It's been a slow start to the Japanese boxing calendar this year, but this coming Saturday we get out first live televised card of 2018. The show, set to be aired by G+, features the first Japanese title fight of 2018 along with a number of other names fighters, including 2 prospects who could really break out over the next 12 months.
The main event will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Ryo Akaho (31-2-2, 20) make his second defense of the title, as he takes on the under-rated, and aggressive, Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6). Akaho, a former 2-time world title challenger, won the title last March and recorded his first defense with a stoppage win against Yuta Saito last August. Although a heavy handed fighter, at this level at least, he's a ling way from being the best Japanese fighter at 118lbs and could well see his reign being a short one, given the rising talent in the country. Suzuki started his career with big aspirations but sets backs to Yusaku Kuga, Ryoichi Tamura and Jeffrey Francisco slowed his climb. Coming in to this the challenger has won his last 3, and earned the right to fight Akaho thanks to his 7th riund TKO win over Eita Kikuchi in a Japanese title eliminator last October. This should be a hard hitting and violent war.
In the chief support bout we'll see Charles Bellamy (26-3-2, 17) return to the ring after more than a year out. The Japanese based American will be up against a Thai foe, who we've been told is a natural 140lb fighter and should look much smaller than Bellamy. The talented New Yorker born fighter hasn't fought since a controversial 2017 draw with Yuki Beppu and will likely be looking to make up for lost time this, with a quick blow out here and a speedy return to action.
One of the notable prospects on this card is Japanese Youth champion Junto Nakatani (13-0, 10), who takes on Filipino visitor Jeronil Borres (8-3-1, 5). The unbeaten 20 year old has been impressive since his 2015 debut, and claimed the 2016 Flyweight Rookie of the Year along with the Japanese Youth title last year. Beronil began his career 7-0-1 but has lost 3 of his last 4, including a very controversial loss to Joo Hyun Jung last February. The Filipino is the naturally smaller man and whilst he's a good fighter at his level, we suspect the power and size of Nakatani will be too much.
Another unbeaten on this show is the very exciting Kai Chiba (7-0, 6), who faces of with Filipino foe Brian Lobetania (12-4-3, 10). Last year we saw Chiba go 4-0 (3) and scoring a very notable win in a thriller with Ryo Matsubara, in what was one of many hidden gems of 2017, here he will be looking to continue his climb towards a title fight, but comes up against a very live Lobetania. The Filipino has lost 4 of his last 6, but is a natural puncher and will be looking to stop Chiba, in what is likely to be a very thrilling action bout.
The once beaten Hironobu Matsunaga (11-1, 5) is expected to be in action on the card, though no information at all is available on his opponent. The talented Matsunaga fought 3 rimes in 2016, scoring 3 solid wins, but was inactive in 2017 and will be hoping to rebuild his career this year, potentially moving towards some kind of title fight before the year is over.
There is also set to be a Chinese card, with a number of title bouts.
In the main event of this card we'll see once beaten Chinese hopeful Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (12-1-1, 5) take on Indonesian visitor John Ruba (15-3-1, 8) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Light Welterweight title. The exciting Chinese fighter was beaten last time ouit by Rikki Naito, but was unlucky in what was a very competitive bout. It's hard to know how good he is but he has looked good through his career so far. As for Ruba he's a very promising fighter at this level, and comes into this bout on a 7 fight winning run...but it would take a career best win for Rub to win here.
Arguably the most interesting bout on this card will see Jing Xiang (13-4-2,3) take on very talented Filipino fighter Dexter Alimento (13-2, 9) in a contest for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental Light Flyweight title. Coming in to this Xiang is on a 5 fight winning run having claimed the WBO Oriental Flyweight title in 2016. He has come up short against some decent fighters in the past, such as Macrea Gandionco and Ben Mananquil, but a decision win over Mananquil in their second bout shows his ability.
Also on this card is a 10 rounder between once beaten local hopeful Jian Wang (4-1) and Thai foe Yutthichai Wannawong (6-4, 5) for the WBO Oriental Youth Super Bantamweight title. The 21 year old Wang has scored back to back wins following a loss in a regional title bout. The Thai visitor lost his first 3 bouts, all in Japan, but has gone 6-1 (4) since then and claimed a Thai title on his way up. On paper this isn't the most interesting of bouts, but the Thai has a little bit of form and could make for an a decent test.