Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico
The main bout of interest this coming Friday comes from Monterrey where we'll see IBF Minimumweight champion Rene Mark Cuarto (20-2-2, 11) defending his title against Mexican challenger Daniel Valladares (26-3-1, 15). The tricky Cuarto won the title last year, in a controversial decision over Pedro Taduran, and recorded his first successful defense in February, when he again beat Taduran in a controversial bout. Despite those wins he is not getting an easy second defense and needs to travel to face a dangerous and aggressive fighter. For Valladares, who has a technical draw with Taduran, this is his second shot at a title, and he seems likely to make the most of this one with his busy, aggressive style and home crowd support. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here IBF king Cuarto takes on Valladares in Mexico!
As well as the world title bout we also have some Asian action in Indonesia, where we'll see a number of bouts, including two notable bouts between notable Indonesian locals and Thai fighters.
The most notable match up on the show will see former world title challenger Daud Yordan (41-1, 29) take on former 2-time world champion Panya Uthok (54-10, 36), aka Pungluang Sor Singyu. Given the Thai is a former 2-time world champion one would assume he's got a decent chance here, however he is a former Bantamweight who has moved through the weights in his post-prime years and is unlikely to post much of a threat at 140lbs, where this bout will be taking place. Yordan, still the most notable active Indonesian fighter out there, is 35 and his career is coming to a close, but he should be too big, too strong and too powerful for the Thai visitor here.
Whilst Yordan is the most notable fighter in Indonesia, there are one or two chasing at his heels, including the talented 27 year old Ongen Saknosiwi (9-0, 8), who will be looking for his second win of the year, as he takes on fellow puncher Jirawat Thammachot (9-3, 9). Saknosiwi looked set for a huge break out in 2020, before the pandemic killed the moment he was building, but now it looks like the 27 year old will begin to move his career forward again. He is genuinely one of the biggest, brightest and best hopes in Indonesia, and we are looking forward to seeing where he can go in the coming years. The 24 year old Jirawat has been a pro since last 2019 and lost his first two bouts, against top domestic prospects, but since then he has gone 9-1 (9) and stayed busy with 6 fights already this year. Sadly though this is a big step up for the Thai and it would be a huge surprise to see him surviving 8 rounds with the local hopeful.
Digos City, Davao del Sur, Philippines
This coming weekend we see a Minimumweight world title rematch, as IBF Minimumweight champion Rene Mark Cuarto (19-2-2, 11) takes on Pedro Taduran (14-3-1, 11), the man he beat for the title last year. In their first bout Cuarto used really good movement and timing to out box Taduran over 12 rounds, and he'll be looking to do the same here, however it's fair to say that Taduran will be determined to reclaim his title, and we see him starting fast and really putting the pressure on the champion this time around. Like their first bout, this is a really interesting match up, and one we expect will be explosive. Interestingly we don't see many all-Filipino world title bouts, so to see the same two men facing off in two of them is rather interesting and it's genuinely great to see more and more all-Filipino world title bouts. It's also interesting to note that the winner of this bout will likely need to face another Filipino later in the year, as Melvin Jerusalem is the highest ranked contender for the title. Our preview of this bou can be read here Taduran seeks revenge as he takes on Cuarto!
Also on this card will be a GAB Light Flyweight title bout, as Orlie Silvestre (16-6-2, 8) takes on Jerry Francisco (9-2, 2) in an interesting looking bout. Of the two men Silvestre is the more proven, but he has take a lot of punishment in recent years and Francisco will know this is a great chance to become a Filipino national champion.
Another bout on this card worthy of some interest is a bout between unbeaten fighters as Lienard Sarcon (8-0, 3) and RV Deniega (5-0, 2) battle in a very, very good 8 round match up Bantamweight. The winner of this will likely progress to title bouts later in the year making this bout a very, very notable one, for both men and the Filipino domestic scene in general.
