This coming Monday attention turns to Hiroshima, as we get an OPBF title fight and a very interesting supporting bout, featuring a Japanese Youth champion.
The OPBF title bout will see OPBF Light Flyweight champion Edward Heno (13-0-5, 5) look to defend his title against veteran Koji Itagaki (18-13-3, 7), in what is set to be Heno's third defense of the title. The unbeaten champion, from the Philippines, won title in Japan in 2017, stopping Seita Ogido, and has impressed since with wins against Merlito Sabillo and Jesse Espinas. Despite impressing it's clear he still needs some more experience and development before moving on to a world title fight, and we suspect the 26 year old will be looking to make those improvements this year, before a world title fight in 2020. At 35 years old Itagaki is a proper veteran, who debuted back in the summer of 2005. During Itagaki's career he has come up short in bouts for the Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific title, but he'll be perfectly aware that this is his last chance. There is do over. For Itagaki this will be the final shot at a title, and if he loses that could well end his career. Sadly for the challenger, it'd be a major surprise if he could over-come the excellent Heno. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Heno returns to Japan to defend OPBF title against veteran Itagaki
In the chief support bout Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Tetsu Araki (12-1-1, 2) will be battling against domestic puncher Morihisa Iju (11-3, 9), with Iju returning to the ring for the first time since September 2017. Araki won the Youth title last time out, upsetting Ryuto Owan, and is riding an 8 fight unbeaten since losing in the 2015 Rookie of the Year to Tenta Kiyose. At the age of 24 Araki is showing genuine promise but this is a good step up and a good chance for him to show what he can do. Iju, as mentioned, has been inactive recently and actually lost 2 of his 3 most recent bouts. Despite limited Iju can bang and with this being his return to the ring we're expect to see him show some real hunger, which should make for a very interesting fight. Araki will be favoured, but Iju is certainly a live under-dog.
Distrito Federal, Mexico
Arguably the biggest bout in Asia this weekend will come from Mexico as WBC female Bantamweight champion Mariana Juarez (49-9-4, 18) rematches Japanese challenger Terumi Nuki (10-3, 7). These two fought in 2017, with Juarez taking a clear win, and since then Nuki has gone 1-1, losing a wide decision to Debora Anahi Dionicius. This is likely to be Nuki's final shot at a world title for a while if she comes up short, so we're expecting a very fiery effort here from the challenger. At the age of 38 Juarrez is an old fighter, especially given she's had 62 bouts and fought in 455 rounds. Despite her age she is on a 6 fight unbeaten run and will not be handing over her title over without someone ripping it from her hands.
The biggest Asian show comes from the City Sogo Gym in Osaka, as we get a Japanese title fight, a hotly tipped female fighter and a mouth watering domestic clash.
The main event will see Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (16-4, 3) make his first defense as he takes on Kazuyasu Okamoto (14-5, 4). The hard hitting Yada claimed the title back in April, when he stopped fellow puncher Toshio Arikawa in 8 rounds, in what was a brutal and hard hitting bout. The win over Arikawa was the 4th straight victory for Yada who has bounced back very well from his 2016 loss to Jayar Inson. The challenger will be in his first title fight, though unfortunate for Okumoto he was stopped last time out by Vladimir Baez and hasn't notched up a win since April 2017. The challenger really would need a career defining performance here to even test Yada.
The chief support bout actually looks likely to be the bout of the show as the once beaten former amateur stand out Kazuki Tanaka (9-1, 6) takes on the inform and very hard hitting Keita Kurihara (11-5, 10). Coming in to this bout Tanaka has a #3 ranking with the JBC and is looking to build on good wins over Hikaru Marguame and Seizo Kono. On the other hand Kurihara, who is ranked by the OPBF, JBC and WBO Asia Pacific, is looking to build on devastating wins over Ryan Lumacad and Tetsuya Watanabe. We're expecting this to a brutal clash and could go either way.
