Jeddah Superdome, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The most notable bout to feature an Asian fighter this coming Saturday will be in Saudi Arabia, where hard hitting Chinese Giant Zhilei Zhang (24-0-1, 19) takes on touted Croatian hopeful Filip Hrgovic (14-0, 12) in an IBF Heavyweight world title eliminator. The bout was set to take place earlier in the year, before Hrgovic had to pull out, and in many ways the rescheduling makes this more intriguing, with the bout being held on a bigger stage. The 39 year old Zhang is a heavy handed giant of a man with surprising hand speed for a man his age and size, however he has been hurt before and has shown questionable stamina at times. As for Hrgovic, the 30 year old has long promised to be something special in the Heavyweight division, but has failed to live up to that promise so far. Both men can punch and both will know a future world title shot is on the line for them, however both will also know that a loss here will leave their career in tatters. Expect this to be tense, with a sense that one punch, either way, could decide the fight, at any time.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
In the US we see former world champion Sergey Lipinets (16-2-1, 12) take on Paraguayan fighter Carlos Manuel Portillo (22-4, 17). Lipinets, a Kazakh puncher, is looking to get his career back on track after back to back set backs. He will be strongly favoured here, but we do need to wonder what inactivity and the set backs to Custio Clayton and Jaron Ennis, in 2020 and 2021, will have done to him. As for Portillo he has lost his last 3 and 4 of his last 5, including 3 early stoppages losses. This really should be an easy win for Lipinets who will be looking to rebuild some of his confidence and shake some ring rust.
The Melbourne Pavilion, Flemington, Victoria, Australia
In Australia we'll see a battle of former world champions as former WBO female Super Flyweight champion Tomoko Okuda (7-3-2, 1) takes on former IBF female Bantamweight Susie Ramadan (28-3, 12), in a real must win for both fighters. Ramadan is the more proven and the more established, but at 43 years old and with just 1 bout since 2019 it's really hard to know what she has in the tank. In saying that Ramadan is at home and Okuda, who herself is 39, will be fighting outside of Japan for the first time, who will also be fighting for the first time since losing her WBO title to Miyo Yoshida, in June 2021. Okuda should have a little bit of extra freshness, but we're not sure if that can over-come the power of Ramadan or the fact the bout is on the road.
We also have a small show in Vietnam as Trigger boxing put on a very, very low key card in Hanoi. The bouts listed for this, at the time of writing, are all 4 rounder with only Tran Minh Tri Pham (1-0) having any recorded experience, and that being a solitary fighter in January for the 17 year old. He will be taking on the debuting Van Tien Vo (0-0) in a 4 rounder. Outside of that bout the others fighters on the show are all making their debuts.
The biggest card with an Asian interest this coming Saturday is in Nevada, where we have two notable Asian fighters in action.
The main event will see Filipino fighting icon Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39) attempt to add another big name to his incredible resume as he takes on unbeaten American Keith Thurman (29-0-0-1, 22) for the WBA Welterweight "super" title. Coming in Thurman is the "Super" champion whilst Pacquiao is the regular champion, and it's clear that this bout has got a big fight feel to it. The unbeaten American has come across as his usual brash self in the build up, though there seems to be a feeling that Pacquiao can roll back the clock one final time. This is, easily, the biggest bout of the weekend, and a really intriguing main event for a PBC PPV.
Also on this card is a potentially mouth watering clash between Kazakh born Russian Sergey Lipinets (15-1, 11) and American John Molina Jr (30-8, 24). Although both men are certainly flawed fighters, with some serious limitations, both are entertaining, hard hitting and have been involved in some thrilling contests over the years. Expect this bout to be a potential show stealer.
In Japan we're set to see 3 highly regarded prospects. A couple of those hopefuls are fighting in step up bouts, whilst one is staying busy before a more meaningful bout in August.
The main event will see once beaten hopeful Takuya Mizuno (16-1-1, 14) take on former OPBF champion Roli Gasca (25-8-1, 8), in a really good step up for the hard hitting youngster. Mizuno, a 24 year old Super Bantamweight, has won his last 9 in a row but this is a very big step up. As for Gasca, now aged 30 though he's an old 30 given he debuted back in 2007, this will be his second bout since the start of 2018. In his pomp Gasca was a really solid fighter, with notable wins over Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat and Hiromasa Ohashi, but he has now lost 4 of his last 7.
The other prospect on this card is the fast rising Koshin Takeshima (3-0, 3), who is set for a huge test against the tough and hard hitting Jon Jon Estrada (11-6-1, 10). Takeshima has looked solid so far, looking one of the stars of the future back on the March 16th Hatanaka show, but he's only fought 8 rounds as a professional and perhaps needs more seasoning before facing someone like Estrada. The hard hitting Filipino visitor has proven himself to be a limited boxer, but a tough, game and dangerous fighter, who may be too much of a risk at this stage for Takeshima. There is real belief in the Japanese, but this is a big ask.
