Yñares Sports Arena, Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines
This coming Friday attention turns to the Philippines for a really interesting card, mixing notable names and prospects. Amazingly the title has two former world title challengers on it, a long with a former Lineal Flyweight world champion making for one of the more notable Fiilpino shows of recent years.
The main event of the card will see former world title challenger Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5) take on Renoel Pael (23-11-1, 12), in what looks to be a genuinely interesting test for the talented Heno. The talented Heno was last seen in action back in October 2019, when he suffered a hotly contested loss to the then WBO Light Flyweight champion Elwin Soto, giving Soto a really close run. Sadly though that was almost 3 years ago, and the inactivity saw him fail to build on an excellent performance. Not only has he been inactive but he's also stepping up in weight for this bout, which is listed as a Bantamweight bout, as he takes on the capable Pael. The 31 year old Pael was 19-1-1 back in 2015, and whilst he has fallen off the radar since then, going 4-10, he is a naturally bigger fighter and does put up a fair effort in the ring, having pushed the likes of Suguru Muranaka, Giovanni Escander and Tatsuya Takahashi close. Sadly though he's also been out of the ring since 2019, however he will know a win here will do a lot to kick start his dwindling career.
One of the hottest young fighters on this card is the heavy handed Weljon Mindoro (7-0, 7), who's a 22 year and a rare Filipino Middleweight. The hard hitting Mindoro will be seeking an 8th straight stoppage as he takes on veteran southpaw Jason Egera (24-24-3, 11). To date Mindoro's 7 wins have come in just 13 combined rounds, and he has never been beyond the third 3rd round, leading to question marks about his stamina and his chin. Sadly we don't expect to see any questions about him being answered here given that the 37 year old Egera has been stopped 12 times in his 24 losses, including 3 stoppage losses in his last 4 bouts. If he can make it into round 4 however Egera might have the tools to ask something new of Mindoro.
The most accomplished fighter on this card is Sonny Boy Jaro (45-15-5, 32), though sadly the former WBC and Lineal Flyweight champion is no spring chicken, and aged 40 he seems to be getting rolled out to allow prospects to get a big name on their records. And that certainly seems to be the case here as he takes on 22 year old RV Deniega (6-0, 3). At his best Jaro was a tough, rugged, heavy handed fighter, who famously stopped Pongsaklek Wonjongkam for the WBC title in 2012. Since that win he has gone 11-5, which isn't terrible, but he is 2-2 in his last 4, and has been out of the ring for more than 3 years. As for Deniega this is a big step up from his last 6 fights, but it seems a calculated risk and a chance to get a win over a very faded former world champion.
Former world title challenger ArAr Andales (13-2-1, 5) will be hoping to get back to winning ways as he takes on the experienced, but limited, Bonjun Loperez (12-16-1, 6). The talented Andales was helped to a draw last time out, against Joey Canoy, and is 3-2-1 in his last 6, so him getting an easy win isn't a bad idea here, but it does feel like this bout should be a bit too easy for him. Loperez has lost his last 5, 4 by stoppage, and it's really hard to know what ambition he has here given that recent form. He did go the 8 round distance with Orlie Silvestre last year, but since then has been blown out and we wouldn't be surprised at all by Andales stopping his man here.
Another hopeful on this card is the unbeaten Jenel Lausa (10-0-1, 6), who will be fighting for the first time since September 2019, when he stopped Carlos Lopez. Given the lengthy lay off it's hard to complain about Lausa taking on a less than testing opponent, but we would have hoped he'd be facing someone with a bit more ambition than Michael Escobia (12-21-1, 3), who who has lost his last 5 bouts, and is a long way removed from his win, which came at Super Bantamweight in 2017. Notably Escobia has been stopped in his last 2, and we suspect he'll be stopped again here.
Sanman Gym, General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
This coming Tuesday we'll be getting a very, very interesting card from the Philippines featuring 3 men who have competed in world title bouts!
The best of the bouts on the card is a mouth watering clash between Vince Paras (16-2, 14) and Robert Paradero (18-2, 12). Paradero is a 2-time world title contender, who lost to Vic Saludar and Knockout CP Freshmart last year. Although he has those two losses against his name, he is a very solid fighter, and someone who did seem to look to make a fight of things against Knockout, before being taken out in round 5. As for Paras the 23 year old showed what he could do when he challenged Hiroto Kyoguchi in 2018, losing but putting up a solid effort. Sadly neither man has a win of note in recent years, however this is a great match up which will see the winner move towards another major bout, whilst the loser will have some serious rebuilding to do.
Another former world title challenger on this card is Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5), who is being matched against unbeaten prospect RV Deniega (6-0, 3). Heno was last seen in action in 2019, when he lost a very competitive bout with the then WBO Light Flyweight champion Elwin Soto, and sadly any momentum he could have had from that bout has been lose with around 30 months of inactivity. Despite that he will come in to this bout as the favourite against the unbeaten 22 year old. Daniega is a talent, and a genuine hopeful for the Philippines, but sadly for him he is stepping up big time here and looks to be taking a leap up in class. Saying that Daniega is the bigger, younger, fresher and more active man and his team will know a win here gives his career a huge boost.
One other fighter of note on this card is the hard hitting Jhack Tepora (23-1, 17), who looks to rebuild from a huge upset loss to Oscar Escandon in 2019. Sadly for Tepora he has been out of the ring since December 2019, and that loss to Escandon really has derailed his career. Coming in to this bout, his opponent is unknown 2 weeks out so we're not expecting anyone too testing for the talented Tepora, who will be hoping to get an easy confidence building win here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the Filipino card we also get a small, but interesting, card from Korakuen Hall.
In one of the main bouts here the 37 year old Hiro Ichimichi (6-0-1, 5) will face off with Ryuto Araya (14-9-1, 4). Ichimichi made his debut in 2019, aged 34 and despite having a draw on debut, he has impressed since then, and has shown really nasty power, with 5 stoppages in 6 bouts, including one against Hyoga Taniguchi. For him this will be his first 8 rounder, and he'll known a win over Araya will move him towards a potential title fight, something few would have expected when he was debuting. As for Araya he has fought a bit of a who's who of the Japanese scene over the last few years, and even challenged for the OPBF Featherweight title, but he has gone 3-5 in his last 8, and has suffered 5 stoppage losses, a worry against someone like Ichimichi.
In another solid bout on this card unbeaten teenager Kai Watanabe (6-0-1, 2) will be up against Ryota Ishida (11-2, 6). Aged 19 Watanabe is a genuine prospect, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in February and looks to build on that success here. He is quick, sharp and a very intelligent out-side boxer. Ishida on the other hand the type of fighter who wants to take the fight to opponents, and will look to drag Watanabe into something of a war. This should be a great chance to see what Watanabe is really made of, and really see what his potential is at this early stage of his career.
February 6th-World title rematch in the Philippines, Rookie of the Year in Tokyo
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.