This coming Sunday isn't a big day for Asian boxing but there are a few shows taking place with some action on them.
Jekpe-Jek Arena, Nur-Sultan (Astana), Kazakhstan
The most notable card of the day is in Kazakhstan where we see some notable unbeaten fighters look to step up and show what they can do.
One of those unbeaten fighters is 22 year old Heavyweight hopeful Danila Semenov (3-0, 2), who looks to score his second win of the year as he takes on the experienced Vikapita Meroro (30-10, 15), from Namibia. Semenov has looked good since beginning his professional career, and it is hard to criticise him and his team for this match up, but Meroro is a 36 year old who is 2-6 in his last 8 and has been stopped 5 times in those 6 losses. Semenov should pick up the win, with out any problems, but we would like to see him in with better opponents than this sooner rather than later.
Another touted youngster on this card is 21 year old Yevgeniy Pavlov (4-0, 3), who is stepping up in impressive fashion to take on the once beaten Isaac Sackey (25-1-1, 20) in a bout for the WBA International Super Bantamweight title. Pavlov was a stellar amateur and the way his team are moving him is really impressive. He appears to have the talent to go a long way and we don't imagine Sackey will be much of a test, despite his impressive looking record. Sackey, from Ghana, will be fighting away from home for the first time, and it's always interesting to see how fighters look when they away from home. Sadly we don't imagine Sackey is going to travel well.
A genuinely interesting match up at Super Middleweight will see 23 year old Kazakh hopeful Bek Nurmaganbet (4-0, 2) take on former Ryota Murata opponent Bruno Sandoval (21-4-1, 17) in a bout for the WBA International title at 168lbs. Nurmaganbet was regarded as one of the best Kazakh amateurs a few ago and turned professional to a lot of fanfare, but hasn't yet really shown what he can do, something we expect to see change here as he takes a big step up in class. Sandoval is a decent fighter, but he is 3-3 in his last 6 with all 3 of those losses coming by stoppage, including one to Murata in 2016 one to Louis Toutin in 2019. The Kazakh should win here, but it's nice to see him in with someone who has faced some notable fighters and has some ambition of his own.
The main event is a brilliant Super Middleweight bout as unbeaten Kazakh Aidos Yerbossynuly (15-0, 10) takes on Lennox Allen (22-1-1, 14), who was last seen losing to Cuban sensation David Morrell just over a year ago. Yerbossynuly was supposed to get a world title eliminator earlier this year, before a case of Covid19 forced him to cancel those plans, and he's been out of he ring for a while now. Rather than having an easy stay busy he's in there with a solid fighter in Lennox, though Lennox will, clearly, be the under-dog. This should be a genuine test for the Kazakh, but he needs to begin kicking on sooner rather than later, especially given how he pulled out of the aforementioned eliminator.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Over in Dubai we have a really interesting card, but that one really doesn't make too much sense. It's a card that features some notable non Asian names, such as Diego Gabriel Chaves. It's a card that really does look like it's been thrown together at random and has got some strange match ups as a result.
The strangest of the match ups on the show will see once touted American Light Middleweight Glen Tapia (23-5, 15) take on Thailand's Saddam Kietyongyuth (28-8, 22), who was at his best down at 135lbs and 140lbs. Saddam was once regarded as a promising fighter bus has gone 2-6 in his last 8 and is not a natural fighter at Welterweight, never mind Middleweight, where this bout will be. This should be a very, very easy win for Tapia.
Another odd looking bout is a clash between Filipino puncher KJ Natuplag (8-3, 7) and Colombian fighter Argel Berrio (18-8, 11). On paper this one doesn't look too odd, but Berio is moving up from Bantamweight to Featherweight for the contest. We expect this one will be exciting, and a bit of a shoot out, but Natuplag should be too big, too strong and too powerful for Berrio.
Thankfully there is an all Asian bout on the card that really does actually have something going for it, and that's a bout between Sachin Dekwal (10-0, 6) and Muhammad Bilal (9-1-1, 7), in what looks pretty much like a 50-50 style bout for the WBA Asia Lightweight title. The unbeaten Dekwal has impressed in his homeland of India, and he'll know this is a chance to really build his name, but is also stepping up, massively here to take on a man who wants to beat him, and not just make up the numbers. Bilal, from Pakistan, was beaten last time out, at the end of 2020, but feel confident he has the power to hurt his foe. Given the issues between India and Pakistan we can imagine tensions running high here, and this could be a very intriguing match up.