The guy ina stay busy fight is hard hitting youngster Kento Hatanaka (8-0, 8), who takes on Indonesian visitor Thomas Tope Hurek (3-3-1, 1) in what is expected to be little more than a tune up for Hatanaka. The second generation hopeful has been pencilled in for an appearance on the under-card of Kosei Tanaka's upcoming world title defense, taking on Jaysever Abcede (19-8, 12), and so will be looking to take care of business and shake any ring rust here before that big fight.
On the subject of rising hopeful's it's worth noting that unbeaten Uzbek prospect Shohjahon Ergashev (16-0, 14) will look to continue his rise, though his opponent at the time of writing is unknown. The talented Ergashev really needs to build on his win over Mykal Fox earlier in the year but at the moment that tough test seems to have made Ergashev's team doubt their man, and that's a huge shame given his exciting style, power and ability. Too many bouts at a lower level could, potentially, really harm his future, so we hope that he will take another step up in class before the end of 2019.
An Indonesian show is set to be held in Jayapura and will be an IPBC card, with 3 title fights on the show. Sadly whilst sounds enticing the card is a putrid one, with little in terms of standout action.
Of the match ups on the card the pick of the bunch, on paper at least, will see 35 year old local veteran Geisler AP (14-10-1, 11) take on unbeaten Pakistani fighter Muhammad Bilal (6-0, 5) in a match for the WBC Asian Boxing Council silver Light Welterweight. This is less than great on paper, but is better than either of the other two title title bouts, which are both for IPBC national titles.
Tangerang Selatan, Indonesia
A second Indonesian show will see veteran Roy Tua Manihuruk (20-19-2, 15) take part in his 43rd professional bout as he takes part in his first bout since claiming the UBO Inter-continental title at 140lbs in March.
Also on this card will be Moensaku Yor (6-5-1, 4), who looks to build on a March win of his own, which came over Artid Bamrungauea for a minor UBO title
The biggest bout involving an Asian fighter this coming Sunday comes from Maryland, as former world champions collide! The bout will see Lamont Peterson (35-4-1, 17) take on Kazakh-Russian Sergey Lipinets (14-1, 10), in what should be a tremendous bout. Both of these men need a win if they are to remain in the world title mix, and both will be looking to bounce back from a recent loss, with Lipinets losing to Mikey Garcia and Peterson losing to Errol Spence Jr. Their styles should make for a fun fight and this is a really good quality match up between world class fighters.
Staying in the US there's also a couple of unbeaten Kazakh prospects in action in California.
One of those is Ali Akhmedov (13-0, 10), who will be dropping down to Super Middleweight to face off with Mike Guy (9-3-1, 5). The unbeaten Akhmedov wasn't as active as we'd have hoped in 2018 but with his first bout of 2019 taking place this early he could end up having a really big year this year. Guy is a solid enough opponent, who has done 8 rounds with Tyron Zeuge and came close to doing the same with Sergiy Derevyanchenko, show he's durable. This might be a very tough test for Akhmedov but is also a chance for him to make a statement.
On the same card will be Meiirim Nursultanov (10-0, 8), who will be fighting his second bout of the year and looks likely to have a huge year. He fought 4 times in 2018 and although his competition hasn't been the best he is making noise as one to watch. At 25 years old he has time to really build his record and reputation before moving onto big fights. He will be up against Puerto Rican fighter Luis Hernandez (16-7, 9).
Staying with Kazakh's there is also set to be a show in Almaty featuring a couple more notable Kazakh fighters.
In one of the main bouts Aidos Yerbossynuly (10-0, 8) will take on tough Namibian Lukas Ndafoluma (15-1, 6) in a bout for minor titles from the WBO, WBA and WBC. This could end up being one of the low key bouts of the weekend and is a very real threat to Yerbossynuly's unbeaten record. The Kazakh has shown promise but has been down in a couple of his fights whilst Ndafoluma has managed to show toughness and skills on the road, upsetting British fighter Craig Cunningham in the UK in 2017. This is a potential banana skin for the unbeaten Kazakh.
On the same card Nursultan Zhangabayev (6-0, 4) is scheduled to make his first defense of the WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Middleweight title. His opponent will be 25 year old Venezuelan fighter Ivan Matute (28-1, 23), who has a really good looking record, but there is no real quality on there. The unbeaten Zhangabayev won the belt last December, when he took a decision over tough Filipino Arnel Tinampay, and was given a real test, so we're hoping for another test here.
Also on this show will be 21 year old Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov (7-0, 7) who will be fighting for a WBC Asia title. The talented Kazakh will be up against John Ruba (17-5-1, 9), who shouldn't really be much of a match for Akhmedov, who will be expected to move to 8-0 (8) without too many problems.
The under-card is also set to feature a number of prospects, including Dastan Saduuly (2-0, 2), Iskander Kharsan (5-0, 4) and Ulugbek Khakberdiev (5-0, 3).
