This coming Tuesday in Tokyo we see the highly anticipated God's Left Bantamweight tournament kick off, with the quarter final bouts all taking place on the card, along with one other notable and interesting domestic match up.
On paper the best of the 3 quarter final bouts will see the unbeaten Jin Minamide (3-0, 3) taking on the once beaten Tetsu Araki (14-1-1, 2). Araki was is a former Japanese Youth champion and also fared pretty well in the 2015 Rookie of the Year. Although not a man with stellar amateur pedigree he has proven himself in the pros, with notable wins against the likes of Yuto Nakamura and Ryuto Owan. Minamide on the other hand was a top amateur, with over 40 amateur wins, and has been put on the fast track as a professional, with some quick wins including a very impressive one against Marjun Pantilgan. This is a really interesting match up, and one we're really looking forward to.
The winner of the Minamide Vs Araki bout will face off with either Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5) or Kenichi Watanabe (8-4-1, 4), who battle in the same half of the tournament. Nakajima, like Minamide, is a highly regarded prospect following a very good stint as an amateur, and will be regarded as one of the tournaments favourites. Watanabe on the other hand is a live under-dog though will looking for a career best win. Although Watanabe is the under-dog he has shared the ring with the likes of Hiroaki Teshigawara and Koki Eto, so has mixed with good company.
The remaining quarter final bout will see Gaku Aikawa (9-7-1, 3) battle against the all action Kenya Yamashita (13-5, 10). On paper this is the "lesser" quarter final, but in reality it's one of the more even bouts with both being flawed fighters who can upset better foes. On paper Yamashita is the favourite, but the aggressive youngster has taken a lot of punishment through his career and it's unclear what he has left to offer. Aikawa on the other hand has picked up losses recently but has shown an upset minded mentality and could well pick up an another upset win here. The winner of this bout will face Seiya Tsutsumi in the next round, with Tsutsumi getting a bye to the semi-finals.
One other bout of interest will see Shogo Yamaguchi (11-4-3, 6) take on the highly regarded Masanori Rikiishi (5-1, 3). Yamaguchi is a "win some, lose some" fighter but on his day he's a solid fighter who has scored a draw with Genki Maeda, went 8 pretty competitive rounds with Akihiro Kondo, and is far from a pushover. Rikiishi on the other hand is a highly regarded prospect solid wins over the likes of Genki Maeda and Kei Iwahara and will be strongly favoured here.
Action returns to the Korakuen Hall this coming Satuday for the next Dynamic Glove card, though sadly it won't be aired live on G+ as we typically see, instead being delayed for broadcast on Monday.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) defending his belt for the second time, and taking on mandatory challenger Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6), a former Rookie of the Year winner. Takesako has looked brutal so far through his career, but has struggled to get suitable opponents on the domestic scene, and likely needs to look beyond domestic title challengers, if he gets past Kato. For the challenger this is a huge step up in class, a very, very tough match up, but a huge chance for him to make a big name for himself. Our preview for this bout is available here Japanese king Takesako faces mandatory challenger!
The main event is mouth watering and it's strange that the under-card appears to be focused on showcasing a trio of notable Japanese prospects. One of those is Celes Kobayashi protege Jin Minamide (2-0, 2). The unbeaten Minamide, a former standout amateur, has taken out good looking opponents very easily so far, but will be taking a huge step up in class here, as he goes up against Filipino Marjun Pantilgan (18-7, 14), in what could be a very tough outing for the unbeaten hopeful.
On paper Takuma Takahashi (2-0, 2) is also taking a step up as he goes up against 21 year Filipino Jonel Dapidran (10-3, 6). On paper this is a credible step in the right direction for Takahashi, though we wouldn't be surprised to see him score another early win. Dapidran fought in Japan late last year and was stopped by Rikuto Adachi, retiring after 3 rounds, and that will almost certainly be a marker for Takahashi to try and beat.
Interestingly Masahiro Suzuki (1-0, 1) is the only prospect on the card not taking a clear step forward, and in fact is taking a slight step backwards. His debut came against the big punching Antonio Siesmundo, and he was forced to dig deep to win, so it seems sensible to ease things a bit, as he takes on Kelvin Tenorio (4-4, 2). It's hard to imagine anything but a win for Suzuki, who is one of the best prospects in Japan, but here we'll be looking to read more from the performance, rather than the result.
