A new month is upon us on Tuesday and for Japanese fight fans it begins with a Rookie of the Year card at the Korakuen Hall. In total there will be 13 bouts from Light Flyweight to Welterweight.
On paper the best bout looks to be a Super Bantamweight clash between Natsuki Kojima (3-0, 3) and Riki Hamada (5-0, 5). Between the two of them they have racked up 8 stoppages, in a total of 15 rounds, and we're expecting something very fun when they face off and let leather fly. This may not be a bout with massive amounts of skill, but it looks almost nailed on to be a fun contest.
Another good looking contest will see Daichi Kawabuchi (3-0-1, 2) take on Naoki Sakata (4-0-1, 3) in a bout at Super Featherweight. These two will both be fighting to defend their unbeaten records and that should drive them on to have a bit of a mini-classic, and that's ignoring the fact that the winner will progress in the Rookie of the Year.
Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines
There will also be a low key card in the Philippines. The most notable bout on the card pits teenagers against each other in a really interesting looking match up. The bout in questions sees the unbeaten 18 year old Carl Jammes Martin (4-0, 3) taking on the once beaten 19 year old Jerry Mae Villagracia (6-1, 2). The unbeaten youngster has looked really exciting so far, but this is a step up in class as he goes up against someone who will be looking to win, and not just make up the numbers. As for Villagracia this is a chance to score a notable win, and put his loss to Abraham Bullagay well behind him.
To kick off a new week we have a small show in the Philippines, with a card that really won't get much attention, even in the Philippines.
In one of those bouts we'll see former OPBF title challenger Lloyd Jardeliza (8-5-3, 6) take on southpaw foe Jerwin Mejes (4-2-2, 3) in what could be a hard hitting bout, albeit at a low level. Coming in to this Jardeliza has lost 4 of his last 6 but will be looking to get back on track with a second successive win. Mejes however is unbeaten in his last 3 and has a bit of momentum coming into this bout.
Another relatively notable name on this show is Lito Dante (13-8-4, 7) who takes on Powell Balaba (8-23-1, 5) in what looks like a real mismatch. Dante was originally pencilled in for an OPBF title bout but for some reason was pulled from that bout for this one instead, which looks like a relatively meaningless match up if we're being honest.
A third bout worth a tiny bit of attention will see 22 year old puncher Alvin Lagumbay (7-1, 6) taking on Jimmy Aducal (8-7-2, 6), in what should an explosive, but one sided, bout.
This coming Sunday Japanese fight fans in Osaka are in for a treat as they get an OPBF title triple header with supporting bouts featuring a hot prospect and a former 2-time world title challenger.
The former world title challenger is Hirofumi Mukai (13-5-3, 3), who was last seen losing a thriller with Rex Tso in Hong Kong. Although Mukai was battered by Tso he put on a brave and courageous showing and it'll be nice to see him back in action, even if he is facing a Thai who has been picked to help Mukai rebuild. The other notable fighter on the under-card is former Japanese Minimumeight title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (7-1, 5), who also faces a Thai foe. For Taniguchi the bout will be his first since suffering a narrow loss to Reiya Konishi for the Japanese title, and we suspect he will be in there with a point to prove.
The first of the three title bouts will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Ratchasi Sithsaithong (8-3, 6) defending his title against Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine (10-4, 8). For the Thai the bout will be his first defense and see him return to Japan following a massive come-from-behind victory against Yutaka Oishi back in April. For Petagine this will be his first title fight and although neither fighter is a big name the bout should be a good chance for the winner to begin making a name for themselves.
The stand out bout, on paper at least, will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (26-12, 12) defending his title against former 2-time Japanese champion Kentaro Masuda (27-7, 15). On paper this bout may not get pulses racing but fans who have followed the two fighters will know their records are misleading, and both fighters can really go. Both hit harder than their records suggest, both are in good form and both are world ranked by the WBC and IBF, essentially making this a world title eliminator as well as an Oriental title bout.
