To end 2019 we get a bumper card from Watanabe Gym who give us 6 titles on a single show in Tokyo. For those at the venue this is set to be a monster show, one of the best of the year, whilst those at home will only be able to see 2, or 3, of the bouts from the show.
The show at the venue is set to open with one of the best opening bouts on a show this year, as fast rising prospect Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3) defends his WBO Asia Pacific title against former world title challenger Rey Loreto (25-14, 17). Fans who aren't aware of Loreto might see this as a mismatch but the Filipino, who started his career 0-4, is a legitimate danger man and this is a very legitimate test for Shigeoka. A win for the 20 year old local is expected to be followed by a world title fight next year, but again a win here is not a given against the tough and heavy handed Loreto. Our preview of this bout is available to read here Rising star Shigeoka defends regional crown against former world title challenger!
Another regional title bout on this show will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-3-1, 13) take on Filipino Jhunriel Ramonal (16-8-6, 9), in a bout for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title. Coming in to this Kuga has had a great year, reclaiming the Japanese title with a win against Ryoichi Tamura and then defending it with a blow out against Yosuke Fujihara. He will be the favourite. However Ramonal is unbeaten since mounting a comeback in 2018, and was last seen blasting out Shingo Wake in October, and he will be full of confidence coming in to this bout. Our preview of this bout can be read here Kuga and Ramonal clash for WBO Asia Pacific crown!
The first of three world title bouts, and one that is available to a Japanese only audience through Paravi, will see Miyo Yoshida (13-1) defending her WBO female Super Flyweight title against Chinese challenger Li Ping Shi (5-2, 2). This will be Yoshida's first defense of the title she won earlier this year, when she beat Casey Morton, and she, and her team sound confident that she has really come on and developed since winning the title. For Shi this is a huge step up in class, but she comes in with self belief and confidence. We go into a lot more detail of this bout here Yoshida defends WBO crown against Shi!
The second world title fight on this card will see fast rising Japanese star Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8) defending his WBO Flyweight title, for the third time, as he takes on Chinese challenger Wulan Tuolehazi (13-3-1, 6). The talented Tanaka looked poor last time out, needing to pull victory from the jaws of defeat against Jonathan Gonzalez, but put that down to being sick in the build up. We expect to see a better performance here, but Wulan is no pusher over and comes into this bout full of confidence, in what looks like a potential banana skin of a defense. This bout has been previewed in a lot of depth here Tanaka takes on Wulan in year ending WBO Flyweight title bout!
The main event of the card will see Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14) defending his WBO Super Flyweight title against mandatory challenger Jeyvier Cintron (11-0, 5), in what will be the final world title bout of the decade. Ioka won the title earlier this year, when he stopped Aston Palicte, and will be looking to go into the new decade as one of the top faces of the lower weight classes. Cintron on the other hand is looking to claim a world title in his first world title fight, and build on a very successful amateur career. This is a actually a really good way to close out the year, and the winner will enter 2020 as a man with potentially huge fights out there for the new year, including a show down with Roman Gonzalez. A full scale preview of this bout can be read here Ioka and Cintron to clash in final world title bout of the decade!
The other title bout, which is actually pencilled in as a swing bout, will see Marina Sayama (4-1-1, 2) and Yume Hirayama (4-0) battle for the vacant Japanese female Flyweight title. This will be the second bout between the two fighters, who fought in 2017 with Hirayama winning, and looks likely to be a competitive bout, but one only those in the arena will get the chance to see. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hirayama and Sayama battle for Japanese title!
Negros Occidental, Philippines
This coming Saturday fans in the Philippines get a small treat, with an excellent looking OPBF title fight and the return to the ring for a recent world title challenger and one other man making his return following a loss.
The OPBF title fight will see OPBF Light Flyweight champion Edward Heno (11-0-5, 5) make his first defense of the title, as he takes on former world champion Merlito Sabillo (27-4-1, 13). Heno won the title last September, when he stopped Seita Ogido in their second bout, and will be looking to continue his unbeaten run whilst also recording his most notable win to date. Sabillo is a long way removed from his reign as the WBO Minimumweight and has gone 4-4 in his last 8 bouts, dating back around 4 years. Has hs notched up 2 recent wins,beating Jack Amisa and Crison Omayao but looks to be a long way removed from what he was once. The bout is a step up for Heno, but it's hard to know just what Sabillo has left.
