The key show this coming Thursday comes from Korakuen Hall and whilst it's not a huge show it is with a former world title challenger, a national title fight and a couple of prospects.
The main event of this card will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (20-4-1, 18) take on Indonesian foe Yosmar Kefi (9-10, 8), in what should be little more than a confidence builder for Obara. Given that Obara has lost 2 of his last 3, including a loss last time out to Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, he does need an easy win and it's hard to imagine anything but an easy one here. Kefi is 0-4 in Japan, having been stopped 4 times in the Land of the Rising Sun, and we suspect there will be another stoppage loss for him here.
The main support bout will see Japanese Minimumweight champion Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10) make his first defense, as he takes on Naoya Haruguchi (15-10, 6) in a rematch between the two men. Tanaka won the belt earlier this year, when he stopped Shin Ono, and will be looking to avenge a previous loss to Haruguchi. Whilst Haruguchi did win their first bout it was a controversial decision and he'll need to perform a lot better here, given he's fighting in Tokyo this time around, and not Kagoshima, where he has picked up most of his wins. A full preview of this bout can be read here Tanaka to make first defense, battles Haruguchi
In an interesting support bout we'll see once beaten men collide, with talented Japanese youngster Yoshimitsu Kimura (11-1, 6) taking on Filipino counterpart Jules Victoriano (9-1, 6). Both of these men are in their early 20's, both have suffered a solitary loss and both scored a solid win last time out, with Kimura stopping Allan Vallespin and Victoriano stopped Landy Cris Leon. This is a really interesting supporting bout and could end up being the bout of the show.
One other supporting bout on this card will see Ryu Horikawa (0-0) make his professional debut, as he battles Jun Ishimoto (5-6-1, 3). Whilst we've not been given Horikawa's full amateur record he did impress last year on the national scene and their is expectation on him to have a big future. Ishimoto is no world beater, but a good opponent for a debutant. Ishimoto has never been stopped, isn't much of a puncher and should give enough resistance to see what Horikawa is made of.
As well as the action in Tokyo, we're also interested in a card in California, as Filipino Gretchen Abaniel (18-10, 6) takes on the unbeaten Seniesa Estrada (16-0, 6) in a bout for the WBC silver female Light Flyweight title. The experienced Abaniel is a "win some lose some" fighter who has faced a relative who's who of female boxing, with bouts against the likes of Tenkai Tsunami, Cai Zong Ju, Ayaka Miyao, and Kumiko Seeser Ikehara. Sadly she is far too small for Light Flyweight, and it's a shame her career hasn't been spent fighting at Atomweight. The 26 year old Estrada is less well known than Abaniel, but is unbaten, powerful and very promising. Coming in to this Estrada has won her last 4 by stoppage, and we whouldn't be surprised to see that run continue here against the talented, but under-powered Abaniel.
For us the biggest show this Saturday is in China where we get a China Vs Japan card featuring a number of bouts between fighters from those two countries. Not only is there the China Vs Japan theme, but also the return to the ring of a popular Japanese former world champion.
The former world champion is Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10), who despite being Japanese is hugely popular in China following his title win over Zou Shiming in 2017. Kimura was dethroned of the WBO Flyweight title in September, by Kosei Tanaka, but will be strongly favoured to pick up a win here as he takes on Thai veteran Pigmy Kokietgym (60-10-2, 24) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Flyweight. Pigmy was once a solid fighter, and is a 2-time world title challenger, but is not a natural Flyweight, he's 37 and has been stopped 7 times in his career, with Kimura likely to make that 8.
One of the many China Vs Japan bouts will see China's Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (15-2-1, 6) take on Yusuke Konno (14-4, 7) in a bout for some minor WBA Light Welterweight title. Originally the title was listed as the WBA "International" title, though their is now speculation that it will be for the WBA "Asia" title. Nasiyiwula is a talented fighter, but often comes across as a man with a bad attitude, and a real arrogance. He has impressed in the past, but didn't look good last time out, when he fought Ernesto Espana. Konno on the other hand has a poor looking record, but comes into this bout on the back of 3 good domestic wins, including an excellent victory over Vladimir Baez in December and will be full of confidence.
