Arguably the most intriguing bout of the day comes from Korea and features world ranked Korea Ye Joon Kim (14-1-2, 7) as he looks to defend his minor IBF title against Japanese visitor Yuki Strong Kobayashi (10-5, 5). Kim is regarded as one of the best Korean born prospects but this is a good test against a former OPBF title challenger. If Kim, who is enigmatic to say the least, is at his best he could make this look easy but Kobayashi is an upset minded fighter and showed that last year when he defeated Hikaru Matsuoka, and the year before when he beat Bunta Mitaka.
In a supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten In Duck Seo (6-0, 3) battle against Jae Sun Kim (4-2-2, 2) in a bout scheduled for 8 rounds. The 22 year old Seo will be looking for his second win this year and has, impressively, beaten 4 unbeaten opponents in a row.. Kim hasn't won a bout in his last 3, but is a step up in class for Seo.
There will also be a single show in China.
In the main event we'll see the exciting Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (9-0-1, 4) take on Filipino visitor Stephen Gelawa (6-2-1, 4). The Chinese fighter has impressed in the past, and has won his last 8 bouts including victories over Tackie Annan, to claim the WBC Youth title at 140lbs, and Nelson Tinampay. Gelawa has been stopped in his last 2 bouts, including a defeat to Charles Bellamy, but is a decent test for Baishanbo at this point.
In another main bout we'll see Chinese based Russian Andrey Kalyuzhnyy (12-2, 10) take on Yang Liu (4-3-1) in what looks like a mismatch of a 10 rounder. Although not an evenly matched bout the Russian is rebuilding following a loss earlier this year.
A more perplexing match up will see the once beaten A Fu Bai (7-1, 4) take on novice Yuan Yao (1-0). This will be Bai's first bout since he suffered his sole defeat, a 6 round decision loss to Viktor Kotochigov. Yao only debuted back in July, but did so against an experienced foe and impressed, so he may be be more competitive than the numbers suggest.
Of course much of the day's action, again, comes from Japan where there will be 3 cards, the most notable of which will be the Rookie of the West finals, and feature a total of 12 bouts from Minimumweight to Middleweight
One of the best bouts on the card is at Super Bantamweight where we see unbeaten fighters face off. In one corner will be Ioka gym's Bunta Okamoto (4-0, 2) whilst in the other corner will be Gifu Yokozeki's Ruito Saeki (4-0). With Super Bantamweight being one of the best division's in Japan this is a really significant and could see another youngster pushed towards making a mark on the division next year.
Another intriguing match up comes at Bantamweight where Hibiki Jogo (3-0, 3), another Ioka prospect, takes on fellow puncher Yuto Nakamura (6-2, 5), a 19 year old banger from the Ichino gym. This should be an explosive contest with neither man being known for going the distance.
At Super Flyweight we see another bout between unbeaten men as Kota Fujimoto (5-0, 1) takes on Katsuya Murakami (4-0-1, 1) in what looks likely to be a distance between between two men who are skilled but a bit feather fisted. A technical bout should be likely, but should be a really intriguing one with both fights looking to keep their unbeaten records.
Another show takes place in Aichi.
In the main event of the show we'll see Japanese ranked Light Welterweight Yuya Okazaki (11-9-2, 4) face off with veteran Daiki Koide (22-8-2, 9). Okazaki is without a win in almost 2 years, going 0-2-1 in his last 3, but has mixed with stiff competition in the likes of Keita Obara, Noriaki Sato and Motoki Sasaki. As for Koide he is 3-3 in his last 6 but is 2 years removed from his last win and was last seen being stopped by Korean Woo Min Won, so there are a lot of questions about what he has left in the tank. Interestingly this will be the second bout between these two who fought in July 2014, when Okazaki took a razor thin victory over Koide.
In the chief supporting bout we'll see recent Japanese title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (12-4-1, 7) battle against Elfelos Vega (6-4, 4). This will be Maruki's first bout since July's loss to Yuki Nonaka and give his performance there it's hard to see anything but a win here, with Vega having lost his last 3. Despite Vega being the under-dog he is a live under-dog who is tough and has the power to perhaps hurt Maruki, if he can land clean. Both of these men have a Japanese ranking coming into this bout so the winner could, potentially, get a title fight in 2017.
