This coming Friday isn't a huge day for fans of Asian fighters, but there is plenty to get excited about, with several notable names, promising hopefuls and former world title challengers being involved.
York Hall, Bethnal Green, London, United Kingdom
One of the most interesting bouts sees touted Kazakh hopeful Tursynbay Kulakhmet (4-0, 3) defending his WBC International title against Juan Carlos Abreu (23-6-1, 21), in a mouth watering match up. There is not doubting Kulakhmet's potential, and he has looked fantastic at times, though is very much a developing fight and nothing close to the complete product, and we are really glad to see his team putting him in interesting match ups like this so early in his career. The 27 year old has the potential to fight at the top level and him being moved quickly is great to see. Abreu is no world beater, but he's heavy handed and has only been stopped once, by the then 25-0 Jaron Ennis, and a stoppage here would see Kulakhmet's reputation blossom rapidly.
Silver Spurs Arena, Kissimmee, Florida, USA
Whilst Kulakhmet is being moved quickly the same can't be said of Chinese Light Heavyweight Fanlong Meng (16-0, 10), who was set for a world title fight in 2020, and has now been out of the ring for 2 years! Sadly his return isn't against someone who will prepare him for a world title contest, but instead he'll face Panama's Israel Duffus (20-6, 17) in what should be little more than a rust shaking, stay busy bout for the Chinese fighter.
Also on this card will be Japan prospects Mikito Nakano (5-0, 4) and Kenji Fujita (1-0, 1), who will be making their US debuts, against yet to be named opponents. Nakano looks like he could be in the mix for a domestic title in the very near future, and looks to be a genuinely special talent. Fujita, who debuted earlier this year, has the tools to be put on the fast track, and it's going to be very exciting to see what he does to impress an American audience.
Sanman Gym, General Santos City, Philippines
Over in he Philippines we get an Asian show featuring several former world title challengers, in bouts that should end up being rather predictable and straight forward wins.
One of the former world title challengers on this show is Aston Palicte (27-4-1, 23), who will be up against Roland Jay Biendima (15-9-1, 8). Palicte, best known for his bouts with Donnie Nietes and Kazuto Ioka, should be too big, too strong and too powerful for Biendima, who has now lost 4 in a row. Palicte has won his last two, both at domestic level, and we suspect that the plan is to get some rounds here before stepping up in the new year and begin moving towards a third world title fight.
A second former world title challenger on this card is Richie Mepranum (35-8-1, 10), who will be up against the very limited Nicardo Calamba (9-32-5, 6). At his best Mepranum was a very solid boxer, but he's now been pout of the ring for close to two years and we can't help but feel his career is coming to a close. Despite that he should have way, way too much for Calamba here, and could end up retiring sooner rather than later.
A third world title challenger on this card is the incredibly talented Mark Anthony Barriga (10-1, 2), who is set to pick up an easy win here against the very, very limited Ramil Antaran (4-14-2). Barriga has the potential to win a world title, somewhere down the line, and should win this one very, very easily, but it's a real shame that he's fighting at such a low level. His talent deserves to much more, and hopefully in 2022 we see him facing off with one off the bigger names at either Minimumweight or Light Flyweight
Other mismatch with a notable fighter on this card will see the often under-rated Joey Canoy (16-5-1-1, 9) take on Michael Camelion (11-13-3, 9), in what again looks like a horrible mismatch. Canoy might not be a world beater, but he's not too far off world class and should be far, far, far too good for Camelion.
Although this coming Saturday isn't a huge day, it is a busy day with a lot going on featuring fighters from Asia. We have a notable card in Kazakhstan, Rookie of the Year action in Japan, and even more action to talk about!
The big card for us comes from Almaty and is an MTK show which will be available worldwide. The show doesn't have any bona fide stars on it, but does have a lot of exciting prospects featured, as they all look to move their career forward and move on to bigger and better things.
The most promising of the hopefuls on this show is Tursynbay Kulakhmet (3-0, 2) , who looks for win #4 as he takes on the 38 year old Aleksei Evchenko (19-14-2, 8), who appears to have been a late replacement for Stanyslav Skorokhod (20-2, 17). Although Evchenko looks like a massive downgrade from Skorokhod the Russian is a real tough guy, who has only been stopped once in his 14 losses, and is less than a year removed from a notable upset win over Viktor Plotnikov and a draw against Asinia Byfield. For a fourth pro bout this isn't terrible for Kulakhmet, who really does need rounds, rather than quick blow outs.