Another China Vs Japan bout, with a title on the line, will see world ranked Chinese fighter Wulan Tuolehazi (10-3-1, 5) battle against highly regarded Japanese prospect Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4) in a bout for the WBA International Flyweight title. Tuolehazi has impressed in recent years, turning around a 0-2 start to professional boxing to have a 10-3-1 record including a big win over Jayr Raquinel last year. Yamauchi has impressed us since his professional debut, and already has a couple of solid wins on his record, but this is a big step up for him. We suspect Yamauchi has the tools needed to over-come Tuolehazi, but he will need to answer serious questions here, and prove himself more than he has at any other point in his career. A full preview of this bout can be read here Yamauchi and Tuolehazi battle in mouth watering Flyweight clash
The China Vs Japan rivalry may be set to give us a very special bout as Fangyong Zhang (11-4-1, 3) and Ryuto Maekawa (11-1-1, 7) clash in a potential war. Neither of these are world beaters, but both are happy to let their hands go and be involved in a fight. Maekawa is best known for his insane bout with Rex Tso whilst Zhang is less well known he is certainly not a bad fighter to watch and should make for the perfect partner with Maekawa for a brilliant fight.
As well as the big card in China there will also be a big one in the US, in fact the US card in Pennsylvania is the biggest of the day in terms of general boxing. The card isn't just big in a wider boxing sense but also features several Asian fighters.
The most significant bout, in regards to Asian interest, will see the unbeaten Uzbek fighter Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 6) take on Japanese puncher Keita Obara (20-3-1, 18) in an IBF Welterweight world title eliminator. The talented Abdukakhorov will be making his US debut and begin a 3 fight deal with Top Rank with this fight, and will know that a win will open up major doors, though he is up against a serious puncher in Obara. For Obara, who has been stopped in all 3 of his losses, this is a must win but he has failed to win his biggest bouts and at the age of 32 he is likely on the slide. Our preview of this bout is available here Abdukakhorov and Obara battle for mandatory position
Once beaten American based Kazakh Askhat Ualikhanov (4-1, 2) will take on Puerto Rican puncher Jose Lopez (11-1, 9) in an 8 round bout. The 28 year old Ualikhanov was beaten on debut, in 2016, when he was controversially DQ'd and since then has reeled off 4 wins, to rebuild his reputation. Lopez on the other hand was stopped last time out by journeyman Carlos Winson Velasquez and is may not find this bout to be the confidence builder he needs.
New South Wales, Australia
There will also be a show in Australia, featuring a couple of Filipino fighters.
The main event of this card will see WBSS participant Jason Moloney (17-1, 14) return to the ring for the first time since losing to IBF Bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez. The talented, once beaten, Australian will be up against Filipino visitor Cris Paulino (19-3, 8) in a bout for the WBA Oceania Bantamweight title. Given that all 3 of Paulino's losses have come by stoppage it's hard to imagine him lasting with the hard hitting Moloney, who will likely get to Paulino sooner or later.
Another Filipino on this card is Rey Juntilla (23-8-5, 14), who takes on Billel Dib (22-3, 10). The 29 year old Juntilla has lacked activity in recent years, with only 1 bout in the last 2 years, and although he has a good looking record he has lost against almost every noteworthy name he's faced. Dib is no world beater, and has lost 2 of his last 3, but he should pick up an easy win here.
In a bit of an oddity we'll see German based Moroccan Bilal Messoudi (6-4-1, 2) take on Chinese fighter Shayilanbieke Kadeerbieke (2-3-2, 1). Although Messoudi has lost 4 bouts he has mixed with decent fighters and is better than the numbers suggest. As for Kadeerbieke this will be his first bout outside of China, and we'll be honest and admit that is strange he's set to fight in Germany.
This coming Thursday attention turns back to the Korakuen Hall as we get a show with two title bouts, and several other interesting match ups.
