The month of February kicks off this coming Saturday, and we start to see action return to normal with the second Dynamic Glove card of the year, and a Kazakh prospect in action in the US.
Toyko, Korakuen Hall
The Dynamic Glove card is an interesting one, with a ring return of a fighter who has served a year long suspension, a Japanese title fight and the second bout of a very highly regarded prospect.
The returning fighter is Kenichi Ogawa (22-1-0-1, 17), who will be fighting for the first time since December 2017 when he faced Tevin Farmer. The former Japanese Super Featherweight champion has served a 12 month ban for testing positive for illegal substance and will be looking to put that year behind him as he takes on Filipino foe Roldan Aldea (12-6-1, 6). The Filipino has lost his last 2, but did become the first fighter to take the exciting Shawn Oda the distance, doing that last April, and will be looking to have another solid performance here, even if he does end up coming up short again.
The Japanese title fight will see the unbeaten Junto Nakatani (17-0, 12) look to enhance his growing reputation as he takes on Naoki Mochizuki (15-3, 8) for the vacant Japanese Flyweight title. The title was vacated in late 2018, as Masayuki Kuroda put his focus on preparing for a world title fight, allowing Mochizuki to face Nakatani in the Champion Carnival. The unbeaten Nakatani is a former Rookie of the Year and Japanese Youth Champion who has already broken into the world rankings and is expected to go a very, very, long way. Mochizuki on the other hand is underrated due to his losses, with 2 of those being very competitive and one of those being suffered early in his career. Mochizuki has proven to be tough, have a good work rate and could well spring the upset over the much fancied and very highly regarded 21 year old Nakatani, but many will be tipping the youngster. We've previewed this bout here Nakatani and Mochizuki battle for Japanese title!
Another notable name on this card will be former WBA "interim" Flyweight and OPBF Super Flyweight champion Koki Eto (23-4-1, 18), who will be up against Filipino visitor Rommel Oliveros (9-4-1, 4). This looks like it will be little more than a tune up bout for Eto who is wanting to fight for a world title this year, though is likely to continue just ticking over, as he has done since facing Carlos Cuadras way back in 2015.
Also on this card is the second professional bout of former amateur standout Mikito Nakano (1-0, 1) and the professional debut of Gonte Lee (0-0), also an amateur standout. These two Teiken prospects will be up against Thai visitors in what we expect will be little more than show case bouts for the novices, who are expected to achieve great things in the near future, as the Teiken gym rebuild after a few disappointing years.
As well as the Japanese action fight fans will also get the chance to see touted Kazakh fighter Janibek Alimkhanuly (4-0, 1) take on Steven Martinez (18-4, 13), in a dangerous looking bout. We were excited to see Alimkhanuly goo full on professional last year, and sign with Top Rank, though his performances in 2018 left us wondering whether he really is suited to the professional ranks. He is very talented, sharp and accurate, but there is a feeling that something hasn't yet clicked, though in fairness he has been matched hard and there is incredibly high expectations on his shoulders. Martinez is a 28 year old who is tough, having never been stopped, but has been beaten by his most notable opponents, such as Terrell Gausha, Denis Douglin and Christopher Pearson. This should be a very good test for the Kazakh.
Pak Kret, Thailand
The main action this coming Saturday is from Thailand of all places, as ONE Championship put on a card that will feature a major boxing world title fight.
That bout will see WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (46-4-1, 41) defending his belt against Mexican challenger Iran Diaz (14-2-3, 6). The champion, who is now a sporting hero in Thailand, will be making his third defense of the title that he won in March 2017 when he upset Roman Gonzalez. Since then he has beaten Gonzalez in a second bout, Juan Franisco Estarada and fought a stay busy bout against Young Gil Bae, this is however a serious chance to impress on a show that isn't aimed specifically at a boxing audience. Diaz is taking a huge step up in class, though has scored notable wins over Hernan Marquez and Luis Concepcion. Sadly the Mexican has suffered notable stoppage losses and given Srisaket's power the odds are he will suffer another stoppage defeat here. A full preview of this bout can be read here - Srisaket and Diaz clash at Kingdom of Heroes
As well as the big show in Thailand there is also a notable card at the Korakuen Hall, including a title unification bout, a Japanese title eliminator and the debut of a stand out amateur fighter.
