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.
This coming Saturday is almost certainly the busiest day we've had this year with a number of world title bouts across the globe, as well as top prospects and a a highly anticipated return to the ring of a former 3-weight world champion. This is a crazy weekend it is one to get very, very excited about.
Coca-Cola Arena, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Arguably the most notable card, at least for us, is in Dubai where we see two Philippines Vs UK world title, as well as the next step towards a major bout for a Filipino icon.
One of the world title bouts will see hard hitting WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21) make a mandatory defense of his title as he takes on Englishman Paul Butler (33-2, 15), himself a former IBF Bantamweight champion. Coming in to this Casimero is a huge favourite, though he has often blown hot and cold and Butler will go into the bout knowing that a loss here ends any hope he has of becoming a 2-time world champion. It's a must win for Butler, if he's to remain relevant, and a must win for Casimero if he's ever going to get a showdown with either Nonito Donaire or Naoya Inoue. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Casimero defends WBO crown against Butler in mandatory defense
The other world title fight on this show will see IBF Flyweight champion Sunny Edwards (16-0, 4) make his first defense, in a mandatory against unbeaten Filipino Jayson Mama (16-0, 9). Mama was supposed to get a world title shot at Moruti Mthlane last year, before the authorities in South Africa refused to sanction the event, he was then supposed to fight Edwards earlier this year, before Edwards pulled out. Coming in to this Edwards is the clear favourite, and the slippery English fighter will feel full of confidence for his first world title defense, however it's certainly not a foregone conclusion. Our preview of this bout, from the original date, can be read here Jayson Mama gets crack at IBF champion Sunny Edwards!
Another notable bout on this card will see Filipino icon Donnie Nietes (43-1-5, 23) battle against Norbelto Jimenez (30-9-5, 16), in what is essentially a must win bout for both men. At 39 years old Nietes is ancient for a Super Flyweight, but he has made it clear he wants a super fighter before he retires and wants to face the likes of Roman Gonzalez. For that to happen he needs to get past Jimenez. As for Jimenez, he is a multi-time world title challenger himself, and shouldn't be over-looked here, despite the fact he will be a very, very clear under-dog.
Dignity Health Sports Park , Carson, California, USA
Another major card will take place in California, where we see another world title bout, and a world title eliminator, in what could end up being a very, very explosive night of action.
The world title bout will see WBC Bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27) defending his title against mandatory challenger Reymart Gaballo (24-0, 20) in a rare All-Filipino world title fight. Of the two men Donaire is the much more proven, and established fighter, however at the age of 39 he is well past the typical prime of a fighter, and that's ignoring the type of incredible career he's had, and the punishment he's taken at times, including his hellacious 2019 bout with Naoya Inoue. Gaballo on the other is a young up and comer who has got power and speed, but did look less than stellar last time out, when he took a controversial decision over Emmanuel Rodriguez, and he'll be desperate to show what he can do, and rip the title, and proverbial torch, from Donaire. Given the style of the two men involved, this should be a brutal fire fight. Our in depth preview of this fight can be read here WBC champion Donaire faces Gaballo in all Filipino world title bout!
Talking about fire-fights we're expecting another of those in a main supporting bout, as Japan's Hiroaki Teshigawara (22-2-2, 15) fights outside of Japan for the first time, and takes on former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (34-3, 17) in what could be the sleeper of the weekend. Teshigawara is known in Japan, and has carved out a successful career at Korakuen Hall, where he has built himself a cult following, and he'll know that a win here helps set him up for a potential world title fight in 2022. Tapales on the other hand is more well known, in part due to his amazing bout with Pungluang Sor Singyu and his two wins over Shohei Omori. Despite the past Tapales didn't look great in 2019, when he beaten up and stopped by Ryosuke Iwasa, and Teshigawara will be looking to score a repeat of that outcome here.
KRK “Uralets”, Ekaterinburg, Russia
We get yet another world title fight over in Russia, as we actually get quite an interesting card from Ekaterinburg.
The world title bout on this card is a really good looking bout which will see Dmitry Bivol (18-0, 11) defending his WBA Light Heavyweight "super" title against the once beaten Umar Salamov (26-1, 19). On paper this is a mouth watering match up, but sadly it's becoming harder and harder to get excited about Bivol bouts in recent years. It's clear he is an exceptional boxer, but like a handful of other world champions he's unwilling to roll the decide and put on a show, event against opponents that he should be comfortable seeing off. Salamov is an interesting challenger, who has shown some power, and a willingness to throw heavy shots, but he's also the sort of fighter that Bivol should be able to shine against. Salamov is hard hitting but open, crude, and there to be countered, something Bivol should be able to do at will, if he chooses to. Our preview of this fight can be read here Bivol defends WBA crown against Salamov!
