This coming Sunday is a pretty busy day of action Asia.
For us the most notable of the bouts will be in Osaka and feature a really interesting Japanese Super Featherweight bout, a step up in class for an unbeaten prospect and an interesting under-card bout.
The Super Featherweight bout pits two top 5 Japanese domestic fighters against each other, as the once beaten Ken Osato (12-1-1, 4) takes on 2-time Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (13-4-1, 8) in a real step up for the 23 year old Osato and a must win for Sugita. The younger man has gone 8-0-1 since suffering an opening round KO loss back in September 2013, when he was still just a teenager. As for Sugita he has gone 2-2 in his last 4, though both of those loses came against the then Japanese champion Kenichi Ogawa, who will fight for a world title just hours before this bout takes place.
One man who we are glad to see taking a step in the right direction is Masayoshi Hashizume (14-0, 10), who impressed us early in his career but really faltered in terms of building a real name for himself recently, being matched against horribly inept opponents. Here we'll see the Ioka gym prospect take on domestic foe Kota Fujimoto (7-2, 2), and hopefully a win here for Hashizume will launch him towards bigger and better bouts in 2018. Fujimoto has lost 2 of his last 3, but will know that a win here will give his career a huge shot and push him towards potential title fights.
A third bout of note here will see the heavy handed Hibiki Jogo (6-1, 4) battle against the talented Yuki Hirashima (7-1-1, 1). Jogo's loss came last year, at the All Japan Rookie of the year, and since then he has racked up two wins and is really genuine puncher at the lower levels of the Japanese domestic scene. Hirashima suffered a blip last year, going 0-1-1 for the year, bus has racked up 3 wins in 2017 and will know that another here will see him go into 2018 as a man in good domestic form.
A second show in Japan will take place in Aichi and will see Japanese Youth Super Featherweight champion Takuya Mizuno (12-1-1, 11) make his first defense of the title, as he takes on fellow youngster Yuki Iriguchi (9-1-1, 4). Mizuno won the title last time out, with a split decision win over Ryota Ishida and the 22 year old puncher will be looking to get back to his destructive best here. As for the 20 year old Iriguchi this bout will see him looking to buil on a 4 fight winning run, which includes victories over touted amateur Kenshin Oshima and the then inform Ryohei Takahashi. Although an easy bout to over-look it really is a cracking contest on paper.
There is also set to be a pretty interesting card in China.
One of the best bouts on the card will see Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (18-0, 14) take on Belgian visitor Herve Hubeaux (28-2, 14) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Heavyweight title. We'll admit we're unsure how Hubeaux qualifies for the title, but the reality is that he's been taken over to China to lose, and despite the good looking record on paper the 25 year old has shown nothing to worry Zhang. The Chinese fighter should really be seeing this as his chance to record an easy first defense of the title he won back in January. Interestingly coming into this bout Zhang is on a run of 5 opening round KO's.
A second title bout will see the once touted Zhimin Wang (9-2, 3) take on Filipino visitor Anthony Sabalde (12-6, 7) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Lightweight title. The match up isn't as good looking on paper as the Heavyweight title clash, but the reality is that this bout should be much more interesting, and looks like a much more competitive contest. Both Wang and Sabalde are flawed and both will feel they take advantage of their foes weaknesses.
There are two other notable bouts on this card. One of those will see Jianzheng Wang (6-0, 4) take on former OPBF title challenger Kajornsak Sithsaithong (10-6, 10), in what we expect will be a mismatch, and the heavy handed Wuzhati Nuerlang (9-1, 8) taking on Thai Chaloemporn Sawatsuk (17-5, 13), in what promises to be an explosive encounter.
In Pngasinan fight fans are in for a very low key card, with the main event being the only bout worthy of noting. That bout will see Alphoe Dagayloan (7-2-5, 3) take on Mateo Handig (13-15, 7), in what would have been an interesting fight had Handig not lost his last 10. Handig used to be pretty decent, but is only a shadow of the fighter he once was
The final Asian show for the month comes from the Korakuen Hall and features 3 bouts of note, one of which features an always fun to watch Japanese Lightweight, who attempts to become a triple crown winner.
The main event is that aforementioned Lightweight, Nihito Arakawa (28-6-1, 17) who has previously won the Japanese and OPBF Lightweight titles and will now be looking to win the WBO Asia Pacific title as he takes on Filipino Anthony Sabalde (12-5-0-1, 7). Arakawa vacated the Japanese title at the end of last year as he turned his attention to the WBO regional title, which was then held by Daud Yordan. Sabalde isn't anything special and has clearly been matched with Arakawa to make the Japanese fighter look here.
In an exciting support bout we'll see former OPBF title contender Dai Iwai (19-4-1, 7) takes on Shota Yamaguchi (14-3, 8). Although neither of these men are going to set the world on fire both are well matched here. Iwai is best known for his 2015 loss to Masayuki Ito and has score two low profile wins since that defeat, this is however a step up for the Misako man. For Yamaguchi,who has suffered stoppages in 2 of his last 4 bouts, this bout us a chance to build some more momentum following a September win over Aozora Nishida. This really could be a very competitive bout where both men will be looking for a win and both will believe they could claim a very good win here.
A third bout of note on this card will see Keita Nakano (13-10-6, 4) battle against Naoya Okamoto (10-5-1, 5) in rematch of a contest from last September. When these two fought last year they ended up having a 3 round technical draw, Nakano's third successive draw. Although not a great fighter Nakano is better than his record suggests and can score upsets, as he's done in the past. Okamoto is unbeaten in his last 3, following an opening round stoppage loss in May 2015, but will know that a loss here will almost certainly end any dreams of fighting for a title in the future.