In Tokyo this coming Friday we get a wonderful card with a couple of title fighters and several very interesting under-card bouts. If you're a fan of the Japanese, or Asian scene in general, this card deserves your attention, even if it's not a particularly huge one in terms of names. It's one that has quality match ups, rather than big name fighters.
The main event will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (13-5, 11) make his first defense, following his controversial title win in December against Yuki Strong Kobayashi. The hard hitting, and incredibly fun to watch, Kurihara will take on former world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (26-9-1, 23). For those who haven't seen Kurihara he's aggressive, very heavy handed and always worth watching. Parrenas, in his prime, was very similar, though the now Japanese based Filipino has aged significantly from his pomp and is certainly heading towards last chance saloon. If Parrenas can roll back the clock we could have a FOTY contender on our hands here. A full preview of this bout is available here Kurihara and Parrenas meet in OPBF title bout!
The other title fight on this card will see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) defending his title against mandatory challenger Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8), in what is Shindo's second defense of the title. Shindo won the title in 2018 though suffered an injury in that win, leading to an interim title being created and Shindo then facing Akinori Watanabe in a thriller in December. Matsunaga on the other hand has earned his title shot thanks to a win over Koshinmaru Saito, in what was his 8th straight victory. Shindo is a tall, rangy boxer whilst Matsunaga is much shorter, and how that dynamic comes into play will be really interesting here. A preview of this bout is available here Shindo takes on mandatory challenger Matsunaga
This isn't just a top heavy card, but also one with good supporting bouts. On paper the best of those is Bantamweight bout between Matcha Nakagawa (13-1-1, 5) and Kai Chiba (10-1, 7). Both of these men are in their mid-twenties and both will know a win here pushes them to verge of a title fight. With both having just a single loss it's clear that both men will be looking to pick up a win here, and given their contrasting styles we're expecting a really compelling fight.
Another intriguing under-card fight will see the popular Joe Tanooka (15-6-4, 1) battle against Naoto Mizutani (5-6-1, 2). Tanooka is the clear favourite, but has lost 3 of his last 4 and desperately needs a win to remain relevant. He's not been matched softly, but too many losses and he will lose some of the fans that have been with him since his 2013 Rookie of the year campaign, where he reached the All Japan final. It's worth noting that Mizutani has also lost 3 of his last 4, but gave a very good test to Fumiya Fuse in February. Mizutani will be coming in to this lookign for an upset, like the one he got in September against Mirai Imagawa.
One more meaningful match up will see former title challengers collide. In one corner is former Japanese Lightweight title challenger Masaki Saito (15-13-6, 5) whilst the other will feature former OPBF Featherweight title challenger Ryuto Araya (12-7-1, 4. The men are meeting at a catch weight, around 133lbs, and both will know that a loss here could finish their hopes of getting another shot at a belt.
One other fighter pencilled in to fight on Friday is Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Ivan Dychko (7-0, 7), who takes on 48 year old American Ray Austin (29-9-4, 18) in Miami. This will be Dychko's first bout since beating Maurice Harris back in July 2018 and if we're being honest it's a truly disappointing bout for his return. The Kazakh should be much, much further along with his career by now, but his team really have dropped the ball massively with him and this bout is further proof of that.
Jeonju, South Korea
Arguably the most interesting action this coming Saturday is in Korea, where we'll see the next Korea Vs Japan card, and it features so pretty interesting fighters.
A bout where the Korean will be favoured will see Ro Joon Suh (5-0, 2) take on Japanese visitor Ken Koibuchi (4-2, 3). The 20 year old Suh will be moving up from 4 round bouts for the first time, but he has looked good since turning professional in October 2017, though he does perhaps lack a bit of power. Koibuchi on the hand has got power, but can be out boxed, and was beaten last time out, losing in the East Japan Rookie of the Year final to Yusaku Sekishima.
A bout where the Korean will be the clear under-dog will see local fighter Jong Min Jung (9-8, 3) take on Japanese puncher Kai Chiba (9-1, 7). The local is a former "interim" PABA Featherweight champion who debuted way back in 2008 and struggled early on in his career, though is 5-1 (2) in his last 6 bouts. Chiba began his career 7-0 but was stopped this January by Brian Lobetania and hasn't quite refound his form, despite scoring two wins since then. At his best Chiba is a monster boxer-puncher, but we're not sure what his confidence is like at the moment.
