This coming Saturday is almost certainly the busiest day we've had this year with a number of world title bouts across the globe, as well as top prospects and a a highly anticipated return to the ring of a former 3-weight world champion. This is a crazy weekend it is one to get very, very excited about.
Coca-Cola Arena, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Arguably the most notable card, at least for us, is in Dubai where we see two Philippines Vs UK world title, as well as the next step towards a major bout for a Filipino icon.
One of the world title bouts will see hard hitting WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21) make a mandatory defense of his title as he takes on Englishman Paul Butler (33-2, 15), himself a former IBF Bantamweight champion. Coming in to this Casimero is a huge favourite, though he has often blown hot and cold and Butler will go into the bout knowing that a loss here ends any hope he has of becoming a 2-time world champion. It's a must win for Butler, if he's to remain relevant, and a must win for Casimero if he's ever going to get a showdown with either Nonito Donaire or Naoya Inoue. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Casimero defends WBO crown against Butler in mandatory defense
The other world title fight on this show will see IBF Flyweight champion Sunny Edwards (16-0, 4) make his first defense, in a mandatory against unbeaten Filipino Jayson Mama (16-0, 9). Mama was supposed to get a world title shot at Moruti Mthlane last year, before the authorities in South Africa refused to sanction the event, he was then supposed to fight Edwards earlier this year, before Edwards pulled out. Coming in to this Edwards is the clear favourite, and the slippery English fighter will feel full of confidence for his first world title defense, however it's certainly not a foregone conclusion. Our preview of this bout, from the original date, can be read here Jayson Mama gets crack at IBF champion Sunny Edwards!
Another notable bout on this card will see Filipino icon Donnie Nietes (43-1-5, 23) battle against Norbelto Jimenez (30-9-5, 16), in what is essentially a must win bout for both men. At 39 years old Nietes is ancient for a Super Flyweight, but he has made it clear he wants a super fighter before he retires and wants to face the likes of Roman Gonzalez. For that to happen he needs to get past Jimenez. As for Jimenez, he is a multi-time world title challenger himself, and shouldn't be over-looked here, despite the fact he will be a very, very clear under-dog.
Dignity Health Sports Park , Carson, California, USA
Another major card will take place in California, where we see another world title bout, and a world title eliminator, in what could end up being a very, very explosive night of action.
The world title bout will see WBC Bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27) defending his title against mandatory challenger Reymart Gaballo (24-0, 20) in a rare All-Filipino world title fight. Of the two men Donaire is the much more proven, and established fighter, however at the age of 39 he is well past the typical prime of a fighter, and that's ignoring the type of incredible career he's had, and the punishment he's taken at times, including his hellacious 2019 bout with Naoya Inoue. Gaballo on the other is a young up and comer who has got power and speed, but did look less than stellar last time out, when he took a controversial decision over Emmanuel Rodriguez, and he'll be desperate to show what he can do, and rip the title, and proverbial torch, from Donaire. Given the style of the two men involved, this should be a brutal fire fight. Our in depth preview of this fight can be read here WBC champion Donaire faces Gaballo in all Filipino world title bout!
Talking about fire-fights we're expecting another of those in a main supporting bout, as Japan's Hiroaki Teshigawara (22-2-2, 15) fights outside of Japan for the first time, and takes on former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (34-3, 17) in what could be the sleeper of the weekend. Teshigawara is known in Japan, and has carved out a successful career at Korakuen Hall, where he has built himself a cult following, and he'll know that a win here helps set him up for a potential world title fight in 2022. Tapales on the other hand is more well known, in part due to his amazing bout with Pungluang Sor Singyu and his two wins over Shohei Omori. Despite the past Tapales didn't look great in 2019, when he beaten up and stopped by Ryosuke Iwasa, and Teshigawara will be looking to score a repeat of that outcome here.