In a key support bout we'll see recent world title challenger Rey Loreto (23-14, 15) take on domestic foe Arnold Garde (8-5-3, 3). Loreto challenged WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart last July, coming up short against the Thai, but had been riding a 7 fight winning streak into that bout and is genuinely on the fringes of being a world class fighter. Garde on the other hand is struggling on the domestic scene and is 5-5-3 in his last 13 bouts, with losses to a mixture of novices and recognisable names, such as Randy Petalcorin and Jonathan Taconing. Given what we know about Loreto it's hard to see anything but a win for him.
One other man involved on this card is Ryan Lumacad (13-1-3, 7), who looks to bounce back from a stoppage loss to Keita Kurihara, who stopped the Filipino last December. It's unclear at the moment who Lumacad will be facing, but we suspect the bout will be an easy confidence building one for the Filipino.
In Argentina we get world world title action, as unbeaten IBF Female Super Flyweight champion Debora Anahi Dionicius (26-0, 6) defends her title against Japanese challenger Terumi Nuki (9-2, 6). The bout will Nuki getting her second world title fight but like her first bout she will be travelling around the globe to face a champion in their backyard. Dionicius has notched up 10 defenses already and will be looking for her 11th, but this will be her first bout against a Japanese opponent and could prove to be a trickier assignment than some of her other defenses, with some of her challengers being very poor.
Every so often we get a fight that has the ingredients to be a FOTY contender, and obvious looking one. One where the fighters just have the explosive styles that should gel, and the mentality to put on a real show. That's this case this coming Saturday when WBC Super Featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt (31-1, 28) defends against mandatory challenger Takashi Miura (31-3-2, 24), himself a former champion. Both of these fighters have legitimate lights out power, both are flawed and both should come together to give us a bout to remember at the end of the year. Despite the excitement of something special there is also the possibility that this could be a blink and you miss it fight. Whether it's long drawn out war, or a quick blitz, there is no way this one is going to be dull.
On the under-card we'll see once touted Filipino Mercito Gesta (30-1-2, 16) take on Mexican veteran Martin Honorio (33-10-1, 16) in what could be an thriller. Although one touted really highly Gesta has failed to build on his potential and has seen his career plagued by inactivity and long lay off's. Here he cannot afford a set back against a tough and ready fighter looking to get his career back on track. Honorio is a 2-time world title challenger but has won just one of his last 5 fights, going back almost 5 years,and he would really have to turn the clock back to beat Gesta.
Before all the action in California we'll have a world title fight in Thailand as WBA Minimumweight kingpin Knockout CP Freshmart (15-0, 7) defends his title against mandatory challenger Rey Loreto (23-13, 15) in what could, potentially, be the under-the-radar fight of the year. On paper it looks like a mismatch in favour of the unbeaten champion, who has notched up a number of strong wins. However Loreto is much better than his record suggests and has scored some really impressive wins himself, including wins over Wisanu Kokietgym, Pornsawan Popramook, Nkosinathi Joyi and Koji Itagaki, all on the road. This could be something very specia
Their isn't a lot of action this Sunday but it's fair to say that one bout does stand out as being more intriguing than any other, and that is the headline bout of a show in Hiroshima.
That bout is one between world ranked Filipino banger Rey Loreto (21-13, 13) and the Japanese and OPBF ranked Koji Itagaki (16-9-2, 7). On paper this may not look like a great bout, especially give the 22 combined losses, but the reality is that these are both fighters with more ability than their records suggest. Coming in to this one Itagaki is on a 4 fight winning streak, including wins over Benezer Alolod and Michael Enriquez, whilst Loreto has won his last 5, including victories over Pornsawan Porpramook and Nkosinathi Joyi. Both are capable fighters and this really could be very exciting.
In the chief support bout Japanese ranked Ryuji Ikeda (11-2-1, 7) will be facing Kazuyasu Okamoto (10-4, 3) in a good looking 8 round affair. The 20 year old Ikeda has stopped his last 5 opponents since being stopped himself, by Kenta Onjo, and looks to be an emerging force at 140lbs on the Japanese domestic scene. Okamoto is nothing special but is a good test for the promising youngster, and could provide an upset if Ikeda isn't on his game.
The other card in Japan is a genuinely forgettable card on paper from Mie.
The main event of this show will see Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Yusuke Nakagawa (9-4-1, 5) risk his ranking against Yutaka Ekawa (7-4-1, 4). Although Nakagawa has a JBC ranking this bout could be a tough one for him, and it will be just his second bout since a KO loss to Rikiya Fukuhara last September. Notably however Ekawa was stopped in his last bout and has been beaten inside the distance 3 times.
