Whilst much of the world is looking forward to getting drunk, popping party poppers and singing various songs, the Japanese are, rightfully awaiting celebrations of another kind, the kind that comes with victories. This New Years Eve, like several others from recent years, is one laced with boxing celebration courtesy of 3 world title fights, a number of world ranked fighters and some major action in our great sport.
Amazingly the action isn't just televised on one channel but 2 with fights in both Tokyo and Osaka as fans get treat especially well.
For us the better of the two massive Japanese cards is in the Ota-City Gym in Tokyo where Watanabe put on an excellent 9 fight card headlined by 2 world title fights.
The first of those world title fights sees WBC Super Featherweight champion Takashi Miura (26-2-2, 19), defending his title for the second time as he takes on Mexico's Dante Jardon (24-3, 20). Jardon, known as "El Loco" or "Crazy", is ranked #2 by the WBC and will be the 3rd successive Mexican to fight Miura following Gamaliel Diaz and Sergio Thompson. To date Miura is 2-0 against Mexican's whilst Jardon is 1-1 against Japanese fights. In our view this, despite being the co-feature, has the possibility of being the fight of the year.
Above the Miura/Jardon bout on the card is a WBA Super Featherweight title clash that sees Takashi Uchiyama (20-0-1, 17) defending his title against fellow Japanese fighter Daiki Kaneko (19-2-3, 12, pictured together above. Kaneko, a former Japanese national champion, is taking a big step up going in to this clash though has been on a fabulous run of form and may feel that with a 9 year youth advantage he can over-come Uchiyama, a man many feel is the best on the planet at 130lbs. Although many will feel this is a complete mismatch we are expecting that the bout will be competitive, at least in spurts, and it could well see both men being rattled at one point.
Amazingly this card has more quality and name value than just the 2 world title fights. The same show will also act as a tune up for Kohei Kono (28-8, 11) ahead of his WBA world title fight with Denkaosan Kaovichit on March 26th, it will also feature notable fighters in the form of Carlos Cuadras (28-0, 13), the WBC #1 ranked fighter at Super Flyweight, Ryoichi Taguchi (18-2-1, 8) and model-turned-boxer Tomomi Takno (3-0, 2). Although these 4 fighters are being matched relatively easily, with only Taguchi's opponent Ryan Bito (22-12-3, 8) being of any sort known quantity, it's still great to see so many high profile fighters on the card.
This show, or at least the main events, will be shown on TV Tokyo.
Across the country from Tokyo we get the days second massive card with action in the wonderfully named Bodymaker Colosseum. Although this show only has a single world title fight on it, it also features a number of notable fighters including a former world champion, former world title challenger, former OPBF champion and 2 very promising unbeaten fighters.
The world title bout, a WBA Light Flyweight title fight, sees unbeaten men colliding as Kazuto Ioka (13-0, 9) looks for the 3rd defense of his belt. In Ioka's way is hard hitting Nicaraguan sensation Felix Alvarado (18-0, 15) who has been stopping opponents for fun back in Latin America. This is be far the most dangerous fight Ioka has had since becoming a Light Flyweight champion though on the flipside it's easily the stiffest test in the career of Alvarado who who is making a major leap up in class. We favour Ioka's experience at the higher level to be the difference here though it's certainly a dangerous challenge for the unbeaten Japanese youngster.
Whilst Ioka is the only world champion on the card his stablemate make Ryo Miyazaki (20-0-3, 11), the recent WBA Minimumweight champion, will also be on the show. Miyazaki, fighting for the first time since vacating his 105lb title will be taking on Thailand's world ranked Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (22-2, 14) in what appears to be a statement of intent from Miyazaki that he's going to be looking to make a mark on the Flyweight division. Sakkreerin Jr may not be a big name compared to Miyazaki but the young Thai is highly regarded and will know that a win would mean a lot in terms of his future.
Down the card we get fights involving KO sensation Masao Nakamura (17-1, 17) a former OPBF Super Featherweight champion, former world title challenger Atsushi Kakutani (13-4-1, 6), the fast fast rising Sho Ishida (14-0, 7) and unbeaten female prospect Kei Takenaka (5-0, 1). As with the other card, these fighters are expected to be against limited foes unfortunately.
We're expecting the Ioka bout to be shown like on TBS.
Although we'll admit we've missed a day or two over the festive period we are back in to the swing of things now and action returns to the Philippines on December 28th with a 9 fight show from Gerry Garcia and the "In This Corner" promotional organisation. The show, whilst not great, is a decent domestic card in the boxing mad country.
The 9 fight card is expected to feature 4 bouts scheduled for 10 rounds, a sole 6 rounder and a further 4 bouts scheduled for the 4 distance. It's fair to say however that it's selective bouts from the 10 rounders that are the most interesting contests on the show.