There is one really competitive looking bout on this card, as Japanese ranked Kenji Ono (11-2-2, 6) takes on the returning Hayato Yamaguchi (14-7-1, 2). Both of these guys can be in entertaining scraps, and despite their records they are really well matched. Ono is more active in recent years, but is winless in 3, whilst Yamaguchi hasn't fought since October 2016, when he lost to Tetsuya Hisada. Don't be surprised if this one steals the show.
The best single bout to feature an Asian fighter comes from Glasgow, where legendary Filipino Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24) takes on WBA Bantamweight “super” champion Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9) in the final WBSS Bantamweight quarter final. This has the potential to be Donaire's last bout, if he loses, given he turns 36 on November 16th, but a win secures him a semi-final bout against Zolani Tete. For the unbeaten Burnett the bout is a chance to score a big win over a huge name in the lower weights, as well as setting himself up for a bout with Tete. This is real must win for both men, but sadly has the potential to be a bit of a stinker with Burnett likely to be too quick, too smart and too elusive for the Filipino veteran. A full preview of this bout can be read here Burnett and Donaire face off for final semi-final place!
The most notable card for us this coming Saturday comes from the Korakuen Hall where we get a Japanese Middleweight title bout and bouts featuring several notable Japanese prospects.
The Japanese title bout will see Japanese Middleweight king Kazuto Takesako (9-0, 9) make his first defense, as he faces off with former champion Sanosuke Sasaki (12-6, 6). The unbeaten champion won the title earlier this year, decimating Hikaru Nishida in 92 seconds, and since then has fought only a stay busy bout against tough Thai visitor Chaiwat Mueanphong. Former champion Sasaki had a 4 month reign from last 2012 to early 2013 but is 1-5 coming into this bout and looks to be a very under-whelming challenger for the heavy handed champion. It's nice to see Takesako defend the title, but it's a shame that he's not in there with a man anyone is giving much of a chance to. A preview of this title fight can be read here Takesako's first defense sees him takes on former champion!
In a supporting bout Masaya Tamayama (11-1, 6) will battle against Daijiro Yuki (8-4-1, 4). Coming in to this the 25 year old Tamayama is riding a 7 fight winning streak, and has broken into the JBC rankings at Welterweight. Yuki, also 25, is unbeaten his last 2 bouts but is 3-4-1 in his last 8, and has been stopped twice. We can't see anything but a win for Tamayama, but we do expect him to have to earn it.
Another supporting bout will see Daiki Funayama (7-3-1, 2) take a part in his first 8 rounder, as he takes on once beaten puncher Kenta Yamada (5-1-1, 4). Funayama has won his last 4, though has had to go the distance in those wins, and seems to lack power, even at the low end of the domestic level. Yamada on the other hand will be fighting for the first time in over 2 years. Although no world beater Yamada does hold a notable win over Kazuki Sanpei and will be looking to get himself back on the domestic map here.
One of the notable prospects is Jin Minamide (1-0, 1), who will take a notable step up in class to face Filipino Conrado Tanamor (10-2, 4). On paper this looks like a great match up for the young prospects, though digging beneath the surface we do wonder what Tanamor really brings to the ring following back to back stoppage losses, and a 0-2 record in fights outside of the Philippines. Despite Tanamor not being a great opponent we are looking forward to seeing how Minamide goes about his business here
Another of the prospects on this show is the debuting Masahiro Suzuki (0-0), who is scheduled to take on Antonio Sismundo (6-1, 6). Suzuki is a touted fighter who is a notable Japanese amateur with a lot of expectation on his shoulders, and he's been matched aggressively here against a man who clearly has power. Sismundo has stopped 6 men inside the first 3 rounds, but was stopped himself in his sole defeat back in September 2017.
Staying in Asia we also get a title double header in the Philippines, though neither match looks particularly competitive.
One of them will see Eranio Semillano (16-9-3, 5) and Edison Berwela (16-39-8, 5) battle for the PBF Bantamweight title. It's hard to imagine Semillano losing here, but Berwela is a live under-dog and did shock the Asian scene earlier this year when he stopped Saenganan Sithsaithong way back in January. It should be noted that since that upset win Berwela has lost his last 2 bouts.
