This coming Saturday sees a new month begin, and it kicks off in stylee with a strong card from the Korakuen Hall.
The main event of card will see the Japanese Bantamweight title finally have a champion crowned, after having been vacated in January by Ryo Akaho and having seen several bouts to crown a new champion fall through. The void at the top of domestic scene will be filled by either Yuta Saito (10-9-3, 7) or Eita Kikuchi (21-5-4, 8) who will both see this as a massive opportunity to claim a national title. Saito was supposed to face Suguru Muranaka for the title earlier in the year before Muranaka pulled out due to making weight. Kikuchi on the other will be getting his first title bout since losing to Shingo Wake in an OPBF title fight way back in 2013. The winner of this will likely enter 2019 with a target on their back, but will have claimed the biggest win of their career.
The leading support bout will see former Japanese and OPBF champion Charles Bellamy (27-3-2, 18) taking on Yuto Shimizu (12-3-2, 5) in a bout between Japanese ranked fighters. The hard hitting Bellamy has struggled for activity in recent years but is devastating at this level and will know, at the age of 36, that he really only has more run left in his body. A win over Shimizu will not assure Bellamy of a title shot, but will move him much closer to one. As for Shimizu this will only be his third fight since the start of 2016, and his first of note since losing to Yuki Nonaka more than 2 years ago. At 30 years old Shimizu has got youth on his side but would need a career best performance to pick up a win here.
In another notable supporting bout we'll see the very talented Reiya Abe (17-2, 8) battle against Masashi Noguchi (12-10-1, 6). Originally the plan had been for Abe to fight in a Japanese Featherweight title eliminator but with no suitable opponents being able and free he's fighting a bit of a stay busy bout whilst awaiting for a title fight, likely in 2019. Abe is currently riding a 9 fight winning streak, which saw him avenge one of his defeats and over-come the likes of Tsuyoshi Tameda and Satoshi Hosono. Noguchi is a former Japanese title challenger, but comes into this bout on the back of 5 straight losses. Noguchi has no momentum coming into this and has been hand selected to keep Abe busy, but won't be expected to offer much competition.
Arguably the biggest single name on this card is recent world title contender Akihiro Kondo (30-7-1, 17), who will be looking to tick over with a stay busy fight of his own. The teak tough Kondo will be up against domestic journeyman Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-11-1, 9) in what should be Kondo's second victory since losing in 2017 to Sergey Lipinets in an IBF title fight. Miyazaki has been stopped in 8 of his 11 losses and we suspect to see another loss here for the 34 year old. Miyazaki has got power, but given the toughness of Kondo we don't think that will matter too much in this bout.
On paper one of the more even match ups will see the in form Ryohei Takahashi (15-3-1, 6) take on Shingo Kusano (11-6-1, 4), who is one of the two men to hold a win over the aforementioned Reiya Abe. Takahashi has rebuilt well since suffering an August 2017 defeat, and was last seen scoring an upset win in Thailand against Mike Tawatchai for a regional IBF title. Kusano on the other hand has been stopped in his last 2 bouts and is without a win since February 2016, when he defeated a Thai novice. It's hard to see past a Takahashi victory here, but he should get some good rounds in against a usually durable foe.
One other fighter of note on this show is Hayate Kaji (10-0, 8), who will be taking on a Thai foe. The talented Kaji has looked fantastic at times, but a disappointing performance last December against Jun Blazo has left some serious questions for him to answer. If Kaji can commit himself to the sport his potential is huge, but her really does just need to make sure he can focus on his training and what he needs to do in the ring. We're not expecting him to be tested here, but we are hoping to see an impressive performance from the Japanese youngster.
Pathum Thani, Thailand
In Thailand fight fans will be able to see veteran Sirimongkol Singwancha (95-4, 60) continue his journey to being a centurion as he take on Muhammad Nsubuga (0-6-1) in a bout for the vacant Thai Light Heavyweight title. The 41 year old Sirimongkol, who had world title reigns at Bantamweight and Super Featherweight more than a decade ago, is long past his prime but clear still has hunger and that shows by the fact he'll be fighting at 175lb for the first time in his career. Ugandan born Thai based Nsuubuga has been stopped in 6 of his 7 bouts and we suspect he'll be stopped again here as Sirimongkol marks his 100th professional bout!
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.
The Japanese show to take place at the “Holy Ground” of the Korakuen Hall takes place on January 13th and although it's not a blockbuster card it does feature two very notable bouts.