As well as all the Kazakh's in action there is actually set to be a couple of Japanese shows on the same day. The more notable of those takes place in Hyogo and is a Shinsei promoted card.
The main event of this card will see Japanese ranked fighters clashing, as Shun Kosaka (15-5, 4) takes on Shunji Nagata (12-17-2, 4) in an 8 round bout at a contracted 51.5KG's. The winner of this could end up finding themselves in a Japanese title bout later this year. Coming in Kosaka has lost his last 2, being stopped in an OPBF title fight by Jayr Raquinel and being out pointed by Junto Nakatani, but remains #2 ranked by the JBC at Flyweight. Nagata on the other hand has struggled for consistent results, with 6 losses in his last 8, but has shown the ability score an upset on his day and is better than his record suggests.
World ranked Lightweight Kazuhiro Nishitani (19-4-1, 11) will be taking on Filipino visitor Glenn Medura (10-4-1, 6), in what looks like a straight forward bout for Nishitani. Medura has lost 3 of his last 5, losing all 3 of them in Japan by stoppage. Although Nishitani isn't anything special he has won his last 4 by stoppage and is a former Japanese national champion, so should have little problem picking up the win here.
Talented and highly touted prospect Yuki Yamauchi (2-0, 1) will seek his third win as he takes on unbeaten Filipino Claudevan Sese (7-0-3, 1). This looks like a good step forward for Yamauchi, who will be in his first 8 rounder just 8 months after his debut. For Sese this will be his international debut, and a big step up in class, though he has never tasted defeat and has gone 8 rounds twice during his career.
One other bout of note on this card will see Yuri Takemoto (5-1-1, 3) take on Reymond Empic (6-2, 2), in what looks like a pretty even match up. Takemoto left his mark last year, when he took the All Japan Rookie of the Year crown at Featherweight, and he looked to hit much harder than his record indicates in his final win over Hikari Mineta. Empic should prove to be an interesting assignment for Takemoto, but one that Takemoto will be confident of passing.
It's also worth noting that this show will feature the retirement ceremony of Eita Kikuchi (21-6-4, 8), who challenged for both the OPBF Super Bantamweight and Japanese Bantamweight title during his 31 fight career that began back in 2005.
As well as the Shinsei card there will also be a Western Japan Rookie of the Year card in Fukuoka. Among the bouts on this card is an interesting bout between Ryusuke Ushihara (4-1-1, 1) and Yutaka Asakura (3-1-1, 2), which looks really competitive on paper.
The biggest fight for us this coming Saturday will see IBF Light Welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10) risk his title against the outstanding Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30), with Garcia looking to become a 4-weight champion. The American based Kazakh born champion won the title late last year following a competitive win over teak tough Japanese fighter Akihiro Kondo and will be looking to prove he's world class as he takes on Garcia. For Garcia the bout will see him looking to further prove himself as a pound for pound elite. On paper Garcia will be the heavily fancied man here,and the better pure boxer, but Lipinets is the naturally bigger and stronger fighter and could prove a tougher than expected test for Garcia.
Another world title bout will take place in Germany, with Tamao Ozawa (13-4, 5) taking on Raja Amasheh (20-1-1-1, 4) for the vacant WBO female Super Flyweight title. On paper the 35 year old Amasheh will be heavily favoured, given she has the home advantages and the much better record, though she has been out of the ring for almost a year and has just a single win in the last 24 months. For Ozawa the bout will be her second world title bout, following a loss to Su Yun Hong last year in a bout for the WBO Female Light Flyweight title. Despite losing to Hong Ozawa may feel more comfortable here, given she is naturally a Super Flyweight, and had to really boil down to make the Light Flyweight limit. This could be much better than it looks on paper.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Fans in Asia will also get the chance to see a small card in Metro Manila thanks to the promotional outfit of the legendary Gerry Penalosa.
The main event will feature the once beaten Carlo Caesar Penalosa (10-1, 3) battling against Tanzania's Adam Yahaya (18-2-1, 7) in a very good looking match up. Coming into this Penalosa has won his last 3 following a surprise defeat to Reymark Taday early last year. The visitor lost 2 of his first 5 bouts but has since gone 15-0-1. On paper that sounds impressive but Yahaya has fought some dire opposition and this is his toughest bout on paper, by some margin.
Another bout of note will see Malaysian prospect Muhamad Farkhan (5-0, 5) take on Indonesian veteran Jamed Jalarante (23-22-1, 11). The unbeaten Farkhan is arguably the most promising Malaysian fighter currently coming through the ranks, though how far he can go is yet to be seen. The 33 year old Jalarante was once a promising fighter, but over the last 8 years he has racked up losses, many by stoppage, and struggled to score any wins of note. Farkhan should win, and continue his rise, and hopefully he'll move on to a real test later this year.
