This coming Friday is a small but notable day in Asia, with a potentially very exciting, but easy to over-look show in Tokyo and an Uzbek hopeful getting a chance to show what they can do.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The card in Tokyo is small one but a pretty notable one.
The main event here will see former world title challenger Akihiro Kondo (32-9-2, 18) take on Japanese Brazilian Cristiano Aoqui (15-8-2, 11) in what should be a really exciting and action packed bout. The tough and aggressive Kondo is certainly a rough around the edges fighter but is rugged, comes to fight, and can be a nightmare for much better fighters, as we saw against Sergey Lipinets. As for Aoqui he's not the best fighter out there, but he's explosive, exciting and hard hitting. Aoqui is, like Kondo, quite rough around the edges, but his style should gel with Kondo's to give us something brilliant to watch. This will be Kondo's pressure and toughness against Aoqui's explosive aggression.
In the chief support bout the once beaten Takuya Uehara (16-1,10) will be looking to bounce back from a 2018 loss to Satoshi Shimizu. Uehara has sadly been out of the ring for well over 2 years but will be looking to prove a point here and get his career back on track. In the opposite corner to Uehars will be Ryusei Ishii (8-6-1, 5), who has been very out of sortes in recent bouts and is 2-4-1 in his last 7.
Reed Arena, College Station, Texas, USA
As well as the action in Japan we're also expecting to see some action in the US of interest as once beaten Uzbek fighter Jamshidbek Najmitdinov (16-1, 13) makes his US debut. Although not a well known fighter Najmitdinov is a very dangerous fighter, and is well over-due a chance to show what he can do on a big stage. The now 31 year old is not among the top amateurs from Uzbekistan, but he is someone who should be more well known and was legitimately robbed in 2017 when he faced Viktor Postol in Ukraine. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent for this bout hasn't been confirmed, though hopefully it will be someone capable of asking him questions, as he can ill afford to waste more time with mismatches.
This coming Saturday is an exciting and busy day with multiple shows featuring Asian fighters, in bouts of varying significance.
For us the main card of the day will be in Japan as Teiken put on a Dynamic Glove at Korakuen Hall. This G+ televised card will feature two title bouts and a number of interesting hopefuls.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) defending his title against mandatory challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) in the first of the 2020 Champion Carnival bouts. This should be a really explosive bout and both men can hurt, and be hurt. Coming in Nagano will be seeking his second defense of the title and has scored 7 stoppages in his last 8 bouts. For Obara the bout is a chance to claim a second Japanese title, and a chance to give his career a shot in the arm after some recent set backs. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Champion Nagano faces Obara in Japanese title defense
The second title fight on this card will be a Japanese Youth Super Featherweight bout between Ryusei Ishii (8-5-1, 5) and Yamato Hata (9-1, 9), who face off for the vacant title. Of the two Ishii is the more experienced man, and has faced the better competition, but Hata is a rising puncher, and will enter this bout with momentum on his side, with 6 straight TKO wins. Ishii on the other hand has struggled with just 1 win in his last 4. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hard hitting Hata takes on Ishii for Japanese Youth title
In an interesting match up between Japanese ranked fighter's we'll see JBC ranked Welterweight Junpei Tsujimoto (6-1-3, 4) move up to 154lbs to face ranked Middleweight Nath Nwachukwu (5-0-2, 2), who drops down 6 lbs. This is interesting to see both men changing weight for the bout, which will be scheduled for 6 rounds. Interestingly both of these men won the Rookie of the Year in 2018, and each have picked up 2 wins since then. Maybe not a big bout but an interesting one.
At 14olbs we see another Japanese ranked fighter, with the hard hitting Kenta Endo (5-0-1, 4), who also won the 2018 Rookie of the Year, taking on Shun Akaiwa (4-1-1, 2). Aged 35 Endo's potentially to is limited by his age, but he's a fun, exciting and hard hitting fighter. Someone who can make very TV friendly bouts. Akaiwa on the other hand is not someone we can recall watching but he's yet to be stopped and should make for an interesting opponent for Endo.
Further down the card we see two notable Japanese prospects taking on Indonesian novices. One of those prospects is Kenshi Noda (1-0, 1), who is expected to pick up a quick win against Thomas Tope Hurek (2-4-1, 1) in a Light Flyweight bout, whilst the other is Super Flyweight Hiroto Yahsiro (1-0, 1), who takes takes on Abdul Rauf (1-2). Expect these to be little more than showcase wins for the local prospects.