In a major supporting bout former world title challenger Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0-1, 12) will be looking to bounce back from his frustrating draw with Jo Jo Diaz as he takes on the unbeaten Rilwan Oladosu (16-0, 8). Rakhimov showed he belonged in the mix at world level, and hopefully 2022 will bring him a second world title bout, potentially against Kenichi Ogawa. Oladosu on the other hand is a Nigerian fighter with a nice looking record, but one that doesn't really stand up to much scrutiny and this will be his first bout outside of Nigeria. Oladosu could be a rare Nigerian fighter to get excited about, but we suspect he's there to make Rakhimov look good instead.
Echo Arena, Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom
As well as the world class men in action, we'll also be seeing a world class woman in action, as undisputed female Lightweight champion Katie Taylor (19-0, 6) defends all her titles against Kazakh challenger Firuza Sharipova (14-1, 8). On paper this one looks good, but in reality this should be little more than a public showcase for Taylor, one of the best female fighters on the planet, with Sharipova not fit to lace her boots. We know Taylor has beaten almost everyone of note at Lightweight, but they are really scraping the bottom of the barrel if they really think Sharipova will give her anything resembling a fighter. Our preview of this major female bout is available here Taylor defends unified crown against Sharipova
International Conference Hall, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Away from world title action we're set for a really good bout in Japan as former 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) looks to bounce back from his 2020 loss to Kazuto Ioka, by taking on Ioka's former stable mate Sho Ishida (29-2, 15), himself a former world title challenger. This bout, being dubbed a "survival bout" in Japan, is a really interesting match up and will put the speed and aggression of Tanaka against the long and gangly frame of Ishida, with both men knowing they can't afford a loss, especially not if they intend to get a big fight any time soon. Tanaka will go into the bout as the favourite, though we do need to wonder what his loss to Ioka, and the loss of his unbeaten record, will have done to him. As for Ishida, a win here could potentially set him up for a second world title fight.
Staying in Asia we also get a compelling card in Kazakhstan, where we see some very highly touted prospects in action.
The most notable of the bouts on this card will be a Cruiserweight bout between the very highly touted Kamshybek Kunkabayev (3-0, 3) and Steven Ward (13-1, 4), who clash for the vacant WBA "Gold" Cruiserweight title. Kunkabayev, a former amateur stand out, has hardly put a foot wrong in his first 3 bouts, but this is a step up in class against someone who will be in the ring to win, rather than to collect a pay check or just survive. Sadly for Ward he is the naturally smaller man and he was stopped just 2 fights ago, however he will come in to this hungry and should be a genuine test for the promising Kunkabayev.
Also on this card will be a number of top Kazakh prospects, such as Talgat Shayken (6-0, 4) Sultan Zaurbek (11-0, 7) and Ray Seitzhanov (8-0, 5) who will all be looking to pick up wins and move their career forward.
This coming Saturday is set to be a solid, if somewhat overlooked, day with two world title fights, a notable unbeaten Kazakh in the biggest fight of his career and a show in Uzbekistan.
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
the earliest of the action comes from Thailand, where we'll see long reigning WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (21-0, 7) defending his "Super" title against fellow Thai Pongsaklek Sithdabnij (23-6-1, 13) in what looks likely to be little more than a stay busy defense for Knockout. The talented yet highly frustrating, world champion is a man who could, and probably should, do so much more in the ring. He's probably the best in the division, but his performances often leave us feeling under-whelmed. Here his challenger will be a naturally bigger man, but also a man who is cruder, slower and more open. We suspect Knockout will win this one based on his extra class, and nous, but don't expect to be impressed by a man who needs renaming "Unanimous Decision CP Freshmart" sooner rather than later. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Knockout returns after more than a year out to defend WBA Super title!
Dignity Health Sports Park , Carson, California, USA
Thankfully we're expecting a much, much better world title bout in the US later in the day on a card that features a couple of notable Asian names.
Before we get to the world title fight on this show we'll talk about one of the supporting bouts, as it's a brilliant match up pitting unbeaten Kazakh Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-0-0-2, 14) against bit punching Puerto Rican Subriel Matias (16-1, 16), in what could be a bit of a show stealer. Jukembayev has been wanting a big fight for years, and the technically sound boxer-puncher, who has been based in Canada, very much seems like the type of fighter who needs a big chance to show what he can really do. Matias on the other hand is a very dangerous fighter, who has seriously heavy hands, but can be outboxed. We expect this one to start pretty technically but break down into an all put war of attrition in the later rounds.