The third, and final, OPBF title bout on the card will see Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (12-2-2, 11) defending his title against Japanese based American puncher Brandon Lockhart Shane (8-5-1, 7). On paper this looks like an easy win for the defending champion, who is younger, bigger and more proven than the challenger, however the challenger can puncher, and Tyson has got a suspect chin. The champion should retain, but we wouldn't be surprised if he showed a lot of respect to the American here, and looked to use his size, rather than his power, to defend his title.
The rising generation of Japanese fighters was seen last week when Hiroto Kyoguchi became a world champion in just his 8th professional fight. This coming Saturday we again see two young Japanese fighters looking to continue their rise, one is a stablemate of Kyoguchi's at the Watanabe gym whilst the other is another heavy handed Minimumweight, and a potential future foe for Kyoguchi.
The main event will see Kyoguchi's stable mate Yusaku Kuga (14-2-1, 10) look to make his first defense of the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on fellow hard hitter Ryoichi Tamura (8-2-1, 5) in what looks like a potentially brilliant fire fight. Neither of these men are the most skilled, but both can bang and both like to let their hands go. On paper Kuga should be the favourite, with his higher level of experience and move proven credentials, but Tamura can hit and could be a nightmare in a potential slugfest.
The other main bout will see Tsubasa Koura (10-0, 7) face off with Filipino Jaysever Abcede (14-6, 9), with the winner looking to become the new OPBF Minimumweight champion, claiming a title last held by the aforementioned Kyoguchi. Koura's rise has been great and he really shone last year, stopping Jeffrey Galero in an opening performance, but Abcede cannot be over-looked and he holds a massive win himself, stopping Pigmy Kokietgym just a few fights back. The winner here will put themselves in the mix for a world title bout and both will feel confidence that they can claim the victory, and the title.
In a supporting bout we'll see Naoya Okamoto (10-6-1, 5) take on Gaku Aikawa (8-4-1, 2) in a decent low level domestic bout. Neither of these guys are ranked, but they will be facing off in a nice looking 8 rounder, and the winner will certainly give their career a boost in the arm, which could do the world of good going forward.
In Hyogo we get a West Japan Rookie of the Year Card. As with many of these Rookie of the Year cards there are no names of note, but there are some interesting bout.
One of those bouts will see 30 year old Takafumi Minobe (1-0) take on teenager Rikuto Adachi (5-0, 2) in a bout at Welterweight. Given the lack of depth in Japan at 147lbs the winner of the Rookie of the Year can find themselves in the title picture rather quickly, and that could be the case if the winner of this can go all the way to the Rookie crown in December.
The most even bout on the show will see 20 year old Nozomi Yamashoji (2-0, 1) take on 21 year old Temin Kimura (2-0, 1). The two Super Featherweights have identical records, with Kimura being slightly older Yamashoji have a single round more experience. Although the two are similar it does need noting that Yamashoji has been out of the ring for more than a year, and that could show here.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In Metro Manila fight fans get a low level card littered with notable names.
The most notable of those names is 2-time world title challenger Jonathan Taconing (24-3-1, 20 ), who fights in a 10 round bout against journeyman Silem Serang (8-13-1, 1). Originally Taconing was supposed to be defending his WBC International Light Flyweight title but that appears to be off, likely with Serang not being eligible for the title given his recent form, with 5 losses in his last 6.
The card also features some unbeaten prospects. One of those is the heavy handed Abraham Bullagay (9-0-1, 9), who looks to record a 10th win as he takes on veteran Ryan Tampus (11-19, 8) in a bout scheduled for 8. Given that Tampus has been stopped 8 times in 11 bouts it's hard to imagine him coming out on top here. Another unbeaten puncher on this card is Arvin Magramo (5-0, 4), who was originally pencilled in to take on Anecito Padillo (3-2, 2) though it now seems Padillo has removed from boxrec.com so it's unclear who Magramo will be facing.
A third unbeaten prospect in action here is Bryan Ascano (7-0-1, 2), who takes part in a good looking 6 rounder against Jules Victoriano (5-1, 4), in what should be the best bout on the show, and is clearly the most well matched.
The card also featured Wilbert Berondo (10-2-1, 4), who looked to get his career back on track following a 0-2-1 run including a loss to Hinata Maruta. The Filipino youngster will be up against domestic journeyman Ruben Traza (4-12-4, 1) in what should be an easy confidence builder for Berondo.
