The day we've all been waiting for is finally upon us and we finally get the WBSS Bantamweight final, in what is, by far, the most high profile card in Japan this year. In fact it's one of the highest profile cards in Japan in a very long time.
The Saitama Super Arena plays host to the biggest show in Japan this year, with more than 20,000 fans in attendance and international TV exposure as DAZN show the bout in the US. This is a card we've literally been waiting for since May and is a true highlight for the year.
The big bout will see Filipino legend Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26) take on rising Japanese mega star Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16) in what is not only the WBSS Bantamweight final but also a bout for the IBF and WBA "super" titles at Bantamweight. Entertaining the bout Donaire is the WBA "super" champion and is going through an unexpected late career surge, though one that has been helped with injuries to Ryan Burnett and Zolani Tete. Although not the fighter he once was Donaire is still a huge puncher and a massive through, if he lands clean. Inoue, the IBF and WBA "unified" champion, will know a win cements his place as one of the new faces of boxing, and the pressure really is all on him given the attention the bout is getting in Japan. If the "Monster" picks up a win here it really open up huge doors for him going forward, whilst a win for Donaire will almost certainly secure his place as a first ballot hall of famer. A full and very comprehensive preview of this bout can be read here The WBSS Final - Inoue Vs Donaire
In an excellent supporting bout we'll see the WBC Bantamweight title being unified as French-Morrocan Nordine Oubaali (16-0, 12) takes on Japan's Takuma Inoue (13-0, 4). Entering the bout Oubaali will be looking for his second defense of the title, whilst Inoue will be looking to become a full world champion after reigning as the WBC interim champion since December. Whilst the attention will be on the main event this is an excellent match up, and will see the calculated and intelligent pressure and power of Oubaali up against the intelligent boxing and movement of Inoue. This could have headlined a normal show and makes for a sensational supporting bout. An in depth preview of this bout can be read here Takuma Inoue goes up against Nordine Oubaali for WBC crown
Also on this show will be a couple of Teiken prospects. One of those will be Katsuya Fukui (1-0, 1), who goes up against Thai foe Chakkit Ratchakhot (2-3, 2) and the other will be Shokichi Iwata (3-0, 2), who will take on Mexican visitor Alejandro Cruz Valladares (5-1). Both of these bouts are scheduled for 6 rounds, with Iwata expected to be moved into title bouts in 2020, if he gets past Valladares here.
As well as the action in Japan there is also a bout of note for us in the US where the unbeaten Santiago Dominguez (19-0, 15) takes on Uzbek fighter Ravshan Hudaynazarov (17-2, 13). The unbeaten Dominguez has scored stoppages in his last 7 bouts and has looked destructive going through recent competition in the US and Mexico. Sadly Hudaynazarov has no form coming into this, following back to back losses, in 2018 to Ronald Cruz and 2019 to John Vera, in what are his only 2 bouts over the last 5 years. We really can't see the Uzbek picking up a win here.
The big show of the day this coming Friday is Osaka where Teiken put in a title triple header, featuring two world title bouts.
The main event of this card is the rematch between American Rob Brant (25-1, 17) and Japanese star Ryota Murata (14-2, 11), with Brant looking to make his second defense of the WBA Regular Middleweight title, a title he took from Murata last year. This is a really tough bout for Murata, who will know another loss to Brant likely ends his career, whilst a win could open up a huge opportunity for a bout in a Japanese dome at the end of the year. For Murata this is a must win, whilst for Brant it's a bout he is expected to win, especially given how easily he beat Murata the first time around. A full preview of this bout is available here Brant and Murata go again, but will the outcome be any different?
The other world title bout on the card will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (15-0, 8) defending his title against mandatory challenger Jonathan Taconing (28-33-1, 11). The unbeaten champion will be seeking his 6th defense and a chance to take a huge step towards a potential unification bout with Hiroto Kyoguchi at the end of the year, a bout both men have spoken about. Although Kenshiro is in great form we expect Taconing to ask questions of the champion we've never seen Kenshiro answer, and Taconing poses a real threat as a hard hitting and teak tough southpaw. Taconing can be out boxed, but he is a very dangerous threat to Kenshiro. Our preview of this show down is here Kenshiro takes on hard hitting Filipino challenger Taconing!
