This coming Saturday is set to be a great day for Asian boxing, with notable action in Thailand, Japan, Russia and the US.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
For once we'll start in Thailand as WP Boxing give us one of their most interesting shows of 2020, and do so free on their YouTube and Facebook pages. The card isn't a monster card, but it does have two very interesting main bouts on it.
The highest profile bout on the card will see former world champions colliding for a regional title. In one corner will be former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-8, 36), who showed there was still something left in the tank with a recent upset win over Campee Phayom, whilst the other corner will host Amnat Ruenroeng (20-4, 6), himself a former IBF Flyweight champion. On paper it seems easy to favour the hard hitting, and naturally bigger, Pungluang, however Amnat showed he still have plenty to offer when he ran Srisaket Sor Rungvisai close a few months ago. This is a really intriguing match up and will be for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Featherweight title.
A second WBC Asian Boxing Council title fight on this card will be at Flyweight, with rising youngster Thananchai Charunphak (10-1, 8) defending his title over battle worn veteran Pigmy Kokietgym (61-13-2, 25). We are huge fans of the 20 year old Thananchai, who has been very impressive in recent bouts and will be looking to secure a third notable win here. Sadly Pigmy Kokietgym is about 10 years beyond his prime, and about 7lbs north of his best weight. We suspect Pigmy will give it a go early on, before being broken down and stopped by Thananchai. Although a mismatch we can't recommend fans following Thananchai enough, this youngster is one of the best prospects in Thailand.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
As well as as the action in Thailand we also get a pretty notable show at Korakuen Hall, sadly however this show won't be getting live TV coverage and instead will be televised a few days after the event takes place.
Originally the main event here was supposed to see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 11) make a mandatory defense of his title as he takes on unbeaten youngster Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2), as part of the Champion Carnival. Sadly the bout was cancelled just over a week before the show due to Takesako suffering a training injury.
Due to the main event bout being cancelled the headline bout here will see former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (16-1-1, 10) fight in what is supposed to be a tune up contest against the unbeaten Nath Nwachukwu (6-0-2, 3), who will likely see himself as a live under-dog. Inoue, best known for his 2019 bout with Jaime Munguia, will be seeking a 4th straight win and will be hoping to move into a second world level bout next year. Notably he won't be defending his WBO Asia Pacific title here, which he did defend back in January. The 23 year old Nwachukwu won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Middleweight in 2018 and has picked up 3 wins since then. Although he's the under-dog Nwachukwu will know a win here would genuinely change his career.
Another bout of note on this card will see flawed puncher Takuma Takahashi (5-0, 5) take on Kodai Kiyota (9-6-2, 9), in what could be a very explosive contest. Takahashi has looked very, very heavy handed, but he also showed some real vulnerability last time out, getting dropped and cut against Leonardo Doronio, and there are worries about his punch resistance. Kiyota is no world beater, and hasn't fought in over a decade, but he is heavy handed and could well have the power needed to take out Takahashi, if he lands clean.
Also on this card will be recent Japanese title challenger Koki Koshikawa (9-2, 6), who takes on Yuichi Ideta (13-15-1, 7), with Koshikawa looking to bounce back from a loss to Hironobu Matsunaga.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
The WP Boxing event isn't the only one we'll be getting for free on YouTube as RCC will also be giving us a show, this time from Russia, with several Central Asian fighters on it.
One of the bouts on this show will see once beaten Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov (10-1, 7) take on really talented Ukrainian Zoravor Petrosian (9-0, 4), in a bout that was originally for September. Umurzakov was upset back in January by Esneiker Correa, in a genuine surprise, and has been out of the ring since then. Petrosian on the other hand is a 22 year old who turned professional in 2018 and has scored 3 wins this year, whilst looking very highly skilled. This should be a very, very interesting match up.
In a supporting bout baby faced Kazakh fighter Yerzhan Zalilov (11-2-1, 5) take on Russian fighter Evgenii Liashkov (6-1, 1). At one point Zalilov looks like a fighter with the potential to go places, but sadly 2 losses in is last 3 bouts have pretty much ended his hopes of reaching the top of the mountain. Liashkov is a light puncher who lost on but has reeled off 6 wins and comes into this with real momentum.
One more bout on this show will see Uzbek born Russian Dmitry Yun (4-0, 1) taking on Sherzodjon Abdurazzokov (1-0). Yun is a really skilled boxer-mover, who looks like a brilliant talented, with lovely speed, movement and accuracy. Sadly however his lack of power, and questionable durability, seem likely to hold him back, despite how fantastic he is to see in full flow. Aged 20 Abdurazzokov is an Uzbek youngster who made his debut in 2019, and will go into this as the under-dog.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
We will also Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (21-0, 16) in action, as he begins his relationship with Matchroom Sports. The 37 year Chinese fighter, who has been spoken about as a future opponent for Anthony Joshua, will be up against 38 year old American Devin Vargas (22-6, 9). Sadly for a man that Eddie Hearn wants to talk about big fights for, time is rapidly running out for Zhang, and it seems highly unlikely that he will ever manage to reach the heights some expected of him.
Action really begins to pick up this coming weekend with a host of fights taking place that are worthy of attention. We get the first televised Japanese card of the year, the first televised Korean card of the year and the first world title fight involving an Asian of the year.
