On the final Tuesday before Christmas Japanese fight fans get a really good looking Kadoebi promoted card from the Korakuen Hall, with several bouts of genuine significance.
The most important of the bouts is the main event of the show, which will see the unbeaten Hiroki Okada (16-0, 11) take on the highly experienced Jason Pagara (40-2-1, 25) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title. The Japanese local knows that a win here will almost certainly be followed by a world title eliminator next year, with Okada having been ordered to face Ivan Baranchyk in an IBF eliminator however Pagaea is no push over. Interestingly Pagara, who is the WBO #8 ranked fighter at 147lbs, comes into this bout on the back of a FOTY contender against James Onyango, a bout that showed Pagara's faults and heart as he narrowly came away with a draw. This could be a very entertaining fight, and is a very significant one for both men involved.
The chief support bout will see touted former amateur star Ryota Yamauchi (1-0, 1) take a huge step up in class to face off with Lester Abutan (12-6-3, 6). The talented and touted Yamauchi impressed on debut and will now be tasked with facing someone who really is a very tough opponent for a second bout and is ranked in the top 15 by the OPBF. For Abutan the bout sees him returning to Japan for his second bout in the country, with the first being a loss in an OPBF title fight to Ken Shiro. It should be noted that Abutan hasn't just faced off with Ken Shiro but also fought to a split with Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and is a really still test for Yamauchi
A third bout pitting Japan against the Philippines will see Yuta Nakagawa (21-5-1, 12) take on Markquil Salvana (13-4, 7). We last saw Nakagawa involved in a thrilling contest with Yasutaka Ishimoto, in a Japanese title eliminator, with Nakagawa losing the split decision in that bout. That loss to Ishimoto saw Nakagawa ending a 12 fight unbeaten run, and he'll be looking to get back to winning ways here. Salvana was once 9-0 (3) but has gone 4-4 (4) in his last 8 bouts, including losses in Japan to Takuya Uehara and Shota Hayashi, and has interestingly never won outside of his homeland.
In an all Japanese bout fans will see Japanese ranked Light Welterweight Yusuke Konno (11-4, 5) take on Welterweight puncher Kazuya Maruki (20-5, 13). The 32 year old Konno was last in the ring back in June, when he lost in a thriller against Koichi Aso for the Japanese Light Welterweight title. That bout showed that Konno really could fight, and he'll be looking to put in a similar performance here. The naturally bigger, and younger, Maruki has gone 3-3 in his last 6, including 2 losses in his last 3 bouts, but will likely feel his edge in youth and natural size advantage will be enough. It's hard to not excited about this bout given that both are flawed, aggressive and exciting fighters.
One other fighter of note on this card is Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Wataru Takeda (11-1-1, 5), who will be facing off with a Thai opponent. Takeda has won his last 2 by stoppage following a close loss to Ryohei Takahashi in October 2016 and it does seem like his team have got big plans for 2016, with this bout serving as just a stay busy fight before Christmas.
After a crazy Saturday, with all the Filipino action, the fights slow down and on Sunday we only get a single, small, show in Japan.
The card will be a double header, with the Maruki brothers headlining, and featuring in the only bouts of note.
The main event will see recent Japanese title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (13-4-1, 8), who pushed Yuki Nonaka all the way last July, take on Rocky Indonesian visitor Irawan Sikumbang (6-2, 2). The bout really should be a mismatch, with Maruki being better than his record suggests. Although the Indonesian may try and make it a fight we suspect Maruki's physicality will be too much for the visitor.
Ryosuke's older brother Kazuya Maruki (19-5, 12) will be looking to resurrect his own career, following backto back defeats, as he takes on Yosmar Kefi (5-8, 4). Although Maruki is out of form he's not a bad fighter and should have the power and physicality to over-come Kefi, who has been stopped in two previous visits to Japan.