KRK “Uralets”, Ekaterinburg, Russia
We get yet another world title fight over in Russia, as we actually get quite an interesting card from Ekaterinburg.
The world title bout on this card is a really good looking bout which will see Dmitry Bivol (18-0, 11) defending his WBA Light Heavyweight "super" title against the once beaten Umar Salamov (26-1, 19). On paper this is a mouth watering match up, but sadly it's becoming harder and harder to get excited about Bivol bouts in recent years. It's clear he is an exceptional boxer, but like a handful of other world champions he's unwilling to roll the decide and put on a show, event against opponents that he should be comfortable seeing off. Salamov is an interesting challenger, who has shown some power, and a willingness to throw heavy shots, but he's also the sort of fighter that Bivol should be able to shine against. Salamov is hard hitting but open, crude, and there to be countered, something Bivol should be able to do at will, if he chooses to. Our preview of this fight can be read here Bivol defends WBA crown against Salamov!
In a major supporting bout former world title challenger Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0-1, 12) will be looking to bounce back from his frustrating draw with Jo Jo Diaz as he takes on the unbeaten Rilwan Oladosu (16-0, 8). Rakhimov showed he belonged in the mix at world level, and hopefully 2022 will bring him a second world title bout, potentially against Kenichi Ogawa. Oladosu on the other hand is a Nigerian fighter with a nice looking record, but one that doesn't really stand up to much scrutiny and this will be his first bout outside of Nigeria. Oladosu could be a rare Nigerian fighter to get excited about, but we suspect he's there to make Rakhimov look good instead.
Echo Arena, Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom
As well as the world class men in action, we'll also be seeing a world class woman in action, as undisputed female Lightweight champion Katie Taylor (19-0, 6) defends all her titles against Kazakh challenger Firuza Sharipova (14-1, 8). On paper this one looks good, but in reality this should be little more than a public showcase for Taylor, one of the best female fighters on the planet, with Sharipova not fit to lace her boots. We know Taylor has beaten almost everyone of note at Lightweight, but they are really scraping the bottom of the barrel if they really think Sharipova will give her anything resembling a fighter. Our preview of this major female bout is available here Taylor defends unified crown against Sharipova
International Conference Hall, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Away from world title action we're set for a really good bout in Japan as former 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) looks to bounce back from his 2020 loss to Kazuto Ioka, by taking on Ioka's former stable mate Sho Ishida (29-2, 15), himself a former world title challenger. This bout, being dubbed a "survival bout" in Japan, is a really interesting match up and will put the speed and aggression of Tanaka against the long and gangly frame of Ishida, with both men knowing they can't afford a loss, especially not if they intend to get a big fight any time soon. Tanaka will go into the bout as the favourite, though we do need to wonder what his loss to Ioka, and the loss of his unbeaten record, will have done to him. As for Ishida, a win here could potentially set him up for a second world title fight.
Staying in Asia we also get a compelling card in Kazakhstan, where we see some very highly touted prospects in action.
The most notable of the bouts on this card will be a Cruiserweight bout between the very highly touted Kamshybek Kunkabayev (3-0, 3) and Steven Ward (13-1, 4), who clash for the vacant WBA "Gold" Cruiserweight title. Kunkabayev, a former amateur stand out, has hardly put a foot wrong in his first 3 bouts, but this is a step up in class against someone who will be in the ring to win, rather than to collect a pay check or just survive. Sadly for Ward he is the naturally smaller man and he was stopped just 2 fights ago, however he will come in to this hungry and should be a genuine test for the promising Kunkabayev.
Also on this card will be a number of top Kazakh prospects, such as Talgat Shayken (6-0, 4) Sultan Zaurbek (11-0, 7) and Ray Seitzhanov (8-0, 5) who will all be looking to pick up wins and move their career forward.
It's not often we're going to get the chance to talk about world title action this month, but thankfully this Saturday is one of those rare chances, as we get a really interesting day. Not only do we have a solid looking Filipino card, but also a show in California featuring a world title bout and a very highly regarded Uzbek hopeful.
Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California, USA
The most notable of the shows will be taking place in California on a Golden Boy Promotions show.
The world title fight will see IBF Super Featherweight champion Joseph Diaz (31-1, 15) defending his title against mandatory challenger Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12), from Tajikistan. For Diaz this will be the first defense of the title he won last year, when he fought through a nasty cut to pound out a win against Tevin Farmer, in what was a stellar performance by Diaz. In the opposite corner will be the technically limited, but strong and heavy handed Rakhimov, who has been owed at the title since 2019, when he stopped Azinga Fuzile in South Africa. Although Rakhimov is flawed he does have a fun, exciting style and can make for very fan friendly bouts, much like Diaz. With that in mind we could end up with a genuine instant classic here as two aggressive guys clash in a very meaningful mean event on DAZN. Our full, in depth, preview of this one can be read here Rakhimov takes on Diaz in IBF title fight
We're also expecting two very talented and promising Uzbek's to be in action on this show.
One of those Uzbek fighters is Super Middleweight contender Bektemir Melikuziev (6-0, 5), who was originally supposed to fight at the end of January before Sergey Kovalev failed a drug test. Sadly his opponent for this show hasn't yet been announced.
The other is Lightweight hopeful Elnur Abduraimov (6-0, 6) who will be taking on Colombian veteran Deivi Julio (21-9-0-1, 13), who is now 39 years old. The Colombian veteran was once regarded as a world ranked contender, but he has now lost 7 of his last 9 bouts and it's clear he is not the fighter he once was.
The Bubble, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Staying in the US Top Rank will be putting on their own show in Las Vegas. The main event here will be a WBO Light Heavyweight title fight, which will pit heavy handed American Joe Smith Jr (26-3, 21) against Russian veteran Maxim Vlasov (45-3, 26). This should be a really interesting match up and will pit Smith's power agains the skills, movement size and experience of Vlasov. Interestingly the loser of this is unlikely to get another chance, given both are the wrong side of 30, so it could be well be regarded as a must win, for both me. An indepth preview of this one thanks to George Delis can be read here Vlasov and Smith clash for WBO title!
2nd Floor, Mega Mart Burgos Poblacion Norte, Paniqui, Tarlac, Philippines
As well as the US action there is also a pretty interesting show in the Philippines. It's not a stacked card, but it is certainly an interesting one with plenty of promising talent.
In an excellent looking match up for the GAB Flyweight title we'll see the once beaten Bienvenido Ligas (12-1-1, 9) take on the criminally under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-6-1, 5), in a much better match up than the records suggest. Ligas has bounced back well following a technical draw and a loss in 2018 to Joseph Ambo, and has won his last 6, with 5 of those wins coming by stoppage. Dagayloan on the other hand has continually proven to be better than his record suggests and is 10-1-2 in his last 13, with his loss being a very close one in Japan to Ryota Yamauchi. A preview of this one by Troy Parslow can be read here Proving Ground: Ben Ligas steps up to Alphoe Dagayloan
In another interesting match up we'll see the unbeaten Charly Suarez (4-0, 4), who was a very highly regarded amateur before he turned professional, take on the hard hitting Jon Jon Estrada (11-7-1, 10). At the age of 32 Suarez really is in "now or never" territory, and if he doesn't get a move on this year there's a good chance he fails to ever come close to a world title fight. As for Estrada he's a flawed fighter, but a very serious puncher and a relatively tough guy who has only been stopped twice in his 7 losses, including in his 2013 debut. This should be a test for Suarez, but a test he passes without too many issues.