Nuevo León, Mexico
Whilst the biggest show is the one in Japan the biggest single bout is actually in Mexico where IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11) defends his belt against talented Mexican challenger Daniel Valladares (22-1, 13). Taduran won his title in a brilliant little war with Samuel Salva last September and at 23 is still just getting stronger. It is however always a big ask to pick up a win on the road in Mexico. Valladares on the other hand had an under-rated 2019 where he scored 4 wins including stoppages over Filipino fighters Melito Sabillo and Christian Araneta. This could be a very, very exciting match up! Our preview of this bout is available here Taduran defends IBF title against Valladares in Mexico!
Metro Manila, Philippines
Back in Asia we get an interesting double header in Metro Manbila, where we see two Filipino title fights.
One of those will see Roldan Aldea (14-8-1, 8) defending his title as he takes on veteran Monico Laurente (30-16, 7) in a Lightweight clash. Although not a star Aldea has proven to be a rugged and durable fighter who is better than his record suggests, and his upset KO win last year over Mikhail Alexeev shows he can bang, when he lands clean. At 34 years old Laurente is certainly coming to the end of his career, and he will be the under-dog here, but will be a live under-dog. We expect this to be an interesting match up, even if it's the less intriguing of the two title bouts on the show.
The other title bout on this card will be a Flyweight bout as the under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-5, 5) takes on Carlo Caesar Penalosa (14-2, 7). Although not well known outside of Asia Dagayloan has built a reputation for himself as a horror to face off with, he's aggressive, tough, strong and not an easy man to look good against. Penalosa on the other hand is a third generation fighter from the Penalosa family and is looking to bounce back from a loss last time out to Maximino Flores. This could be the hidden gem of the weekend.
There is also a card in India, where we get some low key action on a card in Mumbai.
One of the more notable bouts here will see Rahul Kumar (6-3-1, 4) take on novice Rakesh Bawa (0-1), in a bout scheduled for 8 rounds. It's hard to see Bawa winning, but the reality is that Kumar is no world beater himself and has lost 3 of his last 6 coming into this.
An even bugger mismatch will see the once beaten Sagar Narwat (9-1-1, 3) take on Harish Harish (0-0) in a 4 round bout. Narwat was beaten back in October, by Troy O'Meley, but this should be an easy comeback win for the 25 year old from Faridabad
In Uzbekistan we'll see a number of promising novices in action, in what will be a card where fighters will get a chance to show case their skills. At the moment none of the promising fighters on the card have had their opponents name, but we're expecting to see Dostonbek Turdiev (7-0, 3), Abdulazizbek Najmiddinov (4-0, 4), Jasurbek Latipov (0-0) and Obidjon Tokhirov (0-0) all in action. From those involved it's Latipov, who was a brilliant amateur, that stands out as the most interesting of those on the card and the one with the biggest upside.
There are more Uzbeks in action in Russia where a trio of Uzbeks will be looking to make their mark.
Thge most notable bout here will see Rustam Tulaganov (2-0, 1) take on the much more experienced Norbert Dabrowski (23-8-2, 10). The talented Tulaganov is expected to have a huge 2020 after having had a stop-start career so far, and a win here would be a massive statement for him. The 31 year old Dabrowski, from Poland, is talented, experienced and a big step up for Tulaganov, however the Uzbek will be regarded as the favourite here.
Another of the Uzbek's on this show is Odiljon Aslonov (1-0, 1) who will be up against South African foe Snamiso Ntuli (4-3, 2) in a 6 round bout whilst the third is the debuting Ulugbek Mubinov (0-0), who takes on the 30 year old Srdan Govedarica (7-8, 6). These bouts are less interesting than Tulaganov's but we're expecting dominant and impressive wins for the Uzbek pair.
The most interesting show of the day, at least for us, is in the Korakuen Hall where we see the first set of Japanese Youth Tournament finals, with 4 finals, all of which are really interesting match ups, and bouts that should be really hotly contested.
The stand out bout is a rematch between Joe Tanooka (14-3-4, 1) and Kenya Yamashita (10-3, 7), who meet at Super Flyweight. Tanooka came runner up at the 2013 Rookie of the year whilst Yamashita won the Rookie of the Year the following year. In 2015 Tanooka scored a decision win over Yamashita, to give the heavy handed Yamashita his first loss, and since then both men have faltered yet remained popular. Tanooka has gone 5-1-1 since beating Yamashita, but shown a real lack of power with only a single stoppage. Yamashita is like an all action warrior and has gone 3-2 (3) since losing to Tanooka, with both losses being by stoppage. This will be a boxer vs bralwer, with history and the potential to be something really thrilling.