For a second day running we get low level Chinese action in Jinan, with the card scheduled to have 8 bouts of 4 rounds on it, with no notable names at all in action.
Puerto Armuelles, Panama
Korean based Pakistani fighter Muhammad Waseem (6-0, 4) will fight for the second time in the space of weeks as he takes on Ivan Trejos (7-7-2, 1) in a stay busy fight in Panama. His promoter, Andy Kim, is putting on the show and will be keeping Waseem busy along with a number of other AK fighters, though it does seem like Waseem's rapid rise has sadly faltered this year.
The most notable card of the day comes from Shanghai and is a really weak card, which has got all it's interest based on the main event alone, and if we're being honest we really hope this isn't the type of thing Chinese boxing will become when it develops more stars.
That main event will see WBO Flyweight champion Zou Shiming (9-1, 2) making his first defense of the title as he takes on Japanese challenger Sho Kimura (14-1-2, 7). We saw Shiming win the title last year, when he beat Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym in their second bout, and he will be favoured here against the relatively unknown Japanese challenger. However Shiming has been inactive since November, has seen a number of dates for a bout fall through this year and is now 36. Although Kimura is unknown outside of Asia he's a decent fighter on a 16 fight unbeaten run, which includes a notable regional title win over Masahiro Sakamoto, and he is 4-0 (3) outside of Japan, with a win in Hong Kong in his most recent outing.
A second Chinese show comes form Jinan and is a much less card, with little of real appeal.
On paper the best match up looks to be a 6 rounder between the unbeaten pairing of Aikeremujiang (4-0, 3) and Yongchao Sheng (2-0, 1). Aged 20 it appears that Aikeremujiang is a promising puncher but this could be a genuine test and the 24 year old Sheng won't be wanting to give up his unbeaten record.
The only other 6 rounder on this card will see highly experienced Filipino Richard Garcia (26-24-1, 7) take on the win-less Yangyang Wang (0-4-1) in a bout that could be competitive, but is unlikely to excite too many fans on paper.
As well as the action in China there will also be a show in Osaka, with a title bout headlining this card too.
That title bout will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Tetsuya Hisada (28-9-2, 17) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on veteran Atsushi Kakutani (19-5-1, 12), who gets his third shot as a national title. Coming in to the bout Hisada is on a sold run of 7-0 (6) including wins over Shun Kosaka, Hayato Yamaguchi and, most notably, Kenichi Horikawa. It's not a world class run, by any stretch, but it is a solid domestic run and one that has seen him really earn the title. Kakutani on the other hand looks like a man in last chance saloon, having been blown away by Ken Shiro 15 months ago. Aged 32 it's likely now or never for Kakutani, who is best known for dropping Adrian Hernandez in a WBC title fight almost 4 years ago. This should be a good fight and a really competitive one, but it's hard to see Hisada losing against this aged version of Kakutani.
In a supporting bout the once beaten Yuki Takahashi (8-1, 4) will take on the limited but heavy handed Tatsuya Miyazaki (8-9-1, 8), in a bout that could see the 22 year old Takahashi being given a chin checking.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Outside of Asia we get yet another title fight as Gideon Buthelezi (19-5, 4) defends his IBO Super Flyweight title against Filipino foe Ryan Rey Ponteras (20-11-1, 9) in what could be a much better bout than it looks on paper. On paper Buthelezi is the clear favourite, but the Filipino has placed the role of the up-setter in the past, and will be looking to do so again here, against the under-rated Buthelezi.
This past weekend was a busy one for Japanese fight fans but the new week has kicked off slowly and the first show of the week is on Sunday as Dangan put on a low key 4 round show. The card is set to feature 12 bouts but sadly the show is less than enthralling, with a real limit on the number of bouts worth talking about.
The one bout that bucks the above description will see 25 year old Mirai Naito (3-0, 2) take on George Tachibana (2-2). The unbeaten Naito is the brother of Rikki Naito and the son of Cassius Naito, and has received press coverage not just due to his family but also his amazing weight loss, which saw him drop a huge amount of weight to become a professional fighter.