Another unbeaten puncher on this card is teenager Dave Apolinario (5-0, 4), who looks to extend his unbeaten record as he takes on the limited Dexter Dimaculangan (3-15-5, 1). Aged 19 Apolinario looks like one of the most exciting young Filipino fighters rising through the ranks, and whilst he is clearly some way from getting fights his rise is going to be a fun one to follow, and this will just be the next chapter in that rise.
Another Filipino card is set to take place in Laguna, with two title bouts.
One of those title bouts will see Jheritz Chavez (7-2-2, 5) take on a the hard hitting Reymond Yanong (9-3-1, 8) for the GAB title at 140lbs. This should be a really interesting test and will test Yanong's power against Chavez's toughness in what could be a very good contest for the fans in attendance, even if neither fighter is a world beater in the making.
The other title bout will see the once beaten Umi Ishikawa (5-1, 3) face off with local southpaw Norj Guro (9-7-1, 4) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Female Minimumweight title. Neither of those fighters have looked that impressive but they should make for a compelling contest together, with neither really able to take another defeat at this stage, if they are wanting to go on to bigger and better things.
In Australia fight fans will get the chance to see Australian based Filipino veteran Jack Asis (38-20-5, 19) take on Rivan Cesaire (15-5-1, 3). The 34 year old Asis has been one of the feel good stories of the last 6 or 7 years, as he turned his record around from 21-19-4 to actually being in the world rankings. He has however suffered a couple of recent defeats which has lead him to fighting low key bouts, like this one. Cesair is himself an Australian based import, originally from Cameroon, and at 33 years old he will be looking to avoid another defeat, and scored his 5th straight win. This should be an interesting bout between two men who will both be hungry for the victory.
This coming Saturday is a pretty stacked day of action with a pair of world title fights, a regional title fight, a pair of Japanese title eliminators and a non-title bout featuring a controversial world champion.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
The first of the world title fights will see WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (11-0, 9) defending the title he was recently handed, following Badou Jack's decision to avoid Bivol who has seen his “interim” title being upgraded. The talented Russian based Kyrgyzstan born fighter will be up against Trent Broadhurst (20-1, 12) in what looks likely to be little more than a showcase defense. The destructive Bivol looks like one of the best young fighters in the sport, with text books skills, an impressive engine, a fantastic in-ring mentality and very heavy hands. On paper Broadhurst looks like a good opponent, and has won his last 13 bouts, but is unlikely to be able to live with the work rate and power of Bivol, who will be expected to stop the challenger with few problems.
New York, USA
The other title fight will see unbeaten Kazakh born Sergey Lipinets (12-0, 10) take on Japan's Akihiro Kondo (29-6-1, 16) in a bout for the IBF Light Welterweight title, which was vacated earlier this year by Terence Crawford. Of the two men it's Lipinets who has been the more impressive, with 4 stoppages in a row including wins over Leonardo Zappavigna and Levan Ghvamichava. The Kazakh, much like the previously mentioned Bivol, is an exciting and heavy handed fighter with an aggressive mentality. As for Kondo he's a tough fighter, as most Japanese fighters are, with a good engine and good form, having won his last 8 including stoppages over Patomsuk Pathompothong, Jeffrey Arienza and Yuya Okazaki.. Given the toughness of Kondo and the aggression of Lipinets it's hard not to get excited about this bout, despite the fact that Lipinets will be the very clear betting favourite.
Whilst the biggest fighters aren't in Japan we are really excited about a Japanese card from the Korakuen Hall.
The main event will see Japanese Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto (17-1, 9) defending his OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Heavyweight titles against Randall Rayment (8-3, 3). The Japanese boxer-mover became the first Japanese fighter to unify the Japanese, WBO AP. And OPBF titles and will be determined to continue that reign as he slowly moves towards a potential world title fight, though has seen such a contest with Joseph Parker recently falling through. Rayment is a real unknown but he has won his last 6 and is coming in with a bit of momentum, though has never gone beyond 6 rounds and is stepping up massively.
In a Japanese Super Bantamweight Japanese title eliminator we'll see Yuta Nakagawa (21-4-1, 12) battle former champion Yasutaka Ishimoto (30-9, 9), with the #1and #2 facing off for a shot at the title in 2018. The 28 year old Nakagawa has gone 11-0-1 (6) since a 2012 loss to Breilor Teran back in 2012 and whilst his competition hasn't been great he does hold notable wins over Yosuke Fujihara, Monico Laurente and Yuta Saito. Ishimoto on the other hand is a real fan favourite who has engaged in some thrilling contests at the top of the domestic scene with the likes of Yukinori Oguni, Gakuya Fukuhara, Yusaku Kuga, Shingo Wake and Yota Sato, among others. Aged 36 Ishimoto has seen better days, but is certainly coming in to this one as a hungry and determined fighter wanting another title run.
