays host to the first set of semi-finals bouts. In total there are 6 bouts set for this show, but due to all the action taking place through Asia we'll only really look at one of them.
The most notable is the Super Flyweight bout between unbeaten puncher Yota Sato (2-0, 2) and the very, very highly regarded Kosuke Tomioka (3-0, 2). This is the stand bout from this round of East Japan Rookie of the Year bouts, and will see Tomioka getting his first serious test against someone who looked devastating last time out. We are expecting big things here in a potentially explosive match up. If you've got tickets to this one, it's the one that you need to be in your seat for! If you're not in Tokyo, the bout is the one to watch when it becomes available online.
As well as the Sato Vs Tomioka bout, the show also pits unbeaten Flyweights against each other, with Teppei Saito (3-0, 2) facing Shugo Namura (3-0, 3), and Light Flyweights, and Light Flyweight, with Yota Mihara (3-0, 3) battling against Hayato Aoki (3-0, 2).
Yes this is gonna be a good one!
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
We also get a show of real note from Bangkok, where TL Promotions continue to make their mark on the sport, and bring through their range of talented and promising fighters.
The main event here will see Nonthasith Petchnamthong (1-0) drop down to Bantamweight to take on former Light Flyweight world champion Kompayak Porpramook (60-9, 41). We were impressed by Nonthasith on his debut, where he Arnon Yupang, where he won a WBA Asia title, and now appears to be dropping into a weight that is much, much more natural for him. Kompayak isn't the fighter he once was, not even close, but he does come to win, press, and is still a very good test for prospects. We expect to Kompayak trying to win, but be out boxed, out punched, and out muscled by the novice. Kompayaka, with his experience, is a live under-dog here, but he is clearly an under-dog.
Another bout on this show will see Anurak Thisa (24-2, 9), aka Nop Kratingdaenggym, take on Artid Bamrungauea (26-31, 24) in what looks like little more than a stay busy fight, and an easy win for talented Thisa.
Also on this card bouts between Tanes Ongjunta (4-1, 2) and Decha Puttaluksa (1-4), and a contest pitting the unbeaten Yuttapong Tongdee (3-0, 2) against the limited Kan Hamongkol (4-14, 1). Sadly these both look like formalities.
Singmanassak Muaythai School, Pathum Thani, Thailand
A second Thai show will come from Pathum thani and this really does look a lot less significant than the other show.
The main event here is set to be a clash between the unbeaten Kevin Gronlund (3-0, 1) and the limited, but heavy handed, Tanawat Ketsiri (5-6, 5), with the men clashing for the Thai Lightweight title. The 25 year old Gronlund debuted in June 2019 and has struggled in a couple of his wins. Ketsiri on the other hand is a 17 year old who debuted in 2017, has been matched hard and suffered a couple of losses to decent regional fighters, but has won his last 3 and will be hoping to carry on that momentum here.
Over in Kazakhstan we'll be getting the chance to see a number of very promising Kazakh's dip their toes in professional ranks, with the intention to remain amateurs and head to the Tokyo Olympics. This is thanks to Suleimen promotions who are putting on a 5 fight show.
One of those bouts will see Bek Nurmaganbet (1-0, 1) look for his second professional win, as he takes on experienced Tanzanian Abdallah S Pazzy (27-7-1, 24). After looking good against a very over-matched opponent on his debut this is a good step up in class for Nurmaganbet , and we should see the former amateur standout given a genuine test against a hard hitting fighter who beat Zulipikaer Maimaitiali last year. This is a genuinely dangerous test for the Kazakh novice.
Another Kazakh with some pro experience on this show is Yevgeniy Pavlov (1-0, 1), who also takes a massive step up in class as he takes on Tanzania's Goodluck Mrema (23-5, 13). Pavlov made his debut in July and looked decent against an over-matched opponent and, like Nurmaganbet, he is taking a huge leap up in class. Mrema isn't a world beater, nothing close in fact, but he has mixed with good company and has been in the ring with Marlon Tapales and Jason Moloney. We expect a win for Pavlov here, but it would be good to see him being tested.
The first of three debutants on this show will be Danila Semenov (0-0) who makes his debut against once beaten 36 year old Ghanaian John Napari (21-1, 15). Semenov is expected to make a big mark on the professional ranks in the coming years, and this is a very serious debut, against a man who's only loss came to the then 19-0-1 Apti Davtaev. A real risk and a real potential to make a statement from Semenov.
