By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
-Kyotaro Fujimoto (20-1): WBO #6 / WBC #2
The former K-1 champion debuted in 2011 and has had a successful run in the regional scene, currently holding the OPBF & WBO Asia Pacific Heavyweight belts while riding on a 15 fight winning streak. He defended his championships against Suthat Kalalek (12-10) in September.
-Ryota Murata (14-2): WBA #6 / IBF #7
The 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist shockingly lost his WBA world title to Rob Brant, on October 20, and once again finds himself in the position of the title chaser. Right now, there are plenty potential interesting choices as for his next opponent, like fellow Olympic champion Esquiva Falcao (22-0), the WBA Asia champion Magomed Madiev (12-0) or the WBA’s top ranked middleweight contender David Lemieux (40-4). We shall see what the future holds for Murata soon.
Super Welterweight / Jr Middleweight:
-Takeshi Inoue (13-0): IBF #2 / WBO #3 / WBA #14 / WBC #19
The undefeated 4-year veteran is climbing the division incredibly fast, managing to place himself at the top of the WBO/IBF rankings. A former Japanese title holder and now the unified OPBF & WBO Asia Pacific champion, may very well be on his way to the big one, as he’s been rumored to be facing Julian Williams (25-1) in a IBF world title eliminator.
-Keita Obara (20-3): IBF #6 / WBO #14
The former Japanese/OPBF champion and world title contender, recently got his revenge on Alvin Lagumbay (10-3), after that shocking KO loss earlier this year, to regain the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight championship. Obara will take on the WBC Silver champion Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0), on January 4th, in an IBF world title eliminator.
Super Lightweight / Jr Welterweight:
-Hiroki Okada (19-0): WBO #3 / WBA #3 / IBF #5 / WBC #12
One of brightest prospects in Japan right now, Okada has never lost a single bout in his entire career. A bona fide knock out artist (13 KOs), he held the Japanese crown for 32 months and defended it 6 times, before winning the WBO Asia Pacific championship from Jason Pagara (41-3) in 2017. Okada’s latest victory came in September, against Cristian Rafael Coria (27-7), when he made his US debut.
-Akihiro Kondo (31-7): IBF #4
Since losing to Sergey Lipinets (14-1) last year, Kondo has won his last 2 fights against the debuting Rikhit Thunritsa and Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-12).
-Masayoshi Nakatani (17-0): IBF #5 / WBC #8 / WBO #12
Nakatani defended his OPBF Lightweight title, this past July, for the 10th time. A fight with Zaur Abdullaev (10-0) for the WBC Silver title or with Isa Chaniev (13-1) for the IBF Intercontinental/WBO International titles, would make much sense at this point of his career.
-Nihito Arakawa (31-6): WBO #5
Former Japanese, OPBF and reigning WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight champion, Arakawa has been in many big fights through out his 14-year career. At 36, he is still looking for his second world title opportunity.
Super Featherweight/ Jr Lightweight:
-Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1): WBO #6 / WBC #22
The 27 year old is steadily making his mark in Japan. Sueyoshi has been victorious in his last 15 outings and even won the Japanese title on October of 2017. Another successful year and we might see him challenging for the WBO world title by the end of 2019/beginning of 2020. He fought OPBF champion Hironori Mishiro (6-0) for the Japanese & OPBF titles, on October 6, to a draw.
-Satoshi Shimizu (7-0): IBF #3 / WBC #5
The 2012 Olympics Bronze Medalist made his pro debut on September of 2016 and has since then stopped every single one of his opponent, claiming the OPBF Featherweight crown in just his 4th pro fight. Shimizu successfully defended that belt against Shingo Kawamura (16-4) in August, for the third time. Shimizu might be looking for a fight with Gary Russell Jr. (29-1) for the WBC world title in the near future. Until then, he has to defend the OPBF championship again this year, against fellow undefeated prospect Takuya Uehara (16-0) on December 3rd.