Arena, Beppu, Oita, Japan
In Japan we get a very low key card in Oita. The card is mostly 4 rounders, in fact 3 of the 4 bouts on the show are set for the short distance. The one bout that is scheduled for a little bit longer is the main event, which is an 8 rounder between Japanese Youth Welterweight champion Takeru Kobata (10-5-1, 4), who won the title in March when he stopped Rikuto Adachi, and 33 year old Fumisuke Kimura (9-7-1, 6). Whilst this is certainly not a great bout, especially given that Kimura has lost his last 3 and hasn't scored a win since April 2019, it is good to see Kobata staying busy and this is his 4th bout since December 2020 and it's great to see a Japanese youngster being active during this current situation, which has slowed the progress of so many young fighters.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
In Vietnam we'll see the once touted Van Thao Tran (13-1, 8) look to defend his very, very, lightly regarded IBA title as he takes on Fadhili Majiha (27-14-4, 13), from Tanzania. The talented Tran was expected to be the real star of Vietnamese boxing, but the last few years has seen his career stall with inactivity, bouts falling through and a loss in 2019 to Billy Dib. We would love to see Tran being tested, but Majiha is not going to be a test here. The man from Tanzania has lost consistently when fighting away from home, and it's almost unthinkable for him to pick up a win in Vietnam here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This main show for us this coming Thursday comes from Korakun Hall as the Ohashi Gym put on a solid show with an excellent Youth title bout, and some compelling under-card bouts.
The main event on this card is one of the very best contests on the boxing calendar right now and will see former amateur standout Ryutaro Nakagaki (2-0, 2) take on hard hitting youngster Ayumu Hanada (6-0, 4) in a bout for the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title. As an amateur Nakagaki was among the very best in Japan and when he turned professional the expectations were high for him, though there was worries about his style and power. In just 2 fights he has gone a long way to answering those worries. Hanada on the other hand is an explosive fighter who cut his teeth in Mexico as a teenager before returning to Japan and impressing back at home. On paper this is a hard one to call, and if Hanada lands clean he can certainly hurt Nakagaki, though we suspect the amateur background of Nakagaki could prove to be the difference maker here. Our full, in depth, preview of this contest can be read here Unbeaten Youngsters Nakagaki and Hanada face off for Youth title!
The chief support bout is likely to be a genuine shoot out as the flawed but heavy handed Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-6-2, 19) takes on Soreike Taichi (7-4, 5). The hard hitting Tameda has lost his last two, both by stoppage, and is 2 years removed from his last win. However with his power he is always dangerous. Taichi, who has also lost his last two by TKO, is the naturally bigger man and will likely feel his size will be key. This won't be the highest level of boxing, but it will, almost certainly, see bombs traded and will not see the final bell. We are expecting a real shoot out here.
In a potentially competitive bout at Welterweight we'll see Takeru Kobata (9-5-1, 4) take on Tetsuya Kondo (6-2, 4). Neither of these two youngsters are expected to make a mark at the top of the domestic scene, but they should make for an exciting match up. Kobata is highly ranked by the JBC, and will be coming in to this bout on the back of an excellent win over Rikuto Adachi, but is a limited fighter who doesn't look like a Japanese champion in the making. Kondo on the other hand is a solid fighter, but was blown out in 2019 by Jin Sasaki, inside a round, and Kondo will also go in to this feeling like he can stop Kondo.
Despite being quite a bit down the show arguably the best supporting bout is a clash between Katsuki Mori (8-0, 1) and Ren Kojima (6-1-2), who fight at just over the Minimumweight limit. The 21 year old Mori has been consistently impressive since starting his career and since winning Rookie of the Year in 2019 he has become a fighter who belongs on the radar of every fan who follows the lower weight classes. Ren Kojima on the other hand won the Rookie of the Year in February and is looking to build on that triumph. Neither man has much power, and this will be expected to go the distance, but both are skilled, and both are busy in the ring. Expect this one to be a very, very compelling contest.