It should be noted that whilst the card isn't a strong one on paper, these type of shows do tend to deliver a lot of action, with the bouts typically being matched well, and both fighters coming to win, knowing it could be the start of their rise to fame.
The key show this coming Sunday comes from Tokyo where we get a triple title show courtesy of Watanabe gym.
The main event of this card is an IBF Minimumweight title fight as reigning world champion Jose Argumedo (20-3-1,12) defends his title against heavy handed Japanese fighter Hiroto Kyoguchi (7-0, 6). For Kyoguchi the bout could see him become the new face of the Watanabe gym, and the fastest fighter, in terms of time, to win a world title from Japan, around 15 months after his debut. For Argumedo the bout will be his 4th defense, and see him return to Japan, where he won the title at the end of 2015, when he beat Katusnari Takayama. On paper this is a really mouth watering match up, as a big and tough champion takes on a destructive ball of power punching energy, and we expect to see serious questions asked about both men. If Kyoguchi is ready for Argumedo, he's potentially ready to shake up the who division, but it's possible that Watanabe rushed just a touch too quick.
The other world title bout will see Watanabe's only current male world champion defending his title. That's Ryoichi Taguchi (25-2-2, 11) who makes a mandatory defense of his WBA Light Flyweight title against Colombian foe Robert Barrera (18-1, 12), in what could be a testing bout for the frustrating Taguchi. At his best Taguchi is a brilliant fighter, who can box at range and make the most of his physical attributes, which include a very long reach. Problem is that he's frustratingly struggled with less fighters and seems to find it hard to get up for some opponents, and struggles against supposedly easier foes. Barrera, as a mandatory, should pose a good test, but it's hard to say for sure. If the Colombian is determined and fired up he could, potentially, scupper a strongly rumoured unification bout between Taguchi and WBO champion Kosei Tanaka. It's fair to say that Taguchi should be hungry to prove a point, but whether we see that in the ring is hard to predict.
A third title bout will see Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai (27-7, 19) defending his title, for the first time. In the opposite corner to the champion will be first time challenger Takayuki Okumoto (18-7-3, 8), and it's fair to say that the champion will be the favoured fighter here. Funai won the title at the Champion Carnival, stopping good friend Kenta Nakagawa, and will be hoping to extend his reign in a voluntary defense. Okumoto was once seen as a prodigy but has become a streaky fighter and will need to record a career best win to dethrone the champion.
A name to make a note of in action on this card is touted former amateur star Hironori Mishiro (2-0, 1),who is tipped as another to follow in the footsteps of Kyoguchi and be moved quickly through the ranks following a very strong amateur grounding. He's looked good since turning professional but still needs to continue his development. He'll be up against a Thai foe, but sadly we've not been given the foes name.
Someone else up against an unknown Thai is former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (32-10-1, 13), who returns to the ring for the first time since his stoppage loss to Naoya Inoue. The bout is designed to help Kono shake off some ring rust ahead off a more meaningful bout with Rex Tso later in the year.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
In the Philippines there is a card primarily focused on prospects.
On of those prospects is the once beaten Ben Mananquil (13-1-2, 3), who we have been impressed by since his controversial draw against Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym back in 2013. Although Mananquil has got a loss, it was a razor thin one in China and we'd suggest he's one to follow going forward. With that said we clearly expect him to defeat the heavy handed but limited Kim Lindog (5-4-1, 4).
Another of the top prospects if former amateur stand out Jade Bornea (7-0, 4), who takes on the experienced, but very limited, Nicardo Calamba (7-24-4, 4). As an amateur Bornea won numerous trophies and scored a number of big wins, and huge things are expected of him. For this bout he should have way too much for Calamba, who has really struggled to pick up wins in recent years.
As well as the prospects we'll also see a veteran in action, as the highly experienced Eden Sonsona (36-7-2, 13) takes on JP Macadumpis (11-9-1, 5), and returns to the ring following a loss in Russia to unbeaten prospect Evgeny Chuprakov. On paper this should be an easy win for the 28 year old Sonsona, but there may be questions about how he looks given his stoppage loss last time out.
