After a rather quiet June we see action really pick up in July, and to begin with we get a stacked Ohashi card with a wonderful mix of notable names, novice prospects interesting match ups.
The main event will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (13-0, 10) making his first defense of the title, as he takes on the limited but fun to watch Ryuji Ikeda (14-5-3, 9). Inoue, the cousin of Naoya and Takuma Inoue, won the title earlier this year, when he out pointed veteran Valentine Hosokawa and has suggested that he's wanting to put on a fun fight for fans here. Ikeda can punch, but is defensively open and we suspect he has been selected as an opponent to make Inoue look good. A full preview of this bout can be read here Inoue takes on Ikeda in Japanese title defense
An excellent supporting bout will see the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda (19-4-2, 17) take on Japanese based Korean Tae Il Atsumi (16-2, 8). Whilst the main event looks like it will be an easy one to pick the winner in this bout is the opposite, with a real 50-50 feel to the bout. Atsumi is a tough, aggressive and skilled with a lot of potential whilst Tameda is an explosive puncher, but one who hasn't looked was stopped last December, by Hinata Maruta, and didn't look his most destructive in his March win over Renerio Arizala.
The once touted Sho Nakazawa (12-3, 6) has a must must win bout as he takes on Jinya Ito (7-5-1, 2). Nakazawa was a solid Japanese amateur but with 3 losses in his last 7 bouts, including one to Tae Il Atsumi, and he looks like his potential won't be realised due to real question marks about his durability. Ito should pose no real threat, and has lost 5 of his last 8, but Nakazawa needs to do more than "just win", he needs to look good.
Touted prospect Katsuya Yasuda (3-0, 2) takes on his biggest test as he faces off with Japanese based Filipino foe Jerry Castroverde (10-6, 5). The talented Yasuda has a lot of potential, but has had issues with inactivity and at 27 years old now he needs to kick on and try to make the most of his potential, likely why Ohashi has matched him with Castroverde. The 22 year old Castroverde is a good young test for anyone at this level, and although he has lost 4 of his last 5 he should ask questions of Yasuda
Another touted prospect on this card is Taku Kuwahara (4-0, 3), who looks to continue his winning run as he takes on domestic foe Kyomu Hamagami (4-2-2, 4). The 24 year old Kuwaha really impressed us last December, when he beat Takamori Kiyama over 8 rounds, but since then his competition hasn't been the best and we're really hoping to see him stepping up again before the year is over. He's a real talent who should be pushed hard and fast. The 22 year old Hamagami is limited, but the guy can punch, and could, potentially, give Kuwahara his first chin check, though we do suspect the unbeaten man to be too sharp to really be tested by the hard hitting but technically limited younger fighter.
Interestingly one of the worst looking bouts on paper may end up being one of the most interesting. The bout in questions sees Ohashi puncher Kentaro Endo (7-9-1, 6) take on the in form Fumisuke Kimura (9-4, 6). Endo is very limited, but really can punch and will be looking to take Kimura out. Kimura on the other hand comes into this bout following big domestic wins over Hayato Ono and Giraffe Kirin Kanda, which have pushed him to the verge of a Japanese title fight. This could be very exciting and very explosive.
After June this card is an ideal way to kick off a packed July!
This coming Tuesday attention turns back to the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo as Hideyuki Ohashi puts on a really interesting and notable card with a fantastic headline bout, and several notable fighters on the under-card.
The main event will be a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator, as OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (29-12, 14) takes on the unbeaten Takuma Inoue (11-0, 3) for a shot at the currently vacant WBC Bantamweight title. Yap hasn't got a fantastic record, but comes into this bout on the back of a fantastic 10 fight winning run, including wins against the likes of Hiroyuki Kudaka, Takahiro Yamamoto, Kentaro Masuda and Takafumi Nakajima. Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue, has long been tipped for the top but an injury in 2016 slowed his rise. On paper this might look like a mismatch, due to the records, but in reality this is a fantastic 50-50 contest.
A full preview of that bout can be read here - Takuma Inoue and Mark John Yap clash in WBC Eliminator!
