This coming Saturday is a crazy one for fight fans following Asian fighters with bouts all over the globe!
West Midlands, United Kingdom
The highest profile bout takes place in the UK as South African Zolani Tete (28-3, 21) takes on Filipino fighter John Riel Casimero (28-4, 19) to unify the WBA and WBO interim Bantamweight titles. For Tete the bout will see him back in action for the first time since a messy bout in October 2018 with Mikhail Aloyan whilst Casimero will be looking to score a 5th straight T/KO. Both men have a point to prove and both will know that a win here helps take them one step closer to a divisional super fight with WBA/IBF champion Naoya Inoue. A full preview of this bout is available to read here Casimero takes on Tete for WBO title!
Monte Carlo, Monaco
We get a bit of a strange one in Monaco, where unbeaten Chinese southpaw Zhilei Zhang (20-0, 16) takes on Ukraine's Andriy Rudenko (32-4, 20) in a clash of Heavyweight hopefuls. For Zhang this will be his first bout in over a year, as he looks to make up for lost time, and to try and get things back on track after previous issues with a visa. As for Rudenko, he has taken this bout as a late replacement for Sergey Kuzmin, and it's unclear how prepared he will be for this. This is a must win for both men, who are now both in their 30's, and it will be very, very hard to see the loser making any sort of a mark on the sport going forward.
In the US fans will be able to see unbeaten Japanese hopeful Andy Hiraoka (14-0, 9) make his American debut, as he takes on American foe Rogelio Casarez (13-8, 5). The talented Hiraoka, who has trained in the US in the past, will be going into this with a lot of confidence following a career best win over Akihiro Kondo in July but Casarez is a tough guy and will be expecting to take Hiraoka the scheduled 8 rounds here.
Top Rank continue their toe-dipping in China with another show alongside SECA, and this one features quite a lot of notable Chinese prospects.
One of those Chinese prospects will be Lei Wang (4-0, 2), who takes on Filipino foe Marlon Paniamogan (10-1-1, 5) in a bout for the WBO Great China Light Welterweight title. For Wang this will be his third bout this year, and he'll be looking to build momentum as we head into the new year. For Paniamogan this will be his second bout since losing to Kuntae Lee in July. On paper this is a really interesting match up and one we're looking forward to.
Another interesting match up on this show will see the unbeaten Yongqiang Yang (12-0, 9) take on JR Magboo (18-3-2, 9). The 27 year old Yang is one of Chinese boxing brightest hopes, and wins over Takuya Watanabe, Harmonito Dea Torre and Ernie Sanchez have really shown he can hang with good fighters. Sadly he spent more than a year away from action, which slowed his rise, but he is certainly someone who deserves some real attention. At his best Magboo was an decent hopeful, but with 3 losses in his last 5 bouts it's hard to see him putting up much of a test for Yang, who has the tools to go a very long way.
There will also be a show in Taiwan, featuring a pair of notable Japanese fighters.
In one of the main bouts former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-5-1, 6) will be up against Indonesian foe Moensaku Yor (6-5-1, 4). The hard hitting Tamura has had a very mixed year, with a career defining win in January over Mugicha Nakagawa being followed by back to back losses to Yusaku Kuga and Gakuya Furuhashi. Despite the losses Tamura will be strongly favoured here against Yor, who has been stopped in 3 of his last 4 bouts.
The other notable name on this show is boxing-policeman Daisuke Sugita (5-1, 3), who looks to defend his WBA Asia Super Bantamweight title against Filipino journeyman Edison Berwela (18-42-8, 6). This will be Sugita's first defense of the title he won in August when he beat Crison Omayao, and he'll be strongly favoured here against Berwela. Despite being the big under-dog Berwela will be expected to take Sugita rounds, and the Filipino has only been stopped in 7 of his 42 losses with the most recent stoppage coming more than 3 years ago against Michael Dasmarinas.
