This coming Saturday is set to be a busy, yet thrilling, day with a show of note in each Japan and Hong Kong. Not only do both countries get a card of note, but both cards are genuinely significant as we go forward.
Hong Kong S.A.R, China
The Hong Kong card, put on by DEF HK and Watanabe as they continue to work together, has a trio of title bouts and potentially a fight of the year contender.
That fight of the year contender will see local star Rex Tso (21-0, 13) take on former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (33-10-1, 14), in a bout for Tso's WBO International Super Flyweight title. The local is one of the sports most exciting fighters, and although he has improved markedly in recent years he is still, at heart, a fighter there for the fans, and a man who enjoys a thrilling tear up at every opportunity. Kono on the other hand is a bit of a faded force, and has lost 2 of his last 3, but has a style that is very fan friendly, and should gel with Tso's here. Do not be surprised by this one being a little bit special.
In a second title bout we'll see Kono's stable mate Ayumi Goto (7-0, 5) battle with Indian teenager Kirti (3-0, 2). Reports have stated that this will either be a female OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight, with Goto defending her title, or a WBO Asia Pacific title bout, for a vacant title. On paper this should be an easy win for the Japanese fighter, but it is fair to say that Kirti is an unknown, and could be a surprise package of sorts.
The third title bout on this card will see the always fun to watch Takuya Watanabe (32-7-1, 17) battle against Chinese foe Leshan Li (13-2-1, 8) for the WBO Oriental Super Featherweight title. Watanabe is one of the many under-the-radar Japanese fighters who is guaranteed to put on good fight, no matter who he is facing, and we're expecting another fun one here. As for Li he's a bit of an unknown but is a heavy handed fighter and has won his last 7 bouts, suggesting good form and good confidence coming into this one.
One other bout on this card, which looks set to be explosive, will see Thai based Dutchman Nick Frese (6-0, 5) take on heavy handed Filipino Prabhjot Singh (7-1-1, 7). Given that these two have 12 stoppages in 13 wins we're expecting to see bombs away, though it's hard to see anything but a win for Frese, who looks like a genuine prospect.
In Japan we'll be getting a card that will be aired live on G+ and will be promoted by Teiken.
The main event of this card will see the in-form Masaru Sueyoshi (15-1, 10) take on Ribo Takahata (13-7-1, 5) for the vacant Japanese Super Featherweight title, in what will be the first title fight either man has been in. The bout, for the title vacated by Kenichi Ogawa, will see Sueyoshi coming in to it with a 12 fight winning run dating back more than 5 years, whilst Takahata has been inconsistent, alternating between wins and losses over his last 15 bouts. It's hard not to favour Sueyoshi but it is his most meaningful bout to date.
In a supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Shuya Masaki (8-0, 4) take on Filipino foe Ciso Morales (19-4-1, 12). It's fair to say that Masaki has shown touches of brilliance through his early career, but he has been inconsistent and it always seems like there is just something missing from his performances so far. We expect to see him show his maturity here against a visiting foe who shouldn't be over-looked and will be a very live under-dog. Morales might not be a sensational fighter, but he's a good enough fight to test someone like Masaki at this level.
In a really interesting under-card bout we'll see the once beaten Ryo Matsubara (7-1, 7) take on the unbeaten Kai Chiba (6-0, 5), in a bout between punchers. Coming in to this one Matsubara has won his last 6 bouts in a combined 7 rounds, and has well and truly put his sole defeat behind him, with that loss coming back in his second professional bout. Chiba on the other hand went 6 rounds last time out, ending his own stoppage run. Both of these men like to throw heavy leather, and this could be a very explosive contest.
Japanese ranked Welterweight Yuki Nagano (11-2, 8) will be risking a 9 fight winning run as he takes on Thai foe Kriengkrai Tor Silachai (3-0*) in what could be a potential banana skin for the local. Although ranked by the JBC it's hard to know how good Nagano really is, whilst the Thai is a bit of an unknown, and it's unclear really whether we even have his complete record here.
A second Japanese ranked Welterweight on this card is Ryota Toyoshima (7-1-1, 5), who risks his ranking against domestic rival Masaharu Kaito (5-2, 2). Coming in to this bout the 21 year old Toyoshima has won his last 5, though he did suffer a decision defeat to Kaito back in 2015, and it's obvious he is seeking to avenge that set back. Sadly for Kaito he has lost 2 of his last 3, including one to the previously mentioned Nagano and seems to be struggling for form coming in to this bout.
*-Record reported as being differed to the 3-0 figuire.
West Midlands, United Kingdom
This coming Saturday is a pretty notable day for Asian fight fans, with the most notable bout coming in the UK as Englishman Khalid Yafai (21-0, 14) defends his WBA Super Flyweight title against Japanese challenger Suguru Muranaka (25-2-1, 8). The unbeaten champion won the title last year, when he outpointed Luis Concepcion, and will be making his first defense here. The champion will be strongly favoured here but Muranaka is unbeaten in over a decade and has beaten notable fighters like Takuya Kogawa, Masayuki Kuroda and Hiroyuki Hisataka. This could be a very exciting bout, despite the general view of it being a mismatch in favour of Yafai.