After the Jukembayev bout we'll then see WBC Bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12) take on mandatory challenger Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26), with Donaire looking to add one more title to his amazing legacy. Originally this bout was supposed to take place late last year, but due to Covid19 the bout was cancelled, and as a result both men have now been out of the ring for well over a year. In fact the last time the men fought, they shared a card in Japan, which saw Oubaali beat Takuma Inoue and Donaire lose to Naoya Inoue. On paper this is one of the most interesting bouts the Bantamweight division will give us any time soon, and it's a chance for Oubaali to face a genuine legend of the ring, and a chance for Donaire to prove his performance against the "Monster" wasn't just a last hurrah. Whilst neither man has fought recently we are still expecting a brilliant match up here, and the winner could be in line for a major unification bout towards the end of the year with Naoya Inoue. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Oubaali faces Donaire in WBC mandatory title bout!
Universal Sport Hall, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
As well as the higher level action there is also a show set to take place in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. This is a small card, but a pretty interesting one all the same.
The main event will see professional novice Islombek Pirmanov (2-0, 2) take a huge step up in class as he takes on experienced Afghan fighter Rauf Aghayev (31-7, 14), in a bout for the WBC CIS and Slovac Boxing Bureau (CISBB) Super Bantamweight title. Pirmanov only made his debut this past February and has fought just 7 professional rounds so this is a hugely dangerous step up for him. As for Aghayev the 37 year old "Lion" has been a professional since 2010, and has a good looking record, though is the naturally smaller man and a lot of padding to his record. On paper this is a big ask for Pirmanov but it's fair to say that he will be the favourite here.
Also on this card are promising prospects Abdulkhamid Khakimov (6-0, 4), Shukrulla Vokhidov (6-0, 4) and Bekhruz Rakhmonov (0-0). All three were solid amateur fighters and this will be a chance for all three to take a step forward with their careers. None are set to be matched hard, but given how early in their careers all three men hard the key is for them to pick up wins and develop their skills. Something all 3 should be able to do here.
December 19th-Gaballo gets big fight, Kudaka and Ohashi clash in Osaka and Teerachai fights at 175lbs!
This coming Saturday is one that has seen a whole host of changes to what we were supposed to get, but still managed to deliver a decent day of boxing, even if two of the fights that we most wanted to see were cancelled. It's still a day that promises plenty of action and fingers crossed gives us a great great final weekend before Christmas.
Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA
The show that the most changes was PBC's show in Uncasville, which was supposed to see two bouts featuring Filipino's in major bouts.
Originally we had expected to see Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26) battle Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12), though Oubaali tested positive for Covid19 in November and then Donaire got a positive test in December, though it does seem like his was a false positive. As a result both of those men are off the show.
As a result of the positive tests we will now see unbeaten Filipino Reymart Gaballo (23-0, 20) take on Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12) for the interim WBC Bantamweight title, in a genuinely mouth watering match up, put on on short notice. Gaballo is looking to announce himself as the next big star of the Philippines and has the power, speed and style to genuinely make a name for himself at the top level. Rodriguez on the other hand is a former IBF champion who was last seen in the ring being stopped in 2 rounds by Naoya Inoue. Since that loss Rodriguez has genuinely had no luck at all, and we do wonder what his mental state his coming into this bout.
Although Gaballo took this bout on short notice he had been set to fight on the show anyway, with the Filipino scheduled to face Jose Velasquez (28-6-2, 19) for the WBA "interim" Bantamweight title before replacing Donaire in the main event, so he should be in great shape for this bout.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Over in Osaka we again see a card that had one main event planned for it, before changes had to be made, and end up getting a different bout that had already been postponed twice.
Originally we were set to get a WBC Light Flyweight title fight here, with Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) defending his title against Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20). That bout was cancelled when Kenshiro was contacted about a drunken incident in the summer, scrapping the bout at relatively short notice.
Sadly instead of the world title bout headlining the show we will instead see 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-4, 11) headline the event in a bout against the once beaten Tetsuro Ohashi (7-1-1, 2). the 35 year old Kudaka, also known as Hiroyuki Hisataka, is a true veteran of the sport having debuted back in 2002, and has been in with a who's who of the sport, including Tomonobu Shimizu, Takafumi Sakata, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Hugo Fidel Cazares, Omar Andres Narvaez and Takuma Inoue. Sadly in recent years Kudaka's career has been catching up with him and he's scored just 1 win in his last 6. Ohashi on the other hand is a 22 year old looking to bounce back from an 8th round KO loss to Suzumi Takayama last year. Although he lost there he is still very well regarded as a prospect and did win the 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year at Super Flyweight.
