This coming Friday is a major day in Japan, despite not being a day that will get much international attention. The reason for this is that in Tokyo there will be an incredible 6 Japanese title eliminator contests, with the winners booking their place in the 2019 Champions Carnival.
At Light Flyweight we get a rematch between Kenichi Horikawa (37-15-1, 11) and Koji Itagaki (18-12-3, 7). These two are both veterans who have come up short in a recent Japanese title bout to Tetsuya Hisada and both are clearly and wanting another shot at the belt. The winner will get a title fight next year, meaning the reward for a win is huge, though the loser will likely be pushed into retirement. The full preview of this bout is here Horikawa and Itagaki rematch with a title fight on the line!
At Super Flyweight we see recent Japanese title challenger Yuta Matsuo (14-3-1, 7) take on Japanese based Filipino veteran Rey Orais (20-17-2, 5), who has only fought once in the last 10 years. The talented Matsuo came up short in 2017 against Masayuki Kuroda but has notched up a couple of wins since then and looks to be hungry for a second shot. Orais on the other hand is a boxer-come-trainer-come part time boxer, who looks to be rolling the dice for one final charge at a title. An in depth fight preview for this bout can be read here Matsuo and Orais battle for shot at Super Flyweight gold!
At Super Bantamweight we may be getting a small treat at Mugicha Nakagawa (23-5-1, 14) takes on Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6). Both men are under-rated outside of Japan and both should make for a very interesting match up here. Nakagawa caught our eye in a 2017 loss to Yasutaka Ishimoto, and despite losing has since bounced back with a pair of stoppages. Okamoto on the other hand comes into the bout on the back of big wins over Daisuke Watanabe and Yuta Saito, who has since won the Japanese Bantamweight title. This could be the hidden gem on the card and technically the winner will be ordered to fight current champion Shingo Wake, though he is expected to vacate before the Champion Carnival. A fight breakdown for this contest is available here Nakagawa and Okamoto to fight in Japanese eliminator!
A second rematch on this card, this time at Super Featherweight, will see Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) and Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) face off for the second time inside a year. Interestingly these two fought last December in a Japanese title eliminator that Osato narrowly won. Sadly for Osato he would come up short in his eventual title fight, losing to Masaru Sueyoshi earlier this year. This should be a technically compelling match up, even if it fails to be one of the more exciting bouts on the card. A preview of this bout can be read here Osato and Sugita go again, in title eliminator!
Talking about exciting it's hard not to have pulses racing about the Light Welterweight bout between the unbeaten and heavy handed pairing of Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) and Marcus Smith (6-0-1, 6). Inoue, the cousin of both Naoya and Takuma Inoue, is one of the most avoided fighters on the Japanese domestic scene and with good reason, having left good good opponents battered and broken. Smith, the 2017 Rookie of the Year, is an American born Japanese fighter who has looked very destructive and heavy handed, but is taking a massive step up in class here. This is going to be something very fun and despite favouring Inoue we think this could be the bout of the show. The preview for this contest is available here Inoue and Smith clash in Japanese title eliminator!
The heaviest bout on this card will take place at Light Middleweight and will see veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-9-2, 13) battle against Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7), in what could be another very entertaining bout, and one that could see the winner join a mixed up situation in the Japanese Light Middleweight scene. The 39 year old Saito has come up short in 7 title bouts during his 35 fight career, but outside of title fights he is an impressive 24-3-1. Matsunaga comes in to this on the back of 7 straight wins, including notable wins over Sanosuke Sasaki, Je Ni Ma and Patomsuk Pathompothong. Saito will know he can't afford another set back, given that he turns 40 early next year, but Matsunaga won't be looking to lose his own career momentum. Our preview for this bout is available here Veteran Saito takes on Matsunaga for Japanese title shot!
Action returns to Japan this coming Sunday with two shows. One in Osaka, where we get the chance to see a few domestically ranked fighters in action, and one in Aichi where we get Rookie of the Year action.
