Since Murata's name has been down we have seen a who's who of Japanese boxers linked there including WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (21-0-2, 16), who is rumoured to be facing Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (36-5-1, 16) in a mandatory title defence, and WBC Super Featherweight champion Takashi Miura (27-2-2, 20), who has had his name linked to Orlando Salido (41-12-2-1, 28). Whilst neither of these fights or fighters have been confirmed it is expected that Murata won't be the only big name Japanese fighter on the show. The Japanese gamblers are a big part of the attraction to Bob Arum, the boss of Top Rank, and he'd likely want at least 2 Japanese names on the show.
Lets be honest neither Yamanaka, arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in Japan, or Miura need a great deal of an introduction. Both are genuine world class fighters, both possess serious power and both have spoken about fighting away from home. Of course Murata isn't yet world class, but his ability and popularity is immense and it seems likely that Bob Arum is going to push hard to the US audience over the next few years.
More interestingly than the Japanese rumours however were the ones coming from South Korea over the past week or two that suggested that 4 South Korean's promoted by former world champion Myung-Woo Yuh could be on the show as well!
The Korean's who have been linked to show have been former OPBF Light Welterweight champion Min Wook Kim (11-1, 8), the unbeaten sensation Ja Ik Goo (3-0, 3), Woo Shin Kim (4-1-1, 2) and WBC Youth Super Bantamweight champion Ye Joon Kim (8-1-2, 3).
Whilst Korean boxing is very weak at the moment we are big fans of two of 4 Korean names linked to this show. Min Wook Kim is, right now, the best Korean fighter out there and also one of the most exciting. He combines power, rugged toughness and an exciting style that will see fans wanting to see him again. His stand out wins include victories over Romeo Jakosalem, Dan Nazareno Jr, Shinya Iwabuchi and Valentine Hosokawa and he's a fighter that has earned a world ranking. Sadly he has been inactive recently but a return on a show like this would be huge.
Woo Shin Kim is probably the least notable of the Koreans though is viewed a promising fighter. We've got to admit we've not seen a great deal of him but the Welterweight is said to be a "prospect" despite having a loss on his record. Ye Joon Kim is, as mentioned above, the current WBC Youth Super Bantamweight champion and is best known for what he did in Japan when he stopped Akihiro Matsumoto in 9 rounds for the title back in April. Ye Joon Kim is unbeaten in 9 and viewed as a potential challenger for an OPBF title and in fact he currently holds a #11 OPBF ranking.
Although he's the least experienced of the 4 men the fighter we're most excited about Ja Ik Goo who is the current South Korean Light Welterweight champion and the OPBF #1 ranked Light Welterweight contender. Although he lacks experience he looks the real deal and has something about him that really excites us. We've been lucky enough to find videos of both Goo's debut, against Jung Hoon Go, and his second bout, against Kazuki Hayashi. If you want to see why we're so excited we'd advise you watch both of those videos as this kid looks sensational.
Again we've got to admit that at the moment these 4 Korean's are only rumoured to be on the show and no opponents have been linked to them, though the rumours come from a very reliable source, and if we get to see either Min Wook Kim or Ja Ik Goo on the show we're going to be very happy fans.
(Image courtesy of Top Rank)