The card will be a family affair for the Maruki family as Ryosuke's brother Kazuya Maruki (19-4, 12) takes on Dai Taoka (8-3, 5). Kazuya will be looking to bounce back from a shock defeat to Chan Hee Park in May and although he has an impressive looking record he is 2-2 in his last 4 and certainly a beatable fighter. Despite Maruki being beatable Taoka has gone 1-3 in his last 4 and has lost his last 2. This should be competitive and both fighters know they can't afford another loss at the moment.
There will also be a low level card in Tokyo, headlined by an interesting looking, and well matched, 10 rounder. The bout in question will see Ryuto Araya (10-4-1, 3) face off with Yosuke Kawano (10-5-2, 4) in what is a really solid looking domestic Featherweight bout. Coming in to this Araya will be risking a 10 top Japanese ranking but should be good enough to over-come Kawano,
It's fair to say that Japanese fight fans have been left somewhat short changed during this year's “Golden Week”, and where theirs often 2 or 3 major card there wasn't really any, with the recent Watanabe card coming just before the Golden Week and the next big card, an Ohashi one, coming on the Sunday after the Golden Week. Saying that however the wait until this Sunday is a worthy one with their being several notable shows throughout Japan.
Of those Japanese shows it goes without saying the biggest, and the best, is in Tokyo and is going to be the highly anticipated Ohashi card from the 10,000 seater Ariake Colosseum. The card, which we strongly suspect will have more than 10,000,000 viewers, will see only two bouts televised live but they are both likely to feel a little bit special.
The first of those bouts is expected to be an all out war as IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (23-5, 12) defends his title against the aggressive and very fun to watch Martin Tecuapetla (13-6-3, 10). This bout really does promise a lot of excitement, and for fans who like a war this is as sure fire a slugfest as we can think of with both men enjoying a tear up. Yaegashi will be the favourite but we wouldn't be surprised to see him taken to hell and back to retain his title.
Of course whilst Yaegashi's bout promises real 2-way fireworks it's unlikely to be the bout that gets international attention. Instead that attention will be focused on 23 year old sensation Naoya Inoue (9-0, 8), who defends his WBO Super Flyweight title against mandatory challenger David Carmona (20-2-5, 8). The bout will be Inoue's second defense of his title and is likely to be his final bout in Japan before making a highly anticipated US debut later in the year. Although the bout is anticipated, because of Inoue's incredible appeal and ability, it's a mismatch and is unlikely to be more than a cameo-like appearance from the “Monster”, who has fought just 4 rounds in the last 18 months.
The two world title bouts are of course the bouts getting the most attention but their will also be a third title bout on the show, as youngster Takuma Inoue (6-0, 1) defends the OPBF Super Flyweight title against Indonesian challenger Afrizal Tamboresi (12-4, 6). The bout really should be a mismatch in favour of Takuma, who should make the second defense of his title here, but Tamboresi knows there is nothing to lose and their will be no pressure on him coming into this bout against the much touted Inoue.
The card featured a third fighter from the Inoue clan, with the touted Koki Inoue (2-0, 2) taking on another Indonesian, in Bimo Jaguar (0-0), in what is unlikely to be anything other than an early blow out win for the biggest of the Inoue's. Koki, for those unaware, is the cousin of Naoya and Takuma and, like the brothers, is trained by their father Shingo who may well be the best young trainer in world boxing.
One other notable name on this card is world title contender Ryo Matsumoto (17-0, 15), who risks his rankings and unbeaten record against Victor Uriel Lopez (8-5-1, 3). This seems likely to be Matsumoto's final bout before a world title fight, later in 2016. That talented Matsumoto has been treading water for a while, and this seems to be another stay busy, but he is insanely talented and is viewed as another fighter who is going to be part of a Japanese revolution over the coming years.
