Cheonan, South Korea
The main card this coming Wednesday comes from South Korea, not something that we can say often enough.
The main event will see OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (21-2, 7) defending his title against Korean challenger Gyu Beom Jeon (9-3-1, 4). This is a bout that has been rescheduled numerous times this year, causing a loss of momentum for both men, especially Naito. The champion, who is looking for his third defense here, but has been out of the for almost a year, following his close win over Daishi Nagata. That sort of ring rust will not do Naito any favours here. Jeon is relative unknown outside of Korea, but he does have some momentum coming in to this with 5 straight wins, and 7 wins in his last 8. The challenger is the under-dog but he has been active whilst the champion has been horribly inactive recently. A full preview of this bout can be read here Rikki Naito heads to Korea for third OPBF title defense
In a decent looking support bout we'll see Sang Hun Oh (5-1, 3) take on Filipino veteran Michael Landero (19-14-4, 8). On paper this might not look great but is a really good step up for the 19 year old Oh, who is looking to bounce back from a recent loss to Kyung Min Kwon, back in May. Landero is a proper veteran, who has been out of the ring for around 30 months, and in his prime was the OPBF Minimumweight champion, stopping Kenichi Horikawa. It's hard to know what Landero has left at the age of 33, but if he's half the fighter he was he could be a banana skin for Oh here.
Sadly we're not expecting any real competition when South Korean Super Flyweight champion Ki Chang Go (7-3, 3) takes on awful Thai visitor Yutthichai Wannawong (9-9, 7). Go is no puncher, though did blow out Joo Ho Lee in June in his first title defense, and is actually best known for his only stoppage loss, to Masahiro Sakamoto in what was Sakamoto's final bout before facing Moruti Mthalane on New Year's Eve. Sadly Yutthichai is known for losing, and losing quickly with 8 stoppages losses, a JBC ban, and a loss last time out inside a round, to Carl Jammes Martin. This shouldn't be anything more than a stay busy fight for Go.
Another notable bout on this card will see hard hitting Korean Middleweight hopeful Sung Jae Jo (9-0, 7). He was originally scheduled to face Chinese visitor Wulamu Tulake (8-2-1, 4), though we have now been told he will be facing a Thai foe instead, in an 8 round bout, though the opponent hasn't been named. Like wise Heuk San Lee (10-1-2, 5) is scheduled for a 10 rounder, and his opponent hasn't been confirmed at the time of writing.
As well as the show in Korea, there will also be one in Thailand. The details for this are lacking, but Tassana Paladsrichuay (4-4, 1) will be up against Japanese visitor Umi Ishikawa (7-3, 5), who was stopped in 3 rounds by Kanyarat Yoohanngoh last time she fought in Thailand. This bout will be for the WBC's International female Minimumweight title, and whilst not a big bout is it significant for both fighters.
Metro Manila, Philippines
This coming Thursday our attention turns to the Philippines where we get the chance to see one of the best prospects in world boxing, a regional female title fight, a runner up in the 2017 Japanese Rookie of the Year and experienced local hopeful.
That top prospect is Hinata Maruta (7-1, 6) who is stepping back up in class for the first time since losing in an OPBF title challenger against Hidenori Otake. The talented youngster form the Morioka gym will be taking on OPBF Silver champion Ben Mananquil (16-1-2, 4). Although the bout will be a non-title fight it is a very interesting match up and we suspect the winner of it will be moved into an OPBF title fight towards the end of this year, or very early next year. The Japanese fighter, as mentioned, as only been beaten by Otake whilst the Filipino's only loss has come to Jing Xiang, with that defeat coming in China. We suspect this could be a very special bout between two young, hungry and driven fighters looking to take a huge step forward with their careers.
In a female title bout fans will see Umi Ishikawa (6-2, 4) battle against Wassana Kamdee (3-3, 2) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Female Minimumweight Title. Ishikawa has come up short at title level before, losing to Norj Gurop earlier this year, but she should have too much for Kamdee, who is 0-3 against fight a win on their record. Kamdee has faced the better opponents, including the likes of Yuko Kuroki and Hee Jung Yuh, but we'd still be surprised to see her put that experience to real use here.
Another Japanese fighter with potential on this card is the hard hitting Arashi Iimi (6-1, 6), hwho came runner up in the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Super Bantamweight. The hard hitting 22 year old will be up against limited Filipino Danny Tampipi (8-8-2, 5). Tampipi isn't terrible but as his record suggests he's nothing special either and it's hard to see anything but a win for Iimi, who we think will hit too hard for the local.
Outside of the bouts with Japanese fighters it's worth noting that Glenn Porras (31-7, 19) will be up against Renante Suacasa (7-19, 1). The 32 year old Porras is now a faded force, having lost 3 of his last 5, but should see this as a straight forward win over a man he dropped 3 times less than 2 years ago. Suacasa is a very limited opponent and should be a safe win for Porras, even at this stage of his career.