The boxing year has been slow to get going, not just in Asia but worldwide. Thankfully that has started to change and on March 11th we see the 2016 Champion Carnival kick off with what appears to be a genuinely notable Japanese domestic card.
The champions Carnival bout, which is the main event of the show, will see Japanese and OPBF Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (27-8-1, 13) face off against the criminally under-rated Hikaru Nishida (14-7-1, 6), with both of Shibata's titles on the line. The veteran champion is well known as the debut opponent of Ryota Murata, where he was stopped in 2 rounds by the 2012 Olympic champion, but since then he has been reeling off wins at the top of the Japanese domestic scene. The only man in recent times to really push Shibata close was Nishida, when the two men met in 2014, and we expect another very competitive bout here. Of the two men Shibata is the better boxer, in fact he's a very technically capable boxer-mover, however Nishida is a strong, tough pressure fighter who will be in Shibata's face and try to break down the champion. This really could be an excellent way to kick off the Champion Carnival.
As well as the main event we also get a trio of notable supporting bouts. One of those features former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko (21-5-3, 14) who makes a move to Lightweight to face Kazuya Soma (7-8-2, 6). The 27 year old Kaneko impressed us in 2013, when he gave Takashi Uchiyama a very tough bout, however two losses last year, including a defeat to Masao Nakamura in a FOTY contender, has left him in need of a win. Soma is limited but is a naturally bigger fighter than Kaneko and could try to use that to his advantage against the former Japanese Super Featherweight champion.
Talking of former Japanese champions, former Middleweight champion Tomohiro Ebisu (14-4, 14) returns to the ring to face Toshihiro Kai (5-7-2, 1). This looks to be a mismatch however Ebisu is a “stop of be stopped” fighter and even the light punching Kai has a chance, if he can see out the first few rounds of Ebisu's assault. The former champion has never been the distance and he will be hoping to record his 15th stoppage win here, but he has shown fragility in the past.
The third bout of note sees recently OPBF Lightweight title challenger Accel Sumiyoshi (5-4-2, 1) battle Tatsuya Yanagi (11-3-1, 4) in, a rematch between the two men who fought to a draw last year. Coming in to this one the records suggest Yanagi should be favoured however Sumiyoshi is much better than his record indicates and he has been matched ridiculously hard since his debut in 2012, in fact he has fought the reigning Japanese and OPBF Lightweight champions and other title contenders. Whilst Sumiyoshi is better than the numbers suggest Yanagi is in a bit of a rut with a 1-3-1 record in his last 5. This is a bout neither man can really afford to lose.
We have also been made aware that there will be a show in Laos.
The main event of this card will see Thai veteran Terdsak Kokietgym (59-5-1, 39) [เทอดศักดิ์ สีซุปเปอร์เทคยิม] in a regional title bout whilst another bout on this card will see Laos teenager Nampetch Kwanjaisrikod (8-1, 3) [น้ำเพชร ก่อเกียรติยิม] continue her career. Sad we're unsure who Nampetch and Terdsak will be up against.
We don't often talk about Japanese Middleweights but this coming Monday sees them stealing the headlines with an interesting looking OPBF/JBC Middleweight title fight which headlines the next Dangan card.
That Middleweight bout sees current unified OPBF and JBC champion Akio Shibata (26-8-1, 12) defending his titles against the younger and more explosive Koki Tyson Maebara (9-1-1, 9). For Maebara this is a huge step up in class but the confident 22 year believes that he is the next great Middleweight from Japan and is hoping to one day become an international star. Shibata, the veteran of the division, has found an Indian summer of sorts in recent years and despite being 33 is in the form of his career. This really could be a very good contest.
The key support bout here sees the unbeaten, and Japanese ranked, Yuichiro Kasuya (7-0, 1) risk his record against Keisuke Ota (9-8, 2). The promising Kasuya, who turned 19 just days before the fight, will be looking to build on the success that saw him claim the All Japan Rookie of the Year last December. Ranked #15 by the JBC at 130lbs this is a good test for the teenage who will be in his first 8 round bout.
This card features two other 8 rounders as well as 4 low level 4 rounders.
The most notable action for Asian fight fans comes from Tokyo where the Korakuen Hall plays host to another Dangan card. The card features a title fight, a bout between two Japanese ranked fighters and an intriguing cross roads fight.