One of those title bouts will see Filipino puncher Alvin Lagumbay (10-2, 9) attempt to score his second victory over Keita Obara (19-3-1, 17), and make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. These two fought earlier this year, with Lagumbay upsetting the former world title challenger courtesy of a 2nd round KO. The bout not only saw an upset, but did so in a spectacular way, with a double knockdown that saw Lagumbay manage to beat the count whilst Obara was counted out. For Obara another loss will likely spell the end of his dreams to get a second world title fight, as for Lagumbay a loss wouldn't be the end, but a win would certainly enhance his options going forward.
A preview for the rematch between Lagumbay and Obara can be read here.
The other title bout will see Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto (15-5, 12) make his first defense, as he faces voluntary challenger Tatsuya Otsubo (12-8-1, 4). The champion impressed in his title winning performance earlier this year, when he stopped Takenori Ohashi but will now need to continue the momentum with his first defense. At his best Minamoto looks fantastic, and we're hoping the title boosts his performances going forward. For Otsubo this is a second shot at the Japanese title, following a 2015 loss to Satoshi Hosono. Since the loss to Hosono we've not really see Otsubo impress, despite going 4-1 (1) he has really been lucky in 3 of those wins, and could well have been 1-5 in his last 6 contests. Interestingly the winner of this will likely face Raiye Abe in early 2019.
On paper the best of the under-card fights will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight title challenger Ryoichi Tamura (10-3-1, 6) take on upset minded Filipino visitor Jestoni Autida (11-8, 5). The exciting Tamura gave Yusaku Kuga absolute hell last year, and proved to be one of the few fighters who could not only take Kuga's power but could also force the champion onto the back foot. Autida is 0-2 in Japan but has managed to be a nightmare for fighters like Ratchasak KKP and Petch Sor Chitpattana and could give Tamura some real questions.
Other bouts on this card will include Japanese ranked Middleweight Shuji Kato (8-1-1, 5) take on Naritsugu Nishihara (5-2-1, 1) and former Japanese title challenger Masaki Saito (14-13-6, 5) take on Takashi Sakamoto (7-10, 2). These should both see the more experienced men come out on top, but neither should be a mismatch.
This coming Wednesday fight fans in Japan will get the chance to see a title double header at the Korakuen Hall, with both bouts being for WBO Asia Pacific titles, and pitting Japanese fighters against Filipinos. As well as the two title fighters there's also a Japanese ranked fighter and a very highly touted debutant.
The first of the two title fights is the more interesting as WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Richard Pumicpic (20-8-2, 6) takes on the unbeaten Yoshimitsu Kimura (9-0, 4). The Filipino won the title last year, when he upset former world title challenger Hisashi Amagasa, and will be returning to the scene of that win. Although his record doesn't suggest he's anything great Pumicpic is a total nightmare to fight, and has given problems to fighters like Yohei Tobe, Ryosuke Iwasa and Cesar Juarez. As for Kimura this is a massive step up in class,and he's yet to fight anyone of any note. In fact the challenger is stepping up from low level domestic competition to facing one of the most tricky fighters on the regional scene. A win for Kimura would be both a huge statement, and a massive upset.
The other title fight will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (19-2-1, 17) take on Filipino foe Alvin Lagumbay (9-2, 8), with Obara seeking his second defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. The heavy handed Japanese fighter is looking to move towards a second world title fight, now at a more natural Welterweight, but opponents like Lagumbay aren't going to help him get fights at the top level. For those unaware Lagumbay has fought in Japan before, and was stopped by the then 3-0 Lightweight prospect Kazuki Saito, which should sum up why he's such a terrible opponent for a Welterweight like Obara here.
In a domestic Middleweight bout we'll see Japanese ranked Shuji Kato (7-1-1, 5) take on Sosuke Sakata (5-4-1, 2). Kato won the 2017 Rookie of the Year, and is riding a 5 fight winning streak, to show that he deserves some attention. However this is a clear step up in class from the fellow novices he has been fighting, despite Sakata himself being a limited fighter. As for Sakata he has been plying his trade at Welterweight though could see the move up in weight give his career a new lease of life.
