This coming Tuesday attention turns back to the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo as Hideyuki Ohashi puts on a really interesting and notable card with a fantastic headline bout, and several notable fighters on the under-card.
The main event will be a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator, as OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (29-12, 14) takes on the unbeaten Takuma Inoue (11-0, 3) for a shot at the currently vacant WBC Bantamweight title. Yap hasn't got a fantastic record, but comes into this bout on the back of a fantastic 10 fight winning run, including wins against the likes of Hiroyuki Kudaka, Takahiro Yamamoto, Kentaro Masuda and Takafumi Nakajima. Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue, has long been tipped for the top but an injury in 2016 slowed his rise. On paper this might look like a mismatch, due to the records, but in reality this is a fantastic 50-50 contest.
A full preview of that bout can be read here - Takuma Inoue and Mark John Yap clash in WBC Eliminator!
One of the main support bouts will see Ryo Matsumoto (21-2, 19) return to the ring for the first time since he lost to Daniel Roman in a WBA Super Bantamweight title fight earlier this year. The touted Matsumoto will be up against the in form Ryo Sagawa (4-1, 2), who has won his last 3 including a major domestic upset against Junki Sasaki. This should be a straight forward return to domestic level for Matsumoto but it'll be interesting to see what his confidence is like following the loss to Roman, where he was out boxed, out thought and out fought.
Another notable supporting bout will see Japanese Light Welterweight Youth champion Andy Hiraoka (12-0, 8) defending his title against Ukyo Yoshigai (6-2, 5), in what will be the second between the two men. These two fought back in August 2017, with Hiraoki stopping Yoshigai to claim the Japanese Youth title, which he has since defended once. Yoshigai will be seeking revenge, but will be be the under-dog against one of the top young talents in Japan.
Lower down on the under-card fans will be able to see former amateur stand out Katsuya Yasuda (2-0, 1) take on experienced Indonesian Anshori Anhar Pitulay (9-16-2, 6), in what is likely to be a mismatch, whilst Taku Kuwahara (1-0, 1) faces off with Ardi Tefa (6-7-1, 4), in what suspect will be a quick blow out win for the unbeaten Japanese fighter.
This coming Wednesday Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall get a stacked card from Ohashi, with a world title fight headlining the card and a number of notable fighters on the under-card as the Ohashi gym put on a really solid show.
The main event will see the highly touted Ryo Matsumoto (21-1, 19) challenge WBA Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman (23-2-1, 9) in a bout that looks amazing on paper. The Japanese 24 year old has long been tipped as a future world champion and one of the future faces of Japanese boxing thanks to his strong amateur background, skills, speed and power. He has however been troubled by medical issues, which lead to his shock 2016 loss to Victor Uriel Lopez. Roman on the other hand broke Japanese hearts last year, when he battered Shun Kubo into a 9th round TKO. The American will be looking to repeat the feat here and move towards bigger bouts. Going into the bout with Kubo few would have thought Roman was a puncher, but the way he broke down and stopped the Shinsei man did impress and show that there was more on his shots than his record suggests.
Another youngster on this card is the very talented Andy Hiraoka (11-0, 8), who risks his unbeaten record against Fumisuke Kimura (6-2, 4). At just 21 years old Hiraoka is seen as the future of the Ohashi gym and although he has some questions to answer he does look a class fighter. The youngster will be in there with a tough and heavy handed foe who can be out boxed, but is a very solid test and should provide a stern test for Hiraoka.
A third youngster from the Ohashi gym in action here will be Tsuyoshi Tameda (15-3-2, 13), who faces off with a Thai foe in what is likely to be a bit if a straight forward win for the heavy handed 24 year old. This will be Tameda's second bout under the Ohashi banner and it's clear they view him as a key fighter for the future, and will be looking to guide him towards title fights by the end of the year.
It's not all about youngster on this show, and in a battle between more established fighters fans will see 29 year old Quaye Peter (10-9-2, 6) take on the heavy handed Yuichi Ideta (13-10-1, 7). Coming into this the inconsistent Peter is 4-4 in his last 8, though is better than the numbers suggest. As for Ideta recent results are rather damning, with a 0-7-1 record in his last 8, though he was a promising fighter earlier on in his career and will be looking at this bout as a chance to re-establish himself as someone who matters. It's worth noting that Ideta has been out of the ring for 4 years, and it's now 7 years since his last win, which came against Suyon Takayama.