The second debutant will be Ablaikhan Zhussupov (0-0), who has booked a place in the Tokyo Olympics. He will be looking to keep busy here as he shares the ring with Tanzania's Meshack Mwankemwa (21-7-2, 13), who has faced a few notables names. Zhussupov is a brilliant talent, and our hope is that after the Olympics he will become a fully fledged professional and a debut like this shows the belief his team have in him. Mwankemwa has got 7 losses but they have come to some decent fighters, such as Teerachai Kratingdaenggym, Roman Zakirov and Walter Kautondokwa.
The final fight on the show will see 2019 World Amateur Champion Bekzad Nurdauletov (0-0) make his professional debut as he takes on Ibrahim Maokola (14-9-1, 9), who is the fourth fight fighter from Tanzania to be involved on this show. There are huge expectations on Nurdauletov's shoulders, not just for this bout but for the Tokyo Olympics, and we expect him to answer those expectations in style here, against the rather limited Maokola.
Rongchuang Mall, Chongqing, China
We also get action in China, albeit very low level action, as the Chinese boxing scene continues to tick over. Sadly this is a very, very low show with little of note, though it does have a 10 main event.
That main event will see Ruidong Zhou (5-1, 2) and Yong Shuai Luan (3-1, 1) battle in a Welterweight bout. The 26 year old Zhou is the more experienced of the two fighters in action here, bout his last 3 wins have come against terrible opposition as he's looked to rebuild following a 2018 loss in South Korea. Luan on the other hand is a 19 year old looking to get career going after a stoppage loss last year. Luan will be looking for his third win in a row, though his last two opponents have been very poor, and he struggled with one of those in September.
Of all the action out there on Saturday this is probably the least noteworthy card featuring an Asian fighter.
Delhi University North Campus Area, New Delhi, India
Another show that isn't worth too much attention comes from India, where we see a lot of novices in action.
The only real bout of note here is an 8 round mismatch between the very promising Sachin Dekwal (7-0, 5) and the win-less Pawan Kumar (0-0-1). The talented Dekwal is one of the very few Indian fighters worth making a mental of note, and he really should be facing better opponents that Kumar at this point in his career. He's a talent, but he's really wasting time, and chances to develop as a fighter with bouts like this.
The day we've all been waiting for is finally upon us and we finally get the WBSS Bantamweight final, in what is, by far, the most high profile card in Japan this year. In fact it's one of the highest profile cards in Japan in a very long time.
The Saitama Super Arena plays host to the biggest show in Japan this year, with more than 20,000 fans in attendance and international TV exposure as DAZN show the bout in the US. This is a card we've literally been waiting for since May and is a true highlight for the year.
The big bout will see Filipino legend Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26) take on rising Japanese mega star Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16) in what is not only the WBSS Bantamweight final but also a bout for the IBF and WBA "super" titles at Bantamweight. Entertaining the bout Donaire is the WBA "super" champion and is going through an unexpected late career surge, though one that has been helped with injuries to Ryan Burnett and Zolani Tete. Although not the fighter he once was Donaire is still a huge puncher and a massive through, if he lands clean. Inoue, the IBF and WBA "unified" champion, will know a win cements his place as one of the new faces of boxing, and the pressure really is all on him given the attention the bout is getting in Japan. If the "Monster" picks up a win here it really open up huge doors for him going forward, whilst a win for Donaire will almost certainly secure his place as a first ballot hall of famer. A full and very comprehensive preview of this bout can be read here The WBSS Final - Inoue Vs Donaire
In an excellent supporting bout we'll see the WBC Bantamweight title being unified as French-Morrocan Nordine Oubaali (16-0, 12) takes on Japan's Takuma Inoue (13-0, 4). Entering the bout Oubaali will be looking for his second defense of the title, whilst Inoue will be looking to become a full world champion after reigning as the WBC interim champion since December. Whilst the attention will be on the main event this is an excellent match up, and will see the calculated and intelligent pressure and power of Oubaali up against the intelligent boxing and movement of Inoue. This could have headlined a normal show and makes for a sensational supporting bout. An in depth preview of this bout can be read here Takuma Inoue goes up against Nordine Oubaali for WBC crown
Also on this show will be a couple of Teiken prospects. One of those will be Katsuya Fukui (1-0, 1), who goes up against Thai foe Chakkit Ratchakhot (2-3, 2) and the other will be Shokichi Iwata (3-0, 2), who will take on Mexican visitor Alejandro Cruz Valladares (5-1). Both of these bouts are scheduled for 6 rounds, with Iwata expected to be moved into title bouts in 2020, if he gets past Valladares here.
