This coming Friday is a pretty big day in Asian boxing, with a female world title bout in Japan and the US debut of a notable Japanese hopeful.
The female world title fight will take place at the Korakuen Hall on a small but interesting card.
That title fight will see Japanese female star Naoko Fujioka (17-2, 7) defending her WBA Female Flyweight title against interim champion Irma Sanchez (30-7-1, 8) of Mexico. The talented Fujioka, the first ever 5 weight world champion from Japan, is a veteran at 43 years old but is the golden girl of Japanese boxing and is widely regarded as one of the top pound for pound female fighters. Aged 30 the Mexican challenger won the interim title last time out, narrowly defeating Brenda Ramos, and is an accomplished world class fighter who has faced a number of top foes, including Jessica Chavez, Carina Moreno and Mariana Juarez in her 12 year career. We suspect Fujioka will come out on top, but this is a genuinely tough match up and should be a really good test of what Fujioka has left.
The best of the supporting bouts on this card is a mouth watering domestic clash, as veteran Takafumi Nakajima (29-10-1, 13) takes on under-rated youngster Yuki Iriguchi (9-2-1, 4). Last time out Nakajima pushed Mark John Yap all the way in an OPBF Bantamweight title fight and us a proven quantity around title level, with notable contests against the likes of Shingo Wakes, Kinshiro Usui, Kosuke Saka, Hidenori Otake and Jonathan Baat. Although a proven fighter Nakajima is now 34 and it's unclear much longer he can go on.
Another under-card bout of some inter-rest will bee between Yutaka Motoyoshi (7-12, 5) and Ryuto Araya (11-7-1, 3). The 30 year old Motoyoshi has lost 4 of his last 5, including his last 3, and will know that he cannot afford another loss if he's to move his career to the next level. Also aged 30 Araya was once regarded as a promising fighter, but has himself struggled recently, losing in an OPBF title fight last year and suffering back to back loss to Tatsuya Otsubo. Whilst neither of these men will be competing at world level before they retire, both will come into this fight with belief they can win and that should give us a good contest.
In California we see two Asian fighters in action.
The more notable of the two is Japanese Light Welterweight hopeful Hiroki Okada (18-0, 13), who is a former Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific champion and is currently the owner of several world rankings. The Japanese fighter, who recently signed a promotional deal with Top Rank, will be making his US debut as he takes on Argentinian fighter Cristian Rafael Coria (27-6-2, 11). Amazingly this bout will Okada's first outside of the Korakuen Hall but it does appear that he's been matched safely so he can get a win on the road and then begin going through the final stages before a world title fight. The 35 year old Coria is a 12 year veteran who has never been stopped, but has lost to a number of recognisable names, such as Paulus Moses, Daud Yordan and Custio Clayton. Okada should win, but it's less about the result and more about whether he can impress Top Rank enough to push him straight into a world title bout, or whether he will have wait to get his shot at a world title.
On the same card fans will be able to see touted American Jamel Herring (17-2, 10) take on Filipino prospect John Vincent Moralde (20-1, 10). Herring was a 2012 US Olympian who had been touted as a potential professional star, but he has lost 2 of his last 4, suffering a 10th round TKO to Denis Shafikov and a 10 round unanimous decision Ladarius Miller. Moralde has promised a lot, and he finally lived up to that promise last time out, when he defeated Ismail Muwendo over 8 rounds. If Moralde can put it together again here he'll give his career a huge boost, and claim the USBA Super Featherweight title.
A second card with some interest comes from Pennsylvania as unbeaten Kazakh Shyngyskhan Tazhibay (6-0, 2) battles against Yasmani Pedroso (2-4, 1), in what looks like a straight forward win for the unbeaten 26 year old. Tazhibay has had some fanfare, but inactivity in 2017 and 2018 has really hampered his development, much like mismatches like this. We hope to see him face better competition shortly, but at this rate it looks like it could take a long time before he faces someone of any note.
It's not just Japanese and Filipino fight with something to get excited about as Chinese fans in Zhengzhou also get a notable card with a couple of title fights and a couple of interesting looking support bouts.
