T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
This coming Saturday the attention of the boxing world is focused on Nevada for one of the biggest shows of the years, headlined by the face of boxing. Whilst the focus of the show will be the main event, the undercard has a number of Asian fighters on it, all of which are looking to move their careers forward.
The main event will see Kyrgyzstan born Russian Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11) defending his WBA Light Heavyweight "super" title against Mexican megastar Saul Alvarez (57-1-2, 39). For Bivol this is the biggest fight of his career, by far, and a chance for the talented, but often frustrating, technician to announce himself on the wider boxing world. There is no doubting Bivol's ability, but he has frustrated fans, and opponents, in recent years with safety first performances and his bouts have often been dreary to watch. As for Canelo he seems to be getting better and better, an recent wins over Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant saw him putting on great performances and breaking both men down. Although Alvarez will go in as the big favourite, Bivol should ask serious questions of Alvarez with his footwork and good work at range. However Bivol needs to stick to his fight, needs to create space and do anything he can to prevent Canelo from getting close, where he's at his most dangerous. Our in depth preview of this one can be read here Bivol and Canelo clash in legacy defining bout!
Aside from the main event, the most notable supporting bout was supposed to be an IBF Heavyweight world title eliminator, between unbeaten Chinese fighter Zhilei Zhang (23-0-1, 18) and Croatian fighter Filip Hrgovic (14-0, 12). Sadly that Hrgovic was forced to pull out, and he has been replaced replaced by Scott Alexander (16-4-2, 8), in a massive down grade, though thankfully the card is still a strong one.
In a solid supporting bout unbeaten Uzbek fighter Shakhram Giyasov (12-0, 9) will be up against Mexican puncher Christian Gomez (22-2-1, 20), in a bout for the IBF North American Welterweight title fight. The 28 year old Giyasov has blown hot and cold at times, but the 2016 Olympic Silver medal winner is an undeniable talent, and when he's looked good he has looked really good, including his wins over Darleys Perez and Winston Campos, and looked like a fighter with the potential to win a world title. One day. As for Gomez the Mexican is a real danger man who has won both of his previous US bouts, and recently ended the unbeaten run of Jorge Perez Sanchez, who was 13-0 at the time. Given both of these men have heavy hands this could be explosive, exciting, and dangerous for both men.
Another Uzbek hopeful on this card is Elnur Abduraimov (8-0, 7), who returns to a US ring for the first time since 2018, as he takes on fellow unbeaten Manuel Correa (11-0, 7), a US based Cuban, in a brilliant match up. The hard hitting Abduraimov has long been tipped as one to keep an eye on, though sadly hasn't really raced through the ranks like many expected, instead deciding to flip-flop between the professional ranks and the amateur one, though hopefully his focus will now be on the pros. As for Correa, the 31 year old has a great looking record, but there really is no substance to his 11-0 record, and he was some what fortunate in February to squeak past Marcello Williams, a limited Brazilian fighter. This should be explosive, exciting and well worth tuning in early to the show for.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
Whilst the biggest card of the day is in the US, by far, there is a reason to actually look at what's happening in Asia as Thailand plays host to a card featuring some of the country's top young talent.
The main event of the card will see WBA Asia Flyweight champion Tanes Ongjunta (9-1, 4) look to make his second defense, as he takes on the highly experienced Kongfah CP Freshmart (41-1-1, 20). The talented Ongjunta has rebuilt well since his 2020 loss to Adrian Lerasan, and has looked like a genuine prospect, though we will always wonder what happens when a fight sticks it on him, much like Lerasan did. In the opposite corner is a man who has bucket loads of experience, and has gone 28 bouts unbeaten, since a 2015 loss to Daigo Higa. That run has been, mostly, poor but has included wins over Samartlek Kokietgym and Ryoji Fukunaga and he is certainly a talented fighter, who should have done a lot more with his career. An indepth preview of this fight can be read here Tanes Ongjunta V Jakrawut Majungoen – Fight Breakdown and Prediction
Another title bout will see the talented Thitisak Hoitong (3-0, 2) take on the once beaten Kitidech Hirunsuk (8-1, 5) for the WBA Asia Light Flyweight title. We were impressed by Thitisak on his 2020 debut, when he beat Samartlek Kokietgym, and since then he has looked a real talent, though this is arguably the first time he's taken on a fighter looking to beat him. Kitidech on the other hand is a 19 year old, who won his first 8, against low level competition, but was beaten back in March, when Huu Toan Le took a very close 12 round decision over him in Vietnam. That loss in Vietnam showed Kitidech was a very capable fighter and he will not be fighting to just make up the numbers here.
One of the most skilled Thai prospects coming through the ranks is Nattapong Jankaew (9-0, 5), who has already notched notable wins against the likes of Samartlek Kokietgym, Petchbarngborn Kokietgym and Pigmy Kokietgym. Sadly for someone with a strong resume after 9 bouts, be really is competing in a nothing bout here, as he faces off with Worawatchai Boonjan (19-26-2, 16), who doesn't belong in the ring with Nattapong. Whilst Worawatchai is experienced he has been stopped 16 times in his career, including an opening round loss in 2019 to Andrew Selby, and this shouldn't be a test for the unbeaten hopeful.
