This coming Friday is set to be an interesting day for Asian boxing. We have a massively significant world title bout in Thailand, and two unbeaten Central Asian hopefuls in action in the US. Despite that we don't have much else. It's certainly quality over quantity here!
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
The title bout in question comes from Nakhon Ratchasima and will be the 13th time two Thai's have clashed in a world title bout, dubbed a "Bloodline Battle". This will be the first in more than a decade, and promises to be an excellent match up.
In one corner is unbeaten WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18), the longest reigning world champion in men's boxing and the man who's unbeaten record is longer than that of Floyd Mayweather Jr. In the opposite corner is hungry, powerful and heavy handed challenger Panya Pradabsri (34-1, 22), who is getting a chance to prove himself in a major all-Thai bout. For the champion the bout will be his 13th defense in just over 6 years, and a win may well see him ride off into the sunset with a 55-0 record. As for the challenger this is his chance to grab the proverbial torch of Thai boxing, along with the WBC title and really make a name for himself. This is as big a bout in Thailand as we've seen in a very long time. Our full, in depth preview of this bout can be read here Wanheng and Panya clash in 13th Bloodline Battle
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
As well as the bout in Thailand we also have two central Asian hopefuls looking to move their careers forward on a Matchroom USA card in Florida.
One of those hopefuls with be Kazakh Welterweight Daniyar Yeleussinov (9-0, 5), who takes on former unified world champion Julius Indongo (23-2, 12) in a bout for the IBF Inter-Continental Welterweight title. For the unbeaten Yeleussinov, a 2016 Olympic gold medal winner, the bout is a huge step up in class and this should be a chance for him to get a notable scalp on his record, even if Indongo is a long way removed from the fighter he once was. As for Indongo the Namibian former world champion will know he's being viewed as a stepping stone here, but may well have enough left in the tank to ask real questions of the talented "Kazakh Thunder". The only men to have beaten Indongo so far are Terence Crawford and Regis Prograis, and a win for the Kazakh will see him moved towards a world title fight in 2021 or 2022.
The other Central Asian on this card is hard hitting Azeri Heavyweight Mahammadrasul Majidov (2-0, 2), who takes on unbeaten Puerto Rican Sahret Delgado (8-0, 7). On paper this looks like a good step up in class for Majidov, but the 34 year old really needs to make a move next year, before he's essentially aged out of contention of ever getting a chance. Delgado's record looks pretty, but in reality his competition has been dire and he's taking a leap up in class. We're expecting a win for Majidov, but sadly we don't imagine this will be the big boost forward that his career needs. Instead he needs a big bout in 2021 if his career is going to take off in the way many had hoped, and in the way Azeri boxing really needs.
This coming Friday isn't a massive day, but there are some interesting bouts set to take place, including a world title bout and two contests with promising young hopefuls.
The main bout is the world title fight and sees unbeaten Thai Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18) return to the ring to defend his WBC Minimumweight title against mandatory challenger Simpiwe Konkco (19-5-0-1, 7), from South Africa. Wanheng enters the bout as the longest reigning active, male, champion in the sport having held his title since November 2014. A win here will extend his reign beyond 5 years and the plan is to make his US debut next year. For Konkco the bout will be his second bout for a major world title, following a loss in a WBA title bout, and a loss here could leave "Chain Reaction" in the "who needs him?" club. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Wanheng Menayothin clashes with mandatory challenger Simpiwe Konkco
In Canada we'll see fast rising Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov (9-0, 8) take on veteran Johnny Navarrete (33-15-2, 15). The 21 year old Akhmedov has been out of the ring since June, when he beat Daniel Vega Cota, and has managed to get married in his break away from the ring. This is a soft return for Akhmedov, with Navarrete being a limited though experienced foe, and it seems likely that Akhmedov will be back in action in December, when Eye of the Tiger Management return to the Bell Center.
