Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, California, USA
The main action to involve Asian fighters this coming Friday comes from California, and is part of a Golden Boy promoted card. Interestingly not only is the notable action in the US but it's also two bouts featuring veteran female fighters getting their chance to shine in front of a global audience, something both deserved to do much earlier in their careers.
The most interesting of the two bouts will see Japanese veteran Tenkai Tsunami (28-12-1, 16) defending her WBO female Light Flyweight title against the sensational Seniesa Estrada (20-0, 8). Tsunami is one of the true veterans of female boxing, having been around the world level for over a decade, and she's also a very well travelled fighter who has shown the toughness, engine and work rate in a brilliant career. But a career which is now heading to the end. Unfortunately for Tsunami she's in against one of the best of the new wave of female fighters in Estrada who looks like the sort of fighter who could, and maybe should be, the new face of female boxing. In her prime Tsunami would have made this very interesting, but right now we really don't see anyone between 105lbs and 115lbs beating Estrada, who is a genuine star in the making. Our full, in depth, preview of this bout can be read here Tenkai Tsunami takes on "Super Bad" Estrada!
The other bout on this card of note will see WBA female Flyweight champion Naoko Fujioka (18-2-1, 7) make her long over due US debut as she defends her title against Sulem Urbina (12-1-0-1, 2). Fujioka, Japan's only 5 weight world champion, has long been one of the best female fighters in the world, but with her 46th birthday coming in August and with more than a year of inactivity we do wonder what she can actually show here. At her best she belonged very high up the female pound for pound lists, but right now it's really hard to know what she has left in her legs. As for Urbina this is a massive leap up in class and comes on the back of a 2020 loss to Marlen Esparza. It's hard to back Urbina given her record, competition and form, though being 15 or so years younger, without the wear and tear and fighting relatively close to home, she may well be in the right place at the right time. Our in depth preview of this one can be read here Fujioka makes long awaited US debut as she takes on warrior Urbina!
Airport Hilton, Miami, Florida, USA
Over in Miami we're expecting to see two more Asian fighters in action, albeit in rather low key bouts.
The more notable of the two bouts will see heavy handed Kazakh fighter Serik Musadilov (9-0, 9) take on Reuel Williams (8-1, 3) for the NABA Cruiserweight title. On paper this looks like an interestingly match up, even more when you consider Williams has won 8 in a row. Sadly however Williams is now 45 year old and hasn't fought in over 4 years. Even at his best he wasn't very good either and is a natural Light Heavyweight. It really is a shame Musadilov is still wasting his time with this type of fight, when it's very clear he's now needing a test, not just bouts to pad his record, like this one.
The other Asian on this card is Kazakh fighter Mark Bernaldez (22-4, 16), who takes on Mexican veteran Juan Kantun (21-11-3, 15). Bernaldez has picked up two wins since losing to Albert Bell in July 2020 and he'll be looking to keep that run going here, as he continues to plug along as a decent fighter, but an unspectacular one. Kantun on the other hand is without a win since 2013, having lost his last 7. As with the Musadilov bout, this is just padding the record of Bernaldez and little else.
Tacoma, Washington, USA
Staying in the US we have also seen that unbeaten Uzbekistani hopeful Ravshan Makhamadjonov (12-0, 8) is pencilled in to fight in Tacoma. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced, though the 22 year old has been matched softly, on the whole, so far and we're not expecting that to change here. Sadly this is likely to be another easy win for the unbeaten Makhamadjonov
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
Over in Japan we also get action, in fact we get a second successive day of East Japan Rookie of the Year action as the Shinjuku FACE place host to some qualifying bouts. In total there are 7 bouts scheduled for this show, but we'll only take a look at a few of them.
On paper the one that stands out the most is a bout between unbeaten novices Kanta Kawamura (1-0-1, 1) and Shingo Koyasu (2-0, 2), who clash at Flyweight. The 21 year old Kawamura made his debut in December, with a quick win over Koyo Nakayama, but was held to a 4 round draw in his second bout, this past August. Koyasu on the other hand has looked explosive since debut in September 2020 and has stopped his first 2 opponents. We expect this one to be explosive and genuinely exciting, as both look to impress in the Rookie tournament.
Surprisingly there's only a single all debutant bout on this card, and that will be between Shuhei Hanadate (0-0) and Hiroto Sato (0-0), who clash at Bantamweight. Neither of these men are from particularly big gyms, and whilst that is an issue longer term it also shows that the Rookie of the Year can be used as a shop window for fighters and these two men will know that going all the win in the tournament could open major doors for them. Don't be surprised if this ends up being a very compelling bout.
One other bout that needs mentioning is the clash between Keisuke Imabuchi (0-9-2) and Tsubasa Yamashita (0-0). The 35 year old Imabuchi has a genuine weird record, going winless in his first 11, and it would be great to see him score a win before being forced into retirement. Yamashita on the other hand is at the complete opposite end of his career, aged just 18 and kicking things off here. With 17 years difference and 11 bouts difference this is a very unique Rookie of the Year bout, but one that is certainly intriguing.