Ulsan, South Korea
Another Asian show will be taking place in South Korea. Like many Korean cards this is a pretty low key show, but the main event deserves some attention as unbeaten local Sung Jae Jo (10-0, 8) takes on Indian visitor Deepak Tanwar (4-0, 2). This will be Jo's 4th bout of the year, and he's moving forward with his career. Tanwar however has been inactive for almost 3 years and it's hard to imagine him putting up much of a fight here.
We also have a bout of interest in Australia as the rugged but limited John Ruba (19-6-1, 10), from Indonesia, takes on unbeaten Australian Ben Mahoney (8-0, 4) for the IBO Asian Pacific title at Light Middleweight. Ruba is no world beater but he has gone the distance with Sadriddin Akhmedov and Mahoney will be expected to earn his win here.
Cheonan, South Korea
The main card this coming Wednesday comes from South Korea, not something that we can say often enough.
The main event will see OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (21-2, 7) defending his title against Korean challenger Gyu Beom Jeon (9-3-1, 4). This is a bout that has been rescheduled numerous times this year, causing a loss of momentum for both men, especially Naito. The champion, who is looking for his third defense here, but has been out of the for almost a year, following his close win over Daishi Nagata. That sort of ring rust will not do Naito any favours here. Jeon is relative unknown outside of Korea, but he does have some momentum coming in to this with 5 straight wins, and 7 wins in his last 8. The challenger is the under-dog but he has been active whilst the champion has been horribly inactive recently. A full preview of this bout can be read here Rikki Naito heads to Korea for third OPBF title defense
In a decent looking support bout we'll see Sang Hun Oh (5-1, 3) take on Filipino veteran Michael Landero (19-14-4, 8). On paper this might not look great but is a really good step up for the 19 year old Oh, who is looking to bounce back from a recent loss to Kyung Min Kwon, back in May. Landero is a proper veteran, who has been out of the ring for around 30 months, and in his prime was the OPBF Minimumweight champion, stopping Kenichi Horikawa. It's hard to know what Landero has left at the age of 33, but if he's half the fighter he was he could be a banana skin for Oh here.
Sadly we're not expecting any real competition when South Korean Super Flyweight champion Ki Chang Go (7-3, 3) takes on awful Thai visitor Yutthichai Wannawong (9-9, 7). Go is no puncher, though did blow out Joo Ho Lee in June in his first title defense, and is actually best known for his only stoppage loss, to Masahiro Sakamoto in what was Sakamoto's final bout before facing Moruti Mthalane on New Year's Eve. Sadly Yutthichai is known for losing, and losing quickly with 8 stoppages losses, a JBC ban, and a loss last time out inside a round, to Carl Jammes Martin. This shouldn't be anything more than a stay busy fight for Go.
Another notable bout on this card will see hard hitting Korean Middleweight hopeful Sung Jae Jo (9-0, 7). He was originally scheduled to face Chinese visitor Wulamu Tulake (8-2-1, 4), though we have now been told he will be facing a Thai foe instead, in an 8 round bout, though the opponent hasn't been named. Like wise Heuk San Lee (10-1-2, 5) is scheduled for a 10 rounder, and his opponent hasn't been confirmed at the time of writing.
As well as the show in Korea, there will also be one in Thailand. The details for this are lacking, but Tassana Paladsrichuay (4-4, 1) will be up against Japanese visitor Umi Ishikawa (7-3, 5), who was stopped in 3 rounds by Kanyarat Yoohanngoh last time she fought in Thailand. This bout will be for the WBC's International female Minimumweight title, and whilst not a big bout is it significant for both fighters.
Attention is split this coming Sunday with two Asian shows, the most notable which takes place in Pattaya in Thailand and is a card with a really international feel with fighters from all over the globe taking part.
The main event will see Malaysian based Uzbek Anvar Turapov (3-1, 2) take on Filipino foe Roberto Gonzales (28-5, 17) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Welterweight title. On paper this looks like a mismatch, with a huge gulf in experience between the two men, but the reality is that Turapov, even with a loss, is a highly regarded prospect. Gonzalez has one of the sports most padded records and given that Gonzalez has been stopped in 3 of his last 4, we wonder what his ambition is like here. We wouldn't be surprised at Gonzalez looking for a way out when the pressure amps up.