Another Japanese ranked fighter on this card is Featherweight contender Shota Hayashi (26-5-1, 16), who looks to secure a stay busy win as he takes on Shohei Fujimoto (9-5-3, 8). Hayashi is very close to a Japanese title fight, and we suspect a win here could get him a shot at the Japanese title, with the division likely to have a genuine shake up in the near future.
There's also a card in Thailand which will see Japanese veteran Cobra Suwa (17-11-2, 9) attempt to claim the WBC Asian Boxing Council 154lb title as he takes on Thai local Ratchasai Sithsaithong (6-2, 5). Last year Suwa claimed the “Silver” version of the title, and the PABA belt, in bouts in Thailand and is now fighting his third successive bout in the country as he attempts to end his career with a collection of titles. As for the Thai he's facing his second Japanese opponent after losing a bout last year to current OPBF/JBC Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida.
Also in Thailand fans will get the chances to see former world title challenger Shin Ono (18-7-2, 2). Ono is facing a Thai local, though unfortunately we don't have the Thai's name.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
In South Africa we will see an exciting Filipino in action as the heavy handed and criminally under-rated Rey Loreto (19-13, 11) looks to repeat his career defining win defend his IBO Light Flyweight for the first time. Last year we saw Loreto make a name for himself as he stopped former world champion Nkosinathi Joyi (24-3-0-1, 17) in eye catching fashion and he'll be hoping to do the same again when he travels to Joyi's homeland in a much anticipated rematch.
Sadly this bout has been cancelled at short notice several times in the past and we'd not be shocked to see bout get cancelled once again for whatever reason.
As February has gotten going we have, slowly, seen the boxing world awaken and it now seems that March is going to continue the trend. Before we get to March however we need to see out February which looks set to go out with a bang...
The action in Japan to end the month isn't the best but it is notable with a couple of world title bouts as well as a former 2-weight world champion. Unfortunately those “world” class fighters are all female fighters and lack the attention that their male counterparts would get.
The former 2-weight world champion is Mari Ando (11-7, 5) who battles against experienced Filipino fighter Jujeath Nagaowa (12-13-1, 8) in what looks to be an easy fight but really could be surprisingly difficult. Ando isn't a brilliant fight and although she is a multi-weight world champion her reigns have both been short. Nagaowa hasn't been a world champion but has been in with a who's who such as Momo Koseki, Samson Tor Buamas and Shindo Go whilst also being narrowly beaten in a number of other losses. This could, potentially, be a very competitive contest.
One of the world champions in action is WBO female Minimumweight champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (6-1-1, 3) who will be hoping to record the first defence of her title as she battles against Filipino challenger Jessebelle Pagaduan (7-1, 4) in what looks like a greatest contest on paper. Sadly the paper is unlikely to give a full reflection of this bout and Pagaduan was beaten less than a year ago by Ikehara's friend Naoa Ikeyama in a bout for the WBO Atomweight title in a bout that really wasn't competitive. We suspect Ikehara looks just as dominated against Pagaduan as Ikeyama did.
Talking about Nao Ikeyama (15-3-1, 4) the WBO Atomweight champion will also be in action as she defends her belt, for the second time, and takes on Norj Guro (7-3-1, 4). The Japanese veteran, aged 45, will likely retire if she loses here however she will be favoured coming into the bout against the distinctly less than impressive Guro who has won just twice in her last 6 bouts.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines fans get a low level domestic show which is likely to give a number of prospects a chance to stay busy.
In one of the feature bouts fans will see the world ranked Rene Patilano (12-1-2, 6) battle against “domestic loser” Aroel Romasasa (11-8, 5) who is in desperate need for a win after losing 8 straight following an 11-0 start to his career.
Another of the feature bouts will see the unbeaten Jay Loto (9-0) fight against the limited JC Francisco (6-9-3, 2) in what looks like a mismatch on paper for the unbeaten but light punching Loto, who is known as “The Mindoro Assasin” despite his lack of power.
Another well regarded unbeaten fighter on this card will be Randy Braga (14-0-1, 3) who battles the experienced Cristian Aliba (12-15-3, 4) in what looks like being one of the most competitive bouts on the shame, even though Braga should extend his unbeaten record.
