This coming Friday is a hectic day with 5 title bouts taking place in Japan.
In Kobe we get an OPBF quadruple header, with the card looking, at least on paper, like one of the most notable Oriental cards of the month. The bouts might not be 4 brilliant match up, but they will help establish the OPBF scene as we enter 2017, and at least 2 of the bouts look like they could be very interesting match ups.
The “main event”, well the final of the 4 main events, will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (10-0, 7) defending his title, and unbeaten record, against Korean visitor Jin Wook Lim (8-4-5, 2). This was the first bout on the card to be known about and although it looks like a mismatch it could, potentially, be a good test for Kubo who will be looking for stiff competition next year. Lim, although having a sketchy record, is a former Korean champion and holds a draw with touted Korean prospect Ye Joon Kim, giving him some legitimacy as a challenger here.
In a bout at Lightweight we'll see Masayoshi Nakatani (12-0, 7) defending his title against former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Allan Tanada (14-5-3, 6). The bout will be Nakatani's 6th defense and will see him looking to build on wins against the likes of Ricky Sismundo, Accel Sumiyoshi and Tosho Makoto Aoki. For Tanada , who has actually lost 3 of his last 4, the bout sees him attempting to score his biggest win since his 2010 shock upset over Rikiya Fukuhara. Sadly for Tanada he's gone 4-5-3 since his win over Fukuhara almost 6 years ago and it's hard to imagine this being a win for the Filipino.
Arguably the most interesting bout on the card sees OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (18-4, 15) defending his title against Japanese based Filipino Mark John Yap (24-12, 10). On paper this might not look like a great bout but the reality is that the contest is brilliantly well matched and puts an exciting and hard hitting champion up against a talented and tough young veteran. For Yamamoto the bout will be his third defense, but is a huge step up from his previous 2, whilst Yap will be looking to extend a 5 fight winning run which has included a notable upset over Tatsuya Ikemizu.
Another intriguing bout will see former world champion Merlito Sabillo (25-3-1, 12) battle with rising prospect Ryuya Yamanaka (12-2, 3) in a bout for the OPBF Minimumweight title. For Sabillo the bout sees him returning to Japan for the first time since his May loss to Riku Kano, which was for the OPBF interim title, and it's fair to say that the Filipino cannot afford another set back after going 2-3-1 in his last 6 bouts. Aged 21 Yamanaka knows that a win will open doors for potential world title bouts, but this bout is by far the toughest of his career and it's clear that he will need a career best performance to defeat the Filipino veteran.
The 4 title bouts in Kobe won't be the only title action in Japan, in fact we also have a world title bout in the country, featuring the longest reigning active world champion, and the one with the most defenses of their current title.
That world champion is WBA Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (22-2-1, 8) who looks to record her 17th defense of the title. In the opposite corner to Koseki will be the little known Chie Higano (6-4, 2), who will be making her first title challenger. On paper this looks like a mismatch and it's, unfortunately, hard to see anything but a win for Koseki, possibly by stoppage in the early rounds.
In an interesting supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Takeshi Inoue (7-0-1, 3) take on Korean puncher Chan Ho Lee (5-1, 4). Inoue already has his next bout booked, a contest in January with Akinori Watanabe, has impressed and is being tipped as a potential Japanese title contender, but this is a bout against a live under-dog. Lee is unknown outside of Korea but has impressed on the domestic scene and scored a good win over Young Sub Han this past June. Although Inoue will be favoured this could be a good test for the Japanese fighter before the Watanabe bout.
In another Japan Vs Korean bout we'll see the brilliantly exciting and fast rising Kazuto Takesako (4-0, 4) battling against Kyung-Joon Ahn (6-3-1, 5). Takesako has taken out his first 4 opponents in just 7 combined rounds and will be looking to extend that run here. Ahn on the other hand is looking to bounce back from a stoppage loss to Shoma Fukumoto, from almost 3 years ago. On paper this looks like a decent test for Takesako but in reality it should be a bit of a mismatch and an early blow out for the Japanese prospect.
There is also a Japanese card in Osaka, in what is a busy day for Japanese fans. This is however this is a much smaller and less interesting card than the other two.
In the main event we'll see Middleweights clash as Ryuji Kanza (7-2, 5) takes on Japanese based American Brandon Lockhart Shane (7-5, 6) in what should be a really intriguing contest. Both guys are limited but both can bang and we'd not be shocked to see this one be a bit of a wild slugfest that lacks quality but is fun to watch.
In a supporting bout we'll see Yuki Takahashi (6-1, 2) take on Indonesian visitor Adam Alap Alap (0-1), who we've been informed is a top 15 ranked Indonesian Lightweight suggesting his record is incomplete
There's also action in China where we get the next League of Fists show.
