The most significant bout of the day is set to take place in South Korea in the Korean capital
The bout in question is an OPBF title bout which will see Korean fighter Jung Kyoung Lee (7-2-1, 3) defending his OPBF Light Middleweight title for the first time, and taking on Japanese challenger Akinori Watanabe (37-7-1, 31) in what should be a barn burner. Lee is one of the few bright hopes in Korean boxing, and his title earlier this year was big news for the other wise struggling Korean scene. Watanabe on the other hand is a veteran of the sport, but a big hitting warrior who has been in some incredible fights over the years. This is going to be Lee's youth and sharpness against Watanabe's experience and [power, and it should be a genuine cracker.
The main card In Japan this coming Sunday comes from Hyogo as Senrima Kobe Promotions put on their next card. It's not a big one, with only 6 bouts, but there are some interesting bouts on the card and a very good main event.
The main event will see Japanese ranked Minimumweight, and one of the most notable fighters under the Senrima banner, Ryoki Hirai (11-6-1, 4) take on ranked Light Flyweight Koki Ono (12-5, 5). At his best Hirai is a very good fighter, with wins against Takumi Sakae and Ryoya Ikema, but losses in 2018 to Shin Ono and Yuto Takahashi were certainly major set backs. Ono on the other hand hasn't fought in over a year, with his last outing being a decision loss to Tetsuya Hisada in a Japanese Light Flyweight title fight, and he actually enters this bout following back to back losses. This is a must win if either man is going to get a big fight in the near future.
In a good supporting bout we'll see Jukiya Washio (7-3-1, 2) take on Satoshi Tanaka (6-5, 1) in what looks like a hard one to pick. The 21 year old Washio looks better on paper, but he has lost the last 3 times he has faced a fighter with a winning record, including a loss to Arata Matsuoka in a Japanese Youth title fight. Tanaka on the other hand has won his last 2, including a solid win over Chikato Sumida, and has been very competitive in a number of his defeats.
Another good supporting bout will see the once beaten Hiroki Tokuyama (8-1-1, 2) take on Japanese based Filipino Jayar Estremos (11-15-1, 4). On paper this looks like a total mismatch, however the 27 year old Tokuyama has certainly not proven himself against still competition, with his most notable bout being his loss in the 2017 Rookie of the Year final to Fumiya Fuse. Estremos on the other hand is an upset minded fighter who fought to a draw with Hiroyuki Kudaka last year and has upset the like of Glenn Porras and Rene Patilano.
In one other supporting bout we'll see 2018 Rookie of the Year finalist Tetsuya Mimura (7-1, 1) take on Keigo Nakamura (5-5, 1). For Mimura this will be his second bout since losing to Daiki Kameyama in the Rookie tournament, and he'll be looking to build on his 6th round TKO win over Yuni Takada from back in April. Nakamura comes into this bout in absolutely no form at all, with 4 losses in his last 5, and it's really hard to imagine him picking up a win here.
Kunamoto has never been, and likely never will be, one of the Japanese hotbeds for boxing. In fact it's one of the smallest markets out there and it's always big news when one of their fighters does well.
We preface this show with the above because a key part of this Kunamoto how is the retirement ceremony of former WBO Minimumweight world champion Tatsuya Fukuhara, who announced his retirement in July. To close out his career Fukuhara will take part in a spar on this card, and then officially close the curtain on his career.
Sadly aside from Fukuhara's retirement there is very, very little else to talk about on this card which will contain 10 bouts, all of which are 4 rounders.
Despite Christmas now only being a few days away the scheduled for boxing for boxing is certainly not slowing down and this coming Thursday we see a really notable Dangan card from the Korakuen Hall, feature a Japanese unification bout, a Japanese interim title bout and the return of a former Japanese champion.
