This coming Saturday is a busy day for fight fans wanting to follow Asian fighters, with shows in Japan, China, Russia and the US all needing to be mentioned. For us it's the Japanese show that's the most interesting, though both of the Russian shows have the potential to be very good shows, even if the Asian bouts aren't the biggest.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese show will be held at Korakuen Hall and will see Boxing Raise return for their first live stream since February. The event isn't a massive card, but is a very noteworthy one, with a tournament final, a former world title challenger and a former Japanese champion involved.
The main event will see Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6) and Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) clash in the final of the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament. Both men have had to dig deep, and notch an upset or two along the way to get here. Neither man was favoured to reach the final and both men had to battle hard knowing a tournament win would be a massive boost to their career's. Originally this bout was planned for much earlier in the year, though due to the on-going situation it has been pushed back and back. On paper Watanabe will be the favourite, but the negative style of Kusano could really give him fits in an intriguing match up.
In the main support bout we'll see former world title challenger Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18) take on the talented, but light punching, Shohei Kawashima (18-4-2, 4). On paper this is a must win bout for the 33 year old Wake, who was upset last year by Jhunriel Ramonal and desperately needs to make a statement, if he's to get a second world title shot. Kawashima is a talented fighter, but has gone 3-3 in his last 6 and was stopped last time out by Hiroaki Teshigawara. Despite being talented we don't really expect to see him holding his own with Wake here, who is fringe world class, despite the loss to Ramonal last year.
A third bout worthy of note will see former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-6, 18) face off with George Tachibana (8-4, 2). Tsuchiya is looking to pick a win following a loss in February, in what was a big upset against Shogo Yamaguchi, though it seems likely his glory days are gone and he isn't anything like the fighter he once was. As for Tachibana, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2018, the bout will be a chance for him to rebuild following a blow out loss in December to Tomoki Takada, in what was also a notable upset.
Fenghuang Streat commercial square, Changsha, China
Action continues to trickle through form China with another small card, this time in Changsha. Like many of the other recent Chinese cards this is packed with novices, including 8 debutants from the 14 bouts.
With so many debutants on the show we only actually have a single bout not featuring a debutant and that's the 6 round main event between Sheng Peng (4-6-1, 2) and Xing Xie (1-5, 1). Although it's the main event we aren't expecting anything too excited here from fighters who have little power and little in terms of form. Still there maybe a diamond in the rough on the under-card for those who are going to tune in here.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Over in Russian we'll see unbeaten Kazakh born Russian hopeful Stanislav Kalitskiy (10-0, 3) look to extend his unbeaten record as he takes on 25 year old Russian southpaw Dmitrii Khasiev (9-2-2, 3) in a 10 round. Kalitskiy has looked talented but lacked power and that may be an issue when he steps up in class, and takes on imposing fighters. Here however w edon't see it being an issue. Khasiev appears to be a solid professional, but it would be his biggest win if he was to take a victory here.
Pyramide, Kazan, Russia
On a second Russian show is the enigmatic Kazakh fighter Firuza Sharipova (10-1, 5), who takes on Tanzania's Happy Daudi (8-6-1, 4) in a contest for the IBA female Light Welterweight title. Although talented Sharipova is a frustrating fighter to follow, and seems to be more of a celebrity in Kazakhstan than a boxer now a days. This will be her first bout since April 2019, since which she has retired, had a child, and decided to return to the sport. Daudi on the other hand has never fought out of Tanzania and has never scored a win over a fighter with a win.
Whilst Sharipova should be criticised for her competition we do wonder what on earth is going on in the IBA to allow this to be for their "world" title. Disgraceful.
Bonita Springs Elks Lodge, Bonita Springs, Florida, USA
In the US Azeri born fighter Fardi Pashazade (2-0, 2) will look to score his third win. The unbeaten, but untested, Pashazade will be up against Daniel Mitchell (0-2) in what looks like a third straight meaningless bout for the Azeri. So far Pashazade has blown out his first two opponents in double quick time and Mitchell has been stopped in both of his bouts. Worse than the stoppages for Mitchell is the fact he's not fought in almost 3 years. This really is an exercise in pointlessness for the 31 year old Pashazade.
This coming Friday our attention turns to Russia where two unbeaten Central Asian hopefuls are in action, with both men taking on decent looking opponents.
One of the two is Russian based Kazakh Super Featherweight Stanislav Kalitskiy (9-0, 3), who looks to kick off his 2020, and score his 10 professional win, as he takes on Argentina's Alan Isaias Luques Castillo (27-8, 10). Last year the unbeaten Kalitskiy scored 3 wins, and despite keeping his unbeaten record intact it was clear he lacked power. Castillo on the other hand went 1-1 in 2019, with his loss coming to talented British fighter Anthony Cacace before he bounced back and claimed the South American Featherweight title. This could be a genuine test for Kalitskiy.