Also in North America will be a bout for talented Filipino youngster Mike Plania (21-1, 11), who takes on 33 year old journeyman Julio Buitrago (13-19-0-2, 3). Given how talented Plania is, we think it's a real shame the 22 year old isn't getting better bouts than this. He has proven he can hold his own with good fighters, and he was very competitive with Juan Carlos Payano, so why he is being matched with Buitrago is a mystery. Buitrago is a rugged enough fighter to get some rounds with, having only been stopped 4 times in 34 bouts, but with only 1 win in the last 10 years this is pointless. The most interesting thing about Buitrago is his 2010 bout with Nestor Maradiaga, which ended in a rare double DQ for "not fighting".
This coming Friday features 2 notable shows, one of which will end a saga that has dragged on for over 2 months with some frustrating moments and the other being a lesser notable, though perhaps more interesting, card.
After months of rescheduling we finally see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) face off with former WBO champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-6-6, 7) in what will be their second bout. This was originally scheduled for early March, then late March then April and finally the end of May. It's a bout that we're looking forward to, given that Fukuhara gave Wanheng fits in their first bout, but are thoroughly annoyed by, due to all the scheduling changes. Wanheng, although still unbeaten, has looked more and more beatable in recent years but has found a way to maintain his winning run and title. Fukuhara on the other hand will likely know that he won't be getting too many more shots in the near future, and really needs to make the most of this. A full preview of this bout is available to read here Wanheng and Fukuhara battle again for WBC crown
As well as the world title show in Thailand we also have a compelling lesser card in Japan, where we get a number of faltering youngsters in action.
One of the most talented fighters on this card is the skilled but light punching Izuki Tomioka (5-2-1, 1), who gave Masayoshi Nakatani fits in an OPBF title bout. The talented Tomioka will be up against Filipino journeyman Marbon Bodiongan (15-8-2, 11), in what should be a straight forward win for Tomioka, who desperately needs a victory after going winless in his last 3. The Filipino does usually come to fight, but will struggle with the movement of Tomioka.
On the subject of someone who desperately needs a victory Kiyohei Endo (2-2, 2), a former talented amateur, cannot possibly have another defeat at this stage of his career, but he's in hard against Daiki Maniwa (7-3-1, 4). Endo was touted when he turned professional but was shocking stopped by Piyanut Sintao, in what could be classed as a fluke, and he hasn't lived up to his talent since. Whilst Endo needs a win, he may not get it here, and Maniwa, who has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, will be looking to save his own career in what is a must win for both men.
On paper the best of the bouts will see Jin Miura (10-3-1, 1) battle against the talented, and exciting, Mugicha Nakagawa (24-6-1, 14), who is looking to bounce back from a decision loss to Ryoichi Tamura in a Japanese title fight. It's hard to see anything but a Nakagawa win, but this should be a fairly entertaining contest, as most Nakagawa bouts are.
One other bout of some note will see the light punching Ryo Narizuka (9-8-1) battle against Seiya Fujikita (12-4, 5), in what should be an interesting bout though one that isn't likely to be particularly explosive.
This coming Friday out attention turns to Russia for the next RCC card, which features several notable fighters from across Asia.
One of those is Russian based Tajik Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (12-0, 8), who will be looking to make his first defense of the WBC International Super Featherweight title. The unbeaten 23 year old will be up against experienced Mexican Emanuel Lopez (29-9-1, 13), who has had mixed success in recent years, losing 3 of his last 5. If Yaqubov is as good as he has looked in recent bouts then we'd expect him to win here, and take a huge step towards a potential world title eliminator later in the year.
Unbeaten Uzbek fighter Ravshanbek Umurzakov (6-0, 5) had an interesting 2018, going 5-0 (4) but having a big asterisks over his biggest win, a 58 second victory over Eden Sonsona who looked like he didn't want to be in the ring. Umurzakoz will be up against Filipino Rimar Metuda (12-4-1, 7), who has proven himself as durable, though is 2-4-1 in his last 7 and is 0-3-1 outside of the Philippines. We suspect Metuda will put up a good effort against the Uzbek, but not really test him.