As well as the action in Japan there is also a bout of note for us in the US where the unbeaten Santiago Dominguez (19-0, 15) takes on Uzbek fighter Ravshan Hudaynazarov (17-2, 13). The unbeaten Dominguez has scored stoppages in his last 7 bouts and has looked destructive going through recent competition in the US and Mexico. Sadly Hudaynazarov has no form coming into this, following back to back losses, in 2018 to Ronald Cruz and 2019 to John Vera, in what are his only 2 bouts over the last 5 years. We really can't see the Uzbek picking up a win here.
The big headline bout this coming weekend sees us focus on Glasgow, Scotland, as the WBSS moves towards the final bouts. The bout of interest for us is the highly anticipated WBSS Bantamweight semi-final bout between WBA "regular" champion Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) and IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12). The bout is a clash between unbeaten world class fighters, who are both looking to move one step closer to proving they are the best Bantamweight on the planet. For Inoue this will be his first bout in Europe, and he will be looking to become the first Japanese fighter to win a world title bout in the continent, whilst Rodriguez returns to the country that he won the IBF title in, when he beat Paul Butler. Coming in both are in great form, though it should be noted that Rodriguez went 24 rounds last year, Inoue has only gone 20 rounds combined in his last 6 fights. If Rodriguez can survive the early going Inoue's lack of activity could be a problem here, as could history. A full review of this bout can be read here Inoue and Rodriguez go one on one in semi final!
Before the action in the UK there will be some action in Asia, including a notable show at Korakuen Hall in Toyko.
The main event of this show will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) make his first defense, as he takes on former champion Yusaku Kuga (17-3-1, 11), in what will be a second bout between these two. Thee two men fought in 2017, with Kuga taking a narrow decision win over Tamura to retain the title, since then however Kuga has been stopped by Shingo Wake and Tamura has bounced back from losing to Kuga to win the title. Given their first bout was a brilliant and violent fight we're expecting something really special here. A full preview of this bout is available here Tamura and Kuga to meet again, potential war set?
In a major supporting bout we'll see Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-2, 6) and Koichi Aso (23-8-1, 15) clash at Lightweight, in a bout that should be very fan friendly. Coming in to this Yanagi is unbeaten in 5 bouts, including a draw in a Japanese title eliminator last year with Accel Sumiyoshi, but this is likely to be a really tough bout for him. Aso, a veteran and former Japanese Light Welterweight champion, will be dropping down in weight but always brings intense pressure and will be looking to break down Yanagi. This could be an all out war if Yanagi can't keep Aso at range.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see ranked fighters clash, as Naoya Okamoto (13-7-1, 6) and Yosuke Fujihara (17-6, 4) face off in a bout that could well set up a future title fight with the winner of the main event. Okamoto narrowly missed out on a title fight, when he lost a technical decision in October in a Japanese title eliminator, and will be hungry here to shine. Fujihara on the other hand is someone who has challenged for a title before but has lost 3 of his last 4 and really needs a good performance here.
Another bout featuring domestic ranked fighters will see Kenta Nakagawa (16-3-1, 11) take on Ryosuke Nasu (10-4-3, 2). Nakagawa is a former Japanese Super Flyweight champion, holding the title in 2016-2017, and has won 3 in a row since losing the belt to Ryuichi Funai. Nasu on the other hand is a former Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion who will know that a win here will prove to be a huge step towards a potential senior title fight later in the year.
Another name worthy of noting on this card is Kazuki Saito (6-1, 5), though our understanding is a planned bout has been cancelled and he will instead compete in a spar rather than an actual fight.
