This coming Saturday is a hectic day for Asian fight fans with a lot of action all crammed into a single day, and taking place all over the place. It might not be Christmas yet, but this weekend is set to feature a lot of gifts for us fight fans.
On paper the most significant bout of the weekend, at least in terms of Asian boxing, will see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) take on Chilean challenger Miguel Gonzalez (31-2, 8), in Mexico. This bout has been arranged in a haste after a previously scheduled bout for Ancajas fell though, and although it looks good on paper we don't see this being anything other than a straight forward win for Ancajas. The Filipino has been frustrating at times, but he is a world class fighter and Gonzalez on the other hand has been easily beaten by the two world level guys he's faced. We're expecting a stoppage from Ancajas here, even if Gonzalez does end up being an awkward assignment. A full preview of this can be read here IBF king Ancajas faces Chilean challenger
New York, USA
Another bout with meaning at world level will see former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (33-2, 16) take on former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa (26-3, 16) in a bout for the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title. The interim title has been created due to injuries suffered by Danny Roman, and despite interim titles not being great for boxing this bout is a brilliant one, and we're looking forward to this. Both fighters are world class, both can bang and they should be well matched, with styles that we're expecting will gel well. This should be very exciting, and we'd be shocked if we get through 12 rounds here.
In Japan we have a lot of action, with the most notable of the Japanese action coming from Tokyo, where we'll get a title double header, featuring two Super Featherweight title bouts. For fans wanting to watch this the show will be broadcast live on G+.
The most notable of the title fights will see WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight champion Joe Noynay (18-2-1, 7) defending his title against Kenichi Ogawa (24-1, 18). This year has been a huge one for Noynay, who has already travelled to Japan and stopped Kosuke Saka and Satoshi Shimizu, and a win here against Ogawa will put him well and truly in the world title mix. For Ogawa a win here would put him on the verge of a second world title fight. We expect bombs to be thrown, we wouldn't be surprised if both men were badly hurt at some point, and this is an ideal headliner for a televised card. Our preview of this fantastic match up can be read here Noynay looks to extend "Japanese Killer" run as he takes on Ogawa
The other title bout on this show will see Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (19-1-1, 11) defending his title against former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (19-5, 16). For Sueyoshi this bout will be his 5th defense, and if he wins we wouldn't be massively surprised to see him vacating the title in the new year to pursue regional, if not world, honours. For Saka this is a chance to put a very mixed 24 months, in which he has gone 3-2 (2), behind him and would end the year on the high following a loss to Noynay back in April. Saka has the power to hurt Sueyoshi, but Sueyoshi has the skills to outfox and out think Saka, in what is a compelling match up. Our preview of this bout can be read here Sueyoshi takes on Saka in next Japanese title defense
Also on this card will be Teiken trio Hikari Mineta (7-1, 4), Daiki Funayama (10-3-1, 3) and Koki Mioya (6-1-2, 1) who will all be taking on limited Thai opposition in what look like stay busy fights to close out the year.
A second Japanese show takes place in Kanagawa, and although much lower profile it features another title bout.
That title bout will see Japanese female Featherweight champion Kimika Miyoshi (14-12-1, 5) defending her belt against unbeaten novice Aira Midorikawa (5-0, 1), in what will be Mioyoshi's first defense of her second reign. Miyoshi claimed the belt in September, when she took a split decision win over Miki Mitsuda, ending a 4 fight losing in a bit of an upset. Although Mitsuda was no world beater we hadn't seen Miyoshi win a fight in over 3 years! Midorikawa is taking a huge step up, and although she's unbeaten she is very untested ahead of this bout, her first title bout. It'll be a huge ask for Midorikawa, but Miyoshi is certainly not unbeatable. An in depth of preview of this bout can be read here Veteran Miyoshi takes on Midorikawa in Featherweight title bout
Despite the title bout on this show the main event is technically a rematch between Yui Oikawa (7-5, 4) and Seiryu Toshikawa (11-5, 7). Coming in Oikawa has been stopped in his last 2, and desperately needs a win. He'll be driven on not only by the need of a win, but by a chance of getting to avenge a 2016 loss to Toshikawa, who beat him with a 4 round split decision. On paper Toshikawa might not look great but he's much better than his record suggests and he'll be looking to score his second win since suffering a razor thin loss in a Japanese Youth title fight to Shawn Oda in 2018.
A third Japanese show takes place in Hyogo, where fans get a card with several noteworthy names on it.
In the main event we'll see Japanese and OPBF ranked Minimumweight Ryoki Hirai (12-6-1, 4) take on the limited Hirohisa Ichikawa (7-7-2, 2). We've long seen Hirai as a fighter with a lot of potential, but someone who has faltered in many of his toughest bouts. Here we expect him to shine, as he looks to build to a title fight of some kind in 2020. With just 1 win in the last 4 years it's hard to imagine Ichikawa giving Hirai much of a test, but he could give Hirai some rounds.
