In the last few year's we've seen female boxing grow in the west, thanks to former amateur fighters like Katie Taylor, Nicola Adams and Claressa Shields. It's worth noting however that over the last few years Japan have had some all-female cards. The next one of those takes place this coming Thursday, and is the most stacked all-female card in Japanese history, with an incredible 6 title bouts, ranging from Japanese to world title bouts.
The main event is one of the two world title bouts, and will see WBO female Minimumweight champion Kayoko Ebata (11-7, 6) make her first defense, as she takes on Korean veteran Ji Hyun Park (22-2, 6). The Japanese fighter won the belt last May, in her 6th world title fight, and will be fully aware that a loss here will likely end her career, given that she's 42 years old. The Korean challenger is 32 and was once a very highly regarded fighter, but she comes into this bout after having not fought in over 2 years. At her best Park was a real talent, but with ring rust she may well not be the fighter she once was, or look like a fighter who has an active 16 fight unbeaten run.
The other world title fight promises to be something a bit special as the highly aggressive Chaoz Minowa (5-0, 4) battles Tenkai Tsunami (24-12, 13) for the vacant WBO female Light Flyweight title. The unbeaten Minowa has spoke about winning world titles in a number of weight classes nut this will be her first world title fight and it's a genuinely tough one for the 30 year old former amateur standout. To date Minowa has mowed mowed through her first 5 foes in a combined 18 rounds and looked a truly spiteful force, but she is taking a huge step up in class here. Tsunami is a former WBA female Super Flyweight champion, holding that title for more than 3 years, and has fought a who's who of female boxing, often giving top fighters very tough fights. This could be something very exciting.
In an OPBF female Minimumweight title bout fans will see former world title challengers clash, with Saemi Hanagata (13-7-4, 7) battling Erika Hanawa (8-1, 3). It was Hanawa that was beaten by the aforementioned Ebata last year for the WBO title at this weight, and since then she has claimed the interim OPBF title. It's worth noting however that Hanagata is a 2-time OPBF champion who has come up just short in 4 world title bouts, and is hungry to get a 5th shot at at world honours.
In a Japanese female Bantamweight title bout fans will see Miyo Yoshida (8-1) make her first defense as she takes on Kai Johnson (5-11-3, 2). The champion won the title last October when she narrowly out pointed Tomomi Takano and will be favoured to retain her title, but Johnson is better than her record suggests, and is much better than a typical fighter on a 6 fight losing run.
A Japanese Flyweight title bout will see the inaugural champion being crowned, as Yuki Koseki (5-4, 1) takes on Yumemi Ikemoto (4-1). On paper Koseki looks the lesser of the two but she has mixed with good opponents, and has gone 1-1 with the aforementioned Yoshida. Ikemoto on the other hand hasn't faced anyone of any real note and is clearly stepping up a level here.
Another inaugural title will be the JBC female Atomweight class, which will be competed for between Sana Hazuki (6-2-1, 2) and Nanae Suzuki (5-2-1, 1), who fought to a draw in a bout for this very same title back in December. On paper these two are very evenly matched, and the fact the judges failed to separate them last time out suggests this could be a very competitive contest again.
We get the second Dangan show of the year this coming Tuesday, in what will be a show featuring bouts from the Dangan Rookies, C class and B class tournaments finals.
The most notable bouts on the show are all B class finals and all features who have got some genuine talent and hopes at the domestic level.
One of those bouts will see once beaten Teiken hopeful Kenshin Oshima (3-1, 3) take on the unbeaten novice Nobuaki Kanazawa (0-0-1). The talented Oshima has won 2 in a row since suffering a narrow decision loss to the under-rated Yuki Iriguchi in October 2016. In the ring Oshima is a destructive fighter and will be looking to prove that power here. Sadly little is known about Kanazawa who had a technical decision on debut in October, though he was a good amateur at the high school level.