The Japanese card, which will be aired live on G+ as part of their Dynamic Glove series, is an interesting card with a fantastic main event and two notable fighters in supporting bouts.
Tha main event looks set to be a genuine shoot out as Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) defends his Japanese Middleweight title against Japanese national champion Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11). Whilst Takesako's title isn't on the line we still see this as being a very special and explosive bout between two hard hitters each out to make a statement. We do not expect this one to go the distance, and instead we expect bombs to be fired off until one man ends up being saved by the referee. It might be a short bout, it might be a long one, but with the power of the two men combined this is going to be a brutal for as long as it lasts. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hosokawa and Takesako battle in clash of champions
In the chief support bout we'll see former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (15-1-1, 9) make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title, as he takes on Chinese challenger Cheng Su (14-2-1, 8). Although this looks interesting on paper, with both men having similar looking records, we really can't see it being anything more than an easy defense for Inoue. Footage of Su shows him to be a slow, open and clumsy fighter and Inoue's pressure should grind him down in the middle rounds. Anything other than a stoppage for the champion should be seen as disappointing for a man who will be hoping to get a second world title fight in the near future. Our preview of this fight can be read here Takeshi Inoue takes on Cheng Su in WBO Asia Pacific title defense
Also on this card will be unbeaten prospect Takuma Takahashi (4-0, 4), who looks for his 5th straight win as he takes on Filipino journeyman Leonardo Doronio (17-17-3, 11). The talented Takahashi is likely to be looking at title fights by the end of 2020, and already holds a win over recent OPBF title challenger Sitthidet Banti, and this seems an easy first bout of the year. Doronio was once a capable Lightweight, and scored good wins against Al Rivera and Burning Ishii among others, but has gone 3-8-1 (2) in his last 12 and shouldn't be competing at Welterweight, a weight that really doesn't suit him.
We get more title action in Mexico, as WBC "interim" female Light Flyweight champion Kenia Enriquez (22-1, 9) defends her title against Japanese challenger Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5). For Minowa this is a must win after coming up short in 2 previous world title bouts, and given her amateur reputation if Minowa does fail to claim some version of a world title it would be regarded as a huge achievement. Sadly for Minowa we've been very impressed by what we've seen of the technically sound Enriquez, who will be expecting to notch her 4th defense of the WBC interim title. We've previewed this bout here Chaoz Minowa returns to Mexico to face WBC interim queen Kenia Enqiruez!
Jeonju, South Korea
Back in Asia we also get an interesting card in South Korea, featuring 5 title bouts! These are 3 WBA Asia title bouts and 2 KBM title bouts.
One of those WBA Asia title bouts will see the heavy handed Yang Hyun Min (8-3, 7) take on Italian born Australian Danilo Creati (4-0, 1) for the WBA Asia Middleweight title. For Min this is a second regional title fight, after he gave Yuki Nonaka a surprisingly tough test last September in a WBO Asia Pacific title bout. Min is no world beater, but he hits hard, takes a short and is aggressive. As for Creati this will be a notable step up in class for the unbeaten Australian and will be his first bout in Asia. This could be a very interesting clash of styles.
In a WBA Asia Super Bantamweight title fight the unbeaten Min Jang (9-0-2, 2) will take on limited Chinese foe Junhui Zhao (4-5-2 1). Jang is a former Korean Super Flyweight champion but is said to have out grown the 115lb weight class and the 19 year old is expected to make a splash, at least domestically, at Super Bantamweight. Zhao will be a clear under-dog here, but should make for a good foil for the local hopeful.
The most interesting of the WBA Asia title bouts comes at Super Flyweight where former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-5-2, 5) take on once beaten Korean Woo Hyun Kim (8-1, 1). The local, a former "interim" PABA Bantamweight champion, has fought just once in the last 3 years, but that was a win against the previously mentioned Junhui Zhao, and he'll feel confident of picking up a career best win here. Nakayama on the other hand is 1-3-1 in his last 5 and has not looked good recent performances. Nakayama needs a win to keep his career alive, but we wouldn't be surprised at all if this was a third straight defeat for him.
The KBM title bout which has caught our attention sees all action Han Bin Suh (5-0-3, 4) defending his KBM Super Middleweight title against former amateur standout Dong Myung Shin (2-0). Suh really caught our attention last year, with the 19 year old going 2-0-2 for the year and being involved in some sensational bouts. Although not the most polished of fighters he did give us the vibe of being an old school Korean fighter. Shin is a talented fighter, and was a very experienced amateur turning professional, but with his 32nd birthday coming in March his best years are likely behind him. Interestingly when this bout was first announced Korean sources stated that if Suh won he would be chasing an OPBF title fight with Hiroaki Teshigawara later in the year, in what would be a massive step up in class.
The other KBM title fight takes place at Super Featherweight and will see unbeaten Korean based Kyrgyzstan fighter Urmat Amankulov (4-0-2, 3) battle against Seung Yoon Shin (4-3-3, 2) for the vacant title. Shin has scored 1 win in his last 3 and it would be a genuine surprise if he was competitive with Amankulov.
Camarines Sur, Philippines
One more Asian show of note will come from the Philippines, where we get some low level action.