Once beaten Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Toshiki Shimomachi (8-1-1, 5) will be in action against Filipino fighter Renan Portes (10-6, 6). Shimomachi has rebuilt well following a 2-1-1 start to his career and claimed the Super Bantamweight Rookie of the Year crown last year. Despite his ranking this is a slight step up in class the Japanese fighter. As for Portes he has been picking up loses on the road for the last 2 years, including a stoppage loss to Hayate Kaji last year and Mike Tawatchai earlier this year.
Also on this card will be former female stand out Kasumi Saeki (1-0) who steps up to 8 round bouts as she takes on a Thai visitor in what is likely to be her final bout before a title shot.
A second show in Osaka will be held at the Sumyoshi Ward Center and will be a relatively low key card with only 4 bouts worthy of any mention.
The main event will see WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight champion Masahiro Sakamoto (12-1, 8) fighting in a non-title bout against South Korean Super Flyweight champion Ki Chang Go (6-2, 2). On paper this doesn't look the best of match ups, but with Sakamoto moving up in weight for this contest he could be pushed hard by the Korean visitor, who has won his last 6 after a 0-2 start to his professional career.
In the chief support bout fans will see OPBF ranked Super Bantamweight Shachihoko Dragons Keita (8-5-4, 1) face off with Yosuke Taniguchi (6-5-1, 1), in what should be a very safe bout for Keita, who has gone 3-0-3 in his last 6 bouts. Although we wouldn't fancy Keita to claim an OPBF title he should manage to pick up a win here.
Another ranked fighter on this card is Kota Fujimoto (8-2-1, 2), who risks his JBC and OPBF rankings against Tatsuya Terada (6-3-1, 1). Coming in to this Fujimoto is riding a 3 fight unbeaten run, including a draw with the touted Masayoshi Hashizume from last December. As for Terada he was beaten last time out and his wins have, for the most part, come against very limited opponents.
Also on this card is the debuting Riku Kunimoto (0-0), who makes his debut against a Korean opponent. Kunimoto is tipped to have a big future but it will be interesting to see how he kicks off his career, and how he looks as a professional fighter.
As well as the action in Osaka there is also an interesting card set to take place in Laguna, featuring an OPBF champion defending his title, and a couple of unbeaten prospects.
The OPBF champion is the inform Light Flyweight contender Edward Heno (12-0-5, 5), who defends his title against the fringe world class Jesse Espinas (19-2, 11) in what looks like an amazing match up. This will be Heno's second defense, following a excellent win over Merlito Sabillo this past February, and another win here will push him well up the world rankings towards a world title fight. Espinas comes into this bout riding an 8 fight winning run, with notable wins over Joey Canoy, Paipharob Kokietgym and Elias Joaquino. This is set to be a very special bout and should see the winner announce themselves as a leading contender in one of the deepest divisions in the sport.
On the under-card fans will see Enrique Magsalin (4-0-2, 1) risk his unbeaten record against the once beaten Adrian Lerasan (6-1, 1) whilst Prince Andrew Laurio (9-0-1, 6) will take on Jopher Marayan (7-11-2, 3). We expect to see the unbeaten men continue to keep their “0” in tact, but Magasalin looks like he has a genuine test on his hands.
Negros Occidental, Philippines
This coming Saturday fans in the Philippines get a small treat, with an excellent looking OPBF title fight and the return to the ring for a recent world title challenger and one other man making his return following a loss.
The OPBF title fight will see OPBF Light Flyweight champion Edward Heno (11-0-5, 5) make his first defense of the title, as he takes on former world champion Merlito Sabillo (27-4-1, 13). Heno won the title last September, when he stopped Seita Ogido in their second bout, and will be looking to continue his unbeaten run whilst also recording his most notable win to date. Sabillo is a long way removed from his reign as the WBO Minimumweight and has gone 4-4 in his last 8 bouts, dating back around 4 years. Has hs notched up 2 recent wins,beating Jack Amisa and Crison Omayao but looks to be a long way removed from what he was once. The bout is a step up for Heno, but it's hard to know just what Sabillo has left.