The Japanese title unification bout will come at Light Middleweight, as "regular" champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) takes on "interim" champion Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31), in what looks like a really interesting match up. Shindo won the title in May, when he took a razor thin decision over Ryosuke Maruki at the champion carnival. Despite winning that bout Shindo suffered a hand injury that forced him out of the ring. During Shindo's recovery period Watanabe blitzed Maruki for the interim title. The winner of this will go into the champion carnival next year, with a mandatory hanging over their head, whilst the loser will have to question their future in the sport. A full preview of this bout can be read here Shindo and Watanabe battle to unify Japanese title!
The interim Japanese title bout comes at Bantamweight, where Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) will face Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) in what is a more confusing situation. The Japanese Bantamweight title has seemingly been cursed in 2018 with numerous bouts falling through, often at short notice. In September Yuta Saito eventually took the vacant title, stopping Eita Kikuchi in 2 rounds, but has since suffered an illness which has forced him out of the ring until the new year. That has caused this interim title fight, which should be an entertaining bout. Things get more confusing however when the winner of this bout then has to face Saito in early 2019, with the winner of that bout then face Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) before July 2019 in a mandatory title defense. Our preview of this bout can be read here Kimura and Kono battle for interim Japanese title!
In regards to the fight between Kimura and Kono we expect the two to be well matched, and it should be a compelling 10 round contest, it's just a shame that the whole Japanese title picture has been such a nightmare in 2019 and we've ended up in such a convoluted situation. Both have picked up recent losses, though Kimura certainly appears the more proven fighter at title level, and we suspect he comes into this bout as the marginal favourite.
As for the former champion that is Yusaku Kuga (16-3-1, 11), who returns to the ring since losing the Japanese Super Bantamweight title to Shingo Wake back in July. The hard hitting fighter from the Watanabe man is expected to get an easy confidence building win a he takes on the out-of-form Filipino John Mark Apolinario (20-12-3, 5), who was recently stopped by the limited but hard hitting Kenya Yamashita. Apolinario should offer little competition for Kuga, who we expect will be too big, too strong and too powerful.
The big action this coming Friday comes from Tokyo, with Boxingraise showing it live online. The card features a couple of title fights along with two very good looking supporting bouts.
The main event will see Akinori Watanabe (36-7, 30) battle against Ryosuke Maruki (15-5-1, 10) for the interim Japanese Light Middleweight title. For Watanabe this is a chance to claim another belt to his collection, adding to reigns as the Japanese, OPBF and PABA champion at Welterweight. Maruki on the other hand gets a third shot as national honours, having come up short against Yuki Nonaka and Nobuyuki Shindo. We're expecting this to be explosive, with both fighters having very heavy hands, and very exciting with the winner then being lined up to face Shindo, either at the end of this year or in early 2019.
The other title fight will see Japanese Mminimumweight champion Shin Ono (22-9-3, 5) making his first defense of the title, as he takes on youngster Riku Kano (13-3-1, 7). The Watanabe veteran won the title earlier this year when he defeated Ryoki Hirai and will be hoping to use the title to land another world title fight, after having come up short in bouts against Katsunari Takayama and Wanheng Menayothin. The 20 year old Kano has promised a lot, but losses to Takayama and Jerry Tomogdan have slowed his career and a poor performance here could see him written off, despite his youth.
One of the really good supporting bouts will see the in form Kyosuke Sawada (11-2-1, 6), who has won his last 7, taking on former Japanese title challenger Yosuke Fujihara (17-5, 4). Although Sawada struggled early in his career losing his first 2 bouts, he has has really turned things around and scored a career best win in May against Kinshiro Usui. As for Fujihara he's been out of the ring for almost a year but is a capable fighter and should be a good test for Sawada, albeit one that Sawada should pass as he continues his pursuit of a title fight.
Another supporting bout will see the hard hitting Kenshin Oshima (3-1-1, 3) take on the much lighter hitting Joe Tanooka (15-4-4, 1). Last time out Oshima was held to an unexpected draw by Nobuaki Kanazawa and he'll be looking to bounce back from that set back. As for Tanooka, who is one of the more pure boxers in Japan, he'll be looking to build on a good domestic win against Kenichi Watanabe. A really interesting match up against two polar opposites.
