This weekend is a big one for fans of Asian boxing! The biggest show comes from Aichi on Saturday but that's not all we have, with notable action in the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Russia!
The big card in Aichi, will be headlined by a world title fight, and will have support bouts featuring a fast rising local prospect and a former world title challenger. It's not a monster card, but it is a very good one.
The main event will see 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (13-0, 7) defending the WBO Flyweight title against mandatory challenger Jonathan Gonzalez (22-2-1, 13). For Tanaka this will be his second defense of the title he took from Sho Kimura last year, and sees him looking to build on his win over Ryoichi Taguchi earlier this year. For Gonzalez this will be his first world title fight, and finally a chance for him to live up to the potential he showed as an amateur. This should be a really high speed and very technical bout, but the champion will clearly be the favourite. Interestingly if Tanaka wins there are murmurs he could be set for another step up in weight and another world title. Our preview of this world title bout can be read here Tanaka returns for next defense, faces "Bomba" Gonzalez
In an excellent supporting bout we'll see the hard hitting and wonderfully exciting Kento Hatanaka (9-0, 9) take on world ranked Filipino fighter Jaysever Abcede (19-8, 12). The unbeaten Hatanaka has needed just 32 rounds to get to 9-0 and already looks like he's a star in the making with major titles clearly in his future. On paper Abcede should be a straight forward step up for Hatanaka hwever the Filipino is no push over and he has regularly proven to be a banana skin, with upset wins against the likes of Pigmy Kokietgym, Stamp Kiatniwat and Seigo Yuri Akui. This should be a really good test for Hatanaka. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hatanaka steps up in class for Abcede test!
Another notable name in a supporting role is former world title challenger Genesis Servania (32-2, 15), who will be fighting for the first time since he lost to Carlos Castro back in February. The talented Japanese based Filipino is getting a clear confidence builder here as he takes on limited Indonesian foe Erick Deztroyer (12-5-1, 3), in a clear mismatch. Don't be surprised if this one ends very early!
A much more interesting match up on this card will see the limited but hard hitting Kanta Fukui (6-2, 5) take on the very talented and promising Shuma Nakazato (8-1-2, 6). Fukui came runner up in the West Japan Rookie of the Year last year, losing a razor thin decision to Takuya Ota in the final. Since then he has bounced back with a single win, but will be stepping up massively here. The 22 year old Nakazato is genuine talent, and someone who should be on the radar of hardcore Japanese. He's the son of former world title challenger Shigeru Nakazato, and has already held his own with Hironori Mishiro, losing a competitive decision to the current OPBF champion and beaten Lorence Rosas. Although in the middle of the card this is a very interesting match up, and one that could end in explosive fashion.
Also on this card will be Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion Yuto Nakamura (10-5, 7) who battles in an 8 round bout against Indonesian Muhammad Wahid (4-2, 1). Wahid impressed us, in some ways, this past May when he stood and took a 6 round pounding from Lap Cheon Cheong in Hong Kong, and he showed his bravery. We suspect that Wahid will again have to be brave, but can't see him lasting 8 round here.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Staying in Asia we also get a notable card in Metro Manila, featuring a great mix of fighters from world class to prospect level.
The world title bout, or rather the WBO "interim" world title bout, will see John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18) defend his Interim Bantamweight title against the limited Cesar Ramirez (18-3, 11). The talented Casimero, a true road warrior, won the title in April and will be looking to make his first defense here. Ramirez is yet to prove he belongs any where near world level, especially in this talent stacked division that we currently have. Although can blow hot and cold, it's hard to imagine him really being tested here. Our preview of this bout is available to read here Casimero set to face Ramirez in first interim title defense
In a pretty interest all Filipino bout between regional contender types we'll see Vincent Astrolabio (13-3, 9) take on Kevin Aseniero (9-2-1, 5). Astrolabio will be defending the WBO Oriental Bantamweight title, which he won in Indonesian back in April, for the first time. Aserniero on the other hand will be looking to stretch a 4 fight unbeaten run.
The most notable prospect on this card is former amateur standout Charly Suarez (2-0, 2), who takes a big step up in class to face the under-rated Virgil Puton (17-12-2, 8). The 30 year old Suarez, who made his debut in January, will be looking to get his career back on track after a 5 month break from action. He's incredibly talented, but doesn't have time to waste. In Puton we have a true regional journeyman, who picks up losses, but pushes good fighters, such as Ye Joon Kim and Shuya Masaki. This is a tough test for Suarez, but one he must pass if he's to make any noise at all in the pro ranks.
