The biggest show, for us, on Thursday will take place at the Korakuen Hall and feature a trio of title bouts.
The headlining bout will see OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (20-2, 7) defending his title for the second time, as he takes on fellow Japanese fighter Daishi Nagata (11-1-1, 5), in his first title bout. Naito won the title in January, when he stopped Jeffrey Arienza, and only just managed to retain the belt in May, when he narrowly defeated Jheritz Chavez in what was a very fortunate win that saw the Japanese fighter having a torrid final few rounds. Coming in to this Nagata is riding a 3 fight winning run, but was dominated in April 2017 when Vladimir Baez walked through him and stopped him in 7 rounds. That bout showed that Nagata wasn't the toughest, but he is skilled and this could be a lot more competitive than many suspect. Neither is much of a puncher but both are highly skilled and this should make for a really good contest. A preview of this bout can be read here Naito takes on Nagata in next OPBF title defense!
The co-main event of this card is an OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight, as the exciting Hiroaki Teshigawara (17-2-2, 10) takes on the inform Glenn Suminguit (21-3, 11) of the Philippines. The hard hitting always fun to watch Teshigawara is currently riding a 5 fight winning run, including wins over Keita Kurihara, Jason Canoy and Teiru Kinoshita, but this bout will see him moving up in weight, following his impressive run at Bantamweight. Suminguit on the other hand is 9-1in his last 10, with notable wins of his own over the likes of Lloyd Jardeliza, Renoel Pael and Alvin Bais. The Filipino will be the under-dog here, but will not be in Tokyo to make up the numbers and really could give Teshigawara fits in an action packed contest. - A full preview of this bout can be read here - Teshigawa hunts OPBF title as he faces Suminguit!
A third title bout on this card will see the unbeaten Ryuto Owan (5-0, 3) take on fellow youngster Tetsu Araki (11-1-1, 2) in a bout for the JBC Youth Bantamweight title. The 20 year old Owan was a stand out amateur at the youth level before making his professional debut last year. Since debuting he has shined and scored notable wins already over both Alvin Medura and Jun Blazo, leading to some in Japan getting very excited about him. Coming in to this Araki has won his last 7, since a split decision loss to Tenta Kiyose in September 2015. Araki isn't as highly regarded as Owan, but he does have the edge in experience and at 23 he should be just a tough more physically mature.
As well as the exciting card in Tokyo there is also a notable card in China with a couple of title fights.
One of those title fights will see the unbeaten Mingcun Chen (4-0, 4) face off with Clint Alderton (8-2-1, 6) in a bout for the WBF international Light Heavyweight title. The unbeaten Chinese fighter made his debut last November and has never gone between 2 rounds thanks to his power. This is however a huge step up in class for the 20 year old. Alderton is himself a solid puncher, but is 1-1-1 (1) in his last 3 and whilst he can bank there are question marks about his heart and his overall ability.
The other title bout will see the unbeaten Ziqiang Huo (7-0-1) taking on the limited Gregory Bell (4-3, 1) in a bout for the WBC Australasian Welterweight title. Aged 29 Huo is in his physical prime, but really lacks power and is without a stoppage through his 8 fight career. Bell on the other hand has shown a little bit of power, but the reality is that he's proven his ability either and we suspect that this could have messy distance bout written all over it.
In the US Kazakh prospect Ali Akhmedov (12-0, 9) will essentially be fighting in a stay busy bout, as he faces off against the limited Jovany Javier Gomez (17-14, 11). Gomez is a blown up Light Welterweight and shouldn't pose any threat at all to the excellent Akhmedov, who deserves a much better opponents than Gomez.
This coming Thursday Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall get a triple header of title fights, and whilst none are massive, all three look like they will be solid bouts, where both men have some to gain and something to lose.