This coming Saturday is set to be an incredibly busy day for fighters from Asia, with a host of Asian fighters competing in the US and a handful also competing in Russia
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
The biggest card for us this weekend comes from Las Vegas and is a Top Rank card with 4 different Asian fighters involved, including a debutant from Japan, an Olympic gold medal winner from Uzbekistan, a world ranked Kazakh and a talented and tricky Japanese Lightweight.
The debuting Japanese fighter is former amateur standout Subaru Murata (0-0), who looks to kick off his professional career with a 4 round bout against fellow professional novice Keven Monroy (1-1, 1). Murata is tipped incredibly highly after a strong amateur career, and some in Japan do view him as a future world champion in the making. Despite the hype and the expectations he will need to impress here, and is getting a chance to shine, in front of a global audience, on a major US show.
The Uzbekistani Olympic gold medal winner is Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (9-1, 5), who also needs to shine as he takes on the unbeaten Quinton Randall (8-0, 2). Gaibnazarov won gold at the 2016 Olympics and was tipped for big things, but has struggled to acclimatise to the professional ranks and hasn't really bounced back from a 2019 loss to the awkward Mykal Fox. Randall on the other hand is 30 years old and fighting in his most notable bout to date. Coming in to this one neither man can really afford a loss and although we're not expecting a fight of the year contender this could be a very, very interesting contest between two men who will both be looking to prove a point
On the subject of interesting contests the chief support bout on this card will see talented Kazakh Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (9-0, 5) take on former WBA "regular" Middleweight champion Rob Brant (26-2, 18), in a huge step up in class for Alimkhanuly. The Kazakh is already world ranked, after just 9 bouts, and has been calling out Demetrius Andrade over the last 12 or so months. A win against Brant here will really strengthen his call outs and could help him land a world title fight later in the year. As for Brant this will be his second bout since losing to Ryota Murata in 2019 and he'll know that a win over Alimkhanuly could, potentially, lead to him getting a chance to become a 2-time world champion. This is a true 50-50 style match up and one of the most interesting looking bouts on the schedule right now, with both men likely feeling they have what it takes to score a victory here.
As for the main event we'll see once beaten Japanese Lightweight Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13) taking on former Ukrainian amateur boxing god Vasyl Lomachenko (14-2, 10), in a really important bout for the Lightweight division. The tall, rangy, tough Nakatani has impressed in his last two bouts, losing a competitive bout with Teofimo Lopez and stopping Felix Verdejo, and he'll know that a win here would almost certainly secure him a world title bout, potentially even a rematch with Lopez. As for Lomachenko he looked rather poor last time out, losing a decision to Lopez, and there are question marks about whether he's a natural Lightweight, and at 33 what his long in ring career has taken from him. This is a great opportunity for Nakatani, though he will be the clear under-dog against the magical Lomachenko.
State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
As well as the collection of Asian fighters competing on the Top Rank show in Nevada we also bet the chance to see once beaten Uzbekistan born fighter Batyr Akhmedov (8-1, 7) take on Dominican veteran Algenis Mendez (25-6-3, 12) in a very good looking match up. This is Akhmedov's second bout since his fantastic 2019 bout with Mario Barrios, in what was a legitimate Fight of the Year contender, and is a big step back up in class after a win last September against the limited Rey Perez. Mendez on the other hand is a faded for from the fighter he once was, but he's still a smart and capable fighter, and he'll know that a win here puts him in the mix for some big fights. Expect to see this being a really interesting clash of styles with Akhmedov's pressure and aggression matching up against Mendez's guile and boxing brain.
801 Event Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
On a third US card we'll see Uzbekistani veteran Ravshan Hudaynazarov (18-4, 14) battle against the unbeaten Sergio Sarabia (5-0, 4). The 37 year old Hudaynazarov won his first 17 bouts before disappearing from the sport in 2014. Sadly when he returned in 2018 he lost 4 in a row, before picking up a very low key win in April this year. The 29 year old Sarabia on the other hand hasn't fought since 2013, and although he's unbeaten we have to assume ring rust will be a major issue for him here.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
As well as the action in the US there's also a show in Russia that features some Asian fighters.
One of the Asian fighters on this card is Southpaw Erzhan Turgumbekov (8-2-1, 2), who looks to bounce back from back to back losses as he takes on Zhora Hamazaryan (10-3-2, 7) in a very good looking 10 round Super Featherweight bout. After going unbeaten in his first 9 bouts Turgumbekov will now have low confidence and be questioning his place in the sport, knowing another loss could be the end of his place in notable bouts on RCC shows. On paper Hamazaryan doesn't have the best of records, but the Armenian is a genuine handful and with his aggression, power, work rate and will to win, he should be regarded as the favourite here, in what could be the hidden gem of the weekend.
Another Asian on this card is Turkmenistan's Bahodur Yakubov (1-0), who looks to build on his debut win over Viktor Vezhlivtsev. At the time of writing his opponent here hasn't been named, though he's expected to be competing in a 4 rounder on this show.
801 Event Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
This coming Friday is a very quiet day in Asian boxing, and there really isn't too much to talk about. There is however a bout featuring a once touted 36 year old Uzbek, who competes in Utah on Friday night.
