This coming Saturday isn't a huge day for boxing, but there is more than enough to get your teeth into as we begin quite an interesting month for Asian boxing.
Rangsit Boxing Stadium, Rangsit, Thailand
Arguably the most notable action of the day, at least for us, is in Thailand where we'll see a world champion in action and a really good looking all-Thai regional title bout.
The world champion in question is WBC Minimumweight champion Panya Pradabsri (35-1, 22), who will be in action against a low level domestic opponent in a contracted bout well above the Minimumweight limit. This will be Panya's first bout since his title win, and huge upest, against Wanheng Menayothin. The plan for Panya is to have a tune up here before a potential rematch with Wanheng in the summer, so we don't expect to see him do much more than go through the motions here, but it's still good to see him in action.
The most interesting of the bouts, on paper at least, is a WBC Asia title fight at Super Flyweight which will pit Kongfah CP freshmart (35-1-1, 18), aka Jakkrawut Majoogoen, against former world title challenger Wittawas Basapean (34-15-1, 12) aka Samartlek Kokietgym. On paper this might not look the best fight, but if we're being honest we expect a really exciting fight here. Kongfah is the younger and naturally bigger fighter, but Samartlek comes to fight and never takes a backwards step, so we are, genuinely, expecting a bit of a war. Kongfah should win, but he will not have an easy time with his more experienced foe.
Staying with Asian action we also get a show in India, which features a couple of noteworthy bouts.
The main event here will see 21 year old Indian hopeful Lalrinsanga Tlau (4-0, 2) take on Ghana's Eric Quarm (4-1, 1) for the WBC Youth Super Featherweight title. The unbeaten Tlau will be fighting in his title bout and so far he has been pretty impressive, barely losing a round since his debut in 2019. The 23 year old Quarm, who is fighting outside of Africa for the first time, was last seen in the ring in 2019 when he lost in a bout for the West African Union Lightweight title. Although neither man is well known, this is a really interesting contest, and one that should provide some really good action, with both men desperate to avoid a loss and desperate to win the Youth title.
Also on this card is an interesting match up between Indian fighter Asad Asif Khan (9-2-1-1, 2) and Afghan fighter Aimal Ahmad Sediq Zada (5-1, 4). Khan made his debut all the way back in 2011 and despite going 2-2-1-1 in his first 6 has reeled off 7 straight wins, and done so internationally with bouts in Thailand, Dubai and the Philippines. The hard hitting Zada lost on his debut, in 2018, but also comes into this one with some momentum on the back of 5 straight wins. This could end up being a very good bout, but one that is certainly easy to over-look.
Miami, Florida, USA
As well as the action in Asia we also have some central Asian fighters in action in Florida.
One of those Central Asian fighters is Uzbek hopeful Kozimbek Mardonov (1-0, 1), who was impressive in his January debut. The talented former amateur standout is expected to be moved quickly he's being matched with the experienced Abel Nicolas Adriel (23-20-3, 5) here. The 31 year old Adriel has been collecting losses during his career, but with only 4 stoppage losses he is durable and should be able to survive a few rounds with Mardonov, though the Uzbek will be strongly favoured to pick up the win.
Another Central Asian on this card is Tajik fighter Mekhrubon Sanginov (9-0-1, 6) , who looks to build on a career best win over Quincy LaVallais as he takes on Miguel Angel Suarez (15-6, 9). The 25 year old Sanginov will be favoured here, and will be expected to pick up his 10th win, and do so relatively quickly. Suarez, and Argentinian 39 year old, was once 15-0 but has lost his last 6, and has been stopped in 5 of those 6 losses. This looks like an easy win for Sanginov following some struggles vs LaVallais in January.
Also scheduled for this show, though with no opponent named at the time of writing, is US based Azeri fighter Elvin Gambarov (14-0, 13), who will be looking for his third win of 2021. Gambarov has already blown away two limited opponents in Colombia this year and he's likely to be facing another over-matched foe here. It's a shame that we really don't know how good Gambarov can be as his competition so far has been beyond terrible. Fingers crossed we see him tasted later this year.
This coming Friday is set to be an interesting day for Asian boxing. We have a massively significant world title bout in Thailand, and two unbeaten Central Asian hopefuls in action in the US. Despite that we don't have much else. It's certainly quality over quantity here!
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
The title bout in question comes from Nakhon Ratchasima and will be the 13th time two Thai's have clashed in a world title bout, dubbed a "Bloodline Battle". This will be the first in more than a decade, and promises to be an excellent match up.
In one corner is unbeaten WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18), the longest reigning world champion in men's boxing and the man who's unbeaten record is longer than that of Floyd Mayweather Jr. In the opposite corner is hungry, powerful and heavy handed challenger Panya Pradabsri (34-1, 22), who is getting a chance to prove himself in a major all-Thai bout. For the champion the bout will be his 13th defense in just over 6 years, and a win may well see him ride off into the sunset with a 55-0 record. As for the challenger this is his chance to grab the proverbial torch of Thai boxing, along with the WBC title and really make a name for himself. This is as big a bout in Thailand as we've seen in a very long time. Our full, in depth preview of this bout can be read here Wanheng and Panya clash in 13th Bloodline Battle
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
As well as the bout in Thailand we also have two central Asian hopefuls looking to move their careers forward on a Matchroom USA card in Florida.