An even better title eliminator takes place at Middleweight, as the once beaten Shoma Fukumoto (11-1, 9) takes on the thrilling Kazuto Takesako (6-0, 6). Fukumoto burst on to the pro scene in 2012, blowing out Dondon Lapuz in 130 seconds, but would lose his third bout to the dangerous Arnel Tinampay. Since then he has reeled off 9 straight wins to right the ship and now looks like a much improved fighter who came undone against Tinampay. As for Takesako he was a genuine amateur star before making his professional debut in 2015. As a professional he has been destructive with all 6 of his wins coming in a combined 12 rounds and he looks like the type of fighter who will enter the ring with every intent of continuing that stoppage run here.
In one of two notable under-card bouts we'll see the exciting Akinori Watanabe (34-6, 29) take on Filipino journeyman Dennis Padua (11-12-2, 6), in what should be a straight forward win for Watanabe, who is looking for a second straight win after losing two in a row. The other under-card bout of note will see former amateur stand out Kazuki Saito (3-0, 3) battle against heavy handed Filipino puncher Alvin Lagumbay (8-1, 7). The talented Saito has the skills to go a long way, but does have question marks over him, especially given that he was dropped by Jimmy Borbon last time out. Lagumbay is stepping up massively, but is clearly a puncher and will be looking to stop Saito and propel himself towards an OPBF title fight.
Baja California, Mexico
One other bout of note sees unbeaten, and controversial, WBC Bantamweight champion Luis Nery (24-0, 18) fight in a non-title bout against Filipino Arthur Villanueva (31-2, 17). The Mexican, who failed a drugs test for his bout against Shinsuke Yamanaka but appears to have seen the WBC turn a blind eye to his failed drug's test and haven't yet stripped him. The Filipino has lost in his two most notable bouts, and we can't help but feel he'll come up short again here, potentially suffering his first stoppage loss in the process.
In Japan this Friday marks a major day for Dangan who kick off their recently announced BoxingRaise website with the first live show on the subscription service. Although it's not a major show it is a show headlined by a Japanese title fight and featuring a couple of notable under-card bouts.
The aforementioned title bout will see Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (26-4, 13) defending his belt against 37 year old challenger Masafumi Otake (15-14-3, 7), who gets his first title bout after having been a profession for almost 15 years. The bout looks like a mismatch, and it likely to be a relatively straight forward win for Kogawa, however Kogawa is rarely in a dull fight and we're not expecting anything but a fight contest here, with both men well aware of the bouts relative importance.
In the most interesting of the under-card bouts fans will see the talented but light punching Jo Tanooka (13-3-3) go up against the limited but heavy handed Shogo Sumitomo (6-8-1, 5). In terms of pure skills Tanooka in a different league to Sumitomo however Sumitomo has the clear edge in power and will be looking to land one of his bombs on the 2013 All Japan Rookie of the Year runner up.
In another supporting bout Japanese ranked Featherweight Ryuto Araya (9-4-1,2) will be facing off against Naoaki Kumagai (7-4, 4) in what looks like a rather even match up. Coming in to this both men have suffered 2 losses in their last 4 bouts, both will believe they can win here and both will genuinely go for it in what could be the most competitive bout on the card.
The action in Japan isn't the only action involving Asian fighters with two in action in the US.
The more notable of those US bouts sees Mongolian sensation Tugstsogt Nyambayar (5-0, 5) facing off against veteran Rafael Vazquez (16-2, 13). On paper this is a genuine step up in class for Nyambayar but should be another win for the former Mongolian amateur star, who is in his first scheduled 10 rounder. Although Vazquez has been beaten twice he has never been stopped and we suspect that will be the goal for “King Tug”.
On the same card fans will see Russian based Kazakh born destroyer Sergey Lipinets (9-0, 7) take on the teak tough Walter Castillo (26-3-1, 19), who we saw last year fight to a very controversial draw with Keita Obara. The bout should be a great test for Lipinets, who got given a real test last time out against Levan Ghamichava, and if he can stop Castillo it would put the division on alert of his potential and power.
In Africa we'll see Filipino Carlo Magali (20-7-3, 10) take on WBA International Lightweight champion Emmanuel Tagoe (25-1, 12). For Tagoe this will be his second defense of the title, that he incidentally won last year when he beat Joebert De los Reyes. The bout will be a seriously tough ask for Magali however the Filipino is known for scoring upsets and has scored back to back wins over David Browne Jr and Mark Gil Melligen in the last year, he also has upset wins over Mark John Yap and Ryuta Miyagi.
The only Asian's in action today are in California where we have two notable bouts.
One of those bouts sees unbeaten Kazakh born Russian prospect Sergey Lipinets (8-0, 6) battle once touted Georgian Levan Ghvamichava (16-1-1, 12) in what looks like a really good test for Lipinets. The unbeaten man is on the fast track to the top but this is a really match up with Ghvamichava being a heavy handed, tough fighter who knows that a win here will put him on the map, so to speak. And will come only days after fellow Georgian Avtandil Khurtsidze scored a major upset over Antoine Douglas.