One of the main support bouts will see Ryo Matsumoto (21-2, 19) return to the ring for the first time since he lost to Daniel Roman in a WBA Super Bantamweight title fight earlier this year. The touted Matsumoto will be up against the in form Ryo Sagawa (4-1, 2), who has won his last 3 including a major domestic upset against Junki Sasaki. This should be a straight forward return to domestic level for Matsumoto but it'll be interesting to see what his confidence is like following the loss to Roman, where he was out boxed, out thought and out fought.
Another notable supporting bout will see Japanese Light Welterweight Youth champion Andy Hiraoka (12-0, 8) defending his title against Ukyo Yoshigai (6-2, 5), in what will be the second between the two men. These two fought back in August 2017, with Hiraoki stopping Yoshigai to claim the Japanese Youth title, which he has since defended once. Yoshigai will be seeking revenge, but will be be the under-dog against one of the top young talents in Japan.
Lower down on the under-card fans will be able to see former amateur stand out Katsuya Yasuda (2-0, 1) take on experienced Indonesian Anshori Anhar Pitulay (9-16-2, 6), in what is likely to be a mismatch, whilst Taku Kuwahara (1-0, 1) faces off with Ardi Tefa (6-7-1, 4), in what suspect will be a quick blow out win for the unbeaten Japanese fighter.
As with the last few years this year is set to end with a spate of Japanese action. The first of two big shows to end 2017 is in Yokohama, where Ohashi and Fuji TV put on an interesting looking show.
The main event of this year closer will be the end in the latest chapter of Naoya Inoue's (14-0, 12) career, as he makes his 7th, and likely final, defense of the WBO Super Flyweight title. The talented Japanese fighter had been ruining out of willing opponents and will close 2017 with a bout against the inform Frenchman Yoan Boyeaux (41-4, 26). On paper it looks good but the reality is that this is a huge step up in class and likely serves as a dummy run for the “Monster” before he moves up to Bantamweight in pursuit of a third divisional world title.
A second world title bout on this show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (11-0, 5) make his second defense, as he goes up against confident Panamanian visitor Gilberto Pedroza (18-3-2, 8), who fights in his first world title bout. The talented Ken Shiro has had a career defining year with wins over Ganigan Lopez and Pedro Guevara and closing out the year with a third win would, in fairness, put him on the fringes of the Fighter of the Year shortlist. As for Pedroza this is a huge opportunity to claim a world title and make a name for himself ahead of the near year.
A third title bout on this card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (4-0, 4) make his first defense as he looks to move towards a world title fight. The talented Japanese fighter, who came to international attention in 2012 when he claimed a Bronze medal at the London Olympics, will be up against Filipino challenger Eduardo Mancito (15-7-2, 9). The champion won the title in impressive fashion earlier this year, when he stopped Korean Sa Myung Noh and is expected to make an easy first defense here. Although limited Mancito is tough and is expected to get some rounds out Shimizu, who can prove whether his power is legitimate or not here.
In one of the leading support bouts Takuma Inoue (9-0, 2) will take on 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (27-8, 15), in what looks likely to be a mismatch. The talented Takuma was supposed to fight for a world title a year ago, but an injury ruled him out and he now seems to be trying to get back to fully fitness and shake off any ring rust before moving back into the world title picture. Masuda is an exciting fighter, but with recent stoppage losses to Shohei Omori and Mark John Yap his limitations have been shown, and he's a fun but crude fighter who should be easily out boxed by Inoue.
A third Inoue on this card is the fast rising Koki Inoue (9-0, 8), who takes on Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (8-1-2, 3). The Korean enters the bout as the Korean Light Welterweight champion and an OPBF ranked fighter and it's clear that Inoue is chasing titles, with this bout potentially opening the door for an OPBF title fight in 2018. Inoue has been very impressive, very exciting and very aggressive since his debut however the Korean has never been stopped, looks to be tough and durable and will not have travelled to just roll over to Inoue.
Also on this card as Ohashi novices Katsuya Yasuda (1-0, 1) and Kazuki Nakajima (2-0, 2), who will both be in 6 rounders and will be looking to have big 2018's.
A second Asian show will take place in Kazakhstan where we get a number of interesting, though lower key bouts.