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the Korakuen Hall show there is also an East Japan Rookie of the Year card from the Shinjuku FACE. This isn't a particularly great Rookie of the Year event, with just 4 bouts actually taking place on the card, after two contests set for the show got cancelled.
Of the 4 bouts on the card the two we're expecting to be the most interesting are the two all debutant clashes. One of those will see Masato Shinoda (0-0) clash with Juki Kitabayashi (0-0) in a Super Flyweight bout. The Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year is always among the very best, due to the depth of talent, and this is an all debutant bout between two southpaws, which can get very wild. Whilst certainly not close to the quality of bouts on the Ohashi show we suspect this could be a great bout for fans in the venue.
The other all debutant bout comes in another strong division for the Rookie of the Year, with Masaki Banjo (0-0) and Koki Yamase (0-0) facing off in a Super Featherweight bout. Both of these men are teenagers and it could well be that one, if not both, of these youngsters go on to make a mark at a higher level over the next decade or so. The Super Featherweight division has long been one of the most interesting in Japan and top Rookies have regularly made a mark at higher levels in the sport, so this could well be the starting chapter of two very interesting stories.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday we get the next show from the Ohashi Gym and despite once looking like a really good card the show has been ravaged by issues which has resulted in two of the bouts being removed from the show in the weeks leading up to the event. Despite the cancellations on the event we still have a solid show which should shine a light on some of the most promising young talent in Japan.
The main event will see unbeaten Japanese 140lb hopeful Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) fight in Japan for the first time since 2019 as he takes on domestic foe Fumisuke Kimura (9-6-1, 6) in a scheduled 8 rounder. The talented Hiraoka, who is co-promoted by Top Rank, has had his last two bouts in the US, and now looks to tick over in what should be a straight forward bout here. In the opposite corner to the unbeaten 24 year old will be a 33 year old puncher who has lost his last 2 and would be seeking his first win in almost 2 years. On paper Kimura should be able to ask some questions of Hiraoka early but we suspect he'll come undone and be stopped somewhere in the middle rounds.
In the chief support bout we'll see former K-1 champion Yoshiki Takei (0-0) make his professional boxing debut and take on 34 year old veteran Kazunori Takai (6-7-3, 3). Although Takei will be boxing for the first time he has turned to the sport with lofty expectations and has impressed with his hands, in K1 and in his pro-test bout. Despite only taking to the sport in the last few months it's clear Takei has a natural affinity to boxing and with Akira Yaegashi training him huge things are expected from him. It's hard to see this being anything but an impressive looking debut from Takei, who really has looked a natural in the footage that's been released of him training.
Potentially the bout of the show will be a Flyweight bout as the unbeaten Taku Kuwahara (7-0, 4) takes on former Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato (9-3, 4). The 25 year old Kuwahara has been tipped for major success, but was sadly unable to fight in 2020, losing some of the moment he had built following a successful 2019, and will feel a need to shine here. Minato, who's just 22, made his big mark in 2018, when he won the All Japan Rookie of the Year, but back to back losses in 2019 slowed his climb through the rankings. Thankfully for Minato he scored a huge win last year, stopping Kohei Oba, and will be riding that win into this bout. Although not a huge bout this has the potential to be a very, very interesting and competitive one.
The show will also have a Japanese Youth title bout on it, as Rikuto Adachi (14-2, 11) and Takeru Kobata (8-5-1, 3) trade blows for the vacant Japanese Youth Welterweight title. For the 22 year old Adachi this will be his first bout in well over a year, and his first since he left the Hiroki Ioka gym and became an Ohashi Gym fighter. Although talented Adachi was stopped juts a few bouts back, for this very title, when Kudura Kaneko broke him down and on paper this looks like it could be a tough bout for him. Kobata, despite having a less than flattering record, looked good last time out, when he ran Shoki Sakai close, and has the style and tenacity that could break Adachi down. Although not the most interesting bout on the show, on paper, this could end up being a very hotly contested one. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here - Adachi and Kobata go for Youth gold at Welterweight!