Another once beaten fighter on this show is Ranelio Quizo (7-1, 1) who takes on Prince Andrew Laurio (10-3-1, 7) in a very good looking match up. The 22 year old Quizo was beaten last February by the under-rated John Mark Tihuk, and will be looking to bounce back from that defeat after more than a year out of the ring. As for Laurio, who is also 22, his career is in some trouble after 3 successive KO losses, and he needs a win here. Interesting Laurio will be fighting for the first time since July 2019 and although his form has been poor he certainly has the power here, with Quizo being a non-puncher. This might not look like an amazing bout, but it's an interesting one, with a glass cannon taking on a non-puncher.
A third fight involving a once beaten fighter will see Lorenz Ladrada (7-1-1, 2) take on Remon Basas (5-4, 4). On paper it is very, very easy to see this as a complete and utter mismatch, however it's not as simple as it looks. In his 9 fight career Ladrada has struggled with the 6 round distance, and had several very close decisions over inexperienced and limited opponents. He could easily have more than just the single loss to his name. Basas on the other hand is a solid puncher, with a decent chin, who has faced better opponents. This is much more competitive than it looks on paper.
Also on this card is unbeaten novice Ali Canega (2-0, 2) who risks his unbeaten record against Glenn Bismanos (6-1-3, 4), yet another fighter with a single defeat to his name. For Canega this will be his first bout against an opponent with a win and his first 6 rounder. It is also expected to be the first time he goes beyond 2 rounds. As for Bismanos he is unbeaten in his last 8, after a loss to John Lawrence Ordonio back in 2016, and has fought at a much higher level than Canega. This could be another very good bout, and it's good to see two fighters with good records risking them against each other, something we rarely see in the Philippines.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
The biggest bout for the day, at least for us, this coming Sunday will see Tajik born boxer-puncher Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (14-0, 11) take on unbeaten South African Azinga Fuzile (14-0, 8) in an IBF world title eliminator. The Tajik, fighting outside of Russia for the first time, is seen as the under-dog but is riding a run of good wins against the likes of Emanuel Lopez, Malcolm Klassen and Robinson Castellnos. Fuzile has looked the part but this appears to be a step up for him against a dangerous and hungry fighter, who will be in the ring looking to cut the ring off and break him down. This has the potential to be an excellent, if low-key, bout between talented fighters each looking to stamp themselves on the division and secure a world title fight. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Tajik born Rakhimov and unbeaten South African Fuzile face off in eliminator!
In Osaka we have a small but notable Green Tsuda card featuring a female bout in the headliner and two notable supporting bouts.
The main event will see the talented Shione Ogata (11-6, 3) fighting in a non-title bout against Filipino foe Gretel De Paz (5-5-1, 2). The talented Ogata, has unified the OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and WBA Asia female Light Flyweight titles in her last 3 bouts and is quickly approaching a world title fight. Paz is here to make up the numbers and give Ogata a tune up before a bigger bout down the line. Paz has gone 1-4-1 in her last 6, but has proven to be tough and should take Ogata the scheduled 8 rounds here.
The all action Aso Ishiwaki (6-2-1, 4) features in one of the support bouts worth talking about. Ishiwaki is no world beater, but is a very exciting, hard hitting fighter and is well worth making a mental note of, especially given he is only 20 years old. Ishiwaki's opponent is 26 year old glass cannon Takuya Matsusaka (8-8, 7), who has only heard the final bell twice in 16 fights. Through his career so far Matsusaka has seen 12 of his bouts end in the first 2 rounds, so expect this one to be very explosive very early.
The other bout of note on this card will see the touted Rei Nakajima (1-0) fight in his second pro bout. Sadly Nakajima's opponent hasn't been announced at the time of writing, suggesting a late and limited foreign import, but Nakajima himself is regarded highly in Japan and is tipped to achieve notable success in the professional ranks, Nakajima debuted back in July and looked dominant, so we would certainly suggest fans make a mental note of him here, even if his opponents isn't likely to be much of a test.
In Tashkent we're expecting an Uzbek card stacked with notable names, though at the time of writing only half of the card is actually listed.