The main event will see the unbeaten Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (13-0-1, 5) take on Filipino visitor Eranio Semillano (16-8-3, 5) in a bout for the WBA Asian Boxing Council Bantamweight title. The unbeaten local will be looking to make his first defense of the title, which he won in April by stopping Conrado Tanamor, but is facing one of the most notable opponents of his career. The 26 year old Semillano is no world beater but is a solid opponent on his day, as shown with wins over the likes of Wilbert Berondo. Sadly for Semillano he doesn't seem to have the consistency needed to score good wins on a regular basis, and it's hard to imagine him putting it together against Nihemaituola.
Another title bout will see Youli Dong (12-0-1, 8) battle Adam Diu Abdulhamid (12-6, 5), in what will be Dong's first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Welterweight title. The unbeaten Chinese drew in his debut but has built fantastically afterwards claiming a couple of WBO regional titles along the way. Although Dong failed to score a stoppage in his first 4 bouts he has stopped 8 of his last 9 and looks to be building the tools he needs for a bright future. On the other hand Abdulhamid was touted as an amateur but has failed to come good, losing 3 of his last 4, and it's unlikely a bout on the road against a hard hitting Welterweight prospect will be good for his career.
Talking about fighters who were once touted it's good to see that Chinese Light Heavyweight Peng Qu (12-2-1, 8) will be returning to the ring 10 months after a surprise loss in China to Gasan Gasanov. The Chinese local has been inactive since losing to Gasanov last November but will be looking to bounce back with a win here, as he takes on Tanzanian visitor Benson Mwakyembe (11-4-1, 6), who should be an easy comeback opponent. Mwakyembe has been stopped in 3 of his last 5 and is naturally smaller than the Chinese fighter, who will likely be looking for a quick blowout.
An interesting support bout here will see Mongolian debutant Tsendbaatar Tsendbaatar (0-0) face off with Joseph Omana (12-5-1, 6) in a 6 round bout. We're unsure about Tsendbaatar's background, though we always love to see Mongolian fighters in action so we hope his bout against his Chinese based Filipino foe will be available online. Coming in to this one Omana has lost his last 4, and is without a win in a little over a decade! Despite that he is still only 28.
There will also be Japanese action in Germany, as former WBC Light Flyweight title challenger Atsushi Kakutani (19-6-1, 12) takes on promising German prospect Mirco Martin (12-0, 6) in a Flyweight bout. Kakutani was once a promising fighter but losses in his 3 most significant bouts doesn't bode well for him here, especially given he's now 33 and has been inactive for over a year. Martin comes into this bout on a good run of results, including a bit win last time out against former world title contender Jose Antonio Jimenez.
A new week kicks off with an interesting Kadoebi card on Monday, with a host of notable fights, including two title fights a world ranked contender and a fast rising prospect.
The main event of the card with see Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto (18-1, 10) defending his two regional titles as he battles Australian Aaron Russell (11-4, 4). The bout seems to be more of a case of keeping Kyotaro busy rather than really testing him, with Russell being an under-sized and under-powered opponent who has fought mostly at Cruiserweight. With 4 stoppage losses against his name Russell seems like an opponent there to make Kyotaro look good, and that's exactly what we expect to see here.
A much more interesting title fights comes at 140lbs, as Japanese national champion Valentine Hosokawa (22-6-3, 9) defends his title against Japanese based Dominican puncher Vladimir Baez (24-3-2, 22) in what looks like a bout that could be something special. Hosokawa might not be well known outside of Japan but he has been involved in some thriller during his career and has proven to be tough, have a great engine and loves to fight. Baez is a huge puncher at this weight and is a marauding fighter, who will come forward and look to bomb out his opponent. We're not expecting a technical masterpiece here, but we are expecting some great action.