Another title bout on this card will see the unbeaten Thai based Englishman Michael Alan Flannery (5-0, 5) battle Thai local Uthit Punsen (20-5, 11) for the lightly regarded ABF Middleweight title. Flannery, originally from Ormskirk in England, has scored 5 blow out wins in Thailand already, including 3 already this year. This is a step up for the Englishman but we are expecting him to quickly take out his Thai foe, who has already been stopped in 4 of his 5 losses.
Flannery isn't the only fighter with a 100% KO rate on this card, with Malaysian puncher Muhamad Farkhan (9-0, 9) looking to extend his perfect start against Indonesian veteran Alexander Bajawa (43-8-4, 16). On paper this looks a really good test for Farkhan, however the 37 year old Bajawa has been stopped in 7 of his 8 losses and been stopped 5 times in the last 3 years, including a 3rd round loss to Farkhan last December.
As well as the two title bouts we've already mentioned there will be two other minor title bouts, though neither of these are hugely exciting on paper. One will see Murodjon Yokubov (2-0, 1) against 37 year old Thai loser Thongchai Kunram (7-17, 3) whilst the other will have Vaibhav Singh Yadav (5-1, 3) up against Phongsathon Sompol (11-6, 6).
Ulsan, South Korea
The card in Korea is must less deep, but does feature an interesting Korean hopeful in the main event.
The notable hopeful is Korean Middleweight Sung Jae Jo (8-0, 6), who risks his unbeaten record against Thai foe Somprasong Chuenchana (12-15-1, 3). The unbeaten 23 year old Korean is a genuine talent, but has a lot of developing to do if he's to reach his potential. He needs bouts like this to develop his experience, but we don't expect him to be tested too much here.
In a good supporting bout we'll see Ki Chang Go (6-3, 2) take on Joo Ho Lee (5-3-1) in an all-Korean bout at Super Flyweight. Of the two men Go is the more well known, though he is best known for being stopped earlier this year by Masahiro Sakamoto. Lee on the other hand has never fought outside of Korea, though will fancy his chances to score a career best win here.
This coming Sunday isn't a big day in Asian boxing but there is a pretty notable KBF card in Korea with a double feature.
One of the two major bouts will see Japanese puncher Masamichi Yabuki (7-3, 7) battle #1 ranked Korean contender Min Chul Bae (5-1-1, 4). This bout is being sold as an OPBF ranking match, suggesting the winner will take a huge step towards an OPBF title fight. We've been impressed by Yabuki, despite losses to Daniel Matellon and Seigo Yuri Akui in 2018, and he is a really talented boxer-puncher. We've not seen much of Bae but the 29 year old has won last 2 bouts by stoppage and will fancy himself to see off Yabuki, in what could be a firefight.
The other notable bout on this card will see KBF Middleweight champion Sung Jae Jo (7-0, 6) defending his title against Gyung Mo Yuh (3-5-3), in what appears to be little more than a mismatch in favour of the hard hitting and unbeaten champion. Despite being unbeaten the 23 year old champion hasn't really been tested yet, with only a single opponent lasted more than 4 rounds with him. The challenger is a natural welterweight, who has avoided defeat in his last 3 bouts, but has done little to suggest he's going to be a real test here.
The Deagu card isn't the only Korean card for the day, as there's also one in Seoul. This one is a card full of novices with no fighters of any name value. The most experienced fighter on the show is Soo Lee (2-4-2, 2), who will be up against the debuting Doo Ri Song (0-0) in a 4 round bout at 154lbs.
Surigao del Norte, Philippines
As well as the Korean cards there will also be a show in the Philippines, which will feature China's Mingcun Chen (5-0, 5) making his international debut, and battling Apisak Puttawong (1-7, 1). The unbeaten 20 year old has yet to be taken more than 2 rounds, and was last seen claiming a minor title. It's really hard to see how Apisak will offer any kind of a test for the youngster, especially given that Apisak a blown up Featherweight and already been stopped 4 times.