This coming Friday fight fans in Zhongshan will get a relatively low key card, but one with a few interesting looking bouts.
One of those bouts will see Filipino Engelbert Moralde (10-5, 6) take on unbeaten Chinese fighter Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (10-0-1, 2). The visitor has lost 3 of his last 5, including losses in a couple of visits to Japan, and has never won outside of the Philippines. Although not a notable name in Chinese boxing, yet, Nihemaituola has been building a bit of a reputation and looks like a potential hidden gem for Chinese boxing, especially given that he's only 23. A win here won't turn the Chinese fighter into a star but will help to enhance his reputation as a genuine Chinese prospect.
In a battle for the WBO China Zone Featherweight title fans will see Yu Che Li (3-1-1, 2) take on Da Xu (3-0, 1). Neither of these man have much name value, but both will be up for a fight as they both seek their first professional titles. Li, from Taiwan, claimed his most notable victory back in September when he scored a TKO win over Richard Garcia and will be looking to build on that. Aged 18 Xu is a boxing baby but does seem to be slowly developing and has done well since debuting just over 13 months ago. Interestingly Xu's last bout was also a TKO win over Garcia, and prior to that he had claimed two majority decisions. This isn't going to make waves, but could be a very interesting match up
A second WBO China Zone title fight comes at Light Flyweight, as the unbeaten pairing of Rongguo Wu (4-0-2, 1) and Lemen Chao (6-0) face off for the vacant title. So far in his career Wu has had struggles in almost all of his bouts. He scored a stoppage on debut but has gone the distance in his 5 subsequent bouts, with 4 of them being very close, including his two draws. It's hard to get a read on those results, given they all came against fellow Chinese novices. Chao has never scored a stoppage, and like Wu has some close wins, but does clear advantages in being the much taller man and a southpaw. This could be a very fun fight or a very frustrating one.
One other bout of interest here will see former world title challenger Noldi Manakane (32-23-2, 18) battling against unbeaten Chinese prospect Zhong Liu (10-0, 3). Liu has been impressive and won the Major League Boxing tournament at 122lbs earlier this year, and should see this as a chance to claim a win against a man with some name value, even if Manakane is way past his best.
Russian fans will get the chance to see a number of Asian fighters in action, in bouts of various significance.
The most important bout of the card will see Russia's Magomed Kurbanov (12-0, 9) take on Japan's Akinori Watanabe (35-6, 30) in about for the WBO International Light Middleweight title. The Russian enters the bout as the WBO #1 ranked fighter at 154lbs and although highly ranked has got a lot of questions to answer before getting a world title fight. It's unlikely that the 32 year old Watanabe will be able to ask too many questions of Kurbanov, but the power of Watanabe could see the Russian being given a chin check, if nothing else.
A second bout of some interest will see Tajik born Russian based Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (9-0, 6) battle against the very experienced Filipino Jaime Barcelona (40-61-1, 10). The unbeaten Yaqubov has stopped his last 3, including Daiki Ichikawa and Ernie Sanchez, and does look like a fighter with the potential to go places. Aged 40 Barcelona is unlikely to pose a serious threat to Yaqubov, but he is an upset minded fighter and comes into this on the back of a huge shock win over Eden Sonsona and is a very tough fighter, capable of giving decent fighters tough nights.
Another bout featuring a Filipino and an unbeaten fighter will see Roberto Gonzales (27-3, 17) take on Russia's Zaur Abdullaev (6-0, 4). Although this looks good on paper the reality is that Gonzales is very limited and has been stopped in all 3 of his losses, likely to become 4 here. Abdullaev is stepping up, in a pretty big way, but hasn't come close to losing yet and is unlikely to really be tested here.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
We also get a bout of note in South Africa, as in form South African Lwandile Sityatha (23-3-1, 7) v looks to extend an unbeaten 8 fight winning run as he takes on Filipino Jake Bornea (12-2, 6). Sityatha has been a thorn in the side of Filipino boxing in recent times, with wins over Edrin Dapudong, Michael Dasmarinas and Ernesto Saulong and it's unlikely that the naturally smaller Bornea will be able to change that here.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines fans get a small but notable show with two title bouts, one of which features a former world title challenger and another features an unbeaten prospect.
The former world title challenger is Bernabe Concepcion (34-6-2, 20) who faces former OPBF title challenger Jimmy Paypa (17-3-1, 6) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title. Last year we saw Paypa being stopped in a round by Shingo Wake and this will be his second bout since that loss. As for Concepcion he is unbeaten since a 7th round TKO loss to Mikey Garcia, however he has only gone 4-0-1 in the 4 years since that loss.
The other title fight will see Roberto Gonzales (26-2, 16) battle the unbeaten Arjan Canillas (13-0-2, 10) for the GAB Lightweight title in what looks like a really well matched bout. On paper Gonzalez will be favoured however the unbeaten Canillas is genuinely promising and has been scoring notable wins recently, including a victory last year against Rey Labao. If the 22 year old Canillas scores a win here then he really could be on his way to an OPBF title fight in the near future.
Staying with Filipinos it's worth noting that the criminally under-rated Adones Aguelo (24-13-2, 16) will be in action in the US against former world title challenger Miguel Marriaga (22-1, 19). Marriaga came to the attention of the wider boxing public last year when he gave Nicholas Walters a very tough bout and if he puts up another performance like that here there is a good chance he'll over-come Aguelo, however the Filipino can never be written off and is very much an upset minded fighter who will travel to win.
Merseyside, United Kingdom
In the UK fight fans will be able to see Indian fighter Vijender Singh (3-0, 3) continue his professional career as he takes on Alexander Horvath (5-1-1, 1). Singh does appear to have some promise but at 30 years old it's now time he began to face stiffer tests than Horvath, who was stopped inside a round last November.