The biggest bout for us this Saturday is from the US as Filipino maestro Mark Anthony Barriga (9-0, 1) takes on fellow unbeaten Carlos Licona (13-0, 2) in a bout for the vacant IBF Minimumweight. The bout, on the same as Deontay Wilder's contest against Tyson Fury, will be for the title Hiroto Kyoguchi gave up, as he moved up to Light Flyweight, and promises to Barriga a notable platform to showcase his skills, which have been compared to those of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Licona is a bit of a mystery to some, but should prove a good opponent for Barriga. Sadly with neither being much of a puncher this has the potential to be a less than thrilling fight to watch, but in terms of skills on show, both are very talented, and this really could be a special one for purists. A preview of this world title fight can be read here Barriga looks to announce himself on world stage, faces Licona for IBF title
As well as the bout in the US there is also a lot of action in Japan, with 7 title bouts spread across 3 different shows.
The main event of this card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) make his second defense, as he goes up against fellow veteran Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9). The all action Hosokawa won the title late last year and made his first defense in the Champion Carnival earlier this year, stopping Vladimir Baez in May. At the age of 37 Hosokawa is likely fighting father time, but has looked very impressive recently, and a win here will set up a defense against Koki Inoue. Inagaki, fighting in his 40th professional bout, will be getting a third title shot, but will be the clear under-dog against Hosokawa. We expect this will be fun, but it's hard to see Inagaki over-coming the high octane champion. A preview of this Japanese title fight can be read here Hosokawa takes on Inagaki on December 1st!
A potentially exciting supporting bout will see ranked Light Welterweights facing off. In one corner will be Hosokawa's stablemate Yusuke Konno (13-4, 7), the #2 ranked Japanese contender, whilst the other cone will play host to recent Japanese title challenger Vladimir Baez (24-4-2, 22), the same man who was stopped by Hosokawa. Konno will know that he could get a title fight next year, but needs to over-come Baez. Baez on the other hand is ranked by the OPBF and the WBO Asia Pacific as well as the JBC. The winner here will go into the new year with their eyes on title glory, but the loser will have some serious rebuilding to do.
Another supporting nout will see former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7) return to the ring for the first since losing the world title to Ryosuke Iwasa In September 2017. The talented Oguni will be easing himself back into action here as he takes on Indonesian journeyman Arega Yunian (6-11, 1) in what should be little more than a tune up for bigger and better things in 2019.
As well as the action in Tokyo there is a busy day in Osaka, with a couple of shows there, featuring a combined 6 title bouts! One of those shows is a female card with 4 title bouts on it.
The most significant of the title contests on the female show will see Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) defending her WBO female Minimumweight title against former WBA and IBF champion Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5), in what looks like a brilliant must win bout between two veterans. This will be Ebata's second defense of the title she won in May 2017, when she finally won a world title in her fifth shot. Sadly for Ebata she is now 42 and her desire to have a long reign, after all the time she spent chasing a belt, does seem unlikely. At 37 Tada is no spring chicken, but the former 2-time champion does have the edge in youth, experience and winning mentality. We're expecting both to show their age, but that will likely lead to more exchanges and more intense action, which we won't complain about. This world title bout was previewed here Ebata looks to defend WBO crown against Tada
In the chief support bout fans will see former amateur standout Kasumi Saeki (2-0, 1) fight in her first title bout, as she takes on Thai visitor Wassana Kamdee (3-4, 2) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title. Saeki is seen as one of the top Japanese female prospects and will be expected to do a number the Thai, who has been stopped in all 4 defeats, though her performance may decide whether her team fasts tracks her to a world title fight in early 2019 or not.
In an OPBF female Featherweight title bout we'll see Wakako Fujiwara (6-2-2, 2) take on the woman she took the title from, Kimika Miyoshi (13-11-1, 5). Fujiwara's win over Miyoshi for the belt, back in July, saw her extend her unbeaten run to 6 fights, and add the Oriental title to her reign as the Japanese national champion. Sadly for Miyoshi the loss to Fujiwara is her third in a row, and she's now without a win since June 2016. Fujiwara's first win over Miyoshi was an upset, but we suspect this will be a repeat, given the form of both fighters coming into the fight.