The title unification bout will see OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (6-0, 2) battle against Japanese champion Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1, 11) to unify those two titles. Of the two men it's Sueyoshi, the national champion, that has the more distinguished reign, having held his title since October 2017 and has already made a couple of defenses of the belt. Although a talented fighter Sueyoshi can be frustrating to watch and has a rather unique tempo in the ring. Mishiro on the other hand only won his regional title this past June, defeating Carlo Magali with a split decision. He knows he's up against a more experienced professional fighter, but did have a very accomplished amateur background. This could be the best bout of the day in terms of skills, even if the action probably won't be the most intense. A full preview this bout can be read here - Mishiro and Sueyoshi battle to unify crowns!
The chief support bout will see the unbeaten Junto Nakatani (16-0, 12) face off with recent OPBF title challenger Shun Kosaka (15-4, 4) with the winner getting a Japanese Flyweight title fight next year. Of the two Nakatani is clearly the favourite. He's a Rookie of the Year winner, a Japanese Youth Champion and a fighter who has broken into the world rankings. Kosaka on the other hand has come up short in most of his biggest bouts, with stoppage losses to Tetsuya Hisada and Jayr Raquinel, with the loss to Raquinel coming in an OPBF title bout. Given Nakatani's power we suspect Kosaka suffer his third stoppage defeat. A full preview of this bout can be read here - Nakatani and Kosaka fight for the right to challenge for Flyweight title!
This show will also feature the debut of of the very highly regarded Mikito Nakano (0-0), who ran up an excellent 75-9 in the amateurs and has been sparring with Hiroaki Teshigawara to prepare for his debut. The Japanese fighter will be taking on a relatively straight forward first assignment as he battles Thai foe Thanawat Yancharoen (1-3), in what should be a straight forward debut win for a genuine talent and a great addition to the Japanese professional ranks.
In the Philippines we get a card rescheduled from September 22nd, a pretty notable card taking place in Benguet.
The main event will see former OPBF title challenger Cris Paulino (18-3, 7) facing off with the upset minded Jomar Fajardo (16-11-2, 7) in a bout for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Super. Flyweight title. Paulino has been stopped in all 3 of hos defeats, to Ardin Diale, Koki Eto and Vic Darchinyan, but is a very capable fighter who is riding a 4 fight winning run into this fight. “Wallopman” Fajardo is best known for his two fights with Francisco Rodriguez Jr, earning a draw in the first of those bouts. Despite being upset minded Fajardo is 1-7-1 in his last 9 and and a win here would be one of his very best.
A bout that should be better than the records of those involved suggests will see Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-13-2, 11) take on Cris Alfante (14-7-1, 6). Neither of these men are world beaters, by any stretch of the imagination, but they should make for a very good contest between each other. Ponteras, on his day, can hold his own with fringe OPBF level opponents but is very inconsistent and can end up losing to opponents he should be. Alfante is the naturally smaller man, but also the younger man, and the fighter who will be looking to build on recent wins over Reymark Taday and Roilo Golez. This could be a pretty interesting match up, if we get the best from both guys.
Also on this card is promising youngster Jayson Vayson (7-0, 4), who looks to continue his unbeaten start to professional boxing as he takes on Ronald Alapormina (3-2-1). We like the 20 year old Vayson, a lot, and are looking forward to seeing him let off the leash in the near future. On paper this isn't a step up in class, but it will be his first 10 round contest. As for Alapormina he has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3 and will be wanting to end that win-less run. We expect a win for Vayson, but do hope to see him getting tested in the near future.
There's another small card taking place in India, which has also been rescheduled from September 15th and feature a youth title bout.
The title bout will see unbeaten Indian Rajesh Kumar (9-0-1, 2) take on Bright Ayala (16-1, 11), with Kumar defending the WBC Youth Lightweight title for the first time. The unbeaten local won the title back in April, when he defeated Glenn Enterina, and will not be wanting to relinquish that title just 5 months after winning it. Ayala, from Ghana, hasn't fought anyone of real note though was beaten last time he faced an unbeaten opponent, losing a decision to Oluwaseun Joshua Wahab. This bout should let us know how good both men are, or aren't.
The lead supporting bout is a female contest which will see 20 year old local Kirti (4-1, 2) take on Kiwi visitor Cherneka Johnson (10-0, 5). Coming into this Kirti is looking to build on a big win over Noemi Bosques but she will be regarded as the underdog against the in-form Johnson, who has stopped 3 of her last 4.
Baja California, Mexico
Out side of Asia we have a number of notable bouts, including a very interesting contest in Mexico between Jason Canoy (27-8-2, 19) and Luis Nery (26-0, 20), who battle for the WBC Silver Bantamweight title. The rugged Canoy is best known for losing in his biggest fights, including a loss to a then debuting Hinata Maruta and a thrilling loss to Hiroaki Teshigawa, and is expected to come up short again here. However the Filipino is tough, heavy handed and has never been stopped, he will also know this is a massive opportunity. Nery on the other hand is known for being a controversial figure, who has two tainted wins over Shinsuke Yamanaka. Nery is talented, heavy handed and highly capable, though there are serious doubts as to whether he can make Bantamweight and he will always have dark clouds hanging over his head for the wins over Yamanaka.
