Recently we did a list on 5 world title bouts we want to see in the new year, which can be read here 5 bouts we want to see in 2019 (World title version) for those who missed it. Now we're going to look at some All Japanese bouts we'd like to see in the new year. These bouts are all possible, so for example there is no issue with men being from the same gyms, and would all be really interesting fights, for at least one reason.
Kai Ishizawa (5-0, 5) Vs Daiki Tomita (12-1, 4) - Minimumweight
Back in July we were expecting the heavy handed Kai Ishizawa take on a then unbeaten Daiki Tomita. That bout was sadly cancelled when Ishizawa suffered a nose injury in the build up to the contest. Since then Ishizawa has become the Japanese Youth Minimumweight champion, stopping Yuga Inoue for the belt, whilst Tomita has challenged for the OPBF title, losing a decision to the world class Tsubasa Koura.
Getting this bout remade in the new year would be brilliant, and something to really look forward to. Both men have enhanced their reputations since the originally scheduled bout in the summer and we'd certainly love to see the power and desire of Ishizawa up against the skill and speed of Tomita.
Taku Kuwahara (3-0, 2) Vs Kenichi Horikawa (38-15-1, 12) - Light Flyweight
We believe that Taku Kuwahara maybe one of the very best prospects in world boxing today, and think it would be great for him to prove that in 2019. A bout against Japanese veteran Kenichi Horikawa, potentially for the Japanese title late in the year. Kuwahara has proven his value as a prospect, was a stand out amateur and is an exceptional talent. Horikawa is a faded veteran, but a nightmare to fight and this would be a potential passing of the torch.
This isn't a bout that would make sense for early in the year, given that Horikawa has a Japanese title fight assured in the Champion Carnival, but towards the end of 2019 this bout would be a very good one, and could well be for the national title, if Horikawa wins his title shot.
Katsunori Nagamine (15-2-1, 11) Vs Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4) - Flyweight
In 2017 we were impressed by the hunger and desire of Ryota Yamauchi. Sadly 2018 hasn't been the break out year we had anticipated from him, however that's not to say 2019 can't be. He does need a really good win next year however, and a real 50/50 bout with him would see him take on the exciting, hard hitting and talented Katsunori Nagamine, in what could be a very interesting match up between talented fighters looking to make a point in the new year.
Although we'd like to see this bout in the first half of the year, putting the winner in the mix for a title fight later in the year, it would be a very interesting title eliminator towards the end of the year, and potentially put the winner into the 2020 Champion Carnival.
Akira Yaegashi (27-6, 15) Vs Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-2, 11) - Super Flyweight
When we started this list there was a bout that really whet our appetite, and looked like a potential FOTY candidate. That was a bout between former 3 weight world champion Akira Yaegashi and 4 time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka. Both men have styles should gel perfectly, both are certainly shop worn, and both are a bit on the older side, still they should match up almost perfectly for an all out action packed bout. The loser really has no where to go, but the winner will potentially be on the fringes of a world ranking.
With Yaegashi turning 36 in February and Kudaka turning 34 in April the hope is that this bout will take place as soon as possible. Kudaka does have a bout in December, potentially delaying this showdown, but there's no reason why we can't have this treat in late Spring or early Summer.
Shohei Omori (20-2, 15) Vs Hiroaki Teshigawara (18-2-2, 11) - Super Bantamweight
When we talk about potential fights of the year it's hard to really know what bout will click. One we think will click perfectly is a show down between former world title challenger Shohei Omori and current OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hirokia Teshigawara. Omori is the more skilled man, and the bigger puncher, but Teshigawara is a proven tough guy, who will press the fight, throw a lot and really try to take the fight to Omori.
In theory this would make for a really interesting bout, with both men knowing a win would take them towards a world title fight. Neither man has their first bout of 2019 organised, and despite both fighting in the second half of 2018 neither took much punishment in their latest bout. If they can fit this bout in Spring it really would set up their year perfectly.