The aforementioned prospect is Flyweight hopeful Ryota Yamauchi (2-0, 2), who made his debut last June before shining in December by stopping Lester Abutan. Yamauchi will be looking to continue his rise as he takes on domestic contender Yota Hori (13-6-2, 8) in what is another still test for the 23 year old hopeful. A win for Yamauchi is likely to see him begin the push towards title fights and we wouldn't be surprised to see him in a title fight in the next 12 months, if he wins here. Of course a win for Yamauchi is no foregone conclusion and Hori is no push over, with wins over Musashi Suzuki, Kenta Okamura and a draw with Koki Eto showing he's a live underdog in this bout.
Another unbeaten man on this card is the world ranked Hiroki Okada (17-0, 12), who is looking to get a world title fight in the near future. Okada will be up against visiting Filipino fighter Ciso Morales (19-6-1, 12). On paper this looks like it could be a test for Okada, but reality is that Morales was stopped in a round on his last visit to Japan, by Shuya Masaki, and has been stopped in 5 of his 6 defeats. Not only that but he has made his career fighting well before the Light Welterweight limit, that Okada competes at. There's a risk of Okada over-looking the Filipino here but the reality is that Okada should come out on top with no real worries.
On the final Tuesday before Christmas Japanese fight fans get a really good looking Kadoebi promoted card from the Korakuen Hall, with several bouts of genuine significance.
The most important of the bouts is the main event of the show, which will see the unbeaten Hiroki Okada (16-0, 11) take on the highly experienced Jason Pagara (40-2-1, 25) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title. The Japanese local knows that a win here will almost certainly be followed by a world title eliminator next year, with Okada having been ordered to face Ivan Baranchyk in an IBF eliminator however Pagaea is no push over. Interestingly Pagara, who is the WBO #8 ranked fighter at 147lbs, comes into this bout on the back of a FOTY contender against James Onyango, a bout that showed Pagara's faults and heart as he narrowly came away with a draw. This could be a very entertaining fight, and is a very significant one for both men involved.
The chief support bout will see touted former amateur star Ryota Yamauchi (1-0, 1) take a huge step up in class to face off with Lester Abutan (12-6-3, 6). The talented and touted Yamauchi impressed on debut and will now be tasked with facing someone who really is a very tough opponent for a second bout and is ranked in the top 15 by the OPBF. For Abutan the bout sees him returning to Japan for his second bout in the country, with the first being a loss in an OPBF title fight to Ken Shiro. It should be noted that Abutan hasn't just faced off with Ken Shiro but also fought to a split with Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and is a really still test for Yamauchi
A third bout pitting Japan against the Philippines will see Yuta Nakagawa (21-5-1, 12) take on Markquil Salvana (13-4, 7). We last saw Nakagawa involved in a thrilling contest with Yasutaka Ishimoto, in a Japanese title eliminator, with Nakagawa losing the split decision in that bout. That loss to Ishimoto saw Nakagawa ending a 12 fight unbeaten run, and he'll be looking to get back to winning ways here. Salvana was once 9-0 (3) but has gone 4-4 (4) in his last 8 bouts, including losses in Japan to Takuya Uehara and Shota Hayashi, and has interestingly never won outside of his homeland.
In an all Japanese bout fans will see Japanese ranked Light Welterweight Yusuke Konno (11-4, 5) take on Welterweight puncher Kazuya Maruki (20-5, 13). The 32 year old Konno was last in the ring back in June, when he lost in a thriller against Koichi Aso for the Japanese Light Welterweight title. That bout showed that Konno really could fight, and he'll be looking to put in a similar performance here. The naturally bigger, and younger, Maruki has gone 3-3 in his last 6, including 2 losses in his last 3 bouts, but will likely feel his edge in youth and natural size advantage will be enough. It's hard to not excited about this bout given that both are flawed, aggressive and exciting fighters.
One other fighter of note on this card is Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Wataru Takeda (11-1-1, 5), who will be facing off with a Thai opponent. Takeda has won his last 2 by stoppage following a close loss to Ryohei Takahashi in October 2016 and it does seem like his team have got big plans for 2016, with this bout serving as just a stay busy fight before Christmas.
To end the month of June Kadoebi put on a pretty interesting looking card, with a number of notable names featuring on the card and a significant main event.
