Macao S.A.R., China
The biggest Asian show this coming Saturday comes from Macao, where we get several bouts of note thanks to the IBF, who are holding a convention and having boxing take place around that event.
On paper the best bout is an all-south Light Heavyweight clash between Fanlong Meng (14-0, 9) and Adam Deines (17-0-1, 8), who battle in what is an IBF final world title eliminator. Unbeaten fighters, with ambition, clashing is always a good thing, and whilst neither will be given a chance against IBF world champion Artur Beterbiev this should still be a worth while clash. With a world title fight up for grabs for the winner this is a really important contest, and potentially the hidden gem of the weekend.
Another unbeaten fighter on this card is Australian Steve Gago (10-0, 4), who takes on criminally under-rated Filipino Adam Diu Abdulhamid (14-7, 6), in what should be a much, much tougher test than it appears on paper. Although Abdulhamid has 7 losses to his name he is a very talented fighter and a real potential banana skin for the unbeaten Gago.
A third bout will see China's Sen Chen (11-1, 2) battle against Filipino veteran Richie Mepranum (33-7-1, 9), for a minor regional title. This is a big step up for Chen, but a win would help him out his name out there. At his best Mepranum is a solid fighter, but in recent years he has just been picking up more losses than wins, and has lost 3 of his last 5. A good test for Chen, but it should be a winnable one.
From the Korakuen Hall we'll get the next Dynamic Glove card, and unfortunately it won't be shown live, and instead it's going to be put on tape delay the following Wednesday.
The main event of the card was supposed to be the first defense of the Japanese Flyweight title by Junto Nakatani (18-0, 13), who was pencilled in to face Wolf Nakano (6-7-4, 2). That was a disappointing bout and was cancelled when Nakano suffered an injury in training, and he has now been replaced by Filipino foe Philip Luis Cuerdo (11-6-1, 4). On paper this is a better bout than the original match up, but should be little more than the next step forward for Nakatani, who is looking like one of the brightest prospects in Japan.
On paper the bout of the show looks likely to be the rematch between Charles Bellamy (28-3-2, 18) and Yuto Shimizu (12-4-2, 5), who had a cracking bout last September. The Bellamy, a popular Japanese based American, took a narrow win over Shimizu last year, and will be favoured here. Shimizu however is no push over, as he showed in their first bout, and this could be a very, very good bout.
Another really good looking match up here will see Japan's Ryota Toyoshima (10-2-1, 7) look to build on a big 208 as he takes on Korean visitor Woo Min Won (10-1, 6). Toyoshima went 3-0 (2) last year, with a very notable win over Moon Hyun Yun, and will be looking to continue that run here. The Korean fight will be fighting on Japanese soil for the second time, having beaten Daiki Koide in Nagoya in 2016. Interestingly this will be Kim's 4th straight bout against a Japanese foe, and so far he has a 3-0 (2) record against Japanese fighters.
Hard hitting Minimumweight prospect Kai Ishizawa (5-0, 5) might not be one of the most rounded prospects in Japan but he is a very heavy handed fighter with a lot of promise, and he's very, very young. On this show he will take on Indonesian journeyman Silem Serang (13-19-2, 1), in what should be little more than a show case for the very exciting Ishizawa.
One other bout of note will see Rookie of the Year runner up Hikari Mineta (5-1, 3) kick off his 2019 with a bout against 32 year old Motosuke Kimura (3-1-2, 1). We were impressed by Mineta in the Rookie of the Year, though he did have a nightmare in the early stages of the final, and it's going to be great to see what the Teiken man can go on to achieve over the coming years.
On the subject of Japanese fighters it's worth noting that Swiss based Japanese born veteran Aniya Seki (34-4-3, 5) will be up against journey woman Ivanka Ivanova (1-10-2) in Berne. Seki, now aged 40, is unlikely to achieve her dream of becoming a world champion, but she should pick up an easy win here against her Bulgarian foe who hasn't won in her last 9.
We turn to the US for much more notable action towards the end of the day, with a number of Filipino fighters in action.
Sadly whilst there are some talented fighters on the card, the most notable of the Filipino fighters looks to be, on paper at least, in a stay busy fight. That is former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (32-2, 15), the criminally under-rated southpaw, taking on Mexican foe Roberto Castaneda (23-11-2, 16). On paper this is a mismatch, though Castaneda has had some interesting performances in recent years coming close to upsetting Jose Lopez in 2014 and securing a draw Tyler McCreary last time out.
Another highly regarded Filipino on this card is the hard hitting Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17), who returns to the ring following a weight mishap earlier in the year. He'll be up against fellow puncher Jose Luis Gallegos (16-6, 12) and should manage to secure a pretty straight forward win, though has clearly lost some of his career moment after a huge 2018.
Filipino-America John Leo Dato (10-0-1, 7) looks to extend his unbeaten record, as he takes on tough veteran German Meraz (62-55-2, 39). The Mexican veteran has 120 bouts to his name, and although his losses are stacking up he has only 8 stoppage defeats with the latest coming more than 2 years ago to Tugstsogt Nyambayar. Meraz will test Dato, but isn't likely to score the upset.