The debutant of real note on this card is former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita (0-0), who went 110-31 (47) in the unpaid ranks before turning professional at the start of this year. The talented Sugita will be up against hard hitting Filipino visitor Jun Blazo (7-5-3, 6). The Filipino is 0-4 in Japan, but has fought very good competition, losing to Koki Eto, Daisuke Watanabe, Hayate Kaji and Ryuto Owan. This is a really tough debut bout for Sugita, but there is very high expectations on his shoulders and this sort of debut is a great statement of intent.
Originally there was also a Japanese Bantamweight title bout set for this card, between Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) and Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8). Sadly this bout has been cancelled, with Suzuki pulling out of the bout due to an injury suffered in training. From what we under-stand Muranaka will be fighting for the vacant title down the line, though this is understandably a cruel twist for Suzuki who already missed out on a title fight this past January when Ryo Akaho was forced to cancel a fight against him.
The biggest card, at least for us, this coming Thursday is a doubler header at the Korakuen Hall, with a WBO Asia Pacific title fight and a Japanese domestic title fight, along with a supporting bout involving a former Japanese champion.
The main event will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (18-2-1, 16) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title against the exciting Shusaku Fujinaka (16-7-2, 11). The bout will be Obara's first defense of the title, which he won earlier this year when he stopped Saddam Kietyongyuth, and should be a relatively straight forward one, against a limited but aggressive Fujinaka. The challenger is best known for a his 2015 loss to Randall Bailey and has shown a questionable chin, with 3 stoppage losses. Saying that however he's an exciting warrior and his recent bout with Moon Hyun Yun is one of the best Japanese fights of 2017. We expect action and excitement, but a clear win for Obara here.
The other title fight will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso (22-7-1, 15) taking on exciting challenger Valentine Hosokawa (21-6-3, 9). The bout is set to be one between two men who simply like to fight. They have styles that should gel, they have mentalities that should be made for each other, and it's hard to see how this bout will fail to be anything but thrilling. Aso, defending the title for the second time, is a high octane pressure fighter whilst Hosokawa is a bit more of a swarmer and the bout should be a balls to the wall war.
One other bout on this card worthy of note will see former Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (33-15-1, 7) fight for the 50th time! The 37 year old veteran will be up against a limited Thai foe, and will be expected to pick up a win to mark his half century of bouts.
In Canada we'll see a couple of talented fighters from Central Asia.
One of those will be heavy handed Canadian based Kazakh Ablaikhan Khussainov (6-0, 5), who faces off with Mexican Jesus Silveira (8-4-2, 3). The talented Kazakh has quietly gone about business and looks like a real talent but does still need some seasoning and it looks like that's the purpose of this bout. Silveira's record might suggest that he's a very limited fighter but but he's mixed with quality fighters, like Jose Zepeda, and no one has managed to stop him yet, suggesting he'll be a durable foe for Khussainov.
A second Canadian based Kazakh on this card will be Nurzat Sabirov (3-0, 3), who will be looking to record his 4th win in just over 6 months. The talented 23 year old has just needed 6 rounds to dispose of his first 3 opponents and if he keeps ripping through low tier foes it won't be long until they push him into bigger and better bouts against stiffer competition.
New York, USA
There will also be some central Asian interest in the US, courtesy of American based Uzbek fighter Hurshidbek Normatov (4-0, 2), who risks his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Nicklaus Flaz (5-0, 4). So far through his short career Normatov has impressed, not losing any of his 13 professional rounds, and looks like a potential one to watch. However the 25 year old born in Andijan hasn't really faced a notable test and this bout with Flaz should serve as a test of sorts. Puerto Rican puncher Flaz is a 22 year old with genuine bang, having stopped his first 4 opponents in a combined 5rounds, but was taken the distance last time out by Elie Augustama and may be biting off more than he can chew here.
Attention turns to Tokyo again this coming Thursday, ending a few days of quietness for the sport in the Land of the Rising sun.