Unbeaten Kazakh Stanislav Kalitskiy (6-0, 3) will be risking his unbeaten record against Filipino Venson Delopere (6-3-4, 2). The 21 year old Kalitskiy scored 3 wins last year, including a notable one against Jestoni Autida, but it's unclear what he can really do in the ring and he should be tested here. Delopere is a 23 year old who has proven tricky to beat, but is winless outside of the Philippines. This should be a good test for Kalitskiy and we wouldn't be surprised to see him struggle at times with the Filipino.
Another Filipino on this card is Arnold Garde (10-6-3, 4), who will be up against unbeaten Russian fighter Mekhdi Abdurashedov (5-0, 2). The Russian really impressed last time out, stopping Filipino Prince Andrew Lauro in 5 rounds, and this bout seems to be a good step up for him. Garde has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, but is going to have travelled with some ambition. Sadly for Garde we don't question his desire, but we do doubt he has the skills to handle Abdurashedov
In Hungary fans a bout is scheduled between Russian born Azeri Roman Zakirov (8-0, 7) and Mexican foe Daniel Vega Cota (13-2-1, 10). The unbeaten Zakirov is a 22 year old who only turned professional a year ago but has been ultra active, with fights in Uzbekistan, Georgia and Russia and now looks to add Hungary to passport. Cota on the other hand has only fought outside of Mexico once and should be easy enough for the Azeri, given he has been stopped in both of his losses.
In Thailand we'll see unbeaten Thai hopeful Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (10-0, 4) battle against experienced Filipino Crison Omayao (24-18-4, 8) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Light Flyweight title. This bout will be the Thai's first at 108lbs and it's hoped that he will show what he can really do at the new weight after looking less than great at Minimumweight.
A second title bout on this show will see Kanyarat Yoohanngoh (4-2, 2) take on Japanese fighter Umi Ishikawa (7-2, 5) for the OPBF silver Female Minimumweight title. This is a low key bout but the winner should find themselves moving towards some bigger and better fights in the near future.
Interestingly this Thai card will also feature Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) and Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) playing some part in the show, though the specifics of their appearances seem to be an exhibition or a live public training event rather than any kind of fight.
London, United Kingdom
In London we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Sultan Zaurbek (3-0, 2) take a small step up in class as he takes on Lyuben Todorov (6-3, 2). The unbeaten prospect will be facing his first opponent with a winning record, but the Bulgarian is 0-3 outside of Bulgaria and isn't expected to be much of a threat for Zaurbek, who is scheduled to fight again a week later.
Japanese attention turns to Osaka this coming Friday where we get a domestic title fight and a couple of supporting bouts between Japanese and Korean fighters.
The Japanese title fight will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Tetsuya Hisada (32-9-2, 19) make his 5th defense as he takes on 2016 Rookie of the Year winner Akihiro Toya (8-4, 1). This looks like a stay busy defense for the 34 year old champion, who is on the verge of a world title fight, but any sort of slip up here could end those dreams. At 23 years old Toya is still maturing, but a loss earlier this year to Takumi Sakae doesn't bode well for him against someone as talented as Hisada. A full preview of this bout can be found here Hisada defends Japanese crown against youngster Toya!
One of the supporting bouts will see Japan's Yuki Takahashi (8-3, 4) battle against Korean rankled visitor Hwan Young Jo (5-5, 1). Takahashi has been stopped in his last 2 bouts and hasn't shown too much promise coming into this, but he will be favoured given he is the home fighter and has the better looking record. Jo on the other hand challenged for the Korean Super Featherweight title back in July, and will be looking to bounce back from a loss in that bout.