For us the pick of the bouts is the Lightweight contest between the under-rated and very unpredictable Ronald Pontillas (15-6-3, 7), pictured, and fellow Filipino Leonardo Doronio (12-8-2, 7). Internationally this bout means little, despite Pontillas holding a win over Masao Nakamura and Doronio did defeat Jose Ocampo, who was once lined up to fight Ricky Burns. Domestically however it's a great bout that is much, much better than it looks on paper.
Another bout that looks likely to be more interesting than it looks is a Welterweight clash between Dan Nazareno Jr (18-10, 14) and Eusebio Baluarte (19-10, 12). Both men have got very "meh" records but both can punch and both should manage to put on a great bout. We do favour Nazareno, due to the fact he's significantly more durable than Baluarte.
Unfortunately the other 2 bouts scheduled for 10 both look like they somewhat mismatches though Virgil Puton (11-3, 4) could be given a test from the experienced Richard Olisa (23-23-2, 12) despite the fact Olisa has won just 1 bout in the last 3 years.
The undercard is quite difficult to be excited about though there is an intriguing bout between unbeaten men as Anferne Palarca (2-0, 1) takes on Jay-Ar Diama (0-0-4) who probably has the most unique record in boxing. We'd have to say we'd be shocked if Diama could record a draw, though it wouldn't actually shock us after his previous 4 contests.
December 22nd-Shindo Go to defend world title, Usami v Kazuya and The 60th All Japan Rookie of the Year final
With Christmas just around the corner and New Years Eve less than a week later we may understand fans, especially in the West, forgetting about boxing for a few days. The Japanese however aren't done quite yet with a trio of cards on December 22nd as well as 2 huge shows on New Years Eve.
The December 22nd shows give us a bit of everything. We get a female world title fight, a very promising prospect and the excellent All Japan Rookie of the year show.
The most notable single fight of the day is in the "Big Wave" in Wakayama as Japan's talented Shindo Go (12-2, 8) looks to make the first defense of her WBC Flyweight title. Go, a really talented 26 year old from Wakayama, is expected to retain the title she won earlier this year as she takes on Judith Rodriguez (6-5, 4) though the bout should be a lot more competitive than the records do indicate.
Go, pictured, appears to have all the advantages though Rodriguez has been in the ring with various world level fighters including former Japanese world champion Naoko Yamaguchi and
On the same card in Wakayama we expect 6 other bouts with 2 of them being female bouts and 4 of the being male bouts. Unfortunately though none of those 6 contests look that notable with 5 of them being scheduled for 4 rounds and the sole 6 rounder also fails to look that exciting on paper. Thankfully though it's main even is worth turning up for.
As well as the show headlined by the female world title fight we also get a show at the Industrial Hall in Gifu. This show, just like that one, is a 7 fight show though this is headlined by a non-title contest as the Japanese and OPBF ranked Futoshi Usami (11-0-1, 8) takes on Kazuya Murata (7-4, 3). It's difficult here to see anything but a win for Usami but he could be given a decent if Murata gets his act together for the fight. In all honesty though we're merely expecting a stoppage for Usami.
The under-card here is again weak though it does feature 2 bouts scheduled for 6 rounds. These include a bout for the very experienced Yusuke Morishima (22-21-5, 7) who will be fighting Toshikuni Wake (6-13-3, 2) in what is unlikely to be a great bouts despite it being the chief support bout on the show.
Despite the fact we have a female title fight and several notable names in other shows across Japan it's fair to say that the biggest show of the day is in Tokyo at the Korakuen Hall as we get the 60th All Japan Rookie of the Year final.
This show, which features 12 bouts, is arguably the highlight of the day in regards to boxing. We will see bouts at every weight between Minimumweight and Middleweight, barring Light Middleweight, as the 24 fighters look to crown themselves as the Rookie of the Year. These bouts will include the unbeaten Takumi Sakae (6-0, 3) taking on Yoshinori Wakahara (6-3, 3) in the Minimumweight bout, the 17 year old Ryuto Maekawa (7-0, 4) fighting Aiki Koto (5-1-1, 3) in the Light Flyweight bout and Dai Taoka (7-0, 4) fighting Ryoji Tanaka (5-2-1, 2) in the Welterweight bout.
December 21st-Yodngoen Tor Chalermchai returns to Japan, Chudinov brothers in action and Roy Jones Jr!
The last Saturday before Christmas gives us a number of bouts though few are genuinely noteworthy. As an Asian fan the key action is in Japan where 3 cards take place though there is also a show in Russia and some international fights, though Europe and South America, maybe of interest to Asian fight fights.
With 3 Japanese cards taking place we've decided that the most noteworthy of those takes place in Osaka on a show scheduled to have 10 contests.
