This coming Saturday is an incredibly busy day for Asian boxing, with a two notable shows in Japan and very high profile bouts in the US.
The most notable of the bouts takes place in California, and is world title fight, with a supporting that also features an Asian fighter.
The main event will see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) battle against Mexican challenger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1, 15). For Ancajas this will be his 8th defense, though it's not the type of defense which will really improve his profile. Ancajas is incredibly talented, but seems to have been kept away from most of the other top Super Flyweights, which is incredibly disappointing and frustrating. For Rodriguez this bout is a big step up, and despite a win over Felipe Orucuta last time out there's very, very little quality on his record. Our full preview of this bout can be read here IBF king Ancajas takes on Rodriguez
On the same show we'll see Japan's Hiroki Okada (19-1, 13) attempt to bounce back from his first loss, as he takes on 2008 Olympian Javier Molina (20-2, 8) in a very interesting looking bout. Okada was stopped last time out, by Raymundo Beltran in a very entertaining bout, and is not being given an easy comeback bout here. Molina isn't a big puncher, but is skilled and has won 3 in a row since his most recent loss, a 2016 decision loss to Jamal James.
Las Vegas, USA
A second US show of note will see two very interesting looking match ups.
The most interesting of those will see the once beaten Romero Duno (21-1, 16) take on unbeaten American Ryan Garcia (18-0, 15). The talented Duno has won 12 in a row since suffering his sole defeat, a 2016 loss in Russia to Mikhail Alexeev. During his winning run he has scored some solid wins but a win here would put him on the map in a big way. On the other hand Garcia is a hotly tipped prospect, and is a hugely popular fighter who will be expected to get a real test here. Garcia has been able to build his record with noteworthy wins over the likes of Jayson Velez and Jose Lopez, but has yet to fight a young prime fighter. This is a big step up for both men and the winner will be ear marked to go a very long way.
The second bout featuring an Asian fighter will see Kazakh fighter Meiirim Nursultanov (12-0, 8) take on tough Mexican fighter Cristian Olivas (16-5, 13). The talented Kazakh has looked good coming through the ranks but this is set to be a genuine test against a flawed but tough and heavy handed for. A very interesting match and a great test, on paper, for Nursultanov.
The most significant show in Asia for the day is at the Korakuen Hall and will be shown on G+ in Japan. The card has 6 bouts scheduled for it, but 2 of those really stand out.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (15-1, 9) defending his belt against Koki Koshikawa (9-1, 6). The talented and exciting Matsunaga will be looking to make his first defense of the belt, following his title win over Nobuyuki Shindo earlier this year, and is riding a real hot streak with 9 straight wins. For Koshikawa, who was once tipped as a future star following a strong amateur background, this will be a big step up and marks his first title fight. A very interesting match up, and a very hard one to call. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Matsunaga seeks first defense as he goes up against talented Koshikawa
The chief support bout on this show will be a Japanese Light Middleweight title eliminator, as former champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-5-2, 8) takes on Yuto Shimizu (13-4-2, 5). This a match that will decide who challenges for the title in next year's Champion Carnival and is another hard one to call. Shindo is the more accomplished fighter but Shimizu has impressed in recent fights and will be there to build on a recent win over Charles Bellamy. Our preview of this eliminator can be read here Shindo and Shimizu battle in eliminator
As well as the two main bouts there will supporting bouts featuring former world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi (17-4-1, 7) and the once beaten Kai Chiba (11-1, 7).
A second show at Korakuen Hall on Saturday, though the one which will actually take place first, is a Teiken show featuring 6 of their brightest hopefuls all in 8 round bouts.
One of those hopefuls is Shuya Masaki (13-1, 5) who looks to be heading towards a title fight in the near future. He will be up against Filipino foe Roman Canto (14-13-3, 8) in what should be a relatively easy bout for Masaki. The Japanese fighter is only a bout or two from a title of some kind, though is likely to head for an OPBF or WBO Asia Pacific title fight in 2020. Canto has lost in 5 previous visits to Japan and it's hard to imagine him getting a win here.
Another bout pitting a Japanese hopeful against a Filipino will see unbeaten Japanese puncher Hayate Kaji (13-0, 9) take on Diomel Diocos (14-4-3, 4). Early in his career Kaji looked like a star in the making, he looked like he had all the tools to go to the top, combining skills, power, speed and ambition. Sadly he's not really progressed as we'd hoped and his career seems to faltered, and he's had disappointing performances in his last two bouts. The Filipino has lost 2 of his last 3 and was stopped in 4 rounds last time he fought in Japan, being stopped in 2017 by Daigo Higa.