One of the main bouts will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Hiroaki Teshigawara (16-2-2, 9) defends his belt for the second time, battling against former 2-time world title challenger Teiru Kinoshita (26-2-1, 9). For the hard hitting, and really exciting, Teshigawara this will be his second defense following a win in a brilliant bout against Jason Canoy back in February. The champion will know that a win here moves him a step closer to a world title fight, but a loss will be a massive hit to his career, and be a major set back. As for Kinoshita, who has lost in world title fights to Zolani Tete and Jerwin Ancajas, this is a must win. A loss for Kinoshita now would essentially kill any dreams of getting another shot at a world title, and would be his third loss against a notable fighter in less than 4 years, which is sadly a 4 year period without a single win of note. We don't imagine Kinoshita will pose much of a threat to Teshigawara but could have the skills to ask some questions of the champion.
Another WBO Asia Pacific title fight will be at Super Flyweight, as former Japanese national champion Ryuichi Funai (29-7, 20) takes on former world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (26-7-1, 23) for the currently vacant title. On paper this is probably the best of the three title bouts and features two talented fighters each looking to work their way towards a potential world title bout. Coming in to this Funai is world ranked by all 4 title awarding bodies and he'll be interested in getting a world title fight later this year. Parrenas is best known for losing to the then WBO champion Naoya Inoue in 2015, and since then he has beaten 2-low key Thai foes whilst becoming a trainer at the Morioka gym. Given that Parrenas is a big puncher he has a real shot here, but he will be the under-dog against the more active, and more rounded, Funai.
The third title bout will see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (7-0, 5) make his second defense, and take on the hard matched challenger Genki Maeda (6-2-1, 2). The talented Yoshino has been fast tracked through the Japanese ranks and claimed the national title last year, when he stopped Spicy Matsushita in the 7th round of their bout. The champion made his first defense this past February, blowing out Masaki Saito in 156 seconds, and has looked like a sensational prospect since making his debut in 2015. Whilst the champion is a former amateur standout and expected to go on to be a huge success the same can't be said for Maeda. Despite the fact he has been matched incredibly hard. So far Maeda has shared the ring with Yoshimichi Matsumoto, Mitsuyoshi Fujita and Shogo Yamaguchi, in just 9 bouts. Maeda is a pretty good fighter, but is going up against a really good fighter here, and we can't help but think this bout will be a case of levels, and Yoshino is several levels above Maeda.
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a notable bout in California, as Filipino Mercito Gesta (31-2-2, 17) takes on the once touted Robert Manzanarez (36-1, 29) in a bout for the NABO Lightweight title. This will be Gesta's first bout since losing in January to Jorge Linares, in what was Gesta's second loss in a world title fight. Despite losing to Linares the Filipino did acquit himself much better than he did in his other loss, a terrible performance against Miguel Vazquez. Manzanarez has rebuilt excellently since his sole loss, back in 2012, with 15 straight wins, but this is a big step up in class for him, and it could be too much too soon for the 23 year old American.
This coming Thursday Japanese fight fans will get the chance to see a really interesting double header at the Korakuen Hall.
One of those bouts will see Japanese Lightweight hopeful Shuichiro Yoshino (6-0, 4) make his first defense of the title as he takes on mandatory challenger Masaki Saito (14-12-6, 5) in the second Champion Carnival bout of 2018. The talented Yoshino has risen through the ranks at an impressive pace since debuting at the end of 2015 and despite only having 6 fights he has already beating veterans like Chaiyong Sithsaithong and Yoshitaka Kato as well as top domestic foes like Spicy Matsushita. Sadly Saito is a limited challenger, especially as a mandatory, and appears to have gotten a shot in part due to the lack of depth in the division. Although limited Saito is tough, having only been stopped once, back in 2006, and tall, at around 5'11”, and is more likely to ask questions of Yoshino rather than really test him.