Korakeun Hall, Toyko, Japan
In Japan attention turns to Korakuen Hall where we get the All Japan Rookie of the Year final. The card is set to feature 12 bouts, to crown Rookies of the Year and sees the best Rookies from East Japan take on the best from across Japan.
We won't look at all 12 bouts, but we have selected three that interest us the most.
The first of those is the Super Flyweight bout, which will see the heavy handed Masato Shinoda (4-0, 3) take on fellow unbeaten fighter Riku Yamashita (6-0-1, 3). The Super Flyweight division typically gives us a lot of notable future domestic and regional contenders, and we suspect that will be the same here. Shinoda is 25 years old and only debuted last July, but has advanced through the tournament and looks like he could be developed into someone who can mix at title level in a year or two, his biggest issue being a lack of experience. Aged 21 Yamashita is a baby, yet debuted back in 2019, and has had to come through some and competitive bouts. This one could be explosive, especially if Shinoda can make it his bout.
Another division that tends to be highlighter by the tournament is the Featherweight division, and that seems likely to be the case again here as Kai Watanabe (6-0, 2) takes on Chihiro Iwashita (3-0, 2). Watanabe is 19 years old, and debuted in April 2021, making him one of the busiest Japanese fighters last year. He does appear to lack power, but at 19 he's still a boxing baby, and won't have his man strength yet. Despite that his power is hurtful, and both of his stoppages have come in the opening round, with his last win coming in just 10 seconds. Iwashita on the other hand is 25 and will be regarded as the puncher, with TKO's in his first 3 bouts. Interesting Iwashita's stoppages have come in the first round, and with that in mind there could be some real fireworks early on here.
Japan has traditionally had a strong domestic scene at 130lbs, and that seems likely to continue for years to come. Despite that the Super Featherweight bout here could well help put someone new in the next over the coming years. The final here will see 25 year old Jinu Lee (7-0, 3) battle 20 year old Seiryu Yamana (2-0, 1). Lee has been really impressive since his 2019 debut and has only really been given a tough night by Tomohiro Igarashi back in September. That bout aside he's won pretty much every minute of every fight he's had as a professional. Yamana on the other hand has, rather notably, fought twice, and taken 2 unbeaten records, he will be looking to make it 3 in a row here. Lee will be the favourite, but Yamana should not be over-looked here and he will be full of confidence going into his Korakuen Hall debut.
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.
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.
This coming Saturday is a crazy day in Asian boxing, with the welcome return of one series of shows from Thailand as well as notable and large shows featuring Asian fighters in the Philippines and Russia as well as other action!
Metro Manila, Philippines
The most interesting card of the day is an MP Promoted card from Metro Manila, featuring a couple of world title eliminators, along with some other interesting supporting bouts.
One of the world title eliminators comes at Bantamweight, where Michael Dasmarinas (28-2-1, 19) and Kenny Demecillo (14-4-2, 8) battle to become the IBF mandatory challenger at 118lbs. Of the two men Dasmarinas is the more experienced and more proven man, but Demecillo has proven to be capable of upsets in the past and will know that Dasmarinas looked less than his best last time out, being gifted a draw with Manyo Plange. A very interesting bout, with real significance in the packed Bantamweight division. Our full in depth preview of this contest can be read here - Demecillo and Dasmarinas clash in eliminator!
Another world title eliminator on this card is an IBF Minimumweight eliminator, as Samuel Salva (16-0, 10) and Rene Mark Cuarto (16-1-1, 9) battle for the right to become the mandatory challenger. This is, on paper, more interesting than the Bantamweight bout due to how similar the records of the two men are, but will likely get over-looked in the west due to the weight class. Both will be aware that they could book a bout with Deejay Kriel with a win here, and that will drive both on in what could be a real classic. An indepth preview of this bout can be read here Salva and Cuarto battle in eliminator
In supporting bouts we'll see Singaporean fighter Muhamad Ridhwan (11-1, 8) take on Landy Cris Leon (11-18-5, 5), in what should be a good confidence building bout for Ridhwan after a loss to Paulus Ambunda last September.