Also on this card will be two novice prospects looking to secure their second professional wins. One of those is Dave Apolinario (1-0, 1), who takes on the win-less Elizer Ambon (0-1), who was recently signed to a professional contract and looked on debut. The other is his stable mate Mark Antonio (1-0, 1), who signed with and debuted at the same time as Apolinario. Antonio will be up against the debuting Jeffrey Diale (0-0), and will also be looking for his second victory.
In South Africa we'll see the really promising Filipino youngster Dexter Alimento (12-1, 8) take on South African local DeeJay Kriel (11-1-1, 6) in a bout for the currently vacant WBC International Minimumweight title. Alimento came to our attention last year, when he stopped Chanachai CP Freshmart, and despite a very close loss to Masataka Taniguchi we still have huge hopes for him. Kriel is unbeaten since a points loss on his debut in 2014 but as wit many African fighters his record is a hard one to read, with no fights against opponents that we can say much about. This is a hard one to get a read on, but could tell us a lot about both mem
In Mexico we'll see a local former world champion take on a little known, yet unbeaten, Filipino hopeful. The former champion is monstrous punching veteran Jhonny Gonzalez (63-10, 53), who has won titles at Bantamweight and Featherweight, who battles 25 year old Pinoy Jessie Cris Rosales (21-0-1, 9). For Gonalez the bout is supposed to be another step towards a Super Featherweight title fight, potentially facing off with Miguel Berchelt, whilst Rosales will be looking to make a name for himself and claim the biggest win of his career.
Mindoro Occidental, Philippines
In the Philippines there will be a small card featuring a few hopefuls taking on domestic journeymen.
The most interesting of those fighters is 20 year old puncher Jerald Daniega (11-0, 8), who takes on the limited Rey Ramos (7-8-2, 3) in a 10 rounder. It should be noted that Ramos has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, but did beat Landy Cris Leon last time out and is the naturally bigger man, having fought at much higher weights than Ramos.
Arguably the biggest names in regards to the prospects is former amateur stand out Mark Anthony Barriga (5-0, 1) who takes on Joel Taduran (8-6-1, 2). Although a proven quality in the amateur ranks Barriga hasn't yet shone as a professional and his lack of power could be a serious issue going forward, but he did stop his last opponent, and may well be finding his footing as a professional fighter.
Another of the hopefuls is the once beaten, but heavy handed, Joepher Montano (7-1-2, 6) who takes on veteran Gabriel Royo (10-17-3, 8). Royo once showed some promise but that promise is now long forgotten and he's gone 1-10-1 in his last 12 bouts, and it's clear that he's there to merely make up the numbers against Montano.
The final prospect of note for us is teenager Daniel Lim (4-0, 2), who takes a small step up in class to face off with Jerry Salivio (1-5, 1). Give he's 17 there is no problem with Lim fighting at this level for now, but we're looking forward to seeing him step up in the near future.
North Carolina, USA
We'll also get the chance to see two promising central European fighters fighting in the US.
One of those is Kazakh Light Heavyweight Ali Akhmedov (6-0, 4), who faces 40 year old veteran Brad Austin (12-25, 9). It's hard to see this being anything more than an easy night for the 22 year old unbeaten man, but it's hopefully more about getting him used to the US than really trying to develop his fighting style. He's promising, but will need more serious tests in the near future.
On the same card Tajik fighter Mekhrubon Sanginov (3-0, 2) will be in action making his debut. The 21 year old Middleweight has fought got an active passport with this being the 4th country for him to fight in in the space of 10 months. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent hasn't been named.
This coming Wednesday sees Japanese fight fans focus on a really notable oriental level show at the Korakuen Hall, with two OPBF title fights and a supporting card that features a former world title challenger taking on a former Japanese interim champion.
The main event of the show will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hidenori Otake (28-2-3, 12) making his first defense of the title as he takes on 37 year old veteran Kinshiro Usui (27-5, 11). On paper this bout may not interest fans, given how unknown Usui is outside of Japan, but those who have seen him will have seen him push Hisashi Amagasa incredibly close and will know he's a genuine threat to Otake's reign. We accept Otake should be favoured, given his experience and the proven qualities of his toughness and energy, but this is certainly no foregone conclusion.