Although Rookie of the Year is great we'll begin by looking at the Osakan card, which has the more notable fighters in action.
The main event of thus card will see the in form Dynamic Kenji (9-3, 6), previously known as Kenji Kihisa, taking on the more experienced Kenta Sugimoto (12-11-2, 1). Although Kenji's record might not be incredible on paper but he is currently in the form of his career with recent stoppage wins over Futa Akizuki and Shota Kawaguchi. Those wins have taken Kenji into the WBO Asia Pacific, OPBF and JBC rankings and he won't be wanting to give those up. Sugimoto on the other hand is tough but limited domestic level fighter who, on his day, can be a nightmare. Sugimoto's best performance was in a losing battle to Tetsuya Hisada, show he;t tough and can be banana skin, but wit a 2-4-1 record in his last 7 we don't expect him to really push Kenji too close here.
Another ranked fighter on this card is JBC ranked fighter Ken Osato (13-2-1, 4), who takes on Retsu Kosaka (9-3, 3) in what looks like a competitive match up on paper and is a rematch of a very competitive 2016 bout. This will be Osato's first bout since his loss to Masaru Sueyoshi in a Japanese Super Featherweight title earlier this year and he'll be looking to bounce back with a win here. Kosaka showed some early promise, going 7-0 (2), but has since gone 2-3 with one of those losses being a razor thin one to Osato back in 2016. Given how close their first bout was this should be a very interesting match up.
A third bout of some interest here will see Tae Soo Kim (6-4, 1) take on Katsunori Imai (6-9-3, 1) in what looks like it could be a pretty competitive bout on paper. We suspect Kim will come out on top but he will certainly be forced to work for it against the normally tough Imai, who's only stoppage loss has come to Takuya Watanabe.
As for the Rookie of the Year card, which will be the Central Japan Rookie of the Year final, there will be 8 bouts, taking place from Light Flyweight to Welterweight.
The Welterweight bout pits real novices against each other, as Atsushi Matsui (1-0, 1) battles against Daisuke Hironaka (1-0, 1). Just to explain how inexperienced these two are they have less than 4 complete rounds of shared experience, with Matsui having just 21 seconds of ring time. We know the Welterweight division, particularly on the local level inside of Japan, is thin but this is really odd, though should be very entertaining.
At the other end of the weight spectrum is a Light Flyweight bout between 19 year old Mammoth Kazunori (5-1, 5) and 23 year old Alex Ota (2-2), who meet for the second time. These two fought last November, with Kazunori stopping Ota in 3 rounds, and since then both men have fought once, scoring a win each. The power edge certainly lies with Kazunori, who has scored 5 wins inside 3 rounds, and 3 inside the opening round, but Ota will have the drive of avenging his loss in what should be a very interesting match up.
The Super Flyweight division is widely regarded as one of the best in the sport, even with Naoya Inoue leaving the division to make a mark at Bantamweight. Sadly though the division is a frustrating one with a number of fighters making themselves unavailable for big fights.
One such fighter is IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (28-1-1, 19), who signed with Top Rank in late 2017 and froze himself out of fights against the likes of Inoue and the fighters who are currently tied to HBO. As a result of being frozen out of specific fights we won't see Ancajas in with a notable name, and instead he will be kicking off his 2018 with an IBF world title defense against Israel Gonzalez (21-1, 8). The talented Ancajas had an excellent 2017, Going 3-0 (3) for the year and beating the likes of Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, Teiru Kinoshita and Jamie Conlan and will be looking to continue his great momentum here. Sadly though Gonzalez, who the IBF miraculously ranked #10, feels like a huge step backwards, with the Mexican challenger really doing little to show he belongs at this level. The bout has been put together as a showcase for Ancajas on US TV and should be a real chance to shine for the Filipino, who will hopefully get better competition later in the year.