With no opponents currently listed for the show it's unlikely the card isn't going to be full of competitive match ups, however the card does have a host of notable Uzbek prospects listed for it. These include Olympic 2016 gold medal winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (7-1, 4), big punching Middleweight hopeful Ulugbek Khakberdiev (6-0, 4), novice professional Sanjar Tursunov (1-0, 1) and recent World Amateur Championship winner Bakhodir Jalolov (6-0, 6).
Samut Prakan, Thailand
In Thailand there's set to be a show-case of novices, in low profile bouts from the Blue Arena in Samut Prakan.
One of the bouts will be a battle between unbeaten fighters for a national title, as Boonrueang Phayom (2-0, 2) and Tongthep Taeyawong (3-0-1, 3) battle for the vacant Thai Bantamweight title. Little is known about these two fighters, but at 20 years old Boonrueang is the older man, whilst Thongthep is just 16. Notably both of these men have fought twice in recent months, and we do have to wonder, again, what the Thai commission's actually do to try and prevent youngsters from getting injured.
Another fighter who is fighting for the second time without much of a break is Nattapong Jankaew (1-0, 1), who debuted back in September 8th. Nattpong will be up against Kittipong Jareonroy (3-3, 1) in a bout for the Interim Thai Super Flyweight title. It's hard to get too excited here, especially given that Kittipong was stopped inside a round by Ryoji Fukunaga back in May.
A third title bout will see the unbeaten Pattawee Phansawat (3-0, 3) take on the wonderfully named Mega Daophommachan (0-0), from Laos, in a bout for the Professional Boxing Association of Thailand (PAT) International Light Flyweight title.
This coming Saturday is a crazy day in Asian boxing, with the welcome return of one series of shows from Thailand as well as notable and large shows featuring Asian fighters in the Philippines and Russia as well as other action!
Metro Manila, Philippines
The most interesting card of the day is an MP Promoted card from Metro Manila, featuring a couple of world title eliminators, along with some other interesting supporting bouts.
One of the world title eliminators comes at Bantamweight, where Michael Dasmarinas (28-2-1, 19) and Kenny Demecillo (14-4-2, 8) battle to become the IBF mandatory challenger at 118lbs. Of the two men Dasmarinas is the more experienced and more proven man, but Demecillo has proven to be capable of upsets in the past and will know that Dasmarinas looked less than his best last time out, being gifted a draw with Manyo Plange. A very interesting bout, with real significance in the packed Bantamweight division. Our full in depth preview of this contest can be read here - Demecillo and Dasmarinas clash in eliminator!
Another world title eliminator on this card is an IBF Minimumweight eliminator, as Samuel Salva (16-0, 10) and Rene Mark Cuarto (16-1-1, 9) battle for the right to become the mandatory challenger. This is, on paper, more interesting than the Bantamweight bout due to how similar the records of the two men are, but will likely get over-looked in the west due to the weight class. Both will be aware that they could book a bout with Deejay Kriel with a win here, and that will drive both on in what could be a real classic. An indepth preview of this bout can be read here Salva and Cuarto battle in eliminator
In supporting bouts we'll see Singaporean fighter Muhamad Ridhwan (11-1, 8) take on Landy Cris Leon (11-18-5, 5), in what should be a good confidence building bout for Ridhwan after a loss to Paulus Ambunda last September.
Other supporting bouts will include Chinese prospect Lei Wang (2-0, 1) battling Adam Diu Abdulhamid (13-7, 5), in a tough test for the unbeaten novice, a brilliant all-Filipino match up between Ronnie Baldonado (13-1-1, 9) and Elias Joaquino (12-3-2, 6) and a potentially very fun contest between Orlie Silvestre (12-5-1, 8) and Joel Taduran (8-10-2, 2).
As well as the Filipino show there's also a stacked RCC Promotions show in Russia.