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a notable card in Shenzhen, China, where were several local fighters will be taking on interesting tests.
On paper the best of the bouts will see unbeaten Chinese prospect Wenfeng Ge (10-0, 6) look to build on his 2017 win over Amnat Ruenroeng as he takes on once beaten Filipino Ivan Soriano (18-1-1, 9) in a bout for the WBO International Flyweight title. Whilst Ge is unbeaten, and coming in to this on the back of a huge win, it's worth noting that Soriano hasn't lost in over 8 years and will feel confident of picking up a win here. Coming in to this both men are and both will know that a win here will shoot them up the rankings towards a potential world title shot, and a potential show down with either Sho Kimura or Kosei Tanaka.
A second title fight will see the once beaten Ahatelike Muerzhabieke (7-1-1, 4) battle against Thailand's Chaloemporn Sawatsuk (18-5, 14) for the WBO China National Super Middleweight title. The Thai once promises a lot, and began his career with 17 straight wins but has proven to be a huge disappointment since then, losing 5 of his last 6 by stoppage. Aged 19 this is a big step up in class for Muerzhabieke but he's won his last 5 and appears to be on a good run to build his confidence coming in to this bout.
In a battle of novices fans will see Bo Wang (1-0, 1) take on Aleksei Podkolzin (1-0). Wang needed just a round to win his debut in June 2016, but hasn't fought in an officially sanctioned professional bout since that contest, more than 2 years ago. Interestingly Podkolzin made his debut in January 2017, in a 10 rounder, but apparently hasn't fought since. This is an interesting match up, about as interesting as you can get between two men with 1-0 records.
Kadoebi will be putting on a pretty stacked card at the Korakuen Hall, headlined by a Japanese title fight and littered with notable names from the Kadoebi stable.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi (15-4-2, 10) make his first defense of the title, as he battles fellow puncher Taiki Minamoto (14-5, 11) in a Champion Carnival bout. Ohashi won the title last year in bizarre fashion as he stopped Kosuke Saka as Saka misheard the end of round clacker, and this will be his first defense since that win. Prior to the stoppage Ohashi had looked a monster against Saka, but with 3 stoppages against his name it's clear he's not the toughest. Minamoto is himself a bit of a glass cannon, with 2 stoppages against his name, but he did show good skills last October when he defeated Dai Iwai to earn this shot. This could well be a shoot out, and could be something very exciting.
The chief support bout is a mouth watering ,match up between Akinori Watanabe (35-7, 30) and Ratchasi Sithsaithong (10-4, 7). Watanabe has lost 3 of his last 5, including an 8th round TKO loss last time out to Magomed Kurbanov, but is still a really dangerous puncher and will know that a win here will see him back in the OPBF title mix. For Ratchasi this will be his first bout in Japan since losing the OPBF Light Middleweight title to Takeshi Inoue last October, and prior to that he had been on a role with wins against Cobra Suwa, Yutaka Oishi and Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine. We're expecting this to be two men each fighting to remain relevant, and could be very special.
Fast rising Kadoebi prospect Kazuki Saito (4-0, 4) will be continuing his development as he faces off with Marbon Bodiongan (14-6-2, 11). Despite only having 4 bouts to his name Saito is already ranked by the JBC and OPBF and looks to be racing towards a title fight thanks to good wins over Jimmy Borbon and Alvin Lagumbay. This is, on paper, a slight step up in class for Saito as he takes on his most experienced opponent. Bodiongan is 0-3 on his travels, but has has mixed with the likes of Nihito Arakawa and Masaru Sueyoshi, and should give Saito a chance to compare himself to those two men. They both stopped Bodiongan though if Saito can stop him in 4 rounds he would have bettered both men's win over the Filipino visitor.
Last November we saw Shoma Fukumoto (11-2, 9) being stopped in a 90 second war with Kazuto Takesako, who has since gone on to win the Japanese Middleweight title. Fukumoto makes his return on this show as he goes up against Indonesian foe Maxi Nahak (7-14-3, 3), who has been stopped in his 3 previous visits to Japan.
