This coming Sunday is a busy day in Japan with 3 shows in the country, with 2 of those taking place in Osaka.
The most significant of those is a multi-title show from Muto promotions, with the card being headlined by OPBF Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (13-2-2, 11), who faces off with veteran Yasuyuki Akiyama (11-7-1, 8). The bout will see Tyson defending his OPBF title and also look to add the WBO Asia Pacific title, which is currently vacant but on the line for this bout. It's hard to see past a win for Tyson, given he holds almost every advantage, but the bout is likely to be the final one of Akiyama's career, and he will almost certainly give everything he has here.
A second OPBF title fight will see Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (27-12, 13) seek his second defense, as he puts his title on the line against Japanese foe Seizo Kono (19-8-1, 12). The Japanese based Filipino champion will be making his second defense of the title, following his dramatic win over Kentaro Masuda, and knows that if he can continue on his current winning streak there is a chance he will be able to move towards a world title fight. For Kono the bout perhaps comes at the perfect time, with the Japanese man having won his last 4, and seemingly ended his blotchy form, which saw him going 2-5. Despite being on a bit of a run this is still a big ask for Kono.
In a rematch we'll see former multi-time world title challengers collide, as Hirofumi Mukai (14-5-3, 4) and Inthanon Sithchamuang (31-9-1, 19) battle for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, just as they did in November 2016. In their first meeting Mukai stopped the Thai in 3 rounds, but since then he has gone 1-1, beating a novice Thai and being stopped in a war with Rex Tso. As for Inthanon, he's fought once since losing to Mukai, also a win over a novice Thai. It's fair to say that Mukai will be favoured, given how easily he won the first contest between the two, but it'll be interesting to see what the Tso bout took out of him.
A second Japan Vs Thailand bout for a WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title will see the once beaten Masahiro Sakamoto (10-1, 6) take on veteran former world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng (50-4-1, 27). Aged 26 Sakamoto is just coming into his prime and the Flyweight will be looking to claim the biggest win of his career here. His only loss came in a bout for this very same title last year, when he suffered a very close loss to current WBO world champion Sho Kimura, and he will know that a win against Kwanthai could push him into the world title mix. As for Kwanthai, he's a long way removed from the man who claimed the WBA Minimumweight title in 2010. He has gone 19-4 since that win, but suffered 2 stoppages and only beaten very limited opposition. This should be a win for Sakamoto, but the question is really “how impressive does he look here?”
A second show in Osaka will be promoted by Green Tsuda and although not a big card does have one of the day's most interesting contests on it, as well as the continued push of a man who has been matched hard through his career.
That hard matched man is Takayuki Okumoto (18-8-3, 8), who's record doesn't suggest anything special but he did recently challenge Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai, and ran Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking close in 2016. The Japanese fighter will be up against a Thai foe here, and should, easily, pick up the win in the card's main event.
Arguably the most interesting match up of the day is a supporting contest between two once tipped amateur stars, both in need of a big win after recent set backs. In one corner will be Kazuki Tanaka (7-1, 5), a Green Tsuda man who was tipped as a star but was stopped last time out by Ryohei Takahashi. Like Tanaka we saw Hikaru Marugame (6-2-1, 4) turn professional with high expectations, having competed on the international stage in the amateurs, but with 2 losses and a draw in his last 4 bouts those expectations are quickly dying. A loss here for either man would likely spell the end of any hope of them becoming a notable name, and the bout really is a must win for both.
A third card from Japan this coming Sunday is from Aichi, and is certainly one with an international feel, given the three most notable bouts all feature a visitor.
The main event sees former Japanese Light Middleweight title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (14-4-1, 9) take on Indonesia's Filipus Rangga (10-17, 1). The Japanese fighter looked like one to watch when he lost to Yuki Nonaka, with some suggesting just a tiny bit of seasoning was needed, and since then he has picked up two stoppage wins and looks like a genuine domestic contender, with a second title fight perhaps only a few bouts away. Rangga began his career 5-1 but since then has gone 5-16 and really is a very limited fighter on the domestic scene, and has fought at much higher weights. Not only is Rangga smaller, older, and less talented but he is also making his international debut. In all honesty Maruki should be disappointed if this goes beyond 6 rounds.
