This coming Monday Japanese fight fans get a genuinely exceptional card, headlined by an OPBF Featherweight title fight, between unbeaten fighters, and stacked with several other notable bouts, including 2 genuinely brilliant support bouts.
The main event of this card will 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (7-0, 7) take on Takuya Uehara (16-0, 10). The bout will be Shimizu's 4th defense of the OPBF Featherweight title and if he wins he's expected to be moved aggressively into a world title fight in the new year. Despite being a stand out amateur Shimizu has looked like a flawed professional, but with his unbeaten record and perfect T/KO run it's hard to double the results, even if the performances haven't been the best. The 23 year old Uehara is a former WBC Youth champion but this is a massive step up in class, and is likely to be his first bout against a genuine puncher. This could be a good test for Shimizu, but one he'll be expected to pass. A full preview of this bout can be found here - Olympic hero Shimizu takes on Uehara in next OPBF title defense!
The co-feature looks even better than the main event, and is a really well balanced match up that should give us a combination between explosive heavy handed blows and skills. The match up pits the very heavy handed Tsuyoshi Tameda (18-3-2, 16) against the incredibly highly skilled Hinata Maruta (7-1-1, 6), in a bout that will likely lead the winner to a regional title fight in 2019. Tameda is the more raw fighter, but also the hard hitting and the one with real explosive power. Maruta is the more skilled man, but has failed to deliver on the promise he has in recent bouts, and some are perhaps not doubting the Morioka man. This really could be something very, very special. A preview of this can be read here - Preview - Maruta and Tameda to fight on December 3rd!
Another interesting all prospect match up is a mouth watering 8 rounder between Taku Kuwahara (2-0, 2) and Takamori Kiyama (2-0, 2), which may well go down as the best match up between a couple of 2-0 fighters ever. As an amateur Kuwahara was a 2-time national champion and the Ohashi gym view him as a potential major player in their gym, this is however a massive step up in class from the Indonesian fighters he has faced in his first two bouts, neither of which have lasted a round. Kiyama, from the Atsumi gym, was also an amateur standout, and he's has looked fantastic since turning professional as well. This is really a risky bout for both fighters but they should both be admired, for willing to risk their "0" against a fellow prospect this early on.
Former Japanese Supe Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (21-6-1, 12) looks to record his 4th straight win, as he takes on the limited Takahiro Araki (12-7, 4). Okada is a faded force to the man who had pushed Takashi Miura hard in 2010 and had gone on to win the Japanese title the following year, running up 3 defenses before losing to Daiki Kaneko. He is however capable against the lower level domestic fighters and will see this as a good chance to score his 22nd professional win. The 31 year old Araki however is no push over and will see this an opportunity to get a win against a former national champion.
The once touted Sho Nakazawa (11-2, 5) looks to continue rebuilding his career after a 2017 loss to Ryo Hino. The former amateur standout will be looking for a second straight win as he takes on Filipino journeyman Jhon Gemino (17-11-1, 7). On paper this looks like a mismatch but Nakazawa really has failed to shine as a professional and Gemino is the sort of fighter who can be a very tricky out. We suspect Nakazawa gets the win, but Gemino won't have travelled to just roll over.
Another prospect on this card is the highly touted Kazuki Nakajima (5-0, 4), who takes a notable step up in class to fight the experienced Yoshihiro Utsumi (15-8-3, 10). So far Nakajima has only been tested one, with Taiga Higashi giving him issues last December, and has otherwise had things all his own way. Utsumi on the hand has collected losses, but has faced tough competition with losses to Yasutaka Ishimoto, Ye Joon Kim and Hiroaki Teshigawara. It's worth noting that coming into this bout Utsumi scored a huge upset win over Hibiki Jogo and is riding a 3 fight stoppage run into this contest.
Metro Manila, Philippines
This coming Thursday our attention turns to the Philippines where we get the chance to see one of the best prospects in world boxing, a regional female title fight, a runner up in the 2017 Japanese Rookie of the Year and experienced local hopeful.
