This coming week is a bit of a slow burning one for Asian fight fans, but it does finish with a great day of action, slowly building it’s way there.
The most interesting card this Sunday comes from Hyogo where Shinsei gym will put on a low key card.
One of the more interesting bouts here will see the Japanese and OPBF ranked Ryo Kosaka (13-3-1, 7) battle against the once beaten, and heavy handed, Morihisa Iju (10-1, 8). Kosaka has won his last 6, and is in line for a Japanese title fight at Super Bantamweight, but has slipped up in the past and will need to be at his best here. Iju has won his last 5, with 4 stoppages, and will be in there looking to score his best win to date. The bout might not generate must interest in the west but it is an interesting one all the same.
On the same card we’ll also see former OPBF Minimumweight champion Ryuya Yamanaka (13-2, 3) battle against Thai visitor Khanongmek Sithkrukong (0-1). On paper this bout might not be of interest but the word from Japan is that this will, essentially, be a world title prelude for Yamanaka who will be pushed to world level later in the year. The Thai isn’t there to win, but he is there to give Yamanaka one final tube up before a world title shot.
Just a day later attention turns to Tokyo where we get a female world title bout, and an interesting supporting bout.
The female world title bout will see former 3-weight world champion Naoko Fujioka (15-2, 6) battle against Isabel Millan (18-2-1, 8) for the WBA female Flyweight title. A win for Fujioka would see her becoming the first ever Japanese 4-weight world champion. Millan has been on a nice run of late but this is a notable step up in class for the Mexican who would be scoring a career best win if she can over-come the Japanese starlet.
On the same card we’ll see a rematch between Akihiro Kondo (27-6-1, 14) and Patomsuk Pathompothong (33-6-1, 20). Coming in to this Kondo is world ranked, and could well be only a few fights from from getting a shot at the IBF Light Welterweight title, but isn’t looking like the fighter he once was. Saying that he did beat Patomsuk less than 2 years ago, with a 4th round TKO, and it’s likely he’ll over-come the Thai again here. Notabable Patomsuk has lost his last two, though of those losses was a very controversial defeat to Kuok Kum Ng in Macau.
We get more notable female action on Wednesday as the unbeaten model-come-boxer Ayumi Goto (5-0, 4) takes on Kim Actub (4-6-1, 3) for the OPBF female Super Bantamweight title. The title was vacated recently by Tomomi Takano, who Goto actively chased until she vacated. Goto should be strongly favoured here but Actub has mixed with better fighters than Goto has so far.
Staying in Tokyo we get an OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight as former world title challenger Hidenori Otake (27-2-3, 12) takes on Jelbirt Gomera (12-1, 6) for the title that was recently vacated by Shun Kubo, ahead of Kubo’s world title fight. Although Otake, who is best known for losing to Scott Quigg, is the favourite and the much more experienced fighter coming in to this bout he has looked poor recently and was fortunate last time out. For Gomera the bout is a huge opportunity to become the OPBF champion and although relatively unknown he has been touted as a potential “one to watch” by those in the Philippines.
In Russia on the same day we’ll see OPBF Light Welterweight champion Al Rivera (17-2, 15) battling against the twice beaten Aik Shakhnazaryan (19-2, 10). Rivera, who won’t be defending his Oriental title here, is a big punching and exciting puncher who destroyed Shinya Iwabuchi for the title last year and is on a great run, with 7 straight stoppage wins including two over Adones Cabalquinto as well as the win over Iwabuchi. Although a huge puncher Rivera can be hurt and has been stopped twice, suggesting he’s a bit of a glass cannon. As for Shakhnazaryan he suffered 2 losses in 2015, losing to Abner Lopez in the US and then to Eduard Troyanovsky in Russia, and has strung together 4 low key stoppage wins. This could be a bit of a hidden gem for the week and is well worth making a mental note of.
It’s fair to say that the highlight this week will be on Saturday, particularly in the US where we get a double header featuring Asian fighters. Before then however Filipino fans will get the chance to see 3 unbeaten prospects showcased in Cebu City.
The most experienced of those prospects is Jessie Cris Rosales (20-0-1, 8), who looks to extend his unbeaten run as he takes on Jerry Nardo (21-10, 11). On paper this looks to be a mismatch, especially given that Nardo has lost his last 4, 3 by stoppage, but it should be a decent test for Rosales given the two men had a competitive bout back in 2013, and Nardo will be looking to avenge his close loss to the unbeaten man.
Arguably the most promising of the prospects is Jack Tepora (19-0, 14), who looks for win #2- and the first defense of his WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title. The wonderfully talented Tepora, a former amateur stand out, will be up against Indonesian Yon Armed (14-7, 6) and should see this as a chance to bolster his WBO ranking. Hopefully a win here for Tepora will see his team back him a bit more and get him into some more testing contests in the near future.
Another unbeaten puncher in action here is action man Christian Araneta (13-0, 11), who looks to claim the WBO Oriental Light Flyweight title. The exciting Araneta has been in some exciting contests already in his career, and holds a very notable domestic win over Jesse Espinas but will be looking to claim his first title here as he takes on Demsi Manufoe (11-6, 8). A win for Araneta could see him popping up on the lower end of the WBO rankings.
The first of the big double header in the US will see Japanese promoted Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez (46-0, 38) defending his WBC Super Flyweight title against aggressive Thai Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (41-4-1, 38). With out trying to hype Srisaket too much I personally think this could be a FOTY contender, and an upset of the year contender, with Srisaket being the type of opponent who is powerful, tough and strong. Gonzalez, defending his title for the first time, is in tough here for what could be a genuine treat for fight fans.
The other bout on the US show will see Middleweight king Gennady Golovkin (36-0, 33) take on fellow Middleweight puncher Daniel Jacobs (32-1, 29). The bout, for the IBF, IBO, WBC and WBA titles does really define the key figure of the division and is likely to be a tentative affair with both men being punchers, but one that could combust at any time, and could well be over in an instant. For Golovkin, a fighter from Kazakhstan who is also half Korean, the bout is the long needed career defining bout. As for Jacobs it’s a huge chance to bury the ghosts of his loss to Dmitry Pirog.
(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)