In a supporting bout we'll see recent OPBF title challenger Kyohei Tonomoto (9-3-1, 4) take on Kimihiro Nakagawa (7-4-2, 3), in what should be a really good, 50-50 type bout between two men each looking to pick up a win to end the year with. Tonomoto showed good ability in his July loss to Satoshi Shimizu, but lacked the power needed to get Shimizu's respect, despite the loss we are looking forward to seeing him in action. Nakagawa on the other hand is riding pretty following an upset loss against Yosuke Kawano in April 2019 and will be looking to build some momentum after 20 months away from the ring.
The real one to make a note of on this show is the rescheduled match up between Ryosuke Nishida (2-0, 1) and Shohei Omori (21-3, 16), which is now on it's third date. The bout is a massive step up for the talented, and touted Nishida, who looks like he is potentially the future of the Mutoh Gym and someone that MTK's Japanese arm will be very hopeful of. Omori on the other hand is former world title challenger who will be looking to salvage his faltering career. For Nishida the bout is massive risk-reward, and he will likely enter as the under-dog, but a win would put him right in the domestic and regional title mix. For Omori a loss is unthinkable, and he needs a win. A really big match up, despite the issues surrounding it.
For those wanting to watch this card, it appears it will be shown live on Boxing Real.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok
We also get action in Thailand, as TL Promotions put on their last show of 2020.
The main event here is a weird one as Chaloemporn Sawatsuk (21-6, 14) takes on former Welterweight contender Teerachai Kratingdaenggym (43-1, 31), aka Tewa Kiram, for the vacant WBA Asia Light Heavyweight title. Teerachai, best known for his bout with Lucas Matthysse, has no right fighting at 175lbs, though he should look in much better physical shape than the 32 year old Chaloemporn, who is only 5'6" and has looked very chubby when competing as a Middleweight. On paper not a bad bout, though we do, genuinely, wonder how the men will look at Light Heavyweight.
For those wanting to watch this it will be aired on Thairath.
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.
This coming Saturday isn't a massive day for fight fans from Asia, but yet does have some really big bouts, including a WBSS semi-final and a female going for a world title in just her 4th professional bout.
The WBSS semi-final is a Bantamweight world title unification bout that really does look amazing. The bout will see Filipino veteran Nonito Donaire (39-5, 25) look to build on his surprising, albeit anti-climatic, win over Ryan Burnett as he takes on South African Zolani Tete (28-3, 21). The bout will see the WBA "Super" and WBO Bantamweight titles being unified and will pit boxer-puncher against slipper boxer and we're expecting something very tense and very compelling. A full preview of this bout is available here Donaire and Tete to battle for WBSS final place!
As well as the WBSS bout we also get a card in Osaka thanks to Shinsei, who put on a bit of a female boxing showcase. The card isn't the deepest but the two main bouts, both scheduled for 10 rounds, are worthy of note.
The co-feature sees 3-time world champion Etsuko Tada (18-3-2, 5) set her eyes on the WBC title, the one belt that has eluded her, as she takes on Thai youngster Kanyarat Yoohanngoh (5-2, 3) in a WBC female Minimumweight title eliminator. At 37 Tada is no spring chicken, but with recent wins over Naoko Shibata and Kayoko Ebata in her last 2 there's still plenty of life left in her. Aged 20 Kanyarat is a baby faced fighter, who has amazing been a professional for over 4 years, and whilst she is 0-2 outside of Thailand she did manage a big win last time out over Umi Ishikawa, which has helped her secure this contest. An in depth preview of this bout can be read here Tada and Kanyarat battle in eliminator!
The other main bout on this card will see unbeaten youngster Kasumi Saeki (3-0, 2) battle for a world title in just her 4th professional bout, as she takes on Elisabeth Lopez (6-1-4, 1) in a bout for the WBO female Minimumweight world title fight, a belt that Tada recently vacated. Saeki looks like a sensation, she's sharp, quick, agile, accurate and looks the real deal. A genuinely fantastic young fighter with the world at her fists.Lopez will be fighting outside of Latin America for the first time, and could be in for a rude awakening here against someone we tip to be one of the faces of female boxing in the years to come. We've also previewed this bout, with that preview available here Saeki goes for world title in fight #4!
The best single bout to feature an Asian fighter comes from Glasgow, where legendary Filipino Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24) takes on WBA Bantamweight “super” champion Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9) in the final WBSS Bantamweight quarter final. This has the potential to be Donaire's last bout, if he loses, given he turns 36 on November 16th, but a win secures him a semi-final bout against Zolani Tete. For the unbeaten Burnett the bout is a chance to score a big win over a huge name in the lower weights, as well as setting himself up for a bout with Tete. This is real must win for both men, but sadly has the potential to be a bit of a stinker with Burnett likely to be too quick, too smart and too elusive for the Filipino veteran. A full preview of this bout can be read here Burnett and Donaire face off for final semi-final place!