Another man looking to get some momentum into his career is Cristiano Aoqui (11-7-2, 7), who has lost his last 3 bouts, and 4 of his last 5. The Japanese-Brazilian will be expected to pick up an easy win here as he takes on a poor Thai visitor.
The under-card also has a really interesting match up on it as the 21 year old Tsuyoshi Sato (5-1-1, 2). who was the 2017 Light Flyweight Rookie of the Year, takes on the unbeaten Yuma Wada (4-0-1, 1), also 21. Sato had a big year in 2017 going 4-0-1 with an opening round win over Yusei Nagai in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, to put himself in the JBC rankings. He will be risking that rankings here against Wada, who looks a very capable young fighter himself.
As well as the action in Tokyo there will also be a pretty notable Asian show in Cebu.
The main event of this card will see Joe Noynay (13-2-1, 4) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Youth Super Featherweight title against Mexican Hector Garcia (12-6-2-1, 7).We're really unsure how Garcia qualifies for this title, given that he's not from the Asia Pacific region, but he is battle tested and will be a very tough test for Noynay. The Mexican has never been stopped and gave decent tests to Devin Haney and Juan Carlos Burgos last year. Noynay is a genuine talent, and gave Reiya Abe real problems last year, so should be able to come out on top here, but he should get well tested by the Mexican visitor.
One of the main bouts will see Cris Alfante (13-6-1, 5) hunt a third straight win as he takes on Renoel Pael (21-8-1, 11) in a 10 rounder. Coming in to this one Alfante has got a big of momentum with back to back wins, though he has suffered 2 losses in his last 5 bouts, including a 4th round KO defeat to Daigo Higa. Pael once looked like he could be a diamond in the rough, but with 4 straigth losses his career is floundering now and there is a risk that he has resigned himself to being little more than a regional gatekeeper, which would be a shame given his competitive bouts with Ardin Diale and Suguru Muranaka.
Other undercard bouts on this card will see Cris Paulino (16-3, 6) take on Jason Tinampay (8-8-1, 7), in what could be much better than it looks, and Ronel Sumalpong (4-0, 4) risk his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Justin Darap (2-0, 2).
In Canada fans will be able to see former world title challenger Michael Farenas (42-5-4, 34) take on Guadalupe Rosales (34-14, 18). Filipino banger Farenas has had a pretty stop-start career in recent times, with a couple of low key bouts in 2015, none in 2016 and one last year. Aged 33 there is still life in Farenas' career, but he will need a big and busy 2018, with this bout being a perfect chance to shake some ring rust. Rosales on the other hand is a relatively low risk opponent for someone like Farenas and despite being tough, shouldn't have the legs to avoid Farenas.
This coming Friday fight fans in Zhongshan will get a relatively low key card, but one with a few interesting looking bouts.
One of those bouts will see Filipino Engelbert Moralde (10-5, 6) take on unbeaten Chinese fighter Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (10-0-1, 2). The visitor has lost 3 of his last 5, including losses in a couple of visits to Japan, and has never won outside of the Philippines. Although not a notable name in Chinese boxing, yet, Nihemaituola has been building a bit of a reputation and looks like a potential hidden gem for Chinese boxing, especially given that he's only 23. A win here won't turn the Chinese fighter into a star but will help to enhance his reputation as a genuine Chinese prospect.
In a battle for the WBO China Zone Featherweight title fans will see Yu Che Li (3-1-1, 2) take on Da Xu (3-0, 1). Neither of these man have much name value, but both will be up for a fight as they both seek their first professional titles. Li, from Taiwan, claimed his most notable victory back in September when he scored a TKO win over Richard Garcia and will be looking to build on that. Aged 18 Xu is a boxing baby but does seem to be slowly developing and has done well since debuting just over 13 months ago. Interestingly Xu's last bout was also a TKO win over Garcia, and prior to that he had claimed two majority decisions. This isn't going to make waves, but could be a very interesting match up
A second WBO China Zone title fight comes at Light Flyweight, as the unbeaten pairing of Rongguo Wu (4-0-2, 1) and Lemen Chao (6-0) face off for the vacant title. So far in his career Wu has had struggles in almost all of his bouts. He scored a stoppage on debut but has gone the distance in his 5 subsequent bouts, with 4 of them being very close, including his two draws. It's hard to get a read on those results, given they all came against fellow Chinese novices. Chao has never scored a stoppage, and like Wu has some close wins, but does clear advantages in being the much taller man and a southpaw. This could be a very fun fight or a very frustrating one.