The remaining title bout is another OPBF title bout, which will see novice professional Eri Matsuda (1-0) look to set a Japanese record by claiming an OPBF title in just her 2nd professional bout. The talented Matsuda will be up against Minayo Kei (6-3, 1) in a bout for the vacant OPBF female Atomweight title, and if Matsuda wins there's a chance she could set a Japanese record for fewest fights taken to win a world title. Matsuda was a good amateur and it's clear that she believes she can be a very good professional, but this is a genuine test.
The second show in Osaka will also be a Shinsei promoted card from the EDION Arena Osaka, this time however the fous will be men, with two WBO Asia Pacific male title bouts on the show.
One of those bouts will see WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight champion Reiya Konishi (16-1, 6) defending his title against Filipino challenger Richard Rosales (13-7-2, 7). For Konishi this will be his first defense, following a victory over Orlie Silvestre for the belt earlier in the year, and he's said to be expecting a world title fight next year, if he wins here. Rosales will play the part of a game challenger, be we suspect he will be ground down by Konishi, and his high intensity work rate and body shots. Despite strongly favouring the champion to retain we do expect this to be a very fan friendly bout. We've previewed this bout here Konishi looks to end year with defense against Rosales
The other title bout will see Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) and Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) battle for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight. Both of these men have held the OPBF version of this title, and both are talented fighters in their own right. Of the two Nakamura is the more pure fighter, and he's a damned good boxer-puncher, but also the more vulnerable. The much shorter Magali is the more defensively sound and has regularly found ways to get inside bigger fighters and breaking them down. This has the potential to be a genuine thriller, with both men capable of hurting the other. A full preview of this bout can be read here Nakamura and Magali to battle for regional crown!
Originally the card was also announced as having former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-1, 9) facing off with Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (33-25-2, 18), but this bout was cancelled back in November due to an injury suffered by Kubo. As a result Manakane will face off with 19 year old prospect Ryo Suwa (9-1, 1), who will be looking to score his third win of the year.
In the last few year's we've seen female boxing grow in the west, thanks to former amateur fighters like Katie Taylor, Nicola Adams and Claressa Shields. It's worth noting however that over the last few years Japan have had some all-female cards. The next one of those takes place this coming Thursday, and is the most stacked all-female card in Japanese history, with an incredible 6 title bouts, ranging from Japanese to world title bouts.
The main event is one of the two world title bouts, and will see WBO female Minimumweight champion Kayoko Ebata (11-7, 6) make her first defense, as she takes on Korean veteran Ji Hyun Park (22-2, 6). The Japanese fighter won the belt last May, in her 6th world title fight, and will be fully aware that a loss here will likely end her career, given that she's 42 years old. The Korean challenger is 32 and was once a very highly regarded fighter, but she comes into this bout after having not fought in over 2 years. At her best Park was a real talent, but with ring rust she may well not be the fighter she once was, or look like a fighter who has an active 16 fight unbeaten run.
The other world title fight promises to be something a bit special as the highly aggressive Chaoz Minowa (5-0, 4) battles Tenkai Tsunami (24-12, 13) for the vacant WBO female Light Flyweight title. The unbeaten Minowa has spoke about winning world titles in a number of weight classes nut this will be her first world title fight and it's a genuinely tough one for the 30 year old former amateur standout. To date Minowa has mowed mowed through her first 5 foes in a combined 18 rounds and looked a truly spiteful force, but she is taking a huge step up in class here. Tsunami is a former WBA female Super Flyweight champion, holding that title for more than 3 years, and has fought a who's who of female boxing, often giving top fighters very tough fights. This could be something very exciting.