The main event here is a brilliant match up between unbeaten men, as Zhi Quan Xie (4-0-3, 1) battles against Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (7-0-1, 1). The bout is a really intriguing one and should tell us a lot about both men, and their potential to go further in the sport.
In the US fans will be able to see hotly touted Filipino hopeful Harmonito Dela Torre (18-0, 12) fight for the second time on US soil. At the moment his opponent is an unknown but it's unlikely to be too much of a test for Dela Torre.
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia fans will see two Asian fighters fighting in New South Wales.
One of those is China's Yong Zhang (5-5-1, 1), who faces a yet to be named opponent, whilst the other will be Korean Jeong Jin Park (1-5), who faces the unbeaten Michael Hall (3-0, 3) in what looks like a mismatch against the Korean.
This coming Sunday isn't a busy day in boxing, but there is still an interesting card in Yamaguchi.
The main event of the card will see recent OPBF title challenger Accel Sumiyoshi (6-4-2, 2) battle against former OPBF champion Allan Tanada (14-4-3, 6) in what looks like a “meh” bout on paper but should genuinely be a good match up. Sumiyoshi has been thrown to the wolves through his career, and yet has regularly acquitted himself very well, and in fact with more cautious management he could easily be unbeaten and highly ranked by the JBC and OPBF. As for Tanada he is known in Japan for upsetting Rikiya Fukuhara and dropping Masao Nakamura, before being stopped by Nakamura. They styles he should make for a fun and well matched contest.
Another interesting match up will see the hard hitting Kosuke Saka (12-3, 9) take on the gutsy Burning Ishii (7-2-1, 2). Saka is the puncher, and the younger man, but will know another loss here could ruin any chance he has of getting a title fight. For Ishii this is a chance to build on a great win over Johnreil Maligro, from back in December. Both men will be after a win and both will bring it for this one.
Another really interesting match up will see the touted Yuki Konami (2-0, 2) battle against Fine Arai (5-2-1, 1). Konami turned professional with plenty in the know tipping him to be a star but this is his first real test in the professional ranks and we should learn a lot more about him here than we have in the 3 rounds he has already fought with the headgear. Arai has been matched hard and is, by far, the more battle hardened fighter here but will be the smaller man and will be seen as the under-dog give how good Konami was as an amateur
It's been busy in Asia recently and that's the case again on April 22nd when we get cards across Asia, and we get fighters on the road.
In Japan fans get two shows, with the most notable being held at the Korakuen Hall, and although it lacks a “big fight” it does look like a very intriguing card with three bouts of note.
The main event of the card sees the promising Takeshi Inoue (5-0-1, 2) battle against Elfelos Vega (6-2, 4) in a contest that could well decide the next Japanese title challenger at 154lbs. Of the two men Inoue is the one who has impressed more, though this will be his toughest test to date and comes against a man who does have the power to be a real threat to Inoue's unbeaten record.
Interestingly Vega's last loss came to a man on the under-card of this show, Kazuto Takesako (2-0, 2). The very promising Takesako will be up against a Thai foe who isn't expected to pose any threat to the unbeaten novice, though hopefully we will see Takesako let off the leash later in the year as he has the potential to go very far in the sport, though did look somewhat wild against Vega.
The third bout of note from this card will see Kazuaki Moriya (13-7, 2) battle against Ryuto Oho (8-2-1, 2), in what is essentially the co-feature bout. The records may not be great, and given the power of both men we do suspect this will go the scheduled 8 rounds, but we'd be amazed if it wasn't an action packed and exciting Flyweight encounter.
The other Japanese show comes from Osaka and sadly is lacking in terms of bouts, with the only notable contest being a bout between Tetsuya Hisada (24-9-2, 14) and poor Indonesian import Ardi Tefa (6-6-1, 4), who is unlikely to pose any threat to the JBC ranked Light Flyweight contender. This should be an easy contest for Hisada before a potential Japanese title fight later in the year.
Tefa isn't to be the only Indonesian in action this weekend and in fact Indonesian fans get a show all of their own, and in fact they get two title fights.
On paper the more significant of those two title fights comes in an international bout as former world title challenger Roy Mukhlis (28-5-3, 21), who once faced Takashi Uchiyama for the WBA Super Featherweight title, faces former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Allan Tanada (13-4-3, 5) for the lightly regarded World Boxing Foundation Asia Pacific Lightweight title. Coming in to this one Mukhlis has gone 2-2-1, in his last 5, including a 1-1-1 series with Hero Tito. Interestingly Tanada is also 2-2-1 in his last 5, though has lost his last 2 bouts.