That main event will see two top Japanese domestic Welterweights clash as Daisuke Sakamoto (13-8-3, 8) takes on Makoto Kawasaki (9-4-1, 2) for the interim Japanese title. Originally Sakamoto was supposed to face Japanese champion Toshio Arikawa earlier this year, but an injury to Arikawa forced that bout to be cancelled and instead Sakamoto got this bout, with the winner to face Arikawa when he returns to the ring.
The under-card here features a trio of former Japanese champions. The most notable of those is former 140lb champion Hiroki Okada (15-0, 11), who faces once beaten Filipino Jheritz Chavez (7-1-2, 5). Okada, once tipped as a genuine one to watch at 140lbs, hasn't impressed in recent bouts, however there is a feeling that he has mentally turned off, and gone stale against opponents he has been strongly favoured to beat. A win here would see him open the door to potential OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific title fights. For Chavez the bout is his second outside of the Philippines, following a decision loss in Russia last year, since that loss he has scored two solid stoppages at domestic level and he comes into this one as a real threat.
Another of the former champions in action is former Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (22-5, 18), who will be returning to the ring for the first time since losing his title to Kazuhiro Nishitani in March. In the opposite corner to the heavy handed Tushciya will be feather fisted Shota Suito (11-6-1, 1),who is a very light puncher but a durable fighter who has gone the rounds with a number of notable domestic foes including Masaru Sueyoshi.
A third former domestic champion in action is former Welterweight king Nobuyuki Shindo (18-4-1, 7), who lost the title last year to the aforementioned Arikawa. The lanky Shindo will be up against the out of form Ryota Itoyama (10-8-1, 5), who has gone 0-4-1 in his last 5 and is more than 4 years removed from his last win! This should be a straight forward win for Shindo, but his confidence won't be great and he does need an easy one.
Also on this card is the professional debut of the touted Ryota Yamauchi (0-0). As an amateur he went 38-15 (14) and is tipped as a genuine prospect from the Kadoebi gym. Yamauchi will be up against a Thai foe here in what should be a mismatch
Action in the ring has been great recently and this coming weekend it's set to stay great with a host of notable bouts taking place all over the globe. As usual we'll focus on the Asian fighters, but we know there are a lot of other notable bouts taking on the same day.
The most notable bout of the day comes from Thailand where we see a WBC Flyweight title fight. The bout, for the title vacated by Roman Gonzalez last year, will see unbeaten Thai Nawaphon Por Chokchai (36-0, 28) take on in form Mexican Juan Hernandez Navarrete (33-2, 24) in a mouth watering bout. Nawaphon holds one of the longest unbeaten runs in the sport today, but his record lacks names of any real quality with his best wins coming against fighters like Mateo Handig, Donny Mabao and Rey Megrino. Despite the lack of competition the Thai has passed the eye test and matured into a vicious fighter at the regional level. This is however a huge step up for the unbeaten man. Although he has tasted defeat twice Hernandez has fought at the top and holds wins over the likes of Moises Fuentes, Denver Cuello – albeit controversially, Saul Juarez, Ramon Garcia Hirales, Jesus Silvestre and Omar Nino Romero, with his only loss in he last decade coming to Kazuto Ioka. This is a big test for both men, with Nawaphon facing his toughest foe and Hernandez facing the horrific conditions of Thailand, though his team has managed to get the bout in doors which could make a huge difference here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
We'll also get a Japanese card this Saturday with G+ airing the card live in Japan.
In the main event of this show we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (22-4, 18) make the first defense of his title as he takes on mandatory challenger Kazuhiro Nishitani (16-4-1, 8). Tsuchiya won the title last year, when he stopped Masashi Noguchi in 3 rounds, and will be hoping to have a distinguished reign as champion. The heavy handed champion has shown flaws in the past but is an exciting and heavy handed fighter who has proven his toughness and hunger in the past. Nishitani has never been stopped, and has proven his toughness, but has suffered notable losses to fighters less accomplished than Tsuchiya. This will be the challenger's second shot, following a December 2015 loss to Kota Tokunaga, but sadly he's been inactive with only one bout in the entire of 2016. Given Nishitani's toughness and Tsuchiya's power this could be a lot of fun!