World ranked fighter Kazuhiro Nishitani (20-4-1, 12) looks to continue his slow build towards a meaningful fight as he takes on Filipino veteran Monico Laurente (30-15, 7). The 32 year old Nishitani has won his last 5 by stoppage, including a notable upset win against Shuhei Tsuchiya for the Japanese Lightweight title in 2017. Sadly he has failed to make anything of his career after that win and vacated the title rather than defend it, which has done his career no favours as he continues to meander in the middle of cards in meaningless bouts like this one. Laurente isn't an awful opponent, but is certainly not a step forward for Nishitani who really has lost all the momentum of his win over Laurente.
Another bout of some note on this card will see Hiroki Tokuyama (9-1-1, 2) take on Chikato Sumida (8-3, 1). This will see Tokuyama defending his JBC and OPBF rankings and score a 5th straight win. Sumida isn't terrible, but we don't see him posing much of a test for Tokuyama here.
Yet another show with an Asian fighter in action is being held in Quebec, where fast rising Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov (10-0, 9) takes on rugged Argentinian Jose Antonio Villalobos (12-5-2, 7). Akhmedov missed quite a bit of this year, whilst he recovered from injury and got married, but has still been busier than most and has began answering more and more questions, proving his stamina, his ability to box and move and that he can box on the back foot. There are still areas for him to work on, but for a 21 year old kid his incredibly impressive and a win here is seen as a formality before a potentially huge 2020. Villalobos will be there to try and ask questions of Akhmedov but we really don't see this as anything but an easy win for the talented Kazakh.
Diriyah, Saudi Arabia
On a show that features more morally objectionable content that we can remember for a boxing card, including 4 fighters who have failed drug tests and the show taking place in a country with a terrible history human rights, we'll see Azeri fighter Mahammadrasul Majidov (1-0, 1) take on Tom Little (10-7, 3).
The big show of the day this coming Friday is Osaka where Teiken put in a title triple header, featuring two world title bouts.
The main event of this card is the rematch between American Rob Brant (25-1, 17) and Japanese star Ryota Murata (14-2, 11), with Brant looking to make his second defense of the WBA Regular Middleweight title, a title he took from Murata last year. This is a really tough bout for Murata, who will know another loss to Brant likely ends his career, whilst a win could open up a huge opportunity for a bout in a Japanese dome at the end of the year. For Murata this is a must win, whilst for Brant it's a bout he is expected to win, especially given how easily he beat Murata the first time around. A full preview of this bout is available here Brant and Murata go again, but will the outcome be any different?
The other world title bout on the card will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (15-0, 8) defending his title against mandatory challenger Jonathan Taconing (28-33-1, 11). The unbeaten champion will be seeking his 6th defense and a chance to take a huge step towards a potential unification bout with Hiroto Kyoguchi at the end of the year, a bout both men have spoken about. Although Kenshiro is in great form we expect Taconing to ask questions of the champion we've never seen Kenshiro answer, and Taconing poses a real threat as a hard hitting and teak tough southpaw. Taconing can be out boxed, but he is a very dangerous threat to Kenshiro. Our preview of this show down is here Kenshiro takes on hard hitting Filipino challenger Taconing!
The third title bout on this card will see Filipino visitor Joe Noynay (17-2-1, 6) look to record his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title, as he takes on 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (8-0, 8). The bout sees Noynay return to Japan following his impressive title win over Kosuke Saka whilst Shimizu moves up in weight and tests the water at Super Featherweight. A full in depth preview of this bout can be read here Noynay takes on hard hitting Shimizu in regional title defense!
Also on this card is touted prospect Shokichi Iwata (2-0, 1) who looks to extend his perfect start as he battles 23 year old Filipino Paolo Sy (6-3-1, 3). Iwata was a fabulous amateur, scoring wins against the likes of Kosei Tanaka and Takuma Inoue among others, and has shown a lot of promise already, but this looks like his stiffest test so far. Sy is no world beater in the making but should ask some questions of Iwata.
As well as the show in Osaka there is also a good one in Tokyo as we get a female world title fight and an interesting cross roads fight.
The female world title fight sees the great Naoko Fujioka (18-2, 7) defending her WBA female Flyweight title against veteran Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15), who is looking to become a 3 weight champion her self. Fujioka is among the few true female legends of boxing, having won world titles from Minimumweight to Bantamweight, but she's now at an advanced age and we wonder how long she can keep putting on top performances. On the other hand Tsunami has had an incredibly hard career, and that will catch up with her sooner or later. Our preview of this female clash can be read here Fujioka and Tsunami meet in clash for WBA crown!
