To end 2018 we turn to Macau for a monstrous show featuring 3 world title fights, as well as bouts featuring prospects from Hong Kong and Macau.
The main event of the card is one of the best match ups we could imagine, as Japan's Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) and Filipino Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23) battle for the vacant WBO Super Flyweight title. The winner of this bout will become a 4 weight champion, with Ioka battling to become the first Japanese man to win 4 divisional world titles and Nietes looking to become the third Filipino, and both men attempting to become just the third man to win titles in the 4 lowest divisions in the sport. Both are gifted boxers, with Ioka being the more aggressive and Nietes being the more patient, and both know that a win here could end up defining their careers. To end the year with such a massive bout really is something special. Our excellent preview of this fantastic fight can be read here Neites Vs Ioka - The pursuit of destiny!
A Flyweight title fight will see IBF champion Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24), from South Africa, make his first defense, as he takes on once beaten Japanese fighter Masahiro Sakamoto (13-1, 9). The South African champion won the title in July, when he defeated Muhammad Waseem with a close decision, and became a 2-time champion. At the age of 36 we do wonder what Mthalane has left, but against Waseem he did, for the most part, look great and should be favoured. Sakamoto is an unknown outside of Japan, and even then he's only really known in Osaka, but will know this is a huge chance to make his mark on the sport and become a notable name. It's a huge ask for Sakamoto, but he has nothing to lose. Our preview of this bout can be read here Sakamoto looks to shock the Flyweight division, faces Mthalane!
Another bout pitting South Africa against Japan will see Japanese fighter Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8) challenge WBA Light Flyweight champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10). This will be Budler's first defense of the title, which he won from Kyoguchi's stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi, and it's an incredibly tough first defense. Although a tough bout Budler is a genuinely world-class fighter, one of the sport's most underrated fighters in fact, and certainly has the experience and skills to be trouble for anyone in the division. Kyoguchi, a former IBF Minimumweight champion, will be looking to become a 2-weight champion and is one of the most exciting little men in the sport, however this is a really tough test so soon after moving up. This is a hard bout to call and a really special contest, much like the Ioka Vs Nietes one. We've previewed this bout here Kyoguchi challenges Budler in Macau!
One of the prospects on this card is Light Flyweight Raymond Poon KaiChing (6-1, 3), who is from Hong Kong and is regarded as the country's most promising professional following Rex Tso's announcement that he was going back to the amateur ranks. Another is Macau's exciting Lap Cheong Cheong (4-0, 3). Both of these fighters will be up against novices.
The Superfly series of shows has it's third chapter this coming Saturday, and despite not having the likes of Roman Gonzalez or Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on the card the show promises a lot with several notable bouts. For us two of those stand out due to the fact they feature Asian boxers in very meaningful contests.
The most significant of those, in theory at least, will see Filipino's collide in the second all-Filipino world title fight of 2018. The bout will see veteran Donnie Nietes (41-1-4, 23) attempt to become a 4-weight champion as he takes on heavy handed countryman Aston Palicte (24-2, 20) for the vacant WBO Super Flyweight title, the belt that Naoya Inoue vacated earlier this year. Nietes, who has won titles at Minimumweight, Light Flyweight and Flyweight, has been one of the most over-looked Filipino fighters in recent years though impressed a wider audience when he defeated Juan Carlos Reveco earlier this year. Although less established Palicte is a dangerous fighter who, at 27, is reaching his physical prime, is going to have serious size and strength advantages over Nietes and is a very imposing Super Flyweight. Palicte can be out boxed but has the power and size to trouble almost any Super Flyweight and his only loss in the last 5 years was a very controversial one, that many felt he had deserved the win in. With his hunger and youth Palicte is going to be a very dangerous foe for Nietes.
Whilst the Nietes Vs Palicte is the bigger bout there may well be more intrigue in the other bout to feature an Asian fighter. That's because 3-weight champion Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13) will be ending his retirement and making his US debut in a contender against McWilliams Arroyo (17-3, 14), for the WBC Silver Super Flyweight title. The talented Ioka hasn't fought in over a year, in part due to a falling out with his father and former promoter, and will be looking to immediately jump into the Super Flyweight mix here by taking on a fighter who has given problems to the likes of Roman Gonzalez and Amnat Ruenroeng. If Ioka has filled out his frame and is strong at 115lbs he'll be a fantastic new addition to the division, however at times he did look under-sized at Flyweight. For Arroyo this is a chance to build on his February upset win over Carlos Cuadras, and could move him to within touching distance of a WBC title shot. This is a genuinely intriguing match up and one we're very excited about.
One other bout of note on this card will see American based Filipino Bruno Escalante (17-3-1, 7) take on unbeaten Romanian Alexandru Marin (16-0, 11). We're expecting this to be a hotly contested 10 round bout, and the winner may not find themselves immediately in the mix but will only be a few bouts from a potential title fight.
The biggest show of the weekend, and one of the biggest Japanese shows of the year so far, takes place in Osaka on Sunday
The main event of the card will see WBA Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (21-1, 13) look to extend his reign as the champion as he takes on highly experienced Thai foe Noknoi Sitthiprasert (62-4, 38), who has won his last 61 fights! On paper this looks good, but it's a bout that really is based on smoke and mirrors with Noknoi's record being very padded so far. Interestingly this will be Ioka's 5th defense of the Flyweight title and if he wins he will become just the second Japanese man to win 14world title bouts!
