The most notable show for us this coming Friday is in Tokyo, where Hideka Todaka will be promoting a card.
The main event of this show will see the talented Koki Koshikawa (8-1, 5), who is ranked #3 by the JBC at 154lbs, take on Indonesian visitor Yosmar Kefi (9-9, 8). On paper this looks like a dangerous bout for Koshikawa, given Kefi's reputation as a puncher, but in reality we don't see this as anything but a total mismatch as Koshikawa looks to move a step closer to his first title bout.
In another notable bout, fans will see Japanese ranked Featherweights clash, with Kazuma Sanpei (16-5, 7) and Tatsuya Otsubo (13-9-1, 4) facing off in a must win bout. Both men had mixed 2018's, going 2-1, losing to real talented fights by stoppage. Sanpei was stopped in July by Yoshimitsu Kimura and a month later Otsubo was stopped in a Japanese title fight by Taiki Minamoto. This could easily be the Asian bout of the weekend.
Also on this card was 2017 Rookie of the Year runner up Kento Yabusaki (6-2-1, 4), who has bounced back from his loss in the Rookie of the Year final with a couple of good wins. He'll be stepping up to his first 8 rounder here as he takes on domestic foe Yuji Okinori (8-4-2, 1), who has failed to take a win in his last 3 bouts.
As well as the Japanese card there will also be one in Singapore.
The main event of the card will see Singapore's very own Hamzah Farouk (7-0, 5) battle against Thai veteran Paiboon Lorkham (19-11, 8), in what will be Farouk's first defense of the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Super Featherweight title. It's hard to back the Thai here, despite his wealth of experience, given he's now 40, but he should be a decent test for Farouk who is looking to become the face of Singaporean boxing.
In an all unbeaten bout we'll see Singaporean based French born fighter Abdelelah Karroum (4-0, 4) take on Filipino born Singaporean foe Alexandrew David (4-0-1, 2). This bout will be for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Light Middleweight title. It's hard to read too much into what the potential winner of this bout will do, but by it's self this does look like it could be a very interesting match up.
Another bout of note here will see Filipino fighter Jeson Umbal (16-6, 11) take on Indonesian foe Tommy Seran (28-16, 16), in what should be a very straight forward win for the under-rated Umbal. It's worth noting that Umbal did lose last time out, losing a majority decision to Muhamad Ridhwan last year, but he shouldn't struggle at all against Seran, who has lost his last 4 and 7 of his last 8.
As well as the bouts in Asia there will also be a notable bout in the US, with unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Janibek Alimkhanuly (5-0, 2) battling against American based Mexican foe Cristian Olivas (16-4, 13). This looks to be another good step forward for Alimkhanuly who looked good last time out after a fell than stellar performances. We suspect the Kazakh will again show his ability here, though there are still areas to work on, and we want to start seeing some killer instinct from him, rather than just the skills we already knew he had.
This coming Wednesday the Korakuen Hall hosts a small, but notable card. It involves a once touted prospects from the Celes gym, a former OPBF champion and a former Japanese title challenger.
The main event will see the once touted Koki Koshikawa (7-1, 5) taking on former OPBF Light Middleweight champion Ratchasi Sithsaithong (8-7, 6) in a very good test for Kokshikawa. The Japanese fighter turned professional with a bit of early career buzz but would step up a touch too quickly and lose a wide decision to Koshinmaru Saito in 2015. After a 2 year break he has reeled off 3 straight stoppage wins, including a big win last time out against Daisuke Sakamoto. Ratchasi, aka Niwat Kongkan, went on a great run in 2016 and 2017 but has now lost 4 of his last 5. At his best the Thai was a nightmare to beat, with a determined will to win and heavy hands, but now appears to be a fighter well on the slide. Despite being on the slide a win for Koshikawa would be his best win to date.
A very good supporting bout will see former 2-time Japanese Featherweight title challenger Tatsuya Otsubo (12-9-1, 4) take on Yosuke Kawano (13-7-2, 7), in a bout between two Japanese ranked fighters. The last time we saw Otsubo he came up short against Taiki Minamoto in a very exciting Japanese title bout that saw Otsubo being stopped in the 9th round of a very competitive contest. The 30 year old Kawano has faced a number of decent domestic foes, and has generally been competitive, fight to a draw with Takenori Ohashi and losing narrow decisions to Ryuto Araya and Dai Iwai. This should be a very competitive contest.