One other top Thai prospect on this card is Yuttapong Tongdee (6-0, 4), who looks to secure his next win as he takes on Lerdchai Chaiyawed (6-7, 2). This should be a straight forward win for Tongdee, who was a top Thai amateur, but it should also be a case of him getting some much needed rounds, after fighting just once last year. Tongdee is a talent, but at the age of 28 he needs to be active, and his team needs to begin to move his career along. A win here needs to be followed by a notable step up in class later in the year.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
We also get some action at Korakeun Hall, as we see the next set of qualifying bouts for the East Japan Rookie of the Year. The stand out bout on this card will see Kenshin Hosokawa (2-0, 2) and Kota Araki (3-0, 2), who clash at Super Bantamweight. The 19 year old Hosokawa debuted in December, and has needed 6 rounds for his two wins to date, including one over the then unbeaten Kenshin Tomihira, whilst 22 year old Araki has got 7 rounds to his name, since making his own debut last August. This is the type of bout Rookie of the Year throws at us, and the type of bout we love to see, between two young hopefuls.
The main focus for us this coming Friday is Uzbekistan, as Matchroom put on their second Uzbek card, and it's an interesting one with a great main event and several other bouts worthy of attention.
The main event is a world title eliminator at 154lbs as unbeaten, and highly touted, Uzebekistani fighter Israil Madrimov (7-0, 5) takes a huge step up in class and takes on the skilled and experienced French fighter Michel Soro (35-2-1, 24). Madrimov has been put on the fact track since turning professional in 2018 and despite some wobbles recently, notably in a tough one against Eric Walker last year, he has looked like a very special fighter. Albeit one that looks bored at times and looks like he is trying to entertain himself against lesser opponents. Soro on the other hand is a perennial contender who has one of the best resumes of any active fighter to have never won a legitimate world title. Aged 34 Soro won't get many, if any, more chances if he loses here and we suspect to see him put it all on the line here in what could be a really sensational 12 rounder. Sadly we're not sure either man would have the tools to dethrone WBA champion Jermell Charlo, but as a stand alone bout, this one is a very, very interesting one and the winner would, rightfully, deserve a shot at the champion.
In one of the main supporting bouts we'll see Olympic silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov (11-0, 9) take on the tricky and awkward Cristian Rafael Coria (29-8-2, 13), in what should be a much tougher bout than it looks on paper. Giyasov, dubbed the "Wonder Boy", is a talented fighter but one who has shown some cracks during his professional career, and is certainly a work in progress. Saying that however he's talented, heavy handed, accurate and has the tools to go all the way to the top, in the future. We still feel he needs some seasoning, but he certainly has what's needed to be a champion. Coria on the other hand is a 39 year old journeyman who constantly looks for the upset, having given Hiroki Okada hell in 2018 and beaten Joel Diaz Jr in 2019. He was stopped last time out, by the awkward Alberto Puello, but he's tough and will be looking to make Giyasov pay for his numerous errors.
Another very notably fight in this card will be the return of Bektemir Melikuziev (7-1, 6), who looks to bounce back from his upset loss to Gabe Rosado. Interesting Melikuziev isn't being matched mega softly here, and instead of taking on a patsy after such a brutal KO loss he's up against the capable Sergei Ekimov (18-3, 9), who has never been stopped and pushed recent world title challenger Umar Salamov close in his most recent bout. This shouldn't be a problem for Melikuziev, but we suspect he will have to go rounds and this should serve him well given the loss to Rosado.
There also a number of other touted hopefuls on this card, such as 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Hasanboy Dusmatov (3-0, 3), who takes on tough Mexican journeyman Jose Rivas (18-12-4, 10). On paper this is a mismatch, but Rivas has only been stopped twice with the most recent of those coming to Jose Argumedo more than 6 years ago. He should extend Dusmatov a few rounds.
Likewise we expect to see Elnur Abduraimov (7-0, 6) have to work for a win over Filipino Jhon Gemino (22-12-1, 12), whilst former amateur standouts Ikboljon Kholdarov (1-0, 1) and Dilshodbek Ruzmetov (0-0) should both be taking home very easy wins as they they begin their professional journey's, and they are two men who have the potential to go very far, very fast.
Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
In Canada we'll see the talented Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-1-0-2, 14) look to bounce back from his thrilling loss to Subriel Matias, back in May. The exciting Canadian based Kazakh showed lots to like there against one of the true dangermen at 140lbs, and will be given a chance to get a confidence building win here as he takes on limited Mexican Juan Jose Martinez (28-10, 20). It's fair to say that Jukembayev isn't world class, but he's certainly someone who can mix with the top 10 type of fighters and hopefully after this bout we see him mixing at a good level again in the new year.
Vysotsky Sports Palace, Samara, Russia
Over in Russia we'll see a couple of low level bouts with Central Asian fighters in action, playing the B-sides.
On such bout will see 25 year old Russian hopeful Rokhman Akhmetkhanov (2-0, 2) look to continue his impressive start to live as a professional boxer as he takes on Alexandr Zhuravskiy (13-8-1, 11), of Kazakhstan. Akhmetkhanov made his debut in March, has just 3 rounds to his name, but already looks like a genuine handful at Middleweight or Super Middleweight, and has two solid wins to his name. At his best Zhuravskiy was a tough, durable, reliable test for fighters, though he is now looking a bit shot and past his best. We expect Akhmetkhanov to win, but if he scores another quick win here it's going to be very, very hard to get him rounds over the next year or two.