The card feature a really good supporting bout as WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12) defends his belt against Shohei Omori (18-1, 13). These two men fought in 2015, with Tapales dominating the then unbeaten Omori, and since then the Filipino had gone on to win the WBO title, taking a thrilling victory over Pungluang Sor Singyu. Although he was dominated, suffering a 2 round loss to Tapales, it does seem like Omori has looked at their first bout and admitted he was over-confident, making this rematch very interesting.
The most interesting of the under-card bouts will see Japanese based Korean Teiru Atsumi (12-1, 6) battle against the once touted Filipino Neil John Tabanao (13-3, 9). This really could be a very fun bout, with both men having good styles that should gel well for an exciting contest.
The under-card is also packed with a number of notable names, such as Sho Ishida (23-0, 12), Takahiro Yamamoto (18-5, 15), Masayoshi Hashizume (12-0, 9) Hayate Ikuta (7-0, 3) and Tatsuya Ikemizu (14-2, 6) all of whom will be facing Thai imports.
As well as the card in Osaka there will be a second notable show in Japan, with Aichi hosting a show featuring a mouth watering Japanese Featherweight title bout, and an interesting looking non-title bout.
That aforementioned title bout will see Japanese Featherweight champion Shota Hayashi (29-5-1, 17) make his second defense as he takes on mandatory title challenger Kosuke Saka (15-3, 12). Although this bout won't excite those outside of Japan too much, especially given the action in Osaka, we've got a genuine feeling that this will be a genuine barn burner. Hayashi is a busy, hard working yet basic fighter whilst Saka is a gutsy warrior with nasty power, and we're expecting those styles to gel perfectly for a war.
The other bout of note on this card will see the heavy handed Takuya Mizuno (10-1-1, 10) battle against Noboru Osato (7-4-4, 1). Although Mizuno is unproven, and is stepping up a bit in class here, he has shown real promise and his power certainly looks genuine. Osato will go in to this bout as the under-dog but has never been stopped, and could well use his experience and toughness to teach Mizuno some new lessons.
There will be a third Japanese show in Hyogo, where fans get some lesser action, but still manage to get a card worthy of some note.
In the main event of this show we'll see WBO ranked Minimumweight hopeful Ryoki Hirai (8-4-1, 3) battle against the heavy handed Ryoya Ikema (11-3, 10). The little known Hirai really is ranked thanks to a technical decision win over the low-on-confidence Takumi Sakae from last December, other than that however his record has little to note. The huge punching Ikema was beaten last time out by Koki Ono, but is an interesting prospect and will be looking to score a career best win here.
The other bout of note on this card will see Giraffe Kirin Kanda (8-2, 5) battle against the very promising Ukyo Yoshigai (5-0, 4). It's hard to call this one, but a win for Yoshigai would put him in great position ahead of his bout in the Japanese Youth Tournament later in the year. Kanda was stopped just a few fights ago but will be looking to build on back-to-back blow out wins in what could be a really fun bout.
In Uganda fight fan will see Azeri born Shahin Adygezalov (8-0, 7) battle against Amos Mwamakula (15-6-2, 7) in a contest for the UBO Welterweight title. The bout is a low key affair but will see the winner score their best win to date.
The final day of 2016 is one of the most notable on the boxing calendar as Japanese TV promoters, and TV channels put on a number of shows. This year we get three shows, each with multi-ple title bouts and notable prospects.
The most notable of the three shows takes place in Kyoto and will be aired on TBS as part of their huge end of year celebrations.
The headline bout here will see the WBA regular and interim titles at Flyweight being unified. The bout sees regular champion Kazuto Ioka (20-1, 12) battle with unbeaten interim champion Stamp Kiatniwat (15-0, 6) from Thailand. The bout is an interesting match up with Stamp's team showing confidence in their man, who seemed to believe he was travelling to Japan to stop the champion. The experience Ioka will be looking to show that experience is key here and will likely be looking to prove he's the best Flyweight on the planet in 2017, after getting this mandatory defense out of the way.
A second world title fight on this card will see IBF Super Bantamweight chamion Jonathan Guzman (22-0-0-1, 22) defending his title for the first time. The heavy handed Dominican will be up against once beaten Japanese challenger Yukinori Oguni (18-1-1, 7), who is looking to add a world title to his collection which already includes a Japanese and OPBF title. Guzman, who won the title in Japan with a stoppage win over Shingo Wake, has looked relaxed but some have felt that he is over-looking Oguni who has started to find his own power in recent bouts.
Sadly an IBF Bantamweight title bout between Lee Haskins (34-3, 14) and Shohei Omori (17-1, 12) was cancelled in the weeks leading up to the bout, as Haskins suffered an injury that forced him out. Omori's team, who are promoting the show, managed to find their man a solid late replacement in the former of multi-time world title challenger Rocky Fuentes (32-8-2, 20). The bout isn't a bad one given the short notice but it should be noted that Fuentes is best known for his run at Flyweight and will be dwarfed by Omori who is around 5” taller than the Filipino.
Another bout pitting a Japanese fighter against a Thai will see the unbeaten, and world ranked, Sho Ishida (22-0, 11) up against the hapless Petchnamnung Sor Thiebkhun (0-10). The Thai has been stopped 8 times in his 10 defeats and will be unlikely to test Ishida who has made it clear that he's wanting world title fights in 2017. A bout like this won't prepare him for world class opposition but serves the task of keeping him busy and ticking him over whilst looking for a big fight.