As well as the 3 bouts mentioned the card is expected to feature a further 8 contests.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Another Filipino in action will be the heavy handed and criminally under-rated Rey Loreto (19-13, 11) who will be hoping that lightning strikes twice as he defends his IBO Light Flyweight for the first time. Last year we saw Loreto make a name for himself as he stopped former world champion Nkosinathi Joyi (24-3-0-1, 17) in eye catching fashion and he'll be hoping to do the same again when he travels to Joyi's homeland in a much anticipated rematch.
German fans will get the chance to see a potentially explosive encounter as “unbeaten” Kazakhstan Isa Akberbayev (14-0-0-1, 10) battles against Argentinian KO artist Ruben Angel Mino (25-1, 25). Mino has one of the most impressive looking records on paper however it is incredibly padded and it's hard to see how he'll fare here. Akberbayev was a touted prospect a few years ago though he was “exposed” when he was iced by Anthony Ferrante in January 2013 and it's hard to see him ever reaching his perceived ceiling, saying that he should win here against the limited but heavy handed Mino.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The biggest names in action this Saturday are in the US though the day is, to be fair, one packed with fights all over the globe with numerous top names and some very promising bouts.
The most notable bout of the day for Asian fight fans is likely to be in Nevada where former Russian amateur standout Matt Korobov (24-0, 14) fights against popular Irish fighter Andy Lee (33-2, 23) in a contest for the WBO Middleweight title. The belt was given up by former champion Peter Quillin, who elected not to face Korobov in a mandatory title fight, and as a result we've got this compelling bout which is sure to send the winner into big fights whilst the loser could find themselves struggling to remain relevant in 2015.
On the same card former world title challenger Denis Shafikov (34-1-1, 19) will be fighting in a stay busy fight against the heavy handed Miguel Angel Mendoza (21-4-2, 21). On paper this looks like a great contest, in reality however Mendoza is unlikely to give Shafikov many problems and has gone 3-4-1 in his last 8 bouts, suggesting his power doesn't carry up when he steps up in class.
On a separate Nevada show we will see two more fighters of major interest in action, albeit on an untelevised portion of a card.
One of those men is former WBA Light Heavyweight champion Beibut Shumenov (14-2, 9) who will be making his Cruiserweight debut as he battles against Bobby Thomas Jr (14-2-1, 9). For Shumenov this will be his first bout following the loss of his world title to Bernard Hopkins earlier this year. We're hoping to see a better version of Shumenov here than we did last time out however he has often failed to impress due to a lack of technical ability and this could be shown up markedly at the higher weight.
The other man is the always fun to watch Yoshihiro Kamegai (24-2-1, 21) who will be up against Oscar Godoy (13-3, 6) in what appears to be a straight forward win for the popular Japanese brawler. For Kamegai this will be his 5th bout in the US and we suspect that is he wins he will be back on American TV next year courtesy of his fan friendly style which would be very fun to watch against someone like Keith Thurman.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
In South Africa we see a rematch of one of the biggest shocks of the year as Rey Loreto (19-13, 11) battles against former IBF Minimumweight champion Nkosinathi Joyi (24-3-0-1, 17). Earlier this year Loreto shocked the boxing world by knocking out Joyi in Monaco and will be hoping to repeat the feat here as he looks for the first defense of his IBO Light Flyweight title. This one could end up being the fight of the night though we suspect a focused Joyi will fight carefully and take a cautious decision over the dangerous and under-rated Filipino puncher.
In Japan fans get a very disappointing show headlined by OPBF and Japanese ranked Super Featherweight contender Satoru Sugita (8-2-1, 5) who will be fighting Akira Shono (7-6-2, 4). Sugita is looking to build on his upset win over Ryota Kajiki in April and really should win here against a man who has won just 2 of his last 7 bouts.
The rest of this card is very weak we're afraid though it is a long under-card with 9 other bouts.
Mindoro Occidental, Philippines
In the Mindoro Occidental fans get a low level yet interesting card with a few notable contests.
For us the stand out bout is an 8 rounder between the unbeaten Jeffrey Galero (11-0, 5) and the once beaten Charles Canedo (7-1, 4). Galero is touted prospect who recently defeated Donny Mabao in what was his best victory to date and although Canedo was stopped last time out this does look like a good test for Canedo against a man who we suspect will be fighting for redemption.
Although we're excited about the Galero/Canedo fight it's not the main event, in fact it's not one of the 3 bouts scheduled for 10 rounds. Those include an an interesting contest between the heavy handed Jeson Umbal (7-2, 6) and the more experienced Jecker Buhawe (15-10-1, 10). This should be a good bout on the Filipino domestic scene even if those outside of the Philippines aren't likely to take much of an interest.