The main event of the card will see the heavy handed Keita Obara (17-2-1, 15) take on Thai visitor Saddam Kietyongyuth (26-2, 21) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. For Obara this will be his first title bout since losing in a world title fight to Eduard Troyanovsky last September. It will also confirm that he is now a full time Welterweight, finally letting his body ditch the crippling limits of Light Welterweight. For Saddam this looks like a really tough contest, with the Thai scoring 3 low key wins in the last 6 years. Losses to Alisher Rahimov and Cole Smith don't bode well for Saddam and we suspect Obara will break him down in the middle rounds.
In the co-feature we'll see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Takeshi Inoue (10-0-1, 5) making the first defense of his title, as he takes on fellow unbeaten Riku Nagahama (7-0-1, 3) in a really mouth watering clash. Coming in to this Inoue is riding a 9 fight winning run, including notable wins over Chan Ho Lee, Akinori Watanabe and Koshinmaru Saito, who he beat for the title earlier this year. The champion is an exciting fighter who can box, or brawl, and is looking to make a statement by taking on such a tough challenger in his first defense. As for Nagahama, the #1 ranked contender, he comes in on a 7 fight winning run, including victories over Brandon Lockhart and Hideo Mikan, with his last 3 by stoppage. Given the recent performances by both men this should be a really fan friendly contest.
The most notable of the under-card bouts will see the fast rising Shuichiro Yoshino (4-0, 2) take on Thai visitor Katika Saithonggym (0-1), in what is a stay busy fight for the Japanese fighter. Yoshino will know that he's supposed to win here with not issues, but can't over-look the Thai as he has got a Japanese title eliminator bout with Spicy Matsushita lined up for October. If Yoshino suffers a cut here he will be kicking himself, so expect to see the talented youngster show some caution, but see off the visitor relatively early.
In another supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Yoshimitsu Kimura (7-0, 3), who claimed the Rookie of the Year crown at Featherweight last year, take on Kanehiro Nakagawa (4-4, 3) in what looks like a decent for the unbeaten 20 year old. Nakagawa is a very beatable fighter, but he does have plenty of sting on his shots and should give the unbeaten man a chin check, at the very least.
Next Thursday we see another notable card from the Korakuen Hall, and this one really is a rather exciting one with a number of notable names features.
The main event of the card will see the criminally under-rated Masayuki Ito (20-1-1, 8) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title against big punching Filipino title challenger Lorenzo Villanueva (32-2-0-1, 28). For Ito the bout will be his first defense, since he claimed the title at the very end of 2016, and he should be looking to extend a current 4 winning run which which includes really good wins over Shingo Eto and Takuya Watanabe. For the Filipino the bout is his first outside of the Philippines since his thrilling 2012 loss to Daud Yordan in Singapore. The challenger will have the big edge in power, but he's up against a very talented boxer, and will need to show more than just brute force to over-come Ito.
In a major supporting bout we'll see former world title challenger Keita Obara (16-2-1, 15) take on Indonesian Larry Siwu (24-7, 20) in a Welterweight bout. For Obara the contest will be his first since losing in a world title bout to Eduard Troyanovsky last September. The talented Obara is taking off the shackles of making Light Welterweight and it seems likely that he will be continuing his career at 147lbs going forward. Although Siwu is a decent fighter he really shouldn't have anything to really test Obara, who will be looking to shake some ring rust and make a statement.
Arguably the most intriguing match up on the card will see former Japanese and OPBF Lightweight champion Yoshitaka Kato (30-7-2, 9) take on touted former amateur standout Shuichiro Yoshino (3-0, 2) in what looks like a must win for the veteran and a potential coming out party for the novice. Although now a faded force Kato, who is more than 2 years removed from a win of note, is tough, skilled and a nightmare for fighters who look to have a war. If Yoshino can avoid a war and rely on his amateur skills then he could announce himself as a serious play on the Japanese scene at 135lbs, but this is a huge step up for the 25 year old.
Another former champion on this card is former 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (26-7, 14), who vacated his title around the start of the year. The world ranked Masuda will be up against Filipino visitor Romel Oliveros (8-3-1, 3), who is fighting in Japan for the third time. The talented Masuda is hunting a world title bout later in the year and this is clearly a stay busy bout for him, but one that should help him get some rounds under his belt. Oliveros has been stopped in 2 of his last 3 bouts, being stopped in 2 rounds by Daigo Higa and in 5 rounds by Jonas Sultan, and it's hard to see him lasting the distance here against Masuda.