That Uzbek fighter is Ravshan Hudaynazarov (17-4, 13), who began his career with 17 straight wins between 2008 and 2014. Sadly in recent years his career has completely fallen apart and he has lost 4 in a row , leaving him without a win in 7 years! He'll be looking to end that skid here as he takes on novice professional Eduardo Ayala (6-1-1, 2). On paper Ayala looks like he might be going in the right direct and catching Hudaynazarov at just the right time, however it needs to be noted that Ayala has yet to score a win against an opponent with a victory to their name, and was stopped just 2 fights ago by a professional loser.
It's interesting to note that neither of these guys are going for with there careers, but both will come into this feeling they could pick up a much needed victory and give their career something of a boost, albeit a small one.
Club Punchbowl, Punchbowl, New South Wales, Australia
Prior to the action in the US we'll also see the ring return of 37 year old veteran Jack Asis (38-23-5, 19) who battles Billel Dib (24-3, 11) in a scheduled 10 rounds. Asis is an Australian based Filipino fighter who has been a real servant of boxing over the years, but had certainly seen better days and has lost his last 3 bouts, in fact we need to go back to 2017 for his last win. Dib on the other hand is 31 and has won his last 3, giving him the momentum needed to pick up another victory here. We suspect Asis will give a genuine effort, but his body can no longer do what it once could.
The big focus this coming Thursday is on Korakuen Hall, where we get a very interesting Diamond Glove card featuring a rising a second generation hopeful, a former world champion and a Japanese title fight.
The main event is the Japanese title fight, which will see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) defending his title against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) as part of the Champion Carnival. Yoshino, who holds the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles, will only be defending his national title, but a loss would seriously hamper his chance to advance to world level in 2020. As for Tomioka he's getting his second fight at the type of level, having previously lost to Masayoshi Nakatani in an OPBF title. On paper the stronger, heavier handed, and more powerful Yoshino should be favoured, but Tomioka certainly has the size and speed, both hand and feet, to make life very tricky for the champion. This bout has been previewed here Yoshino defends against mandatory Tomioka!
The former world champion on this show is former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) who returns to the ring for the first time since his 2018 loss to Cristofer Rosales. The talented and aggressive Higa was given an indefinite suspension by the JBC following the Rosales loss, for his failure to make weight, with that suspension only being lifted late last year. On his return he's being matched with Filipino visitor Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3), in what could turn out to be a rather solid test. Although Buenaobra is no world beater he has gone the schedule with Carl Jammes Martin, the only man to have heard the bell against the "Wonder Boy" and could prove to be a very durable test for the returning Higa. We really are looking forward to this one. Our preview of this bout can be read here Higa returns, but can he over-come the rugged Buenaobra?
Another bout of some note on this card is a contest between Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kazuma Sanpei (18-5, 7) and Soreike Taichi (7-2, 5), who will know that a win here boosts their chance to get a Japanese title fight later this year. Coming in the 25 year old Sanpei is the more well established fighter and despite his record being blotted with losses he is 6-1 (3) in his last 7 and did show real promise early in his career, winning Rookie of the Year back in 2013. Taichi is less well known but has won his last 4, including good wins over Yusaku Sekishima and Masaki Saito. Interestingly Taichi's last loss was in 2014, when he was stopped in a round bye Reiya Abe.
The second generation fighter mentioned above is Shinba Yamaguchi (1-0, 1), the son of former world champion Keiji Yamaguchi, who takes a significant step up from his debut. The 19 year old Yamaguchi who won his debut in just 40 seconds last October, will be up against Filipino Luis Borje (5-1-1, 2) in what should be a very credible test. It's hard to say much about Yamaguchi's professional career so far but it is worth noting that both of Borje's set backs have come to John Mark Tihuk, who should be seen as one to watch going forward. A very tough test this early in Yamaguchi's career.
Las Vegas, USA
As well as the Japanese action there is also a bout of interest in the US, where we'll see an Uzbek fighter in action. The Uzbek on this show is 35 year old Ravshan Hudaynazarov (17-3, 13), who looks to end a 3 fight losing streak. The US based Uzbek began his career 17-0 before seemingly ending his career in 2014. He returned to the ring in 2018 and since then has gone 0-3, and been stopped in 2 of those 3 losses. On paper we would expect Hudaynazarov to turn things around here in what looks like an easy bout against Cameron Krael (16-15-3, 4), however Krael has a very misleading record and the kid can fight. We wouldn't be surprised at all by an upset here.
This same show will also feature Kyrgyzstan born American based hopeful Andrei Odintsev (4-0, 4) take on Britton Norwood (9-4-1, 7) in a 4 round Light Heavyweight contest.
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.
Seoul, South Korea
Last year we saw a Korea Vs Japan card being announced. Sadly however that card had to be delayed and will now take place this coming Saturday.
One of most interesting bouts on this card will see the once beaten Woo Min Won (9-1, 5) take on under-rated Japanese visitor Noriaki Sato (5-2-1). The Korean is a former national Light Welterweight champion who is 2-0 (1) against Japanese fighters, having beaten Daiki Koide and T