As well as the two bouts we've gone into some small details on this card is set to feature a further 5 contests.
Metro Manila, Philippines
On a second show in Philippines we appear to be in for a bit more action with 2 domestic title bouts.
One of those bouts comes at Light Flyweight where GAB champion Benezer Alolod (15-5-5, 5) battles against Renren Tesorio (13-5-3, 4). Alolod has been in fine form recently with 3 wins and a draw since he was stopped by Nkosinathi Joy. Of those wins all 3 have come by stoppage, including a 5th round victory over Jomar Fajardo, who recently gave Francisco Rodriguez Jr hell, and a 3rd round victory over Jerson Mancio, who is best known for losing to Naoya Inoue in an OPBF title bout. As for Tesorio it's fair to say he needs a win and is 2-4-1 in his last 7.
The other title bout sees GAB Welterweight champion Dan Nazareno Jr (20-12, 16) defending his belt against the limited Dennis Padua (9-9-2, 4). Nazareno is a heavy handed and solid fighter when he's on song but is one of those inconsistent types who can blow very cold We think even the worse Nazareno should be able over come Padua who has lost his last 7 straight and gone 1-8-1 in his last 10.
In Australia fans will see the experienced Chaiyong Sithsaithong (35-12-4, 25) in action though his opponent is currently unknown.
Although Asian action today comes from the Philippines with a single interesting looking show from Davao del Sur.
Davao del Sur, Philippines
The show that been put together to show off three of the biggest punching Filipino fighters all of whom will be expected to score wins and move on to bigger and better fights later in the year.
One of the men in action will be IBO Light Flyweight champion Rey Loreto (18-13, 10) who will be fighting for the first time since he iced Nkosinathi Joyi way back in February. Loereto, who has beaten former world champions in his last two bouts, will be fighting the tough but limited Heri Amol (34-19-4, 14) in what should be a good fight to shake the ring rust for Loreto more than anything else. For Amol this will be his 7th bout of the year, and his second since being dominated by Japanese debutant Ken Shiro and we suspect this will be his 6th straight loss.
Another man in action will be former IBO Super Flyweight champion Edrin Dapudong (29-6, 17) who should make light work of Thailand's limited Wisanlek Sithsaithong (11-5, 6). For Dapudong this is a stay busy fight before a probable rematch with South African Lwandile Sityatha, who beat Dapudong earlier this year. Although Wisanlek comes into this bout with an 11 fight winning streak his opponents have been dire, to say the least, and he cannot been seen as a real threat to the Filipino fighter known as "The Sting".
The third bout of note will see the return to the ring of the usually fun to watch Denver Cuello (33-5-6, 21) who has been inactive since losing a WBC world title fight against Xiong Zhao Zhong. Cuello will be taking on Thai novice Jaipetch Chaiyonggym (3-1, 2) in what looks like a pointless contest though it's really a test for Cuello's body after having had serious issues with one of his arms in his last 3 contests, including the Zhong fight and his narrow win over Takashi Kunishige. If Zhong is the fighter he once was then we feel he has the ability to become a world champion, however if his injury continues to be a problem then there is no saying he could even beat a journeyman, unfortunately.
On the under card we know of two other bouts which both feature an interesting fighter.
The most notable of those fighters is former world title challenger Rommel Asenjo (25-3, 20) who will be battling against fellow Filipino Richard Rosales (8-2-2, 3). Asenjo comes in to this bout on the back of a 5 fight winning streak following a 3rd round loss to Raul Garcia back in 2011. As for Rosales he has won his last 2 bouts but shouldn't be much of a challenge for the talented Asenjo.
Another interesting fighter on the under-card is the unbeaten and heavy handed Lightweight prospect Roskie Cristobal (8-0, 7) who will be fighting against the much smaller Rolly Llino (5-12-1, 2). Cristobal is a very heavy handed fighter with real promise and sadly he's being matched in bouts that aren't helping him at all, such as this one against a man who is several divisions smaller. A real waste of time for such a promising prospect.
From what we understand there rest of the undercard is very stacked with fighters like Lorenzo Villanueva (26-1-0-1, 23) and Rolando Magbanua (23-2, 15) both being in action as Sonshine Sports show how interested they are in the sport.
(Image, and video below, courtesy of Sonshine Sports)
Although we saw some fights in January it's fair to say that we all felt the actual action was lacking. The bigger fights tended to fall short and with so few big shows it's fair to say the month was disappointing. Thankfully we kick off a new month today and we kick off in style with so many notable bouts that it's hard to remember when we last had such a great day.