A third bout of note will see Japanese ranked Kazuma Sanpei (15-5, 6) take on Yuji Awata (11-5, 4). Last time out Sanpei was stopped by Yoshimitsu Kimura, ending a 3 fight winning run, and he has mixed with very good domestic fighters since winning the 2013 Rookie of the Year. Awata on the other hand 2-2 in his last 4, but was the 2016 Rookie of the Year and is looking to get back to winning ways here.
To kick off a new week attention returns to the Korakuen Hall where fans will get the chance to see a Japanese youth title fight and the next fight in the career of a very promising youngster.
The title fight will see the Japanese Youth Super Featherweight champion Kazuma Sanpei (15-4, 6) defending his title against the once beaten Yoshimitsu Kimura (9-1, 4). The talented Sanpei once promised a lot and was 11-0 but has subsequently gone 4-4 and struggled to get his career back on track. Saying that however Sanpei has won his last 3 bouts and now appears to be resurrecting his faltering career. On the other hand Kimura will be looking to get his career back on track, following a loss in April to WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Richard Pumicpic. This is a step up in weight for Kimura but one he will feel he can make comfortably in what could be his break out performance. We are expecting something very exciting here.
In an under-card fight the unbeaten Ryuto Owan (4-0, 2) will take on Takuma Matsushita (5-4, 2). This isn't a step up for Owan as such, but is a chance for him to shake some ring rust after hang been out of the ring since February. Owan is very talented prospect, as wins over Alvin Medura and Jun Blazo have shown, but we're unlikely to see any new questions answered about him here. Matsushita has been stopped in 3 of his last 7, and is 2-5 during that 7 fight run and we'd be very surprised if he can survive the distance with Owan.
This coming Tuesday fight fans in Tokyo get a card at the Korakuen Hall thanks to Hideki Todaka, who will be putting on several pretty interesting looking match ups.
The main event of this card will see Japanese ranked Featherweights facing off with Dai Iwai (21-5-1, 7) taking on Yosuke Kawano (12-6-2, 6), in a bit of a title eliminator. Coming in to this Iwai, a former OPBF title challenger, will be looking to bounce back from a loss to Taiki Minamoto, a loss that cost Iwai a shot at Japanese Featherweight Takenori Ohashi. Iwai will be fully aware that he hasn't looked good in his last two, and will need a good performance here if he's to get a domestic title bout. As for Kawano he has bounced back well from two losses in 2016, and looked really good in stopping Masashi Noguchi last time out. Although no world beater Kawano is is solid and should push Iwai all the way.
Another bout putting Japanese ranked fighters against each other, as Kazuma Sanpei (14-4, 5) takes on Kei Iwahara (8-4, 4), with both men having top 15 rankings at Super Featherweight with the JBC. Coming in to this Sanpei is on a 2 fight winning run, having twice beaten Ryuki Ishii last year, and looks to be turning his career around after a struggle that saw him go 1-4 between October 2014 and October 2016. As for Iwahara he comes into this on a career best win over Yuji Awata, which shoot give him a huge boost of confidence coming in to this bout.
Another fight of note on this card will see veteran Cobra Suwa (19-13-2, 11) take on a Thai foe. Little is known about the visitor but Suwa needs a win, given that he has gone 1-2 in his last 3, including stoppage to Nobuyuki Shindo last November and a decision loss to Ratchasi Sithsaithong in late 2016. Given that we're not expecting the Thai visitor to be particularly good it's hard to imagine Suwa losing, but the local will need to do more than just pick up a win,instead he will have to impress.
This coming Wednesday sees action in both Japan and China as Asian fight fans get a couple of low key cards.
The more notable of the two shows is at the Korakuen Hall, where we get a Japanese Youth title fight and an interest chief support bout, on what is likely to be an entertaining but over-looked show.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Youth Featherweight champion Kazuma Sanpei (13-4, 4) defending his title against the heavy handed Ryuki Ishii (6-2, 4). We saw Sanpei win the title back in August, when he narrowly defeated Ryusei Ishii, and that was only his second win in 4 bouts as his career has really struggled, despite the fact he was the 2013 Rookie of the Year and was touted for big things. Ishii has been stopped twice, once on debut and once in the 2016 Rookie of the Year final against the brilliant Shawn Oda. This is a really interesting bout, between two flawed but well matched fighters.
A second bout of note takes places at 154lbs and sees recent Japanese title challenger Riku Nagahama (7-1-1, 3) take on Filipino veteran Mark Sales (22-42-4, 8). This should be little more than a confidence builder for Nagahama, who came off second best in August when he challenger Takeshi Inoue and was stopped in 8 by the talented Inoue.