An interesting clash of young and old will see 24 year old puncher Kazuaki Miyamoto (5-1, 4) take on 35 year old former Japanese champion Seiichi Okada (20-6-1, 11). The youngster will be stepping up massively for this bout and will know he's the under-dog, despite being the younger man, and his own loss to Shuzo Inada last year does leave a lot of questions regarding his durability. Okada, another of the fighters from the Ohashi gym, has struggled since losing the domestic title to Daiki Kaneko back in 2012, though has won his last two bouts and will be hoping to move towards another title fight before his career is over.
Title action continues in Tokyo for a second day running, with a trio of title bouts at the Korakuen Hall, including an OPBF title defense, a Japanese youth title defense and a bout for a vacant Japanese youth title, as well as a Japanese title eliminator. It's fair to say fans are in store for a packed card!
The most notable of the title bouts will see the fast rising Tsubasa Koura (11-0, 8) defending his OPBF Mnimumweight title against former amateur stand out Masataka Taniguchi (8-1, 6). The champion will be making his first defense of the title, a title that he won this past July, and he will be looking to continue his impressive stoppage run, which currently stands at 5 stoppages including wins over Jeffrey Galero and Jaysever Abcede. As for Taniguchi this will be his second title bout, having come up short in a bout against Reiya Konishi for the Japanese title.
At Lightweight we'll see Japanese Youth champion Izuki Tomioka (4-0, 1) defending his title for the first time, and facing off with with 21 year old puncher Taiju Shiratori (8-2, 5). The talented Tomioka won the title in August, defeating Yuichito Kasyua, and has had a stellar 2017 with with with wins over Joon Woo Park and Shun Shimazaki. As for Shiratori he's stopped his last 3 foes but this is a step up in class for him and going to be a test of how he can cope with a very skilled fighter.
The other Japanese Youth title fight will see the highly regarded Andy Hiraoka (10-0, 7) taking on Takahiko Kobayashi (7-2, 5) for the JBC Youth Light Welterweight title. These two both fought in the Semi-Final of the Japanese Youth tournament on August 23rd with Hiraoka blowing out Ukyo Yoshigai in 3 rounds whilst Kobayashi struggled to over-come Hayato Ono, avenging one of his two losses. Of the two it's Hiraoka who has impressed more, but at 6'0” Kobayashi will be one of the very few fighters taller than Hiraoka and could pose some questions based on size alone.
Despite there being 3 title bouts on this show the main event is technically a Japanese title eliminator at Light Middleweight as former national Welterweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (18-4-1, 7) takes on veteran Cobra Suwa (19-12-2, 11). Shindo's reign at 147lbs was a short lived one, lasting just over 3 months, and he has fought only once since, getting off the canvas to defeat Sansouke Sasaki. The 37 year old Suwa had been a professional for more than 14 year and although he has challenged for both the OPBF and JBC titles he hasn't had a career defining win, but will know that a title fight in 2018 could given him one last chance.
One other bout of note here will see recent Japanese title challenger Ryoichi Tamura (8-3-1, 5) take on experienced Filipino Robert Udtohan (24-2-3, 15). Tamura recently challenged Yusaku Kuga, and gave Kuga all sorts of hell showing his power, aggression and energy. The Filipino is best known for his 2016 bout Qiu Xiao Jun, in which he was stopped in 3 rounds. It's hard to see Udtohan win here, but this should be a very entertaining contest.
New York, USA
There will also be some central Asian fighters in action in the US.
One of those fighters is hard hitting Uzbek Welterweight Shohjahon Ergashev (9-0, 9), who will be making his US debut and risking his perfect record against Marquis Hawthorne (5-7, 1). The Uzbek has taken out his first 9 foes in a combined 15 rounds and looks like a genuine monster, though with this being his first fight Stateside it really does look like he's being matched softly on paper. Hawthorne has shown little power during his career so far, but has only been stopped once and should be able to test Ergashev's power.
Also on the card is unbeaten American based Kazakh Dimash Niyazov (12-0-3, 5), though at the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced.
For a second day running we get a show dedicated to the Japanese Youth Tournament, with 3 finals and two semi finals taking place on a show that really looks brilliant on paper in regards to even match ups, even if the card lacks bit name appeal.