Amazing we'll have a third world title fight, with WBO Minimumweight champion Vic Saludar (19-3, 10) making his second defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Wilfredo Mendez (13-1, 5) in Puerto Rico. The under-rated champion, who won the belt in July 2018, was successful this past February when he beat Masataka Taniguchi in his first defense and now fights outside of Asia for the first time. Although not a major global name Saludar is very talented, heavy handed and has under-rated boxing skills. For Mendez this will be his first world title fight, and it looks like a massive step up in class for the talented, though rather negative, Puerto Rican hopeful. This could be a very interesting clash of styles, though will of course be over-shadowed by the other world title bouts earlier in the day. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Vic Saludar and Wilfredo Mendez clash for WBO title!
In Russia we get a pretty big card headlined by Sergey Kovalev and Anthony Yarde. Although that bout doesn't have an Asian interest the under-card does, and it has quite a few in fact with several different bouts featuring an unbeaten Central Asian fighter.
Arguably the most interesting of the Central Asian hopefuls on this card is the always fun to watch Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (14-0, 7) defending his WBA Asia Super Featherweight title. Originally he was pencilled in to face off with Sibusiso Zingange (13-3-2, 3), though Zingange was removed from the bout and at the time of writing, his replacement hasn't been named. Uulu, whilst flawed, would have been strongly favoured to beat the South African.
Another really interesting bout will see Uzbek Super Middleweight Azizbek Abdugofurov (12-0, 4) risk his WBC Silver title against once beaten Russian Andrey Sirotkin (16-1, 5). The talented Uzbek has been out of the ring since beating Wuzhati Nuerlang last November, and has lost much of the early momentum his career once had. Despite that he will be favoured over the 34 year old Sirotkin, who is best known for being stopped last October by John Ryder in the UK.
Unbeaten Kyrgyzstan born Russian based Erzhan Turgumbekov (6-0-1, 2) looks to bounce back from a draw against Javokhirbek Karimov just a few weeks ago, as he takes on unbeaten Ukrainian teenager Heorhii Lashko (9-0, 5). The unbeaten Turgumbekov rushed to 6-0 in just over 13 months but the draw last time out certainly slowed his momentum. Lashko on the other hand scored his biggest win in March, when he beat Ryo Takenaka in China, and will be looking for his 5th win of the year here. Takenaka aside there is little on his record of any note at all.
Kazakh Meiirim Nursultanov (11-0, 8) will also be looking to extend his unbeaten record as he takes on the once beaten Artur Osipov (15-1, 10). The 26 year old Kazakh, who is managed by Egis Klimas, has been out of the ring since beating Luis Hernanez in March, and will be looking to impress on what will be his first bout outside of the US in close to 2 years. Osipov on the other hand is coming in to this bout after a loss in March to Evgeny Terentiev, and will likely be low on confidence, for what looks like his toughest bout so far, on paper.
Another bout on this Russian card worthy of interest ins a contest between Aleksei Papin (11-0, 10) and Ilunga Makabu (25-2, 24) in what is a must watch bout on paper, promising a lot of explosive fireworks and a real feeling that this one will not see the final bell. A full preview of this bout is available here Dynamite meets TNT as Papin and Makuba clash!
Jeonju, South Korea
Arguably the most interesting action this coming Saturday is in Korea, where we'll see the next Korea Vs Japan card, and it features so pretty interesting fighters.
A bout where the Korean will be favoured will see Ro Joon Suh (5-0, 2) take on Japanese visitor Ken Koibuchi (4-2, 3). The 20 year old Suh will be moving up from 4 round bouts for the first time, but he has looked good since turning professional in October 2017, though he does perhaps lack a bit of power. Koibuchi on the hand has got power, but can be out boxed, and was beaten last time out, losing in the East Japan Rookie of the Year final to Yusaku Sekishima.
A bout where the Korean will be the clear under-dog will see local fighter Jong Min Jung (9-8, 3) take on Japanese puncher Kai Chiba (9-1, 7). The local is a former "interim" PABA Featherweight champion who debuted way back in 2008 and struggled early on in his career, though is 5-1 (2) in his last 6 bouts. Chiba began his career 7-0 but was stopped this January by Brian Lobetania and hasn't quite refound his form, despite scoring two wins since then. At his best Chiba is a monster boxer-puncher, but we're not sure what his confidence is like at the moment.
A pretty interesting match up on this card will see Seung Yoon Shin (3-1-3, 1) take on Japanese novice Tatsumasa Abe (1-0, 1). The Korean 21 year old will be facing his first non-Korean opponent, and it's hard to read too much into his record, which has come against fellow domestic novices. Abe on the other hand was a stellar amateur, going 71-19 in the unpaid ranks, and is tipped as one to watch. Interestingly Abe debuted in Thailand in August and this will be a second bout outside of his homeland as he embarks on an unusual start to his career.
