The main show for us this coming Wednesday will come from the Differ Ariake in Tokyo. The card will feature a number of a very good bouts, mos of which will be Japan Vs China, though is headlined by an OPBF title fight between a Filipino champion and a Japanese prospect, in what ios a really mouth watering match up.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Super Featherweight champion Carlo Magali (23-9-3, 12) face off with Japanese prospect Hironori Mishiro (5-0, 2), in a bout that is genuinely mouth watering. Magali has had a frustrating 2018, with several bouts announced and then falling through, and as a result this will be his return to the ring for the first time since his impressive January win over Masatoshi Kotani. Against Kotani we saw the Filipino show that he was a lot better than his record suggests, and it seems the OPBF title is helping Magali improve as a fighter, building his self belief. As for Mishiro the Japanese fighter was a former amateur stand out who only debuted 15 months ago but already holds notable domestic wins against Shuma Nakazato and Shuya Masaki and will be full of confidence coming into this bout. A win for Magali will perhaps move him on to bouts against top tier regional fighters, such as Masaru Sueyoshi or Reiya Abe, however a win for Mishiro will shoot him up to being one of the leading prospects in Japan. A really good match up, and a tough one to call!
The leading support bout is one of the many Japan vs China bouts and will see recent Japanese Flyweight title challenger Katsunori Nagamine (14-2-1, 10) battle against Yujie Zeng (11-7-1, 6) in what should be a very exciting bout, as is the norm for a Nagamine bout. Nagamine came close to claiming the Japanese Flyweight title this past March, when he lost a very lose decision to Masayuki Kuroda, and he should come in to this bout with a point to prove. It's also worth notign that Nagamine's only other loss was to WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro, more than 3 years ago. Zeng on the other hand is pretty much an unknown outside of those who follow the Chinese domestic scene. His only real bout of note came last September, when he lost to promising Filipino Genesis Libranza, and aside from that there isn't really much we can take from the Chinese fighter's record, other than that he seems to be fighting from Minimumweight to Super Bantamweight. Given what we know of Nagamine we're expecting a win for the Japanese fighter here.
In another Japanese Vs China bout fans will see the once beaten Shuma Nakazato (7-1-1, 6) battle against Qixiu Zhang (9-4-1, 3). Nakazato is one of the many hidden gems in Japanese boxing and managed to reach the 2015 Rookie of the Year, before needing to take almost 18 months away from the ring. Last year Nakazato suffered a narrow loss to Mishiro but has bounced back since with a blow out win against a Thai foe. The Chinese fighter is pretty unknown, though did impress last time out, when he travelled to Korea and scored an 11th round KO win against Nak Yul Park in May. That win aside there is little of note on Zhang's record and it;s hard to say what eh really has the potential to do, so this should give him a chance to answer some questions about his potential.
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a show in Thailand, headlined by a regional title fight between Japan's Ryohei Takahashi (14-3-1, 6) and Thai veteran Mike Tawatchai (45-11-1, 28). The two men, who are clashing over the IBF Pan Pacific Super Bantamweight title, are at different stages in their careers and Tawatchai, a genuine veteran with close to 60 fights, seems to be looking past his foe already with another bout set for September. That could well be a mistake as Takahashi is a very capable fighter with good wins over Kazuki Tanaka and Matcha Nakagawa, and defeatuing Tawatchai isn't out of the question here.
The calm to begin the year ends this coming Saturday as we get the first Dangan card of 2017, and it is a brilliantly intriguing card with two OPBF title bouts, and two very good looking support bouts.
The main event of the card will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (18-2, 6) take on Filipino foe Jeffrey Arienza (16-6-1, 10) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Light Welterweight title. The talented Naito will be looking for one of the most significant wins of his career, and whilst he will be favoured here he should be expecting to have a fight against Arienza. The Filipino visitor is far from a world beater but will likely know that one more loss is the end of him at this level, and he really cannot afford another set back if he's to remain relevant.
In a more 50-50 bout we'll see Filipino fighter Carlo Magali (22-9-3, 11) defending the OPBF Super Featherweight title against Japan's Masatoshi Kotani (22-2, 15). On paper this is a very interesting match up and will potentially see the winner move into a very intriguing position as fighters look towards getting a shot at the OPBF title. Magali and a limited but aggressive fighter and will take the fight to Kotani whilst the challenger will look to use his slightly better boxing skills to take the title from the champion. A really even match up.
Another mouth watering match up will see touted Teiken fighter Shuya Masaki (9-0, 5) take on Watanabe gym's Hironori Mishiro (4-0, 2) in what could be the surprise bout of the month. Masaki is ranked #3 by the JBC and will be looking towards getting a title fight later in the year, if he wins, but a win here is certainly no forgone conclusion. Mishiro has only been a professional for 10 months but has shone, and his October win over Shuma Nakazato was absolute incredible. This is set to be a war and should be something very special for fans watching.
