Metro Manila, Philippines
Ateention turns to the Philippines this coming Saturday as ESPN5 televised their first show of the new year. It's not a bumper card, but does feature some notable names as the channel looks to increase the profile of a number of Filipino fighters.
One of the notable bouts on this card will see the unbeaten pairing of Dave Apolinario (9-0, 6) and Mark Vicelles (9-0-1, 5) battle for the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Flyweight title. We've been impressed by Apolinario since he made his debut back in 2017 and the 20 year old looks like a dynamite prospect with speed, skills, power and a lot of potential. This however is a step up in class and Vicelles will be coming to do more than just make up the numbers. The 23 year old Vicelles has already ruined 22 unbeaten records, and will be looking to expose another touted domestic rival here. We're expecting real fireworks and excitement here in what should be the show stealing bout.
In a good supporting bout Reymart Gaballo (20-0, 17) will be taking on Japanese foe Yuya Nakamura (9-2-1, 7) in what should be an interesting assignment. Gaballo will be favoured, he really impressed last year with wins against Stephon Young and Julias Kisarawe, but Nakamura is no push over, and he impressed in December when he should have had a win over Yougu Yu, though the judges found a way to score that a draw. Gaballo should win, but Nakamura won't be there to just make up the numbers.
In another supporting bout the hard hitting Romero Duno (18-1, 14) will face off with Indian Kuldeep Dhanda (7-1, 1) in what is expected to be little more than a stay busy bout for Duno. The Filipino puncher is on a 9 fight winning run, including his break out win over Christian Gonzalez from March 2017, and looks like a potential world title contender. Dhanda on the other hand has never previously fought outside of India and lacks a win of any note, suggesting he will be completely unable to cope with Duno's power and skills.
Jeonju, South Korea
In Korea fans will be getting a double title show, with domestic Cruiserweight and Welterweight titles up for grabs. The theme of the show is Korea Vs Japan Vs China, but sadly the international bouts are over shadowed by the title bouts.
The Welterweight title will see either Yong Hwan Jun (4-4-1, 2) or Dong Young Kang (4-5-2) being crowned as the new champion. Neither of these two are great, but the Korean Welterweight scene isn't very good right now and hopefully getting the title scene up and running will kick start that, with fighters vying for a shot.
The Crusierweight title fight on the other hand will see Hyun Tae Bae (5-1-1, 3) battle against Kyung Hak Lee (3-5-1, 1). The 29 year old Bae returned in December, after more than 2 years out of the ring, and stopped Tae San Kil to earn his shot at the title. Lee on the other hand is without a win since March 2011, and it seems like this is little more than a coronation event for Bae.
One other bout of note here will see the unbeaten Dong Myung Shin (1-0), who impressed on debut in September, battle against Chinese fighter Yiping Gao (3-5, 1). Shin looked really good, defeating Hiroyuki Sagehashi on debut, and we're expecting him to shine again here. At the age of 30 Shin will need to be active to make any mark on the sport, but could be one of the few Korean with the skillset to impress internationally.
Another Asian fighter in action in the US is Filipino Genisis Libranza (17-1, 10), who will be looking to make his US debut following an aborted bout in January against Carlos Buitrago, who failed to make weight for a bout with Libranza. He will be up against Gilberto Mendoza (11-6-2, 4), who is a 29 year old who has yet to score a win of note. This should be seen as a showcase to Libranza if we're being honest.
Metro Manila, Philippines
The biggest show this Sunday comes from the Philippines and features some very notable fighters, including an interim world champion, a former world champion and three touted prospects.
On paper the main event will see WBA “interim” Bantamweight champion Reymart Gaballo (19-0, 16) battling against the horribly limited Julias Kisarawe (29-6-1, 15) of Tazania. The talented Gaballo claimed the interim title earlier this year, when he upset the unbeaten Stephon Young in the US, and showed that he was world class. Sadly Gaballo was one of the many talented Bantamweights who missed out on the World Boxing Super Series but as long as he stays active between now and the end of the tournament he will be in with a great chance of facing the eventual winner. Sadly this really is just a stay busy for Gaballo, and Kisarawe was stopped back in 5 rounds in July by Prince Patel, showing just how limited he is.
The former champion on the card is former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (30-2, 13), who will be fighting for the first since he scored an 11th round KO against Shohei Omori in April 2017, a bout that saw him being stripped of the title for failing to make weight. Given his long break from the ring few we can't complain much about Tapalese being matched softly, and he has been. On paper Goodluck Mrema (22-3, 12) looks to be a decent opponent but the man from Tanzania has been matched very softly and has lost in his two bouts outside of homeland, including a stoppage loss in June in Scotland to the then 3-0 Lee McGregor. Tapales should have no problems dealing with the visitor here.