On paper the best of the bouts is the Flyweight final, which pits two unbeaten punchers against each other in a real humdinger. In one corner is 2016 Flyweight Rookie of the year Junto Nakatani (12-0, 9), who had to answer real questions last time out against Yuma Kudo in his semi-final bout. In the opposite corner is 2015 Light Flyweight Rookie of the year Seigo Yuri Akui (11-0-1, 7), who enters on the back of 5 stoppage wins including a huge one over Kenji Ono and a solid showing in his semi final against Ryuto Oho. This has the potential to be the best bout of the whole Youth Tournament and is a really tough one to call.
At Super Bantamweight we're expecting a full on shoot out as 21 year old Ryota Ishida (8-1, 6) takes on 22 year old Takuya Mizuno (11-1-1,11). Ishida has stopped his last 3, and hasn't seen the final bell since he was fighting in 4 rounders, more than 2 years ago. Mizuno has stopped his last 4 foes, and has shown power through out fights with stoppages in rounds every round from 1 to 6. This promises to be be a hard hitting bout, and although we favour Mizuno, it could go either way, and should be a real treat.
On paper the worst of the finals is at Bantamweight, where the recently beaten pairing of Wataru Takeda (10-1-1, 4) and Yuto Nakamura (7-3, 6) face off. Takeda was beaten last October, just 2 fights back, by Ryohei Takakhashi after claiming the 2015 Rookie of the year, and although he has shown some signs of being a real prospect there are still a lot of questions left for him to answer. Although beaten 3 times Nakamura has never been outclassed, with all 3 losses being razor thin ones and he will be in there looking to make a statement. This looks like the worst of the finals for the day, but should still deliver a great contest.
At Light Welterweight we get two semi-final bouts. One of those will see the once beaten Ukyo Yoshigai (5-1, 4) take on Andy Hiraoka (9-0, 6) in a really interesting contest. Yoshigai, who won the 2016 Rookie of the year, was beaten back in April by Giraffe Kirin Kanda, but that loss will have helped his development. Hiraoka on the other hand has looked great in recent bouts, but has only fought 10 rounds since the end of 2014, and it's hard to know how good he really is, even if he does pass the eye test with ease.
The other bout looks like a potential fire fight as Hayato Ono (5-1, 5) battles Takahiko Kobayashi (6-2, 5). Between the two men they have heard the final bell just once, in what was Kobayashi's most recent bout. Ono will see this as a potential chance to set up a rematch with Yoshigai, the only man to have beaten him, whilst Kobayashi will be looking to avenge a 2016 loss to Ono, in which he was stopped in the 5th round. There's history here, two punchers, and two men who have questionable durability. With this one the best advice is don't blink!
For a second day running Japanese fans in Tokyo get a huge show at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo.
The main event here sees Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue (12-0, 10) defending his WBO Super Flyweight title against Mexican born American based challenger Ricardo Rodriguez (16-3, 5. The bout will be Inoue's 5th defense of the title and it's likely to be his last with his team talking about vacating the title later in the year, ahead of his US debut. The pressure is on the youngster to shine here but Rodriguez is tough and has never been stopped, and will be looking to score a career defining victory here.
The other world title fight here will see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (25-5, 15) battle against interim champion Milan Melindo (35-2, 12). The bout is, on paper at the very least, the most interesting of the 6 world title fights taking place this coming weekend and it looks like a genuine 50-50 match up. Of the two fighters Yaegashi is the more proven and the more well known, but he's also the older man and the man with a lot more miles on the clock. Melindo, the less proven fighter, is probably the more technically sound fighter, but a win here would be the biggest of his career by some margin.
The biggest mismatch on this card will see the once beaten Ryo Matsumoto (19-1, 17) battle against Hendrik Barongsay (29-25-3, 18) in what is little more than a stay busy fight for Matsumoto. The talented Japanese youngster looked better than ever last time out, blowing out Hideo Sakamoto in less than 2 minutes, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Barongsay last a similar amount og time here.
One of the biggest names on the under-card is former multi-time world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (32-3-1, 21), who will take on Masashi Noguchi (12-6-1, 6) in an 8 rounder. This will be Hosono's first bout since losing in October to Jonathan Victor Barros in an IBF world title eliminator. Aged 33 this will probably be the start of Hosono's last run, and he really can't afford another set back. Noguchi is a former Japanese title challenger, who lost in December to Shuhei Tsuchiya, and is the naturally bigger man, but a win here would be his best to date.