One of the more interesting bouts of the day in the Yodogawa Ward Center will see Japan's Shota Kawaguchi (15-4-1, 6) taking on former world title challenger Yodngoen Tor Chalermchai (11-1, 5), pictured. Yodngeon, best known for losing in a WBC Minimumweight title fight to Kazuto Ioka inside a round, has won his last 3 bouts and could pose Kawaguchi some questions though we imagine the natural size advantage of Kawaguchi will prove to be too much.
The main fight in this card is one that sees Masato Morisaki (6-3-1, 3) taking on the limited Takashi Nishimura (8-10-1, 1) . The limitations of Nishimura have been shown in his last 6 bouts, which has seen him winning 2 though getting stopped in 4 of them. Morisaki isn't a major puncher but he may well be able to stop Nishimura whose punch resistance seems to be going quickly.
A 3rd noteworthy bout on this show will see Jubjang Lookmakarmwan (3-6), a highly ranked female with OPBF, taking on unbeaten Japanese fighter Nana Yoshikawa (1-0). Lookmakarmwan may be the more experienced fighter but has lost her last 6 bouts and it'd be far from a shock to see Yoshikawa defeat.
As well as the Osaka card there will be 2 successive shows in Fukuoka, both at the Kyushu Electric Power Memorial Gymnasium. The first of those 2 shows looks like a poor one with little in terms of name value despite having 8 bouts on it. the second show however has 2 bouts of interest despite only having 6 total bouts on it.
The first of those notable bouts sees Sekido Yusuke (7-10-2) fighting against Tatsuya Miyamoto (10-11, 6) in a bout that will be the shows chief support bout. Although it's nothing great it's not awful.
The second bout, a female bout, is a contest that serious consequences for one of the fighters. This fight sees unbeaten Japanese teenage Mako Yamada (5-0, 2) taking on a Thai opponent who we're told has an 8-1 (2) record. For Yamada this is a must win bout with the youngster having a WBO female Minimumweight title fight with Su-Yun Hong all but set for February if she comes through this unscathed.
In Russia we get an interesting card that features an American legend, a scheduled "interim" world title bout and several promising unbeaten men.
The most intriguing of the bouts sees the legendary Roy Jones Jr (56-8, 40) taking on Frenchman Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf (17-3-1, 8) in a Cruiserweight bout. This fight is the main event and will have international fans giving the card some attention though in all honesty Jones is merely a shadow of what he once was and Benmakhlouf is far from being anything special any Jones should pick up another win. For fans wondering, this will be Jones's first bout in Russia since being stopped by Denis Lebedev
In a supposed world title fight Russia's unbeaten Dmitry Chudinov (11-0-2, 7) will be fighting Colombian puncher Juan Camilo Novoa (22-5-1, 20). According to some sources this is a WBA "interim" Middleweight title fight, from other sources however it seems that this is a WBA "International" Middleweight title bout. In terms of the WBA's history of handing out "interim" titles it wouldn't be a shock to see one fought for here despite the fact that the fighters are ranked #6 and #7 in terms of the WBA's rankings and as of the WBA's rankings, issued on December 12th Martin Murray is still the interim champion.
To top off the under-card we're expecting to see the WBA world ranked Eduard Troyanovsky (16-0, 13) taking on Allan Kamote (23-6-4, 13). Ranked #3 by the WBA at Lightweight Troyanovsky will know that he may be able to get a world title fight in the next 12-18 months if he can keep on winning. Kamote really should pose no problems to the unbeaten Russian and Asian fans may well remember him for losing, by stoppage, in Thailand to both Napapol Sor Rungvisai and Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat. Expect this to be another stoppage loss on Kamote's record.
Further down the card Dmitry Chudinov's younger brother, Fedor Chudinov (8-0, 6) will be fighting the experienced Francis Cheka (30-7-1, 16) in what should be a good test for the promising young Chudinov
This Friday promises to be a day to remember in the boxing world, though not necessarily for the right reasons.
We'll start our look at the key fights by looking at Japan, more precisely the show at the Abeno Ward Center in Osaka.
This Osaka show, which features 9 bouts is headlined by the return of former OPBF champion Hiroshige Osawa (23-3-4, 12). Osawa who had his JBC license taken from him a year ago after fighting in a controversial bout in South Korea has now been re-instated and will be facing the limited Tetsuya Nishinaga (11-7-1). The bout does look like a clear mismatch but it's focus should be the fact that it's Osawa's return rather the fact it's uncompetitive looking.
On the same Osaka show there is one other notable bout as the Japanese ranked Yutaka Oishi (10-3, 6) takes on Hiroshi Ohashi (7-6, 3) in an 8 round bout. Oishi, ranked #9 at 154lbs in Japan, will be favoured big time here with Ohashi ending a 32 month break from the ring and having lost his last fight by 1st round TKO to Carlos Linares though we have seen unexpectedly struggle in the past.
As well as the Osaka show there is also an interesting card in Tokyo, at the Korakuen Hall.