In an OPBF female Minimumweight title bout fans will see former world title challengers clash, with Saemi Hanagata (13-7-4, 7) battling Erika Hanawa (8-1, 3). It was Hanawa that was beaten by the aforementioned Ebata last year for the WBO title at this weight, and since then she has claimed the interim OPBF title. It's worth noting however that Hanagata is a 2-time OPBF champion who has come up just short in 4 world title bouts, and is hungry to get a 5th shot at at world honours.
In a Japanese female Bantamweight title bout fans will see Miyo Yoshida (8-1) make her first defense as she takes on Kai Johnson (5-11-3, 2). The champion won the title last October when she narrowly out pointed Tomomi Takano and will be favoured to retain her title, but Johnson is better than her record suggests, and is much better than a typical fighter on a 6 fight losing run.
A Japanese Flyweight title bout will see the inaugural champion being crowned, as Yuki Koseki (5-4, 1) takes on Yumemi Ikemoto (4-1). On paper Koseki looks the lesser of the two but she has mixed with good opponents, and has gone 1-1 with the aforementioned Yoshida. Ikemoto on the other hand hasn't faced anyone of any real note and is clearly stepping up a level here.
Another inaugural title will be the JBC female Atomweight class, which will be competed for between Sana Hazuki (6-2-1, 2) and Nanae Suzuki (5-2-1, 1), who fought to a draw in a bout for this very same title back in December. On paper these two are very evenly matched, and the fact the judges failed to separate them last time out suggests this could be a very competitive contest again.
The key show this coming Friday comes from Tokyo where Dangan will be hosting Dangan Ladies Vol 5, which features a host of notable female fighters.
The main event of the card will see veteran former world title challenger Kayoko Ebata (10-7, 6) battle against unbeaten novice Erika Hanawa (7-0, 2) for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title. For Hanawa the bout marks a significant step up in class whilst Ebata will be looking to finally win a world title, after having fallen short in 5 previous world title bouts. This could be Ebata's big win at last, or it could be the result that sends her into retirement.
In the chief support bout Chaoz Minowa (3-0, 2) will be returning to the ring and will be looking to continue her unbeaten run as she takes ona limited Thai visitor.
Another notable fighter on this card is school-girl boxer Fuka Komura (3-0, 2) who will be battling against Mikiko Muto (2-4). The bout will see Komura look to continue her winning run in what is a genuine step up in class for the unbeaten youngster. A win here for Komura will likely be her final bout before she steps into 6 rounders however Muto will know that a win will seriously make her name and she won't be turning up for a loss.
As well as the female action in Japan there will also be a show in Indonesia.
In the main event fans will see the very experienced James Mokoginta (32-18-3, 19) battle against Thai visitor Sonnarai sor Bangkru (0-0). The 26 year old Mokoginta is a 13 year professional, having debuted in 2004 as a 13 year old, and has mixed with good company though has had mixed results. Very little is known about the Thai, as with many Thais, so it's hard to say much about him here.
Another bout on this card will see the experienced Ruben Manakane (19-17-1, 11) take on Thai foe Chatpayak Sithkopon (9-15, 7). The bout is an interesting one on paper, and both men are limited enough to make this a competitive match up, but one that should see the local fighter come out on top, especially given his home advantage.
The first Dangan show of the year takes place on January 17th and sees a the company putting on a Rookie tournament show.
The fighters on this card are mostly unknown fighters however the card will feature former world title challenger Kayoko Ebata (9-7, 5), who is likely to be chasing another world title fight before the end of 2017. Her opponent will be an un-named Thai who will be expected to pad Ebata's record. Sadly for Ebata bouts like this, in the middle of the card as well, will do little to prepare her for another world title and given her advanced age there is little point in really padding up her record whilst waiting for a shot.
The rookies on the card are all unknown, though there are some interesting bouts. One of which will be a contest between the unbeaten pairing of Retsu Matsuda (1-0) and Ryuhei Arakawa (1-0-1) which we suspect will be very competitive.