A pretty interesting match up on this card will see Seung Yoon Shin (3-1-3, 1) take on Japanese novice Tatsumasa Abe (1-0, 1). The Korean 21 year old will be facing his first non-Korean opponent, and it's hard to read too much into his record, which has come against fellow domestic novices. Abe on the other hand was a stellar amateur, going 71-19 in the unpaid ranks, and is tipped as one to watch. Interestingly Abe debuted in Thailand in August and this will be a second bout outside of his homeland as he embarks on an unusual start to his career.
The main bout from the card isn't part of the Korea Vs Japan event, but is instead an All Korean 10 round contest and will pit Hyun Je Shin (9-8, 2) against Chan Young Kim (3-1-2, 1), with the two fighting for the Korean Super Featherweight title, BoxingM version. Shin is a former Korean title challenger at Flyweight, Super Flyweight and Super Featherweight, who is sadly 0-3 in title bouts. Despite the poor record in title bouts he does hold wins over Kazuki Sanpei and Daniel Ferreras. Kim on the other hand is a 20 year old who comes into the bout on the back of a good win against Hwan Oh Kim.
Gyeongju, South Korea
A second Korean show, from the KBA, will take place in Gyeoingju. Sadly this card is scarcely worth a mention, with the main event being a 6 round contest between Yi Fan Liu (3-0, 3) and Jong Bin Lim (4-0, 1). That's a good main event but there's no real big name to attract fans from the much better Korea Vs Japan card.
A second major show on the Asian front at least, is in China where we'll be getting a trio of title bouts.
The most notable bout on the card will see the exciting Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (14-2-1, 6), who has suffered competitive losses to Rikki Naito and Fredrick Lawson, taking on Venezuelan veteran Ernesto Espana (26-1-1, 21) in a bout for WBC International Light Welterweight title. The Chinese fighter is an aggressive warrior, who has got limitations but is a real handful, and is better at 140lbs than at 147lbs. Espana on the other hand is a 37 year old who has mostly fought awful competition, but in 2016 held Ruben Nieto to a draw in Spain and went the distance with the talented Yves Ulysse Jr earlier this year. We suspect the Chinese local will come out on top but Espana has shown enough to suggest this will not be an easy win for Baishanbo.
Another title bout on this card will see the unbeaten ZongLi He (4-0, 1) take on Filipino Vincent Astrolabio (12-2, 8) for the vacant WBO Oriental Youth Bantamweight title. He turned professional last year, but has stepped up quickly and claimed the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Flyweight title this past May when he defeated experienced Filipino Diarh Gabutan over 10 rounds. Astrolabio looked like a promising prospect a year ago, when he was 10-0, but losses to John Mark Apolinario and Yuki Strong Kobayashi leaves him needing a big performance. This is a really interesting match up, but one where the local will be favoured.
A third title bout on this card will see Casey Morton (7-0-3, 1) take on Jutamas Jitpong (4-2, 2) for the WBO Asia Pacific Female Super Flyweight Title. The unbeaten Morton is an Hawaiian who is becoming a frequent fixture on the Asian scene, has recently fought twice in Thailand and once in China, scoring a good win this past March against Nongmuay Kokietgym in Paranque City, to claim the Flyweight version of this title. The Thai 20 year old has lost 2 of her last 4, and it's hard to really gauge how good she actually is from her competition and performances. A win for Jitpong would be her biggest win by some margin, whilst Morton has got a big win coming in to this bout.
One other bout of note on this card is contest between Qixiu Zhang (9-5-1, 3) and Karen Margaryan (3-0-1). The Chinese local is looking to bounce back from a recent loss to Joe Noynay in the Philippines, whilst Russian based Armenian Margaryan is taking a marked step up and actually risking his unbeaten record.
We've also been informed that Ricky Sismundo (35-11-3, 17) will be in action on this show, against Chinese fighter Lei Wang (1-0, 1), who was a former WSB fighter before making his regular professional debut in September. This looks like being a really good fight, and a one that both fighters will believe they can win, though of course
In Canada we'll see Indian fighter Neeraj Goyat (10-3-2, 2), fighting for the second time in Canada, take on Bence Molnar (18-8, 10). On paper this is a fantastic step up for Goyat, who will be fighting over 8 rounds, rather than the 4 rounds he fought last time. At 27 years old he has time to develop but it's hard to see him getting too far in the sport given how few Indian's have made a mark on the pro-scene, so far. Molnar on the other hand is an Hungarian journeyman, who has fought through most of Europe, and is notable for having gone 10 rounds with hard hitting Brit Lewis Ritson in 2016. This could be a very good test for Goyat and give his team a chance to really see what he's really about.