The first of those will see the very experienced former OPBF and JBC title holder Charles Bellamy (26-3-1, 17) take on the rising and big punching Yuki Beppu (14-0, 14) in a massively significant 8 rounder. The experienced Bellamy will be looking to move towards a title fight in 2017 but at 35 some have questioned just what he has left, and he fought just 8 rounds in 2016 and only 6 in 2015. Beppu, a destructive puncher, has failed to really impress since winning the 2014 Rookie of the Year and this is set to be his biggest test, by far.
In a Bantamweight clash we'll see JBC #1 ranked contender Yuta Saito (10-7-2, 7) battle against former title challenger Tatsuya Takahashi (25-6-4, 18) in a bout that will likely decide a 2017 domestic title challenger. Saito has won just 3 of his last 8 bouts but is looking to get a title fight in the near future, and has been competitive in many of his losses. Takahashi impressed us massively when he took on Kentaro Masuda in 2014 and he's pursuing a rematch with Masuda, knowing that a win here will assure him of that bout later in the year. Potentially this could be a really exciting war.
Da Lian, China
There will also be a low key show in China.
In the main even of the card fans will see Chinese local Xing Xin Yang (11-5-3, 8) take on once beaten Thai Romnakit Technopoly Bangkok (8-1, 5). The Chinese 24 year old has won one of his last 4, a stoppage win against Takamori Akita, though will be coming into this bout on the back of a loss to the then debuting Nursultan Zhanabayev. Ronnakitsuffered his first loss last year, when he travelled to China and lost to American Rogelio Casarez. This could be an interesting bout, but we suspect the naturally bigger local fighter will come out on top.
This coming Saturday is a mouth watering weekend for hardcore fight fans who are in for treat if they can find some of the bouts on TV.
Distrito Federal, Mexico
The most meaningful bout featuring an Asian comes from Mexico where we see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ganigan Lopez (27-6, 17) defending his belt against Filipino slugger Jonathan Taconing (22-2-1, 18). For Lopez this is a baptism of fire for his first defense whilst Taconing finally gets his second shot at a world title. Potentially this is a FOTY contender and really could be something very special.
The bout in Mexico isn't the only only of note featuring an Asian and may actually have a serious contender for the fight of the weekend status featuring another two Asian's.
That other potential fire cracker will see OPBF Flyweight champion Ardin Diale (31-9-3, 15) face off against fast rising Japanese star Daigo Higa (9-0, 9) in one of the bouts that we have been hoping to see all year. A couple of years ago Diale was in a FOTY contender with Higa's stablemate Koki Eto, losing in a crazy 8th round, and Higa will be looking for similar success here as he looks to continue his rise through the ranks. For Diale it's a chance to get some revenge of Shirai Gushiken Sports Gym and continue his reign, and work his way towards another potential world title fight.
On the under card of this Japanese card fight fans will see Junki Sasaki (15-3, 6) battle against Reiko Sugiyama (7-5-3, 5) in one of the very few supporting bouts of note.
Unfortunately a mouth watering match up between Ryuto Maekawa (11-0-1, 7) and Ryuto Oho (9-2-1, 2) has been cancelled following an injury to Maekawa, though we have been informed that the bout will be rescheduled.
On a second Japanese card fight fans will get the chance to see two notable names in action.
One of the notable names is former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (14-1, 5) who faces Argie Toquero (9-4-2, 7). This will be Naito's second bout since losing the Japanese title last year to Kenichi Ogawa and should be a straight forward win for the talented 24 year old, who will be fighting for the first time this year.
The other notable name on this show is former OPBF and Japanese Light Middleweight champion Charles Bellamy (25-3-1, 17), who faces Elfelos Vega (6-3, 4). This will be Bellamy's first bout this year and is likely to help kick start his career after some issues out of the ring. The talented Japanese based American should over-come Vega relatively easily, given that Vega has lost 2 of his last 3.
New South Wales, Australia
Back on the road there is also action in Australia with several Asian fighters.
One of those Asian's is Joebert de los Reyes (15-6-1, 10) who faces off against Darragh Foley (8-2, 6) for the WBA Oceania Light Welterweight title. On paper this doesn't look anything special but the reality is that both men have something to gain here, and de los Reyes is looking to avenge a 2015 defeat to Foley, this really could be an intriguing bout.
Two other Asian fighters clash in a female bout as Filipino Gretchen Abaniel (16-8, 6) faces Thailand's Petcharas Superchamp (6-0, 1) for the GBU and WIBA Minimumweight titles. On paper Abaniel will be favoured given her edger in experience though the Thai will likely feel confident of continuing her unbeaten run.