Masao Nakamura (25-3, 24) Vs Takuya Watanabe (35-8-1, 20)
A bonus fight for this list really excited us when we thought about it, and that is a show down between Super Featherweight's Masao Nakamura and Takuya Watanabe. Nakamura is a very heavy handed boxer-puncher, who can be hurt himself, whilst Watanabe is a rugged tough guy with under-rated boxing. Given Nakamura's power and Watanabe's proven durability we'd expect a war here, a bout that would really have fans on the edge of their seat.
Interestingly This bout would see the WBO Asia Pacific champion, Nakamura, taking on the OPBF "silver" champion, Watanabe, and would renove the loser from the mix domestically, potentially setting the winner up for a unification bout with Hironori Mishiro or Masaru Sueyoshi. Of the bouts on this list this may be one of the easier ones to make, and one of the most exciting all-Japanese bouts that could be made right now.
The month of November is a really packed one with amazing bouts every few days. In fact it's possible the most packed month of the year so far in regards to the Asia scene with big bouts in Japan, Thailand and the Philippines as well as bouts outside of Asia.
Kazuto Takesako (9-0, 9) v Sanosuke Sasaki (12-6, 6) - Japan
We turn our focus to the Korakuen Hall to begin the month of November, with a Japanese Middleweight title bout between hard hitting champion Kazuto Takesako and former champion Sanosuke Sasaki. The bout will be Takesako's first defense of the title that he won earlier this year, when he stopped Hikaru Nishida inside a round, whilst Sasaki will be looking to reclaim the title that he lost in his first defense, back in 2013 against Tomohiro Ebisu. It's hard to doubt the champion, but we are hoping he can use this bout to springboard towards bigger and better fights in 2019.
Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9) v Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24) - Scotland
A few hours after the Japanese title fight we get the final bout from the Quarter Round of the WBSS Bantamweight competition and will see Filipino icon Nonito Donaire challenge WBA Bantamweight “Super” champion Ryan Burnett. The winner of this bout will move on to the semi-final of the WBSS, where they will face Zolani Tete in a WBA/WBO world title unification bout. Donaire, at the age of 35, needs a win if he's to remain relevant whilst a win for Burnett would be huge for his career. We don't expect this to be an action packed war, but it is a very interesting match up.
Janibek Alimkhanuly (3-0, 1) Vs Vaughn Alexander (12-1, 8) - USA
Yet more notable action on the first Saturday of the month will see Kazakh prospect Janibek Alimkhanuly take on American foe Vaughn Alexander. This should be a good test for Alimkhanuly, but he really needs to shine after failing to impress on his US debut in September, when he took a decision win over Carlos Galvan. The 32 year old Alexander is a tough fighter who will be looking to upset the apple cart, and bounce back following a loss to Denis Doughlin last time out. This could be a very fun fight.
East Japan Rookie of the Year Finals - Japan
For a second day running attention turns to the Korakuen Hall where we will get the 2018 East Japan Rookie of the Year Finals. The winners from this show will fight in the All Japan Finals just before Christmas. Although the East Japan Rookie Finals aren't a huge story to international fans it is a launch pad, and the winners of the All Japan Finals do tend to make a mark in the years that follow, so we do suggest that fans keep a serious eye out for the results from this card.
Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) Vs Shuji Kato (9-1-1, 6) - Japan
The Japanese action resumes on November 7th when we see former Japanese Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida takes on 2017 Middleweight Rookie of the Year Shuji Kato, with the winner becoming the mandatory for the Japanese title in 2019. Meaning the winner of this bout will face the winner of the Takesako Vs Sasaki bout from just a few days earlier. This will be Nishida's first bout since losing the title to Takesako whilst Kato will be coming into the bout on the back of 7 straight wins, including his Rookie of the Year victory.
Shawn Oda (9-0, 8) Vs Seiryu Toshikawa (10-4, 6) - Japan
More Japanese action on November 10th with an interesting triple header. One of those bouts will see young Lightweights collide as Shawn Oda takes on Seiryu Toshikawa for the vacant Japanese Youth Lightweight title. We've been impressed by the explosive Oda, who is a Rookie of the Year winner, and have tipped him to go on to great things in the years to come. This is however a notable test for him. Coming into this bout Toshikawa has won his last 4 bouts, with the last of those wins being a big domestic win over Ryuji Ikeda.