Another of the highly touted Kazakh's on this card is Sultan Zaurbek (10-0, 7), who is in a very interesting match up as he takes on Scotland's Ronnie Clark (21-4-2, 10), in what could be the bout of the show Clark is a rough around the edges fighter who comes to have a war and that's a style we think could get the best out of Zaurbek, who seems to fight within himself a bit too much. Not only is this a genuinely interesting contest but there's also real meaning to it, with the WBO European title being on the line, and a potential high WBO world ranking.
One of the really talented youngsters on this show is the aggressive and exciting Talgat Shayken (4-0, 2), who is facing 29 year old Russian Alexander Sharonov (12-5-2, 6). Shayken has looked like a fantastic, aggressive, strong and imposing force in the ring, who is improving with every fight. But this is a major step up in class and Sharonov is no push over. In fact Shayken will need to improve further from his last bout if he's to take a win here against a solid and tough fighter looking to prove a point.
The card is littered with other unbeaten Kazakh hopefuls, but one name really stands out and that is former amateur star Ivan Dychko (9-0, 9), who returns after close 2 years of inactivity, as he takes on veteran Denis Bakhtov (39-18, 26). Dychko's career, which promised so much when he turned professional, has failed to really come alive, but fingers crossed a win here against the much older and short Bakhtov can kick start things. He's too good to be inactive and really does need someone to take his career by the scruff of the neck and push him into meaningful fights
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, United Kingdom
Over in London we'll see the highly ranked Zach Parker (20-0, 14) take on 41 year old Uzbekistani fighter Sherzod Khusanov (22-2-1, 10). Parker, who is on the verge of a world title fight after a string of solid performances, will enter this bout as a huge favourite but Khusanov is no push over and will travel to win. We suspect youth will play a major factor here, but Khusanov does have the tools to make Parker work hard for a win
Tegelbruket, Orebro, Sweden
Over in Sweden Swedish based Azeri born fighter Samo Jangirov (5-2-1, 1) battles against Marcus Alberts (6-6-1, 2) in a Swedish Cruiserweight title bout, and the third bout between the two men for this title! Jangirov won the belt with a 6 round decision over Alberts in 2019, retain the title with an 8 round decision last year, and now looks for his second defense here. Sadly the limitations of Swedish domestic scene are clearly a problem here, but it's nice to see some personal competition between these two men.
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
Over in Japan we actually have two different shows at the Shinjuku FACE, both East Japan Rookie of the Year shows. The earlier of the two, begins at mid day and has 8 bouts scheduled for it. They include 2 all debutant bouts as Daichi Akahori (0-0) and Hayato Soita (0-0) and Taiga Ito (0-0) and Gensai Ito (0-0), all look to begin their careers with wins and the chance to advance their careers. With the Rookie of the Year these 4 men all be looking to make a name for themselves over the next 7 months or so and we always love all debut bouts.
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
The second show at the Shinjuku FACE is at 6PM and is set to have 6 bouts on it, with just a single all debut clash between Junya Naka (0-0) and Ryota Funabashi (0-0), who face off in a Bantamweight bout.
Although the all debutant bouts are lacking here we do like the look of two other bouts. One of those is a clash between the unbeaten pairing of Shohei Fuchida (1-0, 1) and Shogo Namiki (2-0-1, 1), who fight at Lightweight. Fuchida has only fought once, and that was more than 5 years ago, however the 27 year old does seem determined to make the most of things now he's back. Namiki on the other hand will be looking for his third win in 2021, in what could be a very explosive bout.
The other will see Tatsuya Kawaguchi (1-2-1) take on the heavy handed Shori Umezu (3-0, 3), who should be regarded as a contender for the All Japan Rookie crown. Umezu looks destructive and heavy handed and should among the favourites for the tournament, certainly one to keep an eye on.
The month of April is already under way and this Saturday we are getting a treat with a stacked day of action, featuring prospects, debutants, world title contenders and, best of all, a huge world title bout in Uzbekistan! In fact we are getting the greatest professional boxing event in Uzbekistan's history!
Humo Arena, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
We'll start with the Uzbek card, which is really something special and something super stacked! In fact it's up there with the most notable cards of the year so far.