That top prospect is Hinata Maruta (7-1, 6) who is stepping back up in class for the first time since losing in an OPBF title challenger against Hidenori Otake. The talented youngster form the Morioka gym will be taking on OPBF Silver champion Ben Mananquil (16-1-2, 4). Although the bout will be a non-title fight it is a very interesting match up and we suspect the winner of it will be moved into an OPBF title fight towards the end of this year, or very early next year. The Japanese fighter, as mentioned, as only been beaten by Otake whilst the Filipino's only loss has come to Jing Xiang, with that defeat coming in China. We suspect this could be a very special bout between two young, hungry and driven fighters looking to take a huge step forward with their careers.
In a female title bout fans will see Umi Ishikawa (6-2, 4) battle against Wassana Kamdee (3-3, 2) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Female Minimumweight Title. Ishikawa has come up short at title level before, losing to Norj Gurop earlier this year, but she should have too much for Kamdee, who is 0-3 against fight a win on their record. Kamdee has faced the better opponents, including the likes of Yuko Kuroki and Hee Jung Yuh, but we'd still be surprised to see her put that experience to real use here.
Another Japanese fighter with potential on this card is the hard hitting Arashi Iimi (6-1, 6), hwho came runner up in the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Super Bantamweight. The hard hitting 22 year old will be up against limited Filipino Danny Tampipi (8-8-2, 5). Tampipi isn't terrible but as his record suggests he's nothing special either and it's hard to see anything but a win for Iimi, who we think will hit too hard for the local.
Outside of the bouts with Japanese fighters it's worth noting that Glenn Porras (31-7, 19) will be up against Renante Suacasa (7-19, 1). The 32 year old Porras is now a faded force, having lost 3 of his last 5, but should see this as a straight forward win over a man he dropped 3 times less than 2 years ago. Suacasa is a very limited opponent and should be a safe win for Porras, even at this stage of his career.
This coming Sunday is set to be a busy day for fight fans following the Asian boxing scene. There is 3 cards in Japan and a number of Asian fighters in action in Russia.
The most notable of the Japanese cards comes from Kobe where fans will get a Japanese title fight at Minimumweight, with both of the fighters involved looking to claim the vacant title.
That title bout will see the under-rated Ryoki Hirai (10-4-1, 4) battle against former multi-time world title challenger Shin Ono (21-9-3, 5) for the vacant Japanese Minimumweight title. These two are ranked #1 and #2 by the JBC and are fighting for the title that Reiya Konishi vacated earlier this year, so that he could move up in class to fight for the WBA title. Hirai's record is a bit of a mess, but that's because he started his career 3-3-1, before rebuilding and going 7-1. In recent bouts Hirai has beaten the likes of Takumi Sakae and Ryoya Ikema and has really deserved a shot at the title and a chance to shine. As for Ono he has really struggled in recent years, going 4-4-1 in his last 9, though has mixed at a high level with losses to Katsunari Takayama, Kenichi Horikawa, Knockout CP Freshmart and Reiya Konishi. The bout really pits Hirai's youth and hunger against Ono's experience and should be very interesting.
In a supporting bout we'll see Japanese and OPBF ranked Giraffe Kirin Kanda (11-2, 6) take on the limited but heavy handed Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-10-1, 9). Although Kanda should be favoured he has has been stopped before and Miyazaki will have the belief that he has the power to stop Kanda, just like Yuki Nagano did in 2015.
Staying in Hyogo, though going from Kobe to Kawanishi, fight fans will be able to see the next Morioka card, featuring several noteworthy fighters in what will likely be some horrific mismatches.
The main event of the card will see former OPBF title challenger Hinata Maruta (6-1, 5) battle against Indonesian visitor Arega Yunian (6-9, 1), in what looks like a really disappointing match up for the talent Maruta. Despite losing to Hidenori Otake last November Maruta is an exceptional talent and a bout like this will do little to help build that talent, and it feels like he would have been much better off taking on a domestic level fighter than someone like Yunian. The Indonesian has already suffered 6 stoppage losses, all of which have come when he's fought on the road and include stoppages to Ryo Matsumoto and Takashi Igarashi in Japan
As well as Maruta fans will also be able to see former world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (25-7-1, 22) and former Japanese Youth title challenger Naoto Iwai (4-2, 2) both in action, as they each face Thai opponents. Parrenas will be seeking his second win since a 2015 loss to Naoya Inoue, in a bout for the WBO Super Flyweight title, whilst Iwai will be looking to put a poor 2017 behind and begin to rebuild his career.