This show is headlined by the always fun to watch Shuhei Tsuchiya (14-2, 12), pictured, who will be taking on the somewhat easy looking Kazutaka Takakuwa (9-7, 2). This is Tsuchiya's first bout since suffering back-to-back stoppage losses to Shoji Kawase and Masayoshi Nakatani and so easy assignment here is no real shock, he will however not be forgiven for a third successive set back.
The co-feature here sees the OPBF and Japanese ranked fighter Nobuyuki Shindo (14-2, 5) put his Welterweight rankings on the line as he takes on Daisuke Sakamoto (7-7-1, 3). Unfortunately for those expecting this to be competitive it's worth noting that Sakamoto was stopped in his most recent bout, he's been inactive for over a year and has lost 5 of his last 7. This really does look like a mismatch.
Unfortunately two of the original 9 bouts on this show have been cancelled, including a contest between Takehiro Shimokawara (19-8-2, 6) and Thai visitor Yodmongkol Singmanasak (12-12-1, 7), There will however be 7 fights in total if you're at the Korakuen on Friday and want to see a card dubbed " The Greatest Boxing Vol 17".
Boxrec current list a single scheduled bout to take place in Yemen. This fight is set to see Yemeni KO machine Ali Raymi (20-0, 20) taking on Thailand's unbeaten Samson Dutch Boy Gym (43-0, 36). On paper this is an amazing match up with the fighter's combined record coming to 63-0 (56) though with Raymi being 40 and Samson ending an 11 year break from the ring the bout isn't actually all that.
We'll admit we have out doubts about this bout being fought "as listed" and suspect that Raymi will be fighting a different opponent to Samson, though if the fight does go ahead we're sure to see several forums sniggering at the result, whatever it is.
It's not too often that we get a first in the boxing world but this Thursday sees us getting a first as the first ever professional boxing show in Abu Dhabi takes places. The card, promoted by Lion Heart Boxing Productions, maybe a first but it's unlikely to be a show that will have fans, especially worldwide, taking much note of it. Notably how ever it's the only card of any concern for us.
The main event on this card will see British Heavyweight Danny Williams (44-19-0-1, 33) taking on Egyptian Mazur Ali (10-8, 5) in a non-title 10 round bout. For those who have been following Danny Williams over the years you'll know that he is only a shell of the fighter he once was and that a loss to the very limited Ali wouldn't be out of the question here.
As well as the Williams/Ali bout there are 8 other bouts on the show. For us, as boxing fans, the most important of those 8 is a Light Middleweight bout between the world ranked Nasser Al Harbi (15-1-1, 2) and the very limited Giorgi Ungiadze (23-17, 10). We'd expect Al Harbi to win with out any problems but the Englishman has been inactive since October 2012.
One of the other bouts on the show sees unbeaten Heavyweight Mohammadali Bayat Farid (3-0, 3) taking on Abdul Manem Kabbani (3-1. 1). The 24 year old Faris, originally from Iran though now based in Dubai, has stopped his last 3 opponents in a combined 5 and will be hoping for another stoppage here against Farid.
Whilst on paper this show is an historic one it's fair to say that a promoter will need to do much better than this in the future if they are to make Abu Dhabi a staple for boxing. Unfortunately we think think they are going to struggle. That's not to suggest that the United Arab Emirates can't become a player in the boxing world, especially with the money available over there, but it will certainly not happen from shows like this we're afraid.
The next major Japanese card takes place on December 18th at the Korakuen Hall as reason have their final card of the year, "Dangan 90".
The show, a 9 fight car, is headlined by a very solid looking domestic fight as Masaaki Serie (24-5, 10) fights against Rikiya Fukuhara (27-7-1, 20). The bout, being fought at a catchweight, sees two men who are highly ranked in their divisions colliding in one of those rare 8 rounders that has hardcore Japanese fans salivating.
Whilst it's highly unlikely either Fukuhara or Serie will ever become a world champion, there is no doubt that we are looking forward to the bout that will headline the show. We tend to favour Serie who is naturally the tougher man but Fukuhara is certainly the puncher and also the marginally bigger man.
In the chief support bouts, also scheduled for 8 rounds, we will see two bouts. The better of these sees the Japanese ranked Kengo Nagashima (12-10-2, 11) taking on fellow puncher Tatsuya Miyazaki (8-4-1, 8). This should be nothing short of an explosive encounter between two fighters who like to land power shots. The other support bout will see Tomoyuki Omura (7-3, 3) looking for his biggest win as he takes on Yasuhiro Okawa (10-11-1, 3).
Outside of Japan the one bout of note for us is sees Kazakhstan's Dimash Niyazov (4-0-1, 3) taking on the limited Raphael Luna (4-6-2, 1). This appears to be a mismatch on paper though we've real doubts over Niyazov's potential and don't really expect him to go very far.