The other Asian is Russian based Uzbek Ravshanbek Umurzakov (10-0, 7), who went 4-0 (2) last year. The talented Umurzakov will be up against Venezuelan puncher Esneiker Correa (13-2-1, 11), who enters this bout on the back of 5 straight stoppage wins. We have been impressed by Umurzakov so far, and a win here needs to be followed up by a clear step up in class. As for Correa his record is pretty padded, and he lost in his only bout outside of Venezuela. Despite that he can punch, and it'll be interesting to see if he can chin check the Uzbek here.
As well as the Russian card there will also be a Thai card on Channel 7HD.
The main event of this card will see once beaten Thai Kongfah CP Freshmart (30-1, 16), aka Jakkrawut Majoogoen, defending a regional WBC Asia Super Bantamweight title against Filipino journeyman Edison Berwela (18-43-8, 6). On paper this is an horrific mismatch, but Berwela is much better than his record suggests and he should prove a decent test for the Thai local. Interestingly Kongfah's only loss came to Daigo Higa, way back in 2015 and since then he has racked up 16 straight wins.
The big headline bout this coming weekend sees us focus on Glasgow, Scotland, as the WBSS moves towards the final bouts. The bout of interest for us is the highly anticipated WBSS Bantamweight semi-final bout between WBA "regular" champion Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) and IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12). The bout is a clash between unbeaten world class fighters, who are both looking to move one step closer to proving they are the best Bantamweight on the planet. For Inoue this will be his first bout in Europe, and he will be looking to become the first Japanese fighter to win a world title bout in the continent, whilst Rodriguez returns to the country that he won the IBF title in, when he beat Paul Butler. Coming in both are in great form, though it should be noted that Rodriguez went 24 rounds last year, Inoue has only gone 20 rounds combined in his last 6 fights. If Rodriguez can survive the early going Inoue's lack of activity could be a problem here, as could history. A full review of this bout can be read here Inoue and Rodriguez go one on one in semi final!
Before the action in the UK there will be some action in Asia, including a notable show at Korakuen Hall in Toyko.
The main event of this show will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) make his first defense, as he takes on former champion Yusaku Kuga (17-3-1, 11), in what will be a second bout between these two. Thee two men fought in 2017, with Kuga taking a narrow decision win over Tamura to retain the title, since then however Kuga has been stopped by Shingo Wake and Tamura has bounced back from losing to Kuga to win the title. Given their first bout was a brilliant and violent fight we're expecting something really special here. A full preview of this bout is available here Tamura and Kuga to meet again, potential war set?
In a major supporting bout we'll see Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-2, 6) and Koichi Aso (23-8-1, 15) clash at Lightweight, in a bout that should be very fan friendly. Coming in to this Yanagi is unbeaten in 5 bouts, including a draw in a Japanese title eliminator last year with Accel Sumiyoshi, but this is likely to be a really tough bout for him. Aso, a veteran and former Japanese Light Welterweight champion, will be dropping down in weight but always brings intense pressure and will be looking to break down Yanagi. This could be an all out war if Yanagi can't keep Aso at range.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see ranked fighters clash, as Naoya Okamoto (13-7-1, 6) and Yosuke Fujihara (17-6, 4) face off in a bout that could well set up a future title fight with the winner of the main event. Okamoto narrowly missed out on a title fight, when he lost a technical decision in October in a Japanese title eliminator, and will be hungry here to shine. Fujihara on the other hand is someone who has challenged for a title before but has lost 3 of his last 4 and really needs a good performance here.
Another bout featuring domestic ranked fighters will see Kenta Nakagawa (16-3-1, 11) take on Ryosuke Nasu (10-4-3, 2). Nakagawa is a former Japanese Super Flyweight champion, holding the title in 2016-2017, and has won 3 in a row since losing the belt to Ryuichi Funai. Nasu on the other hand is a former Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion who will know that a win here will prove to be a huge step towards a potential senior title fight later in the year.
Another name worthy of noting on this card is Kazuki Saito (6-1, 5), though our understanding is a planned bout has been cancelled and he will instead compete in a spar rather than an actual fight.
Bang Phun, Thailand
At the Workpoint Studio we'll former world title challenger Nawaphon Por Chokchai (44-1-1, 34) take on former champion Sonny Boy Jaro (45-14-5, 32), in what looks almost certain to be a fun fight. Nawaphon, at 27, is the much younger man and needs a big win, and a win over Jaro would be among his very best. Jaro, who is known in Thailand due to his shock win over Pongsaklek Wonjongkam back in 2012. At the age of 37 it's hard to know what Jaro really has left, though he was stopped in 2017 by Jonas Sultan, a none puncher, and surely has to be coming very close to the end of his career.
In Russia we'll see a couple of hard hitting Uzbek fighters in action.
One of those fighters is Ravshanbek Umurzakov (7-0, 7), who takes on Anthony Moloisane (11-3-1, 7) in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds. The talented Umurzakov has shown a lot of promise but isn't being moved up through the levels yet, sadly, and that shows again here, with South African fighter Moloisane, who isn't bad, but also isn't a clear step up for the Uzbek who should be taking on much better opponents now.
