This coming Friday is set to be an incredibly busy day for Asian fight fans, with cards of note taking place in Japan, Thailand, Russia and Tanzania. The days also has a nice mix of rising youngsters looking to make their way in the sport, a veteran looking for his 98th professional win, and several contenders also in action.
Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California, USA
We'll start not in Asia but in the US, where rising Uzbek sensation Bektemir Melikuziev (5-0, 4) will be defending his WBA Continental America's Super Middleweight title against Mexican challenger Alan Campa (17-5, 11). This, in reality, should be little more than a stay busy bout for the talented Uzbek, who looks set to become a star in the coming years. Sadly the "Bully" hasn't been as active as we'd have liked, though given how 2020 has been we are glad we're going to see him get a run out here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
One of the many cards comes from Korakuen Hall, and will be made available on demand on Boxing Raise. The card has several good looking bouts on it, and several others worthy of note.
the best of the bouts on this one will see rising Japanese Lightweight Shu Utsuki (6-0, 5) look for win #7 as he takes on Takayuki Sakai (9-2-2, 6). The heavy handed Utsuki had a great 2019, scoring 4 stoppages, but has been out of the ring since October 2019, and has lost much of the momentum he had. As for Sakai he's no push over, and scored a notable 2018 win over Amphol Suriyo, aka Pharanpetch Tor Buamas, but has gone 1-1 since then. We expect Utsuki to come out on top here, but it should be a very, very fun bout.
Another unbeaten man on this card will be Ryo Nakai (1-0-1, 1), who looks for his second professional win as he takes on Mirai Naito (8-1, 3). Nakai turned professional last year with some solid amateur credentials but was held to a draw in a tough debut, before picking up his first win in November. He has the amateur background but Naito has the blood line, with his father, Cassius Naito, and brother, Rikki Naito, both being notable fighters. Naito also has the edge in professional experience and has notched 3 wins since his solitary loss. We expect this one to be the hidden gem of the show.
In a female bout the unbeaten Sayo Segawa (1-0, 1) will be up against Natsuki Tarui (3-6-2). The talented Segawa ran up over 30 wins in the amateurs and placed 3rd in an All Japan amateur tournament before turning professional last year and looking good on her debut. Sadly she's been out of the ring for a year as we enter this bout and her career has clearly stalled before it's even got going. Tarui on the other hand is a 29 year old domestic level fighter who isn't expected to go far, but should serve as a good opponent to help Segawa shake some ring rust and get back up to speed.
Rangsit International Stadium, Rangsit, Thailand
Over in Thailand we get a small show featuring two notable names, and a promising youngster. Sadly however it's hard to get invested in this show.
The main event will see the young, and somewhat unproven, Kittithat Ungsrivongs (16-1, 9) fight for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Super Featherweight title. Sadly his opponent is the win-less Omar El Ouers (0-1-1). Kittithat, also known as Wanchana Menayothin is only 21, so it's harsh to complain too much about an easy bout, but he's been a professional for almost 4 years now and is still fighting very limited opposite. Notably El Ouers did fight to a draw last time out with Kongfah CP Freshmart, but Kongfah is very much a Super Flyweight, and El Ouers success there is unlike to carry up to 130lbs.
Talking about Kongfah CP Freshmart (33-1-1, 16) he will also be on the card, along with Petch Sor Chitpattana (57-1, 42). Sadly however neither man has had their opponent made clear at the time of writing. Given how Petpiya fights go, and how these two have been matched previously, we don't really expect anything exciting for either man.
PTA Hall, Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania
On the subject of Thai's it's worth noting that former 2-weight world champion Sirimongkol Singwancha (97-4, 62) is also scheduled for action, albeit in Tanzania, where he is set to face local fighter Twaha Kassimu Rubaha (15-6-1, 8) for the WBC Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title. Despite once being a brilliant fighter Sirimongkol is now a 43 year old, former blown up Bantamweight with over 100 bouts to his name and is not the fighter he once was. Although Rubaha is moving up in weight for this bout he is the naturally bigger man, and the much younger man, and we think those advantages will take him to victory here.
USC Soviet Wings, Moscow, Russia
In Moscow we have some fighters from Central Asia in action.
The most notable of the Central Asian fighters in action here is Kazakh female fighter Firuza Sharipova (11-1, 6), who has often received a lot of media attention but appears to be under-the-radar for this fighter, likely due to the backlash her last bout had. The frustrating Kazakh will be up against Serbian fighter Sara Marjanovic (7-7, 3), who's record is very padded thanks to 5 successive wins against very low level opposition. This should be an easy win for Sharipova,
Another central Asian fighter on this show is 26 year old Kyrgyzstan fighter Turat Osmonov (3-0, 3), who looks for his next win as he takes on the win-less Mutrib Karambakhshov (0-3), a Russian based Tajik. Really is hard to get too excited about this one, though we have liked what we have seen of Osmonov and hopefully he will be stepped up in his next fight or two.
This coming Saturday is massive with a trio of world title bouts, to warm up for the big day we get a really interesting card in Japan on Friday, with 2 really good Japan Vs Philippines bouts and a pair of bouts involving touted debutants.
