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.