One of the prospects on this card Dave Penalosa (13-0, 9), the nephew of promoter Gerry Penalosa, who looks to be taking a step up in class, at least on paper. The unbeaten southpaw will be up against Twalib Tuwa (21-5-2, 14), another import from Tanzania. Tuwa is 0-3 on the road, including a loss to to Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym. When you consider Kwanpichit is a Flyweight and Penalosa is a Featherweight we really should be questioning why Tuwa's team are throwing him in here.
Another Penalosa on this card is Carlo Caesar Penalosa (12-1, 5), who will also be taking on an opponent from Tanzania, Jemsi Kibazange (11-2-2, 1). On paper this actually looks the most compelling of the Philippines Vs Tanzania bouts, despite Kibazange being very feather fisted. Kibazange hasn't never been stopped and despite suffering a couple of losses at least looks like he could be a test for Penalosa. Even if we are expecting the contest to be a mismatch.
In Japan there will be two shows at the Kagoshima Arena,
On paper the more notable of those two cards is the second show, which features a couple of notable bouts.
The main event of this card will see Naoya Haruguchi (15-9, 6) take on Filipino visitor Lito Dante (14-10-4, 7). This will be Haruguchi's first bout since a loss to Tatsuya Fukuhara in July and although he's lost 2 of his last 3 he has proven to be a very credible fighter around the Japanese and OPBF title scene, with notable wins against the likes of Norihito Tanaka and Jeffrey Galero. On paper Dante looks like a limited fighter, but like Haruguchi he is much better than his record suggests and has gone the distance twice with Vic Saludar and also took Simphiwe Khonce the schedule. Dante is tough, talented and will be there to pick up a win on the road. This could be a thrilling and hotly contest contest.
In the chief support bout we'll see OPBF female Bantamweight champion Miyo Yoshida (10-1) make her first defense, just weeks after winning the belt, as she takes on Thai challenger Phannaluk Kongsang (4-6-1, 2). Yoshida won the title on October 20th, to unify the OPBF and Japanese titles, and this will be her first defense of the regional belt as she gets a homecoming contest in Kagoshima, with the plan being for her to move on to world title fights in the near future. Coming in to this the Thai has lost 3 of her last 4, including a previous challenge for this title, and a win would be the biggest of her career, by far. We don't see the upset happening, but we do imagine the Thai will be able to last the distance, given Yoshida's lack of power.
The other card in Kagoshima is a Rookie of the Year card, pitting the Western Japan champions against the Central Japan champions. The winners of these bouts will then find themselves one bout away from an appearance at the All Japan Rookie of the Year final in December. This card will feature 9 bouts in total with contests taking place from Minimumweight to Welterweight. We won't go through the bouts, but we are expecting some very competitive contests.
This coming Wednesday fight fans in Hawaii will get the chance to see talented and unbeaten Filipino puncher Reymart Gaballo (16-0, 14) take on highly experienced Mexican Ernesto Guerrero (27-21,19). The talented and promising Gaballo will be making his US debut here and will be looking to score a 10th straight stoppage win, which has included 7 opening round blowouts. He is however in against arguably best opponent to date, though that isn't saying much. The experienced Guerrero is a 7 year pro who has really just been a club figther in Mexico, with losses to Ivan Morales, Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Raul Hirales, Jonathan Guzman and Giovani Segura. The idea seems to be about getting Gaballo an easy stoppage on US soil and that's the only thing likely to happen here.
August was a quiet month, there is no denying that the reason for that was the 2016 Rio Olympics. September however tries to make up for all that with September 10th being probably the most stacked day of the year, with major bouts all over the globe.
London, United Kingdom
Two of the most notable bouts take place in the UK where we see two Asian champions defending their world titles in London.
One of those Asian's is Kazakhstan's unbeaten Middleweight destroyer Gennady Golovkin (35-0, 32), who defends his WBC, IBF, and IBO titles against IBF Welterweight champion Kell Brook (36-0, 25). The Kazakh, who also holds the WBA title which won't be on the line, is widely favoured to retain his titles here but some view the bout as potentially the toughest test of his career. A win for Golovkin will likely open the doors for other UK bouts whilst an upset for Brook would likely help make him a star over-night.
