As with the last few years this year is set to end with a spate of Japanese action. The first of two big shows to end 2017 is in Yokohama, where Ohashi and Fuji TV put on an interesting looking show.
The main event of this year closer will be the end in the latest chapter of Naoya Inoue's (14-0, 12) career, as he makes his 7th, and likely final, defense of the WBO Super Flyweight title. The talented Japanese fighter had been ruining out of willing opponents and will close 2017 with a bout against the inform Frenchman Yoan Boyeaux (41-4, 26). On paper it looks good but the reality is that this is a huge step up in class and likely serves as a dummy run for the “Monster” before he moves up to Bantamweight in pursuit of a third divisional world title.
A second world title bout on this show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (11-0, 5) make his second defense, as he goes up against confident Panamanian visitor Gilberto Pedroza (18-3-2, 8), who fights in his first world title bout. The talented Ken Shiro has had a career defining year with wins over Ganigan Lopez and Pedro Guevara and closing out the year with a third win would, in fairness, put him on the fringes of the Fighter of the Year shortlist. As for Pedroza this is a huge opportunity to claim a world title and make a name for himself ahead of the near year.
A third title bout on this card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (4-0, 4) make his first defense as he looks to move towards a world title fight. The talented Japanese fighter, who came to international attention in 2012 when he claimed a Bronze medal at the London Olympics, will be up against Filipino challenger Eduardo Mancito (15-7-2, 9). The champion won the title in impressive fashion earlier this year, when he stopped Korean Sa Myung Noh and is expected to make an easy first defense here. Although limited Mancito is tough and is expected to get some rounds out Shimizu, who can prove whether his power is legitimate or not here.
In one of the leading support bouts Takuma Inoue (9-0, 2) will take on 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (27-8, 15), in what looks likely to be a mismatch. The talented Takuma was supposed to fight for a world title a year ago, but an injury ruled him out and he now seems to be trying to get back to fully fitness and shake off any ring rust before moving back into the world title picture. Masuda is an exciting fighter, but with recent stoppage losses to Shohei Omori and Mark John Yap his limitations have been shown, and he's a fun but crude fighter who should be easily out boxed by Inoue.
A third Inoue on this card is the fast rising Koki Inoue (9-0, 8), who takes on Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (8-1-2, 3). The Korean enters the bout as the Korean Light Welterweight champion and an OPBF ranked fighter and it's clear that Inoue is chasing titles, with this bout potentially opening the door for an OPBF title fight in 2018. Inoue has been very impressive, very exciting and very aggressive since his debut however the Korean has never been stopped, looks to be tough and durable and will not have travelled to just roll over to Inoue.
Also on this card as Ohashi novices Katsuya Yasuda (1-0, 1) and Kazuki Nakajima (2-0, 2), who will both be in 6 rounders and will be looking to have big 2018's.
A second Asian show will take place in Kazakhstan where we get a number of interesting, though lower key bouts.
One of the key bouts from the show will see once beaten Kazakh hopeful Firuza Sharipova (7-1, 4) battle against Belgian fighter Djemilla Gontaruk (13-4-1, 2) in a bout for the WBC silver Female Super Featherweight title. The bout looks like a good one on paper, but coming in to this the Kazakh has won 7 in a row whilst Gonturak has lost against every notable opponent she has faced, including a loss last time out to Ramon Kuehne and her wins have been against very limited foes.
Another title bout on this card will see Aidyn Yelzhanov (4-0, 3) take on Sergey Dudinsky (4-1, 3) for a WBC regional title at Super Bantamweight. The 24 year old Yelzhanov has impressed so far,but has been fighting at a very liw level and will have to show something new to over-come the hungry Dudinsky, who has won his last two.
One other bout of note will be the home coming, of sorts, for Light Heavyweight prospect Ali Akhmedov (10-0, 7), who takes on Ismat Eynullayev (12-2, 8). Akhmedov has fought 5 of his last 6 outside of Kazakhstan, where he is incidentally 5-0 (5), and will be looking to put on a show here. Eynullayev, from Azerbaijan, has won his last 3 but will not be expected to put up much of a challenge against the home town hero.
In the Russian capital fan will be able to see Russian Uzbek Ulugbek Khakberdiev (4-0, 2) look to build on his solid 2017 as he takes on Ugandan puncher Med Sebyala (17-10-1, 14). The unbeaten Kazakh has gone under the radar this year, despite stopping Dmitry Sukhotsky in September and looks to end his year with a 5th straight win. The 37 year old Sebyala has lost 2 of his last 3, but does appear to be a legitimate puncher and could chin check the powerful Kazakh.
