This coming Wednesday is a notable day in Asian boxing, with a big fight in Thailand, and a small yet noteworthy card in Japan.
The Thai show will be headlined by the rematch between WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (18-0, 7) and Nicaraguan foe Byron Rojas (25-3-3, 11), who he actually beat for the title in 2016. Knockout had been the interim champion prior to taking the full title from Rojas, and since winning the full title he has made 5 defenses including wins over Shin Ono, Rey Loreto and Xiong Zhao Zhong. In recent fights the champion has looked solid and dependable, rather than sensational and exciting, with an going joke that his name should be Unanimous Decision CP Freshmart. As for Rojas he comes into the bout on an 8 fight winning streak, though those wins have come at a much lower level than Knockout's and it's unclear how he will cope with the step back up in class. Given their first bout we're not anticipating a thrilling clash here. A preview of this bout is available here Knockout and Rojas meet in rematch for WBA crown!
In Tokyo we'll get another in the Japan Vs China series of shows that Dangan have been putting on.
Among the fighters included on this card is former amateur stand out Shu Utsuki (2-0, 1), who we believe is taking on fellow unbeaten Da Xu (3-0-1, 1) in an 8 round Super Featherweight bout. Utsuki is tipped to be a star and we have to strongly favour him to defeat the Chinese teenager.
Another unbeaten Japanese prospect on this card is Tsubasa Murachi (2-0, 2), who faces off with limited visitor Sheng Peng (3-5, 2), in another that should go Japan's way however we are interested to see what Murachi can show here.
One other Japanese prospect on this card is Kaiki Yuba (3-0-1, 2), though sadly we don't have the name of his opponent.
Arguably the best of the Japan Vs China bouts is a match up between the limited pairing of Shun Wakabayashi (8-3, 1) and Xian Qian Wei (13-6-1, 1). Both of these fighters are very flawed, lack power, but do make for entertaining contests and we wouldn't be surprised to see this being the potential bout of the day, with a high intensity and the belief that either man can win.
This card will also include an OPBF female title bout as Erika Hanawa (9-3, 3) battles Jujeath Nagaowa (13-18-1, 8) for the Minimumweight title. Both of these fighters have come up short at the top level, but they should make for a competitive bout against each other, with both being flawed and limited fighters. Despite their limitations they aren't actually bad fighters and this could be a very entertaining distraction from the Japan Vs China competition.
A third card for the day will come from Shenzhen in China, with a trio of title bouts on the card.
In a WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Crruiserweight title fight Chinese local hopeful Peng Qu (13-2-1, 9) will take on the hard hitting Abraham Tabul (14-1-1, 12). This will be Qu's second bout since abandoning the Light Heavyweight division at the turn of the year, following a loss to Gasan Gasanov, and we suspect his frame will suit Cruiserweight much better than it did at 175lbs. Saying that however Cruiserweights do hit significantly harder than the Light Heavyweights he had previously been fighting and we expect to see him being chin checked here. Tabul, from Accra in Ghana, is 0-1 outside of his homeland, and his competition so far lacks any real quality and it's very hard to know what he brings to the ring.
A second title fight on this show will see Cheng Su (12-2-1, 6) battle against Thai foe Panturak Namtong (10-4-1, 7) for the WBO Oriental Super Welterweight title. It's hard to know what either man has done to get a shot at this belt, given that neither has notched a win of note and both have suffered a recent stoppage loss to a poor opponent. All things considered we suspect the local will pick up the win, but he's not going to go much further as a professional.
Sadly the biggest name on the card, OPBF Silver Super Featherweight champion Takuya Watanabe (35-8-1, 20) is actually a man involved in the biggest mismatch on the card, as he defends his title against Wisitsak Saiwaew (6-7, 5), who is best known for being stopped by Watanabe's stablemate Sho Kimura, at Flyweight. We are huge admirers of Watanabe, and his career has been a thoroughly entertaining one as well as one which has seen him fighting in Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taipei and China, but this is his third limited foe in a row. This really is little more than a show case for the talented. tough and exciting Watanabe.
This coming Monday fight fans in Japan get the chance to see a really intriguing domestic level card combining competitive match ups, youth and and fighters looking to prove themselves.