As well as the two bouts mentioned there will be 9 more bouts on this show and the card is expected to find it's way on to Boxingraise.com int he near future.
At the Korakuen Hall this coming Wednesday fight fans get the second in the “Dangan Ladies” series of shows, featuring only female fighters. The card is likely to not get a huge amount of attention internationally however for those interested in watching the action it will be shown on boxingraise on Thursday.
The main event of the card is rematch as WBO female Minimumweight champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (8-1-2, 3) battles against veteran Kayoko Ebata (9-6, 5). These two battled back in May 2015 with Ikehara retaining her title with a split technical decision, to record her second defense. Since the first bout the champion has recorded a third defense of the title but there are doubts about her ability to really keep a hold of the title for too long. For Ebata this will be her 5th world title challenge, having gone 0-4 so far, and at 40 years old it will almost certainly be her last one.
In a notable supporting bout we'll see OPBF #1 ranked female Super Bantamweight contender Ayumi Goto (4-0, 3) face off against a Thai opponent. This bout seems likely to be little more than a squash bout for Goto who suggested she will begin to chase OPBF champion Tomomi Takano, though in all honesty we suspect Takano will vacate rather than face the heavy handed, though untested, Goto.
The card also features another notable supporting bout, the debut of Ayako Minowa (0-0), a former Japanese stand out amateur. Minowa has impressed in her preparation for this bout, holding her own in a spar with Naoko Fujioka. The debutant will be up against Thailand's Petchpaya Mor Krungthepthonburi (0-2) in what should be a straight forward win for Minowa, if she is even close to being the fighter she was in the unpaid ranks. The real challenge for Minowa is whether or not she can stop Petchpaya, who has gone the distance with both of the main event fighters.
In Tokyo fans get the first ever “Ladies Dangan” card, a card put on by “reason”, who promote the Dangan cards, and features only female fighters. The concept is an interesting one and we're hoping it's a success.
Whilst the concept is a good one, that match ups are also good with some genuinely well matched contests taking place on a card that features some notable names. One of those well matched bouts will see OPBF female Minimumweight champion Mika Oda (6-7-1, 1) defending her title against Saemi Hanagata (11-6-2, 5). Incidentally Oda won this title in her last bout, which was way back in September 2014. Whilst Oda won the last meeting between these two she has been inactive whilst Hanagata has fought thrice winning two of those bouts and controversially losing the other, which was a world title bout.
The other title bout on this show sees OPBF female Atomweight champion Momoko Kanda (9-8-2, 3) defending her belt against Masae Akitaya (9-6-2, 3), in what looks like an excellent match up. Both fighters have their limitations but both have experienced fighting at world level and both have acquitted themselves well and we wouldn't be surprised if this scrap ended up being a high paced and highly entertaining contest between two fighters both looking to prove themselves.
Another high profile bout on this card sees former world champion Tenkai Tsunami (21-11, 10) battle against the once beaten Emika Himuro (5-1-1, 1). Although her record may not suggest it Tsunami is a world class fighter who is tough, game and has a great work rate, sadly however her battles have taken a bit of a toll on her and she looked rather poor last time out against Carolina Rodriguez. Despite that she should have more than enough to over-come the 35 year old Himuro.
Another veteran in action is multi-time title challenger Kayoko Ebata (8-6, 4), who takes on Sornsawan Sarakarngym (0-1). Aged 40 Ebata is a real veteran, having debuted back in 2007, and although not a world champion she has fought in 4 world title bouts, and found herself very competitive in several of them. Sadly she's likely to be ending her career shortly though she has had a career to be proud of.
As well as the Tokyo card there is also a show in Hyogo courtesy of Shinsei gym.
The main event of this card will see JBC ranked Ryo Kosaka (11-3-1, 5) battle against Kosuke Mizuno (7-6-2, 2). This looks to be a mismatch, especially given that the 24 year old Mizuno has gone 2-3-1 in his last 6, though Mizuno is a southpaw and is tough so may give Kosaka some questions over the 8 round distance.