Former amateur stand out Kuntae Lee (2-0, 1) takes his next step up as he takes on unbeaten Indonesian hopeful Rivo Kundimang (9-0-1, 5). As an amateur Lee really was a stand out, and he is hotly tipped to be a a future star in Japan. Despite only being a novice Lee he has already taken one unbeaten record, beating Marlon Paniamogan back in July. Kundimang will be fighting outside of Indonesia for the first time, and has win his last 9 bouts in a row, following a draw on his debut back in September 2017.
In a good step up we'll also see Mikito Nakano (3-0, 3) take on Filipino foe KJ Natuplag (8-1-2, 7), in an excellent bout. The talented Nakano has adapted well to the professional ranks and looks to be on his way to real success at Featherweight in the coming years. On paper this is a step up, but Nakano has looked very good, and last time out he really impressed against Arvin Young. Natuplag has shown real promise, and back in March he stopped Robert Udtohan, but was beaten last time out by Joe Tejones. We're expecting an excellent showing from Nakano who will likely find himself in the title mix next year.
Also on this card will be Kenshin Oshima (6-1-1, 3) and Masaya Tamayama (12-2, 6), who look to continue their rise through the ranks and move towards a title fight in the coming 18 months or so.
One of the other interesting bouts for the day will see the unbeaten Tajik fighter Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (14-0, 9) take on the once beaten Abraham Montoya (18-1-1, 13), in what will be Yaqubov's second defense of the WBC International Super Featherweight title. The talented Yaqubov has impressed recently and moved towards a world title fight thanks to wins over the likes of Mark Urvanov, Victor Alejandro Zunigaabd Emanuel Lopez, and another win here would leave him on the verge of a shot. Montoya, from Mexico, is unbeaten in 19 but this will be his first bout outside of Mexico.
Unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight Issa Akberbayev (20-0-0-1, 15) takes on his biggest test so far as he battles against 2016 Olympic champion Evgeny Tishchenko (5-0, 3), who is of course best known for his controversial Olympic win over Vasiliy Levit in the Olympic final. Despite being unbeaten the Kazakh will be the very clear under-dog and the Russian will be the favourite. Notably Akberbayev has been away from the ring for almost 2 years, and it's hard to not imagine that being a major issue here, against his most notable foe so far.
In Australia we'll see the unbeaten Chris Brackin (7-0, 3), an Australian local, take on Indian fighter Balkar Singh (3-1, 1). Singh lost last time out, when he was out pointed by the unbeaten Andrew Hunt over 4 rounds, and we suspect he will suffer another loss here to the talented Brackin.
The big focus this Saturday is in the Kazakh Capital of Nur-Sultan, where the country will be celebrating Capital City day. To celebrate the day MTK will be putting on a stacked card in the city with a world title fight main event, several interesting support bouts and a host of prospects.
The main event will see WBC Bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali (15-0, 11) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Filipino challenger Arthur Villanueva (32-3-1, 18). The talented French-Moroccan is a real talent, and he was one of the many top Bantamweights frozen out of the WBSS, but is getting on in age and won't remain the skilled boxer-puncher that he's looked for much longer. Despite being the older fighter Oubaali will be strongly favoured here against a challenger who has lost his 3 biggest bouts, and would need a career best performance to even come close against the Frenchman. Villanueva isn't a bad fighter, but his ability is more that of a gatekeeper than a true contender. A full preview of this bout is available here Villanueva takes on Oubaali for WBC Bantamweight crown
In the main supporting bout we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Zhankosh Turarov (23-0, 16) take on Mauro Maximiliano Godoy (31-4-1, 16) in a bout for the WBO Inter-Continental Light Welterweight title. The unbeaten Turarov returned to the ring in June after almost 21 months out of the ring, and took a really disappointing win over Richmond Djarbeng, who sat in his corner complaining of stomach cramps after the second round. Godoy should prove to be a good test for Turarov, but the Argentinian has lost 3 of his last 7 and may be on the slide from the fighter he once was. Still this is easily Turarov's best test on paper, so far.
Another notable supporting bout will see the unbeaten Viktor Kotochigov (9-0, 4) taking on Jairo Lopez (24-10, 16), who was once regarded as a fringe contender. On paper this is a step up for the unbeaten Kazakh but Lopez is 3-4 in his last 7 and has been stopped in 3 of those 4 losses. This should be easier than it looks on paper for Kotochigov.
This card will b stacked with other Kazakh prospects, as MTK go all out to put on a show for local fans with Kazakh talent. Among the prospects are Ali Baloyev (8-0, 7), Sultan Zaurbek (7-0, 5), Nurtas Azhbenov (5-0, 1), Abay Tolesh (2-0, 2) and Abilkhaiyr Shegaliyev (5-0, 4), who are in relatively easily here and won't face too much of a test as they continue to build their careers and move towards bigger bouts.