Bang Phun, Thailand
At the Workpoint Studio we'll former world title challenger Nawaphon Por Chokchai (44-1-1, 34) take on former champion Sonny Boy Jaro (45-14-5, 32), in what looks almost certain to be a fun fight. Nawaphon, at 27, is the much younger man and needs a big win, and a win over Jaro would be among his very best. Jaro, who is known in Thailand due to his shock win over Pongsaklek Wonjongkam back in 2012. At the age of 37 it's hard to know what Jaro really has left, though he was stopped in 2017 by Jonas Sultan, a none puncher, and surely has to be coming very close to the end of his career.
In Russia we'll see a couple of hard hitting Uzbek fighters in action.
One of those fighters is Ravshanbek Umurzakov (7-0, 7), who takes on Anthony Moloisane (11-3-1, 7) in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds. The talented Umurzakov has shown a lot of promise but isn't being moved up through the levels yet, sadly, and that shows again here, with South African fighter Moloisane, who isn't bad, but also isn't a clear step up for the Uzbek who should be taking on much better opponents now.
A second Uzbek on this show will see Elnur Abduraimov (4-0, 4) in action, as he hunts his 5th straight stoppage. He's stepped up in his last two bouts, but it's clear he needs a real test in the near future, so fingers crossed that happens sooner rather than later. He's too good to be wasting his time against limited opposition and would be served much better by take on someone to extend him some rounds and help prepare him for bigger and better bouts. At the time of writing the opponent for this bout hasn't been named, suggesting a limited and late notice opponent for the Uzbek.
Also on this card is unbeaten Kazakh youngster Stanislav Kalitskiy (7-0, 3), who will be stepping into his first 8 round bout. Sadly there is not currently an opponent confirmed for Kalitskiy, and as with Abduraimov it seems like he will be matched softly with a late notice foe.
Another Asian card will take place in Taiwan, though this is a very low level card, headlined by an 8 round bout between Chia Ching Hung (4-1-1, 4) and Anurak Madua (6-3, 4). Hung is a local to Taiwan, but hasn't fought in over a year, and is 1-1-1 in his last 3. Madua on the other hand was stopped in 77 seconds last time out, when he fought in Osaka against Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto.
The rest of this card is mostly novices bouts with debutants.
This coming Sunday is set to be a massive day for fight fans in Asia, specifically those in Yokohama who get an excellent triple header on Fuji TV, as part of the World Boxing Super Series.
The main bout will see WBA “regular” Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14) kick off his WBSS campaign as he takes on former world champion Juan Carlos Payano (20-1, 9). The Japanese fighter is the betting favourite to win the competition and will be looking to put down his mark as he takes on Payano, who is being given little to no chance to pick up a win here. Inoue claimed the WBA title earlier this year, when he blew out Jamie McDonnell, but should be expecting a much stiffer test here. Payano has only lost to once, a close decision to Rau-shee Warren, and is a former 2-time Olympian, but is expected to be little more than a snack for the Monster. A full preview of this bout is here - The Monster begins WBSS campaign, faces Payano!
In a Light Welterweight WBSS bout we'll see WBA champion Kiryl Relikh (22-2, 19) take on the heavy handed Eduard Troyanovsky (27-1, 24). For the Belorussian fighter this will be his first defense, and the reality is that he really should be unbeaten, with the judging in both of his defeats being highly questionable. Troyanovsky is a a basic fighter, who at 38 is past his best, but is a brutish puncher, as we saw when he beat Keita Obara. This could be a lot of fun and we do not see it going 12 rounds. A preview of this bout is here - Relikh and Troyanovsky kick off WBSS
A third world title bout on this show will see the unbeaten Kenshiro (13-0, 7) defending his WBC Light Flyweight title against former IBF champion Milan Melindo (37-3, 13). On paper this is the standout bout from the card and the hardest one to call. The champion has been on a great run at world level, with a couple of wins against Ganigan Lopez, a great win over Pedro Guevara and a showcase performance against Gilberto Pedroza. Melindo on the other hand was beaten last time out but has scored notable recent wins against Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, Akira Yaegashi and Hekkie Budler,whilst suffering a loss in a unification bout at the end of last year. This has the potential to be amazing. A preview of this bout is here - WBC belt on the line as Kenshiro and Melindo battle on Sunday!
A second Japanese show on Sunday will come from Oita and is a much less interesting card.