The main bout from the card isn't part of the Korea Vs Japan event, but is instead an All Korean 10 round contest and will pit Hyun Je Shin (9-8, 2) against Chan Young Kim (3-1-2, 1), with the two fighting for the Korean Super Featherweight title, BoxingM version. Shin is a former Korean title challenger at Flyweight, Super Flyweight and Super Featherweight, who is sadly 0-3 in title bouts. Despite the poor record in title bouts he does hold wins over Kazuki Sanpei and Daniel Ferreras. Kim on the other hand is a 20 year old who comes into the bout on the back of a good win against Hwan Oh Kim.
Gyeongju, South Korea
A second Korean show, from the KBA, will take place in Gyeoingju. Sadly this card is scarcely worth a mention, with the main event being a 6 round contest between Yi Fan Liu (3-0, 3) and Jong Bin Lim (4-0, 1). That's a good main event but there's no real big name to attract fans from the much better Korea Vs Japan card.
A second major show on the Asian front at least, is in China where we'll be getting a trio of title bouts.
The most notable bout on the card will see the exciting Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (14-2-1, 6), who has suffered competitive losses to Rikki Naito and Fredrick Lawson, taking on Venezuelan veteran Ernesto Espana (26-1-1, 21) in a bout for WBC International Light Welterweight title. The Chinese fighter is an aggressive warrior, who has got limitations but is a real handful, and is better at 140lbs than at 147lbs. Espana on the other hand is a 37 year old who has mostly fought awful competition, but in 2016 held Ruben Nieto to a draw in Spain and went the distance with the talented Yves Ulysse Jr earlier this year. We suspect the Chinese local will come out on top but Espana has shown enough to suggest this will not be an easy win for Baishanbo.
Another title bout on this card will see the unbeaten ZongLi He (4-0, 1) take on Filipino Vincent Astrolabio (12-2, 8) for the vacant WBO Oriental Youth Bantamweight title. He turned professional last year, but has stepped up quickly and claimed the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Flyweight title this past May when he defeated experienced Filipino Diarh Gabutan over 10 rounds. Astrolabio looked like a promising prospect a year ago, when he was 10-0, but losses to John Mark Apolinario and Yuki Strong Kobayashi leaves him needing a big performance. This is a really interesting match up, but one where the local will be favoured.
A third title bout on this card will see Casey Morton (7-0-3, 1) take on Jutamas Jitpong (4-2, 2) for the WBO Asia Pacific Female Super Flyweight Title. The unbeaten Morton is an Hawaiian who is becoming a frequent fixture on the Asian scene, has recently fought twice in Thailand and once in China, scoring a good win this past March against Nongmuay Kokietgym in Paranque City, to claim the Flyweight version of this title. The Thai 20 year old has lost 2 of her last 4, and it's hard to really gauge how good she actually is from her competition and performances. A win for Jitpong would be her biggest win by some margin, whilst Morton has got a big win coming in to this bout.
One other bout of note on this card is contest between Qixiu Zhang (9-5-1, 3) and Karen Margaryan (3-0-1). The Chinese local is looking to bounce back from a recent loss to Joe Noynay in the Philippines, whilst Russian based Armenian Margaryan is taking a marked step up and actually risking his unbeaten record.
We've also been informed that Ricky Sismundo (35-11-3, 17) will be in action on this show, against Chinese fighter Lei Wang (1-0, 1), who was a former WSB fighter before making his regular professional debut in September. This looks like being a really good fight, and a one that both fighters will believe they can win, though of course
In Canada we'll see Indian fighter Neeraj Goyat (10-3-2, 2), fighting for the second time in Canada, take on Bence Molnar (18-8, 10). On paper this is a fantastic step up for Goyat, who will be fighting over 8 rounds, rather than the 4 rounds he fought last time. At 27 years old he has time to develop but it's hard to see him getting too far in the sport given how few Indian's have made a mark on the pro-scene, so far. Molnar on the other hand is an Hungarian journeyman, who has fought through most of Europe, and is notable for having gone 10 rounds with hard hitting Brit Lewis Ritson in 2016. This could be a very good test for Goyat and give his team a chance to really see what he's really about.
In Russia we're expecting to see a trio of Kazakh punchers in action, with Super Middleweight Ibragim Iskandarov (5-0, 5), Uzbek born Kazakh Cruiserweight Ualikan Bissengulov (7-0, 7) and American based Kazakh Yedil Kozhamberdiyev (5-2, 5), also a Cruiserweight, expected to be in action. Sadly their opponents haven't been announced.
