This coming Wednesday fight fans in Japan will get the chance to see a title double header at the Korakuen Hall, with both bouts being for WBO Asia Pacific titles, and pitting Japanese fighters against Filipinos. As well as the two title fighters there's also a Japanese ranked fighter and a very highly touted debutant.
The first of the two title fights is the more interesting as WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Richard Pumicpic (20-8-2, 6) takes on the unbeaten Yoshimitsu Kimura (9-0, 4). The Filipino won the title last year, when he upset former world title challenger Hisashi Amagasa, and will be returning to the scene of that win. Although his record doesn't suggest he's anything great Pumicpic is a total nightmare to fight, and has given problems to fighters like Yohei Tobe, Ryosuke Iwasa and Cesar Juarez. As for Kimura this is a massive step up in class,and he's yet to fight anyone of any note. In fact the challenger is stepping up from low level domestic competition to facing one of the most tricky fighters on the regional scene. A win for Kimura would be both a huge statement, and a massive upset.
The other title fight will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (19-2-1, 17) take on Filipino foe Alvin Lagumbay (9-2, 8), with Obara seeking his second defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. The heavy handed Japanese fighter is looking to move towards a second world title fight, now at a more natural Welterweight, but opponents like Lagumbay aren't going to help him get fights at the top level. For those unaware Lagumbay has fought in Japan before, and was stopped by the then 3-0 Lightweight prospect Kazuki Saito, which should sum up why he's such a terrible opponent for a Welterweight like Obara here.
In a domestic Middleweight bout we'll see Japanese ranked Shuji Kato (7-1-1, 5) take on Sosuke Sakata (5-4-1, 2). Kato won the 2017 Rookie of the Year, and is riding a 5 fight winning streak, to show that he deserves some attention. However this is a clear step up in class from the fellow novices he has been fighting, despite Sakata himself being a limited fighter. As for Sakata he has been plying his trade at Welterweight though could see the move up in weight give his career a new lease of life.
The debutant of real note on this card is former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita (0-0), who went 110-31 (47) in the unpaid ranks before turning professional at the start of this year. The talented Sugita will be up against hard hitting Filipino visitor Jun Blazo (7-5-3, 6). The Filipino is 0-4 in Japan, but has fought very good competition, losing to Koki Eto, Daisuke Watanabe, Hayate Kaji and Ryuto Owan. This is a really tough debut bout for Sugita, but there is very high expectations on his shoulders and this sort of debut is a great statement of intent.
Originally there was also a Japanese Bantamweight title bout set for this card, between Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) and Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8). Sadly this bout has been cancelled, with Suzuki pulling out of the bout due to an injury suffered in training. From what we under-stand Muranaka will be fighting for the vacant title down the line, though this is understandably a cruel twist for Suzuki who already missed out on a title fight this past January when Ryo Akaho was forced to cancel a fight against him.
For a second day running Asian fight fans have a world title fight to get excited about, as WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (14-0, 14) looks to kick off his 2018 with a homecoming defense in Okinawa. The destructive champion will be facing off with former WBO Minimumweight champion Moises Fuentes (25-4-1, 14). The aggressive and powerful Higa will be seeking his second defense, following an impressive win over Thomas Masson in October, and with 2018 being a potentially huge year for Higa there is few who would want to deny him a homecoming bout in Okinawa. For Fuentes, who looked terrible in his 2016 loss to Kosei Tanaka, this is likely to be one final shot at becoming a 2-weight champion. At his best Fuentes was a nightmare to fight, though his best days are well behind him and were down at Minimumweight, where he could use his size effectively. At Flyweight the Mexican is going to find life very difficult against the younger, stronger, bigger, fresher Higa.
In a leading support bout we get the chance to see another young puncher in action, as teenager Shawn Oda (6-0, 6) take on Filipino visitor Warren Mambuanag (11-8-2, 3). Oda came to our attention in 2016, when he claimed the All Japan Lightweight Rookie of the year, less than 7 months after his debut, and he has looked extremely promising and destructive. Despite the perfect start from Oda this is a step up and Mambuanag is no push over, having been the GAB Super Featherweight champion and a solid domestic level fighter on the Filipino scene.
Another teenager on this show will be former amateur stand out Ryuto Owan (3-0, 2), who goes in for a serious test as he battles big punching Filipino Jun Blazo (7-4-3, 6). Aged 19 Owan has a lot of potential, and his team really do have a lot of belief in him, putting him against someone as dangerous and heavy handed as Blazo, especially given that Blazo dropped Owan's stablemate Koki Eto back in 2016. Coming in to this Blazo has suffered back to back losses, but is a real dangerman for Owan and a monstrous step up in class.
There is also a small card in the Philippines this coming.
The main event will see Michael Escobia (12-16-1, 3) take on Jestoni Autida (10-7,5), in what should be a highly entertaining domestic level clash. Escobia is 2-13 in his last 15 bouts, but has mixed at a decent level and took a big upset win last September against Jelbirt Gomera. Interestingly Autida is also best known for his upsets, wins over Jeffrey Francisco and Ratchasaki Kokietgym, and he did manage to be competitive with Jason Canoy and Ernesto Saulong. Both of these men are better than their records suggest, and we expect that to be shown here in what is likely to be a very good fight.
Sadly the rest of the card is pretty forgettable and unlikely to be too exciting.
We get the first of December's many Japanese televised cards on December 2nd and it's a genuine interesting card with a number of notable names involved and several potentially thrilling bouts.
The main event of the card will see the teak tough Nihito Arakawa (30-6-1, 18) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight title against Filipino veteran Adones Aguelo (28-16-2, 19). On paper this might look a bit of a mismatch, with Arguelo having so many defeats against his name, but the Filipino is a technically solid fighter who has been unlucky in a number of defeats, including a robbery against Will Tomlinson, and he's had very competitive losses to Sergio Thompson and Nery Saguilan. Arakawa will always be remembered for his brave, gutsy and insane bout with Omar Figueroa. His form following that bout struggled but he comes into this bout on a 5 fight winning run, and will be favoured to make his second defense of the regional title.
In a key supporting bout we see punchers collide as Japan's hotly tipped Hayate Kaji (8-0, 7) takes on Filipino banger Jun Blazo (7-3-3, 6). Of the two men it's Kaji who has really impressed us, and the 2015 Rookie of the Year winner looks like the next face of the Teiken gym, with frightening power, speed and skill. This bout should however see him being given a chin check. Blazo, fighting in Japan for the third time, famously dropped Koki Eto last December and will be hoping to make it third time lucky in the Land of the Rising Sun. Blazo can be out boxed, but slugging with him is a mistake an this could be a very tense bout that could end in the blink of an eye.
In another supporting bout we'll see former Japanese Light Middleweight title challenger Yuto Shimizu (11-3-2, 4) return to the ring for the first since since April 2016, when he lost to Yuki Nonaka. The loss to Nonaka ended an 8 fight winning streak for Shimizu, who will be looking to get his career back on track against Indonesian foe Maxi Yeninar (1-0, 1), of which very little is known.
A third under-card bout worthy of note sees Japanese ranked Featherweight Junki Sasaki (18-3, 7) take on the potential banana skin of Ronnie Campos (7-2-2, 4). Sasaki comes into this bout on a run of 5 straight wins, but they have been against relatively poor competition, with the best of the wins coming against Yuki Ozawa. Campos won't be backed by many here, but he will be looking to leave a mark on the Japanese scene in what will be his first bout outside of the Philippines.
For fans interested in watching this show it will be televised live on G+.