In a really good looking support bout we'll see veteran Akihiro Kondo (31-8-1, 18) take on youngster Andy Hiraoka (13-0, 9). The tough Kondo, a former world title challenger, was last seen being stopped by Downua Ruawaiking in an IBF world title eliminator and he will be desperate to put that loss behind him and pick up a win here. For Hiraoka this is a great opportunity to get himself a major win and move towards a major title fight, as he looks to add to the Japanese Youth title he won in 2017. Our preview for this bout can be read here Kondo looks to bounce back whilst Hiraoka looks for big win
Also on this card is Seiryu Toshikawa (10-5, 6), who is criminally under-rated. Despite not having a great record Toshikawa is a very talented 23 year old who is looking to bounce back from a split decision loss to Shawn Oda in late 2018. His opponent will be Filipino puncher Junny Salogaol (14-16-5, 13), a late replacement though a man who was training for a now cancelled fight in Japan in late June.
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
From Japan to Saudi Arabia as we see boxing join the WWE in an the attempt of becoming part of the sporting propaganda of the Saudi government. Whilst this card isn't one we'll be focusing a lot on, especially given the action in Japan, it is still a show which will get a lot of attention, especially in the West.
The main event will see Amir Khan (33-5, 20) take on Billy Dib (45-5-0-2, 26) in a match that was put together on about 3 weeks notice. Originally Khan was going to Indian face Neeraj Goyat (11-3-2, 2) in a bout being sold on the Indian vs Pakistan rivalry, and was originally set to be for the WBC Pearl title. Goyat suffered an injury in a car accident weeks before the fight and Dib, a former Featherweight world champion, moved up the card to fill the position left by Goyat. Originally Dib was to face Indonesian fighter Carlos Lopez, so he has clearly landed a much better pay day here. Sadly the WBC Pearl title will no longer be on the line, and the bout will instead be for the WBC International Welterweight crown.
A more interesting bout on this card, at least terms of competitiveness, will see unbeaten and exciting Filipino Dave Penalosa (15-0, 11) take on South African foe Lerato Dlamini (12-1, 6) for the WBC Silver Featherweight title. This is a big step up for Penalosa who hasn't really scored a win of note. On the other hand the South African holds a really notable win over Simpiwe Vetyeka from 2017 and will feel that that bout will have prepared him for a bout like this against Penalosa.
Others on this card include Uzbek hopeful Shakhobidin Zoirov (2-0, 2), who has been very impressive in his professional career so far.
All the way over in Florida we'll get the chance to see a couple of unbeaten Kazakh fighters attempt to continue their run onwards and upwards.
The more notable of the two is Heavyweight hopeful Ivan Dychko (8-0, 8), who takes on Nate Heaven (9-2, 7). The talented, yet awful badly promoted Dychko, was originally pencilled in to fight Raphael Zumbano (39-16-1, 31) though Zumbano was later replaced by Heaven, who should pose of a test. Sadly for Dychko, a former amateur star, his competition has been awful and his activity has been less than great, and he's falling a long way behind some of his amateur contemporaries, such as Filip Hrgovic, Tony Yoka and Joe Joyce. If he stops Heaven, as expected, it's then a must for Dychko to step up in class.
The other Kazakh on this card is Mussa Tursyngaliyev (9-0, 6), who is pencilled in for a major step up in class as he takes on former world title challenger Ricardo Nunez (29-9, 23). On paper this looks a really tough match up for the unbeaten Tursyngaliyev however it should be noted that Nunez had his best wins down at Flyweight and Super Flyweight, and Tursyngaliyev is at Featherweight. Natural size difference will likely be the key between these two here.
Attention turns to the Korakuen Hall once again this coming Saturday for a stacked Dangan card, with 4 very good bouts on it.
The main event of the show will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai (30-7, 21) take on Mexican youngster Victor Emanuel Olivo (15-2-1, 7) in an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator, with the winner moving towards a world tittle fight against Jerwin Ancajas. Funai has been on a good run since losing in a Japanese title fight to Sho Ishida way back in 2016. He claimed the Japanese title last year and the WBO Asia Pacific belt earlier this year, and he's actually 6-0 (5) since the loss to Ishida. When it comes to assessing Olivo's career things aren't that impressive, with his most notable result being a narrow loss to Milan Melindo back in 2015. Aged 22 Olivo is a fighter who is developing but he was beaten just 2 fights back by Jose Briegel Quirino, in what looks to have been a home town decision. Olivo is probably better than his record indicates, but this is still a big step up in class for the Mexican. We've a full preview of this bout here Funai and Olivo battle in world title eliminator!