The other Asian champion defending his title in the UK is IBF Flyweight champion John Riel Casimero (22-3, 14), who looks to secure his first defense as he takes on English novice Charlie Edwards (8-0, 3). This will be Casimero's first defense of the title that he won in China earlier this year, stopping Amnat Ruenroeng, and will also be his European debut. Although fighting in Europe for the first time Casimero is very well travelled and won't be intimidated by the British fans who will certainly be behind Edwards here.
Whilst the bouts in the UK are high profile bouts there is also a big show in California, headlined by a WBC Super Flyweight title bout between two Teiken promoted fighters, Carlos Cuadras and Roman Gonzalez. In a supporting roll fans will get the chance to see a potential FOTY contender as Yoshihiro Kamegai (26-3-2, 23) battles against Jesus Soto Karass (28-10-4, 18). These two met in an all out war earlier this year but we're expecting this rematch to be even better than their first fight.
We also get notable title action in Japan where we see a domestic title bout, featuring a world ranked champion, and we also see an under-card bout featuring a former world champion.
That title bout will see Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa (18-1, 15) defending his title, for the second time, against Kento Matsushita (34-9-7, 13) in what looks likely to be the challenger's final bout, if he loses. Ogawa has impressed us in the past but looked rather poor last time out and will likely look to make a statement here however the challenger is a veteran and will hope to use his experience to claim a national title at long last.
The former world champion on this card is Toshiyuki Igarashi (22-2-2, 11) who will be facing off against a limited Thai. The hope for Igarashi is to get a world title fight in the near future but the reality is that he's done little to deserve one in recent years and he's looked relatively poor in recent bouts. Despite that he should still beat the Thai that he's facing.
Arguably the best match bout on this card will see Yuki Nagano (8-2, 6) battle Dai Taoka (8-2, 5) in a real 50-50 type bout. Nagano is top 10 Japanese ranked but this is a real test and the winner will almost certainly find themselves in the mix for a Japanese Welterweight title fight in 2017.
One other bout of note on this card will see Japan's Shohei Kikuzato (11-2, 5) battle against Filipino ranked Renan Portes (8-3, 4) in what should be a very competitive 8 rounder between two men who each looking for a break out win.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
We also get some notable action in the Philippines with two different shows, the most notable of which is in Cotabato del Sur.
The match up here sees once beaten puncher Romero Duno (10-1, 9) face off against Maxsaisai Sithsaithong (16-8, 5) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Featherweight title. Duno is a big puncher with a lot of promise and we expect him to see him stop the Thai, who has gone 2-4 in his last 6 including a stoppage loss to Hisashi Amagasa in an OPBF title fight.
The other notable bout here will see the unbeaten Reymart Gaballo (14-0, 12) battle with Yodpichai Sithsaithong (12-13, 6) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Bantamweight title. We can't see this as anything but a mismatch but hopefully it will open doors for Gaballo to face stiffer competition in coming bouts, he really is far too good for this level of opposition.
Tarlac City, Tarlac, Philippines
A second Filipino card is set to take place in Tarlac but sadly this is a very poor card. The two main bouts will see Jeffrey Garcia (2-5-3, 2) battle against Menard Zaragosa (6-23-1, 4) and Ryan Bongcawil (7-11-5, 3) face off against Jeson Berwela (4-22, 2) in 8 rounders. Hardly worth getting exciting about on quiet days, never mind a day like this!
We also get action in China where it looks like things are starting to take off on a pretty regular basis now. Interestingly this particular card appears to be a major move by the WBA to make their mark on the Chinese mainland.
The main event of this card will see Xing Xin Yang (11-4-2, 8) battle against Qiang Luo (6-1, 4) in a bout for the WBA China Light Middleweight title. The bout is a well matched one and should provide some decent action, but we suspect it won't go the distance with the two men both being solid punchers.
Another title bout on this card will see the unbeaten Bai Shan Bo (8-0-1, 4) trade blows with He Zhang (2-3, 1) in a bout for the WBA China Light Welterweight title. It's fair to say that Bo should win this and should move into bigger and better fights in the near future.
Another notable bout on this card will see A Fu Bai (7-0, 4) battle against Kazakh novice Viktor Kotochigov (1-0,1) in a 6 rounder. This could be the best bout on the card despite the novice status of the 23 year old Kotochigov.
Staying with all-unbeaten fighters Russian fans will get the chance to see Uzbek fighter Kobiljon Bobojonov (2-0, 1) battle against Sergey Sharapov (5-0, 2) in a 6 rounder.