This coming Sunday Japanese fight fans in Osaka are in for a treat as they get an OPBF title triple header with supporting bouts featuring a hot prospect and a former 2-time world title challenger.
The former world title challenger is Hirofumi Mukai (13-5-3, 3), who was last seen losing a thriller with Rex Tso in Hong Kong. Although Mukai was battered by Tso he put on a brave and courageous showing and it'll be nice to see him back in action, even if he is facing a Thai who has been picked to help Mukai rebuild. The other notable fighter on the under-card is former Japanese Minimumeight title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (7-1, 5), who also faces a Thai foe. For Taniguchi the bout will be his first since suffering a narrow loss to Reiya Konishi for the Japanese title, and we suspect he will be in there with a point to prove.
The first of the three title bouts will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Ratchasi Sithsaithong (8-3, 6) defending his title against Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine (10-4, 8). For the Thai the bout will be his first defense and see him return to Japan following a massive come-from-behind victory against Yutaka Oishi back in April. For Petagine this will be his first title fight and although neither fighter is a big name the bout should be a good chance for the winner to begin making a name for themselves.
The stand out bout, on paper at least, will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (26-12, 12) defending his title against former 2-time Japanese champion Kentaro Masuda (27-7, 15). On paper this bout may not get pulses racing but fans who have followed the two fighters will know their records are misleading, and both fighters can really go. Both hit harder than their records suggest, both are in good form and both are world ranked by the WBC and IBF, essentially making this a world title eliminator as well as an Oriental title bout.
The third, and final, OPBF title bout on the card will see Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (12-2-2, 11) defending his title against Japanese based American puncher Brandon Lockhart Shane (8-5-1, 7). On paper this looks like an easy win for the defending champion, who is younger, bigger and more proven than the challenger, however the challenger can puncher, and Tyson has got a suspect chin. The champion should retain, but we wouldn't be surprised if he showed a lot of respect to the American here, and looked to use his size, rather than his power, to defend his title.
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.
This key show this weekend for Asian fight fans comes from the Korakuen Hall where we get two title bouts.
In the main event we'll see Japanese youngster Ken Shiro (8-0, 4) make his first defense of the OPBF Light Flyweight title as he takes on Filipino foe Lester Abutan (11-5-3, 5), and attempts to take another step towards a world title fight. The Japanese youngster, who has claimed the WBC Youth, Japanese and WBC Youth titles already in his career, will know that a loss will be a major set back in his climb towards a shot at a world title, but that a win will put further pressure on the divisional champions to face him. For Abutan the bout will be his Japanese debut, though he has performed well in his two bouts away from the Philippines and could be a genuine banana skin for Ken Shiro, if he's on form here.
The other title bout on this show will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (25-7, 13) face first time challenger Satoshi Ozawa (13-6-1, 2). On paper this is a big step up for Ozawa however the 29 year old challenger is on a 4 fight winning streak, including 2 solid wins over Yoshihikp Matsuo, and has been making a mark at Super Bantamweight over the last 18 month or so. For Masuda the bout will be his second defense of his second reign and could open the doors to a potential rematch with Tatsuya Takahashi next year, if he wins here and Takahashi wins in January, which we would love to see!
A really fan friendly bout will see the once beaten Katsunori Nagamine (12-1, 8) face off with the limited but gutsy Mako Matsuyama (8-10-2, 3). Nagamine was in one of the most intensely fun fights of the year, his win over Kenya Yamashita back in February. Whilst Nagamine is certainly a fun and aggressive fighter it's fair to say that Matsuyama's 2014 bout with Rex Tso, an insane war in Macau, was a better bout and with these two getting it on we're expecting to see something very special.
Another under-card bout will see Jin Miura (8-1, 1) battle against Naoaki Kumagai (7-5, 4). The light hitting Miura does look like the favourite here but has struggled in a number of his wins and could well be given a really good test here by Kumagai, who is a very under-rated fighter. Although he has lost his last 3 Kumagai has mixed in good company and could be a banana skin for Miura.
As part of the under-card we'll also see the debut of Ryo Sagawa (0-0), who takes on Korean foe Ho Ya Kim (4-4, 2). Sagawa was a former amateur standout and is tipped for big things, kicking off his career in a 6 rounder here. Kim will be fighting in Japan for the second time, following a loss to Ryuya Kaji earlier this year, and may come into this with the belief of scoring a win on Japanese soil, though will have to put in a career best performance against Sagawa to even be competitive.