Another Ioka gym hopeful on this under card is the unbeaten, and exciting, Super Flyweight Masayoshi Hashizume (11-0, 8). Hashizume won the Rookie of the Year in 2014 and although we had hoped to see him in notable fights since he actually this year facing unknown Thai Chatpetch Saithonggym (0-0). Hopefully 2017 will be a better year for the Osaka man who hasn't progressed like some had hoped.
Another notable multi-title show will come from Tokyo and be promoted by Watanabe promotions, who continue their association with TV Tokyo.
The headline bout of this is the “revenge or repeat” bout between Panama's tricky Jezreel Corrales (20-1-1, 8) and Takashi Uchiyama (24-1-1, 20). Earlier this year Corrales blitzed Uchiyama in 2 rounds to give “KO Dynamite” his first professional defeat and to claim the WBA Super Featherweight “super” title and shocked the boxing world. Now the champion will be looking to repeat the feat as he returns to a Japanese ring whilst Uchiyama will be looking to prove the result was an anomaly. At 37 years old however the view is that Uchiyama is several years removed from his prime and will likely be over-whelmed by the speed and movement of Corrales once again.
The second of the world title bouts on this card will see WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (25-2-1, 11) defending his belt against unbeaten Venezuelan puncher Carlos Canizales (16-0, 13). On paper this looks like a good defense for Taguchi but in fairness Canizales hasn't yet fought anyone of any name recognition and it's hard to know how good he really is. He could be the next gem of a talent from Venezuela or he could be a crude domestic fighter, as the footage suggests, either way we'll see questions answered about him, even if we don't learn anythign new about Taguchi.
Arguably the most interesting bout of the whole day is an OPBF / WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title unification bout as the once beaten Masayuki Ito (19-1-1, 9), the current OPBF champion, takes on the teak tough and criminally under-rated Takuya Watanabe (30-6-1, 16), the current WBO Asia Pacific title holder. This bout is one for the hardcore but is something we expect to actually leave the fans the happiest with. Both men are incredibly talented, have under-rated power and skills and the winner really does deserve some other major bouts in 2017. We think Ito is the more proven but Watanabe is always a handful and appears to be getting better with every fight.
One of the hottest young talents in Japanese boxing will be looking to secure his 5th straight stoppage win. That is the wonderfully aggressive Hiroto Kyoguchi (4-0, 4), who will be up against Filipino visitor Junuel Lacar (7-3-3, 5). The bout should be a test for Kyoguchi but the reality is that he has made supposed tests, like Kenichi Miyazaki and Michael Camelion, look poor courtesy of his speed and power. A win here could see Kyoguchi begin to fight for titles in 2017.
Another fast rising prospect on this card is the really exciting Masataka Taniguchi (5-0, 4), who is looking to build on his recent win over Dexter Alimento as he takes on Vicent Bautista (5-5-3, 1) in what looks like a straight forward bout for the much fancied Taniguchi. It's thought that 2017 will see Taniguchi battle for titles and this could be his final bout before he gets to wear his first strap.
For those interested in final 3 bouts mentioned here they will be features on tape delay as part of the Boxingraise service.
A third show, in fact the first of the three, takes place in Gifu where Hatanaka will be promoting a card. The main event of this will have a legal stream broadcast world wide for fans interested.
The main event of this card will see former WBO Minimumweight champions collide as Kosei Tanaka (7-0, 4) takes on Moises Fuentes (24-2-1, 13) for the vacant WBO Light Flyweight. For Tanaka this is a huge chance to match Naoya Inoue's Japanese record of becoming a 2-weight world champion in 8 bouts however it's a tough bout against a very talented Mexican who many feel should should have scored a win a win over Donnie Nietes in his first bout with the talented Filipino. On paper this is probably the most interesting of the bouts from the day, at least at world title level.
At Japanese title level we'll see Shota Hayashi (28-5-1, 17), making his first defense of the Japanese Featherweight title, taking on former world champion Akifumi Shimoda (31-5-2, 14). For Hayashi, who won the title back in September, a win here would legitimise his reign and prove him to be a worthy champion. For Shimoda this is a second shot at this title following a narrow loss to Satoshi Hosono last year.
In a supporting bout we'll see former Japanese Bantamweight title contender Yushi Tanaka (18-1-3, 12) face off with Takuya Taniguchi (6-9-2, 1). For Tanaka this is a chance to record a third straight win following his March loss to Kentaro Masuda for the Japanese title. The little known Taniguchi will be looking to score his biggest win, though he has gone just 1-3 in his last 4 bouts dating back more than a year.
Another supporting bout will see Kento Hatanaka (1-0, 1), the son of former former world champion Kiyohi Hatanaka, battle against Yukihiro Asahara (2-4, 1). The 18 year old Hatanaka will be seeking to score his second win in the space of just 5 weeks! On his debut Hatanaka score a quick blow out over an over-matched foe and will be looking to do the same again here.
This coming Wednesday is a big one for Japanese boxing with 2 world title fights and two other title bouts all taking place on Ioka show in Osaka.
The most interesting bout on the card is an IBF Super Bantamweight title bout which sees Japan's tricky Shingo Wake (20-4-2, 12) face off against Dominican power puncher Jonathan Guzman (21-0-0-1, 21) fighting for the vacant title. The bout sees both men taking part in their first world title fight and both men know that a win will open the door to them getting more high profile bouts in the near future. For Wake the bout is his first against a genuine puncher whilst Guzman will be facing his first world class Super Bantamweight and the bout really should be something very telling.