As well as the Kazakh show there is also a notable card in Tokyo thanks to Teiken. This card is a really interesting one, with a notable name in the main event, a really good chief support bout, and a host of notable prospects
The main event will see Kenichi Ogawa (23-1-0-1, 17) take on limited Filipino visitor Glenn Medura (10-5-1, 6) in what will be little more than a stay busy bout for Ogawa. Originally the Japanese puncher was scheduled to have an IBF world title eliminator eliminator with South African Azinga Fuzile (14-0, 8), but Fuzile failed to secure a visa in time for the bout leading to Medura, who is 0-4 in Japan, getting the bout. We don't see this going very long at all.
A much better Japan Vs Philippines bout will see Shuya Masaki (12-1, 5) take on Al Toyogon (10-3-1, 6) in an excellent match up. The once beaten Masaki, who's only loss came to Hironori Mishiro, hasn't really shined as Teiken would have wished and this is a long way from a gimme. Masaki is talented, but really needs to get prove he can put on good performances, something we don't really see from him with any consistency. Toyogon on the other hand is looking to bounce back from a recent loss to Ryo Sagawa, and will be coming into this out with a point to prove. A very interesting bout contest.
One of the other main supporting bouts will be a Welterweight bout between Masaya Tamayama (12-1, 6) and Riku Nagahama (9-2-1, 4), with both men wanting to tak a big step towards a potential Japanese title fight in the near future. Nagahama is looking to secure a second win since his TKO loss last year to Yuki Nagano, who has since gone on to win the Japanese title, whilst Tamayama is looking for a 9th straight win, and a chance to take a huge step towards a big bout.
Among the other supporting bouts we will see Japanese Super Flyweight prospect Hayate Kaji (12-0, 9) take on Japanese based Filipino veteran Rey Orais (20-18-2, 5), in what looks to be a chance for Kaji to take a huge step towards a Japanese title fight. It feels like Kaji has been on the verge of a break out fight for a while and whilst this isn't going to be it, it seems like a win and his next one will be his long awaited break out bout. For Orais questions should be asked why he's continuing to fight, rather than focus more on the training role he has at the Flare Yamagami gym.
Lower down on this card we'll see two more touted Japanese prospects both take big steps up in class against Filipino foes. One of those is the fantastic Mikito Nakano (2-0, 2), who takes on Arvin Yurong (12-2, 3) in a genuinely good test. Nakano looks like he has the ability to move through the rankings quickly, and could fight for a title as early as late 2020, and Yurong is a very under-rated young fighter who should force answers from Nakano.
The other is Kuntae Lee (1-0, 1), who's debut saw him look fantastic against an opponent who didn't want to be there. Here Lee takes on unbeaten Filipino Marlon Paniamogan (9-0-1, 5) in what should be a much, much better match up. Sadly not much is known about the visitor, so it's unclear what type of a test he will actually pose for the very talented Lee.
A smaller show takes place in the Phillipines where we see a few interesting Filipino fighters in action with a really good main event.
The main event will see the unbeaten Mark Vicelles (10-0-1, 5) take on the once touted Jesse Espinas (19-3, 11). The 23 year old Vicelles isn't well known but comes into this on the back of an excellent win over Robert Onggocan, and this is a logical step up in class. As for Espinas this is a slight step backwards, but is one that makes sense given he was beaten last time out in an OPBF title bout against Edward Heno. A very interesting match up, and rightfully the main event of the card.
In a good supporting bout Ponciano Remandiman (10-4-1, 5) and Prince Andrew Laurio (10-2-1, 7) will face off for the Philippines Visayas Professional Boxing Association Super Flyweight title. The 22 year old Remandiman has turned around a 2-4-1 start with 8 straight wins and has great momentum coming into this bout, as well as a good win last time out against Renz Rosia. Interestingly Lauio's career is going in the opposite direction, and he is 2-2-1 in his last 5, with stoppage losses in his last 2 bouts. His early potential appears to have been massively over-hyped and he is now really faltering.
One other bout of note here will see the one beaten Tomjune Mangubat (10-1-1, 9) take on Joffrey Garcia (6-10-4, 5), in what should be another straight forward win for Mangubat.
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.
Attention turns to the Korakuen Hall once again this coming Saturday for a stacked Dangan card, with 4 very good bouts on it.
The main event of the show will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai (30-7, 21) take on Mexican youngster Victor Emanuel Olivo (15-2-1, 7) in an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator, with the winner moving towards a world tittle fight against Jerwin Ancajas. Funai has been on a good run since losing in a Japanese title fight to Sho Ishida way back in 2016. He claimed the Japanese title last year and the WBO Asia Pacific belt earlier this year, and he's actually 6-0 (5) since the loss to Ishida. When it comes to assessing Olivo's career things aren't that impressive, with his most notable result being a narrow loss to Milan Melindo back in 2015. Aged 22 Olivo is a fighter who is developing but he was beaten just 2 fights back by Jose Briegel Quirino, in what looks to have been a home town decision. Olivo is probably better than his record indicates, but this is still a big step up in class for the Mexican. We've a full preview of this bout here Funai and Olivo battle in world title eliminator!