A similar match up to the one above will see Chingiz Natyrov (2-0, 2), another hard hitting Russian hopeful, take on veteran Rauf Aghayev (33-12, 15), from Afghanistan. The 29 year old Natyrov looked tremendous last year, when he picked up two wins in the space of a few weeks including a stoppage of Oleksandr Hryshchuk, but with more than a year out of the ring he'll be hoping to get some rounds in here and move on to bigger things in 2022. The 38 year old Aghayev has amazingly fought 8 times this year! Though has sadly been stopped in 3 of those, and would be shocked if he avoided another stoppage loss here against someone as good as Natyrov.
A third bout of interest to us on this card will see Russian based Kazakh Ilya Ochkin (6-2, 2) look to bounce back from his 2020 blow out loss to Magomed Kurbanov, as he takes on Azeri fighter Elvin Akhundzada (4-8, 2). Coming in to this Akhundzada has been stopped very early in his last 3, and has lost 8 in a row. We do not expect him to put up much of an effort, but it'll be good to see Ochkin back in the ring after a length break from action, and after such a loss last time out.
The month of April is already under way and this Saturday we are getting a treat with a stacked day of action, featuring prospects, debutants, world title contenders and, best of all, a huge world title bout in Uzbekistan! In fact we are getting the greatest professional boxing event in Uzbekistan's history!
Humo Arena, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
We'll start with the Uzbek card, which is really something special and something super stacked! In fact it's up there with the most notable cards of the year so far.
The main event will see unified Super Bantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6) defending his WBA "super" and IBF Super Bantamweight titles against Japanese challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17), in a mandatory defense. Akhmadaliev won the titles last year, when he beat Danny Roman, and has had to wait over a year to return to the ring as a champion. He will be the strong favourite, and the clear fan favourite for what is a massive home coming fight. Iwasa on the other hand is looking to reach the pinnacle of the sport for a second time, having previously held the IBF title. The hard hitting Japanese fighter can blow very hot and cold, but looked fantastic last time out, dominating Marlon Tapales. Sadly that was in December 2019. Despite the lengthy lay offs for both men this is a mouth watering bout and it deserves a lot of attention. Potentially the best bout of the entire month! Our in depth preview of this match up can be read here Akhmadlaiev and Iwasa clash at last!
In one of the main supporting bouts we'll see the highly regarded Israil Madrimov (6-0, 5) take on the hard hitting Emmany Kalombo (14-0, 14), in a mouth watering match up. Madrimov has looked like a future world champion in the making since his 2018 debut, though looked underwhelming last time out, against the tough and awkward Eric Walker. He'll be wanting to shine here and make a statement in his first bout since that one. Congolese born South African based Kalombo on the hand will be going in to this bout knowing that he has a huge chance to announce himself to the world. It's a huge opportunity for Kalomobo, but he will be the big under-dog. Given unbeaten records and the combined 95% KO ratio we don't expect this one to go the distance. Instead we expect a short but explosive contender. Don't blink.
Another established Uzbek on this card is Shakhram Giyasov (10-0, 8), who takes on experienced Mexican fighter Patricio Lopez Moreno (28-4, 20). On paper this looks like it should be a straight forward win for Giyasov, a 2016 Olympic silver medal winner, but Moreno is a credible competitor and we suspect he'll give Giyasov a number of questions to answer here. Giyasov should have the tools to pick up a win, but we don't think he'll have an easy time.
One man who will be looking to establish himself in the professional ranks on this show is 2016Olympic gold medal winner Hasanboy Dusmatov (2-0, 2), who has failed to set the world alight since turning professional, but clearly has the talent to do so. He'll be up against Tanzania's Muhsin Kizota (11-2, 5) in what should be a real showcase for the unbeaten Uzbek. Kizota is tough, durable and will be hungry, but Dusmatov is a special talent, and he should be far, far too good for the Tanzanian fighter.
We won't go through the entire under-card, but it will feature touted Heavyweight prospect Bakhodir Jalolov (7-0, 7), the explosive Elnur Abduraimov (7-0, 6), the talented Sanjar Tursunov (2-0, 1) and debuting former amateur standouts Ikboljon Kholdarov (0-0) and Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov (0-0). We suspect at least 2 of these 5 will go on to win world titles one day in the future, though all 5 have that level of potential.
Round 10 Boxing Club, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
A second show worthy of major attention comes from Dubai, where we get several bouts featuring Asian fighters. This card is headlined by WBO Super Featherweight champion Jamel Herring defending his title against Carl Frampton, but it's Asian action we're interested in.
The most notable of the Asian fighters on the show is 4-weight world champion Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23), who returns to the ring for the first time since beating Kazuto Ioka for the WBO Super Flyweight title at the very end of 2018! The talented Filipino really has had a couple of years to forget, sitting on the sidelines and watch the Super Flyweight division set on dire whilst injuries and issues with ALA Promotions cost him a potential super fight. In the opposite corner to "Ahas" will be Colombian veteran Pablo Carrillo (25-7-1, 16), who shouldn't be a real test for Nietes, but could ask some questions of the 38 year old Pinoy. If Nietes is as good as he was, he should win with ease, but we do wonder the the long lay off done to him.
