The biggest show of the weekend this Saturday comes from the Philippines as ALA Promotions put on the 28th show in their "Pinoy Pride" series and, we've got to be honest here, it looks like a great one even if the main event is likely to feel like a let down, thankfully however there are 4 or 5 other interesting bouts on the card and several notable names.
The aforementioned main event will see WBO Light Flyweight champion Donnie Nietes (33-1-3, 9) return to the ring in an attempt to record the 5th defense of his title. We say attempt though he shouldn't really struggle as he takes on the exciting but limited Carlos Velarde (26-3-1, 14). We don't think Nietes will be given a real test here but we do suspect the fight will be fun to watch as Velarde always brings action to the ring, as he did prior to getting stopped by Ryo Miyazak in a WBA Minimumweight title bout last year.
Whilst the main event looks somewhat predictable the two main support bouts both look interesting to say the least.
One of those will see former world title challenger Milan Melindo (31-1, 12) drop down to Light Flyweight to take on Mexico's Saul Juarez (20-3, 11) in an IBF world title eliminator. The bout was put together after Juarez missed out on the world title shot that Velarde has and we suspect that Melindo will be given a good work out here even if he does make it look relatively easy. The other major support bout will see the unbeaten Albert Pagara (21-0, 15) battle against tough Mexican Raul Hirales (22-3-1, 11). This will be Pagara's first defense of the IBF Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title and appears to be a great step up for the Filipino who has blitzed his last 3 foes in a combined 5 rounds. It's a big step up but Hirales has looked very ordinary in his 3 losses and we suspect Pagara will manage to make him look poor as well.
In the most interesting of 3 bouts scheduled for 10 rounds we will see unified Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr (16-2, 11) battle against Jomar Fajardo (14-5-1, 7). Rodriguez will be fighting for the first time since he unified the IBF and WBO titles with his stellar victory over Katsunari Takayama this year in a FOTY contender and we suspect that this will be his last bout before making a permanent move to the Light Flyweight division, which appears to be set for a memorable 2015.
Another of the 10 rounders will see former Rodriguez foe Merlito Sabillo (23-1-1, 12) battle against the limited Faris Nenggo (8-6-3, 2). This will be Sabillo's first bout since being stopped by Rodriguez in March whilst for Nenggo it'll be his first bout since back-to-back defeats to Ryuji Hara and Paipharob Kokietgym. It should be an easy win for Sabillo but it's hard to judge what his confidence will be like after the battering he suffered at the hands of Rodriguez.
The third 10 rounder will see former world title contender AJ Banal (31-2-1, 22) battle against recent OPBF Featherweight title challenger Maxsaisai Sithsaithong (15-5, 4). We assume this could be fun to watch but Banal, for all his talent, appears to have a knack of letting us down. We wouldn't be shocked for him to take out his Thai foe early nor would we be shocked to see him struggle to a relatively limp and unexciting decision win.
Lower down the card in an 8 rounder we will see Mark Magsayo (8-0, 6), one of out favourite Filipino prospects, battle against South Korean visitor Moon-Sun Jung (2-3-3). We imagine Magsayo will see off Jung though hopefully he'll get some rounds in the bank before closing the show.
Nakhon Nayok, Thailand
Whilst the Filipino show is clearly the most important of the day we do have shows across Asia with one of them taking place in Thailand.
This show will be headlined by a regional title bout between unbeaten fighters as Petchchorhae Kokietgym (8-0, 5) attempts to make the first defense of his WBC Asian Boxing Council silver Flyweight title. The man trying to stop the Thai is unbeaten Indonesian Rizky Pratama (2-0) who we really don't know about. Hopefully this will be competitive though we suspect the Indonesian will be blown away relatively quickly in a mismatch.
In a clear mismatch fans will get the chance to see former world title challenger Terdsak Kokietgym (53-5-1, 33) take on Indonesia's Yacob Ton (4-10, 2). This is a mismatch and few will defend it however it will be Terdsak's first bout since his thrilling encounter with Orlando Salido a few months ago and hopefully Terdsak won't damaged good following that fight which was extremely damaging for the Thai.
A third bout on this card will see Petchnamchai KKP (1-0, 1) risking his unbeaten record against the debuting Ricardo Sithsaithong (0-0) in what looks like an even match up on paper though is unlikely to be even at all given what we know about boxing in Thailand.
A small show in Japan, featuring 9 bouts in total, looks to be a forgettable one with only 2 bouts even worth mentioning.
The main event, an 8 rounder, will see Keita Nakano (11-9-3, 2) fight against Takaaki Ishikawa (10-5, 5) in what appears to be a competitive match up though a sub-domestic level one that won't get fans, even domestic ones, excited in the slightest. Although not a great bout both men do need a win and will likely put it all on the line to take home a W. The only other bout worth noting is a 6 rounder that will see Ryuto Araya (6-2-1) taking on Tsubasa Mochizuki (6-4, 2) in a bout we suspect will go the distance considering neither guy has much power on their shots.
Daegu, South Korea
In South Korea we get another domestic level card though one that features 2 relatively weak looking title fights.