In a really good looking bout novice Ryo Sagawa (2-1, 2) will look to build on his opening round blow out of Kazuki Sanpei as he takes on Tasuku Suwa (5-1-1, 1). Aged 23 Sagawa has been tipped for big things, but a loss to Retsu Kosaka last May has slowed his rise. Suwa on the other hand is just 20 and has shown some promise, but hasn't yet developed the man strength he'll need to progress through the ranks.
A third bout of note will see Yasuki Katagiri (5-2-2, 1) attempt to extend his current 3 fight unbeaten run, as he takes on Shoma Sekine (4-5-2, 1). Katagiri began his career with a promising 4-0 run but since then has gone 1-2-2 and appears to have struggled in bouts scheduled for more than 4 rounds. As for Sekine he was winless in his first 3 fights, going 0-1-2 but has since gone 4-4 and managed to create some career momentum, though has been very stop-start and he'll know that he needs to put on a career best performance to win here.
Also on this card will be the ring return of the much touted Chaoz Minowa (4-0, 3), who will be returning to the ring for the first time since she fought in May. The Watanabe gym fighter is one of the most exciting female fighters on the planet, and hopefully 2018 will be her big year, though from what we understand this bout here will be a simple one against a Thai foe to shake some ring rust.
The key show this coming Friday comes from Tokyo where Dangan will be hosting Dangan Ladies Vol 5, which features a host of notable female fighters.
The main event of the card will see veteran former world title challenger Kayoko Ebata (10-7, 6) battle against unbeaten novice Erika Hanawa (7-0, 2) for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title. For Hanawa the bout marks a significant step up in class whilst Ebata will be looking to finally win a world title, after having fallen short in 5 previous world title bouts. This could be Ebata's big win at last, or it could be the result that sends her into retirement.
In the chief support bout Chaoz Minowa (3-0, 2) will be returning to the ring and will be looking to continue her unbeaten run as she takes ona limited Thai visitor.
Another notable fighter on this card is school-girl boxer Fuka Komura (3-0, 2) who will be battling against Mikiko Muto (2-4). The bout will see Komura look to continue her winning run in what is a genuine step up in class for the unbeaten youngster. A win here for Komura will likely be her final bout before she steps into 6 rounders however Muto will know that a win will seriously make her name and she won't be turning up for a loss.
As well as the female action in Japan there will also be a show in Indonesia.
In the main event fans will see the very experienced James Mokoginta (32-18-3, 19) battle against Thai visitor Sonnarai sor Bangkru (0-0). The 26 year old Mokoginta is a 13 year professional, having debuted in 2004 as a 13 year old, and has mixed with good company though has had mixed results. Very little is known about the Thai, as with many Thais, so it's hard to say much about him here.
Another bout on this card will see the experienced Ruben Manakane (19-17-1, 11) take on Thai foe Chatpayak Sithkopon (9-15, 7). The bout is an interesting one on paper, and both men are limited enough to make this a competitive match up, but one that should see the local fighter come out on top, especially given his home advantage.
With all the big fights at the end of the year it's fair to say that there is a lot set to happen in Japan before the end of 2016. The wait for world title action does however end this coming Tuesday as Japanese fans get a world title double title header at the Korakuen Hall as part of Dangan Ladies 3.
The main event of the card sees WBA Atomweight champion Yunoka Furukawa (8-1-2, 6) battle against OPBF female Light Flyweight champion Mika Iwakawa (6-4-1, 2). For Furukawa this will be her first defense and a chance to establish herself as one of the rising young female stars of Japanese boxing. Coming into this the champion has stopped her last 4 foes, including Satomi Nishimura last time out, and is unbeaten in her last 9, following a 1-1 start. For Iwakawa the bout will be her first world title bout, but she has mixed with good company including Brisa Hernandez, Kumiko Seeser Ikehara, Nao Ikeyama and Mako Yamada.