The other title bout will see veteran Rasmanudin (19-14-3, 10) battle against Hanif Yogya (3-2-1, 2) for the IBC Super Bantamweight title. If we're being honest Rasmanudin has looked horrible show in recent fights, and has gone 3-11-1 in his last 15. On paper Yogya shouldn't pose much of a threat however he has won his last 3 and may simply have more left than his rival.
Metro Manila, Philippines
We get yet more title action in the Philippines with a bout between Warren Mambuanag (9-5-2, 3) and the hard hitting Arnel Baconaje (5-0, 5), who will be trading blows for the Interim GAB Super Featherweight title. The winner of this will be set to face veteran Edgar Gabejan for the full title later in the year, though Gabejan hasn't actually defended the belt in over a year.
Sadly aside from the main event there is little to really note about this show, though there is an interesting 6 rounder between Carlo Caesar Penalosa (3-0, 1) and fellow novice Alvin Defeo (1-0).
Another card in the Philippines, which is actually worse than the one above, is set to take place in Tarlac.
On paper the most notable bout is a 6 round mismatch as former OPBF champion Romeo Jakosalem (16-12-1, 8) faces the horribly over-matched Edsil Jungco (1-9-5). Jakosalem has lost his last 3, and 8 of his last 12, but should be far too good for Jungco here in what we suspect will be an easy win for “Jako”.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Fans get two really interesting bouts in South Africa as Japanese fighters get their passports out to face a pair of locals.
The most notable of the bouts on offer sees Japan's very promising Tsuyoshi Tameda (13-1-2, 11) take on former world champion Simpiwe Vetyeka (28-3,17). Although relatively unknown outside of Asia Tameda is a genuinely promising fighter who has notable stoppage wins over Takenori Ohashi and Mark Bernaldez, with the Bernaldez win being his best to date. As for Vetyeka he's a man known to Japanese fans for his bout with Hozumi Hasegawa, almost 9 years ago, whilst international fan will recognise his win over Chris John and his loss to Nonito Donaire. On paper it's easy to favour Vetyeka, a former WBA champion, however he is now 35 and has fought just 4 rounds in the last 16 months.
The other bout sees former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (9-2-1, 5) face off against Luzuko Siyo (15-3, 12) in a bout for the WBA Inter-Continental Super Flyweight title. Again the local is the favourite but Tobe is better than his record indicates and does seem to be the naturally bigger man here, with Siyo having fought as low as Minimumweight. This could be a really good bout, even if it does end up being over-shadowed by the other contest on the card.
Staying with Japanese fighters on the road, fans in Australia will be able to see Japanese veteran Yosuke Kirima (22-5-2, 15) take on Australia's very own Michael Zerafa (18-2, 10) for the IBF Pan Pacific Middleweight crown. Although experienced Kirima has been known as a fighter who loses in his most notable contests, losing in two Japanese title fights, and hasn't yet managed to score a “big win”, even domestically. As for Zerafa he too has lost his biggest bouts, though one of those was a bout with former world champion Peter Quuillin, whilst the other was against fast rising Russian Arif Magomedov, both of whom are much better than Kirima if we're being honest.
In Russia we get a low profile match up as Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (1-0, 1), originally from Tajikistan, faces Kazakh Amir Saltayev (1-0) in a bout between unbeaten novices.
September 19th-Srisaket's return to the ring, Nawaphon, Doliguez and Pabustan all in action, Tanada Vs Gonzalez...
Whilst we won't go as far as to say this Friday is an amazing day in Asian boxing it is certainly a notable day with plenty of exciting and interesting fighters in action.
Sara Buri, Thailand
The biggest name in action is destructive Thai Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (27-4-1, 25) who will be attempting to claim a WBC regional title as he battles Zoren Pama (6-10-3, 3). For Srisaket this will be his first bout since he lost his world title in Mexico to Carlos Cuadras in a relatively disappointing bout that failed to live up to our expectations. Hopefully an impressive performance here will help Srisaket get another world title bout though his risk-reward isn't the sort of thing that makes him an attractive fighter, despite how exciting he is to watch with his power and seek and destroy mentality.
We expect the co-feature here to be a bout between the unbeaten, and highly touted, Nawaphon Por Chokchai (22-0, 16) and Indonesian visitor Hendrik Barongsay (26-18-3, 15). Nawaphon is a very interesting fighter and one we suspect could be claim a world title somewhere down the line. As for Barongsay this will see him looking to end a 2 fight losing streak and score a shock win, just as he did in 2012 against Tabthong Tor Buamas.
