February has been a worryingly quiet month for fans who follow Asian fighters. Thankfully however there is a real pick up in activity this coming Saturday with a host of Asian fighters in action all around the globe.
Bula Gym, General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
The most meaningful bout of the day comes from the Philippines where we get world title action from General Santos City. The bout in question will see IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-2-1, 11) defending his title against Rene Mark Cuarto (18-2-2, 11), with Taduran looking to record his second defense of the belt.The aggressive and heavy handed Taduran has impressed in several bouts, notably his loss to Wanheng Menayothin and his title win against Samuel Salva, however he has been out of the ring since a technical draw against Daniel Valladares just over a year ago. Cuarto on the other hand lacks a real win of note, though is a hungry 24 year old challenger looking to make his mark on the sport. Sadly Cuarto hasn't fought since late 2019 and is 2-1-1 in his last 4, but is very much a live under-dog and is technically more rounded than the champion. A full preview of this bout can be read here Taduran takes on Cuarto in All-Filipino world title fight!
Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Although the biggest bout of the day is in the Philippines the most interesting card is actually in Kazakhstan where we get the chance to see a number of exciting prospects in action.
The most notable bout on this show will see fast rising Kazakh standout Kamshybek Kunkabayev (2-0, 2) battle in his first title fight, as he takes on the once beaten Steven Ward (13-1, 4) for the WBO Asia Pacific Cruiserweight title. Kunkabayev was an amateur standout who has been hugely impressive since making his pro debut last year, and has notched two very solid wins in as many fights. In the opposite corner is Ward, a Northern Irish fighter who's record looks good, but under the surface his competition has been poor and his sole loss, an opening round TKO to Ricards Bolotniks, does not bode well for him here. On paper Ward is probably the first opponent who is coming to beat Kunkabayev, though we suspect he'll be taken out relative early on here. Our preview of this one can be read here Kunkabayev goes for gold as he battles Ward!
(Editor's note - Kunakabayev's opponent has been changed, he will now be facing Ukrainian fighter Server Emurlaiev (23-1, 8), unfortunately these articles are scheduled more than a week in advance, and the previews are written 2 to 3 weeks before a bout.)
In a much more interesting looking bout we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Nurtas Azhbenov (10-0, 4) take on once beaten Russian Evgeny Smirnov (13-1-3, 3). The 26 year old Azhbenov has shown some promise, but doesn't appear to be a star in the making, with a lack of power likely to be one of the things holding him back from the big time. He has also been matched relatively softly through his 10 bout career. Smirnov on the other hand has been matched harder, but has struggled and has gone 0-1-3 against unbeaten fighters. Smirnov is also win-less in his last 3, going 0-1-2 since late 2018. This one should be "interesting" but we suspect it will lack drama, as neither man is known for having much power.
Exciting youngster Talgat Shayken (3-0, 2) will be looking for his 4th professional win as he takes on Russian fighter Evgeny Pavko (18-3-1, 13). Although not the most talented or polished fighter out there Shayken is a very entertaining fighter, who comes to rumble, presses forward with a high intensity and really lets his shots fly when in range. He's a very fan friendly fighter who needs time to mature and develop, but should be on the radar for fans who follow the Central Asian scene. Pavko on the other hand is a very decent, well respected and experienced fighter who will be looking for a victory here, rather than rolling over and just losing. His 3 losses have all been struggles for the winners and we suspect Shayken will need to work hard for a victory here, though his natural size should be the difference here.
A potentially explosive bout will see once beaten Kazakh Abay Tolesh (6-1, 4) take on Russian Vasily Shtyk (2-2, 2). The talented Tolesh is looking to score his second win following a 2020 loss to Saparbay Aidarov and will be wanting to make a statement. Shtyk on the other hand is a limited but tough fighter who has heavy hands, as he showed last time out against Sergey Kozhukhar. We expect Shtyk to be a potential banana skin here for Tolesh.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
Staying in Asia we'll also get the first Thai show of 2021 as TL Promotions give us a card in Bangkok.
The main event here will see former IBF Flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng (21-4, 6) take on the once beaten Arnon Yupang (6-1, 3). Despite now being 41 Amnat is proving to be a slippery and talented fighter, who is still putting in solid performances, as we saw last year against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Pungluang Sor Singyu. Aged 23 this is a big step up for Yupang, but also a great chance for him to put his name on the map. For Yupang the key is to outwork Amnat, but that is easier said than done.