The main event will see unified Super Bantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6) defending his WBA "super" and IBF Super Bantamweight titles against Japanese challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17), in a mandatory defense. Akhmadaliev won the titles last year, when he beat Danny Roman, and has had to wait over a year to return to the ring as a champion. He will be the strong favourite, and the clear fan favourite for what is a massive home coming fight. Iwasa on the other hand is looking to reach the pinnacle of the sport for a second time, having previously held the IBF title. The hard hitting Japanese fighter can blow very hot and cold, but looked fantastic last time out, dominating Marlon Tapales. Sadly that was in December 2019. Despite the lengthy lay offs for both men this is a mouth watering bout and it deserves a lot of attention. Potentially the best bout of the entire month! Our in depth preview of this match up can be read here Akhmadlaiev and Iwasa clash at last!
In one of the main supporting bouts we'll see the highly regarded Israil Madrimov (6-0, 5) take on the hard hitting Emmany Kalombo (14-0, 14), in a mouth watering match up. Madrimov has looked like a future world champion in the making since his 2018 debut, though looked underwhelming last time out, against the tough and awkward Eric Walker. He'll be wanting to shine here and make a statement in his first bout since that one. Congolese born South African based Kalombo on the hand will be going in to this bout knowing that he has a huge chance to announce himself to the world. It's a huge opportunity for Kalomobo, but he will be the big under-dog. Given unbeaten records and the combined 95% KO ratio we don't expect this one to go the distance. Instead we expect a short but explosive contender. Don't blink.
Another established Uzbek on this card is Shakhram Giyasov (10-0, 8), who takes on experienced Mexican fighter Patricio Lopez Moreno (28-4, 20). On paper this looks like it should be a straight forward win for Giyasov, a 2016 Olympic silver medal winner, but Moreno is a credible competitor and we suspect he'll give Giyasov a number of questions to answer here. Giyasov should have the tools to pick up a win, but we don't think he'll have an easy time.
One man who will be looking to establish himself in the professional ranks on this show is 2016Olympic gold medal winner Hasanboy Dusmatov (2-0, 2), who has failed to set the world alight since turning professional, but clearly has the talent to do so. He'll be up against Tanzania's Muhsin Kizota (11-2, 5) in what should be a real showcase for the unbeaten Uzbek. Kizota is tough, durable and will be hungry, but Dusmatov is a special talent, and he should be far, far too good for the Tanzanian fighter.
We won't go through the entire under-card, but it will feature touted Heavyweight prospect Bakhodir Jalolov (7-0, 7), the explosive Elnur Abduraimov (7-0, 6), the talented Sanjar Tursunov (2-0, 1) and debuting former amateur standouts Ikboljon Kholdarov (0-0) and Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov (0-0). We suspect at least 2 of these 5 will go on to win world titles one day in the future, though all 5 have that level of potential.
Round 10 Boxing Club, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
A second show worthy of major attention comes from Dubai, where we get several bouts featuring Asian fighters. This card is headlined by WBO Super Featherweight champion Jamel Herring defending his title against Carl Frampton, but it's Asian action we're interested in.
The most notable of the Asian fighters on the show is 4-weight world champion Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23), who returns to the ring for the first time since beating Kazuto Ioka for the WBO Super Flyweight title at the very end of 2018! The talented Filipino really has had a couple of years to forget, sitting on the sidelines and watch the Super Flyweight division set on dire whilst injuries and issues with ALA Promotions cost him a potential super fight. In the opposite corner to "Ahas" will be Colombian veteran Pablo Carrillo (25-7-1, 16), who shouldn't be a real test for Nietes, but could ask some questions of the 38 year old Pinoy. If Nietes is as good as he was, he should win with ease, but we do wonder the the long lay off done to him.
In a really good looking match up the unbeaten Zhankosh Turarov (24-0, 17) will be up against Tyrone McKenna (21-2-1, 6). Sadly Turarov has wasted a lot of his potential, and despite still being unbeaten it seems that injuries, inactivity and a bit of an aimless career will never reach the heights that many predicted. Turarov is now 30 and he's at the point where he needs to be focused on the sport. McKenna is no world beater, but he's a very solid fighter all the same, and he the tenacity and hunger to be a a real threat to Turarov's unbeaten record. This could end up being a real gut check for "Da Kazakh Kid".