-Shun Kubo (13-1): WBA #8 / WBC #23
The former WBA Super Bantamweight world champion returned this April, after his TKO loss to Daniel Roman in 2017, and won his comeback fight against former OPBF Featherweight champion & world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa (33-5) making a huge impact in his Featherweight debut. Kubo will compete again on December 1st, as he takes on former world title contender Noldi Manakane (33-25).
-Reiya Abe (18-2): IBF #4 / WBC #20
The young Japanese lion, undefeated in his last 10 bouts, is steadily making his mark in the Featherweight division.
Super Bantamweight / Jr Featherweight:
-Tomoki Kameda (35-2): WBC #2 / WBO #8
El Mexicanito has been undefeated since moving up a weight class. He will be facing the current EBU champion Abigail Medina (19-3) for the interim WBC world title, on November 12, in Japan.
-Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3): IBF #3 / WBC #12
Iwasa lost his IBF world title to DJ Doheny (20-0) this past August. Rumor has it that he maybe fighting Cesar Juarez (23-6) in an IBF world title eliminator in the near future.
- Shingo Wake (25-5): IBF #4 / WBC #7
The former OPBF champion and world title contender was in a war, this past July, with top ranked boxer Yusaku Kuga (16-3), from which he came out the victor as well as the new Japanese champion. The 12 year veteran has re-established himself at the top of the division as he is aiming for another shot at the big one.
- Ryohei Takahashi (16-3): IBF #10
Takahashi won the IBF Pan Pacific championship from Pipat Chaiporn (45-12) back in June.
-Takuma Inoue (12-0): WBC #4 / WBO #4
Takuma defeated the reigning OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (29-13) via unanimous decision, in a WBC World title eliminator fight, on September 11. He is now set to face the winner of Rau'shee Warren (16-2) vs. Nordine Oubaali (14-0), in 2019. If the fight between Warren and Oubaali doesn’t materialize, then Takuma will go up against undefeated Thai boxer Petch Sor Chitpattana (48-0) for the title, this year.
Super Flyweight / Jr Bantamweight:
-Kazuto Ioka (23-1): WBA #2 / WBC #3 / WBO #3
Ioka outclassed 2-time world title contender and accomplished amateur boxer McWilliams Arroyo (17-4), recently in the States, to win the WBC Silver title. The Japanese superstar is on a journey to conquer yet again another division, as a match with fellow 3 division world champion Donnie Nietes (41-1), for the vacant WBO Super Flyweight World championship, is almost certain to take place on December 31st in Macau.
-Koki Eto (23-4): WBC #7 / WBO #8 / WBA #8 / IBF #14
The former interim WBA Flyweight World champion is currently ranked in the top 10 of the division. Nothing new on the horizon for him at this moment.
-Ryuichi Funai (30-7): IBF #3 / WBO #6 / WBC #14 / WBA #12
Funai knocked out Filipino standout and world title contender Warlito Parrenas (26-8), in impressive fashion this past June, to win the vacant WBO Asia Pacific title. He will be facing Victor Olivo (15-2) on November 10, in an IBF title eliminator bout. The winner will challenge Jerwin Ancajas (30-1) for the IBF Super Flyweight World Championship next year.
-Sho Ishida (26-1): IBF #5 / WBO #7 / WBA #7 / WBC #17
Since losing to the WBA world champion Khalid Yafai (24-0) last year, Ishida has won both of his 2018 fights, against Ratchanon Sawangsoda (12-3) and Richard Claveras (18-5), via KO. His next opponent will be the aforementioned Warlito Parrenas, on December 9.
-Masayuki Kuroda (30-7): WBC #3 / WBO #2 / IBF #4
The current Japanese Flyweight champion has been on a 6-fight winning streak and has defended his belt 5 times since 2017. Kuroda was scheduled to fight Komgrich Nantapech (24-5) in an IBF world title eliminator bout this November. However, Nantapech was injured and the match was cancelled. Now there’s a possibility that Kuroda may go straight for a world title fight against the IBF world champion Moruti Mthalane (36-2).