The part of the day sees us focusing our attention on the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo as we get the first Japanese title fight of the new month. The title fight, the headline bout of the "521th Dynamic Glove", sees Yu Kimura (12-2-1, 2) taking on Kenichi Horikawa (25-12-1, 4) in a battle for the vacant Japanese Light Flyweight title. On paper it's not a great bout we do expect it to be very entertaining and incredibly competitive with the two men being very well matched.
Whilst the title bout is the main event there is excitement through the card. Unfortunately the one bout with little in terms of excitement is the chief support bout which sees Yasutaka Ishimoto (23-6, 6) taking on Zun Rindam (9-3-1, 4). It's hard to see anything but a victory for the world ranked Ishimoto, who is best known for upsetting Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, and as a result there is perhaps a bit of disappointed feeling around this bout.
A bout we're really excited by from this card is the explosive encounter between Yuichi Yokoyama (12-2, 11) and Koichi Ito (9-1-2, 8). Both men are big punchers, both are defensively lacking and both go in the ring to knockout the other man, what's not to like here? The only thing that seems certain is that this one won't be going the scheduled 8.
In total this Japanese card has 7 bouts scheduled for it and we'd be shocked if the card was anything less than enthralling.
Philippines, Metro Manila
Staying in the Orient for a little bit longer there is also a card in the Philippines. This card, an Elorde Promotions card, is scheduled to feature 10 bouts with the headline contest being a 12 rounder between Juan Martin Elorde (15-1, 7) and Chaiyong Sithsaithong (32-12-3, 23) for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title.
Elorde, defending his title for the first time, is the grandson of the great Flash Elorde, unfortunately however he doesn't posses the traits that made his grandfather so great. He has been matched lightly and will likely struggle here against Chaiyong who isn't great himself but he decent enough to be a banana skin.
The Elorde bout is one of two title bouts on the show with the other seeing the experienced Dennis Laurente (46-5-5, 27) defending his WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Middleweight title against Singdet Nonpitayakom (11-15-1, 8). Whilst we aren't sure about Elorde retaining his belt, it's hard to see part Laurente here who should retain with out too many problems.
In the other bout of note on this card Randy Braga (12-0, 2) will attempt to extend his winning run as he battles the experienced Jonel Alibio (16-17-4, 8) in a 10 rounder. Braga has only done 10 rounds once before and will know that he's expected to go the distance again here, if he does then it'll do his development the world of good even though the bout does look like a total mismatch on paper.
Over in Russian we've been told that the unbeaten, and very promising, Konstantin Ponomarev (22-0, 11) will be risking his unbeaten record against the experienced American Hector Munoz (22-12-1, 14). Munoz, who was stopped in 6 by Yoshihiro Kamegai back in 2011, shouldn't have enough left in the tank to really test Ponomarev though he could have enough to give Ponomarev a few questions to answer in the ring.
Monaco, Monte Carlo
Whilst we plenty of action in Asia to kick off February it's fair to say that the biggest fights involving Asian are in Europe, in the principality of Monaco.
The biggest of the bouts with an Asian involved is the WBA Middleweight title bout between Kazakhstan's destructive Gennady Golovkin (28-0, 25) and Ghana's brave Osumanu Adama (22-3, 16). It's hard to see anything but a victory by Golovkin, though with Adama having never been stopped there is a clear aim there for Golovkin who will be looking to score an eye catching KO over a man who has proven to be tough even if he is limited. We don't expect this one to go the distance and we also don't expect a title to change hands.
Another title bout with an Asian on this card sees unheralded Filipino Rey Loreto (17-13, 9) fighting for the IBO Light Flyweight title. Loreto, although on a good run, will be a clear under-dog against South African Nkosinathi Joyi (24-2-0-1, 17), who of course holds notable wins over Florante Condes and Katsunari Takayama. Although the under-dog Loreto will refuse to write himself off and could well score the most memorable upset of his career. In terms of the betting odds, we have seen Loreto priced as wide at 10-to-1 giving him almost at little chance as Adama. We'd not say those odds are wrong but we do think Loreto will give Joyi one very tough fight.
The final bout with Asian on this card feature's Russia's Roman Belaev (12-0, 10) who takes on Ireland's Dean Byrne (17-2-1, 6) in a battle for the vacant WBA Continental Welterweight title. Belaev is priced as the big favourite and we'll admit we expect him to roll over the limited and light hitting Irishman who has little for the Russian to be afraid of.