Hong Kong S.A.R., China
In Hong Kong we'll see DEF Boxing put on a show, featuring a number of talented fighters from across Asia, including a number of genuinely notable fighters.
The main will see OPBF female Super Bantamweight champion Ayumi Goto (6-0, 4) battle against Thai foe Sumanthar Baenkham (1-2), in what looks set to be a total mismatch. Goto won't be defending her title here but her appeal as a championship level draw has helped her get a major spot on this card, and seemingly help begin a working relationship between DEF boxing and Goto's promoter Watanabe.
Another Watanabe gym fighter on this card will be Mako Matsuyama (8-11-2, 3), who famously had a 2014 FOTY contender with DEF's star Rex Tso. The limited but fun to watch Matsuyama will be up against Filipino foe Crison Omayao (21-13-4, 7). On paper this has the potential to be something very, very fun. Neither guy is great but both are exciting and together they should make for a very fan friendly contest here.
Another notable name on this card is the teak tough Takuya Watanabe (31-7-1, 16), who is a former WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight champion. The tough Watanabe, best known for his bloody war with Jaesung Lee, will be fighting in Hong Kong for the second time and will be strongly favoured to beat Thai puncher Tabthong Tor Buamas (15-6, 12), in a bout scheduled for 8 rounds. Another bout where a Japanese fighter will be favoured against a Thai will feature the once beaten Sho Kimura (13-1-2, 6), who faces off with Suphakit Khampha (6-3, 3) in another bout scheduled for 8 rounds.
Australian Capital Territory, Australia
In Australia fight fans will see Felipe Ferreira (5-2, 2) take on Australian based Indonesian trial horse Aswin Cabuy (19-60-4, 7) in a bout for the New South Wales State Super Middleweight title. The 42 year old Cabuy is unlikely to pick up the win here but rarely does he just lie down and he could give Ferreira a good test here.
The Dangan Ladies series of shows only began last year but have quickly become an outlet for female fighters to show off their abilities, and with Boxingraise showing the card they have opened the door to female fighters getting some genuinely notable attention from fans across Japan.
The main event of the card was originally reported as a WBO female world title bout. Sadly though that bout was soon scrapped and instead the main event will be an OPBF female Super Bantamweight bout as the unbeaten Ayumi Goto (5-0, 4) takes on Filipino Kim Actub (4-6-1, 3) for the vacant title. Goto had originally chased Tomomi Takano, though Takano vacated the title leaving the door open for this bout, which should end up being a relatively one sided.
One of the fighters originally mooted for the world title fight main event was Erika Hanawa (6-0, 1), sadly she will now be facing the limited Norj Guro (7-6-1, 4). The bout is a step back from what Hanawa was originally expecting, but this could serve as a good test bout for her, with Guro having had experience at world level.
Another notable name on this card is former world title challenger Saemi Hanagata (12-6-3, 6), who faces off with a Thai foe in what should be a stay busy for the talented Hanagata, who will likely be seeking a return to a world level later in the year.
At the Korakuen Hall this coming Wednesday fight fans get the second in the “Dangan Ladies” series of shows, featuring only female fighters. The card is likely to not get a huge amount of attention internationally however for those interested in watching the action it will be shown on boxingraise on Thursday.
The main event of the card is rematch as WBO female Minimumweight champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (8-1-2, 3) battles against veteran Kayoko Ebata (9-6, 5). These two battled back in May 2015 with Ikehara retaining her title with a split technical decision, to record her second defense. Since the first bout the champion has recorded a third defense of the title but there are doubts about her ability to really keep a hold of the title for too long. For Ebata this will be her 5th world title challenge, having gone 0-4 so far, and at 40 years old it will almost certainly be her last one.
In a notable supporting bout we'll see OPBF #1 ranked female Super Bantamweight contender Ayumi Goto (4-0, 3) face off against a Thai opponent. This bout seems likely to be little more than a squash bout for Goto who suggested she will begin to chase OPBF champion Tomomi Takano, though in all honesty we suspect Takano will vacate rather than face the heavy handed, though untested, Goto.
The card also features another notable supporting bout, the debut of Ayako Minowa (0-0), a former Japanese stand out amateur. Minowa has impressed in her preparation for this bout, holding her own in a spar with Naoko Fujioka. The debutant will be up against Thailand's Petchpaya Mor Krungthepthonburi (0-2) in what should be a straight forward win for Minowa, if she is even close to being the fighter she was in the unpaid ranks. The real challenge for Minowa is whether or not she can stop Petchpaya, who has gone the distance with both of the main event fighters.