One of the main bouts here will see Tajik born Russian Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (13-0, 10) battle against South African Rofhiwa Maemu (18-7-2, 12), in what will be Rakhimov's third defense of the IBO Super Featherweight title. On paper this doesn't look great, but a lot of that is due to Maemu's 7 losses. Whilst that is notable we do need to put it into context and explain that 5 of those came in his first 11 bouts, and he has since gone 14-2. It should however be noted that Rakhimov is in amazing form and is expected to win and go on to much bigger and better things in the near future.
Russian based Kyrgyzstan born fighter Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (13-0, 6) will be expecting his next win as he takes on Thai veteran Mike Tawatchai (45-12-2, 28), who will be fighting for the 61st time as a professional. At his best Tawatchai could be a good test for Uulu, but at the age of 33 and more than 3 years removed from a win of note it's hard to see Tawatchai being much of a threat for the unbeaten hopeful.
Other Asian fighters involved on this card include Uzbek born prospect Mukhammad Shekhov (3-0, 2), Kyrgyz fighter Erzhan Turgumbekov (5-0, 1), Filipino puncher Jon Jon Estrada (11-5-1, 10) and highly touted Uzbek fighters Makhmud Gaipov (2-0, 1) and Elnur Abduraimov (3-0, 3).
Bang Phun, Thailand
We return to the Workpoint Studio for the first WP Boxing show of 2019 and although the details aren't totally clear we do know that the show will feature hotly tipped Apichet Petchmanee (2-0, 2), who will be taking on Shota Suito (11-9-1, 1) for a WBC regional silver title. Apichet is one of the best talented in Thailand, and finers crossed he will be kept busy in 2019, because at the age of 2019 he sadly doesn't have much time to waste. Unfortunately this bout does look to be a step backwards for the Thai, but picking up some WBC title could open doors for him in the future.
We have also been informed that Thai based Dutch fighter Nick Frese (8-0, 6) is expected to be on this card.
Johore Bahru, Malaysia
We're also expecting a card to take place in Malaysia, which again lacks in terms of details. The one bout that is listed for this show is a WBC Asian Boxing Council silver Super Middleweight title bout, with unbeaten local Adli Hafidz (5-0, 2) taking on Indonesian foe Bambang Rusiadi (9-8, 4), who is 0-5 outside of Malaysia.
Over in the US we get an excellent match up as Filipino journeyman Ricky Sismundo (35-12-3, 17) hits the road again and takes on unbeaten Russian puncher Maxim Dadashev (12-0, 10). On paper this looks like a mismatch but the reality is that Sismundo is among the very best journeymen on the planet and the 31 year old has picked up upset wins against the likes of Yoshitaka Kato, Ghislain Maduma, Akihiro Kondo and Shuhei Tsuchiya. Dadashev is a great talent, but this should be a very good test for the Russian puncher.
This coming Sunday fans in Ishikawa and in Ekateringburg will be able to see a number of notable Asian talent in action.
We'll start with Ishikawa as we get a notable exhibition on a card that really feels like it had promise but failed to deliver, outside of the exhibition.
That exhibition is a 3 round show case between 3-weight world champion Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14) and recent world title challenger Genesis Servania (31-1, 14). This bout was announce around the same time as the show was confirmed and will see two men who have shared the ring a lot recently putting on something special for the fans, before Inoue looks towards his upcoming WBSS bout with Juan Carlos Payano. This bout won't matter to either man's record or be featured on boxrec but is notable given the quality and profile of the men involved.
The main card will be headlined by the hard hitting Hurricane Futa (24-7-1, 15) battling Indonesian Roy Tua Manihuruk (19-18-2, 15) in what looks like a mismatch. Although Futa is no world beater he has scored notable wins over the likes of Will Tomlinson and Vage Sarukhanyan in recent years and certainly should be matched tougher than this. The Indonesian visitor is 0-11 on the road and it's hard to imagine him scoring a win against someone as talented as Futa.