Another Kazakh on this card in an interesting looking match up is Tursynbay Kulakhmet (2-0, 1), who defends his WBC International 154lb title against unbeaten Venezuelan Heber Rondon (20-0, 13). The talented Kulakhmet impressed in the amateurs, looked like a sensation in his professional debut, then looked like a power but limited fighter in his second professional bout. We're expecting a much better performance here from him than we got last time. As for Rondon his record is unbeaten but under-whelming and he lacks wins of any real value. In fact this will be his toughest bout so far. Worrying for a 34 year old with a 20-0 record.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Back over in Asian we get the latest show in the WP Boxing series of shows thanks to Workpoint and NKL. This card is certainly not a big one, but it's a notable one, with two bouts worthy of attention.
One of the two bouts is a flat out mismatch, as WBC ranked Bantamweight Nawaphon Por Chokchai (50-1-1, 40) takes part in a stay busy bout against Sophon Klachun (5-5-1, 1). The bout really is match up designed to keep Nawaphon active after a frustrating start to the year, which included planned world title fight falling through. We don't like matches like this, especially given this is the fourth successive "stay busy" bout for Suriyan, but it's much better than his sitting twiddling his thumbs doing nothing.
The other bout is a much better match up, as the unbeaten Apichet Petchmanee (8-0, 2) defends his WBC regional title against veteran Kaewfah Tor Buamas (29-7, 19). This bout "should" be an easy one for the talented Apichet, but it's hard to know with him. At times he has looked really, really good, but recently he has shown some real limitations and is lucky to still be unbeaten. Kaewfah was once a solid fighter but has now lost his last 3 and seems to be on the back end of his career. The veteran might have some tricks up his sleeve, but it would be a big surprise to see him pick up a victory here.
On a second show in Thailand we'll see an interesting looking match up between former world title contender Petch CP Freshmart (59-1, 44), aka Tasana Salapat, and fellow Thai Kongfah Nakornluang (33-3, 21), aka Chaiwat Buatkrathok. The bout will see Petch defending his WBC Asian Boxing Council Bantamweight title, and looking to begin his slow climb towards another major fight. On paper this looks like a good bout. Interestingly this bout was meant to take place way back in December, on Christmas day in fact, but was cancelled at short notice and pushed back more than 3 months.
Balai Sarbini Convention Hall, Jakarta, Indonesia
We're set to get low quality action in Indonesia, though it's a show that may unearth some gems, with 3 unbeaten prospects on the card in scheduled 10 rounders. Their opponents are very limited but it's still interesting to see novices in such long bouts this early in their careers.
Before we look at those prospects we want to quickly tough on a match up between James Mokoginta (40-18-3, 26) and Isack Junior (26-15-3, 9) which is an interesting one. Mokoginta, a 51 fight veteran, is only 30 years old and seems to have been around for a life time, having debuted way back in 2004. Coming in to this he has all the momentum, riding a 10 fight unbeaten run. Junior on the other hand started his career 22-1-2 (8) and seemed to be on his way to some sort of success. Since then he has gone 4-14-1 and appears to pad records for fighters. We're expecting another defeat for Junior here.
As for the prospects one of those is Christo Gara (2-0, 1), who seems to have debuted in 2019 and put in two solid performances. He'll be up against the very limited Jack Madison (2-19) in a bout that should easily move Gara to 3-0. Another man who should pick up a very easy win is Doni Syafyendro (1-0) who takes on 46 year old Harri Hutagalung (1-16), who scored his only win way back in 2010, in his debut, and has had 16 losses in a row since then, with 12 of those losses coming by stoppage.
The third prospect, and the most interesting, is Indonesian Heavyweight hopeful Alam Syaputra (1-0, 1). Yes, you did read that, an Indonesian Heavyweight. In fact he's a natural Heavyweight and he's a genuine big lad, who looked impressive and imposing in his 2019 debut against Michael Wattimena. He'll be expecting his second professional win when he takes on David Koswara (12-16-2, 4), who, is a Heavyweight now, but began his career at Welterweight. This should be a bit of a farce, but it'll be interesting to see Syaputra back in action and he's someone who want to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Pyramide, Kazan, Russia
Over in Russia we're expecting to see Kazakh female fighter Firuza Sharipova (12-1, 6) take on Sofya Ochigava (4-0, 1), in the second bout between the two women. Sharipova, once one of the most noteworthy fighters in Kazakhstan, has seen the media cool down on her significantly over the last 24 months but a win here would see the press talking about her a lot, again. As for Ochigava a win here would see her repeat her 2016 win over Sharipova, in what was the professional debut for both women.