One of those hopefuls with be Kazakh Welterweight Daniyar Yeleussinov (9-0, 5), who takes on former unified world champion Julius Indongo (23-2, 12) in a bout for the IBF Inter-Continental Welterweight title. For the unbeaten Yeleussinov, a 2016 Olympic gold medal winner, the bout is a huge step up in class and this should be a chance for him to get a notable scalp on his record, even if Indongo is a long way removed from the fighter he once was. As for Indongo the Namibian former world champion will know he's being viewed as a stepping stone here, but may well have enough left in the tank to ask real questions of the talented "Kazakh Thunder". The only men to have beaten Indongo so far are Terence Crawford and Regis Prograis, and a win for the Kazakh will see him moved towards a world title fight in 2021 or 2022.
The other Central Asian on this card is hard hitting Azeri Heavyweight Mahammadrasul Majidov (2-0, 2), who takes on unbeaten Puerto Rican Sahret Delgado (8-0, 7). On paper this looks like a good step up in class for Majidov, but the 34 year old really needs to make a move next year, before he's essentially aged out of contention of ever getting a chance. Delgado's record looks pretty, but in reality his competition has been dire and he's taking a leap up in class. We're expecting a win for Majidov, but sadly we don't imagine this will be the big boost forward that his career needs. Instead he needs a big bout in 2021 if his career is going to take off in the way many had hoped, and in the way Azeri boxing really needs.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
For the second day running we get East Japan Rookie of the Year action from Korakuen Hall, 9 bouts expected to be on the show. Originally there was 10 bouts set for this event but one of those, was cancelled several weeks ago.
The pick of the bouts on this show will see the 20 year old Tsubasa Narai (3-0, 2) take on Tomohiro Igarashi (2-0, 1) in a Super Featherweight bout. The talented Narai made his debut in April 2019 and scored his 3 career wins in just 4 months, though had been away from the ring for more than a year now. Igarashi on the other hand debuted in October 2019 and fought this past August, which will perhaps aid him here, given his activity. Either way this is an excellent Rookie match up and could end up being the pic of the bouts from this round of the Rookie of the Year.
Another Super Featherweight bout will see Koichi Ota (2-0, 2) and Hiromichi Komatsu (3-5-2, 3). On paper this doesn't look amazing, but in reality this could end up being something very exciting. Ota, who's 35, has stopped both of his opponents so far in round 3 and will know that if he losses that's probably the end of his career, given his age. At the age of 27 Komatsu is the much younger man but is someone who has typically stopped or been stopped, with 7 of his 10 bouts ending by stoppage, including his last 3. This could be very, very explosive!
One other bout that is maybe worth a mention will be a Bantamweight clash between 20 years olds, as Izuki Kodaka (1-0, 1) takes on the debuting Ryuki Sudo (0-0). Whilst it's far too early to get too excited about either man, we do love seeing youngsters being matched very early in their careers. These sorts of bouts, where neither man is experience enough to worry, do tend to give us some amazing action and fingers crossed this one delivers as well.
Rangsit International Stadium, Rangsit, Thailand
As well as the action in Japan we'll also see once beaten Thai contender Panya Pradabsri (33-1, 21) compete in a tick over against Wichet Sengprakhon (11-7, 6). Although this is very much a stay busy bout the talented Panya will be dropping down to Minimumweight for the bout, which will be for a regional title.
Compostela Valley, Philippines
The most notable card this coming Friday is in the Philippines where we get a small but interesting card with several notable domestic clashes taking place on the show.
The main event will see PBF Flyweight title bout between Arnold Garde (10-7-3, 4) and Renz Rosia (14-8-1, 7), in what is easily the best bout of the show. Garde was last seen going 8 rounds with Hayate Kaji in Japan, and show he was tough and a little awkward. Despite that showing it needs to be noted that he has only scored 1 win in his lat 5 and it's hard to know what ambition he really has. Rosia, of course, is no world beater himself but another loss for him really could be the end of any hopes he has of landing another big fight, and would leave him win-less in 5. For both guys this is essentially a must win bout.
In a supporting bout we'll see talented Light Flyweight Rene Mark Cuarto (16-2-1, 9) look to bounce back from a recent loss to the world ranked Samuel Salva. The talented Cuarto will be expected to get a relatively straight forward win here, as he takes on the limited Mike Kinaadman (6-9-2, 4), who has lost his last 7 in a row.
One other fighter on this card worthy of a note is Aries Buenavidez (13-3, 7), who will be expecting to pick up his 14th win as he takes on limited domestic foe Kim Lindog (5-6-1, 4).