The other show takes place in Shenzhen and is another low key card, featuring a pair of title fights.
One of those bouts will see Kun Wang (9-3, 3) take on Qi Xiu Zhang (6-2-1, 1) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Welterweight title. Wang is the better known of the two, and although he was blasted out early in his career he has shown solid toughness in going 8 rounds with Xiangxiang Sun earlier this year. As for Zhang he's now on a 6 fight unbeaten run and will feel full of confidence here.
The other bout will see the faltering Zhimin Wang (8-2, 3) take on Aketelieke Jieensi (6-2-3, 2) for the WBO China Zone Lightweight title. Wang turned professional with a lot expected of him, but 2 losses in his last 3 have left him in need of a strong run and he will know that he really needs a win here if he's to keep his career alive. As for Jieensi he's unbeaten in 5, but has struggled and looks to have been very fortunate during that run, with a loss expected here.
The most interesting show of the day, at least for us, is in the Korakuen Hall where we see the first set of Japanese Youth Tournament finals, with 4 finals, all of which are really interesting match ups, and bouts that should be really hotly contested.
The stand out bout is a rematch between Joe Tanooka (14-3-4, 1) and Kenya Yamashita (10-3, 7), who meet at Super Flyweight. Tanooka came runner up at the 2013 Rookie of the year whilst Yamashita won the Rookie of the Year the following year. In 2015 Tanooka scored a decision win over Yamashita, to give the heavy handed Yamashita his first loss, and since then both men have faltered yet remained popular. Tanooka has gone 5-1-1 since beating Yamashita, but shown a real lack of power with only a single stoppage. Yamashita is like an all action warrior and has gone 3-2 (3) since losing to Tanooka, with both losses being by stoppage. This will be a boxer vs bralwer, with history and the potential to be something really thrilling.
Another potential thriller comes at Featherweight as the talented, but out of form, Tsuyoshi Tameda (13-3-2, 11) takes on Retsu Kosaka (8-2, 3). We've seen Tameda losing his last two, suffering a decision loss to Simpiwe Vetyeka and suffering a stoppage to Reiya Abe, but has been given time to rest, heal and reignite his fire, with this being his final bout for the Yonekura gym, before joining the Ohashi Gym. As for Kosaka he has lost 2 of his last 3, but shone last time out beating the touted Ryo Sagawa in 2 rounds. This looks like a win on paper for Tameda, but it's not going to be easy against the hungry Kosaka.
Potentially the hidden gem on this show will be the Lightweight bout, as the really exciting and promising Izuki Tomioka (3-0, 1) takes on the Japanese Yuichiro Kasuya (9-1-1, 1). We were really impressed by Tomioka last time out, as he stopped Shun Shimazaki in 5 rounds, and the 20 year old from Saitama looks like a real one to watch. Kasuya, who won the Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight in 2014, has faltered in his last two, drawing with Masaki Saito and losing to Spicy Matsushita. With those recent set backs against Kasuya we suspect he'll try to up his game, but Tomioka will be too good for him.
At Super Featherweight we'll see the struggling Kazuma Sanpei (12-4, 4) battle the inconsistent Ryusei Ishii (7-3, 4) in what looks like the black sheep of the match ups. Sanpei has gone 1-4 in his last 5, with 3 stoppage losses during that run, and his 11-0 (4) start to professional boxing is a distance memory, with only a single win in the last 3 years. Ishii has gone 2-2 in his last 4, though did earn his place in this bout with a dominant win over Sho Nagata in May. Ishii has some momentum here, Sanpei has none, leading us to favour Ishii for the win.
Fight fans in Las Vegas will see American based Uzbek hopeful Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (7-0-1, 3) fight in an 8 rounder, as he looks for a 4th straight victory. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced, so we suspect it will be a less than taxing foe foe the unbeaten prospect.
In Pakistan we'll see a bizarre all-debutant 10 rounder, as Ali Dad (0-0) takes on Asmatullah (0-0). It's really odd to see a debutant in a 10 rounder, to see two of them in a 10 rounder is even weirder and it's hard to see what the plan behind this bout was, though hopefully it helps in the development of Pakistani boxing going forward, and is interesting to see how they are growing the sport there.
The wonderful Boxingraise give us their next live show this coming Tuesday with a really good looking, and deep, card from the Korakuen Hall. The show doesn't look like an outstanding one on paper, but fans who know the fighters involved will know that the card will deliver some real highlights.