The chief supporting bout will match once beaten fighters, as Shuya Masaki (10-1, 5) takes on recent OPBF title challenger Izuki Tomioka (5-1-1, 1). The talented Masaki was tipped for big things, but his rise through the ranks was slowed this past January, when he was out pointed by Hironori Mishiro. Masaki has bounced back since his loss, with a decision win over Korean Hyun Je Shin, but this is a big step back up since that loss. On the other hand the 21 year old Tomioka surprised the Japanese scene this year when he pushed OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani very close in July, losing an 11th round TKO in a very competitive bout. Tomioka's biggest issue is his lack of power, but we wouldn't be surprised by him relying on his skills and picking up a career best win here.
Another mouth watering support bout will see Seiryu Toshikawa (10-4, 6) face off with the unbeaten Shawn Oda (9-0, 8) for the Japanese Youth Lightweight title. The more experienced man is 22 years old and debuted back in August 2014. He suffered a few early career set backs, losing 3 of his first 6, but has since gone 7-1 with a very notable win last time out against Ryuji Ikeda. On the hand Oda is a 20 year old with insane upside, as he showed when taking the 2016 Rookie of the Year crown at the age of 18. Oda hasn't been the busiest since his Rookie win, but has impressed, with 3 solid wins this year including a stoppage against Masashi Wakita in August. Oda is the more naturally gifted man, but this is likely to be his stiffest test to date. A preview of this bout is here Oda and Toshikawa battle for Lightweight youth crown!
A fourth major bout on this card will see 2017 Rookie of the Year Yuga Inoue (7-0-1, 1) take on the hard hitting Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) for the vacant Japanese youth Minimumweight title fight. The 19 year old Inoue, no relation to Naoya Inoue, really impressed last year before taking the Rookie crown in December against Retsu Akabane. Since that Rookie win Inoue has scored his only stoppage win, taking out Daisuke Sudo in 5 rounds this past May. As for the 21 year old Ishizawa he made his debut in June 2017 and has impressed ever since, scoring a huge win over Tatsuro Nakashima back in April. It should be noted that Ishizawa was supposed to fight for this title earlier in the year, against Daiki Tomita, but the bout was cancelled when Ishizawa suffered an injury, which he has now recovered from. Our in depth preview of this bout is here Ishizawa and Inoue battle for Japanese youth title!
As well as the stacked show in Japan there's also a notable card in the Philippines, headlined by former world title challengers facing off, and featuring several prospects in supporting bouts.
The main event will see Melvin Jerusalem (13-2, 8) battle against Toto Landero (10-3-2, 2). Both of these men have fought for world titles in recent years, with Jerusalem giving Wanehng Menayothin arguably the toughest bout of his career, in 2017, and Landero recently losing to Knockout CP Freshmart. The loser will have some serious rebuilding to do, but given that both men are still young that won't be a huge issue with the right mind set. The winner however will have taken a huge step towards getting a second shot at a world title. Our preview of this bout is here Jerusalem and Landero battle in brilliant all Filipino clash!
In one of the supporting bouts fans will see unbeaten 20 year old Esneth Domingo (10-0, 6) risk his unbeaten record against Reymark Taday (9-6-1, 4), in what could be a good test for the 20 year old Domingo. Another of the supporting bouts will see will see the unbeaten Christian Bacolod (9-0, 7) taking on fellow unbeaten Christoval Furog (5-0, 2) in what should be a compelling bout, though we do feel that Bacolod's power and extra experience will be the difference.
Lancashire, United Kingdom
The Funai bout isn't the only world title eliminator taking place as the UK plays host to a Lightweight world title eliminator between Indonesian warrior Daud Yordan (38-3-0-1, 26) and popular Englishman Anthony Crolla (33-6-3, 13), who will be hoping to take a step towards a WBA title shot. Yordan has been one of the few Indonesian fighters in recent years to make a mark internationally and his win earlier this year against Pavel Malikov was one of the best bouts of 2018. He is however up against here, with Crolla being a former WBA world champion and one of the best contenders in the division, with great stamina and under-rated skills. With a big reward for the winner we're expecting this to be a very exciting and action packed contest, with a lot of leather being thrown. We've previewed that bout here Yordan and Crolla set for a thriller...
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia we're set for a bit of a mismatch, with the all action Joel Brunker (33-3, 19) battling Indonesian journeyman Rivo Rengkung (37-27-6, 14). The 32 year old Brunker isn't going to reach the heights many had hopes for, but Rengkung shouldn't pose any sort of a threat at all, and will instead be expected to pick up his 28th career defeat.