In one of the most noteworthy bouts on this card the once beaten 21 year old local Michael Mendoza (10-1-2, 3) will battle Indonesian journeyman Stevanus Nana Bau (10-12-2, 2), with the two men trading blows for the lightly regarded WBF International Flyweight title. Coming in to this Mendoza has won 5 in a row since his soul defeat, to Arvin Magramo, almost 2 years ago and appears to be building some genuine momentum. Bau on the other hand has lost 4 of his last 6 and is win-less outside of Indonesia, with an 0-8 record on the road. Fair to say we're not expecting much of Bau here.
The only other bout of note here will see the once touted Al Sabaupan (25-3-1, 20) end a lengthy break from the ring to take on Benny Tamaela (4-9-1, 1) in an 8 rounder. Although Sabaupan hasn't fought since November 2016, when he was stopped by Jheritz Chavez, he'll be strongly favoured here. Tamaela is a 36 year old who has 1 win since the start of 2016 and is 2-9-1 in his last 12. An easy comeback for Sabaupan.
In Texas this coming Saturday we'll get a number of Asian fighters fighting on a major Golden Boy card, two of whom will be challenging for major titles
The main event of the card will see unbeaten Mexican Jaime Munguia (31-0, 26) defending his WBO Light Middleweight title against Japanese challenger Takeshi Inoue (13-0-1, 7). The champion really burst onto the scene last year, not only winning the title but also fitting in 2 defenses of the belt in a real break out year. Surprisingly Munguia was an unknown when was denied the chance to fight Gennady Golovkin, but ended the year one with incredible momentum. A real break out star of the year. Inoue, no relation to Naoya Inoue, had a brilliant 2017, scoring 4 wins and unifying the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles, but had a frustrating 2018 fighting only once. The expectation is that Inoue will be brushed aside by the excellent Mexican, but he will have travelled to score the upset and seems to be fully aware of how big this opportunity is. Our preview of this contest can be read here Inoue looks to upset WBO champion Munguia!
Thhe other bout will see Puerto Rican puncher Jesus M Rojas (26-2-2-1, 19) take on Chinese challenger Can Xu (15-2, 2), with Rojas looking to defend his WBA "Regular" Featherweight title. Rojas lost last time out to Joseph Diaz, but Diaz failed to make weight resulting in Rojas keeping the, and he'll be looking to make a real statement this coming year. Xu will be looking to become the first Chinese man above 112lbs to win any form of a world title but is up against it here. Rojas is the more experienced man, the hard hitting and the more proven fight, but Xu will certainly be there to win and to put himself at the top of the world scene. This is an interesting match and for many their first real chance to see Xu fighting live. Our preview of this bout can be found here Can Xu become the WBA "regular" Featherweight champion?
New York, USA
Staying in the US, though travelling over to New York, we get a real 50-50 match up, as unbeaten Mongolian Tugstsogt Nyambayar (10-0, 9) take on the explosive Dominican Claudio Marrero (23-2, 17) in a bout for the lightly regarded IBO Featherweight title. It's hard to see this bout going the distance, with both being serious punchers and both having been down in recent bouts. For Nyambayar this bout is a big step up in class, and his first against a Featherweight puncher in his prime. On the other hand Marrero has fought just 33 seconds since being stopped by Jesus M Rojas back in September 2017. It's hard to see this as anything but a thrilling contest. Our preview of this fight can be read here Tugstsogt Nyambayar and Claudio Marrero clash!
In Canadian we'll see top Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov (6-0, 6) look to enhance his reputation after a brilliant 2018. He'll be up against Mexican foe Abraham Juarez (13-1, 5) in a bout for the WBC Youth Light Middleweight title. The unbeaten 20 year old Kazakh really impressed us in 2018 and we are expecting him to shine again this year. On paper Juarez is a good step up in class, and he has gone unbeaten in his last 9 bouts, but he is seen as the clear under-dog against the sensational Kazakh.
Baja California, Mexico
In Mexico fans will get the chance to see Kazakh fighter Aida Satybaldinova (4-1-1, 1) begin her 2019 campaign. "Lady Sparta" made he debut in March 2018 and was bust last year, but lost against her only opponent with a winning record and we suspect she's going to be matched softly here, though her opponent hasn't currently been announced.
The more interesting of two Filipino cards will take place in Cavite, in what is being sold a very clear double header.
One of the main bouts will see Alphoe Dagayloan (11-2-5, 5) battle against Danrick Sumabong (7-1, 6) for the WBA Asia Super Flyweight title. We've been impressed by Dagayloan, who showed his power last year with stoppage wins against Madiyar Zhanuzak and Rongguo Wu. Sumabong on the other hand is a 19 year old who hasn't had much attention, but is heavy-handed fighter who managed to give the very highly regarded Jade Bornea real problems last year. This is certainly worth getting excited about.
The other bout of note will see ArAr Andales (8-0, 1) battle Charlie Malupangue (7-3-3, 6) in a bout for the WBA Asia Minimumweight title. The 19 year old Andales is stepping up massively here, but he has shown plenty of promise and has won the LuzProBA title already in his short career. Mulapangue was stopped in his most notable bout, by Robert Paradero, but this is a credible fighter on the domestic scene, as he'll be looking to prove here. It's worth mentioning that neither of these really should be fighting for a WBA Asia title, but it's still an interesting fight all the same.