In the co-main event WBA Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (19-1, 11) will be facing off against Nicaraguan fighter Keyvin Lara (18-1-1, 6). For Ioka the bout will be his third defense and it seems likely that he could be up against Juan Francisco Estrada later in the year if he wins here. For Lara the bout is a huge step up in class and a huge opportunity, however it seems likely to be one that has come far too soon for him again a man who appears to be really growing into the Flyweight division.
In a supporting title bout Japanese Light Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (29-8-3, 9) will be defending his title against hungry lion Ryosuke Maruki (12-3-1, 7). Maruki will be in his first bout at this level, though is a former WBC Youth champion, and will need a career best performance to really trouble the veteran champion. As for Nonaka the 38 year old will be seeking a 5th defense of his title and will be hoping to extend his 11 fight unbeaten record.
Another supporting title bout on this show will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (17-4, 14) take on Filipino puncher Rex Wao (11-2, 9) in what could be a thrilling, but short, bout. For Yamamoto this will be his second defense and is one that he will be expected to win however Wao is a serious puncher and knows that a win here will help kick start his career after 2 losses in his last 3 bouts, with the most recent loss coming well about above the Bantamweight limit.
In regards to non-title bouts on this card we are interested to see Masayoshi Hashizume (10-0, 7) return to the ring as he faces fellow unbeaten Sangthong Tor Buamas (5-0, 5) in what could be an interesting assignment for the 2014 Rookie of the Year. Hashizume has impressed us in the past and does look fun and will hopefully move on to bigger things. For Sangthong this could be a coming out fight or it could see him exposed for his paper record.
The first show on a busy day is a Hatanaka promoted card, which will have it's headline bout broadcast on TBS.
That main bout will see WBO Minimumweight champion Kosei Tanaka (5-0, 2) defend his crown, for the first time, against Filipino puncher Vic Saludar (11-1, 9). On paper this looks a good test for the 20 year old Tanaka, who has sadly been inactive since winning the belt back in May. Saludar is genuinely dangerous and could well upset Tanaka if the Japanese champion has taken his eye off the ball, as compatriot Shohei Omori did recently.
On the under-card we see several interesting bouts. One of those features the unbeaten Yushi Tanaka (15-0-3, 9), who is tipped as a future champion. The unbeaten 24 year old will be up against Indonesian visitor Zun Rindam (11-8-1, 5), who is hoping to score his first win in Japan having twice been blown out in the country, losing in the opening round against both Yasutaka Ishimoto and Ryo Matsumoto.
Another bout of note sees world ranked Filipino fighter Genesis Servania (26-0, 11) makes his Japanese debut as he takes on Hendrik Barongsay (29-23-3, 18) in what should be little more than a showcase for the excellent Servania. The year has been a frustrating one for the Filipino and we suspect that frustration will come out here against an opponent who will have very little too offer in terms of competition.
On paper the show of the day is the Ioka promoted card from Osaka, which is also set to be televised by TBS.
The main event, and one of two world title fights, will see Kazuto Ioka (18-1, 10) defending the WBA Flyweight crown against former champion Juan Carlos Reveco (36-2, 19). Ioka beat Reveco for the belt back in April, claiming a majority decision, and will be hoping for a more conclusive result this time against the Argentinian visitor. For Reveco it's a chance to avenge his second professional loss whilst Ioka gets the chance to further strengthen his claim as a top Flyweight, and possibly move towards a potential unification bout with conqueror Amnat Ruenroeng.
The other world title bout will see IBF Minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama (30-7-0-1, 12) defending his title against Mexican foe Jose Argumedo (15-3-1, 9). For Takayama this will be the 3rd defense of the title that he won a year ago, when he stopped Go Odaira, and he will be hoping to build on his last win, back in September against Ryuji Hara. The all action Takayama will be hoping to retain the title here to set up a unification bout in 2016. For Argumedo this is a huge opportunity but one that he does enter as a clear under-dog and isn't expected to really present much of a challenger
As well as the two world title bouts this card also features an OPBF title fight and a Japanese title fight. The OPBF title bout comes at Bantamweight where heavy handed champion Takahiro Yamamoto (16-4, 13) defends his title against Yuki Strong Kobayashi (9-4, 5). This will be Yamamoto's first defense of the title that he won earlier this year, when he stopped Yu Kawaguchi in a 7 round thriller. It's fair to say the champion is more proven, heavier handed and will go in to this one as a clear favourite. For Kobayashi, who was battered around by Hinata Maruta's in Maruta's pro-test, this is a huge opportunity bur one he's not expected to win, especially given that he is 3-3 in his last 6.
As for the Japanese title fight, that will see Super Flyweight champion Sho Ishida (20-0, 10) defending his title against Ryuta Otsuka (15-8-2, 5). Ishida, another member of the prestigious Ioka gym, will be hunting his 4th defense of the title and continue what has been a good year for the Osaka based gym. For Otsuka this is a second shot at the title, having previously lost to Teiru Kinoshita in November 2011. Despite being given a second shot at a title it's fair to say Otsuka will; be regarded as a major under-dog following recent losses to Malcolm Tunacao and Ryuichi Funai.