The other bout will be for the PBF Super Flyweight bout and will see Cris Alfante (14-7-1, 6) take on Zoren Pama (8-14-3, 5). Alfante has mixed with great competition, such as Knockout CP Freshmart, Andrew Moloney and Daigo Higa, and we suspect that he will have far too much for Pama, who lacks a win of any note, though did surprisingly go 7 rounds before losing a technical decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2014.
There will also be a couple of bouts of note in Texas where two Kazakh prospects will be in action.
One of those prospects will be the very highly touted Janibek Alimkhanuly (3-0, 1), who faces off against Vaughn Alexander (12-1, 8) in what looks like an excellent test for the unbeaten man. The 25 year old Kazakh southpaw failed to really shine in his US debut, back in September, but he is a genuine talent and the expectation is that he will adapt to the professional ranks quickly. The once beaten Alexander is looking to bounce back from an August loss to Dennis Doughlin, and will not be coming in to this bout to lose. This should be an excellent test for Alimkhanuly.
The other prospect is less hyped Sagadat Rakhmankul (3-0, 1), who hunts his fourth win as he takes on the once beaten Nicklaus Flaz (5-1, 4). The unbeaten Rakhmankul has been impressive so far, following a debut this past February, and will be looking to close out the year with arguably his best win so far, as the 25 year old looks to move to the next level. Flaz is a 22 year old Puerto Rican who was beaten last time out by Hurshidbek Normatov and will be looking to get back to winning ways, though sadly hasn't fought since that Normatov bout back in December 2017.
The first Japanese show of June takes place at the Korakuen Hall and features a number of notable fighters, including a couple of touted debutants and a Japanese champion.
The main event will see hard hitting Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (8-0, 8) defending his title against a Thai foe. Originally Takesako was supposed to battle Filipino journeyman Joel Dela Cruz (20-26-3, 8), though Dela Cruz has been replaced just days before the fight. The destructive Takesako won his Japanese title in 92 seconds back on March 3rd, destroying Hikaru Nishida, and was unable to find a suitable challenger in time for this date so will instead be staying busy with this bout. Whilst it doesn't make a lot to fight a mismatch just to stay busy Takesako has fought just 3 minutes and 2 seconds in the last 12 months and returning to the ring as soon as he could was probably in his best interest.
One of the debutants here is Jin Minamide (0-0), who takes on Indonesian Anthony Holt (5-3-1, 3) in what should be a show case for Minamide. The other debutant is Takuma Takahashi (0-0), who will be facing a Thai in another bout that is expected to be a show case. These two Japanese debutants are both B class fighters and both former amateur standouts who are expected to go on to have success going forward, so are well worth making a note of their names.
In a supporting bout Japanese ranked Flyweight Spicy Matsushita (17-10-1, 2) will go up against Ryusie Ishii (7-4, 4). Matsushita fought for the Japanese title last October, losing in 7 rounds to Shuichiro Yoshino and this will be his first bout since that defeat. The 21 year old Ishii has lost 3 of his last 5, but will feel like this is a great opportunity to claim a big over a Japanese ranked foe, who just turned 35 and is thought to be past his best.
The chief support bout from this card will see JBC and OPBF ranked Featherweight Junki Sasaki (19-3, 7) going up against the very hard matched Ryo Sagawa (3-1, 2). Coming in to this Sasaki is riding a 6 fight winning streak, since losing in April 2015 to Ryo Takenaka. On paper that sounds good, but the reality is that his competition haven't been great and it's hard to know just his good he really is. On paper Sagawa looks to be a big under-dog but he has been matched hard and this is certainly the sort of bout and his team will feel their man can win, and will know that if he does he will automatically find himself in the title mix. High risk and high reward from Sagawa's team here.
In Azerbaijan we get a rescheduled show that was originally supposed to take place on April 27th.
The main event will see South African Cruiserweight Kevin Lerena (20-1, 9) battle against German based Ukrainian Roman Golovashchenko (19-1-0-1, 17) for the IBO Cruiserweight title. Larena is riding a 9 fight winning streak coming into this bout with notable victories over Micki Nielsen, Youri Kayembre Kalenga and Dmytro Kucher, as well as avenging his sole loss to Johnny Muller. Golovashchenko on the other hand is unbeaten in 16, including a no-contest against Yakup Saglam, but hasn't yet beaten anyone of real note, and this should be a straight forward win for Lerena.