Talking about the next wave of Japanese fighters their will also be one of the youngest in action in Hyogo. That's 18 year old Riku Kano (9-1-1, 5), who faces former world champion Merlito Sabillo (25-2-1, 12) in a bout for the OPBF interim Minimumweight title. Kano has his eyes on setting the Japanese age record, for the youngest world champion from Japan, but knows that he will need to beat Sabillo here. For the Filipino form champion this is a must win and he knows his career will essentially be over as a top contender if he loses the 18 year old Kano.
Sadly we do need to say that although listed on boxrec, Futa Akizuki (6-0, 5) will not be making his Japanese debut on this card.
In Osaka fans will get a show at the Mierparque Hall in Osaka City.
Here the main event will see the promising 20 year old Takuya Uehara (8-0, 5), an OPBF ranked Super Featherweight contender, battling against Indonesian ranked Ramli Pasaribu (4-7, 1). Uehara is OPBF ranked already though hasn't really proven himself against anyone of actual quality. A win here won't change that, but we suspect that this could his final bout before facing a known opponent, possibly this coming summer.
In the chief support bout fans will see Japanese ranked Flyweight Shunji Nagata (10-14-2, 3) face off with former Japanese Super Flyweight title challenger Masato Morisaki (10-4-1, 6). For Morisaka this will be his second bout since he was stopped, in 5 rounds, by Sho Ishida back on December 31st 2014 and although the “more proven” fighter he has fought just 2 rounds since that Ishida bout. Nagata might not be a great fighter but he's someone who has been battle tested and should give Morisaka a very good fight.
A third bout of note on this card will see OPBF and JBC ranked 140lb fighter Ryusei Yoshida (27-8, 14) fight in what really should be a stay busy contest against Tatsunori Fukunaga (7-6, 3). If Yoshida wins, as is widely expected, he could potentially be the next Japanese title challenger later in the year, and will almost certainly call out Hiroki Okada.
A fourth Japanese show is set to take place in Aichi, with this one having 4 bouts that caught our eye.
The main event of the card will see veteran Daiki Koide (22-7-2, 9) battle against OPBF ranked Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (2-0-1), who incidentally claimed the KBF 140lb title last time out. On paper this looks like a horrible mismatch but Kim has been fast tracked and has already proven that he can go rounds, with 22 career rounds already, and he may well see Koide as just the next step on his way through the OPBF rankings.
Another Japan Vs Korea bout on this card sees former Keita Obara opponent Kazuya Maruki (19-3, 12) face off with Chan Hee Park (5-6-1) in what looks likely to be another good bout for fans, though with Park lacking power it's hard to see what he has to compete with the talented Maruki. For those who haven't seen Park before we suggest watching his fight with Kyoo Hwan Hwang from last year as it really was so fun and just a crazy battle.
Maruki's brother, Ryosuke Maruki (11-3-1, 7) will also be up against a Korean visitor, in the form of Joon Yong Lee (5-3-3, 3). On paper this is a mismatch but Lee is the Korean Middleweight champion and may well be a real handful for Maruki, in what could be a genuinely fun bout for fans at the venue. Notably Lee enters the bout as a highly ranked contender by the OPBF so will be fighting to defend that ranking.
The final bout of note is an all-Japanese bout at Heavyweight. The bout will see the unbeaten Ryu Ueda (5-0, 2) risk his perfect record against veteran fighter Kotatsu Takehara (12-11-3, 6). This is a big step up in class for Ueda however Takehara has won just 2 of his last 4, and was stopped in both of his losses. It's a good test for the 23 year old novice who knows a win could see him move towards a Japanese title fight, and perhaps even a chance to become the third ever Japanese Heavyweight champion.
Incheon, South Korea
As well as all the action in Japan there is also a card in Korea, under the KPBF banner.
The main event here is a PABA “interim” title bout that sees Korean Jong-Min Jung (6-7, 2) battle Ghana's Razak Nettey (17-4, 13) at Featherweight. Notably this Nettey is a replacement for Filipino Jason Redondo and unfortunately for the Korean it seems Nettey may not have been an easier option.