The third title bout on this card will see Filipino visitor Joe Noynay (17-2-1, 6) look to record his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title, as he takes on 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (8-0, 8). The bout sees Noynay return to Japan following his impressive title win over Kosuke Saka whilst Shimizu moves up in weight and tests the water at Super Featherweight. A full in depth preview of this bout can be read here Noynay takes on hard hitting Shimizu in regional title defense!
Also on this card is touted prospect Shokichi Iwata (2-0, 1) who looks to extend his perfect start as he battles 23 year old Filipino Paolo Sy (6-3-1, 3). Iwata was a fabulous amateur, scoring wins against the likes of Kosei Tanaka and Takuma Inoue among others, and has shown a lot of promise already, but this looks like his stiffest test so far. Sy is no world beater in the making but should ask some questions of Iwata.
As well as the show in Osaka there is also a good one in Tokyo as we get a female world title fight and an interesting cross roads fight.
The female world title fight sees the great Naoko Fujioka (18-2, 7) defending her WBA female Flyweight title against veteran Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15), who is looking to become a 3 weight champion her self. Fujioka is among the few true female legends of boxing, having won world titles from Minimumweight to Bantamweight, but she's now at an advanced age and we wonder how long she can keep putting on top performances. On the other hand Tsunami has had an incredibly hard career, and that will catch up with her sooner or later. Our preview of this female clash can be read here Fujioka and Tsunami meet in clash for WBA crown!
In a really good looking support bout we'll see veteran Akihiro Kondo (31-8-1, 18) take on youngster Andy Hiraoka (13-0, 9). The tough Kondo, a former world title challenger, was last seen being stopped by Downua Ruawaiking in an IBF world title eliminator and he will be desperate to put that loss behind him and pick up a win here. For Hiraoka this is a great opportunity to get himself a major win and move towards a major title fight, as he looks to add to the Japanese Youth title he won in 2017. Our preview for this bout can be read here Kondo looks to bounce back whilst Hiraoka looks for big win
Also on this card is Seiryu Toshikawa (10-5, 6), who is criminally under-rated. Despite not having a great record Toshikawa is a very talented 23 year old who is looking to bounce back from a split decision loss to Shawn Oda in late 2018. His opponent will be Filipino puncher Junny Salogaol (14-16-5, 13), a late replacement though a man who was training for a now cancelled fight in Japan in late June.
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
From Japan to Saudi Arabia as we see boxing join the WWE in an the attempt of becoming part of the sporting propaganda of the Saudi government. Whilst this card isn't one we'll be focusing a lot on, especially given the action in Japan, it is still a show which will get a lot of attention, especially in the West.
The main event will see Amir Khan (33-5, 20) take on Billy Dib (45-5-0-2, 26) in a match that was put together on about 3 weeks notice. Originally Khan was going to Indian face Neeraj Goyat (11-3-2, 2) in a bout being sold on the Indian vs Pakistan rivalry, and was originally set to be for the WBC Pearl title. Goyat suffered an injury in a car accident weeks before the fight and Dib, a former Featherweight world champion, moved up the card to fill the position left by Goyat. Originally Dib was to face Indonesian fighter Carlos Lopez, so he has clearly landed a much better pay day here. Sadly the WBC Pearl title will no longer be on the line, and the bout will instead be for the WBC International Welterweight crown.
A more interesting bout on this card, at least terms of competitiveness, will see unbeaten and exciting Filipino Dave Penalosa (15-0, 11) take on South African foe Lerato Dlamini (12-1, 6) for the WBC Silver Featherweight title. This is a big step up for Penalosa who hasn't really scored a win of note. On the other hand the South African holds a really notable win over Simpiwe Vetyeka from 2017 and will feel that that bout will have prepared him for a bout like this against Penalosa.