On the under-card fans get the chance to see former world champion Ryo Miyazaki (23-1-3, 14) take on Thai visitor Thongchai Chaiyonggym (0-1) in what is a stay busy fight for the highly ranked Osakan warrior. A win here is expected for Miyazaki who will be hoping to fight for a world title, at 108lbs, in 2016, he was however famously upset on the same date 2 years ago by Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and will know that he cannot afford another set back like that.
Another under-card bout will see the very exciting Masayoshi Hashizume (9-0, 6) battle against a Thai novice, thought to be “Ken Meanyothin”. We have been impressed by Hashizume and are hoping to see him step up in class in 2016, with a potential title fight coming towards the end of the year.
As well as the action on TBS there is also a TV Tokyo card thanks to Watanabe.
The main event of this show sees WBA Super Featherweight “super” champion Takashi Uchiyama (23-0-1, 19) defending his belt against Nicaraguan challenger Oliver Flores (27-1-2, 17). This botu is widely regarded as a huge mismatch and it's hard to see Flores upsetting the long term champion, who looks for his 11th defense. If Uchiyama wins there is serious talk from his team about taking him to the US for 2016, with a bout against Nicholas Walters looking very likely.
Uchiyama's world title defense is one of two on the card with stable mate Ryoichi Taguchi (22-2-1, 9) defending his WBA Light Flyweight title against Colombian challenger Luis de la Rosa (24-5-1, 14). On paper this too is an awful mismatch with nobody giving de la Rosa any chance, and in fairness it's hard to see what he has to compete with the talented Taguchi, who could be looking at unification bouts in 2016 if he comes through this one.
Sadly this under-card is lacking with the most notable name on it being former Japanese title challenger Hayato Kimura (23-8, 15), who is in an awful mismatch against Thai visitor Petchnamnung Sor Thiebkhun (0-11), who is likely to suffer his 10th “recorded” stoppage loss.
As a bonus we also get a small bit of Indonesian action with the very promising Iwan Zoda (7-1, 6) battle in a 10 rounder against Thai visitor Phupha Por Nobnom (11-9-1, 10). The visitor's record isn't great but he has shared the ring with Tepparith Kokietgym, Richie Mepranum and Albert Pagara, so he has mixed at a good level, albeit he has been stopped by those 3 men. For Zoda this is his first bout since he stopped Petchchorhae Kokietgym in September, in what was an incredible win for the 19 year old Indonesian.
On the under-card of this show is an Indonesian title bout between Agus Kustiawan (13-4, 5) and Boido Simanjuntak (18-33-1, 7), who will be recognised by people who follow the Thai fight scene.
This coming Sunday looks to be the perfect closing day to a month that hasn't been the most exciting for boxing fans.
One of the cards of the month comes from the newly named EDION Arena Osaka where Ioka put on what may go down as one of the cards of the year. It feature 4 title fights, 2 notable prospects and more action than you shake a stick at.
The headline bout sees Japanese Kazuto Ioka (17-1, 10) defending the WBA Flyweight title against Argentinian foe Roberto Domingo Sosa (26-2-1, 14). This is Ioka's first defense of the title that he narrowly won earlier this year, when he over-came Juan Carlos Reveco, and it could be another tough night for Osakan star. Whilst this bout could be a very tough one for Ioka it needs noting that the winner will have a tough one next time out, as they are mandated to face with Reveco by the end of the year.
Another world title bout on this show will see IBF Minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama (29-7-0-1, 11) defending his belt against Ryuji Hara (19-1, 11) in what looks like a potential FOTY contender. Takayama, who struggled last time out with Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, is now 32 and has had a very hard career however Hara will be going into his first world title fight and was stopped in his most notable bout to date, by current WBO champion Kosei Tanaka.
In a Japanese title fight fans will see Super Flyweight champion Sho Ishida (19-0, 10) defending his title, for the 3rd time as he takes on Hayato Kimura (23-7, 15). The unbeaten champion has looked impressive in 18 of his bouts however he was run very close last time out by Taiki Eto and it that bout left question marks regarding Ishida's stamina. If he impresses here he may find himself heading to a world title bout in 2016. However Kimura cannot be ruled here and the experienced challenger has waited for his shot at Japanese title.
The fourth title bout on this show will see the unbeaten Kei Takenaka (9-0, 3) defending her OPBF Light Flyweight title against Thailand's Krikanok Islandmuaythai (4-4-1, 2). This looks like a mismatch though Takenaka may well be just one or two fights from a world title shot and will be hoping to get some much needed ring time here before a potential fight at world level.
As for the prospects one of those is 17 year old Riku Kano (6-1-1, 4) who faces Kenta Matsui (6-4, 1) in what will be the teenager's second bout in Japan. The hope is that a win here will be followed in 2016 with a move towards a domestic title bout then a potential world title bout as he chases the record to be Japanese youngest world champion. Matsui is a safe option but also the type of fight who is physically tough enough to get Kano some competitive rounds.
A less competitive bout will see Super Flyweight hopeful Masayoshi Hashizume (8-0, 5) face Thailand's Petchnamnung Sor Thiebkhun (0-10) in what looks like like a horrible mismatch. Petchnamnung has been stopped in 8 of his 10 bouts and we expect stoppage loss #9 to come here in what is, supposedly, his international debut. Of course The Thai probably has an incomplete record but what the data we have suggests that this is a horrible match up and that the talented Hashizume should win without ny problems.