The most notable card for us this coming Saturday comes from the Korakuen Hall where we get a Japanese Middleweight title bout and bouts featuring several notable Japanese prospects.
The Japanese title bout will see Japanese Middleweight king Kazuto Takesako (9-0, 9) make his first defense, as he faces off with former champion Sanosuke Sasaki (12-6, 6). The unbeaten champion won the title earlier this year, decimating Hikaru Nishida in 92 seconds, and since then has fought only a stay busy bout against tough Thai visitor Chaiwat Mueanphong. Former champion Sasaki had a 4 month reign from last 2012 to early 2013 but is 1-5 coming into this bout and looks to be a very under-whelming challenger for the heavy handed champion. It's nice to see Takesako defend the title, but it's a shame that he's not in there with a man anyone is giving much of a chance to. A preview of this title fight can be read here Takesako's first defense sees him takes on former champion!
In a supporting bout Masaya Tamayama (11-1, 6) will battle against Daijiro Yuki (8-4-1, 4). Coming in to this the 25 year old Tamayama is riding a 7 fight winning streak, and has broken into the JBC rankings at Welterweight. Yuki, also 25, is unbeaten his last 2 bouts but is 3-4-1 in his last 8, and has been stopped twice. We can't see anything but a win for Tamayama, but we do expect him to have to earn it.
Another supporting bout will see Daiki Funayama (7-3-1, 2) take a part in his first 8 rounder, as he takes on once beaten puncher Kenta Yamada (5-1-1, 4). Funayama has won his last 4, though has had to go the distance in those wins, and seems to lack power, even at the low end of the domestic level. Yamada on the other hand will be fighting for the first time in over 2 years. Although no world beater Yamada does hold a notable win over Kazuki Sanpei and will be looking to get himself back on the domestic map here.
One of the notable prospects is Jin Minamide (1-0, 1), who will take a notable step up in class to face Filipino Conrado Tanamor (10-2, 4). On paper this looks like a great match up for the young prospects, though digging beneath the surface we do wonder what Tanamor really brings to the ring following back to back stoppage losses, and a 0-2 record in fights outside of the Philippines. Despite Tanamor not being a great opponent we are looking forward to seeing how Minamide goes about his business here
Another of the prospects on this show is the debuting Masahiro Suzuki (0-0), who is scheduled to take on Antonio Sismundo (6-1, 6). Suzuki is a touted fighter who is a notable Japanese amateur with a lot of expectation on his shoulders, and he's been matched aggressively here against a man who clearly has power. Sismundo has stopped 6 men inside the first 3 rounds, but was stopped himself in his sole defeat back in September 2017.
Staying in Asia we also get a title double header in the Philippines, though neither match looks particularly competitive.
One of them will see Eranio Semillano (16-9-3, 5) and Edison Berwela (16-39-8, 5) battle for the PBF Bantamweight title. It's hard to imagine Semillano losing here, but Berwela is a live under-dog and did shock the Asian scene earlier this year when he stopped Saenganan Sithsaithong way back in January. It should be noted that since that upset win Berwela has lost his last 2 bouts.
The other bout will be for the PBF Super Flyweight bout and will see Cris Alfante (14-7-1, 6) take on Zoren Pama (8-14-3, 5). Alfante has mixed with great competition, such as Knockout CP Freshmart, Andrew Moloney and Daigo Higa, and we suspect that he will have far too much for Pama, who lacks a win of any note, though did surprisingly go 7 rounds before losing a technical decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2014.
There will also be a couple of bouts of note in Texas where two Kazakh prospects will be in action.
One of those prospects will be the very highly touted Janibek Alimkhanuly (3-0, 1), who faces off against Vaughn Alexander (12-1, 8) in what looks like an excellent test for the unbeaten man. The 25 year old Kazakh southpaw failed to really shine in his US debut, back in September, but he is a genuine talent and the expectation is that he will adapt to the professional ranks quickly. The once beaten Alexander is looking to bounce back from an August loss to Dennis Doughlin, and will not be coming in to this bout to lose. This should be an excellent test for Alimkhanuly.
The other prospect is less hyped Sagadat Rakhmankul (3-0, 1), who hunts his fourth win as he takes on the once beaten Nicklaus Flaz (5-1, 4). The unbeaten Rakhmankul has been impressive so far, following a debut this past February, and will be looking to close out the year with arguably his best win so far, as the 25 year old looks to move to the next level. Flaz is a 22 year old Puerto Rican who was beaten last time out by Hurshidbek Normatov and will be looking to get back to winning ways, though sadly hasn't fought since that Normatov bout back in December 2017.