Paranque City, Philippines
As well as the Cavite show there will also be one at Paranque City. This show will be headlined by an WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Featherweight title clash between Al Toyogon (9-2-1, 6), the defending champion, and Ryusei Ishii (7-4-1, 4). On paper this is a well matched bout and should be pretty competitive.
The show will also feature a WBC Asian Boxing Council Flyweight title bout, with Ricardo Sueno (8-2-4, 3) and Diomel Diocos (13-2-3, 4) fighting for the vacant title. On paper this is another well matched contest and should provide some excellent action for the fans, who appear to be getting treated well in the Philippines this year with strong low level domestic clashes!
This coming Thursday fight fans in Tokyo will get an interesting card with a world title eliminator headlining the show, and two undercard bout featuring Japanese ranked fighters.
The main event will be a Light Middleweight bout featuring former unified Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific champion Takeshi Inoue (12-0-1, 7) battling against former Japanese OPBF champion Yuki Nonaka (31-9-3,10), with the winner of this getting a #2 ranking with the IBF and taking a huge step towards getting a world title. The 28 year old Inoue, no relation to the likes of Naoya Inoue, has been incredible impressive turning professional in 2014 and has really began to shine in the last 18 months or so, with 2017 being a sensational year for the Tokyo fight. Last year Inoue defeated Akinori Watanabe, Koshinmaru Saito, Riku Nagahama and Ratchasi Sithsaithong and really put himself on the map. At 40 years old this really will be Nonaka's last chance, and unfortunately his only bout in the last 12 months was a clear 10 round loss to Dennis Hogan, which doesn't bode well for him here. Nonaka is a very skilled fighter, but with ring rust and age catching up to him this will be a big ask for the Osakan veteran.
The chief support bout will see Naoyuki Tsukada (8-3-5, 3) risk his Japanese ranking as he takes on Satoru Todaka (7-2-4, 3) in a Light Flyweight bout. On paper this is a really competitive looking bout, and it features two men with very similar records, but records which have come in very different ways. Tsukada began his career with 3 wins before falling to 3-3-1 after 7 bouts. Now Tsuakada is riding a 9 fight unbeaten run, including a win over Yuto Takahashi and a draw with Kenji Ono. Todaka on the other hand lost on his debut before running up a 9 fight unbeaten that ended last year against Hikaru Ota. This should be really competitive, and both men will see this as a chance to take a huge step towards getting a Japanese title fight.
Another supporting bout will see Japanese ranked fighters Yuta Matsuo (13-3-1, 7) and Ryoji Fukunaga (10-2, 10) face off in what looks like a really interesting match up. Last year Matsuo challenged Masayuki Kuroda for the Japanese interim Flyweight title and put up a good effort, though has since moved up to Super Flyweight where it seems he may well have more success. As for Fukunaga he's a very dangerous fighter, he's not beaten anyone of real note, even on the domestic level, but he's a heavy handed fighter who has scored his 10 wins in just 28 rounds. Fukunaga will have his power tested here but if it's as good as it looks on paper Matsuo will be in for real problems here.
There's quite a lot of title action this coming Friday with title fights in both Japan and the Philippines. Of those two shoes it's the Japanese card that looks the much better show.
The most significant bout on the card sees Japanese Light Middleweight champion Takeshi Inoue (11-0-1, 6) challenge OPBF champion Ratchasi Sithsaithong (9-3, 7), in a bout which will see the winner also claim the WBO Asia Pacific title. On paper it looks like a bout where Inoue should be favoured, and in all honesty if he wins he could be regarded as the Japanese break out fighter of the year, but Ratchasi is no mug. Coming into this Ratchasi has scored 3 wins in a row against Japanese fighters, including a 12th round TKO of Yutaka Oishi and an 11th round TKO of Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine, who subsequently retired. Whilst Inoue has had a great year a win for Ratchasi would see him going 3-0 in Japan and have a very legitimate claim to being the best 154lb fighter in Asia.
Although the bout above is the biggest bout of the card it's technically not the main event. Instead that will be a Japanese Flyweight title bout between defending champion Masayuki Kuroda (27-7-3, 15) and the limited but entertaining Mako Matsuyama (8-12-2, 3). The bout will be Kuroda's first defense of the title he won earlier this year, when he beat Takuya Kogawa, to become a 2-weight Japanese champion. Matsuyama is best known for his 2014 FOTY contender against Rex Tso, though has some how gotten this title shot having won just once in his last 7 bouts. Kuroda should easily retain his title here if we're being honest, but this should be a fun fight all the same.
A third title bout will see former world champions collide, with Naoko Shibata (17-4-1, 6) and Etsuko Tada (16-3-2, 5) facing off for the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title. These two fought back in September 2012, with Tada defeating Shibata to retain the WBA female Minimumweight title. Since then both women have held IBF titles, with Tada holding one at 105lbs and Shibata at 108lbs. Since there first bout Tada has gone 5-3 whilst Shibata has gone 8-3-1 but both have been fighting at the top level and know that a win here will help them remain relevant, whilst a loss could end their career as a world class fighter.