Yuga Inoue (7-0-1, 1) Vs Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) - Japan
A second Japanese Youth title fight on this card will see unbeaten youngsters collide as Yuga Inoue faces off with Kai Ishizawa. Yuga is another of the fighters to claim a Rookie of the Year crown, winning the Minimumweight tournament last year, and has since scored his first stoppage, taking out Daisuke Suda in May of this year. The 21 year old Ishizawa has gone a very different route, having began his career in 6 rounders, and he really impressed last time out, when he stopped Tatsuro Nakashima. This is a key bout for both men, and the winner will certainly give their career a huge boost.
Ryuichi Funai (30-7, 21) Vs Victor Emanuel Olivo (15-2-1, 7) - Japan
The third part of this triple header is an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator, as Japan's Ryuichi Funai takes on Victory Olivo, with the winner moving onto a potential world title fight with Jerwin Ancajas in 2019. For Funai this bout is the next step in his long career, and a set back will likely be the end of his world title dreams. Olivo on the other-hand is pretty unknown, though he did give Milan Melindo real issues when he faced the Filipino earlier in his career and has got the potential to upset the Watanabe man in Tokyo.
Melvin Jerusalem (13-2, 8) Vs Toto Landero (10-3-2, 2) - Philippines
Staying in Asia Filipino fans also get something really exciting to watch on November 10th as former world title challengers clash in a massive domestic clash. The bout will see former WBC Minimumweight challenger Melvin Jerusalem take on recent WBA title challenger Toto Landero. Both men have come up short to world class fighters, as well as domestic foe Joey Canoy strangely, and should make for a very compelling contest as both fighters look to gain another shot at a world title. It's hard to pick a winner, and bouts like that are always worthy of interest, especially at fringe world level.
Daud Yordan (38-3-0-1, 26) Vs Anthony Crolla (33-6-3, 13) - England
The busy November 10th date also plays host to an interesting looking match up between Indonesian fighter Daud Yordan and popular Englishman Anthony Crolla, who fight in a notable Lightweight bout. The winner of this will immediately find themselves in the mix for a WBA Lightweight title bout. Yordan will be entering this bout on the back of a huge, and thrilling, win over Pavel Malikov in Russia but will need a career best performance to over-come Crolla. The Englishman on the other hand has gone 2-2 in his last 4 bouts, but has suffered both of those losses to Jorge Linares and shouldn't have his recent form held against him. This really could be a fun, high tempo bout between two flawed but busy fighters.
Tomoki Kameda (35-2, 20) Vs Abigail Medina (19-3-2, 10) - Tokyo
On October 12th we get a really notable bout as former WBO Bantamweight champion Tomoki Kameda faces off with Abigail Medina for the WBC "Interim" Super Bantamweight. The winner of this bout will be lined up with regular champion Rey Vargas, who was injured when this bout was ordered by the WBC. Kameda is well known in boxing circles, and is the younger brother of former world champions Koki and Daiki Kameda, but we've yet to see him really tested at Super Bantamweight. The 30 year old Medina is unbeaten in over years and has claimed the European title en route to his shot at this “interim” title. This could be a very interesting bout for two men each looking to prove that they are a top Super Bantamweight.
Having gone through the champions and contenders at Light Flyweight our final look at the fighters comes from the prospects in the division. There isn't a huge amount of “name value” here, but for the long term success of the division these are among the guys that really should have fans keep an eye one. They might be 2 or 3 fights from a world title fight, or might be much further away, but these are some of the fighters who are likely to make a mark on the division in the near future.
If you missed part 1 that's available here - The Depth at Light Flyweight - Part 1 - The World Champions
If you missed past 2 that's available here - The Depth at Light Flyweight - Part 2 - The Contenders
Masataka Taniguchi (10-2, 7)
One of the few prospects of note with a loss against his name is Masataka Taniguchi, a 24 year old fighter from the Watanabe gym. As an amateur Taniguchi was a top domestic talent, the captain of his university and someone marked for professional success. As a professional he has been ultra busy, fighting 12 times in 24 months, and has been matched hard already.
