In Tokyo on February 17th we'll get a low key card in the Tokyo area, taking place in the Arena Tachikawa Tachihi.
In the main event fans will see hard hitting Japanese ranked Light Welterweight Hayato Ono (8-2, 8) take on the little known Fumisuke Kimura (7-4, 4) in an 8 round contest. Coming into this Ono has been in a rich vein of form, stopping his last 3 opponents, and put a loss in the 2016 Rookie of the Year final well behind him. Ono's not the toughest fighter, but wins over Noriaki Sato and Ryusei Nakajima have put the 22 year old on a good course to a title fight. Kimura, 31, has never been stopped but has been beaten in 3 of his last 4, and was shut out by Andy Hiraoka a year ago. Although tough we do expect this to be a real test of Kimura's chin, grit and determination.
Also on this card is a fantastically competitive looking match up between Shunsuke Isa (6-1-1, 1) and Yuni Takada (6-3-1, 3), in a 6 round contest. The 20 year old Isa has gone unbeaten in 3 fights following an opening round loss to Retsu Akabane during the East Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017, and is a talent even if he is a very light puncher. Takada, who is also 20, has lost to the likes of Tatsuro Nakashima and Tomoki Shibanuma. He's a slightly harder puncher than Isa, but was beaten last time out ending a 5 fight winning run.
Also on this card is Taichi Ueno (6-3, 3), who will be facing Thai visitor Chinathip Thawiphun (1-3-1). The 21 year old Ueno, who looks to bounce back from a stoppage loss to Gakuya Furuhashi, is unlikely to really be tested here as he takes on Chinathip, who is 0-2 outside of Thailand and was stopped last time out.
For a second day running we get a show dedicated to the Japanese Youth Tournament, with 3 finals and two semi finals taking place on a show that really looks brilliant on paper in regards to even match ups, even if the card lacks bit name appeal.
On paper the best of the bouts is the Flyweight final, which pits two unbeaten punchers against each other in a real humdinger. In one corner is 2016 Flyweight Rookie of the year Junto Nakatani (12-0, 9), who had to answer real questions last time out against Yuma Kudo in his semi-final bout. In the opposite corner is 2015 Light Flyweight Rookie of the year Seigo Yuri Akui (11-0-1, 7), who enters on the back of 5 stoppage wins including a huge one over Kenji Ono and a solid showing in his semi final against Ryuto Oho. This has the potential to be the best bout of the whole Youth Tournament and is a really tough one to call.
At Super Bantamweight we're expecting a full on shoot out as 21 year old Ryota Ishida (8-1, 6) takes on 22 year old Takuya Mizuno (11-1-1,11). Ishida has stopped his last 3, and hasn't seen the final bell since he was fighting in 4 rounders, more than 2 years ago. Mizuno has stopped his last 4 foes, and has shown power through out fights with stoppages in rounds every round from 1 to 6. This promises to be be a hard hitting bout, and although we favour Mizuno, it could go either way, and should be a real treat.
On paper the worst of the finals is at Bantamweight, where the recently beaten pairing of Wataru Takeda (10-1-1, 4) and Yuto Nakamura (7-3, 6) face off. Takeda was beaten last October, just 2 fights back, by Ryohei Takakhashi after claiming the 2015 Rookie of the year, and although he has shown some signs of being a real prospect there are still a lot of questions left for him to answer. Although beaten 3 times Nakamura has never been outclassed, with all 3 losses being razor thin ones and he will be in there looking to make a statement. This looks like the worst of the finals for the day, but should still deliver a great contest.
At Light Welterweight we get two semi-final bouts. One of those will see the once beaten Ukyo Yoshigai (5-1, 4) take on Andy Hiraoka (9-0, 6) in a really interesting contest. Yoshigai, who won the 2016 Rookie of the year, was beaten back in April by Giraffe Kirin Kanda, but that loss will have helped his development. Hiraoka on the other hand has looked great in recent bouts, but has only fought 10 rounds since the end of 2014, and it's hard to know how good he really is, even if he does pass the eye test with ease.
The other bout looks like a potential fire fight as Hayato Ono (5-1, 5) battles Takahiko Kobayashi (6-2, 5). Between the two men they have heard the final bell just once, in what was Kobayashi's most recent bout. Ono will see this as a potential chance to set up a rematch with Yoshigai, the only man to have beaten him, whilst Kobayashi will be looking to avenge a 2016 loss to Ono, in which he was stopped in the 5th round. There's history here, two punchers, and two men who have questionable durability. With this one the best advice is don't blink!
This coming Friday Japanese fans get two different shows, one of which is a major domestic event, whilst the other is just a low profile card.
The key event of the day comes from the Korakuen Hall and is the final of the 2017 Rookie of the Year, with the winners of the bouts being crowned the All-Japanese champion. In total their will be 12 bouts, taking place from Minimumweight to Middleweight and will likely set the scene for several notable prospects going into 2017. We won't go through all 12 bouts, but we have picked some of the most interesting on paper.
At 140lbs we'll see unbeaten punchers collide as 20 year old Hayato Ono (5-0, 5) risks his perfect KO record against 19 year old Ukyo Yoshigai (4-0, 3). The bout is almost certainly going to see both guys letting bombs go from the off. Ono has stopped his 5 opponents in a combined 10 rounds, with 3 opening round victories, Yoshigai has also fought just 10 rounds, though has scored a trio of 2nd round wins. This is going to be explosive!
Another potentially explosive bout between unbeaten fighters will see 18 year old Junto Nakatani (8-0, 7) battle with Masamichi Yabuki (3-0, 3) in a Flyweight contest. Nakatani has scored 5 stoppages this year, in a combined 9 rounds, and looks to be a natural born puncher. Yabuki has amazingly fought less than 6 minutes as a professional and has stopped his first 3 opponents in the opening round. This could be another enthralling and explosive contest.
Whilst not all the bouts promise the same explosive action as the two about the bouts are all significant and not a single fighter involved has a losing record!
The low profile card comes from Hyogo and is promoted by Amagasaki Promotions.
In the main event of this card we'll see the once beaten Yuki Iriguchi (6-1-1, 3) facing off with an unknown Thai foe, in what is expected to be little more than a confidence builder for the Japanese fighter. Iriguchi has gone 1-1-1 in his last 3, with that loss being an opening round blow out to the really exciting Hibiki Jogo. With so little known about the Thai we can't say much, but it's clear that Iriguchi's team are wanting him to end the year with a second successive win.
In the chief support bout we get a competitive looking contest between Tomoya Itosu (6-2, 3) and Shoji Nakamura (4-2-1, 2). Itosu has won his last 3 but those 3 bouts have come over the last 3 years and his career has really lacked activity and consistency, Nakamura has won his last 2, and is unbeaten in more than a year. This could be a genuinely enjoyable bout.