This coming Tuesday sees action return to the Korakuen Hall for what is a genuinely intriguing title double header, featuring two really nice looking bouts.
Technically the main event of the card is a Japanese Light Middleweight title fight, as Koshinmaru Saito (23-8-2, 13) takes on Takeshi Inoue (9-0-1, 4) for the currently vacant title. Originally Saito was supposed to fight Yuki Nonaka for the title, but Nonaka vacated and as a result this bout was made, which in fairness is a much more even looking bout. Saito is a genuine veteran of the sport, aged 38 and with almost 17 years of experience under his belt. Despite being a veteran Saito has never win “a big one” and will likely know that this will be his final title shot. For the exciting Inoue this is a big step up, but could well see him becoming a champion less than 3 years after his debut.
Talking about being fast tracked the other title bout will see Hiroto Kyoguchi (6-0, 6) make the first defense of his OPBF Minimumweight title, as he takes on Jonathan Refugio (16-5-5,4). The ultra-fast rising Kyoguchi has been a professional for just over a year but has had a meteoric rise since debuting in April 2016 and has already claimed his first title, with others expected to follow before the end of 2017. Although Refugio is 23 years old he's already a bit of a veteran and has shared the ring with a string of notable names and should serve as a very legitimate first challenger for Kyoguchi.
On the under-card we'll see Noriyuki Ueno (18-14-5, 5) battle against a Thai visitor and veteran Ribo Takahata (12-7-1, 4) battle against recent Japanese Lightweight title challenger Yusuke Tsukada (8-6, 3), in what should be a very interesting card.
The first show of 2017 in Japan takes place in Okinawa, and is an interesting one with 3 bouts of real note.
The most significant of those is the show's main event, which will see Seita Ogido (11-2-1, 3) battle with Filipino Jonathan Refugio (16-5-4, 4) for the WBC Youth Light Flyweight title, a title that was last held by Ken Shiro. For Ogido this is a second successive fight against a notable Filipino, following his August win over Jeffrey Galero, and will see him fighting over the 10 round distance for the first time. For Refugio the bout is a chance to claim a second WBC minor title, having won the WBC International Light Flyweight title last year, when he upset Richard Claveras. This is a really well matched bout and a great test for the two young men.
In the chief support bout we'll see Japanese veteran Go Onaga (27-3-2, 18) take on Filipino youngster Jake Bornea (11-2, 5). Both men are coming into this on the back of a loss, but they are bother at very different points of their careers. Onaga was last seen in August losing in an OPBF title fight against Rene Dacquel and it seems likely that his career will come to an end in the next year or two. For the 21 year old Bornea the bout sees him returning to the ring following a November loss in the UK to Andrew Selby. The Filipino will know that a win here will potentially get him in to the mix for an OPBF title fight whilst a loss for Onaga will speed up his retirement.
The third bout of note is also another Japan Vs Philippines bout and will see Masatoshi Kotani (19-2, 13) battle against Rey Laspinas (21-14-6, 12). Coming in to this bout Kotani is riding a 9 fight winning run and is slowly moving towards a title bout of his own, potentially later this year. Laspinas will be fighting in Japan for the 4th time, though is still looking for his first win in the country. It's hard to see a n upset here, but Kotani has been stopped by a Filipino under-dog before and will be looking to avoid that happening against here