On the under-card we're expecting to see the unbeaten Yuttapong Tongdee (5-0, 4), a wonderfully talented and highly promising Thai, take on Arthit Kaewbantid (3-1, 2). We regard Tongdee as on of the brightest hopefuls in Thailand but, and although this looks like an easy match up we're really just wanting to see Tongdee kept busy this year before bigger and better things in 2022.
London, United Kingdom
In London we'll see UK based Afghan fighter Quaise Khademi (8-0, 2) battle against Ijaz Ahmed (7-2) for the WBO European and the vacant IBF European Super Flyweight titles in a very good looking match up. For Khademi this will be his first defense of the WBO European title, which he won back in 2019, and will see him looking to build on a solid start to his professional career. As for Ahmed he'll be looking to bounce back from a close loss to Harvey Horn, at Flyweight. Khademi should have the edge in natural size and power, but Ahmed will not be there to suffer a second successive loss.
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida, USA
We also have action in the US as unbeaten Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (22-0, 17) takes on Jerry Forrest (26-4, 20). The 37 year old Chinese fighter really has let his career slip away with father time and the promise he had following a successful amateur career is unlikely to ever be realised due to his age and relatively weak match making. Aged 32 Forrest is no push over, and despite having 4 losses is a live under-dog here, having pushed Jermaine Franklin and Carlos Takam close in recent bouts. Forrest is tough enough, experienced enough and good enough to test Zhang, and if Zhang is on the slide this may turn out to be a genuine banana skin for the big guy from China.
Please note - As we try to get all of these done well in advance we have been unable to get the full MTK Kazakhstan card which still wasn't announced a week before the event. As a result we've only been able to go on the one announced bout and some of the names announced for the card.
In Kazakhstan MTK will be putting on a card full of notable fighters, including a trio of talented debutants.
At the time of writing the only announced bout for the show will see 2-time World Amateur Championship Silver medal winner Kamshybek Kunkabayev (0-0) take on veteran Issa Akberbayev (20-1-0-1, 15). On paper this looks an extremely tough bout for the former amateur stand out but in reality Akberbayev isn't as good as his record suggests, he hasn't scored a win in close to 3 years, and was stopped last time out by Evgeny Tishchenko. This is one of those smart bits of match making where a prospect in a bout that looks tough, but really isn't, with Kunkabayev really expected to shine.
The other debutants on this card are the sensationally talented Tursynbay Kulakhmet (0-0), who looks like he could be fast tracked to the top, and the exciting but rather unpolished Talgat Shaiken (0-0). At the time of writing neither of these men have had their opponents named, but both are expected to take on solid domestic opponents.
Also scheduled for this show are Abay Tolesh (5-0, 3), Victor Kotochigov (11-0, 4), Ray Seitzhanov (2-0), Saparbay Aidarov (4-0, 2), Nurtas Azhbenov (9-0, 4), Nurdos Tolebay (2-0, 1) and Sagadat Rakhmankulov (6-1, 4). As with the debutants their bouts haven't been announced, though we suspect at least one of these fighters will take on one of the talented debutants.
Fenghuang street commercial plaza, Changsha, China
As well as the Kazakh card we also have a show in China. Sadly this is another of the new regular Chinese shows that feature nobody of note on it, and a lot of novices and debutants. In total we are expecting 6 bouts on this card, featuring a total of 6 debutants and 9 fighters with less than 3 bouts.
Despite most of the card being scheduled for 4 rounds we do have one longer bout pencilled in for the event. That bout will see the light punching pair of Dacong Wang (5-1-1, 1) and Yajie Ding (4-4-1) face off in a bout that appears set for 10 rounds. The 22 year old Wang has gone unbeaten in 6 but has been out of the ring since April 2019, when he beat Weizhen Ni. Ding on the other hand has lost 3 of his last 4 and it's hard to know what he really offers here. His last bout was a win, but that was way back in June 2019. Although this is the main event it's certainly not a bout that has us too excited.
This coming Friday we were expecting a number of cards, including a pretty interesting one from Japan, though as is now well reported there will be no Japanese cards and we're left with just 2 shows to close out the week, one in Australia and one in the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The card in Dubai looks interesting on paper, but in reality it's hard to get too excited by it, however there are some bouts we can look forward to seeing.