This card will also feature two other PABA affiliated title bouts, one at Bantamweight and one at Light Middleweight. From what we understand the Bantamweight bout will see Woo Hyun Kim (5-1, 1) battle Michael Barnor (15-7-2, 11). The Light Middleweight bout will see Youn Bae Kim (4-0, 1), the current PABA interim champion, battle Joo Hun Kim (7-1, 2), the KPBF champion.
*Note several Korean records have been provided by the KPBF.
This Sunday isn't an action packed day but there is plenty of action with two Japanese cards and one Filipino show.
One of those two shows takes place at the Aioi Hall in Aichi.
This one will be headline by a contest between the the Japanese ranked Lightweight Daiki Koide (21-7-2, 9) and the heavy handed Tatsuya Miyazaki (8-5-1, 8). Koide needs to be favoured but has been stopped in the past and if Miyazaki catches him we could see Kiode suffer his 3rd loss in just 4 fights and if that happens his dream of becoming a champion, even at domestic level, could well be over.
In the co-feature in this show Ryosuke Maruki (7-3-1, 5) will be in action against an Indonesian opponent, sadly we've been unable to find the Indonesian on boxrec though we suspect that Maruki hasn't been matched hard here, Strangely this co-feature is scheduled for 10 rounds whilst the main event is just an 8 rounder. We're unsure why but we do know Maruki has lost he previous 2 bouts, both of which narrow 10 round decision losses.
In a 6 rounder on the undercard Kosuke Mizuno (6-4-2, 2) will be taking on Kazuki Fukakura (7-7-2, 3). This isn't a huge bout but it should be an entertaining domestic level contest.
As well as the 3 bouts mentioned this show will feature a further 6 contests giving the card 9 bouts in total.
The other show comes from the Fukuoka prefectural gymnasium and will feature 7 bouts, 3 of which feature an fighter of some form of interest.
One of those men is the OPBF and Japanese ranked Bantamweight Yoshihiko Matsuo (17-5-6, 3) who will be battling against Tatsuya Miyamoto (10-12-1, 6). Miyamoto is very limited and has won just 3 of his last 10 and shouldn't pose Matsuo any problems on paper, though he surprisingly did hold him to a 6 round draw last time out in a real surprise. We suspect Matsuo will be going in to this bout to make a statement but it's hard to be sure given the previous contest between the two men.
For us the star of the show is the unbeaten 21 year old Minimumweight Takumi Sakae (9-0, 5) who will be going for his 10th straight win as he takes on a Thai visitor. Ranked #10 by the JBC and #15 by the WBA Sakae is on the way to achieving something notable in the course of his career. Although we're unsure who the Thai is it's fair to say he'll be coming to win and would love to upset a "world ranked" fighter like Sakae. For those who haven't seen Sakae we have managed to hunt down the video of his Rookie of the Year final win from last year which can be seen here.
Strangely the main event on this show will see Keisuke Nakayama (6-1, 3) taking on another Thai fighter that we don't recognise. We've got to admit that we find it strange Nakayama is in the main event though we suspect he's almost assured of a win with his opponent likely to be a limited one picked to get beaten easily by the Fukuoka local.
Metro Manilla, Philippines
In the Philippines Johnny Elorde Promotions puts on an 8 bout show with a few interesting looking contests though nothing that will really interest an international boxing audience.
The biggest name on the card is WBC #10 ranked Light Flyweight Lionel Legada (12-6-1, 5) who will be risking his world ranking as he takes on the once beaten Rene Patilano (11-1-2, 6). It's interesting to note that Patilano comes into this bout on a 5-fight unbeaten run, including an 8 round technical draw with current WBA interim Light Flyweight world champion Rany Petalcorin. We're unsure how Legada is still ranked given that he's lost 4 of his last 7 and we are actually to see him lose again here.
In the co-feature the unbeaten Randy Braga (13-0-1, 3) will be fighting Benjie Suganob (8-2-1, 4) in what we suspect could be a tough test for the unbeaten man who has been prone to have head clashes in recent bouts.
Unfortunately many of the other bouts appear to be mismatches though we do like the look of the 6 rounder between Roderick Flores (3-0-1, 1) and Ryan Medez (1-2-2) which could end up being a very tough contest.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)