After a rather quiet June we see action really pick up in July, and to begin with we get a stacked Ohashi card with a wonderful mix of notable names, novice prospects interesting match ups.
The main event will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (13-0, 10) making his first defense of the title, as he takes on the limited but fun to watch Ryuji Ikeda (14-5-3, 9). Inoue, the cousin of Naoya and Takuma Inoue, won the title earlier this year, when he out pointed veteran Valentine Hosokawa and has suggested that he's wanting to put on a fun fight for fans here. Ikeda can punch, but is defensively open and we suspect he has been selected as an opponent to make Inoue look good. A full preview of this bout can be read here Inoue takes on Ikeda in Japanese title defense
An excellent supporting bout will see the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda (19-4-2, 17) take on Japanese based Korean Tae Il Atsumi (16-2, 8). Whilst the main event looks like it will be an easy one to pick the winner in this bout is the opposite, with a real 50-50 feel to the bout. Atsumi is a tough, aggressive and skilled with a lot of potential whilst Tameda is an explosive puncher, but one who hasn't looked was stopped last December, by Hinata Maruta, and didn't look his most destructive in his March win over Renerio Arizala.
The once touted Sho Nakazawa (12-3, 6) has a must must win bout as he takes on Jinya Ito (7-5-1, 2). Nakazawa was a solid Japanese amateur but with 3 losses in his last 7 bouts, including one to Tae Il Atsumi, and he looks like his potential won't be realised due to real question marks about his durability. Ito should pose no real threat, and has lost 5 of his last 8, but Nakazawa needs to do more than "just win", he needs to look good.
Touted prospect Katsuya Yasuda (3-0, 2) takes on his biggest test as he faces off with Japanese based Filipino foe Jerry Castroverde (10-6, 5). The talented Yasuda has a lot of potential, but has had issues with inactivity and at 27 years old now he needs to kick on and try to make the most of his potential, likely why Ohashi has matched him with Castroverde. The 22 year old Castroverde is a good young test for anyone at this level, and although he has lost 4 of his last 5 he should ask questions of Yasuda
Another touted prospect on this card is Taku Kuwahara (4-0, 3), who looks to continue his winning run as he takes on domestic foe Kyomu Hamagami (4-2-2, 4). The 24 year old Kuwaha really impressed us last December, when he beat Takamori Kiyama over 8 rounds, but since then his competition hasn't been the best and we're really hoping to see him stepping up again before the year is over. He's a real talent who should be pushed hard and fast. The 22 year old Hamagami is limited, but the guy can punch, and could, potentially, give Kuwahara his first chin check, though we do suspect the unbeaten man to be too sharp to really be tested by the hard hitting but technically limited younger fighter.
Interestingly one of the worst looking bouts on paper may end up being one of the most interesting. The bout in questions sees Ohashi puncher Kentaro Endo (7-9-1, 6) take on the in form Fumisuke Kimura (9-4, 6). Endo is very limited, but really can punch and will be looking to take Kimura out. Kimura on the other hand comes into this bout following big domestic wins over Hayato Ono and Giraffe Kirin Kanda, which have pushed him to the verge of a Japanese title fight. This could be very exciting and very explosive.
After June this card is an ideal way to kick off a packed July!