As well as the action in Hyogo there will also be a low key card in Fukuoka. This card is a pretty weak one in all honesty, but will be headlined by former WBO Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-6-6, 7), who will look to bounce back following back-to-back defeats to Ryuya Yamanaka and Wanheng Menayothin. The former champion, will be up against domestic foe Yuto Takahashi (8-3, 4) in what looks to be a big step down in class. Despite stepping down in levels Fukuhara does deserve an easy one given his run from winning the Japanese title in 2015 to today has seen him facing 3 unbeaten men, two current world champions and two other fringe world class fighters. Takahashi hasn't shown he can compete at the top of the domestic level and although this is a big chance for him to make a mark, it's very hard to see how he can over-come the under-rated Fukuhara.
As well as the Japanese action there is also a lot of Asian interest in a Russian card, with several notable fighters in action.
The main event of the card looks set to be a special kind of bout, as Indonesian warrior Daud Yordan (37-3-0-1, 25) takes on unbeaten Russian Pavel Malikov (13-0, 5) in a really good looking 12 round bout. Yordan seems to have been around around forever but at 30 years old he still has some time on his side to get a second world title fight, following a set back against Chris John back in 2011, and a win against Malikov might be what he needs to get a crack at a world champion. As for Malikov he has been in some great bouts recently, and his last two have been razor thing wins over Daiki Kaneko, in an under-rated 2017 war, and Deiner Berrio. Malikov is certainly beatable, but whether Yordan will be the man to beat him is yet to be seen. It's worth nothing that both of these men hold world rankings and the bout is essentially a world title eliminator.
In a great support bout we'll see unbeaten men collide, with Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (10-0, 5) battling Leonardo Padilla (16-0, 12) for the vacant WBA Asia Super Featherweight Title. Uulu is a Kyrgyzstan born Russian based fighter who has struggled at times but appears to be improving and has got the talent to go a long way, if he can correct some defensive flaws. Those defensive flaws could be a major problem here however as Padilla, like many fighters from Venezuela, can bang with 8 stoppages in his last 10. We'll be honest and admit we're unsure how the Venezuelan qualifies for a WBA Asia title but that can't take away from what looks like a really exciting match up.
Another battle of unbeaten men will see Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov (2-0, 2) take on Georgian Merab Turkadze (5-0, 2). The Uzbek looks to be a natural prospect and was a solid amateur before making his debut at the end of last year. So far Umurzakov has fought only 2 rounds, taking both of his opponents out with brutal left hands to the body in the opening round. It's always hard to know what you get with a Georgian fighter but given that Umurzakov is scheduled to fight again in May it seems like his team are confident of another quick win here.
One other bout of note will see Russian novice Mekhdi Abdurashedov (1-0) take on the once touted Iwan Zoda (14-3-1, 13) of Indonesia. At one point Zoda looked like a star in the making, and his 2015 win over Petchchorhae Kokietgym was a sensational performance. Sadly though he has gone 1-2-1 in his last 4 and really is fighting an up hill battle to remain relevant. It's unclear how good Abdurashedov is, but this is a big step up for the Russian and hopefully Zoda will show of the skills that got many of us excited when he was younger
In Bangkok fight fans will get the chance to see a number of fights involving visiting Japanese fighters. Sadly their opponents, all of which are locals, are un-named at the present moment, but the show is worthy of note due to the quality of the Japanese fighters.
The main event will see the hotly tipped Hinata Maruta (5-1, 4) fight for the first time since he lost in an OPBF title fight against Hidenori Otake. The bout is expected to be a simple confidence builder for Maruta who will likely be seeking a rematch with Otake in 2018. Despite the loss last time out he's still one of the most naturally talented young fighters on the planet and it would be a huge shock to see anything but a win here from Maruta.