The main event of this show is an 8 round contest that will feature Atsushi Takada (6-0-2, 3) facing off with Hironori Miyake (9-6-1, 1). The unbeaten Takada impressed last time out, when he stopped Jump Ikeo, but it's hard to read too much into his record given his competition so far. Miyake has a more marked up record but has only lost one of his last 6 bouts, and that was hardly a shameful defeat as he came up short against the very talented Kyosuke Sawada. Sadly this bout aside there isn't anything else on the card worthy of note.
Seoul, South Korea
As well as the action outside of Japan there are two cards in Korea. One of those is a Boxing M Rookie card, with 22 bouts on it. All the contests on this card are 4 rounders and feature novice with 5 or fewer bouts. This could give us close to 90 professional rounds if all the bouts go the distance and will certainly give fans value for their money.
Ulsan, South Korea
A second Korean card is taking place in Ulsan. Again this is mostly novices though the main event is an 8 rounder between between Sang Kil Park (6-1, 2) and Tae Young Suh (3-0-1), in what could be a very interesting match up. The more experienced fighter is 35 years old but has got the edge in experience and power. Suh on the other hand is just 22 and only made his debut this past January. We're expecting action here even if the bout isn't at the highest level.
This coming Sunday fans in Ishikawa and in Ekateringburg will be able to see a number of notable Asian talent in action.
We'll start with Ishikawa as we get a notable exhibition on a card that really feels like it had promise but failed to deliver, outside of the exhibition.
That exhibition is a 3 round show case between 3-weight world champion Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14) and recent world title challenger Genesis Servania (31-1, 14). This bout was announce around the same time as the show was confirmed and will see two men who have shared the ring a lot recently putting on something special for the fans, before Inoue looks towards his upcoming WBSS bout with Juan Carlos Payano. This bout won't matter to either man's record or be featured on boxrec but is notable given the quality and profile of the men involved.
The main card will be headlined by the hard hitting Hurricane Futa (24-7-1, 15) battling Indonesian Roy Tua Manihuruk (19-18-2, 15) in what looks like a mismatch. Although Futa is no world beater he has scored notable wins over the likes of Will Tomlinson and Vage Sarukhanyan in recent years and certainly should be matched tougher than this. The Indonesian visitor is 0-11 on the road and it's hard to imagine him scoring a win against someone as talented as Futa.
In a supporting bout Omrri Bolivar (6-1, 3) will face off with Filipino foe Lorence Rosas (9-1-2, 3). Bolivar, now fighting under the Kashimi Gym, was a former Venezuelan amateur standout with more than 80 amateur bouts and it's clear that his team in Japan want to test him immediately, which is why he's been matched with Rosas. The Filipino is a hungry fighter himself, who was very competitive in his sole defeat, and will certainly be in Ishikawa to pick up a win.
In a female bout Asami Jinnari (5-3-1, 2) will battle against Miki Mitsuda (3-4, 2). On paper this looks competitive but the reality is that Jinnari enters the bout as a JBC and OPBF ranked fighter looking to pick up a win and chase a third bout with current OPBF title holder Wakako Fujiwara.
In Russia we get a number of Asian fighters in some pretty interesting looking match ups.
The pick of the bunch will see IBO Super Featherweight champion Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (12-0, 9) defending his title against the criminally under-rated Robinson Castellanos (24-13, 14). The unbeaten champion, from Tajikistan, will be making his second defense and will be looking to build on impressive wins over Emanuel Lopez and Malcolm Klassen. Although clearly favoured the champion is up against a tough opponent with Castellanos having really big wins over the likes of Celestino Caballero, Ronny Rios, Rocky Juarez and Yuriorkis Gamboa. If Castellanos is on form here he could end up with another major upset win, but he does blow hot and cold.
Another title fight will see Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (11-0, 7) take on Victor Alejandro Gonzalez (18-1, 9) in a bout for the WBC International Super Featherweight title fight. The 23 year old Yaqubov, also from Tajikistan, is looking to build on an impressive win over Mark Urvanov and claim yet another title in his early career. The unbeaten man is stepping up slightly here, but will feel he's got the moment as he goes up against 19 year old Mexican fighter Gonzalez. The visitor has won his last 5, since being stopped by Salvador Briseno, but will clearly need a career best performance to pick up a win here.