The attention for this weekend is pretty scattered with no one country really stealing the focus. Saying that however the most intriguing card is probably in Kazakhstan.
In the main event of the card fight fans get to see Kanat Islam (21-0, 18) make his Kazakh debut at long last, as he takes on Ghana's Patrick Allotey (34-2, 28) in a bout for a number of minor titles. Originally this bout was said to be a WBA “interim” world title bout, but will instead have IBO, WBO and WBA minor titles and whilst it's not what either man really wanted, it could open doors for world title bouts down the line. On paper it's a big step up for Islam though Allotey has suffered 2 recent stoppage losses and it seems likely he will again be stopped as Islam is a solid puncher, despite being a technically flawed fighter.
In the chief supporting bout we'll see unbeaten Zhankhozh Turarov (19-0, 13) fight for the 5th time in Kazakhstan, returning for the first time since December 2012. In the opposite corner to Turarov will be the heavy handed Ghanaian Isaac Aryee (24-8, 22). Ayree comes into this bout with a puncher's reputation but is 0-3 outside of Ghana and was stopped in 3 rounds last year by Jimmy Kilrain Kelly, with a similar outcome expected here.
The card features a really notable debutant in the form of 2016 Olympian Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (0-0), who goes in deep against the highly experience Milton Nunez (33-16-1, 29), who has faced a relative who's who. The Kazakh debutant may not have won a medal at 2016 Olympics but did win the 2013 World Amateur Championship and the Asian Championships, in 2013, and is holy tipped to race through the ranks if he decides to turn professional full time, something that is still unclear.
Also on this card will be Aidos Yerbossynuly (4-0, 4), who will be in a 6 rounder.
Seoul, South Korea
The new BoxingM organisation continue to build their brand with their second show in the space of just a few weeks, and for the first time they put on international title fighters.
In the main event we see one of Korea's more interesting fighters, Woo Min Won (8-1, 5), take on a Japanese veteran, Taisho Ozawa (21-8-2, 13), for the WBC EPBC, Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council, Light Welterweight title. Won comes into this bout on a 3 fight winning run including a win for the Korean 140lb title last year and a big upset win over Daiki Koide earlier this year, and should be favoured to keep that run going here. The 36 year old Ozawa hasn't fought in more than 3 years, and was 2-4 in his previous bouts, and although he was once a decent fighter he was on the slide before his long break from the ring.
In the other title bout on this card we'll see the WBC EPBC “interim” Lightweight title on the line, as Il Kwon Kim (6-3, 3) takes on Juk San Lee (6-3, 1), aka Ryo Akahori as he's listed on the poster for the show. Lee isn't the most active of fighters, in fact this is only his second bout in the last 5 years, but a win here could kick start his career. Kim, who has also been plagued with inactivity, won the Korean Lightweight title earlier this year and will see a win here as a chance to move into much more significant and interesting bouts in the near future.
In the main event of a card in Durango fight fans will see former world champion Cristian Mijares (54-8-2, 26) battle unbeaten Japanese fight Shohei Kawashima (14-0-2, 3) in a bout for Mijares' WBC silver Featherweight title. The bout is a huge step up for Kawashima but a great opportunity for him to make a mark on the big stage and build on things like being the 2014 All Japan Rookie of the year and his win in Korea earlier this year. At 35 Mijares, once one of the sports most talented boxers, is on the back end of his career, though comes into this bout on a 5 fight winning streak, including a shock win over the then unbeaten Andres Gutierrez. At his best this would be a huge mismatch in favour of Mijares, however he's not the fighter he was and Kawashima does have a chance, albeit a slim one, to claim a career changing win
Also on this card is former unified Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr (19-4-1, 12), best known for his incredible contest with Katsunari Takayama, who fights Filipino fighter Crison Omayao (20-12-3, 7), best known for being the debut opponent of Naoya Inoue back in 2012. Omayao has been passed around Japanese prospects the past few years, including Genki Hanai and Kosei Tanaka, and it seems he is here to serve as a tune up opponent for Rodriguez who is said to be chasing Flyweight gold now. This could be a painful night for the “D'Cowboy” given that Rodriguez is a bit of a monster in the ring.
In Mexico we'll see Filipino Richard Pumicpic (18-7-2, 6) take on a really tough ask as he battles Mexican star Cesar Juarez (18-5, 14), who has been a thorn in the side of Filipino boxing in recent years. Juarez first gave Filipino's a headache when he gave Nonito Donaire a nightmare late in their world title bout last December, and destroyed Filipino hearts earlier this year when he beat the hotly tipped Albert Pagara. Pumicpic isn't as well known as the other Filipino's that Jaurez has faced but is likely to find out what the other two found out, the Mexican is a heavy handed, tough nosed nightmare
In Russia we see WBA “interim” Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (7-0, 6) fight in a 10 round non-title fight as he faces fellow puncher Abdallah Paziwapazi (13-3, 12), from Tanzania. The bout is Bivol's first since he claimed his “world” title, easily defeating Felix Valera with a 12 round decision, and should be little more than a stay busy fight for the Kyrgyzstan born sensation. It is worth noting that Paziwapazi is not only a puncher but has never been stopped and that will be the target here for Bivol, who will be fighting for the third time this year