In California we'll see fast rising Mongolian Tugstsogt Nyambayar (6-0, 6) take on veteran fighter German Meraz (55-39-1, 32) in what looks like a step up for Nyambayar. Merez, a real veteran with more than 90 fights under his belt, is a proven tough guy who has only lost by stoppage 7 times in his long career. Nyambayar has never been extended beyond 4 rounds and this is, potentially, set to be his toughest and longest bout to date. If the Mongolian can blow away Meraz in quick fashion it could time to put him in with the divisional wolves, rather than continue to slowly develop the Mongolian monster.
The action in Japan this week really picks up, and we have a third title fight in the space of just a few days, on a reason card that really does look like it's going to be fun.
The aforementioned title bout will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (24-7, 13) face off against old adversary Yu Kawaguchi (27-5, 12), in what will be a second bout between the two men. In their first bout, back in 2014, Masuda won a 10 round technical decision over Kawaguchi to claim the Japanese Bantamweight title for the first time. Since that win Masuda has been in some wars with his contest against Tatsuya Takahashi being a pulsating 10 round battle and his bout with Shohei Omori being a beat down for Masuda. Kawaguchi has also been in wars recently, with two action bouts against Takahiro Yamamoto almost certainly taking their toll on him. Despite the damage the two men have had recently, this should still be a genuine exciting war between two men with history and a point to prove.
In the chief support bout former OPBF title challenger Dai Iwai (17-4-1, 6) will face Chikashi Hayashizaki (7-5-1, 3) in what looks like a mismatch on paper, but will be Iwai's first bout since he was stopped by Masayuki Ito back in August 2015. The long lay off, and other issues, do sort of excuse Iwai for having an easy one here.
A really good under-card bout will see the unbeaten Daishi Nagata (6-0-1, 3) battle against Kazuki Matsuyama (13-6, 7) in what should be a fantastic test for the unbeaten 26 year old. Nagata has been matched hard through his career but will know that a win here would seriously push him to a Japanese title fight later in the year. For Matsuyama the bout will be a chance to get a second successive victory following a loss last year to Shuhei Tsuchiya.
For a third day running Japanese fans in Tokyo get some interesting action, and in fact it seems the pick of the bunch comes today with a pair of Japanese title fights, one of which has the potential to be a FOTY contender.
That FOTY contender will see Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (25-4, 13), one of the most fan-friendly fighters on the planet, battle former world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (24-6-3, 14). The bout is expected to be a high action bout with both men being relatively light hitters with good engines and very respectable toughness. Between the two men they have had just a single stoppage loss, suffered by Kuroda against the world ranked Suguru Muranaka, and we're expecting something very exciting here.
The other title bout will see former Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (23-7, 12) face off against the unbeaten Yushi Tanaka (16-0-3, 10), for the vacant Bantamweight crown. For Masuda this is a chance to reclaim the title he lost last year to Shohei Omori, and it's a chance that he will be slightly favoured to make the most of, whilst Tanaka is seriously stepping up in class. Although unbeaten, and the younger man, Tanaka does lack a notable win against a genuine Bantamweight and this really is a huge step up for him.
In a support bout fans will see a couple of Japanese ranked fighters. One of those is Hiroaki Teshigawara (10-1-2, 5), who will be risking his ranking against Kenichi Watanabe (7-2-1, 4), whilst the other will be the limited but dangerous Takuya Yamaguchi (10-9, 8), who risks his ranking against Ryuto Araya (8-4-1, 1).
In Australia fight fans will see popular Australian based Filipino Czar Amonsot (30-3-3, 18) battle in a 10 round bout, against Fijian Farzan Ali Jr (28-6-2, 19), who hasn't fought many notable name,s but was stopped in 2002 by Vic Darchinyan. This should be a straight forward win for Amonsot who is expected to be back in the ring in April.
Staying with Filipino's on the road the unbeaten Jheritz Chavez (5-0-2, 3) will be in Moscow where he's risking his unbeaten record and his WBC Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council Lightweight title. The 27 year old Chavez will be up against the once beaten Vage Sarukhanyan (12-1-1, 2),who is the interim title holder to Chavez's title. Given this bout is in Russia it's easy to favour the adopted local, originally from Armenia, but Sarukhanyan hans't really proven his quality as of yet and could well be upset by the visitor.