In a really good looking match up the unbeaten Zhankosh Turarov (24-0, 17) will be up against Tyrone McKenna (21-2-1, 6). Sadly Turarov has wasted a lot of his potential, and despite still being unbeaten it seems that injuries, inactivity and a bit of an aimless career will never reach the heights that many predicted. Turarov is now 30 and he's at the point where he needs to be focused on the sport. McKenna is no world beater, but he's a very solid fighter all the same, and he the tenacity and hunger to be a a real threat to Turarov's unbeaten record. This could end up being a real gut check for "Da Kazakh Kid".
Another Kazakh on this card in an interesting looking match up is Tursynbay Kulakhmet (2-0, 1), who defends his WBC International 154lb title against unbeaten Venezuelan Heber Rondon (20-0, 13). The talented Kulakhmet impressed in the amateurs, looked like a sensation in his professional debut, then looked like a power but limited fighter in his second professional bout. We're expecting a much better performance here from him than we got last time. As for Rondon his record is unbeaten but under-whelming and he lacks wins of any real value. In fact this will be his toughest bout so far. Worrying for a 34 year old with a 20-0 record.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Back over in Asian we get the latest show in the WP Boxing series of shows thanks to Workpoint and NKL. This card is certainly not a big one, but it's a notable one, with two bouts worthy of attention.
One of the two bouts is a flat out mismatch, as WBC ranked Bantamweight Nawaphon Por Chokchai (50-1-1, 40) takes part in a stay busy bout against Sophon Klachun (5-5-1, 1). The bout really is match up designed to keep Nawaphon active after a frustrating start to the year, which included planned world title fight falling through. We don't like matches like this, especially given this is the fourth successive "stay busy" bout for Suriyan, but it's much better than his sitting twiddling his thumbs doing nothing.
The other bout is a much better match up, as the unbeaten Apichet Petchmanee (8-0, 2) defends his WBC regional title against veteran Kaewfah Tor Buamas (29-7, 19). This bout "should" be an easy one for the talented Apichet, but it's hard to know with him. At times he has looked really, really good, but recently he has shown some real limitations and is lucky to still be unbeaten. Kaewfah was once a solid fighter but has now lost his last 3 and seems to be on the back end of his career. The veteran might have some tricks up his sleeve, but it would be a big surprise to see him pick up a victory here.
On a second show in Thailand we'll see an interesting looking match up between former world title contender Petch CP Freshmart (59-1, 44), aka Tasana Salapat, and fellow Thai Kongfah Nakornluang (33-3, 21), aka Chaiwat Buatkrathok. The bout will see Petch defending his WBC Asian Boxing Council Bantamweight title, and looking to begin his slow climb towards another major fight. On paper this looks like a good bout. Interestingly this bout was meant to take place way back in December, on Christmas day in fact, but was cancelled at short notice and pushed back more than 3 months.
Balai Sarbini Convention Hall, Jakarta, Indonesia
We're set to get low quality action in Indonesia, though it's a show that may unearth some gems, with 3 unbeaten prospects on the card in scheduled 10 rounders. Their opponents are very limited but it's still interesting to see novices in such long bouts this early in their careers.
Before we look at those prospects we want to quickly tough on a match up between James Mokoginta (40-18-3, 26) and Isack Junior (26-15-3, 9) which is an interesting one. Mokoginta, a 51 fight veteran, is only 30 years old and seems to have been around for a life time, having debuted way back in 2004. Coming in to this he has all the momentum, riding a 10 fight unbeaten run. Junior on the other hand started his career 22-1-2 (8) and seemed to be on his way to some sort of success. Since then he has gone 4-14-1 and appears to pad records for fighters. We're expecting another defeat for Junior here.
As for the prospects one of those is Christo Gara (2-0, 1), who seems to have debuted in 2019 and put in two solid performances. He'll be up against the very limited Jack Madison (2-19) in a bout that should easily move Gara to 3-0. Another man who should pick up a very easy win is Doni Syafyendro (1-0) who takes on 46 year old Harri Hutagalung (1-16), who scored his only win way back in 2010, in his debut, and has had 16 losses in a row since then, with 12 of those losses coming by stoppage.
The third prospect, and the most interesting, is Indonesian Heavyweight hopeful Alam Syaputra (1-0, 1). Yes, you did read that, an Indonesian Heavyweight. In fact he's a natural Heavyweight and he's a genuine big lad, who looked impressive and imposing in his 2019 debut against Michael Wattimena. He'll be expecting his second professional win when he takes on David Koswara (12-16-2, 4), who, is a Heavyweight now, but began his career at Welterweight. This should be a bit of a farce, but it'll be interesting to see Syaputra back in action and he's someone who want to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Pyramide, Kazan, Russia
Over in Russia we're expecting to see Kazakh female fighter Firuza Sharipova (12-1, 6) take on Sofya Ochigava (4-0, 1), in the second bout between the two women. Sharipova, once one of the most noteworthy fighters in Kazakhstan, has seen the media cool down on her significantly over the last 24 months but a win here would see the press talking about her a lot, again. As for Ochigava a win here would see her repeat her 2016 win over Sharipova, in what was the professional debut for both women.
Also pencilled in for this card is 21 year old Uzbek hopeful Ravshan Makhamadjonov (11-0, 7). The talented Makhamadjonov really needs a step up in class this year, having now been a professional for around 4 years, but unfortunately he's had no opponent confirmed at the time or writing, suggesting he'll be up against a short notice opponent, and probably a limited one at that.