The second title bout sees WBO Atomweight queen Nao Ikeyama (17-3-2, 4) defending her title against former WBA champion Ayaka Miyao (21-6-1, 5). The 47 year old Ikeyama, the oldest world champion ever from Japan, will be looking to record her 5th defense of the title, a title that she won back in May 2014, but is taking on a world class fighter here in the form of Miyao. The challenger held the WBA title from 2012 until 2015, when she lost a narrow decision to Momo Koseki, and will be looking to become a 2-time champion here.
A third title bout on this card will see the incredibly exciting Chaoz Minowa (2-0, 2) face off against Filipino Carleans Rivas (5-3-3) for the OPBF female Flyweight title. Minowa, who only debuted back in September, has been put on the fast track to the top and will know that a win here would see her winning her first title less than 3 months after debuting. She's spoken about being a multi-weight world champion and will know that to do that she will have to win an Oriental title first. As for Rivas she has gone 3-3-2 in her last 8 and whilst she is more experienced than Minowa she will be the huge under-dog here.
This coming Sunday is a busy day with several shows through Asia.
The most significant bout of the day comes in Osaka where Japan's once beaten Nana Yoshikawa (6-1, 4) faces unbeaten Korean Eun Hye Lee (8-0, 3) for the WBO female Flyweight title. Hye, the former WBO female Light Flyweight champion, is moving up in weight for this bout after having had troubles with funding when she was the champion and will be fighting away from home for the first time. For Yoshikawa the bout will be her second world title fight, after coming up short against Anabel Ortiz last year. The winner will be a target for several notable names and could see a potential show down with 3-weight world champion Naoko Fujioka in 2017.
In a supporting bout Shingo Kawamura (12-3-1, 6) will battle Takuya Yamamoto (7-4, 4) in an interesting looking 8 rounder at 122lbs. Although Kawamura will be favoured he has struggled recently and is 3-2-1 in his last 6, dating back more than 2 years. Kawamura has been mixing at a higher level than Yamamoto, who is stepping up, but he has been losing when he's been fighting the better competition.
In another supporting bout the once beaten Terumi Nuki (7-1, 4) will face a Thai foe, in what looks like to be a title prelude bout for Nuki.
Another Japanese card, from Hiroshima, will be headlined by veteran Koji Itagaki (16-10-2, 7) as he takes on former OPBF Minimumweight champion Michael Landero (18-13-4, 7). Landero, a Filipino veteran, will be looking to continue his 2 fight winning run, and scored a 3rd win on Japanese soil. For Itagaki the bout will be his first since being stopped by another Filipino visitor, Rey Loreto back in April.
In the chief support bout the Japanese ranked Ryuji Ikeda (11-3-1, 7) will face very highly experienced Filipino journeyman Mark Sales (22-40-3, 8). On paper this is a total mismatch but Ikeda is looking to bounce back from a loss last time out and will be looking rebuild his confidence rather than score a statement win.
Daejeon, South Korea
In Korea fight fans get an intriguing show with international implications.
The main event will see Korean-Russian Je Ni Ma (9-1-3, 8) battle against Japan's Hironobu Matsunaga (10-1, 5) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title. For both men this will be their biggest bout, though it's fair to say that Ma will be favoured given he's fighting at home and is currently riding a 12 fight unbeaten run. Despite Ma being the favourite Matsunaga will be confident and comes into this riding a 4 fight winning run.
On the under-card KBF 140lb champion Dong Hee Kim (5-1-1, 1) will be facing former OPBF Super Featherweight title challenger Ernie Sanchez (15-8-1, 6), with Sanchez being a late replacement for the aggressive Hyun Woo Yuh, who was originally stipulated to face Kim in a title fight.
One other bout of note on this under-card will see Japan's Chaoz Minowa (1-0, 1) battle Chan Mi Lim (2-1, 2). Minowa is tipped as the most promising Japanese female fighter since Naoko Fujioka and is returning to the ring just weeks after her debut. Although not well known Lim is exciting, heavy handed and aggressive and could well be the gut test Minowa needs before fighting for titles.