In another notable under-card bout we'll see 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (2-0, 2) take on his first domestic opponent, Takuya Yamamoto (8-6, 4). The bout should be a straight forward win for Shimizu, though it's probably fair to say that his eyes are on the future and it's hard to imagine him not fighting for a domestic title before the end of 2017, especially given that he's now 31 and doesn't have much time to waste.
Also on the under-card is the re-re-scheduled meeting between talented youngster Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) and Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5), who were originally meant to meet in the 2014 Rookie of the Year. The two were also meant to fight earlier this year. Sadly Hiraoka was forced to pull out of both the previous dates but will be looking to prove a point here. As for Yamaguchi he's going to be wanting to take his frustrations out on the younger man in what could be an under-card classic.
There will also be title action in Okinawa, albeit at a lower level as fans get an OPBF title fight.
That that OPBF title fight will see Japan's Seita Ogido (11-2-2, 3) battle unbeaten Filipino Edward Heno (10-0-4, 4) for the vacant Oriental Light Flyweight title. The title was vacated earlier this, by Ken Shiro ahead of his WBC world title fight with Ganigan Lopez, and the bout to crown a new champion does look like an interesting one. Ogido is seen as a promising youngster in Japan, and fought to a draw with the under-rated Jonathan Refugio earlier this year, suggesting there is talent there. Heno on the other hand is a bit of an unknown quantity, despite being unbeaten in 14 bouts, though he did impress last time out as he claimed the PBF title. This bout really could answer questions about both men.
The chief supporting bout here will see Masatoshi Kotani (20-2, 13) hunt an 11th straight win as he takes on Indonesian visitor Musa Letding (12-6-4, 6) in an 8 rounder. Kotani has been unbeaten since a 9th round stoppage loss to Filipino Cirilo Espino in 2012 and looks to have improved significantly since then. As for Letding he's 0-4 out side of Indonesia and will be looking for his first win on the road.
In another under-card bout we'll see the heavy handed Morihisa Iju (10-2, 8) battle against Masaya Kohama (6-5-1, 3). This bout will be Iju's third of the year, but will see him returning to the ring following a March loss to Ryo Kosaka and it's clear he'll be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats. Despite losing last time time out Iju should be favoured given that Kohama has been stopped in his last 3, with the most recent of those coming last July to Yohei Tobe.
There will also be a small card in the Philippines. The card here is very poor overall but the main event does look interesting as Pedro Taduran (10-1, 7) and Philip Luis Cuerdo (9-3-1, 4) battle for the PBF Minimumweight title in a good looking 10 rounder. Coming in the once beaten Taduran has won his last 4 and has rebuilt well following his first loss however Cuerdo was stopped last time out, whilst leading on the score cards.
In late March we see Ohashi putting on their first show of 2017, and although it's not a huge show, like the FES cards, it is a solid Phoenix Battle card with a host of notable names in action.
In the main event we see the highly talented Ryo Matsumoto (18-1, 16) take on domestic rival Hideo Sakamoto (17-3-3, 5) in a really good match up. Matsumoto, who under-went serious surgery last year to solve a long term medical issue, will be looking to make a huge mark in 2017 but will have to over-come Sakamoto first. If the youngster wins then all signs point towards Matsumoto getting a world title fight before the end of 2017. Sakamoto might not be a big name but he is a very under-rated fighter with notable wins over Kazuyoshi Niki, Hiroki Shiino and Ryotaro Kawabata, but has suffered recent losses to Seio Kono and Kentaro Masuda in recent years.
In a major supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Koki Inoue (6-0, 5) battle against Japanese ranked Mitsuyoshi Fujita (10-2, 3) in what should be a good test for Inoue. The unbeaten 24 year old only debuted in December 2015 but is one of the fastest rising fighters on the Japanese domestic scene and made a statement last year when he scored 5 wins, including a very impressive stoppage against Futoshi Usami. Fujita has suffered 2 losses, but has won 8 in a row since those back to back losses in 2013-2014. Although not as proven as Inoue he is experienced and has earned a Japanese ranking with wins against the likes of Yusuke Yamanouchi and Genki Maeda.