One of the bouts on this card that interests us will see the talented, but frustrating, Nurtas Azhbenov (8-0, 3) take on JR Magboo (18-4-2, 9). The unbeaten Kazakh southpaw turned pro with plenty of expectations on his shoulders but has yet to really show what he can do, fingers crossed that against a solid opponent like Magboo we'll get a chance to see what Azhbenov is all about. Magboo has lost 4 of his last 6 but should ask the Kazakh some questions here.
Another Kazakh pencilled in for this card is Heavyweight hopeful Zhan Kossobutskiy (12-0, 11), though at the time of writing his opponent for the bout isn't listed. For Kossobutskiy the bout will be his 4th in a year, but at the age of 31 he needs to be getting significant fights during 2020 if he's to make his mark on the pro ranks.
One other bout on this show worthy of some interest will see Dubai based Afghan teenager Hasibullah Ahmadi (9-0, 2) take on Haidari Mchanjo (11-7-4, 5) in a 6 rounder. The unbeaten Ahmadi had a decent step up last time and there is certainly no need to rush him, but fingers crossed bouts from here will be steps up in class. The 21 Mchanjo, from Tanzania, is 0-3 away from home and we expect that poor run to continue here.
Western Australia, Australia
In Australia we expect to see a lot of easy wins for local fighters who appear to be taking on some very over-matched visitors from Indonesia.
One bout pencilled in for this card will see Wes Capper (20-4-1, 12) take on Alexander Bajawa (43-11-4, 16) at Middleweight. Capper has gone 1-2-1 in his last 4 but he should be able to easily over-come the limited Bajawa, who is 3-9 in his last 12 and has bounced all over the weights, with his last bout being a regional Heavyweight title bout. On paper Bajawa represents a test but in reality we expect Capp to stop his Indonesian foe.
Another bout where we expect the local to beat a visiting Indonesian is bout between the once beaten Steve Gago (11-1, 4) and regional journeyman Geisler AP (14-10-2, 11). Gago's only loss came last year, to the very talented Nursultan Zhangabayev, and he should have far, far too much in the tank for AP here. The 36 year old visitor is unbeaten in his last 8, but this is a massive step up for him.
Another bout where we expect an Indonesian to pick up a loss will be a bout between Australian based Nigerian born novice Kazeem Soyoye (2-0, 1) and Jio Alfriando (5-8, 2). It's hard to saw too much about Soyoye, given how much of a novice he is, but the visitor is 2-5 in his last 7 and has gone 0-7 away from home.
One bout where the expected lose is from the Philippine swill see local fighter Jackson Jon England (11-1, 6) take on experienced Pinoy loser Jason Tinampay (11-13-1, 9), with the men battled for a WBC regional title. Tinampay has won his last 3, and on his day can be a tough guy to look good against, but we don't see him really testing the Australian here, with Jackson entering on a 7 fight winning run.
This coming Saturday isn't a huge day for fights involving Asian fighters, but it is a pretty interesting day with thanks to other fights, including the Heavyweight debut of Oleksandr Usyk.
On the same card as Usyk's Heavyweight debut will be a WBA Light Heavyweight world title defense for Dmitry Bivol (16-0, 11), who takes on the unheralded Lenin Castillo (20-2-1, 15). On paper this isn't the bout that Bivol, and his fans, would have wanted but it should still be a good test against a big, talented and tough challenger. Castillo isn't well known, but has never been stopped and gave Marcus Browne a really competitive test. Bivol will, obviously, be strongly favoured here but he will have to work hard for the win against a capable, yet relatively obscure, challenger. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Will Bivol be tested by unheralded Castillo?
The biggest Asian card for the day takes place Kazakhstan as MTK go to Almaty for a pretty notable, yet not hugely exciting, show.
The main event here will see the hard hitting and unbeaten Ali Baloyev (9-0, 7) take on Venezuelan veteran Gusmyr Perdomo (26-9, 17). Baloyev is a genuine one to watch, and on paper this is a credible step up in class for him, after a string of relative limited opponents. Despite that it does need noting that Perdomo is now 42 and it's more than a decade ago that he fought Mikkel Kessler. Perdomo was once a solid fighter but now he's an old man and will have to rely on wiles to survive with Baloyev.
In an 8 round support bout we'll see Abilkhaiyr Shegaliyev (6-0, 4) likely pick up a straight forward win as he takes on Georgian Sandro Jajanidze (5-19-1, 3). It's hard to see anything but a win for Shegaliyev, but Jajanidze is a tough, rugged guy and could well see out the distance with the Kazakh prospect.