The main event sees Japanese and OPBF Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (25-8-1, 11) defending his belts against the under-rated Yasuyuki Akiyama (10-4-1, 8). The bout, originally scheduled for March, was rescheduled after Akiyama suffered an injury and although the challenger will still be the under-dog we suspect he'll be full committed to proving that he is the better man in the ring. Trying to prove that however will be difficult against the very talented Shibata who is on a 4 fight winning streak following his loss to then debuting Ryota Murata.
The all Japanese ranked bout sees Tsuyoshi Tojo (12-13-4, 2) battling against Masaki Saito (12-10-4, 3) in an interesting bout and competitive looking bout. On paper neither man is great though both are fighting at a similar and both will know a win here could open doors towards a title fight. It's also worth noting that these two fought in November, with that bout ending in a 4th round technical draw, a result both will be hoping to avoid here.
The cross roads bout on this card will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Masaaki Serie (25-8, 10) battle against Filipino visitor Roman Canto (10-6-2, 5). On paper this should be easy for Serie however the 32 year old has lost 3 of his last 4 and looks to be a fighter who is very much “off the boil”. Canto, who isn't a world beater himself, will come in to this bout knowing that a win will boost his career massively.
Fans in the Philippines also have a card, albeit a relatively poor one in Ifugao.
The most notable bout will see Noel Guliman (6-8-2, 3) battle against JC Francisco (6-10-4, 2) in what appears to be a well matched but very low level contest.
On paper the man to keep an eye on is 18 year old hopeful Pedro Taduran (2-0, 2), who looks to extend his perfect record as he takes on the debuting Garry Placios (0-0), though sadly we were hoping to see Taduran takes a slight step up rather than face a debutant here.
In what appears to be a clear mismatch fans will see Australian based Thai Arnon Yuchareon (0-10-1) take on the unbeaten Matt Burgoyne (2-0, 2). It's clear to see that Arnon is supposed to pick up another loss here and it's hard to see him doing anything but that against a young prospect who appears to have solid power
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The Dangan series returns this Thursday in what originally looked like one of the best Japanese shows of the year so far. Originally it featured not only title action, with a pair of title bouts, but also a brilliant all prospect match up and two bouts between ranked contenders on the domestic scene. It wasn't stacked with world class talent but as far as a domestic show it was very solid on paper. Sadly however we saw one bout change at late notice leaving us with a respectable, but less impressive card.
The changed fight will see Japanese and OPBF Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (24-8-1, 10) fight against Indonesian visitor Michael Speed Sigarlaki (15-13-2, 13) in a non-title bout. Originally however Shibata was supposed to defend his unified crown against Yasuyuki Akiyama (10-4-1, 8). Sadly however Akiyama suffered an injury just over a week before the fight resulting in this change.
The first of the still notable bouts on this show will see ranked Super Bantamweight Kenta Toi (4-4, 1) battle against Keita Nakano (12-9-2, 2). On paper this is a mismatch however Toi scored a career defining win last time out, stopping Mikihito Seto, and is looking to build on that huge upset. Nakano will be the favourite coming in here but he is up again a man flying high and who will be full of confidence.
Possibly the standout bout of the show is between prospects as the much touted Ken Shiro (2-0, 1) battles the more experienced Katsunori Nagamine (10-0, 6). Nagamine was the 2012 All Japan Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year however he has been relatively in active since then with just 3 bouts in the last 2 years. Ken Shiro, the son of former OPBF and Japanese champion Hisashi Teraji, is viewed as another “Super prospect” and a win here will likely boost him to getting a title fight of some type later in the year. Notably Ken Shiro will be taking this fight at 112lbs, a weight that sees him fighting for the first time as a fully blown Flyweight.
In a third bout of note we will see OPBF and Japanese ranked Ryuichi Funai (22-6, 15) battle Japanese ranked Ryuta Otsuka (14-7-2, 4). Funai is on a 5 fight willing streak since coming up short against Rolly Lunas in an OPBF title fight back in 2012, that is his only loss in the last 4 years. As for Otsuka he has had mixed fortunes with a record of 3-3-1 in his last 7 however he has been in with Yuki Nasu, Konosuke Tomiyama, Teiru Kinoshita and Malcolm Tunacao during that run of 7 bouts. Neither of these guys will ever be world champions but both are fighting to get a shot as a Japanese or OPBF title in the near future and will put it all on the line to pick up a win here.