Arguably the most intriguing bout of the day comes from Korea and features world ranked Korea Ye Joon Kim (14-1-2, 7) as he looks to defend his minor IBF title against Japanese visitor Yuki Strong Kobayashi (10-5, 5). Kim is regarded as one of the best Korean born prospects but this is a good test against a former OPBF title challenger. If Kim, who is enigmatic to say the least, is at his best he could make this look easy but Kobayashi is an upset minded fighter and showed that last year when he defeated Hikaru Matsuoka, and the year before when he beat Bunta Mitaka.
In a supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten In Duck Seo (6-0, 3) battle against Jae Sun Kim (4-2-2, 2) in a bout scheduled for 8 rounds. The 22 year old Seo will be looking for his second win this year and has, impressively, beaten 4 unbeaten opponents in a row.. Kim hasn't won a bout in his last 3, but is a step up in class for Seo.
There will also be a single show in China.
In the main event we'll see the exciting Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (9-0-1, 4) take on Filipino visitor Stephen Gelawa (6-2-1, 4). The Chinese fighter has impressed in the past, and has won his last 8 bouts including victories over Tackie Annan, to claim the WBC Youth title at 140lbs, and Nelson Tinampay. Gelawa has been stopped in his last 2 bouts, including a defeat to Charles Bellamy, but is a decent test for Baishanbo at this point.
In another main bout we'll see Chinese based Russian Andrey Kalyuzhnyy (12-2, 10) take on Yang Liu (4-3-1) in what looks like a mismatch of a 10 rounder. Although not an evenly matched bout the Russian is rebuilding following a loss earlier this year.
A more perplexing match up will see the once beaten A Fu Bai (7-1, 4) take on novice Yuan Yao (1-0). This will be Bai's first bout since he suffered his sole defeat, a 6 round decision loss to Viktor Kotochigov. Yao only debuted back in July, but did so against an experienced foe and impressed, so he may be be more competitive than the numbers suggest.
Of course much of the day's action, again, comes from Japan where there will be 3 cards, the most notable of which will be the Rookie of the West finals, and feature a total of 12 bouts from Minimumweight to Middleweight
One of the best bouts on the card is at Super Bantamweight where we see unbeaten fighters face off. In one corner will be Ioka gym's Bunta Okamoto (4-0, 2) whilst in the other corner will be Gifu Yokozeki's Ruito Saeki (4-0). With Super Bantamweight being one of the best division's in Japan this is a really significant and could see another youngster pushed towards making a mark on the division next year.
Another intriguing match up comes at Bantamweight where Hibiki Jogo (3-0, 3), another Ioka prospect, takes on fellow puncher Yuto Nakamura (6-2, 5), a 19 year old banger from the Ichino gym. This should be an explosive contest with neither man being known for going the distance.
At Super Flyweight we see another bout between unbeaten men as Kota Fujimoto (5-0, 1) takes on Katsuya Murakami (4-0-1, 1) in what looks likely to be a distance between between two men who are skilled but a bit feather fisted. A technical bout should be likely, but should be a really intriguing one with both fights looking to keep their unbeaten records.
Another show takes place in Aichi.
In the main event of the show we'll see Japanese ranked Light Welterweight Yuya Okazaki (11-9-2, 4) face off with veteran Daiki Koide (22-8-2, 9). Okazaki is without a win in almost 2 years, going 0-2-1 in his last 3, but has mixed with stiff competition in the likes of Keita Obara, Noriaki Sato and Motoki Sasaki. As for Koide he is 3-3 in his last 6 but is 2 years removed from his last win and was last seen being stopped by Korean Woo Min Won, so there are a lot of questions about what he has left in the tank. Interestingly this will be the second bout between these two who fought in July 2014, when Okazaki took a razor thin victory over Koide.
In the chief supporting bout we'll see recent Japanese title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (12-4-1, 7) battle against Elfelos Vega (6-4, 4). This will be Maruki's first bout since July's loss to Yuki Nonaka and give his performance there it's hard to see anything but a win here, with Vega having lost his last 3. Despite Vega being the under-dog he is a live under-dog who is tough and has the power to perhaps hurt Maruki, if he can land clean. Both of these men have a Japanese ranking coming into this bout so the winner could, potentially, get a title fight in 2017.