The second day of the month of November is genuinely one of the most interesting with 4 really notable bouts all taking place on same show, a show dubbed the “Strongest Korakuen Million Yen Fight”. The show is a return to the Strongest Korakuen tournament, which helps to decide the mandatory challengers for various Japanese titles. As well as the eliminator status of the bouts their will be additional bonuses, with a ¥1,000,000 up for grabs for the MVP of the event.
At Flyweight we'll see former world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (23-6-3, 14) battle against Yusuke Sakashita (13-5-2, 8) for a shot at the domestic Flyweight title next year. Both have been beaten by former champion Suguru Muranaka but should make for an excellent match up together. Both have a lot to prove and both have styles that should make for a lot of action.
At Bantamweight we see former Japanese champion Kentaro Masuda (22-7, 11) battle against the under-rated Hideo Sakamoto (16-1-3, 5). Masuda is the more proven of the two fighters however Sakamoto has long been under-the-radar and could well see this bout as his potential coming out party. Notably Masuda's last bout of note saw him being blown away by Shohei Omori and it's hard to know how much he has left after a long and hard career whilst Sakamoto hasn't had the wars that Masuda has had.
At Lightweight we see the teak tough Nihito Arakawa (25-6-1, 16) battle against recent title challenger Yuya Sugizaki (20-10-1, 6). Of the two men Arakawa is the more well known and the more proven however his recent form has been disappointing with a 2-5 run in his last 7. Saying that however he has been mixing at a higher level to Sugizaki who was last seen being stopped by Kota Tokunaga. A win for Sugizaki would a career best whilst a win for Arakawa is pretty expected here.
The highest weight covered by the Strongest Korakuen show here is Welterweight where punchers collide as Akinori Watanabe (33-4, 28) take on the little known Toshio Arikawa (11-4, 9). Of the two men Watanabe is the more established, having held various titles, but has shown frailties when he's been hit back. Arikawa is scarcely known but with his power he is a danger man and a 3rd round TKO win over Shusaku Fuinaka is clear proof of that. We really don't expect to see this one go the distance and it really could be a very explosive and short lived encounter.
For a second day running Japanese fans have domestic title action as we see the vacancy at Light Flyweight being filled. The vacancy, which arose after Yu Kimura gave up the title to focus on getting himself a world title shot, will be filled by either former world title challenger Shin Ono (18-6-2, 2) or multi-time domestic challenger Kenichi Horikawa (29-13-1, 6), who meet in an intriguing match up. Of the two men Ono will likely be favoured, he is a former OPBF champion and did, as mentioned, fight for a world title however Horikawa may well “win a big one” after coming up short numerous times in title bouts. We wouldn't suggest this will be a FOTY contender, but it should be very entertaining with a lot of exchanges and trading.
Interestingly the winner of the Ono/Horikawa bout may well become an immediate target for the fast rising Ken Shiro who will almost certainly be eyeing up a potential national title clash in 2016.
In the chief support bout fans will get the chance to see former Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (21-7, 11) fight in a warm up bout against Wataru Miyasaka (9-3-1, 2). This should be a relatively straight forward win for Masuda who will be back in action, if he wins, on November 2nd as he takes on Hideo Sakamoto in the Strongest Korakuen bout, with the winner of that one to get a shot at the Japanese Bantamweight title in 2016. Although a clear favourite this will be Masuda's first bout since he was blitzed by Shohei Omori earlier this year
Another supporting bout will see Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Ribo Takahata (11-5-1, 3) battle against 2013 All Japanese Rookie of the year Kazuma Sanpei (11-2, 4). Sanpei, who looked really promising back in 2013 has lost back-to-back fights, by stoppage, and will know that he needs a win here if he's to do anything going forward with his career.
One other bout of note will see the talented, but light hitting, Jo Tanoka (11-2-3) battle the gutsy, but limited, Mako Matsuyama (7-9-2, 3). Coming in to this bout Tanoka is JBC ranked at Flyweight and will be hoping to move towards a title fight in 2016. Whilst limited Matsuyama is the more well known of the two men following his memorable war with Rex Tso in Macau.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
April is a busy month for Japanese boxing fans this year with bouts at every level, from Rookie of the Year qualifying bouts to world title bouts featuring some real stars of the sport. One of the best shows is this coming Monday at the Korakuen Hall, despite the fact there is no world title on the line.
In total the show will feature 6 bouts. And although the first couple won't grab the attention of many fans they are both expected to be interesting 8 rounders. The first will feature Kyosuke Sawada (2-2, 1) taking on a Thai visitor whilst the second will see Yosuke Kawano (8-4-1, 3) face Hiroyuki Sagehashi (7-7-2, 1). We won't pretend these bouts are worth getting too excited about but they are just you're standard under-card bouts.