Maruta's stablemate Naoto Iwai (3-2, 1) will be on the show, and will be trying to end a 2-fight skid. The talented Iwai once looked like a prospect on his way through the ranks but losses to Ryosuke Nasu and Kenya Yamashita have slowed the 20 year old down. He'll be hoping for a win here and then a step up back in Japan in 2018 as he looks to rebuild his career as quickly as possible.
One other fighter of note on this card is former Japanese title challenger Takumi Sakae (17-2-1, 12). The talented Sakae has won his last 3 by stoppage but did have a frustrating 2016, in which he went 1-2-1, and will clearly be trying to string together another win before the start of 2018, as he continues to chase a second title fight.
The show of the the day, for us at least, is in Tokyo where we get a pair of OPBF title fights, both of which are well matched, and one of which could be the coming out party for one of the best natural talents in the sport today.
The headline bout sees the teak tough Hidenori Otake (29-2-3, 13) making his second defense of the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on the hotly tipped youngster Hinata Maruta (5-0, 4). Otake, best known for going 12 rounds with Scott Quigg in the UK, will be viewing this bout as his next step towards a second world title fight and a chance to prove that he's still a top fighter despite being in his mid 30's. On the other hand Maruta is a young novice who has long been tipped as one of the Japanese stars of the future. The bout might be too much too soon for Maruta, or it could be the bout that sees him announce himself as being as good as advertised, and potentially a man who has the ability to go all the way to the top. It's going to be a special bout and something that deserves real attention.
The other title bout will see OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (10-2-1, 4) making his first defense, as he battles once touted Filipino for Jobert Alvarez (17-2-1, 7). For Nakayama the bout is a really tough first defense, but a winnable one against Alvarez, who was stopped by Miguel Cartagena inside around a few fights back. Both of these can box, though we're expecting to see a bit of a battle, with the later rounds expected to be very exciting as both men put it on the line in an attempt to come away with the title.
San Juan, Argentina
Another title bout of note comes from Argentina, as Japan's Yunoka Furukawa (9-1-2, 6) challenges IBF female Flyweight champion Leonela Paola Yudica (12-0-3). The Japanese fighter, a current champion at Atomweight, will be moving up in weight for the bout and taking part in her first bout outside of Asia. The bout is a tough ask for the Japanese battler but she can't be ruled out, and certainly has the edge in power against the technically well schooled, but some what negative Yudica.
There's also set to be a very notable card in Australia featuring a number of Asian fighters, of various abilities.
One of the most interesting of the match ups on paper will see Joel Camilleri (14-4, 7) battle against China's Yao Yi Ma (15-2, 10). The local has had a mixed career, fighting against limited foe's and although he is riding a 5 fight winning streak a win here would be a career best. For Mathe bout is a chance to bounce back from last November's loss to Dennis Hogan, in what was Ma's last outing. On paper this looks competitive and we're expecting to see something really exciting here.
Another good looking contender on paper will see recent OPBF Lightweight title challenger Kaewfah Tor Buamas (25-2, 16) take on Australian hopeful George Kambosos Jnr (12-0, 6). Of the two men it's Kaewfah who is the more experienced, and more proven, having given Masayoshi Nakatani a decent test earlier this year and holding wins over the likes of Andrew Wallace and Jason Butar Butar. Despite a relative lack of experience Kambosos has looked really good and has wins of note over fighters like Brandon Ogilvie and Qamil Balla.
In a female bout we'll see Thai Petcharas Superchamp (7-5, 1) take on the excellent Susie Ramadan (26-2, 11). This will be a huge ask for Thai, who has lost 3 of her last 4, but she will be travelling knowing that this is a chance for her to put in a good performance on foreign soil. Aged 38 Ramadan has likely started on the downslope of her career but should still have too much for the visitor.
One other bout that looks good on paper will see the once beaten Tiger Tor Buamas (19-1, 14) take on the always exciting Joel Brunker (31-2, 18). Tiger is a limited fighter, but at 31 there is some live there and he does know his way around the ring, however he has spent much of his career fighting at a very low level. As for Brunker he was once eyed as possible world title challenger, but with 2 losses in his last 6 those hopes do look a long way from reality and at 31 years old his style is potentially set to catch up on him.