The chief support bout will see former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada (14-0, 10) take on Filipino journeyman Rodel Wenceslao (11-13-1, 4). During a 2 year reign Okada defended the Japanese title 6 times, though looked rather poor in the final 2 defenses and it seems that he and his team and looking for more serious challenges this year. Despite looking for bigger bouts he begins his year against the limited Wenceslao, who has lost 11 of his last 15. Wenceslao has been matched hard, with losses to the likes of Keita Obara, Adones Cabalquinto and Adones Aguelo, ad we expect to see him come up short against Okada here too.
A little lower down the card we'll see Japanese ranked Takenori Ohashi (13-4-2, 8) up against Yutaka Motoyoshi (7-9, 5). Ohashi, a ranked Featherweight, will be hoping to get a title fight in the near future and can't afford a slip up here against Motoyoshi. Although he is a potential banana skin Motoyoshi has been stopped 5 times and will be expected to struggle with the power of Ohashi here.
In another under-card bout we'll see Shingo Koike (9-2, 5) take on Jin Miura (9-1, 1) in a very well matched and competitive looking contest. The 26 year old Koike has won his last 4 and seemed to have found some recent belief in his power. Miura on the other hand has won 3 in a row, following an opening round defeat to Reni Ichimura in the 2015 East Japan Rookie of the Year final. Both men will know they need to win here.
Also on this card will be the very promising Kazuki Saito (2-0, 2), who moves up in class to face Jimmy Borbon (5-4-3, 3) over 8 rounds. Saito has been very impressive so far, against limited Thai foes, but this will be a good test for the youngster who was a former amateur standout. Borbon has fought in Japan just once, where he suffered his only stoppage loss though that was against Takashi Miura, and will see this as a chance to prove himself in front of a Japanese audience.
Back on the road, in Mexico, we'll see IBF Light Flyweight champion Naoko Shibata (16-3-1, 5) defending her title, for the 6th time, against the woman she originally beat for the belt, Alondra Garcia (16-3-1, 1). Although both fighters have very similar records Shibata has gone 7-0-1 (2) in her last 8 whilst Garcia has gone 5-2-1, including a draw with a debutant in late 2014.
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia we'll see even more title action as Australian Valentine Borg (13-2, 8) takes on Filipino puncher Junjesie Ibgos (11-1, 9) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Light Welterweight title. The once beaten Ibgosa will be making his international debut and although a clear under-dog he does look like he has the power to be a nightmare for Borg, who has been stopped twice. Borg is the more proven fighter but this is an interesting contest and the winner could open the door for bigger and better fights in the near future.
A new month kicks off and we're immediately into action with Boxingraise wasting no tume in streaking their first card of November, and it's a pretty good one from Kadoebi Houseki.
The main event of the card, and we suspect the real reason Boxingraise are streamign the show instead of putting it on delay, is a Japanese Light Welterweight title fight that sees reigning champion Hiroki Okada (13-0, 10) defending his title against veteran Valentine Hosokawa (20-5-3, 9). For Okada the bout will be his 6th defense of the title and many have assumed that if he wins he will choose to vacate the title in 2017 and chase the OPBF title, rather than face mandatory challenger Koichi Aso, who he has already beaten twice. For Hosokawa the bout will be a third title bout and if he loses here the odds are that he won't get another at this level.
In the chief support bout we see Japanese ranked fighters facing off with Japanese ranked Featherweight Takenori Ohashi (12-4-2, 8) taking on ranked Super Featherweight Takahiro Araki (9-5, 4), with Araki coming down in weight for the bout. Whilst neither guy looks great on paper they have styles that should gel well and should make for an interesting bout, that both will believe they can win.
Top ranked Japanese Welterweight contender Daisuke Sakamoto (12-8-3, 7) will be in action against unknown Thai Kriangkrai Suksanguan (1-0, 1). Sakamoto, like many Japanese fighters in and around the Middleweights, has a misleading record full of early career setbacks. Just 3 years ago he was 7-8-1 (3) but has since gone 5-0-2 (4) and holds a major win over Japanese champion Toshio Arikawa and will be hunting a title fight in 2017.