Others on this card include Uzbek hopeful Shakhobidin Zoirov (2-0, 2), who has been very impressive in his professional career so far.
All the way over in Florida we'll get the chance to see a couple of unbeaten Kazakh fighters attempt to continue their run onwards and upwards.
The more notable of the two is Heavyweight hopeful Ivan Dychko (8-0, 8), who takes on Nate Heaven (9-2, 7). The talented, yet awful badly promoted Dychko, was originally pencilled in to fight Raphael Zumbano (39-16-1, 31) though Zumbano was later replaced by Heaven, who should pose of a test. Sadly for Dychko, a former amateur star, his competition has been awful and his activity has been less than great, and he's falling a long way behind some of his amateur contemporaries, such as Filip Hrgovic, Tony Yoka and Joe Joyce. If he stops Heaven, as expected, it's then a must for Dychko to step up in class.
The other Kazakh on this card is Mussa Tursyngaliyev (9-0, 6), who is pencilled in for a major step up in class as he takes on former world title challenger Ricardo Nunez (29-9, 23). On paper this looks a really tough match up for the unbeaten Tursyngaliyev however it should be noted that Nunez had his best wins down at Flyweight and Super Flyweight, and Tursyngaliyev is at Featherweight. Natural size difference will likely be the key between these two here.
This coming Saturday is a really interesting day for Asian fight fans, with a notable show in Japan and the Philippines, and then fighters from those two countries colliding in California at the end of the day. As well as the major shows there is also a small card in Singapore.
The biggest bout of the day is, obviously, the US bout, which will see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20) defending his title against mandatory challenger Ryuichi Funai (31-7, 22). For Ancajas the bout will serve as his 7th defense of the title, which he won back in September 2016, and will be his third mandatory. The champion really under-performed last time out, narrowly holding on to the belt against Alejandro Santiago Barrios, and would be expected to put on a better showing here. Funai on the other hand is an unknown outside of Japan, though is a former Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific champion who has mixed in good company, with bouts against the likes of Shinsuke Yamanaka, Rolly Lunas, Sho Ishida and Warlito Parrenas. The challenger has earned this shot, winning an eliminator last year, but will be regarded as a clear under-dog. A full preview of this bout is available here - Ancajas takes on mandatory challenger Funai
In Tokyo fans will get the chance to attend a Teiken promoted card at Korakuen Hall. Sadly this will only be shown on tape delay, meaning those not in the venue will have to wait to see the bouts.
The main event here will see Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1-1, 11) defending his title in a mandatory bout against Ken Osato (15-2-1, 4), in what is their second meeting. These two fought in February 2018, when Sueyoshi had to recover from a knockdown to stop Osato in the 8th round. Since then Sueyoshi has gone 1-0-1, fighting to a draw over 12 rounds with Hironori Mishiro, and will be looking for bigger bouts later in the year. Osato on the other has scored back to back decision wins since losing to Sueyoshi, but this is a step up from those wins. A full preview of this bout is available here Sueyoshi looks to over-come Osato again!
The chief support bout here will see the once beaten Shuya Masaki (11-1, 5) take on Korean visitor Nam Jun Lee (10-5-3, 4). For Masaki the bout is the first since his narrow win over Izuki Tomioka last year, in what was his third bout of 2018. It's notable Lee's first bout since June 2017. Notably the 35 year old Korean has had a very stop start Korea, but does hold notable wins over Sa Myung Noh and Jelbirt Gomera, so could be a better test than his record suggests.
Another very notable bout on this card is the Japanese debut of Shokichi Iwata (1-0, 1), who debuted last year in the US. The talented and touted Iwata will face 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Daiki Kameyama (7-2-1, 2), in a very, very interesting match up. Iwata won his debut but didn't look sensational, and this could prove to be too much too soon for the former amateur standout, and a huge chance for the 22 year old Kameyama to build on his Rookie success.