An even more promising prospect in action here sees Mongolian sensation Tugstsogt Nyambayar (4-0, 4) battle against the heavy handed Rafael Vazquez (16-2, 13) in a 10 rounder. Notably Vazquez has never been stopped and should be a real test for the Mongolian, who may well find himself in with world ranked fighters if he comes through this one in impressive fashion. Interestingly Vazquez has stopped former world title challenger Mario Macias inside a round and will be the first opponent Nyambayar has faced with real belief of winning.
This Friday is a very busy day in Asian boxing with numerous former world champions in action and several really interesting bouts.
The first of the former world champions in action today is former WBC Super Flyweight world champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (29-4-1, 26). The heavy handed Thai will be defending his regional WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Flyweight title against Filipino Bobby Concepcion (11-5-1, 5) in what we suspect will prove to be a disappointingly one sided mismatch. Concepcion comes into this bout on the back of successive stoppage losses and will not be expected to even test the Thai puncher who has scored wins in each of the last two months.
In Tokyo we get a really interesting show, albeit one that is more interesting for those interested in Japanese domestic and Oriental scenes.
The main event promising to be thrilling as the always entertaining Shuhei Tsuchiya (16-3, 14) battles against Japanese based Filipino Ricky Sismundo (26-8-1, 12). The bout pits two Japanese ranked Lightweights against each other with both hoping to recapture some form after recent losses. Tsuchiya enters this bout 2-3 in his last 5 bouts with the most recent losses being stoppages to Leonardo Zappvigna, who stopped him in a bloody 10 round affair, and Masayoshi Nakatani, who dominated him in a 3-round break out win for the Ioka youngster. Sismundo lost his last bout, also to Nakatni, by decision and will know that a win here could open up title opportunities for him in 2015. This is a fantastic bout and should be thrilling for as long as it lasts.
In a second bout between Japanese and Filipino fighters fan will see #2 ranked Japanese Super Featherweight Yuya Sugizaki (19-9-1, 6) battle against heavy handed but limited Filipino slugger Gabriel Royo (9-10-2, 8). This should be an easy win for Sugizaki though Royo's power may keep this interesting early on.
Another bout on this card that has caught out eye will see the OPBF and Japanese Yuta Nakagawa (13-4-1, 8) risking his rankings against the heavy hitting Yuta Saito (7-4-2, 6). Saito was the 2012 All Japan Rookie of the Year MVP though has really failed to shine in his last two bouts, if he catches Nakagawa this could be an interesting fight however Nakagawa should win given his ability and experience.
A fourth bout from this show that we're interested in is a 6 rounder that features the touted Koki Koshikawa (2-0, 1). Koshikawa will be fighting against Ryoji Miyagi (7-4-1, 4) in a clear step up for the Celes gym prospect. Miyagi comes into this bout with no real form having lost his last 2 bouts, including a stoppage to current Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada, however he does have an edge in experience and could well test the promising youngster, who turns 24 just days before this fight.
In the most interesting of two separate Russian cards we will see several notable fighters including two former world champions in the main event. Sadly however a number of these bouts do feel like mismatches.
The biggest mismatch is in the main event, where recent WBO Light Welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov (23-3, 16) battles against Mexican veteran Jose Luis Castillo (66-12-1, 57). In his prime Castillo would have been a perfect opponent to see Provodnikov fight, in fact that would likely have been a classic. Sadly Castillo is now almost a decade past his prime and aged 40 he's unlikely to do much more than be a human puncher here for the “Siberian Rocky”.
In a second 12 rounder fans will see the light hitting but talented Andrey Klimov (18-1, 9) defending his WBO Inter-Continental Super Featherweight title against Mexican visitor Gabino Cota (16-2-1, 14). We suspect that Klimov will win this as Cota has a very padded record, though with 14 stoppages in 19 bouts he may have genuine power that could make this interesting, though it is doubtful.
A third 12 rounder on this show sees the exciting Sergey Lipinets (4-0, 3) going for his first professional title. Lipinets will be hoping to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title as he battles against Filipino Ernie Sanchez (14-5-1, 5) in what looks to be an opportunity to let Lipinets into the world WBO world rankings. We like the Russian and we like that he's being fast tracked and in all honesty we can't see anything but a Lipinets win here.
At Cruiserweight we see another former world champion in actual as Cuban veteran Juan Carlos Gomez (55-3-0-1, 20) attempts to end the KO streak of Russian puncher Dmitry Kudryashov (15-0, 15). On paper this is a step up for the Russian though if he wins in style there is little doubt that he'll be moved towards a world title bout in 2015. Gomez is a long way removed from his prime but he's on a nice run of 6 straight wins and knows a win here will move back into the world rankings. We doubt the win is all Kudryashov wants here and he'll be seeking a stoppage to keep his great run going.