In Russia we'll see former Uzbek amateur stand out Makhmud Gaipov (0-0) make his professional debut. Sadly at the time of writing no opponent has been named for Gaipov, but we're expecting him to be moved quickly and in 2019 we'll expect to see him fighting in 6 or even 8 rounders.
The calm to begin the year ends this coming Saturday as we get the first Dangan card of 2017, and it is a brilliantly intriguing card with two OPBF title bouts, and two very good looking support bouts.
The main event of the card will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (18-2, 6) take on Filipino foe Jeffrey Arienza (16-6-1, 10) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Light Welterweight title. The talented Naito will be looking for one of the most significant wins of his career, and whilst he will be favoured here he should be expecting to have a fight against Arienza. The Filipino visitor is far from a world beater but will likely know that one more loss is the end of him at this level, and he really cannot afford another set back if he's to remain relevant.
In a more 50-50 bout we'll see Filipino fighter Carlo Magali (22-9-3, 11) defending the OPBF Super Featherweight title against Japan's Masatoshi Kotani (22-2, 15). On paper this is a very interesting match up and will potentially see the winner move into a very intriguing position as fighters look towards getting a shot at the OPBF title. Magali and a limited but aggressive fighter and will take the fight to Kotani whilst the challenger will look to use his slightly better boxing skills to take the title from the champion. A really even match up.
Another mouth watering match up will see touted Teiken fighter Shuya Masaki (9-0, 5) take on Watanabe gym's Hironori Mishiro (4-0, 2) in what could be the surprise bout of the month. Masaki is ranked #3 by the JBC and will be looking towards getting a title fight later in the year, if he wins, but a win here is certainly no forgone conclusion. Mishiro has only been a professional for 10 months but has shone, and his October win over Shuma Nakazato was absolute incredible. This is set to be a war and should be something very special for fans watching.
Another very strong looking supporting bout will see Coach Hiroto (13-2-1, 4) take on the once beaten Ryo Hino (11-1-1, 6). The talented Hiroto took almost 5 years out of the ring until returning last June, and since then he has scored 2 wins. He will however be up against it here with Hino riding a 6 fight winning streak, including a huge win last time out against Sho Nakazawa. Coming in to this the 27 year Hino looks to be the man in form, and the man going places, but at 26 years old Hiroto shouldn't be over-looked in what appears to be a very competitive looking match up on paper.
In Illinois fight fans will be able to see American based Uzbek hopeful Rustam Tulaganov (1-0) take on the once beaten Martez McGregor (4-1, 4) in a 6 rounder. The 26 year old Uzbek was a former amateur standout, having claimed an Olympic Bronze medal and an Asian Championship's Silver medal and will be favoured here. The heavy handed McGregor has never been beyond 2 rounds and is likely to come out swinging here, win or lose.
This coming Saturday is set to be a busy, yet thrilling, day with a show of note in each Japan and Hong Kong. Not only do both countries get a card of note, but both cards are genuinely significant as we go forward.
Hong Kong S.A.R, China
The Hong Kong card, put on by DEF HK and Watanabe as they continue to work together, has a trio of title bouts and potentially a fight of the year contender.
That fight of the year contender will see local star Rex Tso (21-0, 13) take on former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (33-10-1, 14), in a bout for Tso's WBO International Super Flyweight title. The local is one of the sports most exciting fighters, and although he has improved markedly in recent years he is still, at heart, a fighter there for the fans, and a man who enjoys a thrilling tear up at every opportunity. Kono on the other hand is a bit of a faded force, and has lost 2 of his last 3, but has a style that is very fan friendly, and should gel with Tso's here. Do not be surprised by this one being a little bit special.
In a second title bout we'll see Kono's stable mate Ayumi Goto (7-0, 5) battle with Indian teenager Kirti (3-0, 2). Reports have stated that this will either be a female OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight, with Goto defending her title, or a WBO Asia Pacific title bout, for a vacant title. On paper this should be an easy win for the Japanese fighter, but it is fair to say that Kirti is an unknown, and could be a surprise package of sorts.
The third title bout on this card will see the always fun to watch Takuya Watanabe (32-7-1, 17) battle against Chinese foe Leshan Li (13-2-1, 8) for the WBO Oriental Super Featherweight title. Watanabe is one of the many under-the-radar Japanese fighters who is guaranteed to put on good fight, no matter who he is facing, and we're expecting another fun one here. As for Li he's a bit of an unknown but is a heavy handed fighter and has won his last 7 bouts, suggesting good form and good confidence coming into this one.
One other bout on this card, which looks set to be explosive, will see Thai based Dutchman Nick Frese (6-0, 5) take on heavy handed Filipino Prabhjot Singh (7-1-1, 7). Given that these two have 12 stoppages in 13 wins we're expecting to see bombs away, though it's hard to see anything but a win for Frese, who looks like a genuine prospect.
In Japan we'll be getting a card that will be aired live on G+ and will be promoted by Teiken.