At the Korakuen Hall we see the first of this year's Champion Carnival bouts, as Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (16-1, 10) defends his title against Ken Osato (13-1-1, 4). The bout will be Sueyoshi's first defense of the title, which he won last October with a decision over Ribo Takahata whilst Osato will be having his first title bout. In 2017 we saw Sueyoshi have a great year, going 3-0 (2) but left questions to be asked with some of his performances and he will look to answer them here. Osato had a great 2017 himself, going 3-0 (1) with notable wins Sho Nagata and Satoru Sugita, with the Sugita win earning Osato a shot at the title. This should be a very skilled bout, with both men being very talented, and a very evenly matched bout, between two top domestic fighters.
In the chief support bout Japanese ranked Welterweight Yuki Nagano (12-2, 9) will face off with Thai visitor Najilek Sor Boonlieng (0-1). Coming into this Nagano is riding a 10 fight winning run, and is closing in on a title fight. Although not the greatest of fighters Nagano is a big puncher and should have significant size over the Thai, who will be lucky to last more than 3 rounds.
A second supportig bout of note will see unbeaten hopeful Haruaki Kamiya (7-0, 3) take on win-less Thai Chatchai Phonlemueangdee (0-3). Kamiya has had a real slow burn of a career, fighting only 4 times since the end of 2014, but if he gets sorted he could go quite far. Sadly bouts like this won't help him develop or move towards the bigger bouts than his early promises suggested he could end up having. As for the Thai he has been stopped in all 3 of his defeats.
In the Thai capital fans will be able to see Chinese puncher Pui Yu Lim (5-0, 5) take on Indonesian journeyman Ramadhan Weriuw (17-9-1, 15) in a bout for the WBC Interim Asian Boxing Council Middleweight title. On paper this is a step backwards for Lim, who has already scored wins over better fights than Weriuw, but with 5 fights last year Lim is a busy fighter and could use this interim title to help secure more meaningful bouts down the line.
This coming Sunday is a pretty busy day of action Asia.
For us the most notable of the bouts will be in Osaka and feature a really interesting Japanese Super Featherweight bout, a step up in class for an unbeaten prospect and an interesting under-card bout.
The Super Featherweight bout pits two top 5 Japanese domestic fighters against each other, as the once beaten Ken Osato (12-1-1, 4) takes on 2-time Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (13-4-1, 8) in a real step up for the 23 year old Osato and a must win for Sugita. The younger man has gone 8-0-1 since suffering an opening round KO loss back in September 2013, when he was still just a teenager. As for Sugita he has gone 2-2 in his last 4, though both of those loses came against the then Japanese champion Kenichi Ogawa, who will fight for a world title just hours before this bout takes place.
One man who we are glad to see taking a step in the right direction is Masayoshi Hashizume (14-0, 10), who impressed us early in his career but really faltered in terms of building a real name for himself recently, being matched against horribly inept opponents. Here we'll see the Ioka gym prospect take on domestic foe Kota Fujimoto (7-2, 2), and hopefully a win here for Hashizume will launch him towards bigger and better bouts in 2018. Fujimoto has lost 2 of his last 3, but will know that a win here will give his career a huge shot and push him towards potential title fights.
A third bout of note here will see the heavy handed Hibiki Jogo (6-1, 4) battle against the talented Yuki Hirashima (7-1-1, 1). Jogo's loss came last year, at the All Japan Rookie of the year, and since then he has racked up two wins and is really genuine puncher at the lower levels of the Japanese domestic scene. Hirashima suffered a blip last year, going 0-1-1 for the year, bus has racked up 3 wins in 2017 and will know that another here will see him go into 2018 as a man in good domestic form.
A second show in Japan will take place in Aichi and will see Japanese Youth Super Featherweight champion Takuya Mizuno (12-1-1, 11) make his first defense of the title, as he takes on fellow youngster Yuki Iriguchi (9-1-1, 4). Mizuno won the title last time out, with a split decision win over Ryota Ishida and the 22 year old puncher will be looking to get back to his destructive best here. As for the 20 year old Iriguchi this bout will see him looking to buil on a 4 fight winning run, which includes victories over touted amateur Kenshin Oshima and the then inform Ryohei Takahashi. Although an easy bout to over-look it really is a cracking contest on paper.