A second Cruiserweight bout here will see Rakhim Chakhkiev (20-1, 15) battling against the heavy handed Jackson Junior (15-1, 13) in what looks like a genuinely exciting bout for the Russian ahead of possible world title bout in 2015.
One other notable name down for this show is Olympic champion Egor Mekhontsev (6-0, 6) who will be in his 7th bout of the year. We want to see the Mekhontsev step up now as he's now 30 years old and hasn't got time to waste on many more mismatches, especially given his amateur pedigree, power and ability. Sadly however he is only fighting against Joey Vegas (17-9-1, 10) and this shouldn't be difficult at all for the talented Russian.
On a second Russian show we have a few interesting, though lower level, bouts.
The most interesting bout here comes at Cruiserweight as the promising Yury Kashinsky (4-0, 4) battles against Yuriy Barashian (27-7, 18) in a clear step up for Kashinsky who could become yet another Russian name in the Cruiserweight rankings.
A second notable bout here will see PABA Light Middleweight champion Pavel Mamontov (9-1-2, 2) defending his title against Argentinian fighter Oscar Roberto Medina (24-6-2, 9). We're not big on Mamontov and wouldn't be surprised to see him losing sometime soon, but it's unlikely to be here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This weekend seems to be the next step in the rise of boxing's "Russian Revolution" with numerous major bouts, ranging from world title to possible break out bouts, many of which will feature Russian fighters.
The card of the day, by a long shot, is in Russia where we get four very interesting title bouts as well as two contests involving unbeaten Russian prospects taking a step up in class. It is the sort of card that we want to see more of though sadly boxing seems to be having of them.
The first of the prospects expected to be in action is Alexander Sharonov (2-0, 1) fighting in a 6 rounder against Ghana's Godwin Cudjoe (8-6, 7). Cudjoe comes into this fight on a 6 fight winning streak though he will still be seen as an under-dog against the 22 year old Sharanov. The second prospect in action is the very highly touted Sergey Lipinets (3-0, 2) who attempts to record his 4th win as he steps up to fight Daniel Lomeli (22-4, 11) in an 8 round bout. Lipinets was a former kick boxing star with strong amateur pedigree and it seems clear his team are confident in his ability. Some will suggest that Lomeli is an under-sized opponent which is fair but for a main in fight #4 this is an acceptable step for Lipinets who some are tipping very highly.
In a female world title bout we see a re-run of a bout we saw earlier this year. This will see the unbeaten Svetlana Kulakova (9-0-1, 1) battle against WBA female Light Welterweight Ana Laura Esteche (10-3-2, 2). In their meeting earlier this year the two fought to a draw with Kulakova twice being deducted a point. Had it not been for those deductions the Russian would have won the title with a majority decision and many who saw the bout know that that would have been an unjust result. Hopefully we'll see a less scrappy performance form Kulakova who looked really good for 4 round before showing signs of exhaustion in the middle and later rounds.
In a regional title fight we will get to see Andrey Knyazev (10-1, 5), the current Russian Cruiserweight champion, battle against Shalva Jomardashvili (37-8-2, 28) for the vacant WBO Oriental Cruiserweight title. This will be one of three Cruiserweight bouts on the show and is by far the weakest of the three. Knyazev may enter as the Russian champion but he's well down the picking order of top Russian Cruiserweights whilst Jomardashvili has gone 6-5-1 in his last 12 fights and shown that he's never going to be world class.
The two main events of the show are both Cruiserweight title fights. One of those is a WBC Cruiserweight title fight as Poland's Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (49-2-1, 35) attempts to defend his belt against once beaten Russian Grigory Drozd (38-1, 27). The 32 year old Wlodarczyk will be looking for his 6th defence of the WBC title and will be returning to Russia 15 months after stopping the then unbeaten Rakhim Chakhkiev, also in Moscow. As for Drozd this will be his first world title fight, finally getting his shot at the big time. Drozd will be taking part in this fight about a year after his stand out win over the then unbeaten Mateusz Masternak. This is one of those great Cruiserweight bouts that has gone under-the-radar but really does look to be something a bit special.
The other event will see the long awaited return to the ring of WBA champion Denis Lebedev (25-2, 19) who will fight for the first time since his painful loss to Guillermo Jones last year. The all action and always fun to watch Lebedev will be battling against Poland's Pawel Kolodziej (33-0, 18) though there are worries about Lebedev who took a real beating at the hands of Jones and has been inactive, courtesy of an aborted rematch with Jones that saw the Panamanian fail a drugs test on the day of the fight. Kolodziej isn't as good as fellow Pole Wlodarczyk but is still a world class Cruiserweight and could be too much for Lebedev if the Russian isn't 100%.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In Metro Manila we have yet more title action with 2 titles fights and various other domestic contests.