The two world title bouts from this card will be aired on TBS, though it's unclear at the moment if they will be “live” or on tape delay. Looking at the scheduled of the card however the odds are that Takayama Vs Hara will be aired on tape delay whilst Ioka Vs Sosa will likely be live, and will also be shown live on Argentinian TV.
Staying in Osaka there is also a Rookie of the West card, in fact it's the Rookie of the West final. Sadly though it will be massively over-looked give the other card.
Rather than going through all 12 bouts we've picked a few that interested us the most.
At Super Flyweight unbeaten teenagers collide as 18 year old Shion Tamada (2-0) takes on 19 year old Kensei Hirano (4-0, 2). Tamada is a prospect of the Ioka gym and will have sparred with some top quality partners though given his age he's certainly a baby and could will find himself being pushed all the way by Hirano, who is more experienced and has shown more power.
Another all unbeaten contender will come at Light Flyweight where Kaminoko Okamura Kentokid (5-0-3, 2) takes on Seigo Yuri Akui (3-0-1, 1). Although both men are unbeaten both have been relatively fortunate with draws and it's fair to say that neither is expected to be raced through the ranks if they do end up being crowned the Rookie of the Year.
One other all unbeaten bout that has us excited is at Featherweight where teenager puncher Ryuya Yanagida (2-0, 2) takes on Yuto Nagano (4-0, 2). It's fair to say that Yanagida is completely unproven but he has shown solid power so far and may well need that power to get beyond the 21 year old Nagano, who had to gut out his most recent win, against Yu Konomura.
As well as all he action in Japan Thai fans will also get their share of televised action with Mono 29 airing a Kiatkreein show, form 3PM local time.
In the main event of this show fans will see Thailand's experienced Mike Tawatchai (35-8-1, 21) take on Filipino foe Junny Salogaol (9-7-4-1, 9) in a bout for the IBF Pan Pacific Super Bantamweight title. This is Tawatchai's first bout since being dominated by Shingo Wake in an IBF world title eliminator back in June and although that loss was a wide one he shouldn't struggle at all with Salogaol. Despite Salogaol's record being less than great he is coming into this bout in form, with 5 straight T/KO wins.
Tawatchai isn't the only notable name on this show. Another is 2-time Olympic medal winner Manus Boonjumnong (1-0) who faces Indonesian Marco Tuhumury (10-11-2, 3). Although Manos is 35, and looked out of shape last time out against Jamed Jalarante, he has got a lot of skill and shouldn't struggle, at all, with Tuhumury. In fact if anything we're expecting the Thai to stop his foe here.
Another fighter on this card is recent world title challenger Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (27-4-1, 15) who will face Indonesian fighter Oscar Raknafa (12-10, 5) in a stay busy fight. This is Fahlan's first bout since his controversial loss to Katsunari Takayama back in April. A win here could see Fahlan's team moving him towards another title fight at some point in 2016.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
One of the most exciting days so far this year for Japanese fans comes on April 22nd with two notable shows at very different levels. Although the cards are a million miles apart in terms of international attention they both promise a lot of very interesting action.
The most notable of the two shows comes from Osaka where we get a couple of world title bouts, a Japanese title fight, a former world champion and a number of promising prospects all in action on a show that is genuinely mouth watering.
The main event promises to be something a little bit special as the once beaten Kazuto Ioka (16-1, 10) battles WBA Flyweight champion Juan Carlos Reveco (35-1, 19) in a bout that has looked brilliant since it was first mentioned last year. Ioka, attempting to become the second Japanese born fighter to become a 3-weight champion, will be hoping to claim a Flyweight title at the second time of asking, following a loss to Amnat Ruenroeng last year in a bout for the IBF title, whilst Whilst Reveco will be hoping to secure his second title defense in Japan, following a victory over Masayuki Kuroda back in 2013.
In the other world title fight we will see the always fun to watch Katsunari Takayama (28-7-0-1, 11) take on Thailand's Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (27-3-1, 15) in an IBF world title defense by the Japanese warrior. Takayama, who vacated the WBO belt earlier this year, will be looking for the first defense of his second reign as the IBF champion and is looking to move on to bouts with Kosei Tanaka and Hekkie Budler later in the year. As for Fahlan, he'll be looking to record his second big win in the Osaka Prefectural gym and try and replicate his shock win over Ryo Miyazaki from December 31st 2013.
It's not just the top two bouts that are exciting but also the chief support bout which will see the highly skilled and fast rising Sho Ishida (18-0, 10) defending his Japanese Super Flyweight title against Taiki Eto (14-3, 10). This will be Ishida's second defense of the belt and will see Eto getting his second shot at the title. Incidentally Eto lost his first shot to Yohei Tobe who went on to lost the belt in his first defense, to Ishida. This bout promises a lot and a win for Ishida would likely move him to a world title shot later in the year whilst a win for Eto would be a massive achievement for the youngster of the Eto brothers.
As well as the 3 title bouts we will also see the next bout in the career of the exciting Ryo Miyazaki (22-1-3, 13) who is fighting Thailand's Namphol Sithsaithong (7-9, 5) in a clear mismatch. This is viewed as a warm up bout for Miyazaki, a former WBA Minimumweight champion, and from what we understand he is targeting a Light Flyweight title and will almost certainly try to chuck his hat into the ring to fight the winner of the upcoming WBA title fight between Ryoichi Taguchi and Kwanthai Sithmorseng, who meet on May 6th.