The main event of this card will see the in-form Masaru Sueyoshi (15-1, 10) take on Ribo Takahata (13-7-1, 5) for the vacant Japanese Super Featherweight title, in what will be the first title fight either man has been in. The bout, for the title vacated by Kenichi Ogawa, will see Sueyoshi coming in to it with a 12 fight winning run dating back more than 5 years, whilst Takahata has been inconsistent, alternating between wins and losses over his last 15 bouts. It's hard not to favour Sueyoshi but it is his most meaningful bout to date.
In a supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Shuya Masaki (8-0, 4) take on Filipino foe Ciso Morales (19-4-1, 12). It's fair to say that Masaki has shown touches of brilliance through his early career, but he has been inconsistent and it always seems like there is just something missing from his performances so far. We expect to see him show his maturity here against a visiting foe who shouldn't be over-looked and will be a very live under-dog. Morales might not be a sensational fighter, but he's a good enough fight to test someone like Masaki at this level.
In a really interesting under-card bout we'll see the once beaten Ryo Matsubara (7-1, 7) take on the unbeaten Kai Chiba (6-0, 5), in a bout between punchers. Coming in to this one Matsubara has won his last 6 bouts in a combined 7 rounds, and has well and truly put his sole defeat behind him, with that loss coming back in his second professional bout. Chiba on the other hand went 6 rounds last time out, ending his own stoppage run. Both of these men like to throw heavy leather, and this could be a very explosive contest.
Japanese ranked Welterweight Yuki Nagano (11-2, 8) will be risking a 9 fight winning run as he takes on Thai foe Kriengkrai Tor Silachai (3-0*) in what could be a potential banana skin for the local. Although ranked by the JBC it's hard to know how good Nagano really is, whilst the Thai is a bit of an unknown, and it's unclear really whether we even have his complete record here.
A second Japanese ranked Welterweight on this card is Ryota Toyoshima (7-1-1, 5), who risks his ranking against domestic rival Masaharu Kaito (5-2, 2). Coming in to this bout the 21 year old Toyoshima has won his last 5, though he did suffer a decision defeat to Kaito back in 2015, and it's obvious he is seeking to avenge that set back. Sadly for Kaito he has lost 2 of his last 3, including one to the previously mentioned Nagano and seems to be struggling for form coming in to this bout.
*-Record reported as being differed to the 3-0 figuire.
In Tokyo we get one of two notable cards, with a title bout in the headliner and some interesting supporting bouts.
That title bout at the top of the card will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Ryo Akaho (30-2-2, 19) defending his title against the #1 ranked contender Yuta Saito (10-7-3, 7), in a bout that doesn't look great on paper. Saito is an upset minded fighter, and is better than his record suggests, but this is a massive step up in class and Akaho, a 2-time world title challenger, should comfortably win here. For the champion this will be his first defense of a title he won earlier in the year against Yushi Tanaka and we can't see him giving up the title easily, especially not to a fighter like Saito.
The chief support bout will see Teiken prospect Shuya Masaki (7-0, 3) fighting against a Thai foe, as Masaki continues his rise towards a potential title fight. Although he hasn't set the world on fire like we had hoped Masaki does look a talent, and we expect him to make a statement here, as he looks to convince Teiken that he deserves a title fight of some kind.
A really solid looking support bout will see Masashi Noguchi (12-7-1, 6) take on Tatsuya Yanagi (12-5-1, 4) in a bout that has a real 50-50 feel. Coming in Noguchi has been stopped in his last two, but those stoppages have been to very good fighters in the form of Shuhei Tsuchiya and Satoshi Hosono. Yanak on the other hand has gone 2-5-1 in his last 8, though did score a notable win over Ryusei Nakajima last time out. This has two men who need a win and we expect them to fight like men who really need to perform.
Another good looking support bout will see Ryohei Takahashi (11-2-1, 3) take on Yuki Iriguchi (8-1-1, 4). Coming in to this Takahashi is on a 3 fight winning run with wins against Kazuki Tanaka and Wataru Takeda. Interestingly Iriguchi has also won his last 3, including an upset win over Kenshin Oshima last October.
One other bout of interest will see KO article Kai Chiba (5-0, 5) take on teenager Ikuro Sadatsune (6-1-2, 2). Both men appear to be stepping up here, with both being pretty untested, but they should answer some questions as they face off in a good looking match up, and a nice supporting contest for the show.
We also get a genuinely huge show in India, as two super powers go against each other with both fighters looking to put their country on the boxing map.
In one corner will be unbeaten Indian Vijender Singh (8-0, 7), a huge hero to his homeland, whilst his opponent will be big punching Chinese fighter Zulipikaer Maimaitiali (8-0-1, 6). Coming in the the bout both men hold different WBO regional titles, with Singh defending the WBO Asia Pacific title and Maimaitiali looking to defend the WBO Oriental crown. The winner will unify the titles and move a long way towards getting a world title fight, so this really is a huge bout, for both Indian and Chinese boxing.