This coming Saturday is set to be a busy day for fans of Asian boxing with bouts involving Asian fighters taking place in 3 different continents. Although not of the bouts are massive we do have several very notable contests taking place.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
The two most notable fights both take place on a Matchroom Show in Tulsa, where we see two top Uzbek fighters each taking the next step forward in their career's.
The more promising of of the Uzbek's on this show is the sensational Israil Madrimov (5-0, 5), who faces off with American veteran Eric Walker (20-2, 9) in a WBA Light Middleweight world title eliminator. The talented Madrimov is stepping up slightly here, but the general feeling is he will be too good, too powerful, too heavy handed, too quick, and too accurate for Walker. The American has never been stopped, but at the age of 37 he is probably beyond his physical best and Madimov will be looking to make a statement. Saying that however Walker has scored good wins in recent years, including wins over John Jackson and John Thompson in 2018, as part of "The Contender". Madrimov should win without many problems, but he really can't afford to over-look Walker, who will look to ask him serious questions and could be his first real test as a professional.
The second Uzbek fighter on this card is Olympic Silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov (9-0, 7), who will be up against Francisco Hernandez Rojo (22-3, 15). The unbeaten Giyasov, dubbed the "Wonder Boy", had some problems last year when he faced Emanuel Taylor, in a surpisingly competitive bout. Since then he has scored a blow out over Darley's Perez, but there are a lot of questions for him to still answer. Giyasov will be looking to shine again here, but Rojo is no push over and he gave Ryan Martin hell in 2017, losing a controversial split decision to the then unbeaten Martin. Sadly for those expecting a truly competitive match up it is worth noting that Rojo hasn't fought in 3 years and will almost certainly be rusty coming into this one.
Daytona Beach, Florida, USA
Staying in the US there is also a bout featuring unbeaten Kazakh Nikolay Shvab (4-0, 3) pencilled in to take place in Flordia. Sadly Shvab is being matched softly as he is scheduled to take on win-less Brazilian Marcello Williams (0-5), who has already lost 3 times this year. We understand match making is harder right now, but what is the point here? Shvab has already picked up 4 wins against very limited opponents and this type of match making isn't doing his development any favours at all.
WoW Arena, Krasnaya Polyana, Russia
Over in Russia we get more interesting action, with two more central Asian fighters.
On bout will see talented Russian prospect Albert Batyrgaziev (1-0, 1) take on unbeaten Russian based Kyrgyzstan fighter Erzhan Turgumbekov (8-0-1, 2). This is gutsy and exciting match making from Batyrgaziev's team, especially given he's fighting well above his natural weight, though the belief is that he's a special talent. It's fair to say that Batyrgaziev's record is somewhat under-whelming, but he does hold a very good win over Heorhii Lashko, and showed enough in that one bout to suggest he's one to watch. This could be the hidden gem for the if we're being honest and certainly looks like it could be a lot more interesting than many would assume.
Also on this card is the enigmatic Kazakh fighter Firuza Sharipova (10-1, 5), who takes on Tanzania's Happy Daudi (8-6-1, 4) in a contest for the IBA female Light Welterweight title. Although talented Sharipova is a frustrating fighter to follow, and seems to be more of a celebrity in Kazakhstan than a boxer now a days. This will be he first bout since April 2019, since which she has retired, had a child, and decided to return to the sport. Daudi on the other hand has never fought out of Tanzania and has never scored a win over a fighter with a win.
Whilst Sharipova should be criticised for her competition we do wonder what on earth is going on in the IBA to allow this to be for their "world" title. Disgraceful.
OB Boxing Gymansium, Busan, South Korea
In Asia we get action thanks to a South Korean card. This is a small, card and in reality there is little to get excited about.
One of the man bouts on the card will see Dae Young Lee (2-13-2) take on Min Guk Ju (5-3, 2) in a 6 rounder, which will actually serve as a rubber match between the two men. Coming in to this Lee has failed to win any of his last 9 bouts, with 7 losses and 2 draws. Interestingly Lee beat Ju back in 2017, Gu avenged that loss in 2018 and we now get this third meeting between the two men. This isn't worth getting excited about, but it is interesting to note the history between the two men.
One other 6 rounder on here will see Jun Gyu Oh (4-2, 3) take on the once beaten Moo Hyun Kim (4-1, 1), in what should be a much better and more competitive bout that then the other 6 rounder. Kim is a pretty notable fighter, having twice picked up wins over in Japan, where he has beaten Hironori Shigeta and George Tachibana, so is worth mentally noting. Oh on the other hand will be taking on his most experienced and notable foe so far.
The most interesting card, by far, for the weekend comes from California, where we see several brilliant match ups, including a unification bout in the Super Bantamweight division where several Asian fighters lie in wake, including Ryosuke Iwasa and Murodjon Akhmadaliev.
Despite the Super Bantamweight bout the focus for us is a Super Flyweight rematch, as WBC and Ring Magazine, champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) takes on Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada (38-3, 26) in a mandatory rematch. These two fought in an excellent contest last year, with Srisaket taking a narrow decision over Estrada, and fans have clamoured for a rematch ever since. Both men have stayed busy since their first bout, but this is the first really meaningful bout either had since their clash. Sriskaet, regarded by many as a top pound for pound fighter, will be kicking off a new DAZN deal, whilst Estrada will be seeking a second divisional throne. A full a preview of this bout can be read here Srisaket and Estrada go again in rematch of 2018 war!