-Junto Nakatani (17-0): WBC #4 / WBO #10
The unstoppable Japanese prospect has fought 4 times in 2018 and has won all of his bouts, 2 of them via KO. At this pace, he will be competing for a world title in no time.
-Masahiro Sakamoto (13-1): WBO #4
Sakamoto has been on a 5 fight winning streak, all stoppages, including victories over Ekkawit Songnui (48-6) and Wicha Phulaikhao (60-10). The former WBO Asia Pacific champion will probably be in line for a WBO World title match, against Kosei Tanaka, in 2019.
-Sho Kimura (17-2): WBC #7 / WBO #5
The former WBO world champion lost this title recently to Kosei Tanaka, in a back and forth affair. Already ranked in the top 10 of the WBO & WBC, he will probably find himself in a championship match after one or two fights.
-Tetsuya Hisada (32-9): WBA #2 / WBO #3 / WBC #3 / IBF #3
The reigning Japanese Flyweight champion recorded a 4th successful title defense against Koki Ono (12-5) on July 16, thus improving his streak to 11 consecutive victories. Now as the #1 ranked Light Flyweight by the WBA, he is rumored to face Hekkie Budler (32-3) for the gold, probably in 2019. His next fight will be on November 16, against Akihiro Toya (8-4), for the Japanese title.
-Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0): WBA #1 / WBC #2 / IBF #4 / WBO #9
The undefeated IBF Minimumweight World champion recently moved up a weight class and is already sitting at the top of the division. Kyoguchi’s Light Flyweight debut took place on September 25, against top Indonesian boxer Tibo Monabesa (18-1), which ended with a TKO victory for the Japanese star. Recently the WBC has ordered a world title eliminator between Kyoguchi and the reigning WBC International champion Jonathan Taconing (28-3). If this bout goes through, it’s still uncertain. There are also talks of Kyoguchi potentially challenging Angel Acosta (19-1) for the WBO World title.
-Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3): WBC #4 / WBA #4 / IBF #8
There are currently 2 scenarios for the former world champion. Either he moves up to Flyweight and fights for a world title in that division or have his rematch with Hekkie Budler. Nothing has been confirmed thus far.
-Reiya Konishi (16-1): WBA #5 / WBO #6 / IBF #9 / WBC #13
After losing a decision to Carlos Canizales (21-0), for the WBA world title, earlier this year, Konishi came back in July and knocked out Orlie Silvestre (11-4) to become the new WBO Asia Pacific champion. His first title defense will take place on December 1st, against Richard Rosales (13-7).
-Ryuji Hara (23-2): WBO #1
Hara has been the #1 ranked Light Flyweight by the WBO since January, despite having only competed once in this division against the debuting Seneey Worachina. Hara was set to face Angel Acosta for the world title on April 7 but an injury prevented him from stepping into the ring.
-Tsubasa Koura (14-0): WBC #2 / IBF #4 / WBA #10 / WBO #10
At only 23 years of age, Koura has already amassed 14 career wins, including 9 KOs, as well as the OPBF Minimumweight championship. He successfully defended his title, for the 3rd time, against Daiki Tomita (12-1) on September 29. A WBC world title match with Chayaphon Moonsri (51-0) in 2019 could be possible. Koura is set to face Simphiwe Khonco (19-5) in a WBC title eliminator bout (date TBA).
-Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-6): WBC #5 / IBF #13
Fukuhara has been victorious in both of his 2018 fights but he is going to need a few more wins if he wants challenge Chayaphon Moonsri again.
-Shin Ono (23-9): WBO #5 / IBF #11 / WBA #13 / WBC #13
Ono made his first successful Japanese title defense against former world title contender Riku Kano (13-4) on August 24. There were rumors that he could be facing
Chayaphon Moonsri in December but these plans may have fallen off since the Thai world champion will have another match coming up this month.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features