Another notable Ohashi gym fighter in action here is former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (21-2, 12), who faces domestic opponent Akiyoshi Kanazawa (14-6-4, 7). Hara scored two wins last year and looks to be rebuilding his career step by step following stoppage losses in 2014, to Kosei Tanaka, and in 2015, to Katsunari Takayama. This is a decent match up for for Hara, given he is rebuilding, but it's fair to say he needs to step up a bit later this year. Kanazawa has gone 3-4-1 in his last 8 though has been matched hard, and almost scored an upset last year over Kenichi Horikawa. Although limited Kanazawa will serve as a good test here.
A really interesting bout sees the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) finally battle with Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5). Originally this bout was supposed to take place in December 2014, as the Rookie of the Year Lightweight final, but Hiraoka suffered an illness forcing him out of the bout. Since then Yamaguchi has gone 4-2, though has been matched hard with losses to Akihiro Kondo and Genki Maeda, whilst Hiraoka spent notable time training in the US and signed with Ohashi late last year.
Another interesting match up will see Quaye Peter (9-8-2, 5) take on recent Japanese title challenger Valentine Hosokawa (20-6-3, 9) in a very fan friendly match up. Both guys have lost their last two, and will be coming to impress here, but neither has performed badly in all honestly Hosokawa was very unlucky last time out against Hiroki Okada. Given the styles of both men and their need to score a win we suspect this will be a really exciting contest with both men knowing a win could net them a title shot later in the year.
Also on the card is former Japanese champion Seiichi Okada (19-6-1, 11), who battles against the limited but tough Kentaro Yamada (8-7-1, 6). Yamada has lost his last 6, but he has been in with a real who's who including Rikki Naito, Masayuki Ito and Yuki Ogata, and will certainly be looking at this bout as a chance to end that losing run.
Whilst big cards, with multiple noteworthy bouts, aren't rare in Japan it's rare to get a full card of notable and notable bouts. There is however one such card on December 30th when Ohashi put on a genuine super show with two world title bouts, two Olympic medal winners, several prospects and just one of those rare cards where everything looks to have significance...and that's despite the fact one of the key announced bouts for the show was actually cancelled due to an injury!
The main event of the card will see WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9) taking on former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (32-9-1, 13). This will be Inoue's most notable bout in 2 years, since he beat Omar Andres Narvaez to claim the title, and will see him hunting his 4th defense and most notable so far. For Kono this is a chance to prove he's still a world class Super Flyweight and potentially a chance to become a 3-time world champion.
In the chief main event of the show we see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (24-5, 12) defending his title against Thailand's Samartlek Kokietgym (35-5, 12), who is best known for being stopped by the aforementioned Naoya Inoue in 2014. Yaegashi will be seeking his second defense of the title and will know that a win will lead him to about with interim champion Milan Melindo in 2017. A win for the challenger would be a shock and it would genuinely shake up the 108lbs division.
The chief support bout behind the double main event will see 2012 Olympic gold medal winner Ryota Murata (11-0, 8) fight against the once beaten Bruno Sandoval (19-1-1, 15). For Murata this bout is the next step forward as his team continue to pursue a 2017 fight with WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, of the UK. Whilst Sandoval is a live opponent he hasn't really proven his worth and could well be an easy target for Murata, who has shown real improvement in recent bouts and with his heavy hands there is genuine potential.
Another major under-card bout will see the once beaten Ryo Matsumoto (17-1, 15) face off with his sole conqueror Victor Uriel Lopez (10-5-1, 4). This rematch was announced earlier in the year but cancelled as Matsumoto required surgery for a serious medical issue, the same issue that reared it's head in the first bout with Lopez. Now, supposedly healed, Matsumoto is looking for revenge whilst Lopez is looking to prove that Matsumoto's medical woes weren't the only reason for the result in the first bout.
In a relatively interesting bout we'll see former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (20-2, 12) battle with Hiroya Yamamoto (10-4, 4). Hara is looking to get his career back ion the right track after a 2-2 record in is last 4, and should be too good for Yamamoto however the under-dog is a 2-time Japanese title challenger, having come up short to Go Odaira and Takuya Fukuhara, and is certainly a live under-dog here.
Naoya isn't the only fighter from the Inoue clan on this card, as his cousin Koki Inoue (5-0, 4) takes on his biggest test to date, Futoshi Usami (14-2-1, 11). Inoue is touted as another world champion in the making but this is a credible test for the Kanagawa man, especially given that Usami fought for the OPBF Lightweight title in 2014, and went the 12 round distance with the world ranked Masayoshi Nakatani.