The thing that stands out, on paper, about Taniguchi is his two defeats. They have however been to Reiya Konishi and Tsubasa Koura in title fights at Minimumweight, and both were razor thin majority losses. In both of those defeats Taniguchi showed that he was class, with all the skills needed to go all the way. We'd keep him in mind when talking about the best prospects in boxing, never mind the best at 108lbs.
At the moment it's unclear when he will be back in the ring but we are expecting him to fight in May and he will likely find himself in a title fight before the end of 2018.
Abraham Rodriguez (22-0, 11)
Unbeaten 23 year old Abraham Rodriguez is finely balanced between being a prospect and a contender, and with 22 bouts under his belt he is already racking up the experience to be ready for a title fight. Amazingly, given his age, he has already been a professional for over 5 years and in recent bouts has been stepping up.
Rodriguez's record isn't just impressive in terms of numbers but there is also some substance there, with wins over Saul Jaurez, Mauricio Fuentes and and Jose Alonso Nunez Lopez. Sadly removing those names does leave his record looking thin for a fighter with around 20 wins, but for a 23 year old that's a trio of solid wins and he is looking like a fighter who will push his team to give him more and more tests.
After fitting in 3 fights last year Rodriguez has been quiet thus far in 2018, and really hasn't built on a December win over Saul Juarez. Hopefully he'll be back in action shortly and hopefully will be able to get another good win to begin the year.
Christian Araneta (15-0, 13)
Filipino puncher Christian Araneta is a brutal 23 year old from Cebu who has looked fantastic on the domestic scene and already looks like he could be mixing at a higher level. He has been a professional since September 2013 and has already claimed the PBF and WBO Oriental Light Flyweight titles. Not only has he claimed titles but he has also scored several wins of note, including a very big one over Jessie Espinas.
With his power Araneta looks like the next great puncher in the division, a division that already boasts punchers like Jonathan Taconing, Felix Alvarado, Angel Acosta and Carlos Canizales, and with his youth there is a lot of time to develop the skills to match his power.
Araneta fought earlier this month, stopping Ian Ligutan in 2 rounds, and given the quick nature of that blow out he will likely be back in action in the summer and may well fit 3 more fights in this year, making up for a frustrating 2017 in which he just once.
Rene Mark Cuarto (15-1-1, 9)
Another man with a loss on his record, but can't be over-looked, is 21 year old Pinoy hopeful Rene Mark Cuarto. The youngster suffered an earlier career set back to Jerald Paclar, though has since avenged the loss and has now beaten every fighter he has faced. Not only that but he is riding a 6 fight winning run and has managed to pick up a win on foreign soil, winning in China last year. Just as impressive is his activity, which saw him fight 5 times last year.
Although rising through the ranks Cuarto is still lacking a win of note, even on the domestic scene. Whilst that can certainly be held against him he is, as mentioned, only 21 years old and is likely to get that notable win in the near future. In fact it could well come later this year, if his team can afford to get him a good enough foe.
Given that Cuarto fought 5 times last year we are expecting him to be busy this year. So far he has fought just once, scoring a 3rd round KO over the highly experienced Rodel Tejares back in March, though we expect him back out in the ring in the Summer before potentially getting a notable opponent in the fall, if not the winter.
Vince Paras (13-0, 11)
Another Filipino puncher is Vince Paras, a teenager who is really getting fans excited. Aged just 19 the belief is that Paras is something something, and that belief has been there for a while with his handlers debuting the youngster at just 16 years old! Of course he was matched very easily early on but has been progressed well, and and last year he scored an excellent domestic win over Jimboy Haya for the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Light Flyweight title. That win over Haya showed that Paras could go 10 rounds and he looks like his potential is huge.
Although really promising Paras was dropped last time out, though did recover. He might be lacking in the toughness department though that's one of a number of questions that could make following Para really exciting, though the big question is how long he will remain at 108lbs.