In Russia we're expecting to see a trio of Kazakh punchers in action, with Super Middleweight Ibragim Iskandarov (5-0, 5), Uzbek born Kazakh Cruiserweight Ualikan Bissengulov (7-0, 7) and American based Kazakh Yedil Kozhamberdiyev (5-2, 5), also a Cruiserweight, expected to be in action. Sadly their opponents haven't been announced.
This coming Friday fight fans in Tokyo get the chance to see the next show in the Asign Bee series of shows, and it looks like a genuinely great show on paper, littered with notable domestic fighters and a number of good match ups.
The main event is the pick of the bouts and will see the hard hitting Keita Kurihara (10-5, 9) take on the unbeaten Tetsuya Watanabe (3-0, 2). The 25 year old Kurihara lost 4 of his first 7 but has since gone 7-1 (6) with his only loss during that run coming against the very talented Hiroaki Teshigawara. Since that loss to Teshigawara we've only seen Kurihara once, but that was an impressive stoppage win over Ryan Lumacad. Watanabe debuted last year and despite winning his first 3 bouts in a combined 9 rounds this is a huge step up in class for him, with his opposition so far doing little to really show how good he actually is. A win for Watanabe would put him in the title mix, but this is a huge ask for the unbeaten man.
In the co-feature we'll see 38 year old veteran Kinshiro Usui (28-6, 12) battle against Kyosuke Sawada (10-2-1, 5) in another really good looking match up. The veteran has lost 2 of his last 3, both to former world title challengers in Hisashi Amagasa and Hidenori Otake, but showed that he was still a very good fighter over 8 rounds in both of those bouts. Usui isn't a world beater, by any stretch, but is a very good domestic level fighter who will be a nightmare to Japanese level fighters at 122lbs. Sawada turned professional with some promise, but back to back losses to Yusuke Suzuki and Hiroaki Teshigawara saw him quickly fall to 0-2. Since then however he has rebuilt brilliantly, defeating the likes of Gaku Aikawa, Kenta Okumura and Yuta Horiike. The bout is pretty much a 50-50 and a win for either man will be significant, with both risking their JBC rankings here.
A less well matched domestic bout will see Naoki Mochizuki (13-3, 8) face off with Hideyuki Watanabe (8-10-3, 6). On paper this is a bit of a mismatch, though with Mochizuki losing 3 of his 2, including his last bout, we can't really complain about him having an easier bout, especially as this will be a rematch of a razor thins 2015 bout. In their first bout Mochizuki took a raor thin win, and has since gone 5-2 (1), losing to Keisuke Nakayama and Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking in competitive bouts. Sadly for Watanabe he has gone 0-2 since losing to Mochizuki and will be looking to avoid a 5th straight loss here.
Another promising fighter looking to bounce back from a recent loss is the hard hitting Kai Chiba (7-1, 6), who was stopped last time out by Brian Lobetania. The once beaten Chiba will be up against Keisuke Tabuchi (9-4-2, 7) in what could be a potential banana skin. The 25 year old Chiba looked really promising in 2017, going 4-0 (3) for the year with notable wins over Ikuro Sadatsune and Ryo Matsubara putting nim on the map, but his loss to Lobetania has slowed his ascent and shown defensive and mental flaws. As for Tabuchi he has lost 3 of his last 4, but has been mixing at a high level with losses to Ryohei Takahashi, Hiroyuki Kudaka and Yu Kawaguchi. Interestingly Tabuchi has had a lengthy break from the ring and will likely be looking to return as a rejuvenated man here in what could be a very exciting domestic bout.
In another bout we'll see see multi-time title challenger Koshinmaru Saito (23-9-2, 13) take on a Thai foe as he attempts to earn one more shot before his career comes to an end.
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.
This coming Saturday is set to be a busy, yet thrilling, day with a show of note in each Japan and Hong Kong. Not only do both countries get a card of note, but both cards are genuinely significant as we go forward.