The chief support bout looks to be a mismatch as former OPBF title challenger Eita Kikuchi (18-4-4, 8) battles against limited Thai Petchmai Sor Praithong (1-6). Petchmai was stopped in his only previous bout in Japan and we expect to see that happen again here, though Petchmai did win his last bout and may well have some confidence coming in to this one.
A third bout of note will see Seizo Kono (15-8-1, 10) battle Thai novice Yodsing Padjaigym (0-0). Kono has gone 2-5 in hius last 7 but is better than his record suggests and blew away Hikaru Matsuoka last year. This should be a win for Kono but we really know nothing about the Thai who may be one of those fighters with a lot more experience than his record suggests.
It's fair to say we, boxing fans, have been treat especially well to begin the start of May, at least in terms of great match ups. That run continues on May 6th as we get a genuinely brilliant Super Featherweight title fight headlining a title triple header in Japan
The Japanese show is a fiesta of sorts for Watanabe gym who have 2 of their 3 world champions in action whilst another of their fighters attempts to become a world champion and finish their long career with a world title.
The main event here is really mouth watering and will see WBA Super Featherweight “super” champion Takashi Uchiyama (22-0-1, 18) defending his belt for the 10th time. In the opposite corner will be unbeaten Thai Jomthong Chuwatana (9-0, 4), a Muay Thai exponent who has had a very interesting boxing career and shown that his skills can generate genuine success in western boxing. The bout isn't expected to be a “FOTY” style war but technically we may struggle to find a better bout between two heavy handed technicians who are both very capable fighters. This is really, as good as it gets.
In the co-feature Uchiyama's young stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi (21-2-1, 8) looks to make the first defence of his WBA Light Flyweight title. This is another Japan Vs Thailand bout and will see Taguchi battle against Thai veteran Kwanthai Sithmorseng (49-3-1, 26) in a bout that looks really good on paper though is likely to be relatively one sided with Kwanthai not looking like a “world class” fighter in recent years. For a first defense this is acceptable though hopefully Taguchi's next bout comes against a more interesting opponent, such as Ryo Miyazaki or Randy Petalcorin, both of which would be mouth watering bouts.
A third world title bout here will see Kayoko Ebata (8-5, 4) attempt to claim the WBO female Minimumweight title as she battles defending champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (6-1-2, 3). The 39 year old Ebata will be in her 4th world title bout and it comes 7 years after her first, a very close and controversial loss to Samson Tor Buamas. As for Ikehara this will be her second defense of the title, though her first was a less than memorable opening round technical draw with Jessebelle Pagaduan back in February.
As well as the 3 bouts which have been mentioned there will be a further 2 on this card, one of which will feature Japanese ranked Light Flyweight Takumi Suda (11-10-2, 3) who will be risking his ranking against Yoshinori Wakahara (7-4, 4).
As well as the Japanese card there will also be a show in Thailand where we get the chance to see some recognisable faces in action.
The main event here will see former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (49-3, 33) defending his WBO Asia Pacific title against former world title challenger Nouldy Manakane (29-16-1, 18). Pungluang, best known for being stopped by Tomoki Kameda, will be seeking his 4th straight win and shouldn't really struggle here against a man who is 0-6 in Thailand and a long way removed from his WBA Bantamweight title fight with Koki Kameda, back in 2012. Incidentally it's thought that if Pungluang gets through this he may get a chance to recapture his old title with a bout against Ryo Akaho looking very possible for later in the year.
In the co-feature fans will see 2-time world title challenger Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (53-2, 34) in action against Indonesian visitor Yakobus Heluka (8-10, 1) in what should be little more than a tune up bout for the talented Chonlatarn. Although the Thai was made to look absolutely terrible by Vasyl Lomachenko last year he is a capable fighter and this really does have “ugly mismatch” written all over it.
(Image courtesy of http://www.watanabegym.com)