This coming Saturday is a strange day for Asian fight fans, with not a lot happening, but what is happening is really important. If you prefer quality over quantity than this is a stand out day, if you prefer quantity then you may just need to wait until Sunday, which will be very busy day for fans of Asian fighters.
Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
The most notable bout to feature and Asian fighter comes from Belfast as Filipino icon Nonito Donaire (38-4, 24) takes on former 2-weight champion Carl Frampton (24-1, 14) in a real must win for both men. The bout, for the WBO “interim” Featherweight title will see the winner remain firmly in the mix at world level, but it will be very hard to see where the loser goes next.
Aged 35 Donaire is on the slide, but is almost certainly a future Hall of Famer having won world titles from Flyweight to Featherweight and beaten the likes of Vic Darchinyan, Moruti Mthalane, Hernan Marquez, Fernando Montiel, Omar Andres Narvaez, Toshiaki Nishioka, Jorge Arce and Simpiwe Vetyeka. A win over Frampton would be yet another big win for Donaire, but a big ask at this point in his career. Frampton is the younger fighter at 31 and although his only loss was a razor thin one to Leo Santa Cruz last year he has gone through some wars, and is a fighter who has, at times, looked to be feeling the toll of tough bouts with the likes of Alejandro Gonzalez Jr, Scott Quigg, two bouts with Leo Santa Cruz and Horacia Garcia. On paper Frampton has a lot more left than Donaire, but he really was given a scare by the tough but relatively limited Garcia last time out and it could well be that the hard fights have caught up with him.
Unfortunately for the winner of this they will be in line to face the fearsome Oscar Valdez, which is seemingly more of a punishment than a reward right now.
We get a rare high quality all-Thai bout in Bangkok as well, as former world title challenger Nawaphon Por Chokchai (40-1, 32) takes on former world champion Amnat Ruenroeng (18-2, 6) in a very interesting match up. Fight fans may remember Nawaphon looking terrible in March 2017, when he was stopped in 2 rounds by Juan Hernandez Navarrete, and whilst that wasn't a great performance it does seem like some of that was down to the weight of the Thai who has now moved up to Super Flyweight. Between January 2014 and June 2015 Amnat was the IBF Flyweight champion, and had gone on a great run with wins against Rocky Fuentes, Kazuto Ioka, McWilliams Arroyo, Zou Shiming and John Riel Casimero. That however was almost 3 years ago, and he has looked a faded fighter since then.
Amnat will have the trickery to really test Nawaphon, whilst Nawaphon will have the youth. The loser really will have no where to go, whilst the winner may find themselves thrown back into the fringes of the WBC world rankings, which would be a reward for winning the for claiming the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Super Flyweight title.
The one bout that stands out as a sore thumb will come from Australia as local fighter Sara George (2-4, 1) battles Australian based Thai Monthida Rattanachai (0-2) for the vacant Australia - Queensland State Female Flyweight title. There may be a title on the line here, but it's very hard to care about the bout given that Monthida has never scored a win and George hasn't fought in over 6 years!
The most notable bout for Asian fight fans this Saturday is in Texas where we'll see a Filipino icon in action as Nonito Donaire (37-4, 24) returns to the ring for the first time since losing the WBO Super Bantamweight title to Jessie Magdaleno last November. The “Filipino Flash” has been training in Japan for his return, which sees him moving back up to Featherweight to face Ruben Garcia Hernandez (22-2-1, 9) in a contest for the WBC Silver title. Although he has been inactive, and is 34, Donaire should have far too much for Hernandez.
In California there is another notable Filipino in action, as the heavy handed Romero Duno (14-1, 13) returns to the States for the first time since his break out win over Christian Gonzalez. The hard hitting Pinoy puncher will be up against Mexican veteran Juan Pablo Sanchez (30-13, 14). Duno should have too much fire power for his Mexican foe, who has been stopped 8 times, but Sanchez does appear to be than his record suggests and his last couple of losses, have been in competitive decisions against Rene Alvarado and Antonio Moran, both solid punchers.
More Asian fighters are in action in the US as a number of fighters from Central Asia fight on a card in Louisiana.
In the main event we'll see 21 year old Tajik hopeful Mekhrubon Sanginov (4-0, 3) take on American Cameron Burroughs (4-1-0-1, 3) for the WBC Youth Middleweight title. Sanginov has been a professional for just under a year but has impressed with 3 quick wins and a bizarre split decision in Poland where one judge appears to have been watching a different fight to everyone else. This should be a really interesting and looks to be very well matched, though neither man has has got many rounds under their belt, which could make this contest sloppy if it gets to the later rounds.
Also on this card are Balaussa Muzdiman (0-0), Iskander Kharsan (1-0, 1) and Ali Baloyev (1-0, 1) who will all be facing limited looking opposition as they look to take their next step in their professional journey.