The card will be a family affair for the Maruki family as Ryosuke's brother Kazuya Maruki (19-4, 12) takes on Dai Taoka (8-3, 5). Kazuya will be looking to bounce back from a shock defeat to Chan Hee Park in May and although he has an impressive looking record he is 2-2 in his last 4 and certainly a beatable fighter. Despite Maruki being beatable Taoka has gone 1-3 in his last 4 and has lost his last 2. This should be competitive and both fighters know they can't afford another loss at the moment.
There will also be a low level card in Tokyo, headlined by an interesting looking, and well matched, 10 rounder. The bout in question will see Ryuto Araya (10-4-1, 3) face off with Yosuke Kawano (10-5-2, 4) in what is a really solid looking domestic Featherweight bout. Coming in to this Araya will be risking a 10 top Japanese ranking but should be good enough to over-come Kawano,
It's fair to say that Japanese fight fans have been left somewhat short changed during this year's “Golden Week”, and where theirs often 2 or 3 major card there wasn't really any, with the recent Watanabe card coming just before the Golden Week and the next big card, an Ohashi one, coming on the Sunday after the Golden Week. Saying that however the wait until this Sunday is a worthy one with their being several notable shows throughout Japan.
Of those Japanese shows it goes without saying the biggest, and the best, is in Tokyo and is going to be the highly anticipated Ohashi card from the 10,000 seater Ariake Colosseum. The card, which we strongly suspect will have more than 10,000,000 viewers, will see only two bouts televised live but they are both likely to feel a little bit special.
The first of those bouts is expected to be an all out war as IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (23-5, 12) defends his title against the aggressive and very fun to watch Martin Tecuapetla (13-6-3, 10). This bout really does promise a lot of excitement, and for fans who like a war this is as sure fire a slugfest as we can think of with both men enjoying a tear up. Yaegashi will be the favourite but we wouldn't be surprised to see him taken to hell and back to retain his title.
Of course whilst Yaegashi's bout promises real 2-way fireworks it's unlikely to be the bout that gets international attention. Instead that attention will be focused on 23 year old sensation Naoya Inoue (9-0, 8), who defends his WBO Super Flyweight title against mandatory challenger David Carmona (20-2-5, 8). The bout will be Inoue's second defense of his title and is likely to be his final bout in Japan before making a highly anticipated US debut later in the year. Although the bout is anticipated, because of Inoue's incredible appeal and ability, it's a mismatch and is unlikely to be more than a cameo-like appearance from the “Monster”, who has fought just 4 rounds in the last 18 months.
The two world title bouts are of course the bouts getting the most attention but their will also be a third title bout on the show, as youngster Takuma Inoue (6-0, 1) defends the OPBF Super Flyweight title against Indonesian challenger Afrizal Tamboresi (12-4, 6). The bout really should be a mismatch in favour of Takuma, who should make the second defense of his title here, but Tamboresi knows there is nothing to lose and their will be no pressure on him coming into this bout against the much touted Inoue.
The card featured a third fighter from the Inoue clan, with the touted Koki Inoue (2-0, 2) taking on another Indonesian, in Bimo Jaguar (0-0), in what is unlikely to be anything other than an early blow out win for the biggest of the Inoue's. Koki, for those unaware, is the cousin of Naoya and Takuma and, like the brothers, is trained by their father Shingo who may well be the best young trainer in world boxing.
One other notable name on this card is world title contender Ryo Matsumoto (17-0, 15), who risks his rankings and unbeaten record against Victor Uriel Lopez (8-5-1, 3). This seems likely to be Matsumoto's final bout before a world title fight, later in 2016. That talented Matsumoto has been treading water for a while, and this seems to be another stay busy, but he is insanely talented and is viewed as another fighter who is going to be part of a Japanese revolution over the coming years.