On the under-card we'll see the touted Kazuki Saito (1-0, 1) battle against Thailand's Petchmahalert Eminent Air (0-3). Whilst Saito might not be one of the big name Japanese prospects the 24 year old was a very accomplished amateur, going 83-14, and is tipped to do big things in the near future. The Thai has been stopped in his 3 previous bouts and we suspect to see the same happen again here.
We were also supposed to see Yuta Nakagawa (18-4-1, 9) face Keigo Soma (8-11-2, 4) on this card, though that bout has been cancelled.
Just 10 days after the first live Boxingraise show we get the second live card to be streamed on the service, and in fairness it looks like an intriguing one with two title bouts, several notable names on the under-card and an interesting debutant.
One of those title bouts will see unbeaten Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada (12-0, 10) defending his title for the third time this year, and the 5th time overall, as he takes on Japanese-Brazilian Cristiano Aoqui (11-4-2, 7) in what looks likely to be a really interesting match up. Okada is a wonderfully promising and heavy handed counter-puncher who has really impressed in recent bouts with his spiteful shots. Aoqui on the other hand is an aggressively minded fighter who comes to fight and will put Okada under pressure from the off. Don't be surprised if this exciting before a sudden finish.
The other title bout sees Australian fighter Jack Brubaker (10-1-1, 5) defending the OPBF Welterweight title against interim champion Suyon Takayama (24-1, 8). On paper this one is a really intriguing fight. Brubaker won the title last year and has defended it once, though his competition so far has been someone limited and there's little to suggest he's going to become a great fighter, however wins over Xing Xin Yang and Paddy Murphy have both come following numerous knock downs and he seems to be hitting harder than his record suggests. As for Takayama the long term Japanese national champion has been chasing the OPBF title for a while and will see this as his big chance at claim the belt and moving towards a potential world title fight.
In a Middleweight bout the heavy handed Shoma Fukumoto (8-1, 6) will be up against Naoki Wada (10-9-2, 2) in what looks like like a stay busy for Fukumoto, who was once being tipped as a potential Japanese Middleweight title contender. Fukumoto has notched up 6 straight wins since being shocked by Arnel Tinampay back in August 2013 but hasn't looked great in recent bouts. Wada should test Fukumoto but shouldn't push him too close.
One other fighter of note here is debutant Kazuki Saito (0-0), who takes on Kamol Jatuten (0-2). Saito begins his career in a 6 rounder as a B license fighter and there is some genuine excitement about the 23 year old from Tokyo. The Thai, also known as Lekker Bangkok 2007, was last seen in the ring in January when he was in Japan and stopped in the second round by Yuki Beppu.
The action in Japan has been pretty none stop recently, and that continues this Sunday with a Kadoebi show at the Korakuen Hall.
In the main event of the card fans get a rematch as Japanese 140lb champion Hiroki Okada (11-0, 9) battles against the exciting Koichi Aso (20-6-1, 13). Okada narrowly beat Aso when the men first met, back in July 2014, though has since shown genuine improvement with back-to-back 3rd round TKO wins. Aso has bounced back from the loss to Okada with back-to-back stoppage wins of his own, but this is a bigger test than he has faced since the first Okada bout. Potentially this could be a thriller and we'd be genuinely shocked if the bout wasn't action packed.
In the chief support bout we have another intriguing match up as the world ranked Yukinori Oguni (16-1-1, 5) faces off against Thailand's Mike Tawatchai (38-8-1, 21). Both of these men have come up short against Shingo Wake however it's a great match up between two men who will both be viewing this as a chance to move towards a potential rematch with Wake, who could be the IBF champion by the time a rematch could be made. Oguni, a former JBC and OPBF champion, is a very talented boxer-move and should be too slippery for Tawatchai, however the Thai will refuse to to concede defeat and could be a very tricky assignment for Oguni.