Also pencilled in for this card is 21 year old Uzbek hopeful Ravshan Makhamadjonov (11-0, 7). The talented Makhamadjonov really needs a step up in class this year, having now been a professional for around 4 years, but unfortunately he's had no opponent confirmed at the time or writing, suggesting he'll be up against a short notice opponent, and probably a limited one at that.
Production Park Studios, South Kirkby, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
This coming Wednesday attention turns to the UK, where we have a talented Kazakh fighter in action as he looks to move his career forward.
The most notable of the Kazakh's in action is the incredibly talented Tursynbay Kulakhmet (1-0), who we see fighting for the second time as a professional. The Kazakh was very impressive on his debut, back in August when he beat Sagadat Rakhmankul, and will be looking to replicate that type of a performance here. In the opposite corner to Kulakhmet will be unbeaten British fighter Macaulay McGowan (14-0-1, 3), in what looks like a very stiff step up in class. On paper this a big ask for a man in his second bout, but McGowan really hasn't got too much substance behind the numbers on his record, and we dare say a win for him would be the best of his career so far. Interestingly the WBC International Light Middleweight title will be on the line here, and the winner will be taking strides towards a WBC world rankings, meaning there is plenty on the line for this bout.
We had also expected to see a second Kazakh on this show, with unbeaten Sultan Zaurbek (9-0, 7) being scheduled to take on Jeff Ofori (10-3-1-3). Sadly however this bout now appears to have been cancelled.
Please note - As we try to get all of these done well in advance we have been unable to get the full MTK Kazakhstan card which still wasn't announced a week before the event. As a result we've only been able to go on the one announced bout and some of the names announced for the card.
In Kazakhstan MTK will be putting on a card full of notable fighters, including a trio of talented debutants.
At the time of writing the only announced bout for the show will see 2-time World Amateur Championship Silver medal winner Kamshybek Kunkabayev (0-0) take on veteran Issa Akberbayev (20-1-0-1, 15). On paper this looks an extremely tough bout for the former amateur stand out but in reality Akberbayev isn't as good as his record suggests, he hasn't scored a win in close to 3 years, and was stopped last time out by Evgeny Tishchenko. This is one of those smart bits of match making where a prospect in a bout that looks tough, but really isn't, with Kunkabayev really expected to shine.
The other debutants on this card are the sensationally talented Tursynbay Kulakhmet (0-0), who looks like he could be fast tracked to the top, and the exciting but rather unpolished Talgat Shaiken (0-0). At the time of writing neither of these men have had their opponents named, but both are expected to take on solid domestic opponents.
Also scheduled for this show are Abay Tolesh (5-0, 3), Victor Kotochigov (11-0, 4), Ray Seitzhanov (2-0), Saparbay Aidarov (4-0, 2), Nurtas Azhbenov (9-0, 4), Nurdos Tolebay (2-0, 1) and Sagadat Rakhmankulov (6-1, 4). As with the debutants their bouts haven't been announced, though we suspect at least one of these fighters will take on one of the talented debutants.
Fenghuang street commercial plaza, Changsha, China
As well as the Kazakh card we also have a show in China. Sadly this is another of the new regular Chinese shows that feature nobody of note on it, and a lot of novices and debutants. In total we are expecting 6 bouts on this card, featuring a total of 6 debutants and 9 fighters with less than 3 bouts.
Despite most of the card being scheduled for 4 rounds we do have one longer bout pencilled in for the event. That bout will see the light punching pair of Dacong Wang (5-1-1, 1) and Yajie Ding (4-4-1) face off in a bout that appears set for 10 rounds. The 22 year old Wang has gone unbeaten in 6 but has been out of the ring since April 2019, when he beat Weizhen Ni. Ding on the other hand has lost 3 of his last 4 and it's hard to know what he really offers here. His last bout was a win, but that was way back in June 2019. Although this is the main event it's certainly not a bout that has us too excited.