The only bout of note from the under-card sees the big punching Kazuto Nakane (8-2, 8) take on former Kuroda opponent Yuta Matsuo (12-3-1, 6), in what could be an entertaining lower tier scrap. Nakane has fought at a lower level, but has show natural power and is the bigger man, whilst Maysuo is more tested man, having shared the ring with Kuroda, Ardin Diale and Ryuto Oho. This is arguably the most well matched bout on the card, despite no title being on the line.
There is also a show in the Philippines full of title bouts, though if we're being honest it's not the most attractive of shows, despite 4 “title bouts”.
The most interesting looking title bout will see the once beaten Carlo Caesar Penalosa (9-1, 3) take on Salatiel Amit (10-3-2, 7) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Flyweight title. Neither man is very well known, even in Filipino boxing circles, but Penalosa is notable not just for his famous surname but also the fact he's one of the few to stop tough journeyman Vincent Bautista. As for Amit he's best known for losing to notable opponents, suffering losses to Jade Bornea, Jonathan Taconing and Froilan Saludar, though should prove to be a very solid opponent for Penalosa here.
In an interim OPBF Featherweight title fight we'll see Venezuelan Omrri Bolivar (5-0, 3) take on Filipino Jelbirt Gomera (12-4, 6), in a bout that makes very little sense. The OPBF champion, Satoshi Shimizu, won the full title in October and he's not injured, Bolivar isn't from the OPBF region and Gomera has lost his last 3. For the OPBF to sanction this bout is a mystery and really beggars belief. The one positive is that Bolivar will find himself involved in more notable bouts going forward, after he beats Gomera, and we'd quite like a Bolivar Vs Shimizu bout in 2018.
One actual "full" OPBF title bout will see Yuko Henzan (5-6-3, 2) take on Kongsang Palum (2-3, 1) in a bout for the OPBF female Bantamweight title. It's fair to say that this isn't a very attractive bout given the limited records of both fighters, but given that both fighters are limited the bout at least be relatively competitive. Coming in Henzan has won her last 3, and is unbeaten in her last 4, but has faced limited foes in that run. As for Palum she has never scored a win over a fighter with a positive record.
In another female title bout we'll see former world title challenger Erika Hanawa (7-1, 2) take on Thai foe Sornsawan Sarakarngym (2-4, 1) for the OPBF interim Female Minimumweight title. Last time out we saw Hanawa lose to Japanese veteran Kayoko Ebata, in a bout that showed up Hanawa's limitations at that point, but it's hard to see anything but a win for her here. The Thai has been stopped in 3of her losses, including the aforementioned Ebata, and we wouldn't be shocked to see her being stopped again here.
In Australia we'll see a notable Filipino and a novice Indonesian.
The Filipino in action is the world class Randy Petalcorin (27-2-1, 20), who returns to Australia for his first bout in the country since his controversial loss to Omari Kimweri in 2016. The talented Filipino will be up against faltering Indonesian Oscar Raknafa (13-15, 5), who was once world ranked but has gone 2-12 in his last 14 bouts and is now essentially a record padder on the Asian scene.
In the other bout on the card we'll see Daniel Huculak (1-0, 1) take on Indonesian novice Mujiyono (0-1). It's hard to say much about these two, but Huculak won his debut with an opening round stoppage and it's clear that he will be favoured here.
Attention turns to Tokyo again this coming Thursday, ending a few days of quietness for the sport in the Land of the Rising sun.
The main event of the card will see the heavy handed Keita Obara (17-2-1, 15) take on Thai visitor Saddam Kietyongyuth (26-2, 21) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. For Obara this will be his first title bout since losing in a world title fight to Eduard Troyanovsky last September. It will also confirm that he is now a full time Welterweight, finally letting his body ditch the crippling limits of Light Welterweight. For Saddam this looks like a really tough contest, with the Thai scoring 3 low key wins in the last 6 years. Losses to Alisher Rahimov and Cole Smith don't bode well for Saddam and we suspect Obara will break him down in the middle rounds.
In the co-feature we'll see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Takeshi Inoue (10-0-1, 5) making the first defense of his title, as he takes on fellow unbeaten Riku Nagahama (7-0-1, 3) in a really mouth watering clash. Coming in to this Inoue is riding a 9 fight winning run, including notable wins over Chan Ho Lee, Akinori Watanabe and Koshinmaru Saito, who he beat for the title earlier this year. The champion is an exciting fighter who can box, or brawl, and is looking to make a statement by taking on such a tough challenger in his first defense. As for Nagahama, the #1 ranked contender, he comes in on a 7 fight winning run, including victories over Brandon Lockhart and Hideo Mikan, with his last 3 by stoppage. Given the recent performances by both men this should be a really fan friendly contest.
The most notable of the under-card bouts will see the fast rising Shuichiro Yoshino (4-0, 2) take on Thai visitor Katika Saithonggym (0-1), in what is a stay busy fight for the Japanese fighter. Yoshino will know that he's supposed to win here with not issues, but can't over-look the Thai as he has got a Japanese title eliminator bout with Spicy Matsushita lined up for October. If Yoshino suffers a cut here he will be kicking himself, so expect to see the talented youngster show some caution, but see off the visitor relatively early.
In another supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Yoshimitsu Kimura (7-0, 3), who claimed the Rookie of the Year crown at Featherweight last year, take on Kanehiro Nakagawa (4-4, 3) in what looks like a decent for the unbeaten 20 year old. Nakagawa is a very beatable fighter, but he does have plenty of sting on his shots and should give the unbeaten man a chin check, at the very least.