This coming Sunday is a relatively busy day in Asia, with a pair of shows in bot Philippines and Japan.
Metro Manila, Philippines
The most interesting card, for us at least, is in Metro Manila where Elorde will be putting on a card.
The main event of this card sees the excellent Giemel Magramo (20-1, 16) take on the once beaten Michael Bravo (13-1, 6) in a bout for the vacant WBO Oriental Flyweight title, and a chance to take a huge step towards getting a potential world title fight. Magramo is the better known fighter and has scored a two of notable wins since losing a very close decision to Muhammad Waseem in late 2016. Magramo world class potential in that loss and could thrust himself into the world title picture with a win here. For Bravo the bout is a huge step up in class, though he is riding an 8 fight winning run coming in to this and has won both PBF and MinProBA titles in his last 2 bouts, showing he is in really good form and very confident.
Another bout on this card will see the unbeaten Casey Morton (6-0-3, 1) battle Thai foe Nongmuay Kokietgym (13-3-3) in a female bout. The unbeaten Morton, who is based in the US, will be having her third successive fight in Asia and this is a step up for her. The Thai is a multi-time former world title challenger and is a very credible foe, despite her total lack of punching power.
Davao del Sur, Philippines
A second Filipino show, courtesy of Pacquiao Promotions will take place in Davao del Sur.
The main event here will be a Filipino Welterweight title fight, as Jayar Inson (15-1, 10) takes on Romeo Jakosalem (18-16-1, 10). The bout sees two former regional title holders facing off in what should be a bit of a slugfest. Of the two fighter Inson is the younger and more promising fighter, with the 27 year old Southpaw being a brutal puncher, as we saw in his demolition job against Ryota Yada for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. Despite only being 29 years old Jakosalem has had a very hard career and already looks a bit shot, as shown by the fact he has been stopped 10 times in total, including 3 of those in his last 3 bouts. Inson will be strongly favoured here and should be able to stop Jakosalem and move towards bigger and better fights.
The rest of this card is pretty weak in all honesty, but will feature a host of promising fighters in mismatches. Those fighters include Joel Lino (8-0-1, 2), Rene Mark Cuarto (14-1, 8), Vincent Astrolabio (10-1, 7) and Jerry Francisco (2-0), who should all be adding to their win column against some horribly over-matched opposition.
The most notable the two Japanese cards will take place in Aichi and will feature a Japanese youth title fight along with a bout between two OPBF ranked fighters.
The youth title fight will see Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Takuya Mizuno (13-1-1, 11) defending his title against Daiki Maniwa (6-1-1, 4), in what will be Mizuno's second defense of the belt. The champion won the title last August and defended it in December, taking split decision in both of those bouts. Although a powerful puncher it does seem like Mizuno's power isn't carrying up to level and he could well be dragged into another tough bout by Maniwa. The challenger is a bit of an unknown, though he has won his last 6, with his win last November against Yo Konomura being a career best.
In a battle between OPBF ranked fighters we'll see Super Bantamweight contender Ruito Saeki (7-1, 1) take on Bantamweight veteran Eita Kikuchi (21-5-4, 8). Aged 19 Saeki is a promising youngster who's only loss was in the West Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2016, and since then he has bounced back with 3 wins to work his way into the OPBF rankings. The 32 year old Kikuchi is a former OPBF title challenger, have challenger Shingo Wake for the OPBF Super Bantamweight title back in June 2013. Since losing to Wake Kikuchi has gone 7-2 (2), though was stopped last time out by Yusuke Suzuki in a Japanese Bantamweight title eliminator, and may well be feeling the after effects of his third stoppage loss.
In Fukuoka fans will see Japanese ranked Bantamweight Hideo Sakamoto (17-4-4, 5) look to get his career back on track as he takes on Takaaki Kanai (8-7, 4). Back in early 2015 Sakamoto looked well on his way to getting a Japanese title fight, thanks to wins over Hiroki Shiino and Ryoichi Tamura, sadly though he has gone 1-3-2 since then and is clearly faltering with his career, and needs a win to give his career one more shot in the arm. Kanai shouldn't put up much of a test for Sakamoto, given he has fought at a far lower level and struggled a lot in recent bouts, but the pressure is on Sakamoto to perform, and make sure he does more than just get the win.
This coming Sunday is an interesting day for Asian fight fans. We get a world title fight, several interesting prospects, and a recent world title challenger all in action.
