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.
Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, Almaty, Kazakhstan
This coming Tuesday in Kazakhstan fight fans will be able to see an array of promising talent in action, though for the most part their opponents are nothing to be excited about and will not be regarded as hugely testing.
One of the promising youngsters is the unbeaten Nurdos Tolebay (6-0, 4), who has looked impressive so far though does need to step up sooner rather than later. He'll be in one of the main bouts on this show as he faces off with novice opponent Nauryzgali Nurmukhametov (1-0, 1), who debuted in September against a fellow debutant in a bout that lasted just a round. Tolebay has shown a lot to like, and the 20 year old clearly has the potential to go a long way, but we really ned to see him being tested sooner rather than later, and to us this doesn't seem likely to be much of a test.
Another brilliant youngster on this show is Talgat Shayken (5-0, 3), who will be expected to pick up a 6th straight win as he takes on limited 42 year old Omar Marabayev (1-9). This should be a very, very easy win for Shayken, who looks like a star in the making at the age of 21, but we wouldn't be surprised to see this one go a few rounds as Marabayev is not known for falling over, and has only been stopped by Magomed Kurbanov and Teerachai Kratingdenggym. This should be a one sided bout, but a chance to a chance to see Shayken staying busy, in what will be his third fight of the year.
Sadly Shayken's bout isn't the worst mismatch on the card, instead that honour seems to have fallen to a contest between Ray Seitzhanov (7-0, 4) and Umurbek Beknazarov (1-3). Beknazarov has been stopped 3 times this year, and yet to see round two in any of his 4 bouts. It'd be a surprise to see that change here, and we're expecting an early win for Seitzhanov.
Yet another talented youngster taking on a novice is Aidos Medet (7-0, 5), who faces off with the debuting Amirzhon Asozoda (0-0). As with the other bouts it seems a waste of time, and whilst we are glad to see Medet back in the ring it's time for him to step up, rather than wasting time on fights like this.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
On Tuesday the often overlooked Yamaguchi Tsuchiura promotions put on a show at Korakuen Hall. It’s not a big one, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is still a worthwhile one with a potential sleeper on the show.
The potential sleeper on this show will be an 8 rounder between Yosuke Kawano (14-9-2, 8) and Daisuke Watanabe (11-4-2, 6), who are both ranked by the JBC at Featherweight. Coming into this Watanabe is in great form, going unbeaten in his last 7 and winning the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary Featherweight tournament last year, where he beat Shingo Kusano in the final. He will be full of confidence coming into this and has really turned his career around after a 6-4 (3) start. The 32 year old Kowano has been inconsistent in terms of results but has certainly been very competitive in a number of his losses, and just a single round swing in many bouts could have seen him walking away with the W. Kawano will be the under-dog here, but should be regarded as a very live under. We suspect this will be competitive, with both men needing to take some huge shots, though we edge Watanabe in a potential thriller.
In a 6 rounder at a contracted 68KG's we'll see Yuya Nemoto (6-9-3, 1) take on Tetsuya Kondo (5-2, 3) in what should be a really exciting little war itself. Neither of these men are going to become world title contenders, but both can make for fan friendly bouts and we suspect together they should make for a very entertaining contest. Nemoto certainly has the edge in size, being a natural at 154lbs, but pulling him down around 4lbs may neutralise that edge, whilst Kondo is the more skilled, but much smaller man.
We were supposed to see Tatsuya Takahashi (32-9-6, 21) take on Ryotaro Kawabata (12-4-2, 6) in the main event of this show, but that bout has now been called off, and has been removed from every Japanese schedule for the show. Interestingly Kawabata wasn't the original opponent for Kawabata, that was Jin Miura (11-3-4, 2), so we really do wonder what has happened here to see not only the original bout change, but for the replacement fight to also be called off.
Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, Almaty, Kazakhstan
As well as the Japanese action there is also set to be a long card in Kazakhstan thanks to Tukeshov Promotions. Sadly the card is lacking in notable names, with many of the fighters on the card being novices, though there is certainly a main event worthy of attention.
That main event will see 22 year old hopeful Ray Seitzhanov (5-0, 2), who has been looking pretty good in recent fights, taking on 20 year old Nurbol Berdimuratov (2-0). It's always good to to see unbeaten youngsters risking their "0" in fights like this, though we'll admit that neither man has done much since turning professional, with both of Berdimuratov's wins coming against debutants.
One other noteworthy fighter on this card was once touted teenager Dastan Saduuly (3-1, 3), who turned professional very young and was talked about as one to watch. Despite being touted Saduuly was batterd last September, suffering is first loss, and it now getting a confidence building bout as he takes on the win-less Assylbek Tastulek (0-2).