In Osaka we get the next Morioka gym card.
In the main event we'll see the sensationally gifted Hinata Maruta (4-0, 3) defending his WBC Youth Bantamweight title against Indonesian champion Hamson Tiger Lamandau (8-0, 5). The talented Maruta will be looking to record his second defense of the title and has openly stated that he has his eyes on more significant titles later in the year. Whilst Lamandau is relatively unknown it's clear that this will be a huge opportunity for him and a win would put him on the boxing map. The bout is an interesting one and another one for Maruta, who has really impressed throughout his career so far.
Another highly touted prospect on this card is unbeaten teenager Naoto Iwai (3-0, 1), who looks to score his first win against a domestic foe, as he takes on Ryosuke Nasu (6-2-2, 1). Although Iwai hasn't yet faced a domestic foe he has looked good against Filipino fighters, including Donny Mabao, and some are tipping him as a star of the future. In Nasu we have a fighter who is looking to bounce back from an opening round blow out to Masamichi Yabuki. Coming in Iwai will be the clear favourite but this should prove to be a good test.
Another notable fighter on this card is Middleweight Brandon Lockhart Shane (7-5-1, 6), who will be in against a Thai foe.
In Aichi we'll see the first round of the Central Japanese Rookie of the Year shows. The card doesn't have much in terms of name value but will feature some well matched, as the Rookie shows always do.
The best of the bouts will see once beaten Southpaw Masaki Sasaki (3-1, 1) battle the unbeaten Shuto Takase (3-0, 1) in one of two Featherweight bouts. Sasaki started his career with 3 straight wins but was beaten last time out, when Yudai Imada stopped him in 4 rounds. Takase, who is just 20, will be looking to continue his nice start, but did struggle last time out when he just squeaked past Japanese based Filipino Miguel Ocampo.
The other bout we'd like to make a note of is an all-debutant match up between Tatsuki Toyoshima (0-0) and Sadayuki Kai (0-0). Both fighters will be looking to get their careers off to a good start and this Super Bantamweight bout could be very entertaining.
New South Wales, Australia
There will also be a card in Australia where the unbeaten Haithem Laamouz (8-0, 3) battles against Indonesian veteran Roy Tua Manihuruk (19-16-2, 15). The unbeaten Laamouz will be faxing, arguably, his best opponent to date, but should have no issues at all in getting past the limited fighter from Bengkulu.
The best show of the week, and one of the best of the month, comes on Wednesday when Morioka and Mutoh co-promote a great show with 5 title bouts in Osaka.
The “main event” of the show will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Takayuki Hosokawa (28-10-5, 9) look for his second defense of the title as he takes on fellow Japanese fighter Yutaka Oishi (13-5, 7). The bout will see Hosokawa looking for a much better performance than his last one, a hard fought struggle for a draw with Koshinmaru Saito, however there are some suggesting he is at the very end of his career with injuries and accumulated damage adding up. For Oishi this is a great opportunity to claim a major title, but he will be the big under-dog here.
The most exciting fighter on the card is 19 year old hopeful Hinata Maruta (3-0, 2), who looks to make his first defense of the WBC Youth Bantamweight. The talented Japanese youngster will be up against Filipino southpaw Joe Tejones (6-1, 2) in what should be a chance to Maruta to get rounds against a southpaw. From what we under-stand a win here will see Maruta progress towards either a Japanese, an OPBF or a WBO Asia Pacific title fight in 2017 with his team actively chasing tougher assignments. For Tejones the bout is a big step up and it's hard to see what he'll have to test Maruta.
The other OPBF title fight will see Middleweight champion Dwight Ritchie (14-0-0-4, 1) make the first defense of his title as he takes on the limited but heavy handed Japanese slugger Koki Tyson (10-2-2, 10). Ritchie won the title earlier this year in Japan, where he defeated Hikaru Nishida, and will be hoping for more success here. He is however up against a very different type of fighter here with Nishida being a basic pressure fighter whilst Tyson is a boxer-puncher, sadly for Tyson he is rather limited and comes into this on the back of a very poor performance against Joon Yong Lee.