On the supporting card we'll see rising unbeaten Uzbek contender Shakhram Giyasov (7-0, 6) take a step up in class to face off with Emmanuel Taylor (20-5, 14). Giyasov impressed last year picking up 6 wins, and this will be his second bout of 2019, following a win over former world title challenger Edgar Puerta in February. Taylor, known as Tranzformer is a step up in theory, but hasn't fought in almost 2 years, and has just 3 wins in the last 6 years, against 4 losses. Taylor was a capable fighter, as wins over Karim Mayfield and Victor Manuel Cayo show, but we really don't know what he has left to offer at this point in time.
Also on this card is the aforementioned Murodjon Akhmadaliev (5-0, 4) who will be up against former WBC Bantamweight challenger Carlos Carlson (23-5, 14). In theory this is a tune up for the WBA #1 ranked Super Bantamweight title challenger, but in reality this should be a straight forward win for the unbeaten hopeful.
Staying in the US we'll also see Chinese Light Heavyweight hopeful Fanlong Meng (14-0, 9) take on Daniel Najera (8-3-1, 4). This will be Meng's first bout since stopping Frank Buglioni in in November, when he scored a career best win, and it feels like a lot of the momentum he had from that bout has now been lost. Mexican fighter Najera has gone 1-3-1 in his last 5, and isn't expected to put up much of a test for Meng, who really should be taking on better opposition than this at this stage of his career.
London, United Kingdom
In the UK we'll see a MTK Global card featuring a pair of Kazakh prospects.
The more notable of the two is Viktor Kotochigov (8-0, 4), who fights for the first time as an MTK fighter. The unbeaten Kotochigov, who shone in Poland earlier this year when he stopped Piotr Gudel, will be up against Latvian journeyman Andrejs Podusovs (16-10-1, 5). The Latvian is riding an 8 fight winning run into this bout, but has had mixed results outside of Latvia, going 8-10-1 in the UK.
The other Kazakh on this card is Nurtas Azhbenov (4-0, 1), who has shown some touches of class but appears to be a bit on the feather fisted side. He will be up against an opponent who hadn't been named at the time of writing.
This Saturday is a huge one for Asian fight fans with notable bouts taking place on 3 different continents.
New Jersey, USA
The biggest card for us is North America where we see a headlining bout between two established fighters and get a supporting card featuring major Central Asian prospects.
The card is headlined by Dmitry Bivol (14-0, 11)defending his WBA Light Heavyweight title against veteran Jean Pascal (33-5-1-1, 20). The talented Bivol has been busy this year with wins against Sullivan Barrera and Isaac Chilemba and a win over Pascal would see him ending a good year with a big name on his record, albeit a faded force in Pascal. The 36 year old Pascal is well beyond his best, but was competitive with Eleider Alvarez last year and the hope will be for Bivol and Alvarez to face off in 2019. A prime Pascal would have given Bivol a real test, but he's now little more than a name. An in depth preview of this bout can be read here - Can Bivol over-come Pascal in one of the final HBO shows?
One of the prospects on this card is Uzbek sensation Murodjon Akhmadaliev (4-0, 3), who will be looking to make his first defense of the WBA Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title. The unbeaten Akhmadaliev was a former amateur stand out will be up against American foe Isaac Zarate (16-3-3, 2) , who comes into this bout on the back of a 5 fight unbeaten run including wins over Carlos Carlson and Horacio Garcia. This is a good step up for the Uzbek, who's is set to have his fight televised on HBO, and hopefully bigger and better opportunities will come his way in 2019.
One of the other major prospects on this card is the debuting Israil Madrimov (0-0), who looks to instantly announce himself as one to watch, as he takes on Vladimir Hernandez (10-2, 6) in a 10 rounder, on debut. The highly regarded Madrimov is tipped to be a major success, and it seems clear that his team have big expectations for him, putting him in such a tough bout to begin his career. Hernandez might not be a major name but he's a very solid opponent for a debut, and has only lost a couple of close decisions, to Humberto Velazco Torres and Adrian Luna Flores. Not only has Hernandez been competitive with good opponents, but he has scored decent wins over Elco Garcia and Danny Valdivia. This is a serious debut.
Another prospect on this card is 2016 Olympic silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov (5-0, 4), who will be up against the very experienced Miguel Zamudio (41-11-1, 25). The unbeaten Giyasov has been very impressive this year, beating good opponents like Gabor Gorbics, Albert Mensah and Julio Laguna, defeating Laguna at Wembley on a massive international card. Zamudio is a 27 year old Mexican veteran, who debuted back in 2009 and has been ultra-active. Despite being active Zamudio has lost to the notable opponents he's faced, such as Jose Zepeda, Sharif Bogere and Will Tomlinson.
Kazakh Heavyweight Ivan Dychko (7-0, 7) was also scheduled to be on this card, though was pulled in the weeks leading up to the show, without a reason being given.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Another international card with notable action comes from Monaco, where we get a couple bouts involving Asian fighters.
A second unbeaten Chinese fighter on this card is Meng Fanlong (13-0, 8) who goes up against popular Englishman Frank Buglioni (22-3-1, 16). The bout will be Fanlong's first defense of the IBF Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight title, a title he won in October 2017 when he defeated Ammanuel Danso. The Chinese fighter has looked good at times, but has been shown to have a less than amazing chin and although Buglioni is not a world beater, he does have respectable power. If Buglioni lands clean this could be a night to forget for Fanlong, who will be making his Euroipean debut.