Arguably the pick of the bouts will see Chinese-Kazakh fighter Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (14-0-1, 5) take on Filipino Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-14-3, 11). On paper this is a horrible mismatch, but paper only tells half the story and Ponteras is an upset minded Filipino who travels to win, and he will be here looking to end the unbeaten run of his foe. Whilst Ponteras was stopped last time out, by Seiya Tsutsumi, we still expect to see a gutsy, determined and rough effort from him and this could be a much better fight than it looks on paper.
Others on this card include unbeaten hopefuls Nurtas Azhbenov (6-0, 2), Hurshid Tojibaev (2-0, 1) and the debuting pair of Nurdos Tolebay (0-0) and Miras Ali Sarsenov (0-0). These 4 are tipped for big things, especially Tojibaev and Sarsenov who both had very strong amateur careers, and it's going to be interesting to follow their progress. Sadly however MTK aren't known for pushing their prospects quickly, and it could be a while until we see any of these talented fighters given a serious test.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Over in the Philippines we'll see a small yet noteworthy card.
In the main event we'll see former world title challenger Denver Cuello (38-5-6, 26) take on Jesse Espinas (19-4, 11) in an IBO world title eliminator. Cuello has only fought 3 times in the last 4 years and although he's not the fighter he once was the 32 year old southpaw is still a very dangerous and will know that a win will open doors for him. Espinas on the other hand will be looking to bounce back from successive defeats and will know that another loss here will be hard to bounce back from. A very interesting match up
One of the other notable bouts here will see Cris Alfante (17-7-1, 9) take on Mateo Handig (15-19, 9). The 27 year old Alfante has reeled off 3 straight stoppage wins since his last loss, to Ardin Diale, and despite his less than stellar record he is 6-1 since a June 2016 loss to Andrew Moloney. Handig is no push over, but with 3 straight losses, and only 3 wins since an upset loss over Katsunari Takayama back in 2012, he's not expected to be competitive here.
In a more interesting bout on the same card we'll see the unbeaten Ranelio Quizo (6-0, 1) take on Ronel Dela Cruz (6-1-1, 4). The 21 year old Quizo is unbeaten since his debut in early 2018 but this is a step up in class for him. On the hand Dela Cruz is 1-1-1 in his last 3, but is certainly no push over, he was just unlucky to face April Jay Abne last time out in a Ultimate Boxing Series bout, with Abne winning the tournament this past August. This is a really, really match up.
Negros Occidental, Philippines
A second Filipino card is set to be headlined by a match up between will see the hard hitting, but technically flawed, Joepher Montano (10-5-2, 9) take on former OPBF title challenger Benjie Suganob (10-7-1, 5). Given that Suganob's biggest bout to date took place at 122lbs it's hard to see what he has to offer at 140lbs, the weight for this bout.
Yanggu, South Korea
Another Asian card will take place in South Korea, and this is another less than great card.
The main event will see unbeaten Korean fighter Hye Soo Park (5-8-1, 1) take on Chinese visitor Jinyan Gao (2-1) in a bout for the WIBA Super Flyweight title. The Korean took the bout on short notice, after the unbeaten Soo Rin Kim was forced to pull out of the bout with around 10 days notice due to a back issue, and is likely to be too small for the naturally bigger Chinese fighter.
A second title fight will see Yong Hwan Jun (5-4-1, 2) make his first defense of the KBM Welterweight title, as he takes on Hae Myung Jung (3-1-1, 1). Jun won the title last time out, when he defeated Dong Young Kang over 10 rounds, but didn't really blow anyone away with his performance. The challenge was actually held to a draw last time out, when he failed to get past Gi Won Shin. This should be competitive, but it's hard to get too excited about the contest, and it showed how much the Korean scene needs to work together to have a decent domestic title picture.
New South Wales, Australia
At the East Cessnock Bowling Club in New South Wales we see two Indian fighters in action.
One of those Indian fighters is the unbeaten Sagar Narwat (9-0-1, 3), who takes on fellow unbeaten fighter Troy O'Meley (9-0, 2) in a good looking bout, but one that perhaps isn't as interesting as it looks. Narwat began his career in the Philippines, but his last 6 bouts have been in India and have all been against very limited opposition. O'Meley has also faced mostly limited opposition, though he got through a bit of a gut check last time out when he was pushed hard in a 6 rounder against Isaac Buckley. This looks good, and may turn out to be good, but really both men have mostly padded their records.