In a WBO Super Flyweight Asia Pacific title bout we'll see former world title challengers face off as Japan's Hirofumi Mukai (12-4-3, 2) battles Thailand's Inthanon Sithchamuang (30-8-1, 18). Mukai has twice fought for world titles in Thailand, having a technical draw with Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and suffering a stoppage loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and has struggled against other notable opponents like Shohei Omori and Mark Anthony Geraldo. Inthanon on the other hand is best known for losing to Kohei Kono earlier this year, and has suffered other losses in Japan, where he is yet to score a win.
At Flyweight we'll see the unbeaten, and genuinely promising, Masahiro Sakamoto (8-0, 4) take on the once beaten Sho Kimura (12-1-2, 6) for the WBO Asia Pacific title. Sakamoto has been unbeaten since his debut back in December 2014, and has won the 2015 Rookie of the Year and holds wins over Atsushi Aburada and Il Che. As for Kimura he was beaten in his debut but has gone 14 fights unbeaten since fighting 3 of those bouts in Thailand. This is the first title bout for both men and should tell us a lot about both fighters.
In a notable non-title bout on the card we'll see exciting prospect Naoto Iwai (2-0, 1) take on Filipino veteran Donny Mabao (22-27-3, 4) in a 6 rounder. The bout is a good step up for Iwai, who was last seen beating Juan Purisima in the Philippines, and a win here is likely to see Iwai move into 8 rounders in 2017, with the teenager already showing glimpses of real talent like stablemate Maruta
This coming Sunday sees Japanese attention turn to Osaka with the Sumiyoshi Ward Center playing host to two different shows, one after the other. The first is a Morioka card whilst the second is a Mutoh card.
To us the most interesting bout from the first show will see fast rising Japanese teenager Hinata Maruta (2-0, 1) go for his first professional title, as he faces unbeaten Filipino Wilbert Berondo (10-0, 4) for the WBC Youth Bantamweight title. The bout is, on paper, a huge step up for Berondo but the pressure will be on Maruta, who is tipped by many to be one of the next stars of Japanese boxing. Unfortunately very little is known about Berondo with even our Filipino friends admitting they know very little about him and the footage available shows a raw slugger.
Another interesting bout on this card will see Japanese based Korean fighter Teiru Atsumi (10-1, 4) battle Filipino visitor Dennis Tubieron (19-7-2, 8). Tubieron has been picking up losses recently, including a loss earlier this year to Ryosuke Iwasa. Atsumi is relatively unknown but impressed last time out when he stopped the touted Sho Nakazawa and some are suggesting he is one of the top two Korean prospects still in Asia, along with Ye Joon Kim. If he can add Tubieron to his record Atsumi really will be riding a high into the end of the year, and may well see his team try secure him a title fight in the near future.
On the second card we have another title bout, but one that perhaps doesn't quite have the same excitement as the Maruta/Berondo bout.
This time it's the case of OPBF Light Middleweight champion Takayuki Hosokawa (28-10-4, 9) facing off against multi-time title challenger Koshinmaru Saito (23-8-1, 13). For Hosokawa this will be his first defense, following his career defining victory late last year against Dennis Laurente to claim the Oriental title. For Hosokawa a good performance here may help open the door to a world title fight, with the Japanese fighter very highly ranked by the IBF, however Saito enters this bout knowing this will be his last chance at winning a world title.
In a supporting bout fans will see former world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (12-4-2, 2) battle against Ryotaro Kawabata (11-2-1, 5) in what is a really good, well matched contest. The bout sees two well matched men facing off in a bout that neither can really afford to lose. For Mukai the bout is his second since losing to Shohei Omori in a Japanese title fight whilst Kawabata looks to extend a 4 fight unbeaten run.
In a small step up the unbeaten Masahiro Sakamoto (7-0, 4) will be up against Il Che (7-11-5, 1). Che has lost his last 3, and only, has a single win in his last 8 but has proven to be a good test for prospects and gave Genki Hania Hanai a good run out back in March, we suspect the same will be the case here.