In a supporting bout Omrri Bolivar (6-1, 3) will face off with Filipino foe Lorence Rosas (9-1-2, 3). Bolivar, now fighting under the Kashimi Gym, was a former Venezuelan amateur standout with more than 80 amateur bouts and it's clear that his team in Japan want to test him immediately, which is why he's been matched with Rosas. The Filipino is a hungry fighter himself, who was very competitive in his sole defeat, and will certainly be in Ishikawa to pick up a win.
In a female bout Asami Jinnari (5-3-1, 2) will battle against Miki Mitsuda (3-4, 2). On paper this looks competitive but the reality is that Jinnari enters the bout as a JBC and OPBF ranked fighter looking to pick up a win and chase a third bout with current OPBF title holder Wakako Fujiwara.
In Russia we get a number of Asian fighters in some pretty interesting looking match ups.
The pick of the bunch will see IBO Super Featherweight champion Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (12-0, 9) defending his title against the criminally under-rated Robinson Castellanos (24-13, 14). The unbeaten champion, from Tajikistan, will be making his second defense and will be looking to build on impressive wins over Emanuel Lopez and Malcolm Klassen. Although clearly favoured the champion is up against a tough opponent with Castellanos having really big wins over the likes of Celestino Caballero, Ronny Rios, Rocky Juarez and Yuriorkis Gamboa. If Castellanos is on form here he could end up with another major upset win, but he does blow hot and cold.
Another title fight will see Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (11-0, 7) take on Victor Alejandro Gonzalez (18-1, 9) in a bout for the WBC International Super Featherweight title fight. The 23 year old Yaqubov, also from Tajikistan, is looking to build on an impressive win over Mark Urvanov and claim yet another title in his early career. The unbeaten man is stepping up slightly here, but will feel he's got the moment as he goes up against 19 year old Mexican fighter Gonzalez. The visitor has won his last 5, since being stopped by Salvador Briseno, but will clearly need a career best performance to pick up a win here.
Another unbeaten prospect is Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov (4-0, 3), who takes a huge step up to take on experienced Filipino Eden Sonsona (36-8-2, 13) in what looks like a a massively testing bout for Uzbek “Prince”. The unbeaten man made his debut last December and hasn't faced anyone of real note, but this time out he'll be facing a genuine veteran. Sonsona is a veteran, with over 14 years of professional experience, but has lost his last 2 bouts and has shown some genuine wear and tear in recent years. He should give the Uzbek some good rounds, but we can't see him coming out on top against the fresher man.
In Moscow fans will get the chance to see another unbeaten Uzbek prospect, as Shohjahon Ergashev (12-0, 11) headlines the show and take on Ugandan foe Juma Waswa (10-2-1, 4). The exciting Ergashev impressed in January, when he destroyed Sonny Fredrickson, and has since added a notable win over Zhimin Wang. Waswa on the other hand has lost his last 2 and at 37 years old is well beyond his prime. Notably the Ugandan has never been stopped, but he has never shared the ring with a fighter like Ergashev.
Seoul, South Korea
Last year we saw a Korea Vs Japan card being announced. Sadly however that card had to be delayed and will now take place this coming Saturday.
One of most interesting bouts on this card will see the once beaten Woo Min Won (9-1, 5) take on under-rated Japanese visitor Noriaki Sato (5-2-1). The Korean is a former national Light Welterweight champion who is 2-0 (1) against Japanese fighters, having beaten Daiki Koide and Taisho Ozawa, though has been inactive since the win over Ozawa back in October 2016. Sato was stopped on debut, way back in 2008, but started a real running in 2015, and has gone 4-1-1, including wins over Valentine Hosokawa and Cristiano Aoqui. This should be a very entertaining and exciting action fight.
