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.
We return to Tokyo this coming Wednesday for a small, yet very noteworthy, Japanese card. It's not a card stacked with big bouts, but it is one featuring a number of touted prospects, and a former OPBF champion.
The main event of the card will see the hard hitting Shu Utsuki (5-0, 4) look to extend his perfect record with what should, on paper, be a very easy win over Thai visitor Somphot Seesa (4-2, 4). The talented Utsuki is likely to be in the hunt for titles in 2020 and this appears to be little more than a tick over fight for the talented 25 year old, who has already found himself into the JBC and OPBF rankings. Seesa has been stopped in 2 other visits to Japan and it'd be a shock to see him survive here.
In a major supporting bout former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-4-2, 5) takes on Akio Furutani (7-4, 3). Since winning the OPBF title in June 2017, with a split decision win against Richard Claveras, we've seen Nakayama go 1-2-1 Nakayama and he really needs a confidence building win here. Furutani has scored 3 wins in a row, since losing in the 2018 Rookie of the Year tournament bout to Yoshiki Minato, but this is a big step up for him.
The most notable of the debutants on this card is Yudai Shigeoka (0-0), the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka. The elder of the Shigeoka brothers is tipped for major success, though begins his career in a pretty unspectacular match up as he takes on Thai foe Manop Audomphanawari (3-2, 3). As an amateur Shigeoka was tipped as being a potential Olympian before the 2020 Olympics had their male weight classes cut, and we suspect he will be fast tracked in the pros. Manop, who has been stopped twice already, is not likely to see the final bell here.
Another debutant on this card is female fighter Sayo Segawa (0-0), who makes her debut against Watcharin Khodam (1-2, 1). The 22 year old Segawa is highly regarded and should pick up an easy win here, but is then likely to be raced to bigger and better fights over the coming year or two.
As well as the action in Tokyo there are also a number of Asian fighters in action in Moscow, Russia.
One of those is 33 year old Kazakh Ibragim Iskandarov (6-0, 6), who hasn't yet has his opponent named. Iskandarov is scheduled for his first 10 rounder so it's a real disappointment to not have his his opponent known about with a few days notice. This is his first bout since last December and if we're being honest his career so far has often been a frustrating and weird one.
The 21 year old Kazakh Galim Shagatay (4-0, 4) will take on unbeaten Georgian Pele Sadoyan (7-0-2, 3).The Kazakh youngster only turned professional in February this year but has taken out his first 4 foes in a combined 9 rounds. On the other hand Sadoyan, also aged 21, has been a professional since January 2017, and despite 3 draws in his first 5 is coming into this with 4 straight wins,
One other fighter of note in action here is Russian based Korean He Su Khan (6-4-1, 1), who takes on the unbeaten Vyacheslav Letovaltsev (4-0), a a 19 year old Russian. This should be a much more competitive bout than it looks on paper, and Khan is a lot better than his record suggests.