Baja California, Mexico
Staying in Mexico there will also be a contest featuring Mark Magsayo (18-0, 13), though his opponent has yet to be named. This will be Magsayo's first bout of 2018, and his first contest since seemingly leaving ALA Promotions earlier this year. He's a talented fighter but the long break, change in management and the lack of named opponent will not serve him well as he continues looking to build towards a potential world title fight.
In Canada fans will be able to see Kazakh prospect Batyrzhan Jukembayev (13-0-0-2, 11) continue his rise as he faces off with Mexican southpaw Patricio Moreno (20-2, 14). This will be Jukembayev's third bout of the year and he is tipped to go on to big things, this however is a perfect step up in class with Moreno being a tough but limited opponent capable of genuinely testing Jukembayev. A really interesting and solid match up.
The most notable action takes place in Kazakhstan, as a former world champion returns to action and fans also get the chance to see a number of local prospects take their next towards stardom.
The main event of the bout will see former WBA Light Heavyweight and Cruiserweight champion Beibut Shumenov (17-2, 11) return to face the once beaten Hizni Altunkaya (30-1, 17) for a version of the WBA Cruiserweight title, one of 4 “world” titles the WBA has at the weight. The Kazakh hasn't fought in over 2 years, since beating Junior Anthony Wright for the WBA “regular” title, due to an eye injury but has shown a new hunger for this return at the age of 34. Altunkaya on the other hand has been active but is one of the biggest bottom feeders in the sport and is totally without a win of note. The German based Turk has lost his only bout of note, suffering a 5th round loss to Krzysztof Glowacki, and this is a significant step up from his other competition. If Shumenov is half the fighter he once was, he shouldn't struggle to come out on top here.
One of the most notable prospects is Bobirzhan Mominov (6-0, 5), who will be looking to make a mark on his first bout on Kazakh soil, as he takes on Georgian teenager Giorgi Bliadze (7-6, 2). The unbeaten Kazakh has fought in the US and in Argentina so far, and has looked good in his wins to date, but this should be a great chance for him to shine against the relatively limited Georgian fighter.
Among the other fighters on this card is Aidos Yerbossynuly (7-0, 6), who has looked fun in his first 7 bouts. His opponent hasn't been named at the time of writing, but we don't imagine it will be anyone too testing.
As well as the show in Kazakhstan there is also a notable card in Tokyo, which will be broadcast on tape delay in the coming week. The card isn't a stacked one in terms of quality match ups, but it does feature a good main event and several notable names.
The main event will see the unbeaten Junto Nakatani (15-0, 11), who is now a world ranked fighter, taking on talented Filipino Dexter Alimento (13-3, 9). On paper this is a great match up, with Nakatani looking to build on a strong run of wins against the likes of Seigo Yuri Akui, Jeronil Borres and Mario Andrade and Alimento looking to give his own career a big boost. The Japanese fighter looks to be one of the countries fastest rising hopefuls and at just 20 the future is very bright for Nakatani. The 22 year old Alimento scored a huge win in January 2016, when he stopped Chanachai CP Freshmart, but has since gone 3-3, including a razor thin loss to Masataka Taniguchi, A move up to Flyweight isn't likely to help the Filipino, but we can't write him off give his energy and style, and he could be a real banana skin here.
Another Japan Vs Philippines bout looks to be thoroughly one-sided, as Matcha Nakagawa (12-1-1, 5), the 2015 Bantamweight Rookie of the Year, takes on Marzon Cabilla (16-16-1, 5). The talented Nakagawa is riding a 3 fight winning run coming in to this but hasn't fought since December. The Filipino the other hand has been active, with two fighters already this year, and whilst he has won 7 of his last 8 he was stopped last time out, and has been stopped in 12 of his 16 defeats.
Also on this card fans will be able to see Yuichi Yokoyama (17-4, 15), Ryota Toyoshima (8-2-1, 6) and Masaya Tamayama (10-1, 5) all in action, with all 3 men taking on Thai visitors.
There's also two cards in the Philippines, one of which will take place in Bohel and be promoter by former world champion Gerry Penalosa.