Another Olympic medal winner on this card will be 2016 gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov (4-0, 2) of Kazakhstan. The 2016 Olympic champion will be battling against Nicaraguan Marcos Mojica (16-2-2, 12) and this is another good platform for Yeleussinov to shine on, as he did last time out, when he stopped Matt Doherty. If Yeleussinov can continue to develop his style he could become a star, but there is still a long way for him to go. Mojica is the under-dog, but is a live under-dog here.
We were also hoping to see unbeaten Chinese hopeful Zhang Zhilei (20-0, 16) take on veteran Alexander Ustinov (34-2, 25), but that bout was cancelled at late notice due to Zhilei having visa issues in the weeks running up to the fight.
Despite the notable action in the US and Monaco there is actually a stacked card in the Philippines, courtesy of ALA Promotions who are putting on a show with several WBO affiliated titles.
One of those title bouts will feature the hard hitting Jeo Santisima (16-2, 14) making his first defense of the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on Mexican visitor Victor Uriel Lopez (13-6-1, 6). The champion won the title earlier this year, when he stopped Yodsingdaeng Jor Chaijinda and this should be a good defense against a fighter who has proven he can fight on the road. Lopez first came to our attention in 2016, when he upset Ryo Matsumoto, and despite a loss to Matsumoto in a rematch he has remained relevant, with a big win this past August against Antonio Tostado. We're expecting an interesting bout here.
Another title bout on this card will see the once beaten Albert Pagara (30-1, 21) make his first defense of the WBO Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on Ghanaian puncher George Krampah (14-3, 12). On paper this looks dangerous for Pagara, but the visitor has been stopped in 2 of his last 3 bouts, and he lacks any win of note. This is a great chance for Pagara to make his first defense, and we suspect his aim will be on stopping Krampah in under 4 rounds, to try and beat the result Isaac Dogboe had against him.
In one of the major supporting bouts we'll see former world title challengers face off with Jonas Sultan (14-4, 9) taking on Ardin Diale (34-12-4, 16). Sultan failed to shine in his recent world title fight with Jerwin Ancajas, but he is a talented fighter and will be wanting to bounce back from that setback. A win over would certainly help him go into 2019 with some momentum. As for Diale his record has been patchy recently, though he has mixed with top quality fighters such as Daigo Higa, Moruti Mthlane and Andrew Selby. We suspect Sultan's youth will get him over the line here, but this could be more competitive than the records suggest.
Sultan isn't the only former world title challenger on this show as the once touted Arthur Villanueva (32-3, 18) looks to rebuild his career after his loss earlier this year to Luis Nery. Villanueva will be up against countryman Carlo Demecillo (11-5, 5) who is less than 2 years removed from a brutal KO loss to Satoshi Shimizu. He is 5-1 (4) since that loss, but this is a big step back up in class and is certainly his toughest bout since the Shimizu bout. Hard to see anything but a win for Villanueva, but he will have to work for it.
Unbeaten prospect KJ Cataraja (8-0, 7) takes a step up as he faces Victor Hugo Reyes (9-1-1, 7) for the WBO Youth Super Flyweight title. Cataraja is widely regarded as one of the top Filipino prospects but hasn't yet had the opponents to really show what he's capable of. This is a good chance to Cataraja to prove what he can do and potentially convince his team to give him better match ups in the new year. Reyes is a live fighter, but his record doesn't have much quality on it, with his most notable bout being his loss to Ricardo Rafael Sandoval back in March. Reyes will travel to win, and should give Cataraja a good teat, but one that we expect Cataraja to pass.
Japanese prospect Go Hosaka (1-0, 1), who is signed with ALA Promotions, will be having his second professional bout. The talented former amateur stand out will be up against the hard hitting but limited Jason Tinampay (8-11-1, 7). Hosaka is a real talent and ALA may well have a future world champion on their hands here, if they manage his career properly. At this stage putting him in with Tinampay seems a good choice. Tinampay was once a dangerous fighter, but has gone 1-10-1 since a 7-1 start to his career.
We see yet more prospects in Canada, where two Kazakh hopefuls will be looking to extend their unbeaten records.
One of those prospects is the very talented Sadriddin Akhmedov (4-0, 4), who goes up against the experienced Jose Francisco Zuniga (14-11-2, 5). On paper this is a slight step up in class for Akhmedov, who has stopped his first 4 opponents in a combined 8 rounds, but one he should manage without any issues. It's worth noting Zuniga has only been stopped once in his 11 losses, but we feel he will have to put in a real survival effort to hear the final bell here.
The other is prospects is 24 year old Nurzat Sabirov (7-0, 6), who a huge step up in class to battle Rocky Montoya (32-2, 22). Sabirov is tipped to be a star, like many of the Kazakh's currently based in Canada , and has looked very promising since his debut in June 2017. This is however a step up and Montoya has only been stopped once, by the under-rated David Lopez. Whilst Montoya is a test on paper it's hard to know how good he is given that, for the most part, his competition has been dreadful. We suspect Montoya's record will be exposed here by the talented Kazakh.