This coming Tuesday sees action return to the Korakuen Hall for what is a genuinely intriguing title double header, featuring two really nice looking bouts.
Technically the main event of the card is a Japanese Light Middleweight title fight, as Koshinmaru Saito (23-8-2, 13) takes on Takeshi Inoue (9-0-1, 4) for the currently vacant title. Originally Saito was supposed to fight Yuki Nonaka for the title, but Nonaka vacated and as a result this bout was made, which in fairness is a much more even looking bout. Saito is a genuine veteran of the sport, aged 38 and with almost 17 years of experience under his belt. Despite being a veteran Saito has never win “a big one” and will likely know that this will be his final title shot. For the exciting Inoue this is a big step up, but could well see him becoming a champion less than 3 years after his debut.
Talking about being fast tracked the other title bout will see Hiroto Kyoguchi (6-0, 6) make the first defense of his OPBF Minimumweight title, as he takes on Jonathan Refugio (16-5-5,4). The ultra-fast rising Kyoguchi has been a professional for just over a year but has had a meteoric rise since debuting in April 2016 and has already claimed his first title, with others expected to follow before the end of 2017. Although Refugio is 23 years old he's already a bit of a veteran and has shared the ring with a string of notable names and should serve as a very legitimate first challenger for Kyoguchi.
On the under-card we'll see Noriyuki Ueno (18-14-5, 5) battle against a Thai visitor and veteran Ribo Takahata (12-7-1, 4) battle against recent Japanese Lightweight title challenger Yusuke Tsukada (8-6, 3), in what should be a very interesting card.
The year has well and truly kicked off and this coming Saturday we'll see the first Japanese televised show of the year, as G+ televises the next Dynamic Glove show.
The first OPBF title bout of the near year takes place on January 14th and sees action all the way up at Heavyweight as Japan's Kyotaro Fujimoto (15-1, 8) takes on big punching Australian Willie Nasio (10-1, 9) for the currently vacant title. For local fans this will be the second time they get the chance to see Kyotaro fight for an international title, having come up short in a bout against Solomon Haumono for this very same title. Against Haumono we saw a then 5-0 Fujimoto stopped in 5 rounds with the big punching “Solo” walking his man down, since then however Kyotaro has gone 10-0 (5) and staked his place in history as the first Japanese Heavyweight champion in more than 50 years. Nasio, himself the Australian champion, comes into this bout on a run of 5 T/KO wins and is unbeaten since an opening round loss to Tai Tuivasa in a "Last Man Standing" tournament bout back in 2014. The winner of this could, potentially, find themselves in the mix for a major bout by the end of the year and this fight really does mean a lot to both men coming into the fight.
A really good looking supporting bout will see experienced puncher Akinori Watanabe (33-5, 28) take on the unbeaten, and fast rising, Takeshi Inoue (8-0-1, 4). Watanabe is a former OPBF, PABA and JBC champion but is now 31 and hasn't fought since November 2015, when he was stopped in a Strongest Korakuen bout by Toshio Arikawa. Although a proven quality Watanabe has always been a glass cannon and can be stopped. Inoue, no relation to the Ohashi promoted clan, is talented and is looking to move into the title mix in 2017, this is however a huge step up in class and a genuine test for the 27 year old Tokyo fighter.
Another supporting bout sees Japanese ranked Middleweights face off as the heavy handed Shoma Fukumoto (9-1, 7) takes on Kazuyuki Fukuyama (10-7, 3) for the second time. These two fought in January 2015, when Fukumoto took a razor thin majority decision over Fukuyama, and will be looking to make things much more decisive here. Fukuyama has gone 1-1 since that loss, whilst Fukumoto has gone 3-0, but he will be well matched and will be fired up in the search of revenge.
Da Lian, China
For a second day running we get Chinese action from Da Lian.
The headline bout here isn't a hugely attractive one as Tao Ji (11-6-2, 2) faces off with Wulan Tuolehazi (2-3). Ji has won just one of his last 4 bouts, but that one win saw him claim the WBA China National Bantamweight title, a title that we suspect he may be defending here. Although Tuolehazi was beaten last time he will see this as a huge chance to build his career, and he won't be there to make up the numbers.
In a supporting bout we'll see Thai fighter Jomyuthlek Sor Narongchai (17-8, 9) battle with once beaten Puerto Rican Waldemar Pagan (7-1, 6), in what looks like a very tough ask for the Thai. Interestingly Pagan has been in Asia for a while, having been a sparring partner back in December for Kosei Tanaka, ahead of Tanaka's recent bout with Moises Fuentes.
This coming Friday is a hectic day with 5 title bouts taking place in Japan.
In Kobe we get an OPBF quadruple header, with the card looking, at least on paper, like one of the most notable Oriental cards of the month. The bouts might not be 4 brilliant match up, but they will help establish the OPBF scene as we enter 2017, and at least 2 of the bouts look like they could be very interesting match ups.