In an interesting support bout fans will see the pretty solid Shogo Yamaguchi (10-3-2, 5) take on domestically ranked Indonesian Lightweight Sam Puadi (7-8, 5). Yamaguchi has gone 1-3-1 in his last 5, though has faced the likes of Akihiro Kondo and Andy Hiraoka during that run, and really needs a win to kick start his once fledgling career. The visitor is 0-2 outside of Indonesia, including a loss earlier this year in Japan to Yuki Harada, though it's fair to say that the visitor will feel he has half a chance here against a very out of form Yamaguchi.
Also on this card will be a Heavyweight bout, as top ranked Japanese Heavyweight Kotatsu Takehara (13-11-3, 7) takes on Korean visitor Hoo Won Lee (4-3). The 39 year old Takehara is a 2 time Japanese title challenger and although he came up short in both bouts, to Kyotaro Fujimoto, he is a game fighter. Interestingly Takehara will be fighting for the first time since May 2016, when Japanese rules actually forbid him from fighting, and will surely be wanting to prove age is just a number. The 24 year old Korean visitor has age on his side, but the former Korean Heavyweight champion is stepping up in a big way here, and was stopped in a round back in June. If Takehara is half the fighter he was he should win, if he loses however it's got to be the end for him.
Seoul, South Korea
Fans in Korea will get their own title bout, as the unbeaten In Duck Seo (8-0-1, 5) takes on the limited Joong Kyung Lee (3-2) in a bout for the KBF Light Middleweight title. Seo is unbeaten, but could only a manage a draw last time out, in a very good match up against Dong Hee Kim down at 140lbs. As for Lee, who will be having his 6th bout of the year, this bout follows an 8 round loss to Moon Sung Choi and he will certainly be coming into this one looking to score a big domestic win.
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
The big boxing day this month for Japanese fans is April 28th, a day in which 3 Japanese world champions will look to defend their titles, a promising youngster looks to bounce back with a win, following a second career defeat, and a Heavyweight hopeful looks to record an international level win. All of which will take place at the Ota City general gymnasium.
The highest profile bout, and the one that does look somewhat intriguing on paper, sees WBA Super Featherweight “Super” champion Takashi Uchiyama's (24-0-1, 20) defending his title against “interim” champion Jezreel Corrales (19-1-0-1, 7). For Uchiyama, one of the real outstanding Japanese fighters, the bout will be his 12th defense and see him taking a step closer to the all-time Japanese record, the 13 defense record by Yoko Gushiken however it's not the bout he'll have wanted. Prior to signing for this fight he had been in talks with big name American fighters and this will feel like a let down to the champion, who was anticipating a big US debut, instead of a fight in Tokyo against a relatively unknown challenger.
At Super Flyweight the well liked Kohei Kono (31-8-1, 13) will be defending his WBA title against Thai challenger Inthanon Sithchamuang (28-7-1, 15). The bout really “looks” more even on paper than it should do and Kono, a world class fighter, shouldn't really struggle with the very limited Inthanon, who's world ranking really is questionable. We will accept that Kono's last bout was a tough one, against Koki Kameda, but this is too much of a step down in our eyes and the WBA need to take some responsibility for not stepping up and having better rankings.
The third world title bout is also a less than thrilling match up as WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (23-2-1, 10) defending his title against Venezuelan veteran Juan Jose Landaeta (27-8-1, 21). Of he world title bouts this one does have a possible upset, though that says more about Taguchi's last performance, a very poor outing against Luis de la Rosa, than it does about Landaeta. At his bets Landaeta was a very credible contender, however he is now in his late 30's and more than a decade removed from his last world level performance.
In an 8 rounder on the under-card fans will see once beaten Japanese Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto (13-1, 7) face off against Australian visitor Nathan McKay (6-2, 3). For Fujimoto this is a second successive bout with a disappointing opponent and it's perhaps time he took a risk rather than facing limited opposition with little to gain. Whilst he's far from a special fighter he should be against better tests than McKay.