The chief supporting bout will match once beaten fighters, as Shuya Masaki (10-1, 5) takes on recent OPBF title challenger Izuki Tomioka (5-1-1, 1). The talented Masaki was tipped for big things, but his rise through the ranks was slowed this past January, when he was out pointed by Hironori Mishiro. Masaki has bounced back since his loss, with a decision win over Korean Hyun Je Shin, but this is a big step back up since that loss. On the other hand the 21 year old Tomioka surprised the Japanese scene this year when he pushed OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani very close in July, losing an 11th round TKO in a very competitive bout. Tomioka's biggest issue is his lack of power, but we wouldn't be surprised by him relying on his skills and picking up a career best win here.
Another mouth watering support bout will see Seiryu Toshikawa (10-4, 6) face off with the unbeaten Shawn Oda (9-0, 8) for the Japanese Youth Lightweight title. The more experienced man is 22 years old and debuted back in August 2014. He suffered a few early career set backs, losing 3 of his first 6, but has since gone 7-1 with a very notable win last time out against Ryuji Ikeda. On the hand Oda is a 20 year old with insane upside, as he showed when taking the 2016 Rookie of the Year crown at the age of 18. Oda hasn't been the busiest since his Rookie win, but has impressed, with 3 solid wins this year including a stoppage against Masashi Wakita in August. Oda is the more naturally gifted man, but this is likely to be his stiffest test to date. A preview of this bout is here Oda and Toshikawa battle for Lightweight youth crown!
A fourth major bout on this card will see 2017 Rookie of the Year Yuga Inoue (7-0-1, 1) take on the hard hitting Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) for the vacant Japanese youth Minimumweight title fight. The 19 year old Inoue, no relation to Naoya Inoue, really impressed last year before taking the Rookie crown in December against Retsu Akabane. Since that Rookie win Inoue has scored his only stoppage win, taking out Daisuke Sudo in 5 rounds this past May. As for the 21 year old Ishizawa he made his debut in June 2017 and has impressed ever since, scoring a huge win over Tatsuro Nakashima back in April. It should be noted that Ishizawa was supposed to fight for this title earlier in the year, against Daiki Tomita, but the bout was cancelled when Ishizawa suffered an injury, which he has now recovered from. Our in depth preview of this bout is here Ishizawa and Inoue battle for Japanese youth title!
As well as the stacked show in Japan there's also a notable card in the Philippines, headlined by former world title challengers facing off, and featuring several prospects in supporting bouts.
The main event will see Melvin Jerusalem (13-2, 8) battle against Toto Landero (10-3-2, 2). Both of these men have fought for world titles in recent years, with Jerusalem giving Wanehng Menayothin arguably the toughest bout of his career, in 2017, and Landero recently losing to Knockout CP Freshmart. The loser will have some serious rebuilding to do, but given that both men are still young that won't be a huge issue with the right mind set. The winner however will have taken a huge step towards getting a second shot at a world title. Our preview of this bout is here Jerusalem and Landero battle in brilliant all Filipino clash!
In one of the supporting bouts fans will see unbeaten 20 year old Esneth Domingo (10-0, 6) risk his unbeaten record against Reymark Taday (9-6-1, 4), in what could be a good test for the 20 year old Domingo. Another of the supporting bouts will see will see the unbeaten Christian Bacolod (9-0, 7) taking on fellow unbeaten Christoval Furog (5-0, 2) in what should be a compelling bout, though we do feel that Bacolod's power and extra experience will be the difference.
Lancashire, United Kingdom
The Funai bout isn't the only world title eliminator taking place as the UK plays host to a Lightweight world title eliminator between Indonesian warrior Daud Yordan (38-3-0-1, 26) and popular Englishman Anthony Crolla (33-6-3, 13), who will be hoping to take a step towards a WBA title shot. Yordan has been one of the few Indonesian fighters in recent years to make a mark internationally and his win earlier this year against Pavel Malikov was one of the best bouts of 2018. He is however up against here, with Crolla being a former WBA world champion and one of the best contenders in the division, with great stamina and under-rated skills. With a big reward for the winner we're expecting this to be a very exciting and action packed contest, with a lot of leather being thrown. We've previewed that bout here Yordan and Crolla set for a thriller...
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia we're set for a bit of a mismatch, with the all action Joel Brunker (33-3, 19) battling Indonesian journeyman Rivo Rengkung (37-27-6, 14). The 32 year old Brunker isn't going to reach the heights many had hopes for, but Rengkung shouldn't pose any sort of a threat at all, and will instead be expected to pick up his 28th career defeat.
In Russia we'll see former Uzbek amateur stand out Makhmud Gaipov (0-0) make his professional debut. Sadly at the time of writing no opponent has been named for Gaipov, but we're expecting him to be moved quickly and in 2019 we'll expect to see him fighting in 6 or even 8 rounders.