The “main event”, well the final of the 4 main events, will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (10-0, 7) defending his title, and unbeaten record, against Korean visitor Jin Wook Lim (8-4-5, 2). This was the first bout on the card to be known about and although it looks like a mismatch it could, potentially, be a good test for Kubo who will be looking for stiff competition next year. Lim, although having a sketchy record, is a former Korean champion and holds a draw with touted Korean prospect Ye Joon Kim, giving him some legitimacy as a challenger here.
In a bout at Lightweight we'll see Masayoshi Nakatani (12-0, 7) defending his title against former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Allan Tanada (14-5-3, 6). The bout will be Nakatani's 6th defense and will see him looking to build on wins against the likes of Ricky Sismundo, Accel Sumiyoshi and Tosho Makoto Aoki. For Tanada , who has actually lost 3 of his last 4, the bout sees him attempting to score his biggest win since his 2010 shock upset over Rikiya Fukuhara. Sadly for Tanada he's gone 4-5-3 since his win over Fukuhara almost 6 years ago and it's hard to imagine this being a win for the Filipino.
Arguably the most interesting bout on the card sees OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (18-4, 15) defending his title against Japanese based Filipino Mark John Yap (24-12, 10). On paper this might not look like a great bout but the reality is that the contest is brilliantly well matched and puts an exciting and hard hitting champion up against a talented and tough young veteran. For Yamamoto the bout will be his third defense, but is a huge step up from his previous 2, whilst Yap will be looking to extend a 5 fight winning run which has included a notable upset over Tatsuya Ikemizu.
Another intriguing bout will see former world champion Merlito Sabillo (25-3-1, 12) battle with rising prospect Ryuya Yamanaka (12-2, 3) in a bout for the OPBF Minimumweight title. For Sabillo the bout sees him returning to Japan for the first time since his May loss to Riku Kano, which was for the OPBF interim title, and it's fair to say that the Filipino cannot afford another set back after going 2-3-1 in his last 6 bouts. Aged 21 Yamanaka knows that a win will open doors for potential world title bouts, but this bout is by far the toughest of his career and it's clear that he will need a career best performance to defeat the Filipino veteran.
The 4 title bouts in Kobe won't be the only title action in Japan, in fact we also have a world title bout in the country, featuring the longest reigning active world champion, and the one with the most defenses of their current title.
That world champion is WBA Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (22-2-1, 8) who looks to record her 17th defense of the title. In the opposite corner to Koseki will be the little known Chie Higano (6-4, 2), who will be making her first title challenger. On paper this looks like a mismatch and it's, unfortunately, hard to see anything but a win for Koseki, possibly by stoppage in the early rounds.
In an interesting supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Takeshi Inoue (7-0-1, 3) take on Korean puncher Chan Ho Lee (5-1, 4). Inoue already has his next bout booked, a contest in January with Akinori Watanabe, has impressed and is being tipped as a potential Japanese title contender, but this is a bout against a live under-dog. Lee is unknown outside of Korea but has impressed on the domestic scene and scored a good win over Young Sub Han this past June. Although Inoue will be favoured this could be a good test for the Japanese fighter before the Watanabe bout.
In another Japan Vs Korean bout we'll see the brilliantly exciting and fast rising Kazuto Takesako (4-0, 4) battling against Kyung-Joon Ahn (6-3-1, 5). Takesako has taken out his first 4 opponents in just 7 combined rounds and will be looking to extend that run here. Ahn on the other hand is looking to bounce back from a stoppage loss to Shoma Fukumoto, from almost 3 years ago. On paper this looks like a decent test for Takesako but in reality it should be a bit of a mismatch and an early blow out for the Japanese prospect.
There is also a Japanese card in Osaka, in what is a busy day for Japanese fans. This is however this is a much smaller and less interesting card than the other two.
In the main event we'll see Middleweights clash as Ryuji Kanza (7-2, 5) takes on Japanese based American Brandon Lockhart Shane (7-5, 6) in what should be a really intriguing contest. Both guys are limited but both can bang and we'd not be shocked to see this one be a bit of a wild slugfest that lacks quality but is fun to watch.
In a supporting bout we'll see Yuki Takahashi (6-1, 2) take on Indonesian visitor Adam Alap Alap (0-1), who we've been informed is a top 15 ranked Indonesian Lightweight suggesting his record is incomplete
There's also action in China where we get the next League of Fists show.
The main event here is a brilliant match up between unbeaten men, as Zhi Quan Xie (4-0-3, 1) battles against Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (7-0-1, 1). The bout is a really intriguing one and should tell us a lot about both men, and their potential to go further in the sport.
In the US fans will be able to see hotly touted Filipino hopeful Harmonito Dela Torre (18-0, 12) fight for the second time on US soil. At the moment his opponent is an unknown but it's unlikely to be too much of a test for Dela Torre.
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia fans will see two Asian fighters fighting in New South Wales.
One of those is China's Yong Zhang (5-5-1, 1), who faces a yet to be named opponent, whilst the other will be Korean Jeong Jin Park (1-5), who faces the unbeaten Michael Hall (3-0, 3) in what looks like a mismatch against the Korean.
It's been busy in Asia recently and that's the case again on April 22nd when we get cards across Asia, and we get fighters on the road.
In Japan fans get two shows, with the most notable being held at the Korakuen Hall, and although it lacks a “big fight” it does look like a very intriguing card with three bouts of note.