The other OPBF title fight is also one where the under-dog challenger is a live challenger and the bout is again no foregone conclusion. This bout will see OPBF Super Flyweight champion Rene Dacquel (19-6-1, 6) take on Japanese challenger Hayato Kimura (26-9, 17) in a good looking contest. The champion is 3-2-1 in Japan, but has won in his last two visits beating Go Onaga and Shota Kawaguchi and looks to be moving his career along nicely in recent times. As for the challenger he has twice come up short in a Japanese title fight, but should be a competitive challenger here.
In a notable non-title bout we'll see Shingo Wake (20-5-2, 12) return to the ring for the first time since his loss in July 2016 to Jonathan Guzman in an IBF title fight. Wake will be up against fellow Japanese fighter Mikihito Seto (34-13-3, 18), a former Japanese interim Bantamweight champion. At his best Seto was a really solid fighter but he's notched just a single win in the last 60 months, and has gone 0-3-1 in his last 4, with all 3 of those losses being by stoppage. It's a bout that should be a good return for Wake, but also a safe one for the popular and gutsy sharp shooting southpaw.
On the under-card we'll see Japanese ranked Welterweight Shusaku Fujinaka (15-7-2, 10) take on Tomoyuki Omura (8-8, 4) and Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (6-3, 5) battle with Naoki Wada (10-10-2, 2), both of these bouts should be interesting, but both have a very clear favourite.
On Tuesday Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall get an interesting show, with a number of notable domestic fighters in action, a trio of which will be facing Filipino foes.
The main event of the card will see Japanese and OPBF ranked Super Featherweight Masaru Sueyoshi (14-1, 9), who takes on Filipino visitor Nelson Tinampay (12-4-1, 5). Ranked #2 by the JBC and #5 by the OPBF Sueyoshi is on the verge of a title fight, one way or another, he clearly can't afford a loss, especially not given he's now on an 11 fight winning run. Tinampay started his career with some success, but having lost 3 of his last 5 bouts it's fair to say his limitations have been shown, especially with a loss to Korean veteran Yong Soo Choi earlier this year.
In the chief support bout we'll see former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yasutaka Ishimoto (29-9, 8) taking on Filipino Arnel Baconaje (8-2, 6). For the local favourite, a real exciting action fighter, the bout sees him return to the ring after a shockingly 1-sided loss to Yasuka Kuga earlier this year, in a bout that saw Kuga stop Ishimoto in 2 rounds to claim the Japanese national title. Early in his career Baconaje looked promising, starting 6-0 (6) but since then he has faltered, and not shown the power that he has early in his career. It's clear this bout has been made to help boost Ishimoto's confidence following the loss to Kuga, but there is still a little risk here, given how hard and damaging his career has been.
A third Japan Vs Philippines bout on this card will see the really exciting Hayate Kaji (7-0, 6) risk his unbeaten record as he faces off with Renan Portes (9-4, 5). Although an unknown in the west Kaji has quickly become one of our favourite prospects, with serious power, incredible skills and a really exciting, yet controlled, style that looks likely to take him incredibly far. As for Portes,this wil be his first bout since October last year, and only his second in Japan, following a loss to Yuta Horrike. If Kaji is as good as he has looked so far, he should stop Cortes, but this could be a genuine test for the 19 year old Teiken prospect.
A fourth bout of note is a good looking all-Japan bout, and will see Kenji Ono (11-2, 6), best known for his 2016 war with Jun Takigawa, battle against Naoyuki Tsukada (8-3-3, 3). Last time out Ono was blasted inside a round by Seigo Yuri Akui and he had a really tough 2016, so will be hoping to have an easier return here, however this is no gimme for the Teiken man. Tsukada was 3-3-1 (2) after his first 7 bouts, but has now gone unbeaten in 7 in a nice run which has got his career rolling and a win over Ono would be huge for Tsukada at this point. Although it's the least notable bout we're mentioning here it's clearly the best match up and promises more than any other the other contests on the show.