Another unbeaten prospect on this card is 20 year old hopeful Andy Hiraoka (7-0, 4), who fights for the second time as an Ohashi fighter. The talented youngster will be up against Indonesian journeyman Naty Yongraksa (0-0), in what should be a straight forward win for the local star. The visitor is 1-5-1 in his last 7 and it's hard to see what he has to really Hiraoka.
The second Olympian on the show is 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (1-0, 1), who takes a huge step up in class to take on Filipino Carlo Demecillo (6-3, 1). Whilst this is a big step up for Shimzu from his debut it should be noted that Demecillo struggled to win a round recently when he took in Hisashi Amagasa, back in October. Demecillo should give Shimizu some resistance, but the bout should be a win for the Japanese local
The key show for the day is from Tokyo where Ohashi will put on their next card.
In the main event we'll see multi-time world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (32-2-1, 21) face former world champion Jonathan Victor Barros (40-4-1, 22) in an IBF Featherweight world title eliminator. The styles of these two should gel, well with Hosono being a basic pressure fighter fighter and Barros being more of a stick-and-move fighter, and with a potential world title fight up for grabs for the winner neither will be looking to do anything other than give the bout their all. This really could be a bit of a treat for fans in Tokyo.
In a key supporting bout we'll see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (18-6-1, 11) take on Tatsuya Yanagi (11-4-1, 4) in a must win for the 34 year old veteran. Coming in to this Okada is more than 2 years removed from his last win and has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3, including a loss Masaki Saito, who has a less than 50% win record. Yanagi showed early promise, winning his first 10 bouts, but has gone 1-4-1 in his last 6 and won't be looking to roll over for for the beatable former champion.
Other supporting bouts will see the once beaten Yoshimichi Matsumoto (10-1, 8) and the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (6-0, 3) face off against unnamed Thai visitors. For Matsumoto his bout will be a 10 round test in what is the chief support bout whilst Hiraoka will be making his ring return after more than 2 years away from the ring.
When this show was first announced Ryo Matsumoto (17-1, 15) was set to feature on it. Matsumoto was however pulled from the card a few weeks later and underwent surgery for a medical condition that had plagued him previously, and played a part in him losing unbeaten record last time out.
Unfortunately the Televised portion of this card, which we think will just be the main event, will only be shown on tape delay over the weekend.
Gwangju, South Korea
There is also set to be a KBF show though details of this one are scarce with the bouts all said to be 4 rounders except for a single 6 rounder.
Christmas is just around the corner but yet for fight fans and fighters alike there are still fights to be excited about between now and the time we get to open presents. A lot of those fights come this coming Sunday as we get cards in 3 separate Asian countries with each of those shows having something notable about them.
Of the 3 shows it's one from Japan that has us the most excited with the Korakuen Hall hosting the 2014 All Japan Rookie of the Year finals. The show, which will consist of 11 bouts, will crown the Rookie of the Year winners and should be one of the best value for money shows that Japanese fans get this year.
For those wanting to read about all the fights and fighters we've done a small feature on the show here, though for those just wanting the highlights we've selected our 3 favourite bouts.
The first of the bouts that has us excited is at Super Flyweight where Ioka prospect Masayoshi Hashizume (6-0, 4) puts his unbeaten record on the line against Shogo Yonenaga (6-1, 3). For those who haven't seen Hashizume in action yet we advise you check out his last 2 bouts, a 38 second blow out of the then 3-0 Takeshi Kajikawa and a 120 second victory over Eita Sakurai, who was 4-0 going into that bout. As you'll see from the footage he is very exciting. On the other hand Yonenaga isn't as exciting but is highly skilled and more experienced and will be fully aware that a win could launch him onto the fringes of a domestic ranking. This is going to see fireworks.
At Lightweight the very touted Andy Hiraoka (6-0, 3) will battle fellow unbeaten fighter Shogo Yamaguchi (6-0-1, 3). The pressure here is on Hiraoka, a 5'11” southpaw, who has got a lot of people very excited about him despite being just 18 years old. Yamaguchi is viewed by many as the under-dog though with an unbeaten record and several wins over unbeaten foes he'll be going into this bout with belief that he can halt Hiraoka's rise. We'll admit that might not have the fire works of the Super Flyweight bout but should be a great contest between two men who will each have a lot of self belief coming into this contest.
