This coming Saturday is a really interesting day for fans of Asian fighters with 3 different world title bouts featuring Asian fighters taking place on 3 continents. Not only do we have 3 world title bouts but we also get a bout featuring a former world champion and a fighter returning after more than 6 years out of the ring.
BT Sport Studio, Stratford, London, United Kingdom
The most interesting of the world title bouts comes from London, England, where Downua Ruawaiking (16-0, 13), aka Apinun Khongsong, will challenger IBF and WBA Light Welterweight champion Josh Taylor (16-0, 12). The Thai enters as the IBF mandatory title challenger, having earned that shot last year, but he will be regarded as a huge under-dog against the very talent Scottish world champion. For the Thai the bout is a massive step up in class, and despite stopping Akihiro Kondo last year there is still a lot of questions for him to answer. As for Taylor he is regarded by many as the #1 in the division and comes into this on the back of his victory over Regis Prograis in the WBSS final last October. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Unbeaten Thai takes on unified champion Taylor!
Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA
The second most notable world title fight will see WBO Bantamweight champion Johnriel Casimero (29-4, 20) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Duke Micah (24-0, 19) in the US. Originally the plan had been for Casimero to take on Naoya Inoue, to unify the WBO, IBF and WBA titles, but due to the on going situation the two men have gone in different directions. That opened the door for this bout with Casimero taking on the relatively unknown Micah. For Casimero this is a chance to build on his 2019 upset win over Zolani Tete, when he stopped the South African in the UK to claim his title, whilst Micah will be looking to make his mark on the highest level and adding some quality to quite a weak record. Although Casimero will be the favourite he is inconsistent and the last few months have been very frustrating ones for him, so this could end up being more interesting than many predict. Our full preview of this can be read here Casimero defends against the unbeaten Micah
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
In Hyogo we get a card from Shinsei who don't just have a world title bout on the card, but also two interesting support bouts. For those wanting to watch this show it will be streamed on BOXING REAL.
The main event of the card will see former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) take on Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5). This will be Kubo's first since being stopped by Can Xu last year and it's fair to say that he can't afford any more losses if he's to get another world title fight. Thankfully for him this is actually a very winnable contest, where he should be favoured. Although Igarashi has a similar looking record to Kubo he was beaten last time out by Toshiya Yokogawa, who had more losses than wins, and that bout was almost 2 years ago. Igarashi has been in active and hasn't scored a single win of any real note.
The world title bout here is actually the co-feature and will see WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) defending her title against fellow Japanese fighter Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1). Iwakawa won the title in July 2018, when she beat Nao Ikeyama, but sadly hasn't defended it, due to a lack of challengers. Now, more than 2 years on, the 37 year old looks to extend her reign and finally get a defense under her belt. For Suzuki this is a shot that she should feel fortunate to get given that just 18 months ago she did lose to the then 2-0 Eri Matsuda. Thankfully for the challenger she has picked up a couple of wins since then and has done enough to earn a shot at a champion who really needed a challenger. At the age of 28 this could be a case of right time, right place for Suzuki. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Iwakawa defends WBO title against Suzuki.
One other bout on this card worthy of a mention will be the ring return of Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14), more than 6 years after his last bout. The former Japanese Bantamweight champion will be up against 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3) in a 6 rounder. At his best Oba, dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya" would be very strongly favoured, but having bout of the ring for so long we really do wonder what he has left in the tank here. Sadly for Minato since winning Rookie of the Year he has gone 0-2 and and he is the naturally smaller man, being a natural Flyweight. This is really a case of "what does Oba have left?" If he's 80% of the fighter he once was he should take a win, but 6 years out is a very, very long time.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
As well as the Japanese we also get an interesting bout in Thailand where Atchariya Wirojanasunobol (12-0, 5) will take on veteran Kaewfah Tor Buamas (29-6, 10) in a rematch between the two men who fought in 2018. Originally Atchariya was supposed to face teenage sensation Phoobadin Yoohanngoh (9-0, 5), but sadly Phoobadin was injured and has been replaced by Kaewfah. Whilst this bout does give Kaewfah a chance to avenge his 2018 loss it should be noted that Atchariya has got a point to make, following a wrongful arrest in 2019, and could be out there to make statement and get something off his chest.