The other Indian on this card is Shivani Dahiya (1-1) who is up against it here, as she takes on Bianca Elmir (4-1, 3). On paper this doesn't look much of a mismatch, but Elmir ran Shannon O'Connell close just 2 fights ago and should have way too much for Dahiya here.
New South Wales, Australia
Also in Australia we'll see once beaten local Tyson Lantry (7-1, 3) take on Filipino visitor Rodynie Rafol (13-7-2, 6), on a separate show in New South Wales. This bout, for the lightly regarded WBF Asia Pacific Lightweight title, looks like a mismatch and we would be surprised by anything but a win for the local. Coming in Lantry has won his last 6, since a stoppage loss in his second pro-bout, whilst Rafol has lost 2 of his last 3, and has only had 1 win since 2015. Notably however Rafol's only recent win was an upset in Australia against James MacDonald, over a year ago.
The big focus this Saturday is in the Kazakh Capital of Nur-Sultan, where the country will be celebrating Capital City day. To celebrate the day MTK will be putting on a stacked card in the city with a world title fight main event, several interesting support bouts and a host of prospects.
The main event will see WBC Bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali (15-0, 11) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Filipino challenger Arthur Villanueva (32-3-1, 18). The talented French-Moroccan is a real talent, and he was one of the many top Bantamweights frozen out of the WBSS, but is getting on in age and won't remain the skilled boxer-puncher that he's looked for much longer. Despite being the older fighter Oubaali will be strongly favoured here against a challenger who has lost his 3 biggest bouts, and would need a career best performance to even come close against the Frenchman. Villanueva isn't a bad fighter, but his ability is more that of a gatekeeper than a true contender. A full preview of this bout is available here Villanueva takes on Oubaali for WBC Bantamweight crown
In the main supporting bout we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Zhankosh Turarov (23-0, 16) take on Mauro Maximiliano Godoy (31-4-1, 16) in a bout for the WBO Inter-Continental Light Welterweight title. The unbeaten Turarov returned to the ring in June after almost 21 months out of the ring, and took a really disappointing win over Richmond Djarbeng, who sat in his corner complaining of stomach cramps after the second round. Godoy should prove to be a good test for Turarov, but the Argentinian has lost 3 of his last 7 and may be on the slide from the fighter he once was. Still this is easily Turarov's best test on paper, so far.
Another notable supporting bout will see the unbeaten Viktor Kotochigov (9-0, 4) taking on Jairo Lopez (24-10, 16), who was once regarded as a fringe contender. On paper this is a step up for the unbeaten Kazakh but Lopez is 3-4 in his last 7 and has been stopped in 3 of those 4 losses. This should be easier than it looks on paper for Kotochigov.
This card will b stacked with other Kazakh prospects, as MTK go all out to put on a show for local fans with Kazakh talent. Among the prospects are Ali Baloyev (8-0, 7), Sultan Zaurbek (7-0, 5), Nurtas Azhbenov (5-0, 1), Abay Tolesh (2-0, 2) and Abilkhaiyr Shegaliyev (5-0, 4), who are in relatively easily here and won't face too much of a test as they continue to build their careers and move towards bigger bouts.
As well as the Kazakh show there is also a notable card in Tokyo thanks to Teiken. This card is a really interesting one, with a notable name in the main event, a really good chief support bout, and a host of notable prospects
The main event will see Kenichi Ogawa (23-1-0-1, 17) take on limited Filipino visitor Glenn Medura (10-5-1, 6) in what will be little more than a stay busy bout for Ogawa. Originally the Japanese puncher was scheduled to have an IBF world title eliminator eliminator with South African Azinga Fuzile (14-0, 8), but Fuzile failed to secure a visa in time for the bout leading to Medura, who is 0-4 in Japan, getting the bout. We don't see this going very long at all.
A much better Japan Vs Philippines bout will see Shuya Masaki (12-1, 5) take on Al Toyogon (10-3-1, 6) in an excellent match up. The once beaten Masaki, who's only loss came to Hironori Mishiro, hasn't really shined as Teiken would have wished and this is a long way from a gimme. Masaki is talented, but really needs to get prove he can put on good performances, something we don't really see from him with any consistency. Toyogon on the other hand is looking to bounce back from a recent loss to Ryo Sagawa, and will be coming into this out with a point to prove. A very interesting bout contest.