The headline bout of this Filipino show will see Filipino fighter Renan Trongco (15-4, 9) take on Japanese visitor Hayato Yamaguchi (12-4-1, 2) in a battle for the WBC International Flyweight title. For Trongco this will be the first defense of the title he won a year a go when he defeated China's Wang Xin Hua via decision. Yamaguchi is 0-2 in title fights going into this fight, with those losses coming in a Japanese Light Flyweight title fight against Masayuki Kuroda and a WBC Youth Intercontinental Flyweight title fight against Cris Paulino.
A second title fight on this show will see Carleans Rivas (3-1-3) battle against Lady Love Sampiton (1-2, 1) for the Philippines Games & Amusement Board (GAB) female Flyweight title. As far as we are aware this is the inaugural title bout for this title which is a newly created title.
A third notable bout on this show will see Jeffrey Arienza (11-2-1, 6) battle against journeyman Ronald Postrano (7-20-2, 3) in a domestic 12 rounder. Arienza will be looking for his third straight win after suffering back to back defeats last year. As for Postrano he comes into this bout after suffering a trio of defeats and has won just one of his last 11 bouts!
On a small show in Japan we're expecting to see a total of 8 bouts, most of which are 4 rounders.
The main event will see Tatsuya Takahashi (17-5-3, 12) battle against win-less Thai novice Kittichai Or Boonchuay (0-3). On paper this looks like a mismatch and, whilst it's likely to go the way we all expect, Takahashi isn't anything special and is unlikely to ever become a real challenger even on the Japanese domestic scene. We do doubt Kittichai's record and assume that it's incomplete but he should provide little challenge for the Japanese fighter.
As well as a the main event and the 5 bouts scheduled for 4 rounds this show will also feature a pair of 6 rounders though none of the 4 men involved will be known by anyone other than the most hardcore of the hardcore of Japanese boxing fans.
It's not just in Russia that we will see Russian fighters in action and in Canada we will see the very exciting Artur Beterbiev (5-0, 5) taking on his biggest challenge to date. Beterbiev will be attempting to claim the NABA Light Heavyweight title as he battles against former IBF world champion Tavoris Cloud (24-2, 19) and although this is a big step up we're still expecting to see Beterbiev defeat Cloud and announce himself as the most exciting Light Heavyweight prospect on the planet.
(Image courtesy of http://akboxing.ru)
Whilst we know almost every boxing fan is looking forward to the action through out Saturday there is plenty going on on Friday to keep fans interested with former world champions, world class fighters and a genuinely great show in Russia.
Surat Thani, Thailand
The earliest action of the day is in Thailand where one time world champion Oleydong Sithsamerchai (53-1-1, 19) defends his WBC International Super Flyweight title against Filipino challenger Noli Morales (10-4, 3), who has suffered all 4 of his losses so far in Thailand. This is the best opponent Morales has faced and that should sum up how we expect the contest to go.
The biggest show of the day is the one in Russia as we get a genuinely fantastic show with several world class fighters in action in some very interesting looking contests.
The main event is the pick of the bouts with former WBA Heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin (26-1, 18) returning to the ring for the first time since his defeat at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko. Povetkin's opponent will be former WBC Heavyweight title challenger Manuel Charr (26-1, 15) and with both men looking to move back into a world title fight this is effective a title eliminator, despite only officially being a WBC international title fight. We'll be honest we're really looking forward to this one and expect it to be a very, very competitive bout between two top 20 Heavyweights each looking to earn their way to a major bout later in the year.
Whilst the Heavyweight clash is brilliant it's also supported by two world class fighters on the undercard. One of these is former WBC Cruiserweight title challenger Rakhim Chakhkiev (18-1, 14) who will be defending his WBC international Cruiserweight title for the first time as he battles former world title challenger Santander Silgado (25-1, 20). Silgado is somewhat known to Russian fans for his loss to Denis Lebedev back in 2012 and has gone 2-0 (2) since then against opponents with a combined record of 44-5-2 despite that he really shouldn't be a problem for Chakhkiev who is a vicious fighter.
The other world class fighter is Lightweight Eduard Troyanovsky (17-0, 14) who has had a disappointing few months due to an injury that has seen a WBA world title bout with Richar Abril fall through. Sadly Troyanovsky's disappointment won't be softened by his very weak opponent, Anton Bekish (5-10, 4), who is tough but has nothing at all to threaten the very talented Russian contender.
A fourth bout of note on this card will see Sergey Lipinets (1-0) return to the ring for his second professional bout. Lipinets, who debuted just a few short weeks ago, will be hoping to score his second win as he takes on the once beaten Serbian fighter Dzemil Cosovic (3-1-1) in a scheduled 6 round bout. We've heard very promising things about Lipinets and we hope he progresses as the Russian media are suggesting he could. If the media are right this youngster has the potential to be a real star.
In the US we get another Russian in action as Medzhid Bektemirov (13-0, 10) puts his unbeaten record on the line against a yet to be named foe.
Thanks, as always, go out to Pal for his information regarding the action in Thailand. With out him we'd be at a real loss in regards to the Thai boxing scene.
(Image courtesy of the 13th round)