One other bout of interest here will see former world title challenger Noldi Manakane (32-23-2, 18) battling against unbeaten Chinese prospect Zhong Liu (10-0, 3). Liu has been impressive and won the Major League Boxing tournament at 122lbs earlier this year, and should see this as a chance to claim a win against a man with some name value, even if Manakane is way past his best.
Russian fans will get the chance to see a number of Asian fighters in action, in bouts of various significance.
The most important bout of the card will see Russia's Magomed Kurbanov (12-0, 9) take on Japan's Akinori Watanabe (35-6, 30) in about for the WBO International Light Middleweight title. The Russian enters the bout as the WBO #1 ranked fighter at 154lbs and although highly ranked has got a lot of questions to answer before getting a world title fight. It's unlikely that the 32 year old Watanabe will be able to ask too many questions of Kurbanov, but the power of Watanabe could see the Russian being given a chin check, if nothing else.
A second bout of some interest will see Tajik born Russian based Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (9-0, 6) battle against the very experienced Filipino Jaime Barcelona (40-61-1, 10). The unbeaten Yaqubov has stopped his last 3, including Daiki Ichikawa and Ernie Sanchez, and does look like a fighter with the potential to go places. Aged 40 Barcelona is unlikely to pose a serious threat to Yaqubov, but he is an upset minded fighter and comes into this on the back of a huge shock win over Eden Sonsona and is a very tough fighter, capable of giving decent fighters tough nights.
Another bout featuring a Filipino and an unbeaten fighter will see Roberto Gonzales (27-3, 17) take on Russia's Zaur Abdullaev (6-0, 4). Although this looks good on paper the reality is that Gonzales is very limited and has been stopped in all 3 of his losses, likely to become 4 here. Abdullaev is stepping up, in a pretty big way, but hasn't come close to losing yet and is unlikely to really be tested here.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
We also get a bout of note in South Africa, as in form South African Lwandile Sityatha (23-3-1, 7) v looks to extend an unbeaten 8 fight winning run as he takes on Filipino Jake Bornea (12-2, 6). Sityatha has been a thorn in the side of Filipino boxing in recent times, with wins over Edrin Dapudong, Michael Dasmarinas and Ernesto Saulong and it's unlikely that the naturally smaller Bornea will be able to change that here.
This coming Saturday is a pretty stacked day of action with a pair of world title fights, a regional title fight, a pair of Japanese title eliminators and a non-title bout featuring a controversial world champion.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
The first of the world title fights will see WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (11-0, 9) defending the title he was recently handed, following Badou Jack's decision to avoid Bivol who has seen his “interim” title being upgraded. The talented Russian based Kyrgyzstan born fighter will be up against Trent Broadhurst (20-1, 12) in what looks likely to be little more than a showcase defense. The destructive Bivol looks like one of the best young fighters in the sport, with text books skills, an impressive engine, a fantastic in-ring mentality and very heavy hands. On paper Broadhurst looks like a good opponent, and has won his last 13 bouts, but is unlikely to be able to live with the work rate and power of Bivol, who will be expected to stop the challenger with few problems.