The main event of the show should be something very special as the always fun to watch Kenya Yamashita (12-3, 9) takes on the experienced Hayato Kimura (26-10, 17). It's hard to think of a dull fight featuring Yamashita, who is an ultra-aggressive fighter always looking for the KO and in Kimura he should find someone able to take his power early on and have a war. Coming into this Yamashita is ranked #5 by the JBC at 115lbs whilst Kimura is ranked #6 and both men will know that a win here will move them close to a shot at the national title.
Talking about titles there will be a JBC Youth Lightweight title fight on the card, as Izuki Tomioka (5-0, 1) takes on Kaiki Yuba (3-0, 2). The talented Tomioka will be seeking his 2nd defense of the title, and although a genuine talent there is a feeling that he lacks the power needed, at the moment, to move on to the next level. If, or when, Tomioka adds that power then there is a huge ceiling for him to aim for. As for Yuba he looks like a man with that power already there and will be looking to prove that he really is the future in this bout. Aged 19 Yuba has the potential to go much further than his father, a 5-weight Japanese national champion, but this is certainly a step up for him.
A really interesting match up will see recent Japanese Bantamweight title challenger Yuta Saito (10-8-3, 7) take on Naoya Okamoto (12-6-1, 6). Saito came up short last time out, suffering a 9th round TKO loss to Ryo Akaho, but was competitive prior to the stoppage, and is certainly better than his record suggests. Okamoto is also better than his record suggests, and comes in to this bout on the back of wins against Gaku Aikawa and Daisuke Watanabe, two of his very best. This should be a very intriguing and exciting match, despite their records suggesting otherwise.
Another interesting bout on this show will see Kenichi Watanabe (7-3-1, 4) end an almost 2 year break from action as he takes on the light punching Joe Tanooka (14-4-4, 1). Watanabe was stopped in 2 of his last 3, with Akinori Hoshino and Hiroaki Teshigawara both stopping him, but with some time out of the ring there is a chance we will see him revitalised here. Tanooka was stopped inside a round last time out, by Yamashita, and will be looking to get his career back on track here in what should be a very competitive contest.
After a few quiet days in Asian boxing we get back into the swing of things on Thursday, as we approach the weekend with a great card from the Korakuen Hall.
In the main event we'll see former world title challenger Jetro Pabustan (29-4-6, 9) make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title, as he takes on the always fun towatch Hiroaki Teshigawara (14-2-2, 8). The Filipino won the title earlier this year, when he took a technical decision win over Tatsuya Takahashi, and will be looking for a third straight win. Although coming in on a big win Pabustan is inconsistent and often involved in messy bouts, with a staggering 13 technical decisions in his 39 fight career. For Teshigawara the bout willserve as his first title contest, but he has mixed with good competition fighting to a draw with Hideo Sakamoto and narrowly losing to Ryo Akaho last October. Given the styles of the two men this should be action packed, but given Pabustan's reputation this may get messy and heads may get involved.
In a solid supporting bout we'll see the under-rated Ryuto Araya (11-5-1, 3) looks to bounce back from a loss in an OPBF title fight to Ryo Takenaka. In the opposite corner to Araya will be former Japanese title challenger Tatsuya Otsubo (9-8-1, 3), who will be fighting for just the second time since the end of 2015. Both men will feel they need a win to remain relevant and both will know that a loss will be very hard to bounce back from. We're not expecting a war here, but this should prove to be an compelling contest.
Youngster Kaiki Yuba (2-0, 2) has looked like a real one to watch so far, and he'll be looking to continue his momentum as he takes on the tough Pablito Canada (6-12-3, 1). So far Yuba has fought just 4 rounds, but the second generation fighter is expected to reach huge heights, like his father Tadashi Yuba a 5-weight domestic champion. The Filipino journeyman has been stopped once in his 21 fight career, being stopped by Jon Jon Estrada last year, but has since gone the distance with Jelbirt Gomera, Hirotsugu Yamamoto and Hironori Mishiro. This should be a win for Yuba, but also a good solid test of what he does when a fighter doesn't just fall over.
Another under-card bout on this card will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (11-2-1,7) return for his first fight in over a year. The talented Tobe, who really has had a frustrating career plagued with inactivity and untimely setbacks, will be expecting an easy win here as he takes on Thai visitor Saengthong Tor Buamas (5-2, 5), who has been stopped in his last 2 visits to Japan, and is unlikely to avoid the same fate here.