Another bout that promises a lot of action will see former Korean Welterweight champion Ma Roo Jung (7-4-1, 2) take on the tough and exciting Moon Hyun Yun (18-5-3, 4). Neither of these fighters are going to be world beaters, but both will be eager to win here, and claim a WBA regional title., and potentially open the doors to other good fights. Jun has won his last 3 and look like a man in form whilst Hyun has been inconsistent with results, but always makes for fun action fights.
We'll also see a number of Asian fighters in action in Russia, where there will be titles and prospects on the card.
The main event of the card will see Russian based Tajik prospect Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (11-0, 8) take on South African veteran Malcolm Klassen (33-7-2, 17) for the IBO Super Featherweight title. The 23 year old Rakhimov had an excellent 2017, going 3-0 (2) and winning the IBO title, which he'll be defending for the first time here. The 36 year old Klassen was in action this past September, when he ran Mikhail Alexeev close. Although Klassen might be past his best he will still serve as an excellent test for Rakhimov.
Another Russian based Tajik on this show will be Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (10-0, 7), who takes on the once beaten Mark Urvanov (12-1, 6). Yaqubov was active in 2017, fighting 5 times and ended the year with 4 stoppages showing an improvement in power and he now looks like a real prospect going places. Urnaov is a Russian fighter who is riding a 12 fight winning run, but has failed to shine, and was very fortunate against Jin Miura last July. This should be a win for Yaqubov given recent performances, but certainly not an easy win for the unbeaten man.
In another title fight we'll see Filipino fighter Ardie Boyose (18-1-2, 14) taking on Russian fighter Zaur Abdullaev (7-0, 5) for the WBO Youth Lightweight title. Boyose lost last time he was in Russia, being stopped by Rustam Nugaev in December 2016, but that loss aside he has shown plenty of promise and at 22 years old the future is still pretty bright for Boyose. Whilst Boyose is still a fighter with hope it's fair to say that the unbeaten Abdullaev is seen as something a bit special. The Russian turned professional in March 2017 and racked up 7 wins last year, including a notable stoppage of Roberto Gonzalez which should fill him with confidence heading into this bout.
One other bout here will see Uzbek novice Ravshanbek Umurzakov (1-0, 1) take a massive step up to face Rustam Nugaev (29-8-1, 19). Aged 35 Nugaev is a fighter towards the end of his career, and was dominated last time out by Deiner Berrio. Despite that he is experienced and know his way around the ring. Umurzakov, who only debuted this past December, was a former amateur stand out but this is still a monster leap up in class. If Umurzakov can pick up the win here then he really will make a statement, but it's a very dangerous bout for such a novice.
Saint Petersburg, Russia
On a second Russian card fans get another really interesting match up as the unbeaten pairing of Ulugbek Khakberdiev (4-0, 2) and Aidos Yerbossynuly (7-0, 6) face off. Russian based Uzbek Khakberdiev only turned professional last year, and has made an impact on the sport already, stopping Dmitry Sukhotsky in September to really announce himself on professional scene. The Uzbek will be up against a Kazakh foe in the form of Yerbossynuly, who is himself a touted prospect tipped to go a long way. This really could be something very special, a real indicator of belief from both men.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In Metro Manila fans will see young puncher Jino Rodrigo (3-0, 3) look to build on his recent win over former OPBF champion Vinvin Rufino. Having dropped Rufino 3 times in round 4 of their clash Rodrigo will be full of confidence as he takes on Glenn Bismanos (3-1, 2), who has bounced back from his first defeat with 2 straight wins.
North Dakota, USA
In the US fans will see once beaten American Ronaldo Cruz (12-1, 10) takes on unbeaten American based Uzbek Ravshan Hudaynazarov (17-0, 13). Coming in to this one Cruz is riding a 10 fight winning run and will be full of confidence, but has been matched very softly with this looking like a huge step up in class for the 26 year old. Hudaynazarov on the other hand has been matched quite hard and will know that, at the age of 33, he can't afford any slip ups. It's hard to see past the Uzbek here, though it could be a case of just how impressive he can look, rather than just whether or not he can win.