Other interesting bouts on this card include Junpei Tsujimoto (4-1-3, 2) battling against Tetsuya Yoshimura (5-3-1, 4) and Hiroki Yajima (9-7-3, 4) facing off with Mirai Imagawa (9-5, 3), with both Imagawa and Tsujimoto having won Rookie of the Year in recent years. There will also be a chance for the hard hitting Yamato Hata (7-1, 7) to pick up another win, as he takes on Indonesian Alvius Maufani (6-2-2, 3), in what should be a straight forward bout for the local.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Of course it's not just Japan that has a great show but also the Philippines, with ESPN5 set to show a title fest from Metro Manila, with this show being aired live.
The pick of the bouts here is another Philippines Vs Japan clash, as Al Toyogon (10-2-1, 6) looks to defense his WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Featherweight title against in form Japanese fighter Ryo Sagawa (6-1, 4). The 21 year old Toyogon will be seeking his second defense here, and will be looking to record a 6th straight win as he continues to develop into a very solid fighter. Sagawa on the other hand gets his first title shot, and he clearly deserves it on the back of wins against Junki Sasaki, Ryo Matsumoto and Shingo Kawamura. This is probably the more intriguing bout of the day, even more saw than the world title bout. A full preview of this bout is available here Toyogon and Sagawa battle for regional title!
A second WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver title fight takes place at Bantamweight and will see the heavy handed Jun Blazo (11-6-3, 8) take on Benezer Alolod (19-11-5, 7). Blazo has lost 4 of his last 7, but has spun off 3 straight wins coming into this bout and will be confident of extending that run. Alolod is very much Mr Inconsistent with a 6-6 record in his last 12. Hard to get a read on this, but if both are up for it we could get a very good fight.
In a GAB Lightweight title fight Roldan Aldea (12-7-1, 7) will be seeking his first defense, as he takes on Rey Ramos (8-11-2, 3), in what looks like a mismatch whilst 5lbs north we'll see Jheritz Chavez (8-3-2, 6) seek his second defense of the GAB Light Welterweight title, facing off with Junar Adante (7-11-1, 4). Sadly neither of these domestic title bouts look particularly competitive.
In Singapore local hopeful Nurshahidah Roslie (12-2, 9) will be seeking a 5th straight win as she takes on Thai novice Suphansa Phooong (1-0), in what looks like a mismatch, over 6 rounds. Roslie isn't the huge star that Singaporean boxing needs to really kick-start something but the Thai is an inexperienced teenager, and will be making her international debut.
The most notable card for us this coming Saturday is in Ekaterinburg, where we will see several promising Central Asian fighters in action.
The most notable bout will see Russian based Kyrgyzstan born Super Featherweight hopeful Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (12-0, 6) facing off with hard hitting Filipino Jon Jon Estrada (11-4-1, 10). Uulu looks to be a real prospect, and is coming in to this bout on the back of wins over Leonardo Padilla and Aristides Perez. Despite those wins the unbeaten man has been down a number of times, and that could be his biggest problem. Estrada is flawed, can be stopped and can be outboxed himself, but he's a serious puncher and recent wins over Brian Lobetania and Tasuku Nakagawa show that he is a real danger man at this level. This could be a very interesting bout.
One of the other central Asian's on this card is Uzbek Sardor Muzaffarov (3-1, 2), who goes up against veteran Andrei Isayeu (30-14, 9). The 23 year old Muzaffarov has notched up two wins since suffering his maiden defeat and will be taking a big step up here, to face off with a very well travelled 38 year old who had gone with a number of notable names, like Rendall Munroe, Oleg Yefimovych and Kevin Mitchell. Although this is a step up, it is worth noting that Isayeu is 1-9 in his last 10 going back more than 3 years.
Another Uzbek on this card is Jaloliddin Uktamov (3-1, 2), who faces off with the unbeaten Timur Pashaliev (1-0-2, 1) of Russia. This is an interesting novice match up that should be competitive, though both men are so early in their career's that it's hard to say too much, especially given the level of competition both men have faced so far.
It's also been reported that Makhmud Gaipov (1-0, 1) will be on this show as well, though details of his bout haven't yet been announced.
Over in Texas we'll see a couple of promising US based Kazakh prospects.