In another under-card bout recent Japanese title challenger Yusaku Kuga (11-2-1, 7) will face Thailand's Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (13-5, 8), in what will be Kuga's first bout since coming uop short against Yasutaka Ishimoto last year. On paper this looks well matched, but we'd be shocked if Sukkasem really provides a test for the exciting Kuga, who is better than the numbers suggest.
The most interesting of two Thai shows features two men of note.
The main event of the show sees former WBA interim Flyweight champion Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (36-3, 22) fight against Indonesian fighter Iwan Key (10-13-3, 1) for the PABA Flyweight title in what is a massive mismatch. Key, who was once lined up to fight Akira Yaegashi, was last seen being stopped in 3 rounds by Samartlek Kokietgym and it's hard to see anything more than a stoppage loss here. For Yodmongkol however it's a confidence builder before another possible foray towards world class in 2016.
The other bout of note on this card will see Kongfah CP Freshmart (14-1, 8) taking on a man we've been told is Chokanan por Pakdee (who appears to be a debutant). For Kongfah this is his first bout since he was stopped, in a thriller, by Daigo Higa for the WBC Youth title and it's an understandable confidence building fight for a man who wimple broken down last time out.
This card will be aired on Channel 7 for those interested.
Another Thai card will be from Bangkok, and will be shown on Channel 3.
This card features a pair of title fights with both of those coming at Super Flyweight. One of those bouts will see PABA champion Chatpetch Sithmorseng (12-3-2, 6) defending his title against Indonesian Bayu Palue (2-0, 2), who likely has a very incomplete record.
The other will see Inthanon Sithchamuang (27-7-1, 16) defending the WBA Asia Super Flyweight title against Ichal Tobida (12-17, 8). It's hard to see anything but a win for the champion, but it's also hard to care too much for this bout given the limitations of Inthanon, who was notably stopped in 2 rounds in Macau by Jerwin Ancajas last year.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
To close out the week Filipino fans get a show that sees prospects facing “professional losers”.
On paper the biggest mismatch sees unbeaten Bantamweight hopeful Raymart Gaballo (10-0, 8) put his unbeaten record on the line against Roldan Malinao (11-35-1, 2). The 19 year old Gaballo has only fought at a low level, and this is technically a step up, however Malinao hasn't won a bout in almost 8 years.
Another mismatch featuring an unbeaten fighter comes at 122lbs where the 18 year old Michael Angelo Plania (7-0, 4) battles Ronerex Dalut (9-17-2, 2). The 26 year old Dalut is a relatively tough fighter, having been stopped only 6 times in his 17 losses, but has only won once in the last 3 years and won't be expected to really test Plania.
A third unbeaten fighter on here is Featherweight 21 year old Rimar Metuda (8-0, 4) who fights the very experienced Jamie Barcelona (38-58-1, 10). Barelona is a true veteran, and a tough one at that, but he has recently been a professional loser and won just once in the last 6 years. Metuda should get a test of his stamina but little else given that Barcelona seems to lack the desire to try and win fights in recent times.
There not much action this coming Tuesday however fans will have the chance to see title action in Bangkok. The bout in question will see Thailand's very own lnthanon Sithchamung ( 27-7. 16) battling against Indonesian visitor Espinos Sabu (12-6-1, 5) in a contest for the WBA Asia super flyweight. On paper this is a mismatch but Sabu does come to win and he could give Inthanon a tough test here.
Along with the main event we would expect to see at least one other televised bout on a card set to be televised by Channel 3SD in Thailand.
On Channel 3 Thai fans will get a title double header.
The more notable of the two title bouts will see Inthanon Sithchamuang (26-7, 16) battle struggling Filipino Mateo Handig (13-9, 7). At one point Handig was on the verge of a IBF Minimumweight world title fight, after claiming a very narrow win against Katsunari Takayama, since then however the Filipino has gone 0-4 and we expect that'll become 0-5. Up for grabs here is the WBA Asia Super Flyweight title, which we believe Inthanon won last time out.
The other title bout will see Thai based Nigerian Taiwo Ali (16-3, 11) battle against Thai local Pankorn Mor Poowana (6-2-1, 5). We have been impressed by Ali in the past and our great Thai friend Pal has tipped Ali to come out on top here in what looks like a solid match up for the WBA Asia Lightweight title.