We get the next Dangan card this coming Tuesday and although the card isn't a particularly stacked one, it's hard not to be very excited about the main event, which has the potentially to be a FOTY style war, and with an OPBF title bout as a co-feature bout it's hard not to give the show some real attention.
The aforementioned potential FOTY will see Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (28-4, 13) battle with interim champion Masayuki Kuroda (26-7-3, 15) in an exciting looking bout, which will also serve as a rematch. The two men fought last year, with Kogawa easily beating Kuroda, but since then the champion has suffered an ear injury and gone through a number of hard rounds. The injury opened to the door for Kuroda to claim the interim title and now we'll see the two men face off in what has the potential to be an all out war. Both men are limited, flawed but exciting and that combination tends to make for thrilling fights,as we're expecting here.
The co-feature is also at Flyweight as Filipino Richard Claveras (17-2-2, 14) takes on Japan's Keisuke Nakayama (9-2-1, 4) in a bout for the OPBF Flyweight crown. The title, vacated by Daigo Higa, has often been a stepping stone to world class and winning it would be the biggest achievement for either man. Claveras is best known for losing in a world title fight to Pedro Guevara, being stopped in a round, but has improved since then and will be favoured. Nakayama on the other hand is one of the more obscure Japanese Flyweights, and is taking a huge step up for this fight, with his most notable result so far being a very wide loss to Hiroyuki Hisataka.
In another supporting bout we'll see 21 year old Japanese fighter Taiju Shiratori (7-2, 4) take on Filipino veteran Prell Tupaz (10-31-5, 2) in an 8 rounder. Tupaz appears to have been selected to make Shiratori look good, but the youngster has been stopped twice already and it seems clear that he'll be in need of some real seasoning, which seems to be the aim here against a true veteran like Tupaz.
Also in a supporting bout we'll see second generation fighter Kaiki Yuba (1-0, 1) battle against Filipino visitor Bener Santig (5-1-1, 1). Yuba, the son of Tadashi Yuba, looked fun in his debut but is facing a much bigger test here and Santig won't have travelled to pick up a loss. Whilst the Filipino will be the under-dog he has experience in his favour and is a hungry fighter himself.
To end February Dangan give us a nice looking card with a title double header and several fighters of note on the under-card.
One of the title bouts will see Yuta Matsuo (12-2-1, 6) and Masayuki Kuroda (25-7-3, 15) battle for the “interim” Japanese Flyweight title. The two men, who are facing off whilst Flyweight champion Takuiya Kogawa recovers from an ear injury, will be guaranteed a shot at the full title later in the year if they win here. Of the two men Kuroda is the more well known, he's a former Japanese Light Flyweight champion and has fought for a WBA Flyweight world title in the past, he is however a fighter who has struggled recently, with a 4-4-3 record in his last 11 dating back 5 years. Matsuo on the other hand is getting his first title fight, though has beaten solid fighters like Yota Hori and Ryuto Oho so far in his career, and fought to a very narrow loss against Ardin Diale. This should be a very competitive and fun to watch contest.
The other title bout sees Watanabe's fast rising Hiroto Kyoguchi (5-0, 5) take on Filipino veteran Armando dela Cruz (25-14-3, 11) in a bout for the OPBF Minimumweight title, recently vacated by Ryuya Yamanaka. The bout seems to suggest that Watanabe are going to be pushing hard for Kyoguchi to get a world title fight this year, and although this fight was put together on about a month's notice it's hard to see the unbeaten youngster coming up short against the veteran.
The main under-card bout looks like a genuine treat as the under-rated Reiya Abe (13-2, 7) takes on the once beaten Joe Noynay (12-1-1, 4). Although relatively unknown outside of Japan Abe has been impressing fans in Tokyo recently with notable wins over Ryo Hino, Hikaru Marugame, Shingo Kusano and Tsuyoshi Tameda, showing poise, skills and power. Noynay, also known as Joe Misako, will be looking to score his first win outside of the Philippines and although he has got a good looking record this is a big step up for him here.
Another of the under-card bouts will feature the debuting Kaiki Yuba (0-0) making his debut, as he takes on Thai visitor Petchmahalert Eminent Air (0-4). Yuba is the son of the popular Tadashi Yuba, a 5-weight Japanese national champion and is expected to have a strong career going forward. His interest hasn't recieved massive attention but it is clear that those in Japan are hoping that he can have a similar level of popularity to his father.