The main event of the card sees Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (27-4, 13) defending his title against Yudai Arai (8-3-3. 4), in what will be Kogawa's second main event on the Boxingraise service. The veteran champion will be looking for his 4th defense of the belt and it's possible that a win here could see him getting a long awaited third world title fight in 2017. For Arai the opportunity is a rather unearned one but one that he was never going to turn down and we hope that he puts up a credible effort in what will almost certainly be a fun fight, as all Kogawa contests are.
The chief support bout will see #1 ranked Japanese Flyweight Yuta Matsuo (11-2-1, 6) take on Ryuto Oho (9-2-1, 2) in an intriguing 8 rounder, that will likely serve to build up a a potential Matsuo Vs Kogawa bout in 2017, as part of the Champion Carnival if both fighters win. Oho is unranked coming into this bout but is a real potential banana skin and has shown his ability against the likes of Jo Tanooka, Shuji Hamada and Katsunori Nagamine, and was a 2013 Rookie of the Year. Matsuo cannot over look his foe here.
In another supporting bout the highly experienced Masaki Saito (13-11-5, 4) faces the unbeaten Yuichiro Kasuya (9-0, 1) in a bout between two men with Japanese rankings. Saito is really experienced and holds notable results against the likes of Seiichi Okada, Tsuyoshi Tojo and can be a handful on his day. Kasuya on the other hand is rising prospect but this could be, potentially, his toughest bout to date, as he looks to build on a win over Kazuma Sanpei.
Talking about Kazuma Sanpei (12-3, 4) he will himself be in action as he goes up against the JBC and OPBF ranked Masaru Sueyoshi (12-1, 7) in possibly the best looking bout on the card. Sanpei has lost 3 of his last 6, including a 7th round TKO to Sueyoshi and a split decision to the aforementioned Kasuya, but he is certainly better than those results would suggests. Seuyoshi on the other hand looks like a man heading for titles and comes into this on a career best win over Shingo Eto. Good bout that sees Sanpei seek revenge and Sueyoshi look continue his solid run of 9 wins.
A final out of note sees former OPBF title contender Dai Iwai (18-4-1, 7) battle Takehiro Shinohara (7-4-2, 7). Iwai is looking for his second win since last year's stoppage loss to Masayuki Ito and although he'll be the favourite he is facing a real puncher in Shinohara, who stopped Daisuke Watanabe last year, but has sadly been inactive for more than a year coming in to this.
Action returns to the Korakuen Hall again with the next “Dangan” card, and although it's not one of the best we'll see this year it does feature a really good 8 round bout and an “interim” OPBF title bout.
The title fight will see former Japanese Welterweight champion Suyon Takayama (23-1, 7) battle Filipino visitor Joel Dela Cruz (19-23-3, 7) in a bout for the “interim” OPBF Welterweight title. The bout looks like a major mismatch on paper, but it does seem that the winner have a more serious bout later in the year with a contest against the winner of a bout between Jack Brubaker and Paddy Murphy, who meet in around 3 weeks for the full OPBF title.
Whilst the main event isn't that attractive we do really like the supporting bout between the unbeaten Yuichiro Kasuya (8-0, 1) and Kazuma Sanpei (12-2, 4). The unbeaten 19 year old impressed in 2014 claiming the All Japan Rookie of the Year, at 130lbs, and notched up two wins last year to extend his winning record. Although lacking in power Kasuya has progressed a long way from his debut just over 2 years ago. Sanpei won the Rookie of the Year himself in 2013 though has since gone 3-2 with stoppage losses to Johnreil Maligro and Masaru Sueyoshi, and knows that he needs to build on his most recent win, a narrow decision win over Ribo Takahata. This won't be a war but will be a very competitive contest between two talented youngsters looking to begin 2016 with a notable win.
For a second day running Japanese fans have domestic title action as we see the vacancy at Light Flyweight being filled. The vacancy, which arose after Yu Kimura gave up the title to focus on getting himself a world title shot, will be filled by either former world title challenger Shin Ono (18-6-2, 2) or multi-time domestic challenger Kenichi Horikawa (29-13-1, 6), who meet in an intriguing match up. Of the two men Ono will likely be favoured, he is a former OPBF champion and did, as mentioned, fight for a world title however Horikawa may well “win a big one” after coming up short numerous times in title bouts. We wouldn't suggest this will be a FOTY contender, but it should be very entertaining with a lot of exchanges and trading.