The remaining title bout will see Japanese Minimumweight champion Go Odaira (11-4-3, 1) defending his title again Yutaka Sowano (9-5-1, 6). For Odaira this is a return to the Japanese domestic level after coming up short in a world title fight with Katsunari Takayama on New Year's Eve and although he was stopped by Takayama it's hard to see Sowano really testing him here. As for Sowano this is a big step up in class.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The month of December may have taken a few days to get going but when it begins to kick off, it really begins to kick off and today we have a genuinely exciting card with several very good looking bouts.
The first action of the day is in Tokyo where we get one of the best domestic cards of the year. In fact it's almost like an early Christmas present with 3 really interesting match ups.
The main event of the trio is a 10 round non-title bout between the teak tough Nihito Arakawa (25-4-1, 16) and Japanese Lightweight champion Yoshitaka Kato (28-5-1, 9). This is the third meeting between the two and will act as a rubber with each man holding a narrow win over the other. The bout has been made slightly above the Lightweight limit though that shouldn't take the shine off what is likely to be a violent, exciting and thrilling tear up between two very well matched fighters. We're really excited about this one and wouldn't be shocked if it ended up being a FOTY contender, it really could be that good.
As well as the non-title bout fans will also have two title bouts to look forward to. The most notable of those is also a rematch as the unified Japanese and OPBF Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (23-8-1, 9) looks to defend his unified for the second time. Shibata will be battling against former world title challenger Makoto Fuchigami (21-9, 12), a man best known for being stopped by Gennady Golovkin, and it's fair to say there is more to this bout than just the titles. This will be the second meeting between the two and in the first Shibata took a clear technical decision over Fuchigami who knows that his career will need a win here given that his recent form has been forgettable to say the least with just 2 wins in his last 5 bouts. This bout has titles, bragging rights and possibly even careers on the line, the stakes really couldn't be any higher.
The third bout is the remaining title bout as former OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (13-1, 4) battles against Yasutaka Ishimoto (24-7, 7) in a bout for the vacant Japanese Super Bantamweight title. The belt was given up by Hidenori Otake ahead of Otake's world title bout with Scott Quigg and has left us with a potentially brilliant bout between two light hitting but technically proficient fighters. Neither of these guys is likely to ever become a genuine world champion though we suspect the winner could end up progressing to OPBF title fights and may get a world title shot somewhere down the line.
As well as the main trio the card will feature 4 under card contests, with the most interesting of those being a bout between the Japanese and OPBF ranked Kazuya Maruki (17-2, 11) and Quaye Peter (5-5-2, 3). This is a stay busy fight for Maruki who is on a 6 fight winning streak following his 8th round TKO loss to the monstrously hard hitting Keita Obara back in 2012. If Maruki can continue stringing together wins the odds are he will find himself getting a title fight of some sort at some point in 2015 or 2016.
Pathum Thani, Thailand
In Thailand there's another bout worth looking forward to as the unbeaten Kongthara KKP (5-0, 5) steps up in class and attempts to defend his WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Bantamweight title against experienced Indonesian Nouldy Manakane (27-15-1, 17). Kongthara blasted on to our radar back in May when he stopped Shingo Kawamura on his debut and now looks to add the scalp of a former world title challenger to his ledger. It should be a mismatch in favour of Kongthara but this is a good test for the promising Thai.
Nuevo León, Mexico
In Mexico fans in for a treat as WBC female Flyweight champion Shindo Go (14-2, 9) takes on highly regarded Mexican fighter Arely Mucino (20-2-2, 10) in a bout with a lot of promise. The contest has been a drawn out one outside of the ring with several issues getting in the way and we just hope those issues won't destroy what should be one of the best female bouts of the year.
Staying in Mexico fans will also get the chance to see the unbeaten Joebert Alvarez (14-0-1, 6) in the toughest bout of his career as he goes up against unified Flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada (30-2, 22). Estrada appears to be testing the water at 115lbs here and some have speculated that Estrada is set to vacate his Flyweight titles. We'll admit we'd love to see Estrada fight Roman Gonzalez in a much anticipated rematch however a bout between Estrada and Naoya Inoue would be equally as interesting and could be a bout made between two of the sports really young outstanding youngsters.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
July 5th-Shibata battles Nishida in unified title defence whilst Taguchi, Taconing and Rufino are all in lesser bouts
This coming weekend is one of the quietest in boxing this year. Despite the relative lack of activity we do have some interesting contests on Saturday that thankfully do help keep some interest in the sport for the day.