At Super Middleweight we will see Eun-Chang Lee (7-4, 3) attempt to defend the Korean Super Middleweight title for the first time since winning the title in March. Lee, who lost in Macau to Esquiva Falcao last time out, will be battling against Young-Kyoon Lee (1-13-1) who really shouldn't be in any sort of a title fight given that he has won just 1 of 15 professional bouts.
Sadly the other title bout on the show, a South Korean Super Featherweight bout, is almost as bad as Ik Soo Han (6-3, 1) takes on Jong-Won Won (7-13-1, 3) for the vacant belt. Han last fought 19 months ago, losing a 6th round TKO to Junta Sekimoto in Japan whilst Won hasn't won a bout since July 2009! We understand that titles can interest fans but this is farcical for a title bout.
A third bout on this card will see former female world title challenger Hye-Soo Park (3-7-1, 1) fighting against win-less Thai Dorkmaipah Kiatpompetch (0-3) in what should be a clear mismatch, despite the fact Park isn't a great fighter herself.
Gauteng, South Africa
In South Africa we will see two Russian's in action in interesting looking bouts.
At Light Heavyweight we will get the chance to see Denis Grachev (13-4-1, 8) take on the unbeaten, and freakishly tall, Thomas Oosthuizen (22-0-2, 13). It's fair to say the loser here will have to forget any dreams of being a world champion whilst a win will likely help them move into contention for a belt. With the stakes so high this could a very good bout however both men have looked poor in recent contests and they may again fail to inspire here.
The other bout will see the heavy handed Roman Belaev (14-0, 10) fighting former world title challenger Ali Funeka (35-4-3, 29) in a bout for the IBO Welterweight title. Belaev has generally impressed us with his power, aggression and style and we suspect he'll show those same traits here against the 36 year old Funeka who we thing could be ready for his first stoppage loss.
(Image courtesy of ALA Promotions)
It's rare that we get no Asian cards but this Saturday is one such day, thankfully however we do have a number of notable Asian fighters in around the world in some very, very good looking fights with some real significance.
With no cards of note taking place in Asia the most significant card for us, by a long way, is the Zanfer Promociones card in Sonora which features two notable fights involving Asian fighters.
The bigger of those two bouts will see Filipino Richie Mepranum (27-3-1, 6) challenge unified Flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada (25-2, 18). Estrada is the reigning the WBO and WBA "super" champion at Flyweight and will be the big, big favourite against the Filipino but Mepranum has fought at this type of level before having already faced Denkaosan Kaovichit, Julio Cesar Miranda and Hernan "Tyson" Marquez, in fact Mepranum is 1-1 with "Tyson" Marquez.
Interestingly for Estrada this will be his second successive defence against a Filipino having beaten Milan Melindo last time out in a very competitive bout in Macau.
Having just mentioned Hernan "Tyson" Marquez (36-4, 26) it's worth noting that he will be in the second fighting involving an Asian as he battles former Bantamweight title challenger John Mark Apolinario (17-3-3, 4), who was bested by Koki Kameda last year. Apolinario is, like Mepranum, also a Filipino.
The fact Apolinario was hurt and dropped by Koki doesn't bode well for him here and it's going to be hard to see him lasting the distance with Marquez who is a fearsome and hard punching machine. Though we wish him the best of look in what we view as the toughest bout of his career so far.
Mexico City, Mexico
A second card in Mexico that features Asian fighters will take place in Mexico City. Although not yet listed on boxrec the card does look like an interesting one.
For us the more significant of the bouts here features OPBF female Bantamweight champion Tenkai Tsunami (20-9, 9) who faces former adversary, and one of the elite female fighters on the planet, Jessica Chavez (19-3-3, 4). Tsunami lost a decision to Chavez last year and although the scorecards were wider than they should have been the right fighter did win. Interestingly Chavez, who is unbeaten in 3 years, could only manage a draw last time out whilst Tsunami looked revitalised in stopping Honey Katsumata in 7 rounds.
The other bout is sadly a mismatch as Filipino Ranel Suco (15-7-2, 6), last seen in a ring over a year ago, takes on the world class Julio Ceja (26-1, 24). Ceja has said he wants to fight Shinsuke Yamanaka and that would be a fight we'd be interested in, sadly this is little more than a stay busy affair for the powerful Mexican puncher.
Yorkshire, United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom fans will get the chance to see the Ricky Hatton trained Kazakh Bantamweight Zhanat Zhakiyanov (21-1, 14) attempt to claim the European title as he battles Frenchman Karim Guerfi (20-2, 5). Guerfi, who beat recent world title challenger Stephane Jamoye for the title, is a tricky and difficult customer who moves well, is tough and very tricky and could well upset the Zhakiyanov apple cart.
We've got to admit we're not 100% sure how a Kazakh qualifies to fight for the European title but it is what it is is we're afraid and a win here for the Zhakiyanov will put him into the world rankings.
In Germany, where the biggest card of the day in terms of world boxing, will be held fans will get the chance to see heavy handed Russian prospect Roman Belaev (13-0, 10). We really like the look of Belaev and he had a great work out last time out going 12 rounds with Dean Byrne. This time around Belaev is limited to just 6 rounds as he takes on the tough but light hitting Fouad El Massoudi (9-3, 1) in what should be a very easy assignment for the Russian puncher.
(Image courtesy of Zanfer and Notifight)
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.