Cuidad Deportiva Heiner Ugalde, Hatillo, San Jose, Costa Rica
This coming Thursday we get unification action in Costa Rica as local boxing hero Yokasta Valle (25-2, 9) puts her IBF Atomweight title on the line against WBO champion Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (5-0, 1), from Vietnam. Valle, one of the most over-looked and under-rated female boxers on the planet, will be looking to build on her win June win over Lorraine Villalobos, which was shown on DAZN and got her rave reviews. As for Nguyen her title feels somewhat stolen, with her winning the belt with a controversial decision over Japanese veteran Etsuko Tada, and she will need to put on the best performance of her career to even be competitive with Valle. Our full, in depth, preview of this bout can be read here Costa Rica hosts Atomweight unification bout
Wadong Gymnasium, Ansan, South Korea
The main card this coming Saturday comes from South Korea where we get an excellent card featuring a female world title fight, two minor regional title fights and several promising prospects.
The main event of the show will see WBO female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) defending her title, for the first time, against mandatory challenger Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (4-0, 1) of Vietnam. This champion won the title in spectacular fashion, knocking out Ayaka Miyao, but has at 40 years old and with just 3 fights since the start of 2019 it's hard to know what she has left, especially given how hard her career has been and how many wars she has been involved in. At her best Tada was one of the elite female fighters in the lower weights, but those years are well past her by now. Nguyen made her debut in 2015, but only really started taking the sport seriously as a professional in 2019, scoring 3 wins before the pandemic pretty much paused her career in early 2020. She has been lined up for a world title fight for well over a year, but due to the pandemic was unable to face Ayaka Miyao or Tada for the belt, and has had to wait until now for this opportunity. That has left her out of the ring for over 18 months. A full preview of this bout can be read here Tada travels to defend against Nguyen
The more notable of two WBO Oriental title bouts will see the world ranked Olimjon Nazarov (25-5, 14) defending his regional title against once beaten Filipino challenger Michael Mendoza (11-1-2, 4). The 35 year old champion is knocking on the door of a WBO world title fight, however he is ancient for a Flyweight, at 35, and he lacks the profile which would help him get a shot at the top. Notably he has aged well and is currently riding a 12 fight winning run coming into this bout. Mendoza is a relative unknown outside of Asia, but he has shown plenty to like and looked very impressive in his 2019 win over Kento Yabusaki, which is the only other time he's fought outside of the Philippines. He will go in to this as the under-dog, but is the much younger man, and knows that he has nothing to lose and everything to win. Expect to see Mendoza using his speed and movement, and Nazarov looking to use power and experience.
A second WBO Oriental title fight will be held at Minimumweight and see Vietnam's Minh Phat Sam (7-3, 5) take on former world title challenger ArAr Andales (12-2, 4), from the Philippines. Of the two men Andales is the more well known, having given Knockout CP Freshmart a tough test in 2019, but he has struggled since than win and is only 2-1 since losing to Knockout more than 3 years ago. He's certainly a talent but his career has lost all momentum in recent years. Phat on the other hand is is a man who struggled early on in his career, but is 7-1 in his last 8, albeit against very low level competition. This bout is a chance for Phat to make a name for himself, but he will be a a very clear under-dog.
In other bouts on this card we'll see once beaten Uzbekistani prospect Abdurasul Ismoilov (8-1, 5) clash with Korean fighter Moo Hyun Kim (8-1, 4), in what looks like a fantastic 50-50 style bout whilst unbeaten Uzbekistani puncher Abdulazizbek Najmiddinov (7-0, 6) takes on Sung Hun Kim (1-4), in what should be an easy win for Najmiddinov
The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
As well as the show in South Korea we also have an interesting card in the Philippines, headlined by an excellent regional title bout, and also featuring a strong of notable names on the under-cards.
The main event will see former world title challenger Giemel Magramo (24-2, 20) look to bounce back from his 2020 loss to Junto Nakatani as he takes on Jayr Raquinel (12-1-1, 9), in a bout for the vacant OPBF Flyweight title. The talented and heavy handed Magramo was made to look third rate against Nakatani and will be looking to avoid another loss here, though with a lot of inactivity and his confidence likely to be at a low point following that loss it's hard to know just what he'll be like here. Raquinel, a former OPBF Flyweight champion, is a man who has been easy to over-look, but is a very live fighter with solid power and no fear of fighting as the under-dog. Sadly Raquinel has fought just twice since the start of 2019, and is horribly inactive, but the 24 year old southpaw will know a win gets his career back on track. This could be a very, very exciting bout and is one of the best all-Filipino match ups of 2021. Our in depth preview of this one can be read here Magramo and Raquinel battle for OPBF honours!