The biggest show of the day for us is in Japan with a Watanabe Gym promoted card at the Korakuen Hall. The show, "The 526th Dynamic Glove, will have just 7 bouts but they are almost all worthy of attention.
The most interest bout is the main event which will see OPBF and Japanese Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (22-8-1, 9) defending his unified crown against the under-rated Hikaru Nishida (10-6-1, 3). On paper you'd be right to assume this would be a mismatch but Nishida is in tremendous form having won 6 of his last 7, including victories over Kazuhiko Hidaka and Makoto Fuchigami and has genuinely earned this opportunity on merit.
The penultimate bout on the show will be a contest between Japanese ranked Light Welterweight Hayato Hokazono (17-4-1, 10) and the light hitting Osamu Hashimoto (9-6,1). Going in to this bout we can't see anything but a win for Hokazanko and we're unsure why this has got the "chief support" billing on the card..
Although the Hokazano/Hashimoto bout is technically the chief support bout the most interesting of the under-card contests is a Light Flyweight contest between former Japanese champion Ryoichi Taguchi (19-2-1, 8) and former IBF Minimumweight champion Florante Condes (27-8-1, 23). Taguchi is the only man to have seen the final bell against Naoya Inoue whilst Condes is a big punching Filipino who on't have travelled to Japan to just lose. With that in mind we're really excited about this bout.
Another Japan Vs Philippines bout on this show will see the Japanese ranked Yuji Wauke (17-4-1, 8) fighting against Jonel Gadapan (8-6-1, 4). Whilst we're excited about the Taguchi/Condes fight this one sadly looks like a mismatch with Wauke the clear favourite to win against a limited visitor who has been beaten by almost every notable opponent he has faced in his career.
Metro Manila, Philippines
As well as the solid looking show in Japan we also have a card in the Philippines, unfortunately it's a card that appears to have some interesting fighters on it but no interesting bouts with them all pretty much looking like mismatches on paper.
The most notable of the bouts will see recent OPBF Featherweight title challenger Vinvin Rufino (34-16-3, 16) taking on Cristian Abila (11-12-3, 3) in a defence of Rufino's GAB Featherweight title. Although Rufino was no match for Hisashi Amagasa earlier this year we can't see him coming unstuck against the very average Abila who is, at best, a domestic Filipino journeyman. Rufino's "level" probably is at the top end of the Filipino domestic scene and there is nothing wrong with that, we just wish he'd be in with someone a little bit better than Abila.
Rufino may have failed in his attempt to become an OPBF champion earlier this year but the same could not be said of the hard hitting Jonathan Taconing (18-2-1, 15) who claimed the OPBF Light Flyweight title back in March by winning a thriller with compatriot Vergilio Silvano. Sadly Taconing won't be defending his belt here and instead he'll be fighting in a non-title bout at Flyweight as he takes on Thai visitor Nimithra Sithsaithong (4-5, 3) in what is little more than a mismatch. We love Taconing and feel he could be a potential world champion but it'd be nice to see him fighting a much higher level than this.
From what we understand there are 5 other bouts on this card with the most interesting of those being a contest between Glenn Suminguit (12-2, 7), ending a 2 year break from the ring, and the unbeaten Junar Adante (5-0-1, 2). It's not a bout that features a big name but it should prove to be a very good bout and the winner will deserve serious credit.
The most interesting bout outside of Asia, though involving an Asian, is in Mexico where Thai female star Samson Tor Buamas (33-3, 15) takes on the talented Arely Mucino (19-2-2, 10) in a WBC female Flyweight eliminator. The winner of this contest would be set to take on Shindo Go and although we'd have to think Mucino goes in as the favourite Samson has the experience and skills to make life difficult for the Mexican.
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia fans will get the chance to see Australian based Filipino Joel Dela Cruz (17-21-2, 7) taking on relative novice Michael Mlacic (8-2-1, 2). Although Dela Cruz is the more experienced of the two men he is without a win since December 2011 and will be going in to this bout trying to avoid a 10th straight loss.