Other supporting bouts will include Chinese prospect Lei Wang (2-0, 1) battling Adam Diu Abdulhamid (13-7, 5), in a tough test for the unbeaten novice, a brilliant all-Filipino match up between Ronnie Baldonado (13-1-1, 9) and Elias Joaquino (12-3-2, 6) and a potentially very fun contest between Orlie Silvestre (12-5-1, 8) and Joel Taduran (8-10-2, 2).
As well as the Filipino show there's also a stacked RCC Promotions show in Russia.
One of the main bouts here will see Tajik born Russian Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (13-0, 10) battle against South African Rofhiwa Maemu (18-7-2, 12), in what will be Rakhimov's third defense of the IBO Super Featherweight title. On paper this doesn't look great, but a lot of that is due to Maemu's 7 losses. Whilst that is notable we do need to put it into context and explain that 5 of those came in his first 11 bouts, and he has since gone 14-2. It should however be noted that Rakhimov is in amazing form and is expected to win and go on to much bigger and better things in the near future.
Russian based Kyrgyzstan born fighter Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (13-0, 6) will be expecting his next win as he takes on Thai veteran Mike Tawatchai (45-12-2, 28), who will be fighting for the 61st time as a professional. At his best Tawatchai could be a good test for Uulu, but at the age of 33 and more than 3 years removed from a win of note it's hard to see Tawatchai being much of a threat for the unbeaten hopeful.
Other Asian fighters involved on this card include Uzbek born prospect Mukhammad Shekhov (3-0, 2), Kyrgyz fighter Erzhan Turgumbekov (5-0, 1), Filipino puncher Jon Jon Estrada (11-5-1, 10) and highly touted Uzbek fighters Makhmud Gaipov (2-0, 1) and Elnur Abduraimov (3-0, 3).
Bang Phun, Thailand
We return to the Workpoint Studio for the first WP Boxing show of 2019 and although the details aren't totally clear we do know that the show will feature hotly tipped Apichet Petchmanee (2-0, 2), who will be taking on Shota Suito (11-9-1, 1) for a WBC regional silver title. Apichet is one of the best talented in Thailand, and finers crossed he will be kept busy in 2019, because at the age of 2019 he sadly doesn't have much time to waste. Unfortunately this bout does look to be a step backwards for the Thai, but picking up some WBC title could open doors for him in the future.
We have also been informed that Thai based Dutch fighter Nick Frese (8-0, 6) is expected to be on this card.
Johore Bahru, Malaysia
We're also expecting a card to take place in Malaysia, which again lacks in terms of details. The one bout that is listed for this show is a WBC Asian Boxing Council silver Super Middleweight title bout, with unbeaten local Adli Hafidz (5-0, 2) taking on Indonesian foe Bambang Rusiadi (9-8, 4), who is 0-5 outside of Malaysia.
Over in the US we get an excellent match up as Filipino journeyman Ricky Sismundo (35-12-3, 17) hits the road again and takes on unbeaten Russian puncher Maxim Dadashev (12-0, 10). On paper this looks like a mismatch but the reality is that Sismundo is among the very best journeymen on the planet and the 31 year old has picked up upset wins against the likes of Yoshitaka Kato, Ghislain Maduma, Akihiro Kondo and Shuhei Tsuchiya. Dadashev is a great talent, but this should be a very good test for the Russian puncher.
This coming Sunday is a relatively busy day in Asia, with a pair of shows in bot Philippines and Japan.
Metro Manila, Philippines
The most interesting card, for us at least, is in Metro Manila where Elorde will be putting on a card.