Whilst the Japanese title bout looks likely to be a one-sided win for the champion the other title bout looks likely to be a thrilling war. That's because the all action Hiroaki Teshigawara (15-2-2, 9) will be defending his WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title against teak tough Filipino puncher Jason Canoy (27-7-2, 19). The champion first made a mark in 2015, fighting to a draw with Hideo Sakamoto and then made a name for himself in 2016 with a narrow loss to Ryo Akaho in one of the forgotten wars of the year. Last year we saw Teshigawara score a thrilling win over Keita Kurihara before stopping Jetro Pabustan to claim the regional title. As for Canoy he's a big punching tough guy, who has scored wins over the likes of Drian Francisco, Giovanni Escaner, Jestoni Autida and Renerio Arizala. To date Canoy tends to come up short against his best opponents, including a then debuting Hinata Maruta, but is always a tough out and should give us a war with Teshigawara, who is always up for a fire fight. This could be a very special fight.
One other fighter on this card of some note is Masataka Taniguchi (9-2, 7). The talented Watanabe gym fighter has lost 2 of his last 5, though they have both been razor thin losses to fellow talented youngsters, Reiya Konishi and Tsubasa Koura, and it'd be downright foolish to write the 24 year old off given the talent he has. We're unsure who he will be up against here, but we are aware it's a Filipino opponent and the odds are that Taniguchi will be moved towards another title fight later in the year.
After a few quiet days in Asian boxing we get back into the swing of things on Thursday, as we approach the weekend with a great card from the Korakuen Hall.
In the main event we'll see former world title challenger Jetro Pabustan (29-4-6, 9) make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title, as he takes on the always fun towatch Hiroaki Teshigawara (14-2-2, 8). The Filipino won the title earlier this year, when he took a technical decision win over Tatsuya Takahashi, and will be looking for a third straight win. Although coming in on a big win Pabustan is inconsistent and often involved in messy bouts, with a staggering 13 technical decisions in his 39 fight career. For Teshigawara the bout willserve as his first title contest, but he has mixed with good competition fighting to a draw with Hideo Sakamoto and narrowly losing to Ryo Akaho last October. Given the styles of the two men this should be action packed, but given Pabustan's reputation this may get messy and heads may get involved.
In a solid supporting bout we'll see the under-rated Ryuto Araya (11-5-1, 3) looks to bounce back from a loss in an OPBF title fight to Ryo Takenaka. In the opposite corner to Araya will be former Japanese title challenger Tatsuya Otsubo (9-8-1, 3), who will be fighting for just the second time since the end of 2015. Both men will feel they need a win to remain relevant and both will know that a loss will be very hard to bounce back from. We're not expecting a war here, but this should prove to be an compelling contest.
Youngster Kaiki Yuba (2-0, 2) has looked like a real one to watch so far, and he'll be looking to continue his momentum as he takes on the tough Pablito Canada (6-12-3, 1). So far Yuba has fought just 4 rounds, but the second generation fighter is expected to reach huge heights, like his father Tadashi Yuba a 5-weight domestic champion. The Filipino journeyman has been stopped once in his 21 fight career, being stopped by Jon Jon Estrada last year, but has since gone the distance with Jelbirt Gomera, Hirotsugu Yamamoto and Hironori Mishiro. This should be a win for Yuba, but also a good solid test of what he does when a fighter doesn't just fall over.
Another under-card bout on this card will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (11-2-1,7) return for his first fight in over a year. The talented Tobe, who really has had a frustrating career plagued with inactivity and untimely setbacks, will be expecting an easy win here as he takes on Thai visitor Saengthong Tor Buamas (5-2, 5), who has been stopped in his last 2 visits to Japan, and is unlikely to avoid the same fate here.
This coming Monday fight fans in Tokyo will get the 4th Asign Bee show and it's littered with some really intriguing match ups, even if the card won't get much international interest.
The one fighter of international not on this card is former world title challenger Hisashi Amagasa (32-6-2, 20), who headlines the card against a low key Thai foe. Amagasa will be looking to record his third win since last years loss to Josh Warrington, and although looking like a fighter on the slide he should pick up a win here, and move on to bigger and better bouts in the near future.