The third highlight comes at Welterweight where we again have an all unbeaten match up. The most interesting of the two men here is Yuki Beppu (7-0, 7) who appears to be a man with serious power and real promise. Whilst Beppu has been collecting stoppages for fun, including 5 opening round victories, he hasn't fought anyone as good as Hironobu Matsunaga (6-0, 3) before and this is expected to be the toughest bout so far for both men. The winner here might well find themselves put on the fast track to the Japanese Welterweight title with current champion Suyon Takayama looking less than convincing in recent defenses of his belt.
With 11 bouts, a lot to fight for and really exciting match ups we suspect this could be a really memorable show.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Whilst the show in Japan is all about hopeful youngster's there is a card in the Philippines about more established talent with several notable fighters.
One of the notable men in action is Monico Laurente (24-12, 5) who takes on the experienced Richard Garcia (25-20-1, 7) in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds. Laurente is the GAB champion and was, once, highly ranked by the OPBF tough has lost 4 of his last 5 bouts including clear decision losses to Shun Kubo and Yusuke Suzuki. We suspect Laurente will defeat the limited Garica here though a big question mark hangs over Laurente's head in terms of his confidence which may well be shot to bits.
Another recognisable name fighting on this show will be Vinvin Rufino (35-16-3, 16), who challenged OPBF Featherweight champion Hisashi Amagasa earlier this year. Rufino will be seeking his second successive win following the loss to Amagasa as he takes on the limited but tough Rex Olisa (10-26-1, 8) in what suspect will be a decision win for the experienced Rufino.
It's fair to say the most exciting fighter on this card is current OPBF Light Flyweight champion Jonathan Taconing (19-2-1, 16) who we understand will be fighting in his second successive non-title bout. Taconing, best known for his controversial loss to Kompayak Porpramook back in March 2012, has yet to have his foe named but we're not expecting anyone too tough for the exciting Filipino puncher who we really enjoying watching.
As ell as the 3 bouts mentioned we're expecting to see a further 5 bouts on this show.
Seoul, South Korea
In South Korea fans will be getting 6 bouts. Sadly this card isn't great though does continue to see fights taking place in South Korea, something we'll never complain about. It's worth noting that all 6 bouts will see South Korean locals fighting against Japanese foes.
Of the 6 bouts in the card the most interesting looks to be a Super Bantamweight contest between Hyun Woo Lee (5-1, 1) and Ryosuke Hayase (4-1, 1). We won't pretend either of these fighters are great but together they should feature in a genuinely competitive contest against each other.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The next few days aren't the biggest or most exciting in Asian boxing but they are among the most important in Japan as we continue to advance to the Rookie of the Year finals.
The next step towards the All Japan finals is to find the candidates to represent the East of Japan. This involves back-to-back days of semi-finals with the winners to meet later in the year to winners of the East.
On Thursday we're expecting to see a total of 11 bouts, one in every division from Minimumweight to Welterweight. Whilst we won't list every fight on the show we will note two or three of the bouts that have caught our eye.
Power punching Flyweight teenage Kenya Yamashita (4-0, 3) will put his unbeaten record on the line against fellow unbeaten fighter Takunari Yokoyama (4-0, 2) in a very interesting battle of teenage hopefuls, both hoping to use the tournament to create a name for themselves.
At Lightweight we will see the unbeaten teenager Andy Hiraoka (4-0, 2), who stands at an elongated 5'11 despite only being 18, battling against Shoma Sekine (2-1-2). Although Sekine has been a professional since late 2010 we really favour Hiraoka who has been tipped as one of the ones to watch throughout the preliminary rounds.
In the Light Welterweight division the 21 year old unbeaten Naoharu Kida (4-0, 3) takes on the explosive Shinjiro Kawada (2-0, 2), who has a career lasting just over 2 minutes! One way or another we see this one ending early with both likely to have their chin tested at some point.
At Welterweight, in the show's final bout, fans will see Hironobu Matsunaga (4-0, 3) risking his unbeaten record against the light punching Makoto Kawasaki (4-1-1, 1).
There was supposed to be a Middleweight bout on this show as well but that has had to be cancelled leaving us with 11 bouts instead of the originally listed 12.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)