One of the other main supporting bouts will be a Welterweight bout between Masaya Tamayama (12-1, 6) and Riku Nagahama (9-2-1, 4), with both men wanting to tak a big step towards a potential Japanese title fight in the near future. Nagahama is looking to secure a second win since his TKO loss last year to Yuki Nagano, who has since gone on to win the Japanese title, whilst Tamayama is looking for a 9th straight win, and a chance to take a huge step towards a big bout.
Among the other supporting bouts we will see Japanese Super Flyweight prospect Hayate Kaji (12-0, 9) take on Japanese based Filipino veteran Rey Orais (20-18-2, 5), in what looks to be a chance for Kaji to take a huge step towards a Japanese title fight. It feels like Kaji has been on the verge of a break out fight for a while and whilst this isn't going to be it, it seems like a win and his next one will be his long awaited break out bout. For Orais questions should be asked why he's continuing to fight, rather than focus more on the training role he has at the Flare Yamagami gym.
Lower down on this card we'll see two more touted Japanese prospects both take big steps up in class against Filipino foes. One of those is the fantastic Mikito Nakano (2-0, 2), who takes on Arvin Yurong (12-2, 3) in a genuinely good test. Nakano looks like he has the ability to move through the rankings quickly, and could fight for a title as early as late 2020, and Yurong is a very under-rated young fighter who should force answers from Nakano.
The other is Kuntae Lee (1-0, 1), who's debut saw him look fantastic against an opponent who didn't want to be there. Here Lee takes on unbeaten Filipino Marlon Paniamogan (9-0-1, 5) in what should be a much, much better match up. Sadly not much is known about the visitor, so it's unclear what type of a test he will actually pose for the very talented Lee.
A smaller show takes place in the Phillipines where we see a few interesting Filipino fighters in action with a really good main event.
The main event will see the unbeaten Mark Vicelles (10-0-1, 5) take on the once touted Jesse Espinas (19-3, 11). The 23 year old Vicelles isn't well known but comes into this on the back of an excellent win over Robert Onggocan, and this is a logical step up in class. As for Espinas this is a slight step backwards, but is one that makes sense given he was beaten last time out in an OPBF title bout against Edward Heno. A very interesting match up, and rightfully the main event of the card.
In a good supporting bout Ponciano Remandiman (10-4-1, 5) and Prince Andrew Laurio (10-2-1, 7) will face off for the Philippines Visayas Professional Boxing Association Super Flyweight title. The 22 year old Remandiman has turned around a 2-4-1 start with 8 straight wins and has great momentum coming into this bout, as well as a good win last time out against Renz Rosia. Interestingly Lauio's career is going in the opposite direction, and he is 2-2-1 in his last 5, with stoppage losses in his last 2 bouts. His early potential appears to have been massively over-hyped and he is now really faltering.
One other bout of note here will see the one beaten Tomjune Mangubat (10-1-1, 9) take on Joffrey Garcia (6-10-4, 5), in what should be another straight forward win for Mangubat.
The most interesting card, by far, for the weekend comes from California, where we see several brilliant match ups, including a unification bout in the Super Bantamweight division where several Asian fighters lie in wake, including Ryosuke Iwasa and Murodjon Akhmadaliev.
Despite the Super Bantamweight bout the focus for us is a Super Flyweight rematch, as WBC and Ring Magazine, champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) takes on Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada (38-3, 26) in a mandatory rematch. These two fought in an excellent contest last year, with Srisaket taking a narrow decision over Estrada, and fans have clamoured for a rematch ever since. Both men have stayed busy since their first bout, but this is the first really meaningful bout either had since their clash. Sriskaet, regarded by many as a top pound for pound fighter, will be kicking off a new DAZN deal, whilst Estrada will be seeking a second divisional throne. A full a preview of this bout can be read here Srisaket and Estrada go again in rematch of 2018 war!
On the supporting card we'll see rising unbeaten Uzbek contender Shakhram Giyasov (7-0, 6) take a step up in class to face off with Emmanuel Taylor (20-5, 14). Giyasov impressed last year picking up 6 wins, and this will be his second bout of 2019, following a win over former world title challenger Edgar Puerta in February. Taylor, known as Tranzformer is a step up in theory, but hasn't fought in almost 2 years, and has just 3 wins in the last 6 years, against 4 losses. Taylor was a capable fighter, as wins over Karim Mayfield and Victor Manuel Cayo show, but we really don't know what he has left to offer at this point in time.