There is also set to be a pretty interesting card in China.
One of the best bouts on the card will see Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (18-0, 14) take on Belgian visitor Herve Hubeaux (28-2, 14) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Heavyweight title. We'll admit we're unsure how Hubeaux qualifies for the title, but the reality is that he's been taken over to China to lose, and despite the good looking record on paper the 25 year old has shown nothing to worry Zhang. The Chinese fighter should really be seeing this as his chance to record an easy first defense of the title he won back in January. Interestingly coming into this bout Zhang is on a run of 5 opening round KO's.
A second title bout will see the once touted Zhimin Wang (9-2, 3) take on Filipino visitor Anthony Sabalde (12-6, 7) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Lightweight title. The match up isn't as good looking on paper as the Heavyweight title clash, but the reality is that this bout should be much more interesting, and looks like a much more competitive contest. Both Wang and Sabalde are flawed and both will feel they take advantage of their foes weaknesses.
There are two other notable bouts on this card. One of those will see Jianzheng Wang (6-0, 4) take on former OPBF title challenger Kajornsak Sithsaithong (10-6, 10), in what we expect will be a mismatch, and the heavy handed Wuzhati Nuerlang (9-1, 8) taking on Thai Chaloemporn Sawatsuk (17-5, 13), in what promises to be an explosive encounter.
In Pngasinan fight fans are in for a very low key card, with the main event being the only bout worthy of noting. That bout will see Alphoe Dagayloan (7-2-5, 3) take on Mateo Handig (13-15, 7), in what would have been an interesting fight had Handig not lost his last 10. Handig used to be pretty decent, but is only a shadow of the fighter he once was
This coming Sunday isn't a hugely busy day, but there is some notable action on a relatively level.
The most notable card takes place in Osaka.
The main event of the card will see Japanese ranked Super Flyweight contender Ken Osato (11-1-1, 4) take on Sho Nagata (7-3, 2) in what looks like a pretty solid match up, but one that Osato should win as he looks to progress towards a Japanese title fight,potentially at some point in 2018.
In the chief support bout we'll see Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Yuta Uetani (20-5-1, 10) take on a Thai visitor, in what should be a straight forward win for Uetani. A third bout of note will see Japanese and OPBF ranked Bantamweight Tenta Kiyose (12-2-1, 5) take on Rungniran Korat Sport School (5-12, 4), in another Japan Vs Thailand bout.
A second Japanese show will take place in Aichi, and is also headlined by a Japanese ranked fighter and features a Japan Vs Thailand bout in the chief support contest..
The Japanese ranked fighter here is Akihiro Toya (7-2, 1), a ranked Flyweight, who will be taking on domestic foe Hiroki Yajima (7-5-3, 3), in what could be a very competitive contest. The 8 rounder isn't going to set the world alight, but it should be a good, well matched, and competitive contest.
In the leading supporting bout we'll see Takashi Igarashi (10-3, 3) take on Thai visitor Adundet Saithonggym (0-1). Igarashi has won his last 3 and seems to be building a bit of career momentum, but is certainly being allowed to build his confidence before being stepped up too far.
As well as the action in Japan there is also a show planned for Azerbaijan. There are few details of this show, though we have been informed that Rauf Aghayev (21-6, 9) will be in action against a yet to be announced opponent.
The Olympic break is over and we see action resuming now with regular shows picking up Asia. This Sunday attention turns to Hiroshima where Shinsei put on their next show.