Another very strong looking supporting bout will see Coach Hiroto (13-2-1, 4) take on the once beaten Ryo Hino (11-1-1, 6). The talented Hiroto took almost 5 years out of the ring until returning last June, and since then he has scored 2 wins. He will however be up against it here with Hino riding a 6 fight winning streak, including a huge win last time out against Sho Nakazawa. Coming in to this the 27 year Hino looks to be the man in form, and the man going places, but at 26 years old Hiroto shouldn't be over-looked in what appears to be a very competitive looking match up on paper.
In Illinois fight fans will be able to see American based Uzbek hopeful Rustam Tulaganov (1-0) take on the once beaten Martez McGregor (4-1, 4) in a 6 rounder. The 26 year old Uzbek was a former amateur standout, having claimed an Olympic Bronze medal and an Asian Championship's Silver medal and will be favoured here. The heavy handed McGregor has never been beyond 2 rounds and is likely to come out swinging here, win or lose.
This coming Monday Japanese fight fans in Tokyo get an interesting card at the domestic level, featuring a number of notable fighters, many of which were touted and have yet to really shine in the way some had hoped.
The main event of the card is a brilliant match up between unbeaten fighters Hironori Mishiro (3-0, 2) and Shuma Nakazato (6-0-1, 5). Mishiro was a touted former amateur standout, and a lot is expected of him during his career, whilst Nakazato was the runner up at the 2015 Rookie of the Year, losing out on the crown on a rule used to separate fighters who draw. This really will push the winner forward with their career, and promises a lot between fighters who are both in their early 20's.
In a interesting looking bout on paper Coach Hiroto (12-2-1, 4) will take on Naoki Kumagai (8-6, 5) in what could be an under-the-radar battle. Coming in to this Hiroto will be the favourite, but he has fought just 5 rounds in the last 5 years, whilst the more limited Kumagai is limited but has been busy and has faced decent competition with bouts against the likes of Jin Miura, Naoto Uebayashi and Ryuto Araya.
The once touted Kenshin Oshima (2-1, 2) will be looking to get some momentum in his careeras he takes on the heavy handed Takuya Mori (6-2, 5) in a bout that really should be explosive. Oshima was a standout amateur, but was beaten in his second bout by the very capable Yuki Iriguchi, ina very competitive bout. Mori has lost a couple of close decision but has scored all 5 of his stoppages in the opening 2 rounds, and is a very dangerous fighter early on.
The debuting Nobuaki Kanazawa (0-0) is a former amateur standout who looks to make a mark on his debut as he takes on Naoto Mizutani (4-3, 2) in a pretty tricky debut. On paper Kanazawa should have the skills to take home a win, and look good, but the bout is certainly no foregone conclusion and Mizutani will be there win.
Another interesting bout sees Ryo Sagawa (1-1, 1) look to bounce back from a loss in a Japanese Youth title semi final to Retsu Kosaka. The touted Sagawa lacked the experience to cope with Kosaka and should find himself at a more comfortable level here, as he takes on Kazuki Sanpei (4-4, 1), who gave Juiki Tatsuyoshi a scare last year. On paper this looks like a really interesting match up, and could turn out to be the bout of the show.
The key show this coming Sunday comes from Tokyo where we get a triple title show courtesy of Watanabe gym.
The main event of this card is an IBF Minimumweight title fight as reigning world champion Jose Argumedo (20-3-1,12) defends his title against heavy handed Japanese fighter Hiroto Kyoguchi (7-0, 6). For Kyoguchi the bout could see him become the new face of the Watanabe gym, and the fastest fighter, in terms of time, to win a world title from Japan, around 15 months after his debut. For Argumedo the bout will be his 4th defense, and see him return to Japan, where he won the title at the end of 2015, when he beat Katusnari Takayama. On paper this is a really mouth watering match up, as a big and tough champion takes on a destructive ball of power punching energy, and we expect to see serious questions asked about both men. If Kyoguchi is ready for Argumedo, he's potentially ready to shake up the who division, but it's possible that Watanabe rushed just a touch too quick.
The other world title bout will see Watanabe's only current male world champion defending his title. That's Ryoichi Taguchi (25-2-2, 11) who makes a mandatory defense of his WBA Light Flyweight title against Colombian foe Robert Barrera (18-1, 12), in what could be a testing bout for the frustrating Taguchi. At his best Taguchi is a brilliant fighter, who can box at range and make the most of his physical attributes, which include a very long reach. Problem is that he's frustratingly struggled with less fighters and seems to find it hard to get up for some opponents, and struggles against supposedly easier foes. Barrera, as a mandatory, should pose a good test, but it's hard to say for sure. If the Colombian is determined and fired up he could, potentially, scupper a strongly rumoured unification bout between Taguchi and WBO champion Kosei Tanaka. It's fair to say that Taguchi should be hungry to prove a point, but whether we see that in the ring is hard to predict.