Yoshino isn't the only touted novice on this card as former amateur star Motoki Osanai (1-0) returns to the ring for his second professional outing, and takes on fellow unbeaten Takeshi Kaneko (4-0-1). The talented Osanai turned professional last year, along with Hiroto Kyoguchi and Masataka Taniguchi, but has failed to shine like those two and will be looking to make up for lost time here. As for Kaneko he is unbeaten, but his 0 has certainly come under challenger during his career and it'd take a career best performance to keep that 0 here.
The coming weekend is huge for boxing fans, in fact it may well be the biggest boxing weekend of the year with major fights on two continents. The weekend however kicks off a day early, on the Friday, as Japan's heavy handed Keita Obara (16-1-1, 15) challenges the unbeaten Eduard Troyanovsky (24-0, 21) for the IBF and IBO Light Welterweight titles. The bout, an IBF mandatory, will be in Russia with Obara fighting outside of Japan for the second time, following last year's horrendous draw with Walter Castillo, and it will be his first world title bout with many fans expecting real fireworks here between two big punchers.
Staying in Russia fight fans will also be able to see unbeaten Filipino hopeful Rimar Metuda (10-0, 5) battle against the once beaten Kazakh Mirzhan Zhaksylykov (9-1, 4) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Featherweight title. On paper this is a brilliant match up, though Zhaksylykov, a former PABA champion, has fought just once in 6 years, losing in a 4 rounder to Shavkat Rakhimov.
Talking about Tajik born Shavkat Rakhimov (5-0, 3) he will himself be in action as he takes on the experienced Farhod Oripov (11-12-1, 5) in a 6 rounder.
There will also be action in China. The headlined bout here will see Tao Ji (10-6-2, 2) face Xinghua Wang (12-13-1) for the vacant WBA China National Bantamweight title. Ji has gone 0-1-2 in his last 3 and is far from outstanding himself.
Another interesting bout from the card in China will see the unbeaten An Bi Liang (3-0, 2) battle against the heavy handed Andrey Kalyuzhnyy (11-2, 9) in what looks like a really serious test for the unbeaten man.
April is a great month for Japanese fight fans with a host of notable shows through the month. One of the most notable come on April 14th where we see a number of bouts with notable fighters.
One of those bouts is a Japanese Light Flyweight title bout between unbeaten champion Ken Shiro (6-0, 3), who looks to make his first defense, and mandatory challenger Atsushi Kakutani (17-4-1, 10). The youngster won the title late last year, when he over-came Kenichi Horikawa in a brilliant bout, and will be looking to notch a win over a world title challenger. For Kakutani however this is a long over-due shot and one that could make or break his career.
Another title bout on this card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (13-3-1, 7) defending his title against Akira Shono (9-7-2, 5). This match up is somewhat hard to get excited about, with Shono seemingly stepping up in a huge way, though it does need to be noted that Takenaka has been in active since August, when he won the title courtesy of a 5th round TKO win over Vinvin Rufino. On paper this is an easy first defence for the champion, but one that he will be hoping he'll be expected to shine.
In a very notable non-title bout fans will see Keita Obara (15-1-1, 14) in a stay busy bout against Petchdam Tor Buamas (0-1). Although a huge mismatch the aim of the bout is for Obara to shake some ring rust as he looks to build towards an IBF Light Welterweight world title fight with unbeaten Russian Eduard Troyanovsky. This will be Obara's first bout since his controversial draw against Walter Castillo and it should be a very easy show case for the heavy handed Japanese fighter.
In another under-card bout fans will see Japanese Rookie of the Year Tsubasa Koura (6-0, 3) kick off his 2016 by facing Thailand's Yai Phuket Topteam (0-0). The 21 year old Koura impressed last year with 5 wins, and won the All Japanese Rookie of the year. He'll be hoping to continue to build on his promising career this year, though should be up against better tests than Yai before the year is over.