The main event of the card will see the unbeaten Dave Penalosa (12-0, 8) make his ring return, after almost 2 years away from the ring, as he takes on Indonesian veteran Ricky Manufoe (27-34-3, 10). The talented Penalosa had looked like a promising talent early in his career but a few stumbles in his activity has slowed his progress and he's now been out of the ring since September 2016. Despite the inactivity the the Filipino will be strongly favoured against an opponent who has been racking up a lot of losses on the road in recent years.
A second Philippines Vs Indonesia bout will see Carlo Caesar Penalosa (11-1, 4) battle against Iwan Key (11-21-3, 1), in an equally mismatched contest. Penalosa was upset in February 2017, by Reymark Taday, but has since bounced back with 4 wins and will be expecting another easy one here. Key has scored 1 win in his last 11 and won't be expected to get a win on the road here.
Metro Manila, Philippines
The bets of the Filipino bouts, on paper at least, comes from Metro Manila, as WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Flyweight champion Cris Alfante (14-6-1, 6) makes his second defense, battling against veteran Ardin Diale (33-12-4, 16). Alfante won the title in 20116, with a win over Rolio Golez, and made his first defense last September. He will go in as the champion, but as the under-dog with less experience than the battle hardened Diale, who is a proven fighter at the regional level and will be looking to bounce back from a 2017 loss to Moruti Mthalane.
The main chunk of action this coming Sunday is from Kanagawa as Fuji TV put on a world title double header, with a couple of notable prospects packing out the under-card.
The headline bout of this show will see WBA Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (13-1, 10) make his first defense, as he battles Italian veteran Emanuele Felice Blandamura (27-2, 5), who is getting his first world title fight at the age of 38. Murata won the title last year, when he stopped Hassan N'Dam in their second meeting, and looked sensational doing it, literally picking and breaking N'Dam down through 7 rounds. The Japanese fighter has already been linked to a summer defense against Esquiva Falcao but will be aware that Blandamura is no push over. The Italian is a former European champion who has only lost to world class fighters, in Billy Joe Saunders and Michel Soro, and should give Murata some real questions. Blandamura has solid speed, timing and skills and should force Murata into showing something new here, but the challenger hasn't shown the best chin and that will likely be his down fall here, because Murata can certainly punch.
The other world title fight will see WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-0, 15) defending his title against Nicaraguan challenger Cristofer Rosales (26-3, 17. For Higa this bout not only serves as his 3rd defense but will also see him, potentially, set a Japanese record for the most successive stoppages, a record that he tied earlier this year when he stopped Moises Fuentes. The youngster from Okinawa has been a destructive force since his 2014 debut and and another win here will likely see him begin the hunt towards a Super Flyweight title. As for Rosales, the Nicaraguan has never been stopped and has only been beaten by Keyvin Lara, Khalid Yafai and Andrew Selby, with all 3 men having some problems with the Nicaraguan. Coming in to the Rosales has won his last 3, since the loss to Seby, including a win over the tricky Martin Tecuapetla and a big win in Italy against Mohammed Obbadi. This looks likely to be Higa's hardest fight so far, but a win will really legitimise him as a world class talent.
A notable prospect on this card is Junto Nakatani (14-0, 11), the Japanese Youth Flyweight champion. The unbeaten 20 year old, who went 4-0 (3) last year will be going up against WBC world ranked Mario Andrade (13-6-5, 3). On paper this is a huge step up in class for Nakatani, but he has looked sensational for the most part, with only Masamichi Yabuki and Yuma Kudo even testing the youngster so far. Andrade has a rather weird looking record, though much of that weirdness has come from a bizarre 3-5-4 start to his professional career. Since that odd started he has gone 10-1-1 with a win against Masayuki Kuroda, a draw against Oswaldo Novoa and a loss to Jesus Silvestre. This should be a really good test for Nakatani and win will put him on the fast track to a title fight.
Another prospect on this card is 2016 Rookie of the Year Shawn Oda (7-0, 7), who takes on Filipino foe Roldan Aldea (12-4-1, 6). The talented Oda is one of Japan's most promising Lightweights and at just 19 years old he looks to be well on his way to mixing at title level in the near future. So far his 7 fight career has lasted just 17 combined rounds and he is a pure natural puncher. Aldea on the other hand has been stopped in 3 of his 4 losses, and was taken out in December 2016 by Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov. Despite lacking toughness Aldea has stopped his last 2 and will have some momentum coming into this one.