New York, USA
The other title fight will see unbeaten Kazakh born Sergey Lipinets (12-0, 10) take on Japan's Akihiro Kondo (29-6-1, 16) in a bout for the IBF Light Welterweight title, which was vacated earlier this year by Terence Crawford. Of the two men it's Lipinets who has been the more impressive, with 4 stoppages in a row including wins over Leonardo Zappavigna and Levan Ghvamichava. The Kazakh, much like the previously mentioned Bivol, is an exciting and heavy handed fighter with an aggressive mentality. As for Kondo he's a tough fighter, as most Japanese fighters are, with a good engine and good form, having won his last 8 including stoppages over Patomsuk Pathompothong, Jeffrey Arienza and Yuya Okazaki.. Given the toughness of Kondo and the aggression of Lipinets it's hard not to get excited about this bout, despite the fact that Lipinets will be the very clear betting favourite.
Whilst the biggest fighters aren't in Japan we are really excited about a Japanese card from the Korakuen Hall.
The main event will see Japanese Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto (17-1, 9) defending his OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Heavyweight titles against Randall Rayment (8-3, 3). The Japanese boxer-mover became the first Japanese fighter to unify the Japanese, WBO AP. And OPBF titles and will be determined to continue that reign as he slowly moves towards a potential world title fight, though has seen such a contest with Joseph Parker recently falling through. Rayment is a real unknown but he has won his last 6 and is coming in with a bit of momentum, though has never gone beyond 6 rounds and is stepping up massively.
In a Japanese Super Bantamweight Japanese title eliminator we'll see Yuta Nakagawa (21-4-1, 12) battle former champion Yasutaka Ishimoto (30-9, 9), with the #1and #2 facing off for a shot at the title in 2018. The 28 year old Nakagawa has gone 11-0-1 (6) since a 2012 loss to Breilor Teran back in 2012 and whilst his competition hasn't been great he does hold notable wins over Yosuke Fujihara, Monico Laurente and Yuta Saito. Ishimoto on the other hand is a real fan favourite who has engaged in some thrilling contests at the top of the domestic scene with the likes of Yukinori Oguni, Gakuya Fukuhara, Yusaku Kuga, Shingo Wake and Yota Sato, among others. Aged 36 Ishimoto has seen better days, but is certainly coming in to this one as a hungry and determined fighter wanting another title run.
An even better title eliminator takes place at Middleweight, as the once beaten Shoma Fukumoto (11-1, 9) takes on the thrilling Kazuto Takesako (6-0, 6). Fukumoto burst on to the pro scene in 2012, blowing out Dondon Lapuz in 130 seconds, but would lose his third bout to the dangerous Arnel Tinampay. Since then he has reeled off 9 straight wins to right the ship and now looks like a much improved fighter who came undone against Tinampay. As for Takesako he was a genuine amateur star before making his professional debut in 2015. As a professional he has been destructive with all 6 of his wins coming in a combined 12 rounds and he looks like the type of fighter who will enter the ring with every intent of continuing that stoppage run here.
In one of two notable under-card bouts we'll see the exciting Akinori Watanabe (34-6, 29) take on Filipino journeyman Dennis Padua (11-12-2, 6), in what should be a straight forward win for Watanabe, who is looking for a second straight win after losing two in a row. The other under-card bout of note will see former amateur stand out Kazuki Saito (3-0, 3) battle against heavy handed Filipino puncher Alvin Lagumbay (8-1, 7). The talented Saito has the skills to go a long way, but does have question marks over him, especially given that he was dropped by Jimmy Borbon last time out. Lagumbay is stepping up massively, but is clearly a puncher and will be looking to stop Saito and propel himself towards an OPBF title fight.
Baja California, Mexico
One other bout of note sees unbeaten, and controversial, WBC Bantamweight champion Luis Nery (24-0, 18) fight in a non-title bout against Filipino Arthur Villanueva (31-2, 17). The Mexican, who failed a drugs test for his bout against Shinsuke Yamanaka but appears to have seen the WBC turn a blind eye to his failed drug's test and haven't yet stripped him. The Filipino has lost in his two most notable bouts, and we can't help but feel he'll come up short again here, potentially suffering his first stoppage loss in the process.
This coming Monday we see the next Kadoebi Houseki show, and although not the deepest is a notable card with an OPBF title fight headlining the card and several under-card bouts worthy of some note.