The main event of the card sees the promising Takeshi Inoue (5-0-1, 2) battle against Elfelos Vega (6-2, 4) in a contest that could well decide the next Japanese title challenger at 154lbs. Of the two men Inoue is the one who has impressed more, though this will be his toughest test to date and comes against a man who does have the power to be a real threat to Inoue's unbeaten record.
Interestingly Vega's last loss came to a man on the under-card of this show, Kazuto Takesako (2-0, 2). The very promising Takesako will be up against a Thai foe who isn't expected to pose any threat to the unbeaten novice, though hopefully we will see Takesako let off the leash later in the year as he has the potential to go very far in the sport, though did look somewhat wild against Vega.
The third bout of note from this card will see Kazuaki Moriya (13-7, 2) battle against Ryuto Oho (8-2-1, 2), in what is essentially the co-feature bout. The records may not be great, and given the power of both men we do suspect this will go the scheduled 8 rounds, but we'd be amazed if it wasn't an action packed and exciting Flyweight encounter.
The other Japanese show comes from Osaka and sadly is lacking in terms of bouts, with the only notable contest being a bout between Tetsuya Hisada (24-9-2, 14) and poor Indonesian import Ardi Tefa (6-6-1, 4), who is unlikely to pose any threat to the JBC ranked Light Flyweight contender. This should be an easy contest for Hisada before a potential Japanese title fight later in the year.
Tefa isn't to be the only Indonesian in action this weekend and in fact Indonesian fans get a show all of their own, and in fact they get two title fights.
On paper the more significant of those two title fights comes in an international bout as former world title challenger Roy Mukhlis (28-5-3, 21), who once faced Takashi Uchiyama for the WBA Super Featherweight title, faces former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Allan Tanada (13-4-3, 5) for the lightly regarded World Boxing Foundation Asia Pacific Lightweight title. Coming in to this one Mukhlis has gone 2-2-1, in his last 5, including a 1-1-1 series with Hero Tito. Interestingly Tanada is also 2-2-1 in his last 5, though has lost his last 2 bouts.
The other title bout will see veteran Rasmanudin (19-14-3, 10) battle against Hanif Yogya (3-2-1, 2) for the IBC Super Bantamweight title. If we're being honest Rasmanudin has looked horrible show in recent fights, and has gone 3-11-1 in his last 15. On paper Yogya shouldn't pose much of a threat however he has won his last 3 and may simply have more left than his rival.
Metro Manila, Philippines
We get yet more title action in the Philippines with a bout between Warren Mambuanag (9-5-2, 3) and the hard hitting Arnel Baconaje (5-0, 5), who will be trading blows for the Interim GAB Super Featherweight title. The winner of this will be set to face veteran Edgar Gabejan for the full title later in the year, though Gabejan hasn't actually defended the belt in over a year.
Sadly aside from the main event there is little to really note about this show, though there is an interesting 6 rounder between Carlo Caesar Penalosa (3-0, 1) and fellow novice Alvin Defeo (1-0).
Another card in the Philippines, which is actually worse than the one above, is set to take place in Tarlac.
On paper the most notable bout is a 6 round mismatch as former OPBF champion Romeo Jakosalem (16-12-1, 8) faces the horribly over-matched Edsil Jungco (1-9-5). Jakosalem has lost his last 3, and 8 of his last 12, but should be far too good for Jungco here in what we suspect will be an easy win for “Jako”.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Fans get two really interesting bouts in South Africa as Japanese fighters get their passports out to face a pair of locals.
The most notable of the bouts on offer sees Japan's very promising Tsuyoshi Tameda (13-1-2, 11) take on former world champion Simpiwe Vetyeka (28-3,17). Although relatively unknown outside of Asia Tameda is a genuinely promising fighter who has notable stoppage wins over Takenori Ohashi and Mark Bernaldez, with the Bernaldez win being his best to date. As for Vetyeka he's a man known to Japanese fans for his bout with Hozumi Hasegawa, almost 9 years ago, whilst international fan will recognise his win over Chris John and his loss to Nonito Donaire. On paper it's easy to favour Vetyeka, a former WBA champion, however he is now 35 and has fought just 4 rounds in the last 16 months.
The other bout sees former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (9-2-1, 5) face off against Luzuko Siyo (15-3, 12) in a bout for the WBA Inter-Continental Super Flyweight title. Again the local is the favourite but Tobe is better than his record indicates and does seem to be the naturally bigger man here, with Siyo having fought as low as Minimumweight. This could be a really good bout, even if it does end up being over-shadowed by the other contest on the card.
Staying with Japanese fighters on the road, fans in Australia will be able to see Japanese veteran Yosuke Kirima (22-5-2, 15) take on Australia's very own Michael Zerafa (18-2, 10) for the IBF Pan Pacific Middleweight crown. Although experienced Kirima has been known as a fighter who loses in his most notable contests, losing in two Japanese title fights, and hasn't yet managed to score a “big win”, even domestically. As for Zerafa he too has lost his biggest bouts, though one of those was a bout with former world champion Peter Quuillin, whilst the other was against fast rising Russian Arif Magomedov, both of whom are much better than Kirima if we're being honest.
In Russia we get a low profile match up as Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (1-0, 1), originally from Tajikistan, faces Kazakh Amir Saltayev (1-0) in a bout between unbeaten novices.