One fight we're not expecting to go the distance will see Japanese Middleweight puncher Koki Tyson (10-2-1, 10) face Korean Joon Yong Lee (5-4-3, 3). This will be Lee's second bout in Japan, following a loss in May to Ryosuke Maruki and although he went the distance, in a competitive bout with Maruki, we don't see him being able to take Tyson's power here.
This coming Sunday is a busy day in Japanese boxing with a trio of shows.
Arguably the most talented fighter in action for the day is the 18 year old Hinata Maruta (1-0) who looks to score his second win in the professional ranks. The talented Morioka Gym fighter defeated the world ranked Jason Canoy on his debut and now looks to score an easy win as he takes on unknown Thai Krunsing Kaolamlekgym (0-0). A win here is expected for Maruta who is targeting a WBC Youth title fight for the summer. Given so little is known about Krunsing there is little doubt that Maruta will be looking to start cautiously before hunting a stoppage in the later rounds of the bout.
The under-card here isn't that notable however there are a couple of bouts worth noting. One of those will see former world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (11-4-2, 1) face off against Toshikuni Wake (8-15-3,2) in what should be an easy win for Mukai. Once touted as a potential champion Mukai's career has failed to really kick on after an early career win over Sonny Boy Jaro and he's now looking to avoid successive defeats. Wake has been stopped in his last two, and has only 2 wins in the last 5 years.
Another under-card bout sees Japanese based American Brandon Lockhart Shane (6-4, 5) in action against Songthaya Kaolamlekgym (0-0). Although not the best of fighters the American has an infectious personality and we really do wish him all the best against his Thai opponent.
Another of the Japanese cards comes from Miyazaki where fans are set to get a trio of 8 rounders.
The most notable of those bouts takes place at Featherweight and will see former Japanese Bantamweight title challenger Kinshiro Usui (24-4, 10) take on Yosuke Kawano (10-4-2, 4). Aged 36 Usui is fighting for his career and knows that he's only a few wins from a potential Japanese title fight, on the other hand Kawano, who is unbeaten in 4, will know he's just hitting his stride at 27 and will be looking to record the biggest win of his career.
In the co-feature recent Japanese Light Flyweight title challenger Hayato Yamaguchi (13-6-1, 2) will fight Yamato Uchinono (6-4-5, 4). On paper this should be a straight forward win for the JBC ranked Yamaguchi however he has gone 1-2 in his last 3, including a stoppage loss to Yu Kimura, and Uchinono, for all his limitations, is a puncher. On the other hand Uchinono has been stopped in 2 of his last 3 bouts, and has been stopped in all 4 of his defeats.
Another bout of note sees JBC ranked 154lb fighter Hironobu Matsunaga (8-1, 4) face off against Hiroshi Ohashi (7-8, 3). This looks likely to be a clear win for Matsunaga, who will be looking to work his way towards a title fight in the coming months. Interestingly Ohashi has won just once in the last 9 years, however he has spent much of that time out of the ring.
Arguably the least interesting of the Japanese cards is in Hyogo where there's only really one bout of note.
That one notable bout sees Japanese and OPBF ranked Light Flyweight Toshimasa Ouchi (19-8-3, 5) face off against Akiyoshi Kanazawa (13-4-4, 7), in what is a really well matched 8 round bout. The winner of this one will be looking to secure a title fight later in the year however both are a long way from being the best in either Japan or the Orient at 108lbs.
The best of 5 Japanese shows this Sunday is from Osaka where we get arguably the toughest debut in recent years as well as an OPBF title fight and a bout that looks to be a tune up bout for a title fight in 2016.
That debut bout is the long awaited debut of teenager Hinata Maruta (0-0). The very highly touted youngster goes up against the world ranked Jason Canoy (24-5-2, 18), who is heavy handed and has never been stopped. Maruta is dubbed “The #1 Hope” and has received a lot of attention in Japan but there is a good chance that he has bit off more than he can chew here against Canoy, who is best known for stopping Drian Francisco in just 132 seconds. This is a baptism of fire but if Maruta wins then he'll have immediately made a statement of the highest order.