A second Uzbek on this show will see Elnur Abduraimov (4-0, 4) in action, as he hunts his 5th straight stoppage. He's stepped up in his last two bouts, but it's clear he needs a real test in the near future, so fingers crossed that happens sooner rather than later. He's too good to be wasting his time against limited opposition and would be served much better by take on someone to extend him some rounds and help prepare him for bigger and better bouts. At the time of writing the opponent for this bout hasn't been named, suggesting a limited and late notice opponent for the Uzbek.
Also on this card is unbeaten Kazakh youngster Stanislav Kalitskiy (7-0, 3), who will be stepping into his first 8 round bout. Sadly there is not currently an opponent confirmed for Kalitskiy, and as with Abduraimov it seems like he will be matched softly with a late notice foe.
Another Asian card will take place in Taiwan, though this is a very low level card, headlined by an 8 round bout between Chia Ching Hung (4-1-1, 4) and Anurak Madua (6-3, 4). Hung is a local to Taiwan, but hasn't fought in over a year, and is 1-1-1 in his last 3. Madua on the other hand was stopped in 77 seconds last time out, when he fought in Osaka against Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto.
The rest of this card is mostly novices bouts with debutants.
This coming Friday out attention turns to Russia for the next RCC card, which features several notable fighters from across Asia.
One of those is Russian based Tajik Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (12-0, 8), who will be looking to make his first defense of the WBC International Super Featherweight title. The unbeaten 23 year old will be up against experienced Mexican Emanuel Lopez (29-9-1, 13), who has had mixed success in recent years, losing 3 of his last 5. If Yaqubov is as good as he has looked in recent bouts then we'd expect him to win here, and take a huge step towards a potential world title eliminator later in the year.
Unbeaten Uzbek fighter Ravshanbek Umurzakov (6-0, 5) had an interesting 2018, going 5-0 (4) but having a big asterisks over his biggest win, a 58 second victory over Eden Sonsona who looked like he didn't want to be in the ring. Umurzakoz will be up against Filipino Rimar Metuda (12-4-1, 7), who has proven himself as durable, though is 2-4-1 in his last 7 and is 0-3-1 outside of the Philippines. We suspect Metuda will put up a good effort against the Uzbek, but not really test him.
Unbeaten Kazakh Stanislav Kalitskiy (6-0, 3) will be risking his unbeaten record against Filipino Venson Delopere (6-3-4, 2). The 21 year old Kalitskiy scored 3 wins last year, including a notable one against Jestoni Autida, but it's unclear what he can really do in the ring and he should be tested here. Delopere is a 23 year old who has proven tricky to beat, but is winless outside of the Philippines. This should be a good test for Kalitskiy and we wouldn't be surprised to see him struggle at times with the Filipino.
Another Filipino on this card is Arnold Garde (10-6-3, 4), who will be up against unbeaten Russian fighter Mekhdi Abdurashedov (5-0, 2). The Russian really impressed last time out, stopping Filipino Prince Andrew Lauro in 5 rounds, and this bout seems to be a good step up for him. Garde has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, but is going to have travelled with some ambition. Sadly for Garde we don't question his desire, but we do doubt he has the skills to handle Abdurashedov
In Hungary fans a bout is scheduled between Russian born Azeri Roman Zakirov (8-0, 7) and Mexican foe Daniel Vega Cota (13-2-1, 10). The unbeaten Zakirov is a 22 year old who only turned professional a year ago but has been ultra active, with fights in Uzbekistan, Georgia and Russia and now looks to add Hungary to passport. Cota on the other hand has only fought outside of Mexico once and should be easy enough for the Azeri, given he has been stopped in both of his losses.
In Thailand we'll see unbeaten Thai hopeful Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (10-0, 4) battle against experienced Filipino Crison Omayao (24-18-4, 8) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Light Flyweight title. This bout will be the Thai's first at 108lbs and it's hoped that he will show what he can really do at the new weight after looking less than great at Minimumweight.
A second title bout on this show will see Kanyarat Yoohanngoh (4-2, 2) take on Japanese fighter Umi Ishikawa (7-2, 5) for the OPBF silver Female Minimumweight title. This is a low key bout but the winner should find themselves moving towards some bigger and better fights in the near future.
Interestingly this Thai card will also feature Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) and Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) playing some part in the show, though the specifics of their appearances seem to be an exhibition or a live public training event rather than any kind of fight.
London, United Kingdom
In London we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Sultan Zaurbek (3-0, 2) take a small step up in class as he takes on Lyuben Todorov (6-3, 2). The unbeaten prospect will be facing his first opponent with a winning record, but the Bulgarian is 0-3 outside of Bulgaria and isn't expected to be much of a threat for Zaurbek, who is scheduled to fight again a week later.