In another bout of note former Japanese title challenger Gosuke Seki (16-2-2, 3) will be up against Keisuke Ota (9-9, 2) in a bout that Seki must win if he's to remain relevant on the Japanese domestic scene. Seki has lost 2 of his last 3 and although talented cannot afford an upset loss to Ota. As for Ota he's taking a big step up in class but will see this as his chance to move towards a Japanese ranking.
One final bout of note from this card will see the exciting Shuhei Tsuchiya (19-4, 16) in against against Thai visitor Ekarachan Mor Krungthep Thomburee (0-0) in what should be a straight forward win for the exciting, but flawed, Tsuchiya.
Action finally returns to this coming weekend as we get the first Japanese show of 2016.
In the main event we'll see a Japanese title unification bout at 140lbs. The bout sees unbeaten champion Hiroki Okada (10-0, 8) faces interim champion Masanobu Nakazawa (18-1-1, 7) in a bout to unify the title that was split, last year, when Okada was injured. This is, on paper, Okada;s toughest bout so far, especially when you consider his long lay off due to the injury, but will be confident of inflicting a second loss on Nakazawa, who was previously stopped by Shuhei Tsuchiya.
An interesting support bout comes at Middleweight where the promising Shoma Fukumoto (7-1, 6) battles recent OPBF and JBC title challenger Yasuyuki Akiyama (10-5-1, 8). This is Akiyama's first bout since being beaten last year by Akio Shibata whilst Fukumoto will be fighting for the first time since joining the Kadoebi gym. Fukumoto, due to the gym transfer, will be be fighting for the first time in 7 months though will be favoured over the 36 year old Akiyama, who looked awful against Shibata.
Another good looking support bout sees recent Japanese Flyweight challenger Yusuke Sakashita (13-6-2, 8) face Masashi Odaira (6-4-2, 2). On paper it's hard to doubt Sakashita's the favourite, but with 2 losses in his last 3 bouts, including a 1-punch KO loss to Suguru Muranaka, he really needs to shine here.
A third notable under-card bout will see another recent title challenger in action as Yuki Ogata (21-2-1, 3) battles Keisuke Arima (8-11-1, 1). It's hard to see this being anything but a decision win for Ogata but it could be much more competitive than the records suggest.
In the US fans will get the chance to see unbeaten Filipino Dodie Boy Penalosa Jr (17-0, 13), who faces a yet to be named opponent. The talented young Filipino scored 4 wins in the US last year and will be expected to grab a 5th successive victory, though sadly it's hard to get too excited given his level of competition.
March 7th-Amnat Vs Zou in a showdown, with notable action from Ik Yang, Rex Tso, Hiroki Okada, Suyon Takayama and more!
The start of the year has been tediously slow at times however March is certainly seeing in ring action liven up, in a big way. The first real date to mark down on your calendar is March 7th which sees action across Asia with several big names a host of notable fights ranging from a world title bout to world title eliminators to national title bouts.
The biggest of the days show's comes from Macau where fans are treat to another of Bob Arum's foray's into the gambling capital of Asia. In many ways this is the most important of all the Macau shows and is, potentially, the biggest banana skin on the road to making the experiment a major long term success.
The tricky part of this card is the main event which will see Chinese megastar Zou Shiming (6-0, 1) put his unbeaten record on the line as he takes on IBF Flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng (14-0, 5) in a brilliant match up. These two men are both unbeaten, both under-rated and were major amateur rivals. They are also men looking to claim a major scalp. For Shiming this a test that really could see him becoming a national hero or boxing's biggest villain, for Ruenroeng it's a chance to level the score with Shiming, who holds a 2-1 record over him from the amateur ranks. For Bob Arum this is a real test of his nerve. Shiming is talented and fast but this is a major step up for the double Olympic champion.
Shiming of course isn't the only Chinese born fighter on this show, nor is he the most exciting. One of the contenders for the tag of “most exciting” is the heavy handed Ik Yang (18-0-0-1, 13) who will be up against Thailand's experienced Patomsuk Pathompothong (30-2-1, 18) in an IBF Pan Pacific Light Welterweight title bout, which will also double as an IBF world title eliminator. Yang has been on a number of Top Rank shows and is known for his power and offensive style though his flawed defense may be a problem here against the talented Patomsuk, who gave world ranked Takayuki Hosokawa a very close bout back in late 2013. This could be very interesting.