In a key support bout we'll see recent world title challenger Rey Loreto (23-14, 15) take on domestic foe Arnold Garde (8-5-3, 3). Loreto challenged WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart last July, coming up short against the Thai, but had been riding a 7 fight winning streak into that bout and is genuinely on the fringes of being a world class fighter. Garde on the other hand is struggling on the domestic scene and is 5-5-3 in his last 13 bouts, with losses to a mixture of novices and recognisable names, such as Randy Petalcorin and Jonathan Taconing. Given what we know about Loreto it's hard to see anything but a win for him.
One other man involved on this card is Ryan Lumacad (13-1-3, 7), who looks to bounce back from a stoppage loss to Keita Kurihara, who stopped the Filipino last December. It's unclear at the moment who Lumacad will be facing, but we suspect the bout will be an easy confidence building one for the Filipino.
In Argentina we get world world title action, as unbeaten IBF Female Super Flyweight champion Debora Anahi Dionicius (26-0, 6) defends her title against Japanese challenger Terumi Nuki (9-2, 6). The bout will Nuki getting her second world title fight but like her first bout she will be travelling around the globe to face a champion in their backyard. Dionicius has notched up 10 defenses already and will be looking for her 11th, but this will be her first bout against a Japanese opponent and could prove to be a trickier assignment than some of her other defenses, with some of her challengers being very poor.
After a huge day for boxing our attention turns to Okinawa for the only Asian show this coming Sunday, and if we're being honest, it's not a big one, despite every fighters of note being in action.
The most notable bout of the show is a rematch as unbeaten Filipino Edward Heno (10-0-5, 4) takes on local hopeful Seita Ogido (11-2-3, 3) for the OPBF Light Flyweight title. Earlier this year these two fought to a close bout, which Heno seemed to win, and was announced as the winner, before an issue with the scorecards saw the bout being announce as a draw, well after the original decision. The unbeaten Heno will be looking to avoid the judges this time around and we expect him to go out hunting a stoppage. For Ogido, who has drawn his last two bout, this is a must win and another set back will be hard to come back from, despite the fact he is only 24.
In an supporting bout we'll see OPBF ranked Super Featherweight Masatoshi Kotani (21-2, 14) take on Filipino ranked foe Jason Egera (23-17-1, 11). On paper the bout looks like a mismatch, with Kotani coming into the bout on an 11 fight winning run dating back more than 4 years whilst Egera has gone 2-9-1 in his last 12, however Egera can be a handful at times and has scored notable upsets through his career, including a win earlier this year against Glenn Suminguit.
Also on this card in a supporting bout is the unbeaten Shuma Nakazato (6-0-1, 5), who takes a notable step up against veteran Masaki Saito (13-12-6, 4). The unbeaten Nakazato, the son of 3-time world title challenger Shigeru Nakazato, reached the final of the 2015 Rookie of the Year, fighting to a draw with Teppei Kayanuma, but has only fought once since then. The 32 year Saito is a proper servant of Japanese boxing and whilst his record is messy he has been a true gatekeeper at the top of of the domestic scene. He has notable wins against the likes of Seiichi Okada and Takashi Inagaki and has held fighters like Tsuyoshi Tojo, Masashi Nogiuchi and Yuichiro Kasuya to draws. This might not look much of a fight on paper, but it is a real test for Nakazato.
For a second day running Japanese fans in Tokyo get a huge show at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo.
The main event here sees Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue (12-0, 10) defending his WBO Super Flyweight title against Mexican born American based challenger Ricardo Rodriguez (16-3, 5. The bout will be Inoue's 5th defense of the title and it's likely to be his last with his team talking about vacating the title later in the year, ahead of his US debut. The pressure is on the youngster to shine here but Rodriguez is tough and has never been stopped, and will be looking to score a career defining victory here.