A third title bout will see Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai (27-7, 19) defending his title, for the first time. In the opposite corner to the champion will be first time challenger Takayuki Okumoto (18-7-3, 8), and it's fair to say that the champion will be the favoured fighter here. Funai won the title at the Champion Carnival, stopping good friend Kenta Nakagawa, and will be hoping to extend his reign in a voluntary defense. Okumoto was once seen as a prodigy but has become a streaky fighter and will need to record a career best win to dethrone the champion.
A name to make a note of in action on this card is touted former amateur star Hironori Mishiro (2-0, 1),who is tipped as another to follow in the footsteps of Kyoguchi and be moved quickly through the ranks following a very strong amateur grounding. He's looked good since turning professional but still needs to continue his development. He'll be up against a Thai foe, but sadly we've not been given the foes name.
Someone else up against an unknown Thai is former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (32-10-1, 13), who returns to the ring for the first time since his stoppage loss to Naoya Inoue. The bout is designed to help Kono shake off some ring rust ahead off a more meaningful bout with Rex Tso later in the year.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
In the Philippines there is a card primarily focused on prospects.
On of those prospects is the once beaten Ben Mananquil (13-1-2, 3), who we have been impressed by since his controversial draw against Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym back in 2013. Although Mananquil has got a loss, it was a razor thin one in China and we'd suggest he's one to follow going forward. With that said we clearly expect him to defeat the heavy handed but limited Kim Lindog (5-4-1, 4).
Another of the top prospects if former amateur stand out Jade Bornea (7-0, 4), who takes on the experienced, but very limited, Nicardo Calamba (7-24-4, 4). As an amateur Bornea won numerous trophies and scored a number of big wins, and huge things are expected of him. For this bout he should have way too much for Calamba, who has really struggled to pick up wins in recent years.
As well as the prospects we'll also see a veteran in action, as the highly experienced Eden Sonsona (36-7-2, 13) takes on JP Macadumpis (11-9-1, 5), and returns to the ring following a loss in Russia to unbeaten prospect Evgeny Chuprakov. On paper this should be an easy win for the 28 year old Sonsona, but there may be questions about how he looks given his stoppage loss last time out.
Also on this card will be two novice prospects looking to secure their second professional wins. One of those is Dave Apolinario (1-0, 1), who takes on the win-less Elizer Ambon (0-1), who was recently signed to a professional contract and looked on debut. The other is his stable mate Mark Antonio (1-0, 1), who signed with and debuted at the same time as Apolinario. Antonio will be up against the debuting Jeffrey Diale (0-0), and will also be looking for his second victory.
In South Africa we'll see the really promising Filipino youngster Dexter Alimento (12-1, 8) take on South African local DeeJay Kriel (11-1-1, 6) in a bout for the currently vacant WBC International Minimumweight title. Alimento came to our attention last year, when he stopped Chanachai CP Freshmart, and despite a very close loss to Masataka Taniguchi we still have huge hopes for him. Kriel is unbeaten since a points loss on his debut in 2014 but as wit many African fighters his record is a hard one to read, with no fights against opponents that we can say much about. This is a hard one to get a read on, but could tell us a lot about both mem
Metro Manila, Philippines
The final Filipino show of the month is a card put on by United and although it's not the best card it does feature a number of notable names, both established fighters and rising novices.
The most established fighter on the card is former world title challenger Ardin Diale (32-11-4, 15), who looks to make the most of his experience as he faces southpaw foe Wiljan Ugbaniel (13-4-1, 4). It's hard to see Diale losing here, but he has had a long and hard career and recent bouts against the likes of Daigo Higa, Ryan Lumacad and Andrew Selby will have taken their toll on his body.
Another notable name on this show is once touted Joebert Alvarez (16-2-1, 7), who looked like a champion in the making against Juan Francisco Estrada. Alvarez will be up against domestic veteran Roque Lauro (13-21-5, 3), in what should be a mismatch in favour of the 27 year old Alvarez.
A third domestic show down will see Ivan Soriano (15-1-1, 7) take on Bimbo Nacionales (14-13-1, 3), in what will likely be a quick show case for Soriano. In his 28 fight career Nacionales has been stopped 12 times, and it's likely another stoppage loss will follow here.
As for newer faces we'll see Japanese 23 year old Masataka Taniguchi (6-1, 4) take on Benjie Bartolome (2-9-2) in what should should be a very straight forward win for the Watanabe gym fighter. Taniguchi was beaten last time out, narrowly losing to Reiya Konishi in a Japanese title fight, and will likely be in the Philippines with a statement to make. Taniguchi's stable mate Hironori Mishiro (1-0, 1) will also be on this card, with the 22 year old taking on Pablito Canada (6-11-3, 1) in what should be a straight forward win for the really exciting Mishiro, who looked great on debut back in March.