There inst much action of note in Yamaguchi, but fans will see the exciting and heavy handed Teiru Atsumi (13-2, 6) return to the ring for his first bout since his 2017 loss to Shingo Kawamura. The loss to Kawamura ended Kawamura's 7 fight winning run, which featured 5 stoppages including wins over Sho Nakazawa and Burning Ishii, and we expected to see the Japanese based Korean out to make a statement as he faces Katsuhiko Kanno (10-10-7, 4). Kanno has a lot of losses but he's only been stopped once in 27 bouts and should prove to be the tough foil that Atsumi needs to make a statement against.
In the main of a card in Mie fans will see Yuto Nakamura (7-4, 6) challenge OPBF ranked Bantamweight Tetsu Araki (10-1-1, 2) in what could be one of the unheralded bouts of the day. The 21 year old Nakamura is a gutsy youngster who gave the under-rated Matcha Nakagawa a good test last year, and has only close decisions other than that loss. Araki on the other hand is riding a 6 fight winning run, but does lack any real quality in terms of his wins and could be given a surprisingly tough test here.
Another potentially good bout on this show will see the once beaten Shuma Sugawara (4-1, 3) take on Yudai Imada (6-2-3, 3) in a solid and competitive 6 rounder. Both men have some power, and both have ambition so this should make for a very hotly contested contest.
It's been a slow start to the Japanese boxing calendar this year, but this coming Saturday we get out first live televised card of 2018. The show, set to be aired by G+, features the first Japanese title fight of 2018 along with a number of other names fighters, including 2 prospects who could really break out over the next 12 months.
The main event will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Ryo Akaho (31-2-2, 20) make his second defense of the title, as he takes on the under-rated, and aggressive, Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6). Akaho, a former 2-time world title challenger, won the title last March and recorded his first defense with a stoppage win against Yuta Saito last August. Although a heavy handed fighter, at this level at least, he's a ling way from being the best Japanese fighter at 118lbs and could well see his reign being a short one, given the rising talent in the country. Suzuki started his career with big aspirations but sets backs to Yusaku Kuga, Ryoichi Tamura and Jeffrey Francisco slowed his climb. Coming in to this the challenger has won his last 3, and earned the right to fight Akaho thanks to his 7th riund TKO win over Eita Kikuchi in a Japanese title eliminator last October. This should be a hard hitting and violent war.
In the chief support bout we'll see Charles Bellamy (26-3-2, 17) return to the ring after more than a year out. The Japanese based American will be up against a Thai foe, who we've been told is a natural 140lb fighter and should look much smaller than Bellamy. The talented New Yorker born fighter hasn't fought since a controversial 2017 draw with Yuki Beppu and will likely be looking to make up for lost time this, with a quick blow out here and a speedy return to action.
One of the notable prospects on this card is Japanese Youth champion Junto Nakatani (13-0, 10), who takes on Filipino visitor Jeronil Borres (8-3-1, 5). The unbeaten 20 year old has been impressive since his 2015 debut, and claimed the 2016 Flyweight Rookie of the Year along with the Japanese Youth title last year. Beronil began his career 7-0-1 but has lost 3 of his last 4, including a very controversial loss to Joo Hyun Jung last February. The Filipino is the naturally smaller man and whilst he's a good fighter at his level, we suspect the power and size of Nakatani will be too much.
Another unbeaten on this show is the very exciting Kai Chiba (7-0, 6), who faces of with Filipino foe Brian Lobetania (12-4-3, 10). Last year we saw Chiba go 4-0 (3) and scoring a very notable win in a thriller with Ryo Matsubara, in what was one of many hidden gems of 2017, here he will be looking to continue his climb towards a title fight, but comes up against a very live Lobetania. The Filipino has lost 4 of his last 6, but is a natural puncher and will be looking to stop Chiba, in what is likely to be a very thrilling action bout.
The once beaten Hironobu Matsunaga (11-1, 5) is expected to be in action on the card, though no information at all is available on his opponent. The talented Matsunaga fought 3 rimes in 2016, scoring 3 solid wins, but was inactive in 2017 and will be hoping to rebuild his career this year, potentially moving towards some kind of title fight before the year is over.
There is also set to be a Chinese card, with a number of title bouts.
In the main event of this card we'll see once beaten Chinese hopeful Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (12-1-1, 5) take on Indonesian visitor John Ruba (15-3-1, 8) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Light Welterweight title. The exciting Chinese fighter was beaten last time ouit by Rikki Naito, but was unlucky in what was a very competitive bout. It's hard to know how good he is but he has looked good through his career so far. As for Ruba he's a very promising fighter at this level, and comes into this bout on a 7 fight winning run...but it would take a career best win for Rub to win here.