Whilst the Maruta/Canoy bout is the most exciting it's not actually the main event. That's an OPBF Light Middleweight title fight between the tough Dennis Laurente (49-6-5, 30), the defending champion, and former Japanese champion Takayuki Hosokawa (27-10-4, 9). This is a really intriguing bout even though the champion is 38 and best known for suffering a shut out loss to John Jackson on a PBC show. Laurente will be hoping to record the first defense of his title whilst Hosokoawa will likely be looking to close his career on a high, with rumours swirling that he'll retire win or lose here, due to issues with his eye.
The tune up bout sees former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Masao Nakamura (20-3, 19) battle against Thailand's Daorung Sithsoei (0-6), who's record is believed to be very incomplete. Nakamura has made it known that he wants a Japanese title fight and could well be looking at the winner of the upcoming Rikkie Naito/Kenichi Ogawa fight as his target for 2016. Coming into this one Nakamura is looking to build on his sensational win against Daiki Kaneko, in what is still a front runner for the Japanese FOTY.
Also on this card will be Korean hopeful Tae Il Kim (5-0, 1). Kim, who will be fighting under the name Teiru Atsumi, will be making his Japanese debut against Songkramchai Ektinakorn (0-1) and be fighting for the first time in 21 months, despite the lay off he is expected to shine in what is hoped to be a very promising career.
The second most notable show in Japan comes from Kumamoto where we get a weak card with a notable main event.
That main event is a Japanese Minimumweight title fight between Tatsuya Fukuhara (15-4-5, 6) and Hiroya Yamamoto (9-3, 3). The two men are fighting for a title that was recently vacated by Go Odaira and although neither are big names both men have faced solid fighters, with Fukuhara having mixed with Takuma Inoue and Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr whilst Yamamoto has faced Odaira and Xiong Zhao Zhong. It's fair to say neither man is expected to move on to being a true world champion but we suspect the winner will compete in a world title fight somewhere down the line.
The first of two shows at the Shinjuku FACE is a small card put on reason and will be headlined by a couple of 8 round bouts.
One of those 8 rounders will see Japanese and OPBF ranked Featherweight hopeful Ryuto Araya (8-3-1, 1) battle Takuya Yamaguchi (9-9, 7). Although not the best fighter Araya is ranked due to his most recent bout, a win over Kazunori Takayama, and he has shown issues in other bouts, including a 2nd round TKO loss to Daisuke Watanabe. Yamaguchi on the other hand is fighting for the second after a long lay off, which began when he went 1-4 including a loss to Shingo Wake. On paper this is a mismatch though we suspect it could actually be very competitive.
The other will see Japanese ranked Keita Nakano (13-10, 4) put his Bantamweight ranking on the line against Keigo Soma (7-11-1, 4). On paper this looks a more competitive match up than the other bout and could well be the show stealing bout, despite the less than stellar records of the men involved.
The second show at the Shinjuku FACE features just one a single 8 rounder as Minoru Matsuo (6-4, 3) battles Chikashi Hayashizaki (6-5-1, 2) in what looks like a competitive lower level bout.
Whilst the main event is an 8 rounder we're more interested in a 6 rounder which will see veteran Keita Manabe (26-6-1, 22) battle against novice Yuya Shimakura (5-1-1, 2). Manabe, a former Japanese title challenger, will be fighting for the first time in more than 6 years and although on paper he should be favoured he has scored a win since 2007! Shimakura on the other hand has shown potential and the 20 year old could become someone to keep an eye on.
Another minor show comes from Aichi and features a pair of headlining 8 rounders.
The most notable of those sees Japanese ranked 140lb'der Shinichi Tsukahara (10-7-3, 5) battling against Yuta Maruoka (9-3, 4). Coming into this one Tsukahara has won his last two bouts but has been stopped in 4 of his losses and at 31 it's a time where any loss could cost him a potential title shot. Maruoka however should be a safe opponent, and he's winless in almost 4 years.
The other 8 rounder will see Minimumweight hopeful Jun Takigawa (7-1, 4) take on Takeshi Sone (5-3-3, 1). Takigawa should be heavily favoured here and he did have an excellent 2014, which saw him narrowly lose in the All Rookie final to Reiya Konishi. Sone's recent form has seen him go 0-1-2 though he has faced decent competition.