Talking about the next wave of Japanese fighters their will also be one of the youngest in action in Hyogo. That's 18 year old Riku Kano (9-1-1, 5), who faces former world champion Merlito Sabillo (25-2-1, 12) in a bout for the OPBF interim Minimumweight title. Kano has his eyes on setting the Japanese age record, for the youngest world champion from Japan, but knows that he will need to beat Sabillo here. For the Filipino form champion this is a must win and he knows his career will essentially be over as a top contender if he loses the 18 year old Kano.
Sadly we do need to say that although listed on boxrec, Futa Akizuki (6-0, 5) will not be making his Japanese debut on this card.
In Osaka fans will get a show at the Mierparque Hall in Osaka City.
Here the main event will see the promising 20 year old Takuya Uehara (8-0, 5), an OPBF ranked Super Featherweight contender, battling against Indonesian ranked Ramli Pasaribu (4-7, 1). Uehara is OPBF ranked already though hasn't really proven himself against anyone of actual quality. A win here won't change that, but we suspect that this could his final bout before facing a known opponent, possibly this coming summer.
In the chief support bout fans will see Japanese ranked Flyweight Shunji Nagata (10-14-2, 3) face off with former Japanese Super Flyweight title challenger Masato Morisaki (10-4-1, 6). For Morisaka this will be his second bout since he was stopped, in 5 rounds, by Sho Ishida back on December 31st 2014 and although the “more proven” fighter he has fought just 2 rounds since that Ishida bout. Nagata might not be a great fighter but he's someone who has been battle tested and should give Morisaka a very good fight.
A third bout of note on this card will see OPBF and JBC ranked 140lb fighter Ryusei Yoshida (27-8, 14) fight in what really should be a stay busy contest against Tatsunori Fukunaga (7-6, 3). If Yoshida wins, as is widely expected, he could potentially be the next Japanese title challenger later in the year, and will almost certainly call out Hiroki Okada.
A fourth Japanese show is set to take place in Aichi, with this one having 4 bouts that caught our eye.
The main event of the card will see veteran Daiki Koide (22-7-2, 9) battle against OPBF ranked Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (2-0-1), who incidentally claimed the KBF 140lb title last time out. On paper this looks like a horrible mismatch but Kim has been fast tracked and has already proven that he can go rounds, with 22 career rounds already, and he may well see Koide as just the next step on his way through the OPBF rankings.
Another Japan Vs Korea bout on this card sees former Keita Obara opponent Kazuya Maruki (19-3, 12) face off with Chan Hee Park (5-6-1) in what looks likely to be another good bout for fans, though with Park lacking power it's hard to see what he has to compete with the talented Maruki. For those who haven't seen Park before we suggest watching his fight with Kyoo Hwan Hwang from last year as it really was so fun and just a crazy battle.
Maruki's brother, Ryosuke Maruki (11-3-1, 7) will also be up against a Korean visitor, in the form of Joon Yong Lee (5-3-3, 3). On paper this is a mismatch but Lee is the Korean Middleweight champion and may well be a real handful for Maruki, in what could be a genuinely fun bout for fans at the venue. Notably Lee enters the bout as a highly ranked contender by the OPBF so will be fighting to defend that ranking.
The final bout of note is an all-Japanese bout at Heavyweight. The bout will see the unbeaten Ryu Ueda (5-0, 2) risk his perfect record against veteran fighter Kotatsu Takehara (12-11-3, 6). This is a big step up in class for Ueda however Takehara has won just 2 of his last 4, and was stopped in both of his losses. It's a good test for the 23 year old novice who knows a win could see him move towards a Japanese title fight, and perhaps even a chance to become the third ever Japanese Heavyweight champion.
Incheon, South Korea
As well as all the action in Japan there is also a card in Korea, under the KPBF banner.
The main event here is a PABA “interim” title bout that sees Korean Jong-Min Jung (6-7, 2) battle Ghana's Razak Nettey (17-4, 13) at Featherweight. Notably this Nettey is a replacement for Filipino Jason Redondo and unfortunately for the Korean it seems Nettey may not have been an easier option.