In the main event Japanese ranked Bantamweight Ryo Kosaka (12-3-1, 6) will be up against Corrales Kawashimo (7-7-1, 2). The 23 year old Kosaka is on a 5 fight winning streak, including notable wins over Satoshi Niwa and Dado Cabintoy and will be expecting to extend that streak here against a man who has lost his last 2 and is 3-3 in his last 6.
In a supporting bout the OPBF ranked Shun Kosaka (12-2, 3) will be up against Tatsuya Kaneko (7-12-3, 1). Kosaka was the Flyweight runner up at the 2014 Rookie of the Year and although he was stopped by the experienced Tetsuya Hisada in 2015 there is genuine promise with the youngster, who at 21 is still a long way from his peak. For Kaneko the focus has to be on a good performance with the 29 year old going 3-10-3 in his last 16!
Another really good looking supporting bout will see unbeaten teenager Retsu Kosaka (7-0, 2) battle against once beaten Japanese ranked Ken Osato (8-1-1, 3) in what looks like a genuinely mouth watering match up. The 18 year old Kosaka debuted in April 2015 and has quickly made a name for himself a genuinely promising younger Aged 22 Osato isn't much older than his foe but has fought at a much higher level, and fought to a draw with Kento Matsushita last year. This is the best bout on the card and is a clear step up for Kosaka and a great test for Osato, just the sort of match up we love.
This Sunday is a busy day in Japan with a trio of shows, though all of them are relatively low key affairs with nothing too big, despite some well known names being in action.
One of those shows is a Suruga Danji show in Shizuoka, this card is headlined by one of those known names and is expected to be an exciting card, with bonuses available to the fights if they can score stoppages.
That “known” name is former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (19-2, 11), who faces Takashi Omae (13-5-5, 1) in an intriguing 8 rounder. The bout will be Hara's first since his stoppage loss, last year, to Katsunari Takayama last September. As for Omae he too will be looking to bounce back from a stoppage loss, following a 4th round TKO defeat to Ken Shiro. With both men fighting for a career reviving win and for a financial reward this really could be very exciting.
Another bout of note on this card will see Ryusei Nakajima (8-1, 3), the 2015 Lightweight Rookie of the Year, battle against Daiki Ichikawa (6-1, 4). Ichikawa last fought in November, when he was stopped in 3 rounds by Tomoaki Matsumura, who actually lost to Nakajima, in December, in the All Japan Rookie of the Year. Looking at it Nakajima should be favoured, but Ichikawa will know this is a chance to get his career back on track.
Arguably the most notable of the shows takes place as a charity event in Saitama, where we see a former and a current world champion.
That current world champion is Naoko Shibata (14-3-1, 4), the IBF female Light Flyweight champion, who will be up against Thai novice Tanuthong Sor Kunlawong (0-0). This is a stay busy for the champion who will be looking to defend her title later in the year.
The former champion in action is Ayaka Miyao (20-6-1, 4), the former WBA Atomweight champion. She will be up against the very limited Krikanok Islandmuaythai (4-5-1, 2). Krikanok is a former world title challenger, though was stopped in 5 rounds by Momo Koseki back in May 2011, and has fallen to 5 straight losses including that defeat to Koseki.
The third show comes from Osaka and features some notable bouts of it's own.
The main event here sees OPBF and JBC ranked Featherweight Ryota Kajiki (27-9, 18) battling against Thailand's Noppakao Saknarong (0-2) in what looks to be a stay busy fight for Kajiki. It's expected that Kajiki will get a title fight later in the year and this bout will be little more than a tune up for him.
Another ranked fighter in action here is Ken Osato (7-1-1, 3), who risks his JBC Super Featherweight title against domestic foe Shota Suito (10-5-1, 1). On paper it looks like an easy win for Osato, however Suito is better than his record suggests and could prove to be a good test for the ranked fighter.
A third notable fighter on this card is Kenbun Torres (10-2, 8), a Japanese based Mexican fighter. Torres hasn't fought since 2007 though he should have enough in the locker to over-come Thailand's Kaosaen Kaolamlekgym (0-0).