Arguably the most interesting bout on this card will see Jing Xiang (13-4-2,3) take on very talented Filipino fighter Dexter Alimento (13-2, 9) in a contest for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental Light Flyweight title. Coming in to this Xiang is on a 5 fight winning run having claimed the WBO Oriental Flyweight title in 2016. He has come up short against some decent fighters in the past, such as Macrea Gandionco and Ben Mananquil, but a decision win over Mananquil in their second bout shows his ability.
Also on this card is a 10 rounder between once beaten local hopeful Jian Wang (4-1) and Thai foe Yutthichai Wannawong (6-4, 5) for the WBO Oriental Youth Super Bantamweight title. The 21 year old Wang has scored back to back wins following a loss in a regional title bout. The Thai visitor lost his first 3 bouts, all in Japan, but has gone 6-1 (4) since then and claimed a Thai title on his way up. On paper this isn't the most interesting of bouts, but the Thai has a little bit of form and could make for an a decent test.
For a second day running we get a show dedicated to the Japanese Youth Tournament, with 3 finals and two semi finals taking place on a show that really looks brilliant on paper in regards to even match ups, even if the card lacks bit name appeal.
On paper the best of the bouts is the Flyweight final, which pits two unbeaten punchers against each other in a real humdinger. In one corner is 2016 Flyweight Rookie of the year Junto Nakatani (12-0, 9), who had to answer real questions last time out against Yuma Kudo in his semi-final bout. In the opposite corner is 2015 Light Flyweight Rookie of the year Seigo Yuri Akui (11-0-1, 7), who enters on the back of 5 stoppage wins including a huge one over Kenji Ono and a solid showing in his semi final against Ryuto Oho. This has the potential to be the best bout of the whole Youth Tournament and is a really tough one to call.
At Super Bantamweight we're expecting a full on shoot out as 21 year old Ryota Ishida (8-1, 6) takes on 22 year old Takuya Mizuno (11-1-1,11). Ishida has stopped his last 3, and hasn't seen the final bell since he was fighting in 4 rounders, more than 2 years ago. Mizuno has stopped his last 4 foes, and has shown power through out fights with stoppages in rounds every round from 1 to 6. This promises to be be a hard hitting bout, and although we favour Mizuno, it could go either way, and should be a real treat.
On paper the worst of the finals is at Bantamweight, where the recently beaten pairing of Wataru Takeda (10-1-1, 4) and Yuto Nakamura (7-3, 6) face off. Takeda was beaten last October, just 2 fights back, by Ryohei Takakhashi after claiming the 2015 Rookie of the year, and although he has shown some signs of being a real prospect there are still a lot of questions left for him to answer. Although beaten 3 times Nakamura has never been outclassed, with all 3 losses being razor thin ones and he will be in there looking to make a statement. This looks like the worst of the finals for the day, but should still deliver a great contest.
At Light Welterweight we get two semi-final bouts. One of those will see the once beaten Ukyo Yoshigai (5-1, 4) take on Andy Hiraoka (9-0, 6) in a really interesting contest. Yoshigai, who won the 2016 Rookie of the year, was beaten back in April by Giraffe Kirin Kanda, but that loss will have helped his development. Hiraoka on the other hand has looked great in recent bouts, but has only fought 10 rounds since the end of 2014, and it's hard to know how good he really is, even if he does pass the eye test with ease.
The other bout looks like a potential fire fight as Hayato Ono (5-1, 5) battles Takahiko Kobayashi (6-2, 5). Between the two men they have heard the final bell just once, in what was Kobayashi's most recent bout. Ono will see this as a potential chance to set up a rematch with Yoshigai, the only man to have beaten him, whilst Kobayashi will be looking to avenge a 2016 loss to Ono, in which he was stopped in the 5th round. There's history here, two punchers, and two men who have questionable durability. With this one the best advice is don't blink!
One of the biggest changes to the Japanese domestic scene in 2017 is the development of the new Youth Tournament, aimed at those who have progressed beyond Rookie status but aren't yet ready for Japanese title fights. The tournament has it's semi finals this coming Tuesday in a second successive day of Dangan cards.
The lowest weight being competed at is Flyweight, and we get two really good semi-finals. One of those will see the unbeaten Seigo Yuri Akui (10-0-1, 6) battle against the light punching Ryuto Oho (9-3-1, 2). The bout looks like one where Akui will be favoured but this is a really creditable test and Oho won't be turning up to pick up a loss, especially after having lost last time out to Yuta Matsuo.
The other Semi final at Flyweight will see 2016 Rookie of the Year Junto Nakatani (11-0, 9) take on the light hitting Yuma Kudo (6-2-2, 1). On paper this looks like a mismatch in favour of the unbeaten puncher but Kudo has never been stopped and will likely be looking to break Nakatani mentality by simply not going away. This could be a very interesting test for both men.