This card will also feature two other PABA affiliated title bouts, one at Bantamweight and one at Light Middleweight. From what we understand the Bantamweight bout will see Woo Hyun Kim (5-1, 1) battle Michael Barnor (15-7-2, 11). The Light Middleweight bout will see Youn Bae Kim (4-0, 1), the current PABA interim champion, battle Joo Hun Kim (7-1, 2), the KPBF champion.
*Note several Korean records have been provided by the KPBF.
This coming Sunday is a busy day for Japanese fight fans who have 3 separate cards, all with something of note on them. As well as the Japanese action we also see a veteran for the Philippines fighting in the US.
The most significant bout of the day will see Yu Kawaguchi (23-6, 10) defending the OPBF Bantamweight title against the heavy handed Takahiro Yamamoto (15-4, 12). These two men met earlier this year, with Kawaguchi winning a split decision against Yamamoto it one of the closest bouts of the year so far. For Yamamoto this is a chance at redemption whilst Kawaguchi is looking to prove he is better than his foe.
On the same card we'll see the very promising Kazuki Tanaka (2-0, 2) battle against win-less Thai visitor Kamraiyok Orwandavee (0-2). This is a clear mismatch but it could be one that tells us something about Tanaka, given that it took Takahiro Yamamoto 3 rounds to stop Kamraiyok last December, a 1uicker win really could back up the idea that Tanaka is a potential champion.
One other bout of note will see Japanese ranked fighter Takayuki Okumoto (14-6-2, 6) risk his ranking against the limited Yasuhiro Sakurai (7-19). This shouldn't be a tough ask for the 23 year old Okumoto but he'll know that another loss at this stage of his career really will but a hit on his hopes to climb through the ranks
Notable this show will also feature an exhibition between Nobuhiro Ishida and Crazy Kim. This exhibition will be part of Ishida's retirement ceremony. The two men fought twice as pros and have become really good friends since those bouts with Ishida having trained with Kim prior to Ishida's retirement earlier this year.
A second show in Osaka looks to be almost as interesting with several notable names in action.
Arguably the most significantly bout on the card features world ranked Light Middleweight Takayuki Hosokawa (26-10-4, 9) who puts his IBF ranking on the line against South Korean fighter Jung Hoon Yang (9-6, 2), who 1-4 on the road. Hang was last seen in Japan in 2014 being stopped in 4 rounds by Yoshihiro Kamegai and it would be little shock to see him suffer a very clear loss to Hosokawa, who is expected to move towards a rematch with Yuki Nonaka either at the end of 2015 or very early in 2016.
Another notable bout will see Japanese Middleweight hopeful Koki Tyson Maebara (8-1-1, 8) battle against Thailand's Kungsuk Sor Sompong (0-1). The bout is a mismatch but the general view is that this could be Maebara's last fight before he gets a title fight of some kind. The talented puncher is thought to be eyeing up the winner of the up coming bout between Akio Shibata and Yasuyuki Akiyama.
Another bout where the favourite is looking towards a future bout will be a contest between Jonathan Baat (29-6-3, 14) and Dado Cabin Toy (15-4-2, 8). It was announced last week that Baat has been lined up as the next opponent for the touted Hikaru Marugame however he'll need a win here or that bout will likely be off. This however shouldn't be a tough ask for the Japanese based Filipino veteran.
A third Japanese show is from Aichi and it's easily the “weakest” with only the main event really capturing our attention.
That headline bout will see Kazuya Maruki (18-3, 12) take on Indonesian visitor Heri Andriyanto (21-18-2, 10) in what looks to be a straight forward win for Maruki. The Indonesian veteran is 0-3 in Japan and 0-10 on his travels and it's unlikely that run will change here against a fighter who is well ranked by the JBC.
Although much of this card is set to be fought at a low level we must admit we have some interest in teenage hopeful Kevin Mendoza (1-0) who will be facing Naoki Masukawa (3-2). Mendoza is an 18 year old Japanese based Peruvian who debuted back in May and this could well be a great test for the southpaw.