For what it's worth this card will be televised on Channel 7 in Thailand.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines we have a relatively interesting domestic card though one that won't get much, if any, international attention.
The headline bout will see the exciting Rogelio Jun Doliguez (19-1-2, 14) take on fellow Filipino Dennis Tubieron (18-3-1, 8) in a really interesting 10 rounder. We love watching Doliguez though know he can be out boxed by anyone able to take his power. We don't think Tubieron will be able to with stand the brute force of Doliguez though if he can he could find himself boosted into the fringes of a world ranking. Big opportunity for Tubieron but certainly a difficult ask.
In another bout scheduled for 10 rounds we see another Filipino hopeful in action as the talented but light hitting Jetro Pabustan (23-2-5, 6) takes on the limited Angelito Merin (7-4-2, 1) in what should be an easy win for Pabustan though one that he will probably see him go the distance. Not blessed with power Pabustan is skilled and both of his losses have been via split technical decision. Sadly for all his skills he is involved in a lot of headclashes with an astonishing 9 technical decisions in 30 bouts. Merin has lost his last 2 though has the ability to make life difficult for Pabustan, we do however only see one winner.
Sadly 2 other 10 rounders on this card look like complete mismatches with prospects taking on opponents that they are supposed to defeat without any issues. Thankfully however we do get an interesting 8 rounder as Roberto Gonzales (23-2, 14) battles the criminally under-rated Allan Tanada (13-2-3, 5) in what genuinely looks to be the show's outstanding contest. Gonzalez is a talented fighter though not one was good as his record suggests whilst Tanada is a former OPBF Super Featherweight champion who famously stopped Rikiya Fukuhara, almost 4 years ago to the day! This is a really good all-Filipino fight and one that we'd suggest could be the most competitive.
As well as the trio of bouts mentioned we're expecting a further 9 bouts in a very deep card that is pretty full of mismatches, unfortunately. Hopefully we'll see some upsets but it's unlikely that make of the fights won't go as expected.
New South Wales, Australia
Another Filipino in action will be journeyman Roman Canto (8-4-2, 3) who will be taking on the unbeaten, and very talented, TJ Doheny (7-0, 5). We never like down playing fighters like Canto who will fight anywhere any time, though unfortunately he has gone 0-4-2 in the last 2 years including losses to Hikaru Marugame, fighting for just the second time as a professional, and the limited Ruben Manakane. Doheny shouldn't have any problems taking home a win with the question merely being the manner of the win.
Some times we get days that are ridiculously busy, and we mean ridiculously busy! This Coming Saturday is one such day with more action and more fights that we are used to seeing on a single day!
New Jersey, USA
The most notable of the fights will feature former WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Heavyweight champion and current WBO Light Heavyweight world champion Sergey Kovalev (24-0-1, 22). Kovalev will be defending the WBO title for the third time since winning less than a year ago. The unfortunate man to share the ring with the "Krusher" will be the unbeaten, but light hitting, Blake Caparello (19-0-1, 6) who is almost certainly going to be the next victim of Kovalev's thudding power and vicious assaults. Going in to this bout Kovalev has stopped his last 8 opponents in a combined 31 rounds! The general view seems to be that Caparello won't last more than 3 or 4.
New York, USA
Kovalev isn't the only Russian in a world title fight and in New York Anton Novikov (29-0-0-1, 10) will be challenging for the WBA Light Welterweight title currently held by the unbeaten Jessie Vargas (24-0, 9). Vargas, who beat Khabib Allakhverdiev back in April, will be making the first defence of his title but the challenger, a former WBC Asian Boxing Council Welterweight champion, will be looking to upset the once touted American fighter. This bout certainly looks more competitive than the Kovalev fight and looks a bit like a coin toss right now.
As well as title action in the US we also get a female double in Japan in one two Tokyo shows.
The female double header will be held at the Adachi Ward Sogo Sports Center and will be headlined by female IBF Light Flyweight champion Naoko Shibata (12-3, 3) who will be seeking the second defence of her title. Unfortunately for Shibata she's in a very tough one with the experienced Ana Arrazola (20-9-2, 13). Arrazola has been in with some of the best around and will be expected to give Shibata an incredibly hard fight here and we'd not be shocked by the title changing hands in what is truly a hard bout to call.
Although Shibata/Arrazola is the main event we dare suggest that the other female title fight, between long reigning WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (18-2-1, 5) and former Muay Thai sensation Denise Castle (2-0, 2). Castle really was tremendous in Muay Thai though this will be a big test of ho those skills transfer over. For Koseki we'd like to see her box more than usual, like she did against Maria Jimenez, as opposed to using the billy goat tactics that she has used through her career. If Koseki gets into a war this is anyone's fight whilst if she boxes she should win with out too many issues.