At Super Flyweight we'll see the exciting Kenya Yamashita (9-3, 6) take on the once beaten Naoto Iwai (3-1, 1). The bout will be Yamashita's first since changing gyms earlier this year and will be Iwai's first since losing his unbeaten record, also earlier this year. This bout really has the look of being something a bit special with Yamashita being a brawler with an exciting style and Iwai being a more pure boxer type, giving a good stylistic combination, and both will be very hungry for a win.
The next division with a semi-final bout will be Featherweight, where Retsu Kosaka (7-2, 2) will take on novice Ryo Sagawa (1-0, 1). Looking at the records alone suggests that this will be a mismatch in favour of Kosaka, but he has lost his last 2 bouts and last scored a win a year ago, against a poor Thai import. Segawa on the other hand looked great on debut last December and is tipped as a real diamond in the rough, which he'll be looking to prove here.
The Super Featherweight semi final will see Sho Nagata (7-2, 2) face off with the heavy handed Ryusei Ishii (6-3, 4). Although Nagata has the better looking record he has had a few very close wins, including his last 2 bouts, and could consider himself lucky to have the record he currently has. Ishii is the bigger puncher but we have seen him being stopped. With both men having limitations it's fair to say that this may actually be the most interesting bout, despite the less than great records of the two men involved.
The most important of 4 Japanese shows comes from Osaka this coming Sunday and features an OPBF title bout.
The OPBF title contest will see OPBF Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (11-2-2, 10) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Sung-Jae Ahn (6-3, 1). The heavy handed champion shocked the Oriental scene last year as he comfortably out boxed Dwight Ritchie for the title and will be expecting an easier assignment here against a Korean fighter who really is fortunate to be getting this type of opportunity. Although Ahn is a former Korean champion it's almost 2 years since he last fought and it's hard to favour him given the inactivity, and it's worth noting he debuted more than 8 years ago. If Ahn is tough he can make life tricky for Tyson, but this should be a pretty clear win for the champion.
Another Japan Vs Korea bout sees Shachihoko Dragons Keita (6-5-2, 1) take on the unbeaten Ga-ram Kim (2-0, 1). The Japanese local has a very mixed record, and is 2-3-2 in his last 7, showing the struggle he has for consistency. As for the Korean he debuted in 2009, fought against in 2011 and has really not stayed active enough to build on any promise he had. This is a bout in which both men will fight to win, but it's not one that the winner will really build their reputation on.
There will also be a notable card in Okayama.
The headline fight on this card sees local prospect Seigo Yuri Akui (9-0-1, 5) take on limited Thai visitor Nattawut Siritoem (0-2). The 21 year old Japanese youngster made a mark in 2015, when he won the Light Flyweight Rookie of the Year, and had a sensational 2016 to build on his record with a huge stoppage win over Kenji Ono in December. Tipped as a real one to watch Akui will have extra pressure on his shoulders here, as the main event, and will be expected to put in a great performance. The Thai is 0-2 having been stopped in both bouts, and it's likely he'll suffer another early loss here.
In the chief support bout we'll see Kota Fujimoto (6-1, 2) take on Takahiro Murai (14-7-2, 5) in a really good looking domestic bout. Fujimoto suffered his only loss in December last year, in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final against Ryuji Fukunaga, and will be looking get his career back on track here, and record his biggest win to date. Murai is much more experienced, and has got some good results on his record, but was himself beaten in December, by Takeru Kamikubo, and will also be coming into this bout in search of a win.
In Fukuoka fans will see the once touted Takumi Sakae (14-2-1, 9) fight in a real must win against Thai visitor Nayoklek Sithsaithong (1-0, 1). Just over a year ago Sakae was touted as one to watch, he was world ranked and looked on the way to big things. The he lost to Tatsuya Fukuhara and has since gone 1-1-1 with his career now really on the rocks, following a big upset loss to Ryoki Hirai last December. The quality of the Thai is really a mystery, and this will be his first bout since September 2014, if boxrec have a complete record. The Thai could be there to fall over, or his could be a horrible surprise for a man who will be very low on confidence.
There will also be a very low key card in Tsu, Mie, and this card really is a very low quality one.
The main event will see the heavy handed Yuto Nakamura (6-3, 5) battle against the once beaten Kenta Nomura (4-1, 1). Aged 20 Nakamura looks like an exciting puncher who could make a name a name for himself in the local area, but the reality is that he will need to improve a lot to make a mark further afield. Nomura, also 20, is far from a puncher but is a nice boxer and could well make for a very interesting dance partner for Nakamura. Although a nice bout on paper, it's a bout that probably wouldn't main event in any major Japanese boxing region.