We also get some a action in the US as Filipino veteran Dennis Laurente (49-5, 30) takes on the heavy handed John Jackson (19-2, 15) as part of a 4 man WBC Light Middleweight tournament. Laurente is seen as a huge outsider coming into this bout but will know that this is a huge opportunity. Laurente enters as the OPBF champion at 154lbs though his title won't be on the line.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The month of December may have taken a few days to get going but when it begins to kick off, it really begins to kick off and today we have a genuinely exciting card with several very good looking bouts.
The first action of the day is in Tokyo where we get one of the best domestic cards of the year. In fact it's almost like an early Christmas present with 3 really interesting match ups.
The main event of the trio is a 10 round non-title bout between the teak tough Nihito Arakawa (25-4-1, 16) and Japanese Lightweight champion Yoshitaka Kato (28-5-1, 9). This is the third meeting between the two and will act as a rubber with each man holding a narrow win over the other. The bout has been made slightly above the Lightweight limit though that shouldn't take the shine off what is likely to be a violent, exciting and thrilling tear up between two very well matched fighters. We're really excited about this one and wouldn't be shocked if it ended up being a FOTY contender, it really could be that good.
As well as the non-title bout fans will also have two title bouts to look forward to. The most notable of those is also a rematch as the unified Japanese and OPBF Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (23-8-1, 9) looks to defend his unified for the second time. Shibata will be battling against former world title challenger Makoto Fuchigami (21-9, 12), a man best known for being stopped by Gennady Golovkin, and it's fair to say there is more to this bout than just the titles. This will be the second meeting between the two and in the first Shibata took a clear technical decision over Fuchigami who knows that his career will need a win here given that his recent form has been forgettable to say the least with just 2 wins in his last 5 bouts. This bout has titles, bragging rights and possibly even careers on the line, the stakes really couldn't be any higher.
The third bout is the remaining title bout as former OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (13-1, 4) battles against Yasutaka Ishimoto (24-7, 7) in a bout for the vacant Japanese Super Bantamweight title. The belt was given up by Hidenori Otake ahead of Otake's world title bout with Scott Quigg and has left us with a potentially brilliant bout between two light hitting but technically proficient fighters. Neither of these guys is likely to ever become a genuine world champion though we suspect the winner could end up progressing to OPBF title fights and may get a world title shot somewhere down the line.
As well as the main trio the card will feature 4 under card contests, with the most interesting of those being a bout between the Japanese and OPBF ranked Kazuya Maruki (17-2, 11) and Quaye Peter (5-5-2, 3). This is a stay busy fight for Maruki who is on a 6 fight winning streak following his 8th round TKO loss to the monstrously hard hitting Keita Obara back in 2012. If Maruki can continue stringing together wins the odds are he will find himself getting a title fight of some sort at some point in 2015 or 2016.
Pathum Thani, Thailand
In Thailand there's another bout worth looking forward to as the unbeaten Kongthara KKP (5-0, 5) steps up in class and attempts to defend his WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Bantamweight title against experienced Indonesian Nouldy Manakane (27-15-1, 17). Kongthara blasted on to our radar back in May when he stopped Shingo Kawamura on his debut and now looks to add the scalp of a former world title challenger to his ledger. It should be a mismatch in favour of Kongthara but this is a good test for the promising Thai.
Nuevo León, Mexico
In Mexico fans in for a treat as WBC female Flyweight champion Shindo Go (14-2, 9) takes on highly regarded Mexican fighter Arely Mucino (20-2-2, 10) in a bout with a lot of promise. The contest has been a drawn out one outside of the ring with several issues getting in the way and we just hope those issues won't destroy what should be one of the best female bouts of the year.
Staying in Mexico fans will also get the chance to see the unbeaten Joebert Alvarez (14-0-1, 6) in the toughest bout of his career as he goes up against unified Flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada (30-2, 22). Estrada appears to be testing the water at 115lbs here and some have speculated that Estrada is set to vacate his Flyweight titles. We'll admit we'd love to see Estrada fight Roman Gonzalez in a much anticipated rematch however a bout between Estrada and Naoya Inoue would be equally as interesting and could be a bout made between two of the sports really young outstanding youngsters.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)