In less notable action we'll see Filipino Adam Diu Abdulhamid (13-6, 5) look to build on a recent big win in China, over Youli Dong. The under-rated Filipino will be facing off with Australian Joel Camilleri (15-5-1, 7) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Welterweight title, which is currently vacant. Although relatively unknown Abdulhamid is a very good fighter and seems happy fighting on the road, despite bein 1-3 outside of the Philippines. Camilleri has won just 1 of his last 3 fights, and really lacks a good wins, but was competitive with Dwight Richie last time out, and is better than his record suggests. This looks like it could be a very interesting match up.
September 22nd-Former World title challengers collide in Metro Manila on hectic day!
This coming Saturday isn't the busiest day for Asian boxing, especially given some of the other big contests that we've had recently, but it is still a pretty notable one with a number of interesting contests involving prospects and a clash of former world title challengers.
Metro Manila, Philippines
The pick of the bouts, on paper, is the aforementioned clash of former world title challengers, as former 2-time world title challenger Jonathan Taconing (27-3-1, 22) takes on recent title challenger Vince Paras (13-1, 11), with Taconing defending the WBC International Light Flyweight title against his compatriot. At the age of 31 Taconing is likely on the back end of his career, though he is still a very dangerous, hard hitting, tough southpaw who is a nightmare for anyone at 108lbs. Paras on the other hand is just 19 and looking to immediately get back into the title mix following a recent loss in an IBF title fight against Hiroto Kyoguchi. This could end up being a very special and very brutal contest.
Staying in the Philippines we get a pretty notable card taking place in Benguet.
The main event will see former OPBF title challenger Cris Paulino (18-3, 7) facing off with the upset minded Jomar Fajardo (16-11-2, 7) in a bout for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Super. Flyweight title. Paulino has been stopped in all 3 of hos defeats, to Ardin Diale, Koki Eto and Vic Darchinyan, but is a very capable fighter who is riding a 4 fight winning run into this fight. “Wallopman” Fajardo is best known for his two fights with Francisco Rodriguez Jr, earning a draw in the first of those bouts. Despite being upset minded Fajardo is 1-7-1 in his last 9 and and a win here would be one of his very best.
A bout that should be better than the records of those involved suggests will see Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-13-2, 11) take on Cris Alfante (14-7-1, 6). Neither of these men are world beaters, by any stretch of the imagination, but they should make for a very good contest between each other. Ponteras, on his day, can hold his own with fringe OPBF level opponents but is very inconsistent and can end up losing to opponents he should be. Alfante is the naturally smaller man, but also the younger man, and the fighter who will be looking to build on recent wins over Reymark Taday and Roilo Golez. This could be a pretty interesting match up, if we get the best from both guys.
Also on this card is promising youngster Jayson Vayson (7-0, 4), who looks to continue his unbeaten start to professional boxing as he takes on Ronald Alapormina (3-2-1). We like the 20 year old Vayson, a lot, and are looking forward to seeing him let off the leash in the near future. On paper this isn't a step up in class, but it will be his first 10 round contest. As for Alapormina he has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3 and will be wanting to end that win-less run. We expect a win for Vayson, but do hope to see him getting tested in the near future.
In Ibaragi Japanese fight fans get a small yet notable card featuring a former Japanese title challenger in what looks to be a mismatch, and interesting 8 round under-card bout.
The former Japanese title challenger is Tatsuya Takahashi (28-8-5, 20), who pushed the then Japanese Bantamweight champion hard Kentaro Masuda incredible hard back in December 2014. Takahashi will be up against domestic journeyman Masahide Shinabe (8-16-2, 4) in what should be a straight forward win for Takahashi, however Takashi will be coming in to this having lost last time out, losing a decision to Ikuro Sadatsune in a bout he was expected to win.
The interesting under-card bout will see Naoto Fujimoto (9-9-1, 4) face off against Ryuta Wakamatsu (11-13-1, 8). This is a bout between two limited domestic fighters, but they often give us some of the best action, with both men believing they can win, and putting it on the line to claim a relatively rare victory. This could, in terms of action at least, over-shadow the main event.
London, United Kingdom
One other bout with an Asian interest takes place on the biggest card of the weekend and will see 2016 Olympic silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov (4-0, 3) face off with unbeaten Nicaraguan Julio Laguna (14-0, 10) on the under-card of the huge Anthony Joshua Vs Alexander Povetkin fight. For both men this will give them a chance to shine in front of a huge audience, and on paper it's a very interesting match up. The reality however is that if Giyasov is as good as he has looked in recent bouts then he will really impress here and move a considerable way towards getting a huge fighter in 2019. This is a good test on paper, but one that Giyasov should pass with no issue.
Bang Phun, Thailand
In Thailand our attention turns to Workpoint who will be showcasing a small but notable card. The headline bout of which will see unbeaten 29 year old local Atchariya Wirojanasunobol (11-0, 9) take on Japanese visitor Taisho Ozawa (21-10-2, 13) for a WBC regional title at Light Welterweight. Atchariya has fought twice this year, winning and defending the WBC Asian Boxing Council title at 140lbs, and we expect him to come out on top here as well. Oazawa on the other hand will be fighting for the first time in 2018 and is without a win almost 6 years, a combination of inactivity and 3 straight losses.
There is also set to be a small card in China, which will be main event by a 6 round contest between Yu Che Li (3-1-2, 2) and Hongpeng Zhang (5-5-1, 2). Given that that's the main event it should be little surprise that this card isn't going to get much attention. Coming in both men are on a 3 fight unbeaten run, with both men being 2-0-1 (1) during that 3 fight run, but neither has faced anyone of real note.