This biggest of the Asian shows this coming Sunday comes from Aichi, where we see a really good main event, and two notable support bouts.
The really interesting main event will see Filipino Richard Pumicpic (21-8-2, 6) seek his second defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title, as he goes up against Japanese teenager Musashi Mori (7-0, 5). On paper it's hard to go against the champion, who won the title in Japan by beating Hisashi Amagasa and then defended it against Yoshimitsu Kimura. The Filipino has regularly been a thorn in the side of Japanese boxing, and is expected to strike again here. Mori on the other hand is a talented and heavy handed youngster, who won the Rookie of the Year last year, and feel like he's the stronger man given he's coming down in weight. We're really excited about this one, and it could either solidify Pumicpic as a fringe contender, or launch Mori's career. A full preview of this fight can be read here Pumicpic faces Mori in next WBO regional title defense!
In a supporting bout we'll see Toshiya Yokogawa (9-11-1, 8) take on the OPBF ranked Super Bantamweight hopeful Takashi Igarashi (13-3, 5). Coming into this Igarashi is riding a 6 fight winning streak, but the reality is that his competition has been awful during that run, and it's hard to really say how good he actually is. The 33 year old Yokogawa doesn't have an impressive record, but an opening round win in September against Glenn Medura was impressive and will boost his confidence ahead of this bout.
Another supporting bouts on this card will see 25 year old Shin Tomita (9-5-2) take on Fire Ikkyu (6-1-1, 4). Although not a mouth watering bout on paper Tomita has mixed with good company, and has thrice fought recent Japanese title challenger Akihiro Toya. Ikkyu on the other hand is heavy handed, but was stopped himself last time out, by Masashi Tada. This is a well matched bout, but not the most exciting contest on the card.
As well as the show in Aichi, we also get a card in Kyoto.
One of the main bouts here will see former world title challengers clash, as Tamao Ozawa (14-5, 5) takes on Filipino foe Aisah Alico (7-9, 5). Despite both of these fighters coming up short in world title shots it does seem like Ozawa is the more likely to reach the top, and both of her defeats at world level were competitive, something that can't be said for Alico, who was stopped by Momo Koseki at Atomweight. Ozawa should have all the advantages here in what we suspect will be an easy win for the popular local.
The only other bout of note on this card will see Yusuke Hiranuma (8-3, 2) face off with Takaaki Kanai (9-8, 4), in what will technically be the show's headline bout. Hiranuma hasn't fought in over 18 months, though has won his last 3 bouts and has got promise if he decides to hit the ground running in 2019. Kanai on the other hand is a domestic journeyman, who is 2-5 in his last 7, but did upset Hideo Sakamoto earlier this year and can cause an upset when he's over-looked.
The main card card for us this coming Saturday comes from Aichi, where we'll see a 2-weight world champion along with several prospects.
The former world champion is Kosei Tanaka (10-0, 6), who has won world titles at both Minimumweight and Light Flyweight. Tanaka's pursuit for a Flyweight title kicks off with a bout against unbeaten Filipino Ronnie Baldonado (10-0-1, 7), who had a huge 2017 with stoppages against Ma Yi Ming and Iwan Zoda. A win for Tanaka is likely to set up a world title fight at Flyweight later this year. Saying that however Baldonado will know a win here will give his career a massive boost in the arm and move him onto a world title fight of his own.
In a major supporting bout fans will see unbeaten prospect Kento Hatanaka (4-0, 4) take on former Japanese Minimumweight title challenger Kenta Matsui (8-7, 1). The hard hitting Hatanaka has looked fantastic so far, but this is a huge step up in class following fights against very limited opposition. Matsui may not have a great record but he's a massive step up in class for Hatanaka, and is an upset minded fighter, as seen with his wins against Rikito Hattori and Genki Hanai. This is a big step up, but a win for Hatanakawould have him instantly in the domestic title mix.