Another Japan Vs Korea bout will see the limited but hard hitting 23 year old Shota Asami (6-5, 4) battle against Hyun Joo Lee (2-0). Asami began his career 4-2 (4) but hasn't scored a stoppage in his last 5 bouts, whilst going 2-3. Lee is ranked by the KBF but his record doesn't seem to be complete on boxrec, with the KBF listing him as being 5-1-1 (4). If the KBF record is complete then we could be in for a fun fight between punchers, though how good he actually is, is unclear.
There's also a show in Thailand this coming Friday
The big talking point is that WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) will be on the card in a stay busy bout, taking on Indonesian foe Tyson Lahagu (2-9-1, 2). The contest is supposed to be a tune up for the Thai ahead of a potential world title defense at the end of the year, and will see him stretching his record 52-0 as he looks to further increase his unbeaten record.
Although Wanheng and his unbeaten record will get much of the attention it also seems like we'll see OPBF silver Minimumweight champion Panya Pradabsri (24-1, 13) defending his title against talented Filipino Dexter Alimento (13-4, 9), in a very good looking bout. This has the potential to be very exciting and very fun, and we wouldn't be surprised to see Alimento push the local all the way.
We'll see US based Tajik prospect Anvar Yunusov (5-0, 2) look to continue his rise through the ranks as he takes on Joshua Davis (11-3, 5). The unbeaten man debuted last year, in a match up against the experienced Justin Savi, and has been matched well so far, but this should be regarded as his best test to date. Davis has lost his last 2 bouts but at 27 he will have ambition to get his career back on track and should make for a compelling opponent for the Yusunov, who was a 3-time Olympian.
Johore Bahru, Malaysia
As well as the show in Japan there will also be a card in Malaysia.
One of the bouts on this card will see unbeaten local Adli Hafidz (3-0, 2) take on experienced Thai foe Yuttana Wongda (13-21, 9). The local fighter, aged 29, has been matched softly so far, and this should be considered as a step up in class, but a very manageable one. Yuttana has gone 2-10 in his last 12 bouts and we suspect he will come up short again here.
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
Attention turns to Thailand this coming Wednesday as we see a fighter attempt to etch their name into history and another looking to move towards a second world title fight.
The fighter looking to etch their name in the history books is WBC Mnimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (50-0, 18), who will be looking to not only make his 10th defense of the WBC world title but also advance his record to 51-0. The unbeaten Thai veteran will be taking on Filipino challenger Pedro Taduran (12-1, 9), who takes a huge step up in class for his first world title bout. The champion has blown hot and cold in recent contests struggling with Melvin Jerusalem and Tatsuya Fukuhara but demolishing Leroy Estrada, but when he's on he is arguably the top fight at 105lbs, and certainly has a solid unbeaten run that, if he extends, goes ahead of Floyd Mayweather's “50-0”. As for the challenger, the 21 year old is riding a 6 fight winning streak, including a big win last time out against Jerry Tomogdan, himself a former Wanheng foe. The challenger will have confidence but this is a massive step up in class.
Also on this same show is Palangpol CP Freshmart (16-2, 9), who will be fighting for the third time this year. The former world title challenger, who dropped Kosei Tanaka, is 2-0 since losing his most notable bout to date and will be looking to step back up a level here before having a big fight near the end of 2018.
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
The main card this Wednesday comes from Thailand as WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (49-0, 17) battles against mandatory challenger Leroy Estrada (16-2, 6). The bout will be Wanheng's 9th defense of the title, a title that he won back in 2014, and will also see him attempt to extend his unbeaten record to 50-0, a figure that would match Floyd Mayweather's record. The champion has shown some cracks recently, and looked less than great in defenses against Tatsuya Fukuhara and Melvin Jerusalem last year. At 32 years old the Thai is getting on for a Minimumweight but does look like there might be another few fights left in him. At 23 years old Estrada is a young gun striving for the top, and is coming into this bout on the back of 4 straight wins including one over Saul Juarez. Sadly for Estrada this is a huge step up in class for him, even from the likes of Juarez, and given his style it's hard to really see him making the most of Wanheng's flaws.