In the chief support bout fans will get the chance to see two debutants in action in a 6 round bout at Welterweight. From what we understand this contest will see Takeshi Inoue (0-0) fighting Daishi Nagata (0-0). It's rare for debutants to collide in 6 rounders but both guys are B Class licensed fighters are have shown that they are capable meaning that this is a seriously tough way to start their careers.
The other Tokyo show will be at the Korakuen Hall and feature several interesting fighters and match ups.
The most interesting of the fighters is former WBA Super Featherweight world title challenger Daiki Kaneko (20-3-3, 13) who will be hunting his second win since losing his world title bout to Takashi Uchiyama. Kaneko will be fighting the limited but tough Filipino visitor Cirilo Espino (19-13-3, 12) who has only suffered a controversial stoppage loss in his 35 fight career. Disappointingly Espino as beaten last time out by Ryota Kajiki a man who Kaneko stopped back in December 2012 and with that in mind we can't see anything but a win for Kaneko. The question here is just how long can Espino last with the heavy handed Kaneko.
Whilst Kaneko is the most interesting fighter on the card he's not in the most interesting fight. That honour belongs to Ryo Akaho (23-1-2, 16) and Masaaki Serie (25-6, 10) who get it on in a potential fire cracker. Akaho goes in to this bout hunting a second world title tilt though, as shown in his fight with Jacker Buhawe, he will need to tidy up his boxing if he wants to have any chance of winning a world title. Serie is probably past his prime but has the toughness, experience and skills to make life very difficult for Akaho here.
The most interesting of 2 Filipino shows will take place in Batangas an will feature two title fights. The most interesting of these is a bout between the unbeaten JR Magboo (15-0-2, 7) and the the promising youngster Virgil Puton (14-3, 7). The men, who battle for the vacant IBF Pan Pacific Super Bantamweight title have been matched up very well here and the winner will likely earn an IBF ranking position next month meaning there is a lot to gain by wining this all Filipino clash.
Unfortunately the other title fight is a mismatch to say the least as the talented and unbeaten Ben McCulloch (13-0, 10) defends his PABA Super Middleweight title against the very limited Yodkhunsuk Mor Poowana (3-1-1, 1). There is little one can say to defend this type of match up though we do question why the PABA would allow this contest to go ahead.
Although there are 5 other bouts on the card there was only one that really stood out and that was the contest between Roberto Gonzales (23-2, 14) and the exciting and under-rated Allan Tanada (13-2-3, 5). Gonzales won his first 20 fights but has gone 3-2 in his last 5 with both of those losses coming by stoppage as he career has began to falter. Tanada is best known for his upset win over Japan's Rikiya Fukuhara for the OPBF Super Featherweight title though he has struggled himself since then and this should prove to be a very important cross roads fight for both men.
The second of the Filipino cards seems to be more of a prospect show than one one with really interest contests. It does however have 2 bouts of note.
One of those will see the unbeaten Ardie Boyosi (10-0-1, 7) taking on the experienced and tough Richard Betos (20-8-1, 7). Boyosi has won his last 10 bouts including 6 successive T/KO wins whilst Betos has proven toughness having only been stopped once in his 29 fights. Sadly Betos's has lost 3 of his last 4 and is likely on a slide physically. Boyosi should win but we'd expect this to be a good test for the hard hitting prospect.
The other bout of note will see the unbeaten Neil John Tabanao (7-0, 6) battling against against Jhon Gemino (10-2-1, 4). Tabanao has looked good so far but this should be considered a step up for the unbeaten youngster who will be facing an opponent coming to win as opposed to someone with little self belief.
Back in the US we're expecting to see Filipino slugger Drian Francisco (24-2-1, 19) in action though his opponent has yet to be named. Francisco has been out of the ring for more than a year following his loss to Chris Avalos though he will be expecting to win here in an attempt to restart his career.
Quintana Roo, Mexico
In Mexico we will get to see Filipino Adones Aguelo (21-9-2, 13) battling against former world title challenger Sergio Thompson (29-3, 26). Thompson, best known for his thriller with Takashi Miura, is hoping to earn himself a second world title fight but will likely need to do more than just beat Aguelo here to secure a rematch with Miura, the current WBC champion. Aguelo will know that this is a huge opportunity for him to throw his name into the mix but he won't be expecting to over-come the tough and heavy handed Thompson.
(Image courtesy of http://boxenplus.com)