A similarly interesting looking bout will see Daiki Yamamoto (3-0, 1) take on Seiya Kaga (4-1, 1) in a 4 rounder. Again the bout looks interesting and well matched, but really won't make any mark at all outside of the local area. Another prospect on this card will be Junto Nakatani (10-0, 8), who will be battling against Filipino Joel Taduran (8-5-1, 2).
We get the first of two Boxingraise shows on February 19th, albeit one that will be aired on delay, as Dangan put on “Pioneer of Fight Vol 2”
The main event of the show is a very interesting match up as the heavy handed Akinori Hoshino (12-7-1, 9) takes on the once touted Shun Kosaka (13-2, 3). Aged 28 Hoshino comes into this following an excellent 7th round TKO win over Kenya Yamanashita, and although his record is patchy he has been matched hard with bouts against the likes of Gakuya Furuhashi, Tatsuya Takahashi, Ryuichi Funai and Yusuke Suzuki. Although his record isn't great Hoshino is a real threat at domestic level. As for Kosaka he'll be hunting a 5th straight and prove that he's back on his way up following losses in 2014, to Yamashita, and in 2015, to Tetsuya Hisada
In a female bout we'll see the unbeaten Yoshie Wakasa (4-0, 2) take on the once beaten Miyo Yoshida (5-1). The 28 year old Wakasa will be stepping into 6 rounders for the first time, and this bout follows a tough win last year against Thai visitor Dokmaipaa Kietpompetch. Yoshida made her debut more than 2 years ago and had a busy 2016, in which she went 4-1, and she will be looking to score her best win here. Both fighters are obviously fighting for a solid win and it wouldn't be a shock to see both women fight their heart out here.
In another supporting bout we'll see Junto Nakatani (9-0, 7) battle against Thai visitor Mingkwan Sithjirachai (0-1), who was stopped in a round on debut last year. The 19 year old Nakatani will be fighting for the first time since winning the 2016 Rookie of the Year crown at Flyweight and will be looking to make a splash in 2017.
This coming Friday Japanese fans get two different shows, one of which is a major domestic event, whilst the other is just a low profile card.
The key event of the day comes from the Korakuen Hall and is the final of the 2017 Rookie of the Year, with the winners of the bouts being crowned the All-Japanese champion. In total their will be 12 bouts, taking place from Minimumweight to Middleweight and will likely set the scene for several notable prospects going into 2017. We won't go through all 12 bouts, but we have picked some of the most interesting on paper.
At 140lbs we'll see unbeaten punchers collide as 20 year old Hayato Ono (5-0, 5) risks his perfect KO record against 19 year old Ukyo Yoshigai (4-0, 3). The bout is almost certainly going to see both guys letting bombs go from the off. Ono has stopped his 5 opponents in a combined 10 rounds, with 3 opening round victories, Yoshigai has also fought just 10 rounds, though has scored a trio of 2nd round wins. This is going to be explosive!
Another potentially explosive bout between unbeaten fighters will see 18 year old Junto Nakatani (8-0, 7) battle with Masamichi Yabuki (3-0, 3) in a Flyweight contest. Nakatani has scored 5 stoppages this year, in a combined 9 rounds, and looks to be a natural born puncher. Yabuki has amazingly fought less than 6 minutes as a professional and has stopped his first 3 opponents in the opening round. This could be another enthralling and explosive contest.
Whilst not all the bouts promise the same explosive action as the two about the bouts are all significant and not a single fighter involved has a losing record!
The low profile card comes from Hyogo and is promoted by Amagasaki Promotions.
In the main event of this card we'll see the once beaten Yuki Iriguchi (6-1-1, 3) facing off with an unknown Thai foe, in what is expected to be little more than a confidence builder for the Japanese fighter. Iriguchi has gone 1-1-1 in his last 3, with that loss being an opening round blow out to the really exciting Hibiki Jogo. With so little known about the Thai we can't say much, but it's clear that Iriguchi's team are wanting him to end the year with a second successive win.
In the chief support bout we get a competitive looking contest between Tomoya Itosu (6-2, 3) and Shoji Nakamura (4-2-1, 2). Itosu has won his last 3 but those 3 bouts have come over the last 3 years and his career has really lacked activity and consistency, Nakamura has won his last 2, and is unbeaten in more than a year. This could be a genuinely enjoyable bout.