The other world title fight here will see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (25-5, 15) battle against interim champion Milan Melindo (35-2, 12). The bout is, on paper at the very least, the most interesting of the 6 world title fights taking place this coming weekend and it looks like a genuine 50-50 match up. Of the two fighters Yaegashi is the more proven and the more well known, but he's also the older man and the man with a lot more miles on the clock. Melindo, the less proven fighter, is probably the more technically sound fighter, but a win here would be the biggest of his career by some margin.
The biggest mismatch on this card will see the once beaten Ryo Matsumoto (19-1, 17) battle against Hendrik Barongsay (29-25-3, 18) in what is little more than a stay busy fight for Matsumoto. The talented Japanese youngster looked better than ever last time out, blowing out Hideo Sakamoto in less than 2 minutes, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Barongsay last a similar amount og time here.
One of the biggest names on the under-card is former multi-time world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (32-3-1, 21), who will take on Masashi Noguchi (12-6-1, 6) in an 8 rounder. This will be Hosono's first bout since losing in October to Jonathan Victor Barros in an IBF world title eliminator. Aged 33 this will probably be the start of Hosono's last run, and he really can't afford another set back. Noguchi is a former Japanese title challenger, who lost in December to Shuhei Tsuchiya, and is the naturally bigger man, but a win here would be his best to date.
In another notable under-card bout we'll see 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (2-0, 2) take on his first domestic opponent, Takuya Yamamoto (8-6, 4). The bout should be a straight forward win for Shimizu, though it's probably fair to say that his eyes are on the future and it's hard to imagine him not fighting for a domestic title before the end of 2017, especially given that he's now 31 and doesn't have much time to waste.
Also on the under-card is the re-re-scheduled meeting between talented youngster Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) and Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5), who were originally meant to meet in the 2014 Rookie of the Year. The two were also meant to fight earlier this year. Sadly Hiraoka was forced to pull out of both the previous dates but will be looking to prove a point here. As for Yamaguchi he's going to be wanting to take his frustrations out on the younger man in what could be an under-card classic.
There will also be title action in Okinawa, albeit at a lower level as fans get an OPBF title fight.
That that OPBF title fight will see Japan's Seita Ogido (11-2-2, 3) battle unbeaten Filipino Edward Heno (10-0-4, 4) for the vacant Oriental Light Flyweight title. The title was vacated earlier this, by Ken Shiro ahead of his WBC world title fight with Ganigan Lopez, and the bout to crown a new champion does look like an interesting one. Ogido is seen as a promising youngster in Japan, and fought to a draw with the under-rated Jonathan Refugio earlier this year, suggesting there is talent there. Heno on the other hand is a bit of an unknown quantity, despite being unbeaten in 14 bouts, though he did impress last time out as he claimed the PBF title. This bout really could answer questions about both men.
The chief supporting bout here will see Masatoshi Kotani (20-2, 13) hunt an 11th straight win as he takes on Indonesian visitor Musa Letding (12-6-4, 6) in an 8 rounder. Kotani has been unbeaten since a 9th round stoppage loss to Filipino Cirilo Espino in 2012 and looks to have improved significantly since then. As for Letding he's 0-4 out side of Indonesia and will be looking for his first win on the road.
In another under-card bout we'll see the heavy handed Morihisa Iju (10-2, 8) battle against Masaya Kohama (6-5-1, 3). This bout will be Iju's third of the year, but will see him returning to the ring following a March loss to Ryo Kosaka and it's clear he'll be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats. Despite losing last time time out Iju should be favoured given that Kohama has been stopped in his last 3, with the most recent of those coming last July to Yohei Tobe.
There will also be a small card in the Philippines. The card here is very poor overall but the main event does look interesting as Pedro Taduran (10-1, 7) and Philip Luis Cuerdo (9-3-1, 4) battle for the PBF Minimumweight title in a good looking 10 rounder. Coming in the once beaten Taduran has won his last 4 and has rebuilt well following his first loss however Cuerdo was stopped last time out, whilst leading on the score cards.