Hong Kong S.A.R, China
The Hong Kong card, put on by DEF HK and Watanabe as they continue to work together, has a trio of title bouts and potentially a fight of the year contender.
That fight of the year contender will see local star Rex Tso (21-0, 13) take on former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (33-10-1, 14), in a bout for Tso's WBO International Super Flyweight title. The local is one of the sports most exciting fighters, and although he has improved markedly in recent years he is still, at heart, a fighter there for the fans, and a man who enjoys a thrilling tear up at every opportunity. Kono on the other hand is a bit of a faded force, and has lost 2 of his last 3, but has a style that is very fan friendly, and should gel with Tso's here. Do not be surprised by this one being a little bit special.
In a second title bout we'll see Kono's stable mate Ayumi Goto (7-0, 5) battle with Indian teenager Kirti (3-0, 2). Reports have stated that this will either be a female OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight, with Goto defending her title, or a WBO Asia Pacific title bout, for a vacant title. On paper this should be an easy win for the Japanese fighter, but it is fair to say that Kirti is an unknown, and could be a surprise package of sorts.
The third title bout on this card will see the always fun to watch Takuya Watanabe (32-7-1, 17) battle against Chinese foe Leshan Li (13-2-1, 8) for the WBO Oriental Super Featherweight title. Watanabe is one of the many under-the-radar Japanese fighters who is guaranteed to put on good fight, no matter who he is facing, and we're expecting another fun one here. As for Li he's a bit of an unknown but is a heavy handed fighter and has won his last 7 bouts, suggesting good form and good confidence coming into this one.
One other bout on this card, which looks set to be explosive, will see Thai based Dutchman Nick Frese (6-0, 5) take on heavy handed Filipino Prabhjot Singh (7-1-1, 7). Given that these two have 12 stoppages in 13 wins we're expecting to see bombs away, though it's hard to see anything but a win for Frese, who looks like a genuine prospect.
In Japan we'll be getting a card that will be aired live on G+ and will be promoted by Teiken.
The main event of this card will see the in-form Masaru Sueyoshi (15-1, 10) take on Ribo Takahata (13-7-1, 5) for the vacant Japanese Super Featherweight title, in what will be the first title fight either man has been in. The bout, for the title vacated by Kenichi Ogawa, will see Sueyoshi coming in to it with a 12 fight winning run dating back more than 5 years, whilst Takahata has been inconsistent, alternating between wins and losses over his last 15 bouts. It's hard not to favour Sueyoshi but it is his most meaningful bout to date.
In a supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Shuya Masaki (8-0, 4) take on Filipino foe Ciso Morales (19-4-1, 12). It's fair to say that Masaki has shown touches of brilliance through his early career, but he has been inconsistent and it always seems like there is just something missing from his performances so far. We expect to see him show his maturity here against a visiting foe who shouldn't be over-looked and will be a very live under-dog. Morales might not be a sensational fighter, but he's a good enough fight to test someone like Masaki at this level.
In a really interesting under-card bout we'll see the once beaten Ryo Matsubara (7-1, 7) take on the unbeaten Kai Chiba (6-0, 5), in a bout between punchers. Coming in to this one Matsubara has won his last 6 bouts in a combined 7 rounds, and has well and truly put his sole defeat behind him, with that loss coming back in his second professional bout. Chiba on the other hand went 6 rounds last time out, ending his own stoppage run. Both of these men like to throw heavy leather, and this could be a very explosive contest.
Japanese ranked Welterweight Yuki Nagano (11-2, 8) will be risking a 9 fight winning run as he takes on Thai foe Kriengkrai Tor Silachai (3-0*) in what could be a potential banana skin for the local. Although ranked by the JBC it's hard to know how good Nagano really is, whilst the Thai is a bit of an unknown, and it's unclear really whether we even have his complete record here.
A second Japanese ranked Welterweight on this card is Ryota Toyoshima (7-1-1, 5), who risks his ranking against domestic rival Masaharu Kaito (5-2, 2). Coming in to this bout the 21 year old Toyoshima has won his last 5, though he did suffer a decision defeat to Kaito back in 2015, and it's obvious he is seeking to avenge that set back. Sadly for Kaito he has lost 2 of his last 3, including one to the previously mentioned Nagano and seems to be struggling for form coming in to this bout.
*-Record reported as being differed to the 3-0 figuire.