The main event is by far and away the most interesting bout on the show and will see OPBF Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto (16-1, 8) looks to make his first defense of the title, as he takes on Australian challenger Herman Ene Purcell (12-5, 6), with the WBO Asia Pacific title also on the line. The champion won the title earlier this year, when he out sped and out boxed the heavy handed Willie Nasio, in an impressively calculated performance and will be looking for something similar here. Although Samoan born Purcell hasn't got a great record on paper he's a fit fighter who is unbeaten out side of Australia and will see this as a huge opportunity to claim a major international title and a potential world ranking.
In the chief supporting bout we'll see former OPBF, PABA and Japanese champion Akinori Watanabe (33-6, 28) battle against Indonesian visitor Maxi Nahak (7-12-2, 3). On paper this looks like a horrible mismatch, and in fairness it probably will be, but Watanabe has lost his last 2 bouts and is almost 2 years removed from his last win. In fact Watanabe has had just 15 rounds in the last 24 months! As for Nahak he has won his last 3 including a huge upset last year in Korea against Eun Chang Lee.
Also on the under-card will be heavy handed Middleweight hopeful Shoma Fukumoto (10-1, 8) and Super Bantamweight Yuta Nakagawa (19-4-1, 10), who are both ranked #1 in their respective divisions by the JBC. Both Fukumoto and Nakagawa will be up against unknown Thai's in what we expect will be little more than stay busy fights for the locals, who will be looking to get domestic title fights in the near future.
The year has well and truly kicked off and this coming Saturday we'll see the first Japanese televised show of the year, as G+ televises the next Dynamic Glove show.
The first OPBF title bout of the near year takes place on January 14th and sees action all the way up at Heavyweight as Japan's Kyotaro Fujimoto (15-1, 8) takes on big punching Australian Willie Nasio (10-1, 9) for the currently vacant title. For local fans this will be the second time they get the chance to see Kyotaro fight for an international title, having come up short in a bout against Solomon Haumono for this very same title. Against Haumono we saw a then 5-0 Fujimoto stopped in 5 rounds with the big punching “Solo” walking his man down, since then however Kyotaro has gone 10-0 (5) and staked his place in history as the first Japanese Heavyweight champion in more than 50 years. Nasio, himself the Australian champion, comes into this bout on a run of 5 T/KO wins and is unbeaten since an opening round loss to Tai Tuivasa in a "Last Man Standing" tournament bout back in 2014. The winner of this could, potentially, find themselves in the mix for a major bout by the end of the year and this fight really does mean a lot to both men coming into the fight.
A really good looking supporting bout will see experienced puncher Akinori Watanabe (33-5, 28) take on the unbeaten, and fast rising, Takeshi Inoue (8-0-1, 4). Watanabe is a former OPBF, PABA and JBC champion but is now 31 and hasn't fought since November 2015, when he was stopped in a Strongest Korakuen bout by Toshio Arikawa. Although a proven quality Watanabe has always been a glass cannon and can be stopped. Inoue, no relation to the Ohashi promoted clan, is talented and is looking to move into the title mix in 2017, this is however a huge step up in class and a genuine test for the 27 year old Tokyo fighter.
Another supporting bout sees Japanese ranked Middleweights face off as the heavy handed Shoma Fukumoto (9-1, 7) takes on Kazuyuki Fukuyama (10-7, 3) for the second time. These two fought in January 2015, when Fukumoto took a razor thin majority decision over Fukuyama, and will be looking to make things much more decisive here. Fukuyama has gone 1-1 since that loss, whilst Fukumoto has gone 3-0, but he will be well matched and will be fired up in the search of revenge.
Da Lian, China
For a second day running we get Chinese action from Da Lian.
The headline bout here isn't a hugely attractive one as Tao Ji (11-6-2, 2) faces off with Wulan Tuolehazi (2-3). Ji has won just one of his last 4 bouts, but that one win saw him claim the WBA China National Bantamweight title, a title that we suspect he may be defending here. Although Tuolehazi was beaten last time he will see this as a huge chance to build his career, and he won't be there to make up the numbers.