Another rival to the tag of China's most exciting fighter is the very flawed but fun Rex Tso (15-0, 9) who battles Filipino Michael Enriquez (10-2-1, 6) in a bout for the WBA International Super Flyweight title. Tso will go into this bout as the favourite and is viewed as being likely to get a fight with WBA world champion Kohei Kono if he comes through here. For Enriquez this is a major opportunity though he has lost both of his previous title fights.
Going further down the card fans will get the chance to see the explosively heavy handed Aston Palicte (16-1, 14), of the Philippines, take on one of his toughest tests as he goes up against Ismael Garnica (13-5-1-1, 5). Garnica is best known for losing a decision British fighter Paul Butler last year, other than that however there is very little of note on his record. Palicte on the other hand is a dynamite puncher who comes into this bout on the back of 5 successive opening round blow outs, including a very notable one against Gerpaul Valero.
Another Filipino in action here will be Raymond Sermona (17-4-5, 8) who will be hoping to record his 3rd successive win as he battles former “world” title challenger Jose Felix Jr (28-1-1, 23). Felix Jr's only loss came last year when he stepped up to fight Bryan Vasquez and was well beaten, despite two horribly close scorecards, and he'll be favoured to make light work of Sermona.
To open the show we're expecting to see some local talent in action. One of those locals will be the unbeaten Zhou Yun Fei (4-0, 1) who battles against Paul Valenzuela (2-1-1, 2) whilst the other will be Macau's Kuok Kun Ng (6-0, 2), who will be facing Thailand's Chingchai Kiatpracha (7-2, 3).
As well as the action in Macau there is also a show, with title action, in Japan where fans will get a couple of domestic title fights courtesy of Kadoebi.
One of those title bouts will see once beaten Japanese Welterweight champion Suyon Takayama (21-1, 7) defending his belt against former foe Nobuyuki Shindo (16-2, 6) in what looks like to be a very competitive match up. Takayama has the title, the better looking record and a win over Shindo already on his record however he is a weak champion and a lot of bouts have been very close. Shindo has height and reach advantages though the question coming in is whether or not he will be able to make them count.
In the other title fight the unbeaten Hiroki Okada (9-0, 7) will be up against former title contender Hayato Hokazono (18-4-1, 11). We like Okada though are unsure how far he can really go, though it is obviously early days in his career. Hokazono is best known for his losses to the monstrously hard hitting Keita Obara, aside from those losses there is little else to note about his record other than a win over Kazuyoshi Kumano way back in December 2010.
On the under-card there is little of note though a bout between Hisao Narita (8-1, 4) and Yusuke Konno (8-2, 3) does look likely to be very competitive over the scheduled 8 rounds. Another undercard bout that we'll mention will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight title challenger Yukinori Hisanaga (16-5-2, 9) battle against Takuma Takahashi (6-4-1, 1).
In South Korea we get 3 bouts between Korean fighters and Japanese visitors as Watanabe send a trio of their stable over to Korea.
The most notable of the Japanese fighters is Sonin Nihei (5-1-1, 1) who came runner up in last years East Japan Rookie of the year. The talented 21 year old, who lost a split decision to Kenya Yamashita, will be taking on the debuting Tae Un Jung (0-0) who we know nothing about.
Another of the bouts will see unbeaten Korean Joo-Young Kwon (2-0) take on Keisuke Kanazawa (2-4, 1). On paper it's hard to go against the Korean though he has only faced debutants so far whilst Kanazawa holds a very surprising win over the much touted Koki Tyson Maebara from back in January 2013.
The remaining bout, and the most looking on paper, will see Shingo Yabu (4-4-2) battle against Chan-Hee Park (4-5-1). Yabu is 0-2-1 in his last 3, including a loss to Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine in the 2013 All Japan Rookie of the Year final. Park on the other hand has lost his last 4 and hasn't notched a win since 2009, in fact he's not fought since October 2010. Interesting match up in some ways but neither guy is anything great.
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