In a supporting bout fans will see Petchmanee Kokietgym (19-1, 11) battle against Melianus Mirin (9-4, 6) in a bout for OPBF "silver" Minimumweight title. For Petchmanee this will be his second bout since he lost to Xiong Zhao Zhong in a battle for the WBA “interim” world title. Questions however need to be asked as to how Mirin qualifies for this fight given his lack of notable wins, and recent loss to Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart.
We'll also get title action in the Philippines, as the once beaten Clyde Azarcon (12-1, 4) battles against Bonjun Loperez (10-8-1, 5) for the vacant PBF Minimumweight title. Azarcon suffered a loss in his second bout, but has since reeled off 11 straight wins and looked pretty good doing them. Despite his winning run Azarcon has got questions to answer, and he'll be looking to answer some of them here against the more experienced Loperez. The 24 year old Loperez has won 1 of his last 7, but has been matched hard against the likes of Christian Araneta, Lester Abutan, Rene Mark Cuarto and John Paul Bentoso. On paper this looks like a mismatch, but in reality it should be a very good test for Azarcon.
The biggest fight of the day, for the Asian scene at least, comes from Thailand and will see see a world title on the line, as WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (48-0,17) defends against former WBO champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-5-6, 7). The defending champion is getting very close to the magic 50-0, a record of Floyd Mayweather Jr, and will be strongly favoured over Fukuhara here, with the Japanese challenger needing to create history to win. Given the styles of the two men this should be a very entertaining clash with two aggressive fighters facing off.
In Bohol we get a genuinely stacked card thanks to ALA who put on their next Pinoy Pride card.
The main event of the card will see the unbeaten and highly regarded Mark Magsayo (17-0, 13) defending his WBO International Featherweight title against former Japanese champion Shota Hayashi (30-6-1, 16). The promising Magsayo is looking to move into world class in the near future and will see a bout against Hayashi as a good step forward following two quick blow outs earlier in the year. For Hayashi, who lost his Japanese title to Kosuke Saka back in April, the bout is a tough one for his international debut, but he will know the reward of winning is a world ranking.
The card is stacked with prospects. This includes Virgel Vitor (11-1, 7), Albert Pagara (28-1, 19), Jeo Santisima (14-2, 12) and former world title challenger Melvin Jerusalem (11-2, 7). Unfortunately all 4 of the promising fighters appear to be in huge mismatches as they look to stay busy going in to the new year.
Also on the card will be Roli Gasca (23-8-1, 7) and Rocky Fuentes (35-9-2, 20), who like the aforementioned prospects are in easy against opponents they should have no trouble with.
Davao del Norte, Philippines
A second Filipino card comes from Davao del Norte thanks to MB Boxing.
The main event of the card will see Filipino fighter Glenn Porras (30-6, 18) take on former world title challenger Noldi Manakane (32-22-2, 18) of Indonesia. The Filipino has lost 3 of his last 5 but is a talented fighter and should have no problem seeing off the visitor, who used to be a decent fighter, at best, but is now pretty much a regional journeyman who picks up far more losses than wins.
The talented and once touted Rosekie Cristobal (14-2, 10) will be looking to avoid a third loss in 5 bouts as he battles former OPBF Light Welterweight champion Romeo Jakosalem (18-15-1, 10). Jakosalem is almost 6 years removed from his career best win, and has only won 4 times since then. Cristobal has suffered 2 DQ losses in Mexico, and before those there was big hopes for him, so he'll be looking to bounce back and show what he's about here.
A third bout of some note sees the once beaten Michael Bravo (12-1, 5) battle against Lyster Jun Pronco (9-15-1, 6). The once beaten Bravo comes into this bout on a run of 7 straight wins, albeit against very limited opposition, whilst Pronco is win-less in his last 13, with 12 losses and a draw during that run. This bout is for the PBF Light Flyweight title, and we expect to see Bravo crowned the new champion.