As for the card's prospects there are several. Among them is the exciting Masayoshi Hashizume (7-0, 4), the 2014 Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year. Hashizume is set to fight a Thai foe Saenrachan Sor Theptanee (0-1)in what should be a mismatch as Hashizume looks to sepdn the rest of the year moving up the domestic rankings, possibly fighting for the national title after Ishida gives it up.
Another prospect on this card is Reiya Konishi (7-0, 4), who was the 2014 Rookie of the Year at Minimumweight. Konishi will be in a solid looking bout against Kenta Shimizu (8-4-1, 4), a much better fighter than his record indicates.
A third prospect is female fighter is Kei Takenaka (8-0, 3). Takenaka, the current OPBF female ligth Flyweight champion, will be facing a Thai opponent who we believe will be Kannittha Saknarong (0-2). On paper this should be an easy day's work for the talented Japanese fighter, though we are hoping to see her in a real test before she starts to be moved towards a world title bout.
At the Korakuen Hall we get a trio of notable bouts. One of which is a cross roads bout between two experienced fighters whilst the other two are both notable bouts involving touted Japanese prospects.
The main event is the bout between the experienced fighters and will see former Japanese Lightweight champion Akihiro Kondo (21-5-1, 10) battling against former Filipino champion Ricky Sismundo (27-8-1, 12). Coming into this bout both men are 2-1 with a notable win the last time and both are going to be heading into the bout with the hope of generating a bit of traction in their career. Last time out we saw Sismundo defeat Shuhei Tsuchiya with an 8 round decision win, back in December, whilst Kondo recently stopped Jimrex Jaca in 4 rounds, back on March 16th. Coming into this bout we're expecting a very competitive and tough bout.
In the chief support bout we get the chance to see the touted, the fragile looking, Naoto Uebayashi (7-0-1, 4) fighting against exciting Filipino Giovanni Escaner (12-3, 8). This is a brilliant match up between unheralded fighters who know a win puts them into serious contention for an OPBF title fight later in the year. Whilst Uebayashi is the more “hyped” of the two men Escaner has shown that he's a man who has a lot of promise, despite his record, and won't be turning up just to lose. Fantastic to see both men signing up for this bout.
The other notable bout sees the exceptionally promising Hikaru Marugame (3-0, 2) battle against Wataru Miyasaka (9-2-1, 2). Marugame, a stablemate or Uebayashi's, hasn't had the attention of some other Japanese youngsters but he's every bit as good as some of the others and has shown that ability against solid competition for such an inexperienced fighter. On paper this is a big step up for the unbeaten 25 year old and although Miyasak hasn't set the world he is in good form with 3 notable wins in his last 4 bouts. As with the previous two match ups, this is very interesting.
This card will also feature 4 other bouts though none of them really caught our attention like the trio we've mentioned.
In Mexico fans will have the chance to see Mexican based Japanese fighter Shoki Sakai (17-5, 11) battle against Fernando Torres (16-10-1, 13). This is a great opportunity for Sakai who narrowly lost his last 2 bouts. The Japanese fighter, who is based in Mexico city, has shown a surprising amount of potential and hopefully he'll manage to build on that potential down the line.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
After having seen the excellent "Super Boxeo" show on December 30th, including Naoya Inoue's historic win over Omar Andres Narvaez, we now get to look forward to New Year's Eve which features 2 massive shows with 5 world title fights between them!
Of the two New Year's Eve shows in Japan the best is in Osaka in an Ioka-Kyoei joint promotion card. This show is notable pretty much from top to bottom with major almost every bout featuring either a title level fighters, a prospect or a notable name.
One of the interesting under-card bouts will see unbeaten female hopeful Terumi Nuki (5-0, 2) battle battle against debuting Thai Petchluksor Sor Praithong (0-0). It's thought that if Nuki wins here her next bout will be an OPBF title bout as she moves towards a world title bout sometime in the next 2 years. Another notable Japanese female fighter on this show is Tomomi Takano (6-1, 5) who also finds herself up against a debuting Thai in the form of Rannada Sor Vorapin (0-0).
The two female fights are both scheduled for 6 rounds as are two of the male bouts. One of those will see the busy Takeru Kamikubo (7-0, 4) fighting for the 8th time this year. Sadly the talented Kamikubo has been matched very softly here as he fights against the win-less Phetsaifar Lukmaelamperigym (0-5). For Phetsaifar this is likely to be his 6th straight stoppage loss and his 5th in Japan having previously lost to Kamikubo's stable mate Masayoshi Hashizume and the very interesting Kohei Kashino. The other will see Ryuto Maekawa (9-0, 5) fighting against Chanachai Sor Siamchai (0-1).
In an 8 rounder the heavy handed Takahiro Yamamoto (14-3, 11) will find himself up against Thailand's Kamraiyok Or Wandavee (0-0). Yamamoto comes into this bout on the back of 8 successive victories and has shown real promise with all 3 of his losses being very close decision losses. Another 8 rounder on this show will see former world champion Ryo Miyazaki (21-1-3, 12) fighting against Kajonsak Nattapolgym (0-0). For Miyazaki this bout falls exactly a year after his sole loss to, another Thai Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr., and he'll be hoping to avoid the same fate here.
The first title fight on this show will see the promising Sho Ishida (17-0, 9) making the first defence of the Japanese Super Flyweight title as he battles against Masato Morisaki (9-3-1, 5) in what looks to be a relatively straight forward defense for the talented Ishida. From what we understand if Ishida is successful here their will be moves to make a bout between Ishida and Teiru Kinoshita in 2015.