Interestingly the winner of the Ono/Horikawa bout may well become an immediate target for the fast rising Ken Shiro who will almost certainly be eyeing up a potential national title clash in 2016.
In the chief support bout fans will get the chance to see former Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (21-7, 11) fight in a warm up bout against Wataru Miyasaka (9-3-1, 2). This should be a relatively straight forward win for Masuda who will be back in action, if he wins, on November 2nd as he takes on Hideo Sakamoto in the Strongest Korakuen bout, with the winner of that one to get a shot at the Japanese Bantamweight title in 2016. Although a clear favourite this will be Masuda's first bout since he was blitzed by Shohei Omori earlier this year
Another supporting bout will see Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Ribo Takahata (11-5-1, 3) battle against 2013 All Japanese Rookie of the year Kazuma Sanpei (11-2, 4). Sanpei, who looked really promising back in 2013 has lost back-to-back fights, by stoppage, and will know that he needs a win here if he's to do anything going forward with his career.
One other bout of note will see the talented, but light hitting, Jo Tanoka (11-2-3) battle the gutsy, but limited, Mako Matsuyama (7-9-2, 3). Coming in to this bout Tanoka is JBC ranked at Flyweight and will be hoping to move towards a title fight in 2016. Whilst limited Matsuyama is the more well known of the two men following his memorable war with Rex Tso in Macau.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
As we've gone through the month of February we've slowly seen action pick up. As we come to the end of the month we're seeing action pick up again with an OPBF title fight in Japan, a collision of prospects and the third professional bout in the career of a Chinese Heavyweight hopeful.
One of the shows is in Japan where we get a genuinely important card with a couple of really notable bouts at different levels.
The most significant of the bouts is in the Super Bantamweight division as the world class Shingo Wake (17-4-2, 10) defends his OPBF title for the 5th time in a little under 2 years. Wake, who is chasing a world title fight later this year, will find himself up against Filipino challenger Jimmy Paypa (16-2-1, 6). This fight was apparently close to being made for December last year and it could well be that we end up with both fighters coming in “over-boiled” for this, or we could see a destruction by a man looking to make a statement. If Wake does come out and scores an impressive win the talk is that he will be getting a shot at WBA "Super" and WBO Super Bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Wake isn't the only fighter from the Koguchi gym to be on this card as rising teenager Kenya Yamashita (7-0, 4) puts his unbeaten record on the line against Jo Tanooka (9-2-3). The unbeaten Yamashita was the Flyweight Rookie of the Year in 2014 and he is being tipped to go a very long way in his career however Tanooka is a great test and will be looking for a win himself after coming up short last time out against Hiroki Saito.
Another notable bout on this card will see former OPBF and Japanese Super Flyweight title challenger Toyoto Shiraishi (24-8-2, 11) battle against Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi (8-7-1, 4). For Shiraishi this is a must win bout following a run of just 1 win in 4 bouts however Yamaguchi shouldn't provide much in terms of competition
Talking about fighters who need a win Kota Sato (9-6-2, 4) has to be desperate to get a “W” after going 0-2-1 in his last 3 bouts. Sato will be up against Toshikuni Wake (8-14-3, 2). Wake is nothing other than a journeyman and shouldn't be able to beat Kota though we suspect a loss for Kota will be the end here.
One other bout on this card, a really interesting one in fact, will see Kazuma Sanpei (11-1, 4) battle against Masaru Sueyoshi (8-1, 5). Sanpei comes in to this bout on the back of his first career defeat, an 88 second blow out loss to Japanese based Filipino Johnreil Maligro, whilst Sueyoshi brings a 5 fight winning streak into this bout including a very notable decision over Yuta Nagai. Brilliant and brave match up for both guys.
In Russia fans will get the chance to see unbeaten Kazakh prospect Roman Zhailauov (13-0, 8) battle against the tough but limited Vyacheslav Yakovenko (7-19-1, 3). This will be Zhailauov's first bout of the year though we'll be honest it does seem like his team have slowed his progress over the past few bouts.
In the US American fans will get the chance to see Chinese giant Taishan Dong (2-0, 2) who hopes to extend his winning run as he battles against Roy McCrary (3-2, 3). The imposing Dong has to be a big favourite here against the 41 year old McCrary though we're more interested in the performance of Dong here rather than just getting the win. So far Dong has shown some ability but there are a lot of questions regarding his potential and so far none of his opponents have really been able to ask any questions of him with Tommy Washington Jr being a laughably bad opponent last time out.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)