Haya hasn't fought yet this year, though we suspect that he will be back in the ring in the Summer, potential moving towards a national title fight. There is however no need to race him, and he can have time to develop, even if he does mature into a Super Flyweight or Bantamweight.
Christian Bacolod (8-0, 6)
It really does seem like thee is a Filipino take over at 108lbs, and Christian Bacolod is yet another young Filipino rising through the division. At 23 he's older than some of the other's but has already began to come close in terms of achievements. His career only consists of 8 bouts but already features good domestic wins over Marlou Sandoval, Mike Kinaadman and Ryan Makiputin.
Bacolod was relatively inactive last year, fighting only twice, and he's not fought so far this year. At his age he can get away with some inactivity but won't want to waste too much time, especially given how many other good Filipino's are in his weight class. If he only fights twice this year there is a good chance he will get left behind.
In the ring Bacolod is a little rough around the edges but with his age there is time to smooth those edges off and add to what is a promising fighter with naturally heavy hands and some lovely combination punching. It's also worth noting that he has fought in front of the big lights on a ALA card and won't be worried about fighting on TV in the future.
Dave Apolinario (6-0, 4)
A final Filipino of note here is another 19 year old in the form of Dave Apolinario. The “Amazing” southpaw made his debut last June with an opening round TKO and has been managed well so far, with 6 fights in 10 months. Not only has he been busy but he has been stepped up and was last out in an 8 rounder, proving he had stamina to go with his power and skills. With that in mind it may be long until he's fighting in 10 rounders and even title bouts.
Apolinario has looked sensational so far and has shown glimpses of his amateur pedigree, skills that have allowed him and his team to be so aggressive with his development. That is likely to continue, and perhaps even step up a level as he continues to mature and physically develop.
Apolinario has already fought twice this year and will likely continue to be busy through the rest of 2018. We don't see him fighting for titles this year, but he will almost certainly break into the OPBF rankings before the year is over. A title fight at that level will be too much for him, for now, but in the next 24 months or so he should be looking Oriental titles.
Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4)
Japanese youngster Kai Ishizawa is an over-looked 21 year old puncher who debuted last June but already looks like a sensation in the making. He debuted, like many Japanese prospects, against a Thai novice and looked great on debut. In his second bout he destroyed a domestic opponent before another Thai foe. Those first 3 opponents lasted just 5 rounds with Ishizawa. In his most recent bout Ishizawa stepped up and stopped Tatsuro Nakashima in an outstanding performance to further solidify his standing as one of Japan's most over-looked prospects.
Having already shown good power, a good boxing brain and a stiff hard jab Ishizawa is already showing the tools needed to go a very long way. His team have matched him hard already, with two good domestic opponents already on his record, and a good 42 fight amateur career behind him. There work to be done, but he really does look like he could be a diamond in the rough.
Ishizawa is expected to return later in the year in a Japanese Youth title fight. That will be a chance for him to prove himself, claim a title and begin to show he belongs to be fighting at title level. If he wins that belt we expect to see him bang on the door of a Japanese ranking soon afterwards.
Lu Bin (1-0, 1)
The division's wild card in some ways is Chinese sensation Lu Bin. The 23 year old from Jinan is an amateur stand out, who like very few other fighters seems to be a fighter who has made his professional debut, but is also fighting as an amateur. His amateur career seems to be standing in the way of his professional development, which is a huge shame as Bin has the ability to become the star that Chinese boxing want Zou Shiming to be. The novice professional is a true talent with speed, power, skills, defense and a really high ring IQ. Not only that but he already has a world ranking, a regional title and the skills to make an immediate impact on the professional scene.
If Bin can commit to being a professional fighter he can almost choose his rate of progress. He has the tools to be something very special, but a question can be asked of his desire and hunger.
Bin recently won the Chinese National Amateur crown, no big surprise given his pedigree, but the decision to chase professional glory doesn't seem like one he's in a rush to make. His debut professional bout looks like it's going to be an anomaly for now, and it could be a while until he's unleashed on the professional ranks again. Sadly.
(Image courtesy of Watanabe Boxing Gym, Boxrec and Boxmob.jp)
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