Also on this card will be 2-time Japanese Bantamweight title contender Yushi Tanaka (21-2-3, 14), who will be battling against Jinya Ito (6-3-1, 1). The 26 year old Tanaka has scored a couple of low key wins since losing a decision to Ryo Akaho just over a year ago. Ito has lost 3 of his last 5 and is very unlikely to pose much of a threat to Tanaka who will be looking to earn a third Japanese title fight in the near future.
As well as the the card in Aichi Japanese fans will also get a card in Shizuoka.
The main event of the card will see OPBF ranked Super Bantamweight Takashi Igarashi (12-3, 5) battle against Yutaka Motoyoshi (7-11, 5),in an 8 rounder. On paper this isn't that mouth watering, but Igarashi isn't as much of a foregone winner as his record suggests, and with two stoppages against his name he is certainly not the toughest man out there. Motoyoshi has been stopped in 3 of his last 4, but he has mixed at a decent level and could well have the power to give Igarashi problems if he can connect .
Another man at risk if gets caught is Omrri Bolivar (5-1, 3), who will be up against bit punching Filipino visitor Junny Salogaol (13-12-4, 12). Last time out Bolivar was stopped in 5 rounds by Jelbirt Gomera and will be looking to get his career back on track here. Salogaol looks like an easy win for the South American on paper, but Salogaol is tough and dangerous and will be looking to score one of the best wins of his career. This could be a very tough contest if Bolivar isn't careful.
One other bout of note on this card will see Asami Jinnari (5-2-1, 2) battle against Wakako Fujiwara (4-2-2, 2) for the Japanese female Featherweight title. These two fought to a draw in December last year and we're expecting another close and competitive match up here.
In Indonesian we'll see the unbeaten Tibo Monabesa (16-0-2, 8) continue his climb to a world title fight as he takes on former OPBF title challenger Lester Abutan (12-7-3, 6). The unbeaten Monabesa is one of the best hopes for the Indonesian scene but this is a step up and one of the first real tests for the 27 year old southpaw. Abutan was last seen being stopped by Ryota Yamauchi but despite that loss he is still a very capable fighter, and should bring the best out of Monabesa, especially given that a win for Abutan will give his career a boost and he'll be there to win. Interestingly this will be Monabesa's second defense of the World Boxing Council International Silver Light Flyweight title.
A second title fight on this card will see the huighly experienced Samuel Tehuayo (21-43-2, 6) battle against former Hinata Maruta foe Hamson Lamandau (8-2-1, 5), who has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3 bouts. The winner of this will become the new Universal Boxing Organization (UBO) International Flyweight champion.
For Asian fans in China there will also be a low key card in Jinan from Top Rank and SECA Ltd. This card is set to only feature novices, but should be a pretty interesting card with every fighter on the card looking to take a step towards bigger and better things.
Seoul, South Korea
It's not only Chinese fans who get a low key novice card but also Korean ones with Boxing M putting on a a small card in Seoul. These match up here, like with the Chinese card, are all low key contests, but the winners will take a step towards something big, as this is part of a big tournament show.
Outside of Asia there will also be some Asian fighters in action in Canada, where they have been building their respective careers so far.
One of those is the promising Batyrzhan Jukembayev (11-0-0-2, 9) of Kazakhstan. The 26 year old will be facing off with Mexican Noe Nunez (18-5-1, 13). The Kazakh looks like a real prospect, and although he does look like he's treading water with this fight, given his other recent fights, it is worth noting that he should look good. For those who recognise Nunez's name he has been stopped in 3 rounds by Britain's Jack Caterall and in 6 rounds by Tony Luis, showing he's not the toughest fighter out there.
The other Asian fight on this card is Ablaikhan Khussainov (7-0, 5), also a a Kazakh, who will battle against Gilberto Meza (8-3-1, 5). Last time out Khussainov had some questions to answer, as Jesus Silveria pushed him hard through a 6 rounder, but the Kazakh will be out to make a statement here. It's worth noting that Meza has never been stopped, and did score a career best win last time out, when he stopped Francisco Javier Hernandez.