Metro Manila, Philippines
The best of the three Asian shows this Sunday comes from the Philippines where we'll get some really intriguing action.
On paper the main event here is bout of the day and will see rising youngster Jonas Sultan (12-3, 8) take on former world champion Sonny Boy Jaro (43-13-5, 30), with Sultan looking to defend his IBF Inter-Continental Super Flyweight title for the first time. Sultan has impressed a lot over the last 2 years or so, with a number of solid wins including stoppages against Tatsuya Ikemizu and Makazole Tete and if he can score a win over Jaro he will potentially find himself on the fringes of the world rankings. Aged 34 Jaro is looking to earn another world title fight, and is on a 9 fight winning streak following a series of setbacks in 2012 and 2013. At his best Jaro is a tough guy to beat, with power, experience and toughness and will be looking to put himself back in the mix with a win over the rising hopeful. A really great match up.
Another really good domestic match up will see the under-rated Richard Pumicpic (18-8, 6) take on former OPBF champion Roli Gasca (23-7-1, 7) in what could be a real thriller, despite what the records suggest. Pumipic was last seen losing an all-action bout against Cesar Juarez last October and has previously given hell to the likes of Ryosuke Iwasa, Yohei Tobe and Allan Tanada. Gasca on the other hand has beaten Hiromasa Ohashi and twice had competitive bouts with Yukinori Oguni, and earned a draw with Akifumi Shimoda. Neither of these two are likely to be future world champions, but both are solid and should be make for a great bout against each other.
Also on this card will be the unbeaten Edward Heno (9-0-4, 3), who looks to claim the Philippines Boxing Federation Light Flyweight title. Heno will be up against fellow unbeaten southpaw Cris Ganoza (12-0, 6) in what looks like another cracking match up on a really good show.
The more notable of two Japanese shows comes from Hyogo where we see a small card featuring a couple of fighters of some note.
The most promising fighter on the show will be rising Bantamweight hopeful Tenta Kiyose (11-2-1, 4), who looks to extend a nice 4 fight unbeaten run as he takes on Taisei Higashi (7-9-1, 5). Kiyose was last seen stopping Ryuta Otsuka in 3 rounds, and has been on a great run since coming up short at the 2015 Rookie of the Year final. Higashi on the other hand has struggled with consistency recently and gone 3-6-1 in his last 10, which doesn't bode well here.,
The other fighter of note is 22 year old Featherweight hopeful Tenmei Serizawa (9-3, 5), who battled against Takuya Yamamoto (7-6, 4). Earlier in his career Serizawa struggled, going 3-3 in his first 6, but has strung together 6 straight wins including a career best 4th round KO win over Hikaru Matsuoka last time which has put him on the map so to speak. On the other hand Yamamoto has struggled recently with a 1-3 run in his last 4, including defeats to Shingo Kawamura and Yuta Uetani. On paper this doesn't look hugely exciting but Yamamoto is better than his record suggests and this could be a very competitive match.
For fans interested in this show it will be part of the Boxingraise subscription sevrice, and will be added on delay.
The other card is a small one form Fukuoka.
In the main event of this card we'll see Yusuke Yamanouchi (8-3-1, 4) battling against a Thai visitor in a 10 rounder. The bout looking to bounce back from an 8 round decision last May to Mitsuyoshi Fujita whilst little is known about the Thai he'll be facing.
The chief supporting bout here is a 6 rounder between Takuya Sugiyama (5-3-1) and Yuta Nakashima (7-10, 2), who fight in a rematch following a very close contest last year. Between them the fighters have a combined 12 wins, with 2 stoppages, and 13 losses, with just 2 of them by stoppage. Although yet to score a stoppage Sugiyama will be favoured to win here with Nakahsima having lost his last 5 in a row, including a loss to Sugiyama last time out, and is without a win in over 6 years!