In a potentially thrilling brawl we'll see recent Japanese Flyweight title challenger Yudai Arai (8-4-3,4) take on Yota Hori (12-5-2, 7). Both of these fighters are limited, and have lost 3 of their last 6, but have styles that should gel well for an exciting contest, and should see both men putting it on the line for a potential title fight later in the year. This really could be a bit of a hidden gem.
Another supporting bout here will see the really exciting Hiroaki Teshigawara (13-2-2, 7) take on the heavy handed Keita Kurihara (9-4, 8), in what should be a very fan friendly bout. Teshigawara is a fringe Japanese title level fighter, as he showed a couple of fights back against Ryo Akaho, and it's hard to see him losing here, however Kurihawa has won his last 6 with 5 stoppages, and is showing signs of being a genuine puncher at domestic level.
In a really nice looking bout on paper we'll see Takeshi Kaneko (5-0-1) risk his unbeaten record against the heavy handed Tatsuhiro Toguchi (6-2-1, 5). Although unbeaten Kaneko is feather fisted and at 29 it's unlikely he'll find his power any time soon. Toguchi on the other hand is a rare 20 year old puncher who began his career 1-2 before going 5-0-1 (4) and showing some potential, and something to be excited about. This will be skills against power, and should be a genuinely intriguing contest in the ring.
A new week kicks off with another Dangan card, and whilst it's not a hugely exciting one there are a number of notable names on the card, and a debut of a someone who is tipped as one to watch.
The main event will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (15-2, 5) battle against Yusuke Nakagawa (10-6-1, 6). Last time out Naito suffered his second loss and he's certainly looking like a fighter who needs to score a confidence building win, which he may be expecting to score here. Nakagawa is beatable, and has lost his last 2, but will be looking at this bout as a chance to claim a notable win and get his career back on track. The bout is a real must win for both and should be a really good bout.
In the chief support bout we'll see recent Japanese Super Flyweight title contender Hayato Kimura (25-9, 16) take on an unknown Thai foe. For Kimura the bout will be his first contest since losing a highly entertaining decision against Kenta Nakagawa late last year, and he'll be looking to string together some wins and move towards another title bout in the near future.
Another supporting bout will see the exciting Hiroaki Teshigawara (12-2-2, 6) up against the heavy handed and tough Filipino Junny Salogaol (12-10-4, 11). Although Teshigawara may not have a great record he did impress last time out, when he was narrowly beaten by Ryo Akaho and this is a good bounce back for him, against an under-rated but dangerous foe.
Also on this card will be the heavy handed Tetsuya Watanabe (0-0), who will make his professional debut. Watanabe went 30-4 (20) in the amateur ranks and will be looking to make a statement here in a debut against Shogo Sakai (6-5-2, 4), himself a heavy handed fighter.
This coming Tuesday sees attention turn back to Tokyo for the next show from the Korakuen Hall. The card, for those interested, will be featured on A-Sign giving fans a chance to see the bouts a day after they take place.
The main event of the card sees former world title challenger Ryo Akaho (27-2-2, 18) take on the once beaten Hiroaki Teshigawara (12-1-2, 6). Coming in to this Akaho is the #2 ranked Japanese Bantamweight contender, however he has only fought once in the last year and is only 14 months removed from a 2nd round KO loss to Pungluang Sor Singyu in a world title bout in Thailand. Teshigawara is riding an 8 fight unbeaten run coming in to this and will be high on confidence and looking for a career best win.
A really interesting looking supporting bout will see Ryohei Takahashi (9-2-1, 2) face the unbeaten Wataru Takeda (9-0-1, 3) in a rematch. These two met 3 years ago, fighting to a draw, and since then have both progressed nicely. Takahashi has claimed the 2014 Rookie of the Year and gone 9-1, with that sole loss being in a regional title fight to Andrew Moloney in Australia, whilst Takeda has gone 9-0 (3) and claimed the Rookie of the Year crown in 2015. This is a bout that is really intriguing and will go mostly over-looked despite having all the ingredients of a brilliant fight.