In Germany we have an all-Asian bout as Uzbekistan's Jonny Ibramov (8-5-2, 2) battles against Azerbaijan's Bakhtiyar Iskenderzade (9-4, 2) in a 6 round Light Welterweight bout. We've got to admit this isn't a hugely interesting bout but it's still a bout that does leave us curious about both men despite the potential of both men being pretty limited.
(Image courtesy of Boxmob.jp)
Boxing through much of January and February has been slow. We know we sound like a broken record with the sheer number of times we've said that but it's true, it has been slow, it's been relatively dull and on the whole it's not had that much to keep us entertained. Worst of all their has been gaps between notable fights and every time we seemed like their was something exciting happening, it ended up not being as exciting as we expected.
Thankfully that is set to change in March and and things kick off as they mean to carry on and to begin the month we get two notable cards one in the Philippines and one in Japan.
Philippines, Metro Manila
Originally the better card of two in Asia was easily the Filipino card, "Pinoy Pride XXIV: The Future is Now". Unfortunately the card has had to have some alterations this week, though has still remained very interesting, just not the run away "better card" that it was a week ago.
The main event here sees the unbeaten Genesis Servania (23-0, 9) defending his WBO Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title against former WBA Super Flyweight champion Alexander Munoz (36-5, 28). Although Munoz isn't the fighter he once was, he is still a superb puncher and not the type of guy you want to take risks against. If Servania want's to put on a show for the fans he'll have to be very careful. We think he should win but there will certainly be an air of risk going in to this fight.
The co-feature was supposed to see the unbeaten Arthur Villanueva (24-0, 14) defending his WBO International Super Flyweight title against Mexican Juan Hernandez (23-3, 16) unfortunately however Hernandez has been forced to pull out after suffering an injury in an auto-mobile accident. Given the short notice it was obvious ALA promotions weren't going to get an equally as good of an opponent on such short notice and that's been shown in the fact Villanueva will now be facing Fernando Aguilar (9-6, 1).
The change of opponent hasn't just caused Villanueva to share a ring with an opponent who simply doesn't belong to be in the same fight as him, but has also seen the fight relegated down the card. Instead of Villanueva/Hernandez being the co-feature that honour now belongs to Albert Pagara (18-0, 12) who will take a notable step up to face Indonesia's Isack Junior (22-4-2, 8) in what looks like a decent enough step up for Pagara, who many are tipping as a world champion in the making.
Of course ALA are the biggest promoters in the Philippines and arguably the diamond in the rough for them is the unbeaten Mark Magsayo (4-0, 3) who will be hoping to continue his development as he battles Roy Sumugat (9-9-1, 5) in what should be a great test for the young Magsayo.
Also on this card are Melvin Gumban (15-0, 7) and former Cuban amateur Reymi Castellano Aleye (3-0, 1) who was based in Cambodia though now seems to have set up base with ALA.
Although this card wasn't as good as first announced it's certainly not a poor card, if anything it's still a very strong show.
Whilst the card in the Philippines is still strong, the card in Japan has arguably the best Asian bout of the day as Akio Shibata (21-8-1, 9), the Asian Middleweight champion, battles the big punching Daisuke Nakagawa (22-3-2, 17), the Japanese Middleweight champion, in a much anticipated Middleweight title unification bout. It's a hard one to call this on as Shibata does hold a win over Nakagawa though with Nakagawa's power we do favour him to take home both belts here, especially after the job Ryota Murata did on Shibata on debut.
Unfortunately for this show, the "522th Dynamic Glove", the rest of the card is weak with the best under-card contest being a contest between former world title challenger Makoto Fuchigami (20-8, 11) and Hikaru Nishida (9-6-1, 3). Whilst this bout is important and both fighters are ranked by both the OPBF and the JBC it's a bout we imagine will be one in favour of Fuchigami.
The only other bout worth making a note of at all is the bout involving world ranked Shin Ono (16-5-2, 2). Ono, a former OPBF Light Flyweight champion, is talented though has suffered injuries in recent bouts which have curtailed his climb up the rankings. He continues his comeback by taking on the very limited Takumi Suda (10-9-2, 2) in what should be a complete mismatch in favour of the fringe world title contender.
There are a total of 7 bouts on this card though we've covered the 3 notable ones, the rest really are at a low level and have next to no significance to them unfortunately. That's why we still consider the Filipino show the better one, despite the unfortunate pull out by Hernandez.
(Picture courtesy of Watanabe Gym)