This coming Saturday is set to be a great day for Asian boxing, with notable action in Thailand, Japan, Russia and the US.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
For once we'll start in Thailand as WP Boxing give us one of their most interesting shows of 2020, and do so free on their YouTube and Facebook pages. The card isn't a monster card, but it does have two very interesting main bouts on it.
The highest profile bout on the card will see former world champions colliding for a regional title. In one corner will be former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-8, 36), who showed there was still something left in the tank with a recent upset win over Campee Phayom, whilst the other corner will host Amnat Ruenroeng (20-4, 6), himself a former IBF Flyweight champion. On paper it seems easy to favour the hard hitting, and naturally bigger, Pungluang, however Amnat showed he still have plenty to offer when he ran Srisaket Sor Rungvisai close a few months ago. This is a really intriguing match up and will be for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Featherweight title.
A second WBC Asian Boxing Council title fight on this card will be at Flyweight, with rising youngster Thananchai Charunphak (10-1, 8) defending his title over battle worn veteran Pigmy Kokietgym (61-13-2, 25). We are huge fans of the 20 year old Thananchai, who has been very impressive in recent bouts and will be looking to secure a third notable win here. Sadly Pigmy Kokietgym is about 10 years beyond his prime, and about 7lbs north of his best weight. We suspect Pigmy will give it a go early on, before being broken down and stopped by Thananchai. Although a mismatch we can't recommend fans following Thananchai enough, this youngster is one of the best prospects in Thailand.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
As well as as the action in Thailand we also get a pretty notable show at Korakuen Hall, sadly however this show won't be getting live TV coverage and instead will be televised a few days after the event takes place.
Originally the main event here was supposed to see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 11) make a mandatory defense of his title as he takes on unbeaten youngster Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2), as part of the Champion Carnival. Sadly the bout was cancelled just over a week before the show due to Takesako suffering a training injury.
Due to the main event bout being cancelled the headline bout here will see former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (16-1-1, 10) fight in what is supposed to be a tune up contest against the unbeaten Nath Nwachukwu (6-0-2, 3), who will likely see himself as a live under-dog. Inoue, best known for his 2019 bout with Jaime Munguia, will be seeking a 4th straight win and will be hoping to move into a second world level bout next year. Notably he won't be defending his WBO Asia Pacific title here, which he did defend back in January. The 23 year old Nwachukwu won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Middleweight in 2018 and has picked up 3 wins since then. Although he's the under-dog Nwachukwu will know a win here would genuinely change his career.
Another bout of note on this card will see flawed puncher Takuma Takahashi (5-0, 5) take on Kodai Kiyota (9-6-2, 9), in what could be a very explosive contest. Takahashi has looked very, very heavy handed, but he also showed some real vulnerability last time out, getting dropped and cut against Leonardo Doronio, and there are worries about his punch resistance. Kiyota is no world beater, and hasn't fought in over a decade, but he is heavy handed and could well have the power needed to take out Takahashi, if he lands clean.
Also on this card will be recent Japanese title challenger Koki Koshikawa (9-2, 6), who takes on Yuichi Ideta (13-15-1, 7), with Koshikawa looking to bounce back from a loss to Hironobu Matsunaga.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
The WP Boxing event isn't the only one we'll be getting for free on YouTube as RCC will also be giving us a show, this time from Russia, with several Central Asian fighters on it.
One of the bouts on this show will see once beaten Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov (10-1, 7) take on really talented Ukrainian Zoravor Petrosian (9-0, 4), in a bout that was originally for September. Umurzakov was upset back in January by Esneiker Correa, in a genuine surprise, and has been out of the ring since then. Petrosian on the other hand is a 22 year old who turned professional in 2018 and has scored 3 wins this year, whilst looking very highly skilled. This should be a very, very interesting match up.
In a supporting bout baby faced Kazakh fighter Yerzhan Zalilov (11-2-1, 5) take on Russian fighter Evgenii Liashkov (6-1, 1). At one point Zalilov looks like a fighter with the potential to go places, but sadly 2 losses in is last 3 bouts have pretty much ended his hopes of reaching the top of the mountain. Liashkov is a light puncher who lost on but has reeled off 6 wins and comes into this with real momentum.