Fight fans in Japan are set for a bit of a strange card with a trio of notable names, all taking on very weak opposition.
In the main event the always fun to watch Tatsuya Takahashi (26-7-5, 19) will be up against limited Thai visitor Chatphet Saithonggym (0-2) in what should be an easy win for Takahashi, following a technical decision loss to Jetro Pabustan earlier this year. Although Takahashi is a very fun to watch fighter it's unlikely this will be too exciting, with the bout likely designed to give Takahashi an easy win.
Another mismatch will see big punching Japanese Welterweight Yuki Beppu (15-0-1, 15) take on an unnamed Thai foe. This will be Beppu's second bout since drawing with Charles Bellamy back in January and we're expecting another early finish for the 26 year old banger.
Arguably the most interesting bout on this card will see novice Tetsuya Watanabe (1-0), who is touted as once to watch, take on the always entertaining and charming Takuya Yamaguchi (3-8-2, 2). It's hard to imagine Yamaguchi winning, but he will throw leather with bad intentions and could well test Watanabe's resolve and chin in a potentially interesting contest.
Johore Bahru, Malaysia
We get yet another Asian show with action in Malaysia, as we see FH Promotions give several fighters a chance to shine.
One of those looking to impress here is Azizbek Abdugofurov (7-0, 4), who was originally scheduled to face Ibrahim Tamba (21-8-1, 14) but is now listed as facing a TBA, presumably a late replacement for Tamba who appears to be out of the bout. Abdugofurov is regarded as one of the top Uzbek prospects and has quickly climbed into the top 25 on boxrec due to notable wins over the likes of Chaloemporn Singwancha, Sirimongkol Singwancha and Martin Fidel Rios. It's likely his bout here will just be a stay busy, but he really is one to watch.
Another unbeaten man looking to extend his record is local favourite Muhamad Farkhan (4-0, 4), who will want to shine in front of his loyal fans as he takes on Thai visitor Khundon Chaiyonggym (8-3, 8). It's fair to say that Farkhan will have all the fans behind him and should win, but this is a small step up for the local hero.
On paper one bout that does have promise will see Filipino fighters collide as Jeson Umbal (15-5, 10) takes on Jon Jon Estrada (10-3-1,9). For Umbal this bout will be his 4th in Malaysia, where he is 3-0 (1) and will see him look to continue his 7 fight winning run. As for Estrada this bout will be his first outside of the Philippines. Given his power Estrada is a real threat to the rise of Umbal and this could be a very exciting and hard hitting bout, which should thrill the fans.
Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines there will be two shows, but the most notable is in Metro Manila.
In the main event of this card we'll see the talented pairing of Glenn Suminguit (19-3, 10) and Renoel Pael (21-6-1, 11) battle for the GAB Bantamweight title, with Suminguit looking for his firs defense of the title. Suminguit won the title a year ago, stopping Alvin Bais in 3 rounds for the vacant title, but has only fought once since then, losing in Super Bantamweight bout, and could well have some ring rust coming in to this one. As for Pael the bout will see is confidence being checked, with the once touted Leyte man being 2-5 in his last 7, and really struggling for form.
In supporting bouts we'll see the Elorde brothers take on two over-matched Indonesians. Juan Miguel Elorde (23-1, 12) will be up against Afrizal Tamboresi (11-6, 6), who has lost his last 4 and been stopped in his last 3 and Juan Martin Elorde (22-1-1, 9) will be up against veteran Arief Blader (23-24-2, 8), who has won 1 of his last 5. It's hard to imagine of the Elorde's losing here in what are really mismatches.
What could turn out to be an interesting contest is set to see Wilbert Berondo (10-2-1, 4) take on the tough and under-rated Jayar Diama (7-11-7, 3). Although it looks one sided on paper it needs to be noted that Diama is much better than the numbers suggest and he could be a real handful for Berondo, who is best known for suffering a stoppage loss to the exceptional Hinata Maruta.
In a second Filipino show we'll see a card headlined by a bout between Roilo Golez (16-18-1, 7) and Diarh Gabutan (19-6-3,10). Coming in to this one Golez is totally out of form, losing 7 of his last 8 bouts by stoppage. Whilst Golez has mixed with some good company he's also suffered lossesto limited foes, like Geboi Mansalayao and it's fair hard to say that Gabutan should pick up the win here. Saying that however Golez' only win in his last 8 bouts, was actually a 5th round KO against Gabutan, who knows he cannot afford another loss, especially not to Golez.
Also in Asia there is a show in Singapore, featuring a number of fighters from across Asia.