The chief support bout will be another bout as another member of the Magramo clan, this time Arvin Magramo (12-1-1, 8), takes on the once beaten Jerry Francisco (9-1, 2) for the lightly regarded WBO Oriental Light Flyweight title. The talented Magramo has bounced back well since suffering a split decision loss to Garen Diagan back in 2018, winning 4 bouts in a row to get his career back in track. Incidentally Francisco's only loss has also come to Diagan, losing a technical decision to Diagan in 2019. Since that loss Francisco has bounced back with two wins, but they have come at a very low level and he should, really enter this bout as the under-dog
Another man who came up short in a world title bout is Juan Miguel Elorde (28-2, 15) , who is best known for losing to Emanuel Navarrete in 2019. The once touted Elorde, who is Flash Elorde's grandson, will be fighting for the first time since losing to Navarrete and should be picking up a very, very easy win as he takes on Aroel Romasasa (11-9, 5). Although not world class, or even close to it, Elorde is a solid and decent fighter whilst Romasasa is man who has lost his last 8, hasn't win since 2010 and hasn't fought since 2016, and that's not likely to change here.
Another former world title challenger on this card is Jonathan Taconing (28-4-1, 22), who fights for the first time since being stopped in 2019 by Kenshiro Teraji. The hard hitting 34 year old south paw is now likely past his best, but should still have far, far too much for 38 year old journeyman Albert Alcoy (15-28-8, 5), who is 1-14-3 in his last 18 bouts! Taconing is unlikely to get another world title fight, but he should get a win here.
Ghani Sports Football Club, Karachi, Pakistan
We're set to get a show from Pakistan, albeit at a much, much lower level, as Pakistani boxing continues its slow and gradual domestic development.
The proof of how lacking the Pakistani domestic scene currently is can be seen in the fact the card is set to feature a bout between Shahir Afridi (2-0-1) and Haroon Khan (1-3, 1), who clash for the national Middleweight title. Afridi, struggled to a win last time out and has never beaten anyone with a win to their name, whilst Khan's last fight was a loss at Welterweight. Fingers crossed the domestic scene improves as this sort of a "title fight" does little to help the Pakistani scene.
Also on the card will be the unbeaten Taimoor Khan (3-0, 2), a very rare Pakistani Heavyweight hopeful who is looking to step up into an 8 rounder for the first time and battle for the Pakistan national Heavyweight title. Sadly however no opponent has been named at the time of writing, suggesting that his opponent will not be a notable one, or a testing one. Again not a great way to crown a national champion.
This coming Saturday isn't a huge one for Asian boxing, but we so have plenty of hopefuls in action.
The biggest name in action is the hotly tipped Uzbek standout Israil Madrimov (4-0, 4), who takes on former world title challenger Charlie Navarro (29-9, 22). This bout, a world title eliminator with the WBA, is a good step forward for Madrimov on paper, but should be little more than another showcase when the two men actually get into the ring. As we all already know Madrimov is a very special talent and a win here should set him up for a world title fight later in the year. Navarro, despite being 40 years old, is no push over and could ask some questions of Madrimov by relying on his experience and power.
Over in Asia we'll have a show in Cambodia of all places, where we'll see several fighters of note in action.
In the main event Uzbek fighter Olimjon Nazarov (21-5, 12) will take on Filipino fighter Orlie Silvestre (15-5-2, 8) in a bout for a WBO regional title. Although Nazarov has 5 losses to his name he has won his last 8 and appears to be "coming good" as experience and time has allowed him to develop, and score wins over the likes of Ivan Soriano and Kongfah Nakornluang. Silvestre is a decent fighter, but is very much the smaller man and we suspect he'll struggle here, given he's a small Light Flyweight, and Nazarov is a big Flyweight.
In another title bout we'll see Vietnamese fighter Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (3-0, 1) battle against Thai foe Kanyarat Yoohanngoh (7-4, 4) for the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title. The unbeaten 23 year old Nguyen is stepping up massively here, but a win would put her in the mix for a world title bout. Aged 21 Kanyarat has previously fought at world level, where she was stopped by Etsuko Tada in a world title eliminator, and has lost 2 of her last 3. We see the unbeaten Vietnamese fighter picking up the win here.
Another Uzbek Vs Philippines bout on this show will see Abdurasul Ismoilov (7-1, 4) take on veteran Adones Aguelo (33-20-2, 23). On paper this looks like another step forward for Ismoilov, who looks to continue to rebuild following a surprise 2019 loss to Hwang Kil Kim, but Aguelo, on his day, can be a banana skin. Aguelo is tough, rugged, his hard and can pick up upsets, as he did last year against Eden Sonsona and did a few years ago against Jerry Nardo. Aguelo will be the under-dog, but he has got the ability to ask real questions of Ismoilov.
Another fighter of note on this card is Vietnamese fighter Van Thao Tran (12-1 8), who looks to rebuild from a loss to Billy Dib. The talented Tran will be strongly favoured here as he takes on Filipino journeyman Aries Buenavidez (13-4, 7), who was stopped in November by Petch Sor Chitpattana. Tran may have disappointed against Dib, but we suspect he will be too big and too good for Buenavidez here.