One more bout on this show will see Uzbek born Russian Dmitry Yun (4-0, 1) taking on Sherzodjon Abdurazzokov (1-0). Yun is a really skilled boxer-mover, who looks like a brilliant talented, with lovely speed, movement and accuracy. Sadly however his lack of power, and questionable durability, seem likely to hold him back, despite how fantastic he is to see in full flow. Aged 20 Abdurazzokov is an Uzbek youngster who made his debut in 2019, and will go into this as the under-dog.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
We will also Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (21-0, 16) in action, as he begins his relationship with Matchroom Sports. The 37 year Chinese fighter, who has been spoken about as a future opponent for Anthony Joshua, will be up against 38 year old American Devin Vargas (22-6, 9). Sadly for a man that Eddie Hearn wants to talk about big fights for, time is rapidly running out for Zhang, and it seems highly unlikely that he will ever manage to reach the heights some expected of him.
This coming Saturday is an exciting and busy day with multiple shows featuring Asian fighters, in bouts of varying significance.
For us the main card of the day will be in Japan as Teiken put on a Dynamic Glove at Korakuen Hall. This G+ televised card will feature two title bouts and a number of interesting hopefuls.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) defending his title against mandatory challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) in the first of the 2020 Champion Carnival bouts. This should be a really explosive bout and both men can hurt, and be hurt. Coming in Nagano will be seeking his second defense of the title and has scored 7 stoppages in his last 8 bouts. For Obara the bout is a chance to claim a second Japanese title, and a chance to give his career a shot in the arm after some recent set backs. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Champion Nagano faces Obara in Japanese title defense
The second title fight on this card will be a Japanese Youth Super Featherweight bout between Ryusei Ishii (8-5-1, 5) and Yamato Hata (9-1, 9), who face off for the vacant title. Of the two Ishii is the more experienced man, and has faced the better competition, but Hata is a rising puncher, and will enter this bout with momentum on his side, with 6 straight TKO wins. Ishii on the other hand has struggled with just 1 win in his last 4. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hard hitting Hata takes on Ishii for Japanese Youth title
In an interesting match up between Japanese ranked fighter's we'll see JBC ranked Welterweight Junpei Tsujimoto (6-1-3, 4) move up to 154lbs to face ranked Middleweight Nath Nwachukwu (5-0-2, 2), who drops down 6 lbs. This is interesting to see both men changing weight for the bout, which will be scheduled for 6 rounds. Interestingly both of these men won the Rookie of the Year in 2018, and each have picked up 2 wins since then. Maybe not a big bout but an interesting one.
At 14olbs we see another Japanese ranked fighter, with the hard hitting Kenta Endo (5-0-1, 4), who also won the 2018 Rookie of the Year, taking on Shun Akaiwa (4-1-1, 2). Aged 35 Endo's potentially to is limited by his age, but he's a fun, exciting and hard hitting fighter. Someone who can make very TV friendly bouts. Akaiwa on the other hand is not someone we can recall watching but he's yet to be stopped and should make for an interesting opponent for Endo.
Further down the card we see two notable Japanese prospects taking on Indonesian novices. One of those prospects is Kenshi Noda (1-0, 1), who is expected to pick up a quick win against Thomas Tope Hurek (2-4-1, 1) in a Light Flyweight bout, whilst the other is Super Flyweight Hiroto Yahsiro (1-0, 1), who takes takes on Abdul Rauf (1-2). Expect these to be little more than showcase wins for the local prospects.
Nuevo León, Mexico
Whilst the biggest show is the one in Japan the biggest single bout is actually in Mexico where IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11) defends his belt against talented Mexican challenger Daniel Valladares (22-1, 13). Taduran won his title in a brilliant little war with Samuel Salva last September and at 23 is still just getting stronger. It is however always a big ask to pick up a win on the road in Mexico. Valladares on the other hand had an under-rated 2019 where he scored 4 wins including stoppages over Filipino fighters Melito Sabillo and Christian Araneta. This could be a very, very exciting match up! Our preview of this bout is available here Taduran defends IBF title against Valladares in Mexico!
Metro Manila, Philippines
Back in Asia we get an interesting double header in Metro Manbila, where we see two Filipino title fights.
One of those will see Roldan Aldea (14-8-1, 8) defending his title as he takes on veteran Monico Laurente (30-16, 7) in a Lightweight clash. Although not a star Aldea has proven to be a rugged and durable fighter who is better than his record suggests, and his upset KO win last year over Mikhail Alexeev shows he can bang, when he lands clean. At 34 years old Laurente is certainly coming to the end of his career, and he will be the under-dog here, but will be a live under-dog. We expect this to be an interesting match up, even if it's the less intriguing of the two title bouts on the show.