The main event of the show will see OPBF Flyweight champion Jayr Raquinel (10-1-1, 7) look to make his second defense, as he takes on Japanese veteran Takuya Kogawa (30-5-1, 13), who is essentially fighting for his career at this point. The talented Raquinel won the title in March 2018, stopping Keisuke Nakayama, and impressed when he stopped Shun Kosaka in his first defense. Sadly a loss in China to Wulan Tuolehazi last September slowed his ascent and he's been out of the ring ever since. At the age of 34 Kogawa really is a veteran, and the popular Tokyo brawler has began to show signs of his career catching up with him in recent years. Since losing the Japanese title in June 2016 to Masayuki Kuroda we've not been impressed by Kogawa, who has struggled in his 3 subsequent bouts, though has been hit by stretches of inactivity. If Kogawa is half the fighter he once was this could be amazing, alternatively this could be the bout that pushes him into retirement. A full preview of this bout is available here Rising hopeful Raquinel and veteran Kogawa clash for OPBF title
Another brilliant bout between a Filipino and a Japanese local will see Pinoy hopeful Alphoe Dagayloan (13-2-5, 5) take on touted Japanese hopeful Ryota Yamauchi (4-1, 4). For Dagayloan this bout will see him looking to extend a 7 fight winning streak, and build on wins over the likes of Esneth Domingo and Danrick Sumabong. A win for the Filipino will almost certainly open up big opportunities in the near future, given his run of form. For Yamauchi however the bout will be his first since suffering a controversial loss in China to Wulan Tuolehazi, the same man who has also beaten Jayr Raquinel. A win for Yamauchi gets him back on the fast track, whilst a loss will give him some real rebuilding to do. It's great to see both men taking a risk here, and we're really expecting something very special from this bout. Our preview of this bout is available here Yamauchi and Dagayloan set to battle in intriguing 8 rounder!
In an interesting all-Japanese bout ranked fighters clash, as JBC and WBO Asia Pacific ranked Yuichiro Kasuya (12-2-1, 3) takes on OPBF and JBC ranked Takayuki Sakai (9-1-2, 6), in what is arguably the most over-looked bout on the card. The 22 year old Kasuya has been a professional for over 5 years and show a lot of early promise, winning the Rookie of the Year in in 2014. A 3 fight run that saw him going 0-2-1 slowed his ascent but with Kadoebi now behind him it seems like his career is back on track and hopefully he can build on the early promise he showed. Sakai on the other hand started his career 3-1-2 but has since reeled off 6 straight wins, including a very notable one over Amphol Suriyo, aka Pharanpetch Tor Buamas, last December. The winner of this one could well find themselves in a title fight very soon.
One of two notable debutants on this card is Mikio Sakai (0-0), who takes on the hard hitting Elfelos Vega (7-6, 5). As an amateur Sakai went 44-22 (19) and was a pretty notable amateur and even if he didn't regularly win national tournaments he was solid with Kadoebi clearly expecting big things from him. Vega is a very tough tough debut opponent, with the Japanese based Colombian being heavy handed and able to take a good shot. Vega hasn't fought since March 2018, but has shared the ring with the likes of Takeshi Inoue, Charles Bellamy and Kazuto Takesako, with only Takesako and Ryosuke Maruki managing to stop him. This looks like it could be a baptism of fire for Sakai.
Another debutant who is in tough is the 21 year old Ryo Nakai (0-0), who takes on unbeaten Filipino Jay Lloyd Quidlat (4-0-1, 2). The debutant ran up a 30-16 (15) record in the amateurs and should have the tools to handle Quidlat, who is unbeaten but has faced very limited opposition on the lower end of the Filipino scene. An interesting looking debut for Nakai, but a big step up for Quidlat.
In Okalahoma we're expecting to see two Central Asian prospects in action.
The more well known of those is hard hitting Uzbek prospect Shohjahon Ergashev (16-0, 14), who risks his unbeaten record against fellow puncher Abdiel Ramirez (24-4-1, 22). On paper this looks like an interesting match up, and it should be explosive, though Ramirez is the naturally smaller man and has lost 3 of his last 4. Given that both can punch we do expect to see heavy leather thrown, but Ergashev should be too heavy handed, too big and too tough for 28 year old Mexican.
The other Central Asian fighter on this card is Izim Izbaki (1-0, 1), though it should be noted Izbaki has had several fight fall through since his debut. Well regarded by those in Kazakhstan Izbaki has got potential, and should be far too good for the 26 year old Armonte Summers (1-1), who is listed as being 6'10". If this bout takes place we expect Izbaki to fight like a man with a point to prove given the issues he's had with getting in the ring since his debut last November.
Staying in the US we'll also see the unbeaten Bobirzhan Mominov (10-0, 8) take on Javier Flores (14-2, 12). The talented 27 year old Mominov is one of the less spoken about Kazakh prospects but has impressed and looks like someone who needs to be let off the leash sooner, rather than later. On paper this is a big step up for him, with Flores having never been stopped, and having gone 10 rounds with the once touted Ronald Cruz just a few months ago. A good test, but one that Mominov should pass.
New South Wales, Australia
One other bout of note will take place in Australia and see Australian based Filipino veteran Jack Asis (38-22-5, 19) fight for the 66th time as he takes on the unbeaten Youssef Dib (12-0, 5). Asis has had a real roller coaster of a career, turning around a 21-18-4 (10) record by scoring 14 straight wins, but he has suffered back to back losses entering this bout, and was stopped last time out after being dropped a number of times. The 26 year old Dib is no puncher, and did look poor last time out, but should have more than enough to beat the 36 year old Asis.
Gauteng, South Africa
Under-rated Kazakh Alexandr Zhuravskiy (13-4-1, 11) ended a 3 fight losing run last time out, when he held Boyd Allen to a draw in South Africa. This coming Friday he returns to South Africa to take on 21 year old South African puncher Roarke Knapp (8-0-1, 7). This looks a tough ask for Zhuravskiy, however he continues to show that he's no easy out for anyone, and we wouldn't be surprised to see him to give Knapp a really serious test here.