The second title fight on this show will be a strange unification bout as the IBF and WBO vacant belts will be unified. The belt situation of the bout is an odd one but the fight it's self looks to be a great one as former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (27-7-0-1, 10) battles against Japanese champion Go Odaira (11-3-3, 1). This bout is expected to be very high paced and all action though it's not expected to have the “drama” that some may expect in a FOTY contender.
Splitting up world titles fights fans we will see former 2-division champion Kazuto Ioka (15-1, 9) battle against former "interim" world champion Jean Piero Perez (20-7-1, 14). This bout does look like a disappointing one considering the quality of Ioka and the fact Perez has been struggling in recent years, though it does seem like Ioka will be fighting in a WBA world title fight early next year against Juan Carlos Reveco, who recently defended his title with a stoppage victory against Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep.
In the main event fans will see Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9) defending his WBO and WBA "super" Super Bantamweight titles against OPBF Featherweight champion Hisashi Amagasa (28-4-2, 19). The talented Cuban is a clear betting favourite going into this bout but the contest does look like an interesting one given that Amagasa will have a massive size advantage and also an advantage in activity with Rigondeaux having only fought one round in the last 12 months.
In Tokyo we have the “other” show promoted by Watanabe. Although there are 3 world titles on this show the card it's self is actually the weaker of the two cards with 2 of the 3 world title fights looking like mismatches.
The main event will be one of those mismatch world title fights as WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (21-0-1, 17) looks to make the 9th defence of his belt. The heavy handed Japanese fighter, known as “KO Dynamite”, will be defending his belt against 35 year old Argentinian challenger Israel Hector Enrique Perez (27-2-1, 16), a man who really doesn't look fit to step in the ring against Uchiyama.
In another world title fight fans will see the popular Kohei Kono (30-8, 13) defending his WBA Super Flyweight world title for the first time since he re-won it earlier this year with a KO of Denkaosan Kaovichit. The "Tough Boy" will be defending his title against Dominican challenger Norberto Jimenez (20-8-3, 10). Sadly like the other bout the challenger looks completely out of his depth and is unlikely to pose much of a threat.
The most interesting of the title fights is at Light Flyweight where Ryoichi Taguchi (20-2-1, 8) attempts to become a world champion. Taguchi is involved in the most interesting of the world title bouts as he takes on Peru's WBA Light Flyweight world champion Alberto Rossel (32-8-0-1, 13). For Taguchi this is the most significant fight of his career and is clearly his toughest since he fought the then fat rising Naoya Inoue.
As well as the 3 world title fights there are a further 6 other bouts on the same card though none of them feature anyone of note.
For those wanting to watch the main bouts from his show they will be televised on TV Tokyo.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The last 12 months have been mixed for the Ioka Gym. At the very end of last year we saw Ryo Miyazaki suffer a huge upset loss to Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and a few months later we saw Kazuto Ioka suffer a loss to Amnat Ruenroeng. Those two disappointments have been lessened in a way by the success of Masayoshi Nakatani, who has claimed the OPBF Lightweight title, and Sho Ishida, who was recently crowned the Japanese Super Flyweight champion.
The gym have gone from 2 world champions to 0 yet neither lost their belt in the ring. Thankfully however those men are still young, young enough to mount serious career revivals, revivals that begin this week.
For former 2-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka (14-1, 9) his return to the ring comes on the fringes of world level as he battles the world ranked ranked Colombian hard man Pablo Carrillo (15-2-1, 8) and comes just a few short months after his decision loss to Amnat Ruenroeng in a battle for the IBF Flyweight title. In that bout Ioka used the wrong game plan and was made to look technically inferior to his Thai foe. This time he's facing a much less technically able fighter in a bout designed to let Ioka get some experience at Flyweight with out risking another loss. It shouldn't be a problem for him to win, though he will be aware that Carrillo is a tough fighter and trying to blast him out would be a mistake. For Ioka this bout needs to see him working mentality to fight to has advantages, using his skills, movement and speed to take a win. Anything but a convincing win may put him down the queue for a world title bout later this year.
As for stable mate Ryo Miyazaki (20-1-3, 11) he'll be facing a real soft touch as he goes up against Indonesian journeyman Ichal Tobida (10-12, 8). Having been out of the ring all year this is the perfect bout for Miyazaki to look good in though we do expect him to easily see off Tobida who is very limited and shouldn't be given any chance of taking home the victory.
A third notable bout on this show, though one not featuring an Ioka fighter, will see Japanese based Filipino fighter Malcolm Tunacao (34-3-3, 20) battle against Ryuta Otsuka (14-6-2, 4). Tunacao is a former WBC Flyweight world champion who has, in recent years, given Shinsuke Yamanaka one of his hardest bouts. Aged 36 the Filipino knows his career is coming to and end but he still has enough in the tank to be a fringe contender, at least for now. Otsuka on the other hand is a 28 year old Japanese fighter best known for his loss in a Japanese Super Flyweight title bout last year against Teiru Kinoshita. This is one of the shows most appealing match-ups though we do favour Tunacao who has the advantages in experience, power and skills.
As well as the three bouts mentioned this card will feature a further 3 bouts, albeit none with much in terms of "name value". Those bouts do feature one possibly interesting contests and two bouts that, on paper, look like mismatches. With the main trio however it'll be easy to enjoy the talent on offer even if the fights aren't the best.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)