On the under-card we'll see 25 year old Indian hopeful Neeraj Goyat (8-2-2, 2) take on former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Allan Tanada (15-6-3, 7). On paper the bout looks like a good test for Goyat, but the Indian is naturally much bigger and will be using that size in what will be his first defense of the WBC ABC Welterweight title, which he won back in October.
In Cebu we'll get a low key card featuring a couple of notable names in what look like horrible mismatches.
One of those mismatches wlll see once beaten prospect Cris Ganoza (12-1, 6) take on Garry Rojo (7-10, 4). Ganoza was stopped in 9 rounds last time out by Edward Heno and it's clear that his team want him to get an easy win under his belt as he begins rebuilding his career, and in many ways it's hard to complain about them giving him an easy comeback win.
The other mismatch will see the out of form, but very talented, Rey Labao (27-9, 18) take on Jhun Ryan Quimbo (5-14-2). Although Labao's record doesn't show it, he was a real handful on the fringes of world class a few years ago, with power that stopped Jay Solmiano and Masao Nakamura and a toughness that always made him a nightmare. Labao has lost his last 3, and 4 of his last 5, and is coming to the end of his roller coaster career, but should have far too much for Quimbo, who is little more than a domestic journeyman.
New Jersey, USA
In the US we see another Chinese fighter in action as Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (16-0, 12) takes on Nick Guivas (13-7-2, 9). This will be Zhang's fourth fight this year, following 3 first round stoppages, and it's great that he's staying so busy, but it's time he took a step up in class and hopefully next time out he'll take on someone a bit more notable than Guivas, who has been stopped 4 times in 22 bouts already
This coming Saturday sees us turn our attention to G+ for the next live card to be aired on their channel
In the main event of the card we'll see former WBC Flyweight champion Toshiyuki Igarashi (23-2-2, 12) battle against upset minded American Miguel Cartagena (15-3, 6), with both men risking world rankings coming into this bout. Igarashi, who has had a stop-start career in recent times, will be looking to kick start his career which really has struggled to have momentum since losing the WBC title almost 4 years ago. Cartagena will be entering this bout 3-3 in his last 6, but does come into the bout on the back of a career best win over Joebert Alvarez, who he stopped inside a round last July.
The best of the supporting bouts will see the hotly tipped Shuya Masaki (6-0, 3) take on Shingo Eto (17-5-1, 9) in a delayed bout, that was originally scheduled for last year though had to be cancelled after Eto was forced to pull out of the bout. Masaki is tipped as one of the most promising fighters at the Teiken gym and is primed for big things, but this is a big step up for him and Eto, who has lost his last 2, will be looking to resurrect his career here. The bout is a key one for both men, and should be a thrilling one to watch.
Another supporting bout will see Yoshinobu Kakinaga (6-2, 2) take on 2016 Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year Ryoji Fukunaga (8-2, 8), one of two Super Rookie of the Year's on this card. The 30 year old Fukunaga will be fighting in his first 8 rounder and will be hoping that a win could move him, slowly, towards a Japanese title fight and we suspect that'll be where he and his team are looking for him to be in the next 24 months. As for Kakinaga the 23 year old will potentially see this bout as chance for him to move into the Japanese rankings and we're expecting a really exciting encounter here.
The other Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year on this card is 2015 winner Hayate Kaji (6-0, 5), who will be fighting in a relative stay busy fight against a Thai foe. We're hoping that Kaji will have a big 2017, but given he's a genuine youngster there is no need to rush him, and he's getting great gym time at the Teiken with the likes of Shinsuke Yamanaka. Sadly for Kaji fans it does feel like a second successive stay busy fight, a shame for someone with his natural talented and power.
American fans will see exciting Filipino Mercito Gesta (29-1-2, 16) return to the ring as he takes on the big punching Gilberto Gonzalez (26-3, 22) in a tough looking Lightweight bout. The once touted Gesta will be ending an 18 month break from the ring and his stop-start career has been a thoroughly frustrating one that promised so much, but has delivered so little. Gonzalez is beatable, and this is a must win for Gesta, but the Mexican has the power and size to cause Gesta real problems.
In the Netherlands we'll see Azeri Bakhtiyar Isgandarzada (11-10, 4) battle unbeaten Dutch hopeful Steve Suppan (6-0-1, 4). Suppan, the UBO Youth champion at 140lbs, should be far too good for the Azeri. Although a journeyman Isgandarzada has shared the ring with a number of respectable names, including Viorel Simion, and will look to make the most of that experience here.
The biggest card of the weekend comes from Nevada where fight fans will get 4 world title bouts, all involving Asian fighters, in fact from the 4 bouts there are 5 Asian's in action.