In a high profile female bout local star Nurshahidah Roslie (6-1, 4) will take on Thai visitor Sriphrae Nongkipahuyuth (12-4-2, 5) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Female and OPBF Female Featherweight titles. This will give both fighters something to fight for, and we do expect them to have a proper fight here, but it's hard to imagine the visitor having the power needed to really test Roslie.
Another local in action is unbeaten Super Middleweight hopeful Rafi Majid (5-0, 5), who takes on Indonesian visitor Maxi Nahak (7-13-3, 3) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Middleweight title. Majid has blitzed his first 5 opponents, in a combined 7 rounds, and will likely do the same here, against a naturally smaller man who has been stopped 9 times already n 23 fights.
Another fight where we'd expected to see someone beat an Indonesian is a contest that will feature Filipino fighter Jun Tapale (22-9-1, 8) battling Indon Rusmin Kie Raha (15-13-3, 3). Although Tapale isn's a huge puncher Raha has been stopped in 8 of his 13 losses and we could see a 9th here. Raha's best hope is to see out the final bell, but it's hard to imagine him really testing the Filipino.
The biggest card of the weekend comes from Nevada where fight fans will get 4 world title bouts, all involving Asian fighters, in fact from the 4 bouts there are 5 Asian's in action.
The highest profile of the bouts sees multi-weight world champion Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38) battle against WBO Welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10) in what will be Pacquiao's ring return after a short lived retirement. The Filipino sensation is the clear betting favourite but is close to 38 years old and will be the much smaller man in the ring. For Vargas the bout sees him facing his first legend and a win for the once beaten American will open huge doors, and legitimise his world title reign.
At Featherweight we see little known Japanese fighter Hiroshige Osawa (30-3-4, 19) take on WBO champion Oscar Valdez (20-0, 18), in what is Valdez's first defense. The Japanese fighter is a former OPBF champion but this is a massive step up in class for him and he hasn't really fought anyone of much renown in a while, with perhaps his best recent win being over prospect Kosuke Saka. Valdez is earmarked as a potential Mexican super star and with his style, power and skills he has the potential be one of the biggest things in boxing, and we think that will be shown here.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see Filipino champion Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24) defending his WBO title against the unbeaten Jessie Magdaleno (23-0, 17), in what is likely to be the best bout on the card. Donaire will be making the second defense of his title and although there are question marks over what he has left in the tank this is a massive step up for the challenger. The bout should tell us how good Magdaleno is and just how much Donaire has left.
In an all Asian bout we'll see Chinese star Zou Shiming (8-1, 2) battle Thailand's Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym (39-1-2, 24) in a second bout between the two men, with them now fighting for the WBO Flyweight title. These two have fought before, fighting in Macau where Shiming dominated Kwanpichit on route to a very wide decision, and we suspect we'll see the same again here, though he has has been relatively inactive whilst Kwanpichit has been stringing together low level stoppage wins in his homeland.
In Japan we get another live televised card courtesy of G+, who are showing a Gushiken card featuring several notable names.
In the main event of the show we'll see OPBF Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (10-0, 10) defending his title for the first time as he takes on Filipino challenger Felipe Cagubcob Jr (6-2-5, 2). The exciting Higa is one of the fastest rising prospects in world boxing today and is looking to build on quick victories over Romel Oliveros and Ardin Diale earlier this year. Cagubcob is looking to build on a career best win over Donny Mabao back in July and avenge Higa's wins over several Filipino fighters in recent years.
Originally one of the key support bout was supposed to see former OPBF and JBC title challenger Shingo Eto (17-5-1, 9) take on the fast rising Shuya Masaki (5-0, 2). Sadly Eto has been injured in the build up to the show and has been replaced by Thailand's Tienchai Yoongkaogym (2-6, 1), in what is a much less interesting bout. We are looking forward to seeing Masaki back in action but it's hard to deny that what we've been left with is a long way from what was originally announced.
There is still one Eto brother fighting on this card with former WBA “interim” Flyweight champion Koki Eto (18-4-1, 13) taking on Jun Blazo (5-1-3, 5) in the chief support bout. The bout will be Eto's second since his 2015 loss to Carlos Cuadras in a WBC Super Flyweight world title bout, and he'll be hoping for a much more fluent performance than he had in May against Michael Escobia, in a bout that was surprisingly competitive. Blazo is limited but has won his last 3 by stoppage and is the type of fighter we've see Eto over-look before.
Mox Power Promotions put on their next Chinese card with a low profile card in Zhengzhou. The show is low profile but features 5 bouts, all scheduled for 6 rounds, and all featuring at least one debutant.
On another lower profile show, this time in Australia, we'll see the win-less Maks Chylewski (0-2) take on tough Thai loser Pramool Boonpok (1-26-1),in what could potentially be an interesting bout, despite the obvious limitations of both fighters.