Seoul, South Korea
We have an international show in Korea with some low key bouts.
One bout worthy of interest sees Korean based Cameroonian refugee Heuk San Lee (4-0-1, 2) take on Japan's Kazuhiro Baba (6-5-2, 3). Lee is looking to extend a 3 fight winning run, which has seen him claim the Boxing M Light Middleweight title, and despite being 34 is one of the more interesting fighters plying his trade in Korea right now. The visitor had the edge in age, given he's only 25, but he's the naturally smaller man, was recently stopped by Ryota Toyoshima and is fighting outside of Japan for the first time.
A second bout of note here will see Hyun Je Shin (7-6, 1) take on Filipino fighter Daniel Ferreras (13-9-2, 4). Shin is a former Korean Featherweight champion, having won the title last time out however that was more than 3 years ago and he has been inactive since winning the belt. Notably the Korean has fought as low as 112lbs before as well. Ferreras is also ending a break from the ring, which also began back in 2014 when he was stopped by Rey Vargas. Although Ferreras' record is lessthan great he has mixed in good company, with losses to Vargas and Kohei Kono.
New York, USA
There will also be US action with Kazakh prospect Meiirim Nursultanov (4-0, 3) taking on fellow unbeaten Eric Moon (7-0, 6) in what looks like a great step up in class for the 24 year old Kazakh fighter. A win for Nursultanov will help push him towards bigger and better fights, potentially moving him into fights against “name” opponents in the very near future.
The biggest bout this coming Saturday, for fans of Asian boxing, comes from Thailand where WBC Minmumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (46-0, 17) hunts a 7th defense of the title as he takes on Australian based fighter Omari Kimweri (16-3, 6). Wanheng will be strongly favoured here but hasn't shone in recent bouts, even the stay busy fights have seen him put on less than great performances, and it does sometimes seem like he's on cruise control. A win here for Wanheng will take him to within touching distance of 50-0 but Kimweri will not have travelled to just lose.
As well as the big bout in Thailand there will also be a low profile card in Tokyo.
The main event of this card does look interesting as Japan's Daisuke Watanabe (5-2, 3) takes on big punching Filipino Jun Blazo (7-2-3, 6). We've been impressed by Watanabe so far, despite the fact he has a couple of losses, and his team are willing to continue pushing him hard and in risky bouts, and this is certainly a risky one. Blazo's power is genuine and he dropped Koki Eto in a previous visit to Tokyo, suggesting he could be a handful for Watanabe.
Another Japanese fighter facing a Filipino is Coach Hiroto (11-2-1, 3), who faces Glenn Medura (8-2-1, 5). Madura, like Blazo, is returning to Japan having faced someone much better known than themselves, losing to Ryosuke Iwasa, but will fancy his chances here against Hiroto, who has been out of the ring for close to 5 years.
Another bout on this card will see the promising Shuma Nakazato (5-0-1, 4) take on a Thai foe in what will be his first 6 rounder. Nakazato showed real promise in 2015 but was out of the ring since fighting to a draw with Teppei Kayanuma in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final. This should be a straight forward comeback, but with nothing known about his Thai foe it could be a tougher than expected assignment for the 20 year old Okinawan.
Attention turns to Thailand this Wednesday for a show with a world title bout.
In that title bout we'll see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (43-0, 17) take on unbeaten Filipino Melvin Jerusalem (11-0, 7). For Wanheng this will be his 6th title defense in a little over 2 years and he will be hoping to build on a successful 2016, a year in which he defeated Go Odaira and Saul Juarez in title defenses. The little known Jerusalem will enter with little expectation but could end the fight by really shaking up the Minimumweight here, if he's as good as some in the Philippines are suggesting.