The highest profile of the bouts sees multi-weight world champion Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38) battle against WBO Welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10) in what will be Pacquiao's ring return after a short lived retirement. The Filipino sensation is the clear betting favourite but is close to 38 years old and will be the much smaller man in the ring. For Vargas the bout sees him facing his first legend and a win for the once beaten American will open huge doors, and legitimise his world title reign.
At Featherweight we see little known Japanese fighter Hiroshige Osawa (30-3-4, 19) take on WBO champion Oscar Valdez (20-0, 18), in what is Valdez's first defense. The Japanese fighter is a former OPBF champion but this is a massive step up in class for him and he hasn't really fought anyone of much renown in a while, with perhaps his best recent win being over prospect Kosuke Saka. Valdez is earmarked as a potential Mexican super star and with his style, power and skills he has the potential be one of the biggest things in boxing, and we think that will be shown here.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see Filipino champion Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24) defending his WBO title against the unbeaten Jessie Magdaleno (23-0, 17), in what is likely to be the best bout on the card. Donaire will be making the second defense of his title and although there are question marks over what he has left in the tank this is a massive step up for the challenger. The bout should tell us how good Magdaleno is and just how much Donaire has left.
In an all Asian bout we'll see Chinese star Zou Shiming (8-1, 2) battle Thailand's Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym (39-1-2, 24) in a second bout between the two men, with them now fighting for the WBO Flyweight title. These two have fought before, fighting in Macau where Shiming dominated Kwanpichit on route to a very wide decision, and we suspect we'll see the same again here, though he has has been relatively inactive whilst Kwanpichit has been stringing together low level stoppage wins in his homeland.
In Japan we get another live televised card courtesy of G+, who are showing a Gushiken card featuring several notable names.
In the main event of the show we'll see OPBF Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (10-0, 10) defending his title for the first time as he takes on Filipino challenger Felipe Cagubcob Jr (6-2-5, 2). The exciting Higa is one of the fastest rising prospects in world boxing today and is looking to build on quick victories over Romel Oliveros and Ardin Diale earlier this year. Cagubcob is looking to build on a career best win over Donny Mabao back in July and avenge Higa's wins over several Filipino fighters in recent years.
Originally one of the key support bout was supposed to see former OPBF and JBC title challenger Shingo Eto (17-5-1, 9) take on the fast rising Shuya Masaki (5-0, 2). Sadly Eto has been injured in the build up to the show and has been replaced by Thailand's Tienchai Yoongkaogym (2-6, 1), in what is a much less interesting bout. We are looking forward to seeing Masaki back in action but it's hard to deny that what we've been left with is a long way from what was originally announced.
There is still one Eto brother fighting on this card with former WBA “interim” Flyweight champion Koki Eto (18-4-1, 13) taking on Jun Blazo (5-1-3, 5) in the chief support bout. The bout will be Eto's second since his 2015 loss to Carlos Cuadras in a WBC Super Flyweight world title bout, and he'll be hoping for a much more fluent performance than he had in May against Michael Escobia, in a bout that was surprisingly competitive. Blazo is limited but has won his last 3 by stoppage and is the type of fighter we've see Eto over-look before.
Mox Power Promotions put on their next Chinese card with a low profile card in Zhengzhou. The show is low profile but features 5 bouts, all scheduled for 6 rounds, and all featuring at least one debutant.
On another lower profile show, this time in Australia, we'll see the win-less Maks Chylewski (0-2) take on tough Thai loser Pramool Boonpok (1-26-1),in what could potentially be an interesting bout, despite the obvious limitations of both fighters.
This coming Tuesday sees an interesting card at the Korakuen Hall with a highly regarded propest in a supporting bout and a former world title challenger in the main event.
In the chief supporting bout fans will get the chance to see touted Japanese prospect Shuya Masaki (4-0, 2) face off with domestic foe Yuya Shimakura (7-1-2, 3). Masaka is highly touted though we will admit we weren't massively impressed last time out, when he faced Vergil Puton, and would like to see a lot more from him here than we did there. Shimakura has gone 2-1-1 in his last 4 but has always fought to his opponents level and will be looking to do that again here. Notably of the two men Shimakura arguably has the best win, a decision last year over Keita Manabe, and should use that experience to really test Masaki.
The main event will see recent world title challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (21-2, 13) face off against Thailand's Patomsith Pathompothong (15-5, 5). For Iwasa the bout will be his third since coming up short last year against Lee Haskins and will see him fighting at 123.5lbs, suggesting that his future really is at Super Bantamweight, and not the 118lbs that fought Haskins at. For Patomsith the bout will see him return to Japan for his second bout in the country, following his loss last year to Hisashi Amagasa. For both this is a potentially key bout, but it's fair to say that Iwasa will be the clear favourite.