November 7th-Murata, Obara and Higa make it a day for Japanese bangers, Islam and Zhakiyanov add a Kazakh twist
This coming Saturday is an amazing day for Asian fight fans who will get the chance to see some of Japan's hardest hitters, two of which will be in action in the US!
The most notable of those two US debut's for Japanese fighters comes in Nevada where Olympic gold medal winner Ryota Murata (7-0, 5) risks his unbeaten record against Gunnar Jackson (22-6-3, 8). On paper this is a step up Murata however the bout is more about getting the US fans interested in him rather than really testing himself against world level opposition. A win for Murata would likely see him return to the US next year for a more notable bout, perhaps against a former champion or world title challenger.
We see another Japanese fighter make their US debut as the heavy handed, and genuinely fun to watch, Keita Obara (15-1, 14) takes on Nicaraguan warrior Walter Castillo (26-3, 19). For Obara this is a chance to prove himself internationally and move towards a potential world title fight, with this bout serving as an IBF eliminator, however Castillo is himself a man who knows that a win will change his career. We expect this one to be fun and full of heavy handed action but it will be a serious test for Obara.
On the same card we will also see Kazakhstan's 154lb contender Kanat Islam (19-0, 16) who battles 34 year old Alexis Camacho (21-5, 19) in what looks like a bout unlikely to go the distance. This will be Camacho's first bout in more than a year and he really hasn't beaten anyone close to Islam's level, in fact he's best known for a loss to Carlos Molina than anything else. Although it looks good on paper this really should be a mismatch.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
More fighters fighting away from home will land in Monte Carlo where we have two Asian fighters in action.
One of those fighters is Kazakh Bantamweight Zhanat Zhakiyanov (25-1, 18) who faces WBA interim champion Yonfrez Parejo (17-1-1, 8) in what looks like a very good match up on paper. Of the two men it's the defending champion who looks like the more accomplished boxer however the Kazakh challenger certainly has the edge in power and will be looking to knock out out foe. For “ZZ” this could be his first, and last, chance at a world title and it's clear that his training will have been stepped up for this opportunity, however it is still a tough ask.
The other fighter of note is WBC Super Bantamweight silver champion Qiu Xiao Jun (18-2, 8) who defends his title against light punching Frenchman Amor Belahdj Ali (14-3-1, 2). On paper this looks well matched though the Chinese fighter has certainly been in good form recently and although he's crude he is powerful and is more proven than the Frenchman, who doesn't have names like Jonathan Baat and Silvester Lopez on his record.
We were also hoping to see Japan's Yosuke Kirima on this card but it appears that that bout is now off.
Staying in Europe for a moment, we will also Indian star Vijender Singh (1-0, 1) put his unbeaten record on the line as he faces 33 year old Dean Gillen (2-0) in a 4 rounder.
The major show in Asia comes from the Korakuen Hall where we get two bouts of note, including the first defense of a WBC Youth crown.
That youth defense comes at Flyweight where the all action Daigo Higa (7-0, 7) looks to defend his title against the under-rated Renren Tesorio (15-6-3, 4). For Higa, who won his title in Thailand this year in a thriller with Kongfah CP Freshmart, this is a great home coming and if he wins it's likely that he will move onto a Japanese or OPBF title fight next year before a potential world title bvout in the near future. For Tesorio it's a chance to win his most notable title and to get a win in Japan, following last year's narrow defeat to Toshiyuki Igarashi.
The other bout of interest here sees former Higa foe Cris Alfante (11-5, 4) return to Japan to face unbeaten teenage Ryuto Maekawa (10-0, 6) in what looks likely to be a tough test for the unbeaten man. This is a bout where we suspect the records don't really tell us the full story and Alfante is certainly the more proven fighter, despite losing to Higa, Florante Condes, Kongfah and Knockout CP Freshmart. This really could be the show stealing bout and has the potential to be an “upset”.
The only other Asian show is in China here Top Rank and SECA put on the next of their novice shows. The show, at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, is another in Top Rank's attempt to create a thriving boxing scene in the Chinese mainland. Sadly not of the bout really have much to talk about though it does seem like an idea with genuine potential.