The other title bout on this card will be a Flyweight bout as the under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-5, 5) takes on Carlo Caesar Penalosa (14-2, 7). Although not well known outside of Asia Dagayloan has built a reputation for himself as a horror to face off with, he's aggressive, tough, strong and not an easy man to look good against. Penalosa on the other hand is a third generation fighter from the Penalosa family and is looking to bounce back from a loss last time out to Maximino Flores. This could be the hidden gem of the weekend.
There is also a card in India, where we get some low key action on a card in Mumbai.
One of the more notable bouts here will see Rahul Kumar (6-3-1, 4) take on novice Rakesh Bawa (0-1), in a bout scheduled for 8 rounds. It's hard to see Bawa winning, but the reality is that Kumar is no world beater himself and has lost 3 of his last 6 coming into this.
An even bugger mismatch will see the once beaten Sagar Narwat (9-1-1, 3) take on Harish Harish (0-0) in a 4 round bout. Narwat was beaten back in October, by Troy O'Meley, but this should be an easy comeback win for the 25 year old from Faridabad
In Uzbekistan we'll see a number of promising novices in action, in what will be a card where fighters will get a chance to show case their skills. At the moment none of the promising fighters on the card have had their opponents name, but we're expecting to see Dostonbek Turdiev (7-0, 3), Abdulazizbek Najmiddinov (4-0, 4), Jasurbek Latipov (0-0) and Obidjon Tokhirov (0-0) all in action. From those involved it's Latipov, who was a brilliant amateur, that stands out as the most interesting of those on the card and the one with the biggest upside.
There are more Uzbeks in action in Russia where a trio of Uzbeks will be looking to make their mark.
Thge most notable bout here will see Rustam Tulaganov (2-0, 1) take on the much more experienced Norbert Dabrowski (23-8-2, 10). The talented Tulaganov is expected to have a huge 2020 after having had a stop-start career so far, and a win here would be a massive statement for him. The 31 year old Dabrowski, from Poland, is talented, experienced and a big step up for Tulaganov, however the Uzbek will be regarded as the favourite here.
Another of the Uzbek's on this show is Odiljon Aslonov (1-0, 1) who will be up against South African foe Snamiso Ntuli (4-3, 2) in a 6 round bout whilst the third is the debuting Ulugbek Mubinov (0-0), who takes on the 30 year old Srdan Govedarica (7-8, 6). These bouts are less interesting than Tulaganov's but we're expecting dominant and impressive wins for the Uzbek pair.
Although the iconic Korakuen Hall is one of, if not the, busiest venue in world boxing it doesn't actually play host to many world title fights. This coming Monday we get one of those rare world title bouts in the headline of a pretty notable card put on by the Nitta Gym.
The world title bout in question will see IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25) defending his title against mandatory challenger Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16). It's a clash of veterans and a very, very interesting match up. Mthalane impressed last time out, when he made his first defense of his second reign, and stopped Masahiro Sakamoto in Macau, defending the belt he had won when he narrowly beaten Muhammad Waseem in July. In title win Mthalane did look sharp to begin with but his age began to get to him late and it's unclear what he really has left at the age of 36. Kuroda, himself 32, is getting his second crack more than 6 years after battling Juan Carlos Reveco for the WBA title. Kuroda has had mixed fortunes at Flyweight but has won 6 in a row to earn this shot. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuroda goes up against IBF champ Mthalane!
In a really good supporting bout we'll see the once beaten Ryo Hino (12-1-2, 7) go up against Tasuku Suwa (6-3-1, 1). On paper it's easy to think Hino is in for an easy night, but in reality we're expecting a very, very close bout. Hino's sole loss came to Reiya Abe way back in 2015, and since then he has gone 7-0-1 (5), with a notable win over Sho Nakazawa and a draw against Coach Hiroto. Suwa on the other hand has lost 3 of his last 4 is no push over and does have skills to test fighters, as we saw when he gave Ryo Sagawa a good battle last year. Hino's the clear favourite, but Suwa is a live under-dog.
One other bout of interest on this card is a well matched contest pitting Yui Oikawa (7-4-1, 1) against Shinnosuke Hasegawa (8-2-1, 6). Neither of these men are expected to be major stars, but both will enter this bout with the belief they can win. Oikawa was stopped last time out, but is 5-2 (4) in his last 7 and is certainly a man with some belief. Hasegawa on the other hand has won his last 7, but they have come against some very poor opposition, and it will be him stepping up in this bout.
Also on this card is 2018 Middleweight Rookie of the Year Nath Nwachukwu (3-0-2, 1) who takes on the once beaten Yasunori Mihara (4-1, 3) in what will be Nwachukwu's first bout since his Rookie triumph in December.