Another potential thriller comes at Featherweight as the talented, but out of form, Tsuyoshi Tameda (13-3-2, 11) takes on Retsu Kosaka (8-2, 3). We've seen Tameda losing his last two, suffering a decision loss to Simpiwe Vetyeka and suffering a stoppage to Reiya Abe, but has been given time to rest, heal and reignite his fire, with this being his final bout for the Yonekura gym, before joining the Ohashi Gym. As for Kosaka he has lost 2 of his last 3, but shone last time out beating the touted Ryo Sagawa in 2 rounds. This looks like a win on paper for Tameda, but it's not going to be easy against the hungry Kosaka.
Potentially the hidden gem on this show will be the Lightweight bout, as the really exciting and promising Izuki Tomioka (3-0, 1) takes on the Japanese Yuichiro Kasuya (9-1-1, 1). We were really impressed by Tomioka last time out, as he stopped Shun Shimazaki in 5 rounds, and the 20 year old from Saitama looks like a real one to watch. Kasuya, who won the Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight in 2014, has faltered in his last two, drawing with Masaki Saito and losing to Spicy Matsushita. With those recent set backs against Kasuya we suspect he'll try to up his game, but Tomioka will be too good for him.
At Super Featherweight we'll see the struggling Kazuma Sanpei (12-4, 4) battle the inconsistent Ryusei Ishii (7-3, 4) in what looks like the black sheep of the match ups. Sanpei has gone 1-4 in his last 5, with 3 stoppage losses during that run, and his 11-0 (4) start to professional boxing is a distance memory, with only a single win in the last 3 years. Ishii has gone 2-2 in his last 4, though did earn his place in this bout with a dominant win over Sho Nagata in May. Ishii has some momentum here, Sanpei has none, leading us to favour Ishii for the win.
Fight fans in Las Vegas will see American based Uzbek hopeful Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (7-0-1, 3) fight in an 8 rounder, as he looks for a 4th straight victory. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced, so we suspect it will be a less than taxing foe foe the unbeaten prospect.
In Pakistan we'll see a bizarre all-debutant 10 rounder, as Ali Dad (0-0) takes on Asmatullah (0-0). It's really odd to see a debutant in a 10 rounder, to see two of them in a 10 rounder is even weirder and it's hard to see what the plan behind this bout was, though hopefully it helps in the development of Pakistani boxing going forward, and is interesting to see how they are growing the sport there.
One of the biggest changes to the Japanese domestic scene in 2017 is the development of the new Youth Tournament, aimed at those who have progressed beyond Rookie status but aren't yet ready for Japanese title fights. The tournament has it's semi finals this coming Tuesday in a second successive day of Dangan cards.
The lowest weight being competed at is Flyweight, and we get two really good semi-finals. One of those will see the unbeaten Seigo Yuri Akui (10-0-1, 6) battle against the light punching Ryuto Oho (9-3-1, 2). The bout looks like one where Akui will be favoured but this is a really creditable test and Oho won't be turning up to pick up a loss, especially after having lost last time out to Yuta Matsuo.
The other Semi final at Flyweight will see 2016 Rookie of the Year Junto Nakatani (11-0, 9) take on the light hitting Yuma Kudo (6-2-2, 1). On paper this looks like a mismatch in favour of the unbeaten puncher but Kudo has never been stopped and will likely be looking to break Nakatani mentality by simply not going away. This could be a very interesting test for both men.
At Super Flyweight we'll see the exciting Kenya Yamashita (9-3, 6) take on the once beaten Naoto Iwai (3-1, 1). The bout will be Yamashita's first since changing gyms earlier this year and will be Iwai's first since losing his unbeaten record, also earlier this year. This bout really has the look of being something a bit special with Yamashita being a brawler with an exciting style and Iwai being a more pure boxer type, giving a good stylistic combination, and both will be very hungry for a win.
The next division with a semi-final bout will be Featherweight, where Retsu Kosaka (7-2, 2) will take on novice Ryo Sagawa (1-0, 1). Looking at the records alone suggests that this will be a mismatch in favour of Kosaka, but he has lost his last 2 bouts and last scored a win a year ago, against a poor Thai import. Segawa on the other hand looked great on debut last December and is tipped as a real diamond in the rough, which he'll be looking to prove here.
The Super Featherweight semi final will see Sho Nagata (7-2, 2) face off with the heavy handed Ryusei Ishii (6-3, 4). Although Nagata has the better looking record he has had a few very close wins, including his last 2 bouts, and could consider himself lucky to have the record he currently has. Ishii is the bigger puncher but we have seen him being stopped. With both men having limitations it's fair to say that this may actually be the most interesting bout, despite the less than great records of the two men involved.