Another unbeaten prospect is Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov (4-0, 3), who takes a huge step up to take on experienced Filipino Eden Sonsona (36-8-2, 13) in what looks like a a massively testing bout for Uzbek “Prince”. The unbeaten man made his debut last December and hasn't faced anyone of real note, but this time out he'll be facing a genuine veteran. Sonsona is a veteran, with over 14 years of professional experience, but has lost his last 2 bouts and has shown some genuine wear and tear in recent years. He should give the Uzbek some good rounds, but we can't see him coming out on top against the fresher man.
In Moscow fans will get the chance to see another unbeaten Uzbek prospect, as Shohjahon Ergashev (12-0, 11) headlines the show and take on Ugandan foe Juma Waswa (10-2-1, 4). The exciting Ergashev impressed in January, when he destroyed Sonny Fredrickson, and has since added a notable win over Zhimin Wang. Waswa on the other hand has lost his last 2 and at 37 years old is well beyond his prime. Notably the Ugandan has never been stopped, but he has never shared the ring with a fighter like Ergashev.
This coming Friday is a big day for Asian boxing, as we get a couple of world title fight a couple of prospects and a hotly tipped debutant.
The main bout of the card will see Englishman Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1, 13) defending his WBA Bantamweight title against 2-weight world champion Naoya Inoue (15-0, 13), who looks to become a 3-weight champion in just 16 bouts. The defending champion will boast significant size advantage over Inoue, but has been struggling to make 118lbs over the last few years and Inoue's trademark body attack may well take advantage of that issue. As for McDonnell he is unbeaten in over a decade and holds several notable wins, including a couple against Tomoki Kameda, one against Julio Ceja and one against Liborio Solis. The challenger is one of the biggest names in Japanese boxing and will know that another win here will help increase his profile around the boxing world, and move him towards becoming a global star.
Interesting Inoue and McDonnell may not only be fighting for the WBA Bantamweight title but also, potentially, a place in the upcoming World Boxing Super Series at Bantamweight.
The other title bout on this card will see WBC Light Flyweight Ken Shiro (12-0, 6) defending his belt against Ganigan Lopez (34-7, 19), the man he beat for the title last year. Since winning the belt Ken Shiro has made two defenses and gone from being a fighter only the hardcore fans know about to being a man who has featured on Japanese main stream TV and has really built his profile magnificently. Lopez will be looking to avenge his 2017 loss to the Japanese fighter, but at the age of 36 it could be that Lopez's career is naturally coming to an end, and this bout will bee the one that makes him realise he's not the fighter he once was.
The leading support bout will see Naoya's younger brother Takuma Inoue (10-0, 2) take on Indonesian visitor Waldo Sabu (12-11, 2). This bout really should be little more than a show case bout for the talented Inoue, who should be getting a world title fight this year, but on the other hand it's good to see him tick over. Despite only being 22 it does feel like Inoue, who debuted in December 2013, should be up against better opposition and has been ready for a world title fight for a while, so hopefully this will be his final tune up bout. As for Sabu Sabu is yet to win a bout outside of Indonesia, having suffered notable losses to Shingo Wake in Japan as well as Nop Kratingdaenggym, Norasing Kokietgym and Petchbarngborn Kokietgym in Thailand.
The hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda (16-3-2, 14) looks for his 4th straight win, following a 2016 loss to Reiya Abe, as he takes on Indonesian veteran Rivo Rengkung (36-24-6, 14). Although still a bit unknown outside of Japan Tameda is one of the countries more unheralded prospects. The hard hitting Tameda suffered a couple of losses in 2016, to Simpiwe Vetyeka and Reiya Abe, but has bounced back well with 3 stoppage wins, including one for the Japanese Youth Featherweight title, and is now being stepped up slight take on the Indonesian visitor here. Rengkung is a pretty limited fighter but should be able to take Tameda a few rounds here, before being stopped..
Also on this card will be touted debutant Taku Kuwabara (0-0), who makes his debut against Indonesian foe Mochamad Sholimin (3-6, 3). The Japanese fighter was a notable on the Japanese scene and looks likely to be yet another top fighter at the Ohashi Gym. He will clearly be looking to make a statement here, but may struggle to really wow the fans in Tokyo as he takes on a man who took Daiki Tomita 8 rounds last August. We suspect Kuwabara will win without many problems, but if he can stop Sholimin that will be a solid statement from the debutant.