As well as the Filipino card there is also a small card in Toyko thanks to Flash Akabane. Sadly the most interesting fighter scheduled for this card, Zirolian Riku (8-0, 3), has had his bout cancelled and won't be on the card despite being announced for the show to begin with.
The main event of this card will see Akihiro Yamanaka (7-7-2, 3) battle against Yuki Uchida (6-6, 1), in an 8 round bout. Given the records of the two men it's clear neither is a world beater. However both are well matched and this should be a very competitive and well contested bout between two men with very similar records, and two men who will be coming into this with the belief they can pick up a win.
The co-feature will see Ken Achiwa (11-15-5, 4) take on Hikaru Ota (9-9, 5), in another bout that should be competitive, but not an incredibly high quality bout. Achiwa may have the worse looking record on paper but he has been matched incredibly hard and run guys like Suguru Muranaka and Yuki Nasu and Yuku Fukimoto close, and he could have had a very, very different record with a little bit of luck through his career.
One other card, that we got late notice of, was a show in Thailand, set to be headlined by OPBF Flyweight "silver" champion Panya Pradabsri (25-1, 14), who will be looking to get past tough Filipino Robert Onggocan (12-5, 8) before beginning a run for a Light Flyweight world title later in the year. His team had planned to petition the WBO for a shot at Angel Acosta before Acosta's recent loss, and will likely still push forward with their desire for a world title fight at 108lbs.
In the US we'll see Uzbek fighter Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (11-2-1, 5) look to rebuild his confidence after losses in 2 of his last 3. Having started his career 10-0-1 Rakhmanov has really faltered in recent fights, losing to Marquis Taylor and Keith Hunter in the last 12 months. He's not a bad fighter, but we don't expect him to be one of the stars of Uzbek boxing in the future.
Japanese attention turns to Osaka this coming Friday where we get a domestic title fight and a couple of supporting bouts between Japanese and Korean fighters.
The Japanese title fight will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Tetsuya Hisada (32-9-2, 19) make his 5th defense as he takes on 2016 Rookie of the Year winner Akihiro Toya (8-4, 1). This looks like a stay busy defense for the 34 year old champion, who is on the verge of a world title fight, but any sort of slip up here could end those dreams. At 23 years old Toya is still maturing, but a loss earlier this year to Takumi Sakae doesn't bode well for him against someone as talented as Hisada. A full preview of this bout can be found here Hisada defends Japanese crown against youngster Toya!
One of the supporting bouts will see Japan's Yuki Takahashi (8-3, 4) battle against Korean rankled visitor Hwan Young Jo (5-5, 1). Takahashi has been stopped in his last 2 bouts and hasn't shown too much promise coming into this, but he will be favoured given he is the home fighter and has the better looking record. Jo on the other hand challenged for the Korean Super Featherweight title back in July, and will be looking to bounce back from a loss in that bout.
Another Japan Vs Korea bout will see the limited but hard hitting 23 year old Shota Asami (6-5, 4) battle against Hyun Joo Lee (2-0). Asami began his career 4-2 (4) but hasn't scored a stoppage in his last 5 bouts, whilst going 2-3. Lee is ranked by the KBF but his record doesn't seem to be complete on boxrec, with the KBF listing him as being 5-1-1 (4). If the KBF record is complete then we could be in for a fun fight between punchers, though how good he actually is, is unclear.
There's also a show in Thailand this coming Friday
The big talking point is that WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) will be on the card in a stay busy bout, taking on Indonesian foe Tyson Lahagu (2-9-1, 2). The contest is supposed to be a tune up for the Thai ahead of a potential world title defense at the end of the year, and will see him stretching his record 52-0 as he looks to further increase his unbeaten record.
Although Wanheng and his unbeaten record will get much of the attention it also seems like we'll see OPBF silver Minimumweight champion Panya Pradabsri (24-1, 13) defending his title against talented Filipino Dexter Alimento (13-4, 9), in a very good looking bout. This has the potential to be very exciting and very fun, and we wouldn't be surprised to see Alimento push the local all the way.
We'll see US based Tajik prospect Anvar Yunusov (5-0, 2) look to continue his rise through the ranks as he takes on Joshua Davis (11-3, 5). The unbeaten man debuted last year, in a match up against the experienced Justin Savi, and has been matched well so far, but this should be regarded as his best test to date. Davis has lost his last 2 bouts but at 27 he will have ambition to get his career back on track and should make for a compelling opponent for the Yusunov, who was a 3-time Olympian.
Johore Bahru, Malaysia
As well as the show in Japan there will also be a card in Malaysia.
One of the bouts on this card will see unbeaten local Adli Hafidz (3-0, 2) take on experienced Thai foe Yuttana Wongda (13-21, 9). The local fighter, aged 29, has been matched softly so far, and this should be considered as a step up in class, but a very manageable one. Yuttana has gone 2-10 in his last 12 bouts and we suspect he will come up short again here.