One of those prospects is Iskander Kharsan (4-0, 4), who takes on fellow unbeaten Jorge Ramos (6-0-1, 3) in a bout for the WBC Youth Youth Intercontinental Super Bantamweight title. Kharsan made his debut in July 2017 and has looked destructive so far, but has been matched very softly so far with Manuel Rubalcava being his toughest opponent so far. The 19 year old Ramos actually debuted against the aforementioned Rubalcava back in July 2017. His competition has also been poor so far, though did step up last time out, and fought to a draw with Eric Manriquez
Kharsan's countryman Askat Zhantursynov (2-0, 2) is being matched easier on this card as he takes on Michael Coronado (1-1-1). The Kazakh Cruiserweight debuted in July of this year and is staying active, though could certainly do with a step up in class next year. Coronado is yet to face a fighter with a win, and we suspect he'll come up very short here. Coronado's opponents so far have done little to suggest he has a chance against Zhantursynov.
Also in the US, albeit in California, we'll see the professional debut of former Japanese amateur standout Shokichi Iwata (0-0), who is basing his career in the USA during it's formative years, something we don't usually see from Japanese fighters. The hope for 2019 is to keep Iwata busy, but we suspect his debut will be a pretty simple bout, as he takes on 29 year old American Joel Bermudez (0-1), who was stopped in 71 seconds on debut in August.
In the Philippines we'll get a pretty notable card, featuring a trio of title bouts which were originally stated to take place on December 7th but appears to have been pushed back a day.
The main event of the show will see former world title challengers collide for the PBF Minimumweight title. The bout will see Pedro Taduran (12-2, 9) go up against Jeffrey Galero (15-7, 8) in what could a very good action bout. Both men have come up short to WBC world champion Wanheng Menayothin, but neither embarrassed themselves against the unbeaten Thai. Taduran's not fought since losing to Wanheng earlier this year whilst Galero has gone 6-4 since facing the Thai, though all 4 losses have been in Japan with one of them being a TKO loss to the excellent Tsubasa Koura. Taduran will be the favourite, but this is no gimme for the 22 year old.
A second PBF title bout takes place at Bantamweight, as the unbeaten Denmark Quibido (8-0, 5) takes on Joel Taduran (8-10-1, 2). The 22 year old Quibido is slowly stepping up the quality of his opposition, and this is a good step forward, but a step forward that he will be expected to make with no real issues. Taduran has really lacked form recently, going 1-8 in his last 9, with losses to the likes of Toshiyuki Igarashi, Junto Nakatani and Mark Anthony Barriga, with his last win coming almost 2 years ago against the very limited Noel Guliman. Hard to see anything but a win for Quibido here.
The least significant of the title bouts will see Kevin Aseniero (7-2, 4) take on Jayar Diama (7-16-7, 3) for the vacant LuzProBA Super Flyweight title. Of the two men it's the experienced Diama who is more well known, having fought in Thailand, Japan and China, and despite his record he is actually a good test at the type of level, with a "potential banana skin" feel about him. Aseniero has the much better record on paper, but has lost 2 of his last 3, and will know that another slip up here will be a major set back. The reality is that Aseniero should be favoured, but he will have to work for a win here.
Seoul, South Korea
There is also a small South Korean card. Sadly it's a show really lacking in quality, and the stand out bout is a 6 round contest between Tae Yun Baek (2-0-1, 1) and Seung Hee Lee (2-4, 1) in what doesn't look like a particularly interesting fight, if we're being honest. The good news however is that the Korean scene does, finally, seem to be picking up and we are seeing more and more Korean cards, even if some are really weak like this one.
On the subject of Korean's it's worth noting that Korean Hopeful Deok No Yun (2-0, 1) will take on the debuting Regan Slade (0-0) in Australia. This is Yun's second bout of the year, with the other also being in Australia, and it would be nice to see a Korean making a mark down under. Sadly we're really unconvinced by how much promise Yun really has and he will certainly have to show more in upcoming fights, if he's to be regarded as an actual prospect.