The main event of this card sees the excellent Giemel Magramo (20-1, 16) take on the once beaten Michael Bravo (13-1, 6) in a bout for the vacant WBO Oriental Flyweight title, and a chance to take a huge step towards getting a potential world title fight. Magramo is the better known fighter and has scored a two of notable wins since losing a very close decision to Muhammad Waseem in late 2016. Magramo world class potential in that loss and could thrust himself into the world title picture with a win here. For Bravo the bout is a huge step up in class, though he is riding an 8 fight winning run coming in to this and has won both PBF and MinProBA titles in his last 2 bouts, showing he is in really good form and very confident.
Another bout on this card will see the unbeaten Casey Morton (6-0-3, 1) battle Thai foe Nongmuay Kokietgym (13-3-3) in a female bout. The unbeaten Morton, who is based in the US, will be having her third successive fight in Asia and this is a step up for her. The Thai is a multi-time former world title challenger and is a very credible foe, despite her total lack of punching power.
Davao del Sur, Philippines
A second Filipino show, courtesy of Pacquiao Promotions will take place in Davao del Sur.
The main event here will be a Filipino Welterweight title fight, as Jayar Inson (15-1, 10) takes on Romeo Jakosalem (18-16-1, 10). The bout sees two former regional title holders facing off in what should be a bit of a slugfest. Of the two fighter Inson is the younger and more promising fighter, with the 27 year old Southpaw being a brutal puncher, as we saw in his demolition job against Ryota Yada for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. Despite only being 29 years old Jakosalem has had a very hard career and already looks a bit shot, as shown by the fact he has been stopped 10 times in total, including 3 of those in his last 3 bouts. Inson will be strongly favoured here and should be able to stop Jakosalem and move towards bigger and better fights.
The rest of this card is pretty weak in all honesty, but will feature a host of promising fighters in mismatches. Those fighters include Joel Lino (8-0-1, 2), Rene Mark Cuarto (14-1, 8), Vincent Astrolabio (10-1, 7) and Jerry Francisco (2-0), who should all be adding to their win column against some horribly over-matched opposition.
The most notable the two Japanese cards will take place in Aichi and will feature a Japanese youth title fight along with a bout between two OPBF ranked fighters.
The youth title fight will see Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Takuya Mizuno (13-1-1, 11) defending his title against Daiki Maniwa (6-1-1, 4), in what will be Mizuno's second defense of the belt. The champion won the title last August and defended it in December, taking split decision in both of those bouts. Although a powerful puncher it does seem like Mizuno's power isn't carrying up to level and he could well be dragged into another tough bout by Maniwa. The challenger is a bit of an unknown, though he has won his last 6, with his win last November against Yo Konomura being a career best.
In a battle between OPBF ranked fighters we'll see Super Bantamweight contender Ruito Saeki (7-1, 1) take on Bantamweight veteran Eita Kikuchi (21-5-4, 8). Aged 19 Saeki is a promising youngster who's only loss was in the West Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2016, and since then he has bounced back with 3 wins to work his way into the OPBF rankings. The 32 year old Kikuchi is a former OPBF title challenger, have challenger Shingo Wake for the OPBF Super Bantamweight title back in June 2013. Since losing to Wake Kikuchi has gone 7-2 (2), though was stopped last time out by Yusuke Suzuki in a Japanese Bantamweight title eliminator, and may well be feeling the after effects of his third stoppage loss.
In Fukuoka fans will see Japanese ranked Bantamweight Hideo Sakamoto (17-4-4, 5) look to get his career back on track as he takes on Takaaki Kanai (8-7, 4). Back in early 2015 Sakamoto looked well on his way to getting a Japanese title fight, thanks to wins over Hiroki Shiino and Ryoichi Tamura, sadly though he has gone 1-3-2 since then and is clearly faltering with his career, and needs a win to give his career one more shot in the arm. Kanai shouldn't put up much of a test for Sakamoto, given he has fought at a far lower level and struggled a lot in recent bouts, but the pressure is on Sakamoto to perform, and make sure he does more than just get the win.