Although this coming Saturday isn't a huge day, it is a busy day with a lot going on featuring fighters from Asia. We have a notable card in Kazakhstan, Rookie of the Year action in Japan, and even more action to talk about!
The big card for us comes from Almaty and is an MTK show which will be available worldwide. The show doesn't have any bona fide stars on it, but does have a lot of exciting prospects featured, as they all look to move their career forward and move on to bigger and better things.
The most promising of the hopefuls on this show is Tursynbay Kulakhmet (3-0, 2) , who looks for win #4 as he takes on the 38 year old Aleksei Evchenko (19-14-2, 8), who appears to have been a late replacement for Stanyslav Skorokhod (20-2, 17). Although Evchenko looks like a massive downgrade from Skorokhod the Russian is a real tough guy, who has only been stopped once in his 14 losses, and is less than a year removed from a notable upset win over Viktor Plotnikov and a draw against Asinia Byfield. For a fourth pro bout this isn't terrible for Kulakhmet, who really does need rounds, rather than quick blow outs.
Another of the highly touted Kazakh's on this card is Sultan Zaurbek (10-0, 7), who is in a very interesting match up as he takes on Scotland's Ronnie Clark (21-4-2, 10), in what could be the bout of the show Clark is a rough around the edges fighter who comes to have a war and that's a style we think could get the best out of Zaurbek, who seems to fight within himself a bit too much. Not only is this a genuinely interesting contest but there's also real meaning to it, with the WBO European title being on the line, and a potential high WBO world ranking.
One of the really talented youngsters on this show is the aggressive and exciting Talgat Shayken (4-0, 2), who is facing 29 year old Russian Alexander Sharonov (12-5-2, 6). Shayken has looked like a fantastic, aggressive, strong and imposing force in the ring, who is improving with every fight. But this is a major step up in class and Sharonov is no push over. In fact Shayken will need to improve further from his last bout if he's to take a win here against a solid and tough fighter looking to prove a point.
The card is littered with other unbeaten Kazakh hopefuls, but one name really stands out and that is former amateur star Ivan Dychko (9-0, 9), who returns after close 2 years of inactivity, as he takes on veteran Denis Bakhtov (39-18, 26). Dychko's career, which promised so much when he turned professional, has failed to really come alive, but fingers crossed a win here against the much older and short Bakhtov can kick start things. He's too good to be inactive and really does need someone to take his career by the scruff of the neck and push him into meaningful fights
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, United Kingdom
Over in London we'll see the highly ranked Zach Parker (20-0, 14) take on 41 year old Uzbekistani fighter Sherzod Khusanov (22-2-1, 10). Parker, who is on the verge of a world title fight after a string of solid performances, will enter this bout as a huge favourite but Khusanov is no push over and will travel to win. We suspect youth will play a major factor here, but Khusanov does have the tools to make Parker work hard for a win
Tegelbruket, Orebro, Sweden
Over in Sweden Swedish based Azeri born fighter Samo Jangirov (5-2-1, 1) battles against Marcus Alberts (6-6-1, 2) in a Swedish Cruiserweight title bout, and the third bout between the two men for this title! Jangirov won the belt with a 6 round decision over Alberts in 2019, retain the title with an 8 round decision last year, and now looks for his second defense here. Sadly the limitations of Swedish domestic scene are clearly a problem here, but it's nice to see some personal competition between these two men.
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
Over in Japan we actually have two different shows at the Shinjuku FACE, both East Japan Rookie of the Year shows. The earlier of the two, begins at mid day and has 8 bouts scheduled for it. They include 2 all debutant bouts as Daichi Akahori (0-0) and Hayato Soita (0-0) and Taiga Ito (0-0) and Gensai Ito (0-0), all look to begin their careers with wins and the chance to advance their careers. With the Rookie of the Year these 4 men all be looking to make a name for themselves over the next 7 months or so and we always love all debut bouts.
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
The second show at the Shinjuku FACE is at 6PM and is set to have 6 bouts on it, with just a single all debut clash between Junya Naka (0-0) and Ryota Funabashi (0-0), who face off in a Bantamweight bout.
Although the all debutant bouts are lacking here we do like the look of two other bouts. One of those is a clash between the unbeaten pairing of Shohei Fuchida (1-0, 1) and Shogo Namiki (2-0-1, 1), who fight at Lightweight. Fuchida has only fought once, and that was more than 5 years ago, however the 27 year old does seem determined to make the most of things now he's back. Namiki on the other hand will be looking for his third win in 2021, in what could be a very explosive bout.
The other will see Tatsuya Kawaguchi (1-2-1) take on the heavy handed Shori Umezu (3-0, 3), who should be regarded as a contender for the All Japan Rookie crown. Umezu looks destructive and heavy handed and should among the favourites for the tournament, certainly one to keep an eye on.
This coming Friday isn't a particularly busy day, but there are some bouts of real interest and intrigue.
New South Wales, Australia
The most significant bout will be in Australia, as OPBF Light Heavyweight champion Aaron Lai (10-4, 9) defends his belt against Japan's Shintaro Matsumoto (14-6, 10). Australian puncher Lai won the title in February 2017 and has made just a single defense of the title, against the horribly limited Panya Chomphoophuang. On paper this is a step up for the champion, but it should be noted that Matsumoto has been stopped in 4 of his 6 losses including a 4th round TKO loss earlier this year. Matsumoto is a former OPBF Super Middleweight champion, though his reign was short and we don't suspect he'll become a 2-weight champion, given the power of Lai.
Jastrzebie Zdroj, Poland
In Poland we get interesting match up as unbeaten local Damian Jonak (40-0-1, 21) takes on Russian based Uzbek fighter Sherzod Khusanov (21-0-1, 9). With a combined 61-0-2 (30) record the bout really does seem like an odd one. Both men are risking their unbeaten records, against each other, despite neither really needing to. Khusanov, aged 38, has fought just twice in 4 and a half years whilst Jonak is 35 and has only fought once in 3 years. This is a bit of a crazy match up to think about, between two men who aren't just unbeaten but both seemed retired not that long ago. It probably won't be a sensational fight, but it'scertainly worth making a note of.