One of the key bouts from the show will see once beaten Kazakh hopeful Firuza Sharipova (7-1, 4) battle against Belgian fighter Djemilla Gontaruk (13-4-1, 2) in a bout for the WBC silver Female Super Featherweight title. The bout looks like a good one on paper, but coming in to this the Kazakh has won 7 in a row whilst Gonturak has lost against every notable opponent she has faced, including a loss last time out to Ramon Kuehne and her wins have been against very limited foes.
Another title bout on this card will see Aidyn Yelzhanov (4-0, 3) take on Sergey Dudinsky (4-1, 3) for a WBC regional title at Super Bantamweight. The 24 year old Yelzhanov has impressed so far,but has been fighting at a very liw level and will have to show something new to over-come the hungry Dudinsky, who has won his last two.
One other bout of note will be the home coming, of sorts, for Light Heavyweight prospect Ali Akhmedov (10-0, 7), who takes on Ismat Eynullayev (12-2, 8). Akhmedov has fought 5 of his last 6 outside of Kazakhstan, where he is incidentally 5-0 (5), and will be looking to put on a show here. Eynullayev, from Azerbaijan, has won his last 3 but will not be expected to put up much of a challenge against the home town hero.
In the Russian capital fan will be able to see Russian Uzbek Ulugbek Khakberdiev (4-0, 2) look to build on his solid 2017 as he takes on Ugandan puncher Med Sebyala (17-10-1, 14). The unbeaten Kazakh has gone under the radar this year, despite stopping Dmitry Sukhotsky in September and looks to end his year with a 5th straight win. The 37 year old Sebyala has lost 2 of his last 3, but does appear to be a legitimate puncher and could chin check the powerful Kazakh.
This coming Wednesday in Japan fight fans have an interesting Ohashi card to look forward to. We'll be honest and not pretend that it's full of 50-50 bouts, but it keeps the gym's fighters busy, whilst a number them begin to move towards bigger and better bouts.
The main event of the card is the best looking contest on paper and sees Takuma Inoue (8-0, 2) return to the ring following almost a year out, to take on 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-16-1, 11) in a solid test for the youngster. Inoue was supposed to fight for a world title at the end of 2016, but an injury forced that bout to be cancelled and now he's in need of a warm up bout before looking at bigger and better things. For Kudaka, previously known as Hiroyuki Hisataka, the bout is a chance to score a career defining win after some recent struggles in the ring, including losing 7 of his last 11. Kudaka's record isn't great but he's a tough out for most and should ask questions of rInoue.
Another relatively attractive bout will see Koki Inoue (8-0, 7), Takuma's cousin, step up to take on former Japanese title challenger Cristiano Aoqui (11-6-2, 7) in what is essentially a Japanese title eliminator. Inoue enters the bout ranked #3 and Aoqui is #8, with the winner almost certainly looking to get a crack before the end of the year. For Inoue the bout is a slight step up, but it's a logical step as he continues to impress and leave a wake of battered and beaten fighters in his wake. For Aoqui the bout serves as a chance to get back in to the mix after 3 losses in his last 4.
When it comes to fighters who are looking at bigger and better things, it's fair to say that Ryo Matsumoto (20-1, 18) is on the verge of a world title fight. As a result he's having a stay busy contest on this show against Indonesian foe Jason Butar Butar (25-22-1, 16), in what should be another straight forward win for the likeable Matsumoto, who is looking to put health issues well and truly behind him.
Another fighter looking for bigger things is Go Onaga (27-3-3, 18),who also faces an Indonesian journeyman as he takes on John Bajawa (13-14, 7). Onaga is looking to get himself a Japanese title fight in the near future, and the veteran cannot afford another set back. This should be a straight forward win for the Ohashi man, but he is now 37 and 18 months removed from his last victory.
Rounding out the notable fights on this show are two Ohashi novices tipped for big things. One of those is Kazuki Nakajima (1-0, 1), who looks for his second professional win as he takes on Resnu Sundava (2-1, 2) whilst the other is debutant Katsuya Yasuda (0-0), who faces Reno Arizona (1-2). Neither Ohashi man should worry here about winning, but both will want to impress Mr Ohashi, who we suspect wants to fast track both men following their impressive amateur careers.