The biggest bout for the day, by some margin, is in Fukuoka and will see WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (17-4-1, 8) take on long reigning WBC Atomweight queen Momo Koseki (23-2-1, 9). The bout will see Koseki move up in weight after an incredible 9 year reign as the Atomweight champion, which has seen her defend the title an incredible 17 times. For Kuroki the bout will be her 6th defense, and if she wins here she really will continue to build her reputation as the rising force in the division, perhaps even solidifying her place as the division's #2 fighter behind Anabel Ortiz.
Another notable female bout on this card will see Sana Hazuki (6-2, 2) battle Nanae Suzuki (5-2, 1) in a bout to decide the mandatory challengers for the Japanese female Atomweight title. On paper this is a real 50-50 fight with both being beatable but decent fighters, at least at domestic level. Coming in Suzuki has won her last 4, including a notable win over Chie Higano last time out, whilst Hazuki has gone 2-2 in her last 4, but has fought a slightly higher level of competition.
We get a trio of notable fighters in Ishikawa, unfortunately all three look like total mismatches on paper. The one possible saving grace of this show is a Japanese female title bout.
The main event of the card sees the entertaining Hurricane Futa (22-7-1, 13) take on Thai novice Detanan Rongriankila Korat (1-1, 1), in what looks set to be an easy ring return for Futa following a 5th round TKO loss to Ernie Sanchez in April. The tough Futa had never previously been stopped, so this bout will be all about how he is mentally following that defeat.
Another man returning to the ring following a loss last time out is Genesis Servania (29-1, 12), who put in a solid showing en route to a loss against Oscar Valdez in a WBO Featherweight title fight. The Japanese based Filipino stepped up and impressed against Valdez and will fighting a stay busy bout against a Thai here, before potentially moving towards a second world title fight in 2018.
The third mismatch featuring a fighter of note will see OPBF ranked Super Bantamweight Takashi Igarashi (11-3, 4) face off with Satopet Saithonggym (0-2). Coming in to this Igarashi has won his last 4, and will be looking for a third win of the year here. Satopet will be fighting for the third time this year, and in his previous bouts of the year he was stopped, with both bouts coming in Japan. It'd be a surprise to see the Thai avoid a third straight stoppage loss.
Arguably the one bout of real intrigue here is a Japanese female Featherweight title fight, as Asami Jinnari (5-2, 2) takes on Wakako Fujiwara (4-2-1, 2) for the vacant title. The 33 year old Jinnari has won her last two, following a 2016 loss to Ayumi Goto, whilst the 36 year old Fujiwara is aon a 3 fight winning run and appears to have the moment coming in to this one.
In Tokyo fight fans get the chance to see a couple of notable fighters, but sadly they are both in mismatches.
One of those fighters is the really promising and very much in form Reiya Abe (15-2, 7). Abe has had a really great few years and is riding a 7 fight winning streak with notable wins against the likes of Ryo Hino, Hikaru Marugame, Tsuyoshi Tameda and Satoshi Hosono. Given that level of competition that Abe has been facing we can't begrudge him an easy bout, but it's still disappointing that he's not being moved more aggressively towards a title fight of some kind.
In another bout fans will see 2016 Super Featherweight Rookie of the year Yuji Awata (9-4, 3) in action. Sadly, like Abe, he's up against a Thai visitor and is not expected to get much of a test here.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
In the Philippines there's a small but relative intriguing card.
The main event of the card looks likely to be a genuine entertaining contest as the once beaten Genisis Libranza (13-1, 9) takes on the often exciting Michael Enriquez (13-8-1, 9). The talented Libranza has notched up two wins since suffering a loss in April to Moruti Mthalane and will be favoured here against his more experienced foe. On paper Enriquez looks limited and he's lost 6 of his last 9, however he has been in thrillers with Rex Tso and Stamp Kiatniwat and we suspect this could also be a very entertaining contest, and Enriquez is likely to put up a better than his record suggests.
In a notable step up we'll see 20 year old Vincent Astrolabio (10-0, 7) take on former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (18-11-3, 4). The unbeaten youngster stopped 7 of his first 8 but has gone the distance in his last 2 bouts and will likely feel he's proven his stamina in those two bouts. Apolinario foiught for the WBA Bantamweight title way back in 2013, losing a wide decision to Koki Kameda. Since that loss he has gone 2-8 and it's likely to become 2-9 here, with Apolinario having shown little desire since the loss to Kameda.
One really interesting bout here will see 19 year old Vince Paras (12-0, 10) risk his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Aldren Moreno (3-0, 2). The bout really could be very exciting. Both fighters are young, punchers who are being given an opportunity to prove themselves here. On paper Paras's extra experience will likely serve him well here, but Moreno was a former amateur stand out and his team wouldn't throw him to the wolves unless they believed he could win.