In a supporting bout we'll see Thai fighter Jomyuthlek Sor Narongchai (17-8, 9) battle with once beaten Puerto Rican Waldemar Pagan (7-1, 6), in what looks like a very tough ask for the Thai. Interestingly Pagan has been in Asia for a while, having been a sparring partner back in December for Kosei Tanaka, ahead of Tanaka's recent bout with Moises Fuentes.
The second day of the month of November is genuinely one of the most interesting with 4 really notable bouts all taking place on same show, a show dubbed the “Strongest Korakuen Million Yen Fight”. The show is a return to the Strongest Korakuen tournament, which helps to decide the mandatory challengers for various Japanese titles. As well as the eliminator status of the bouts their will be additional bonuses, with a ¥1,000,000 up for grabs for the MVP of the event.
At Flyweight we'll see former world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (23-6-3, 14) battle against Yusuke Sakashita (13-5-2, 8) for a shot at the domestic Flyweight title next year. Both have been beaten by former champion Suguru Muranaka but should make for an excellent match up together. Both have a lot to prove and both have styles that should make for a lot of action.
At Bantamweight we see former Japanese champion Kentaro Masuda (22-7, 11) battle against the under-rated Hideo Sakamoto (16-1-3, 5). Masuda is the more proven of the two fighters however Sakamoto has long been under-the-radar and could well see this bout as his potential coming out party. Notably Masuda's last bout of note saw him being blown away by Shohei Omori and it's hard to know how much he has left after a long and hard career whilst Sakamoto hasn't had the wars that Masuda has had.
At Lightweight we see the teak tough Nihito Arakawa (25-6-1, 16) battle against recent title challenger Yuya Sugizaki (20-10-1, 6). Of the two men Arakawa is the more well known and the more proven however his recent form has been disappointing with a 2-5 run in his last 7. Saying that however he has been mixing at a higher level to Sugizaki who was last seen being stopped by Kota Tokunaga. A win for Sugizaki would a career best whilst a win for Arakawa is pretty expected here.
The highest weight covered by the Strongest Korakuen show here is Welterweight where punchers collide as Akinori Watanabe (33-4, 28) take on the little known Toshio Arikawa (11-4, 9). Of the two men Watanabe is the more established, having held various titles, but has shown frailties when he's been hit back. Arikawa is scarcely known but with his power he is a danger man and a 3rd round TKO win over Shusaku Fuinaka is clear proof of that. We really don't expect to see this one go the distance and it really could be a very explosive and short lived encounter.
This coming Thursday in Japan sees an interesting but low level domestic card at the Korakuen Hall. The show features a promising prospect, a heavy handed former title holder and one other intriguing domestic contest.
The main bout of the show will see former OPBF/PABA/JBC title holder Akinori Watanabe (32-4, 27) takes on the limited Kittisak Sithsaithong (0-2), from Thailand. This shouldn't be any more than a stay busy fight for Watanabe, who also has a bout set for November 2nd with Toshio Arikawa, though he'll be making sure not to take any sort of silly risks in the ring. It's hard to see anything but a stoppage from Watanabe but he'll be hoping to shake off some ring rust before the Arikawa bout.
Another bout on this card is a really intriguing Light Middleweight bout which will see the unbeaten, and hotly tipped, Takeshi Inoue (3-0-1, 2) battle against Hisao Narita (9-2, 4). Coming in to this bout both fighters are JBC ranked and the winner will almost certainly move in to the discussion for a title fight in 2016. Of the two men we have been the more impressed with Inoue but this is a step up for him.
The third notable bout will see Japanese and OPBF ranked Kazunori Takayama (21-8-4, 4) battling against domestic foe Ryuto Araya (7-3-1, 1). This is an 8 round bout that will see Takayama seek a third successive victory since he was stopped by the heavy handed Satoshi Hosono in a Japanese title fight.
As well as the 3 bouts that have been mentioned the card will feature a further 4 bouts.
(Image courtesy of boxmopb.jp)