Also on this card is the aforementioned Murodjon Akhmadaliev (5-0, 4) who will be up against former WBC Bantamweight challenger Carlos Carlson (23-5, 14). In theory this is a tune up for the WBA #1 ranked Super Bantamweight title challenger, but in reality this should be a straight forward win for the unbeaten hopeful.
Staying in the US we'll also see Chinese Light Heavyweight hopeful Fanlong Meng (14-0, 9) take on Daniel Najera (8-3-1, 4). This will be Meng's first bout since stopping Frank Buglioni in in November, when he scored a career best win, and it feels like a lot of the momentum he had from that bout has now been lost. Mexican fighter Najera has gone 1-3-1 in his last 5, and isn't expected to put up much of a test for Meng, who really should be taking on better opposition than this at this stage of his career.
London, United Kingdom
In the UK we'll see a MTK Global card featuring a pair of Kazakh prospects.
The more notable of the two is Viktor Kotochigov (8-0, 4), who fights for the first time as an MTK fighter. The unbeaten Kotochigov, who shone in Poland earlier this year when he stopped Piotr Gudel, will be up against Latvian journeyman Andrejs Podusovs (16-10-1, 5). The Latvian is riding an 8 fight winning run into this bout, but has had mixed results outside of Latvia, going 8-10-1 in the UK.
The other Kazakh on this card is Nurtas Azhbenov (4-0, 1), who has shown some touches of class but appears to be a bit on the feather fisted side. He will be up against an opponent who hadn't been named at the time of writing.
Highly touted Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov (5-0, 5) squeezes his 6th bout into just over 8 months as he goes up against Mexican journeyman Eliud Melendez Rocha (14-10-2, 7). The talented Akhmedov, one of the best young prospects in the sport, has needed just 10 rounds to stop his first 5 opponents and it's a shame that he's yet to really be tested. On paper this looks like another easy win for Akhmedov, with Rocha being a smaller man fighting outside of Mexico for the third time, but he doesn't generally get blown out early and might manage to last a bit longer than Akhmedov's last 2 opponents.
London, United Kingdom
In London we get the chance to see two talented Kazakh prospects continue their early development.
One of those prospects is Sultan Zaurbek (2-0, 1), who fights for the third time in less than 2 months. The Featherweight/Super Featherweight prospect will be up against Croatian journeyman Antonio Horvatic (10-52, 5), who has picked up losses on a regular basis against novices in the UK. Horvatic hasn't scored a win since 2016, and has gone 0-28 coming in to this bout, which shows how little of a threat he is to the 22 year old Kazakh.
The other Kazakh on this card is 24 year old Lightweight Nurtas Azhbenov (1-0), who looks to build on his debut win, in October, with a bout against Spanish based Nicaraguan Reynaldo Cajina (14-54-5-1, 10). Azhbenov impressed on his debut, though was forced to go the distance with the very negative Eligio Palacios, and he'll be hoping to be the latest man to stop Cajina, who has been stopped 13 times in his 74 fight career. Cajina is usually a survivor in the ring, but we're hoping Azhbenov's debut have given him some tricks to cope with negative opponents.
Western Australia, Australia
In Western Australia we see a Filipino against it, as Pinoy fighter Cris Paulino (19-3, 8) takes on the unbeaten, and very talented, Andrew Moloney (18-0, 11). The 25 year old Paulino has won his last 5, but has been facing relatively poor competition since losing back to back fights to Koki Eto and Vic Dachinyan, in 2014 and 2015 respectively. This is a big step up to that type of level for Paulino and it's hard to imagine him getting a positive result here. Moloney, the twin brother of WBSS participant Jason, is regarded as one of the top Australian prospects and recently stopped former world champion Luis Concepcion. Moloney has scored a string of wins against Filipino foes and we're expecting him to add another win over a Filipino here.
Fire works will be expected in Russia as hard hitting Uzbek Shohjahon Ergashev (14-0, 13) takes on heavy handed Ugandan Badru Lusambya (26-4-2, 24). This bout will be Ergashev's 5th of the year, and he'll be expecting to score his latest win and move on to bigger and better challenges in 2019. Lusambya has failed to shine when he's fought outside of Uganda, and we expect him to be taken out inside the distance here.