The third bout however sees things stepping up as former OPBF Featherweight title challenger Ryo Takenaka (11-3-1, 6) takes on Junki Sasaki (13-2, 5). Takenaka, who gave Hisashi Amagasa all sorts of problems last October, will be fighting for the first time since losing his biggest bout to date. In that bout he showed a lot of ability and befuddled Amagasa for the better part of 12 rounds before being stopped with less than 2 minutes to go. Sasaki on the other hand is relatively unknown southpaw who will come in to this bout knowing that a good win will really move career onwards. We think this is a really well matched bout.
The 4th bout on the card will see a bout between ranked fighters as Dai Iwai (16-3-1, 5) battles against Noriyuki Ueno (17-12-5, 5). Ueno is the more well known of the two men having come up short in 4 titles bouts, 3 Japanese and 1 OPBF, and is better than his record indicates. Unfortunately for Ueno he is now 33 and didn't look his best last time out, losing a decision to Kazunori Takayama. Iwai on the other hand is looking to get a shot at either a national title or a regional title after having previously held a WBC Youth belt, back in 2012. At the moment Iwai is on an excellent 7 fight winning streak though it does appear his lack of power may be an issue down the line. On paper this is an excellent match up, despite the fact it probably won't be the most exciting.
On paper the stand out bout, by a long way, is the Japanese Bantamweight title bout between defending champion Kentaro Masuda (21-6, 11) and the unbeaten Shohei Omori (13-0, 8). For Masuda this is the 3rd defence of the title that he won exactly a year ago and since winning the title he has looked fantastic blowing away the charismatic Konosuke Tomoiyama in 3 rounds and then having an enthralling 10 round war with Tatsuya Takahashi. Aged 32 however it's time for Masuda to record a statement win then move towards the next level. Unfortunately for the champion this one won't be an easy win as he goes up against the wonderfully talented Omori who we view as one of the best prospects in Japan. Omori is a wonder-boxer puncher who scored his break out win last year when he stopped Christian Esquivel and the 22 year old southpaw is a viewed as a fighter with the potential to go all the way. Brilliant match up between two men who are on the fringes of world class, despite only fighting for the Japanese title.
The final bout on the card will see the heavy handed Keita Obara (13-1, 12) defending his OPBF Light Welterweight title against the horribly over-matched Yuya Okazaki (14-7-1, 4) in a match up that appears disgustingly one sided. We like Obara and we understand he wants to make the move to Welterweight shortly though in all honesty he should have just made the move instead of defending his title against Okazaki who isn't fit to step in to the ring with him. Sadly Okazaki is one of the worst OPBF title challengers in recent memory and we'd be shocked if he managed to really give Obara any sort of a fight.
Gauteng, South Africa
In South Africa fans get the chance to see promising Kazakh Roman Zhailauov (13-0, 8) risk his unbeaten record against Luyanda Jako (9-9-2, 4). The 18 year old from Astana has recently signed a promotional contract with Golden Gloves in South Africa and this will be his first bout under that contract with the hope of developing him into a Welterweight contender. If Zhailauov wins here then it's expected that he will be put him on a Hekkie Budler undercard in June.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
December 8th-Kentaro Masuda defends Japanese Bantamweight title, Keita Obara tests the Welterweight division
This Sunday isn't a huge day in Asian boxing but there is very interesting card in Tokyo featuring several fighters of interest.
The action from Japan keeps coming now that we're in December and today we get several notable and interesting fighters in action with one national champion defending his belt and one of the hardest punchers, pound-for-pound, in Asia stepping up a division.
We'll start with that title bout which will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (20-6, 11) returning to the ring for his second defense of the title. Masuda, who won the title earlier this year with a technical decision over Yu Kawaguchi, looked genuinely sensational last time out when he made light work of Konosuke Tomiyama and he'll be hoping to do the same again here as he takes on the relatively unproven Tatsuya Takahashi (18-5-3, 13). On paper this looks a better bout than it's likely to be though we are big admirers of Masuda who is in great form and has improved markedly in recent years.
In the chief support bout of this show we get to see OPBF Light Welterweight champion Keita Obara (12-1, 11) test the water at Welterweight as he puts on 7lbs and fighters against Filipino journeyman Rodel Wenceslao (8-9-1, 2). We'd have like to have seen Obara in with someone more testing than Wencelsao though with it being a clear test of a new weight class we understand why the monstrously hard hitting Obara isn't really in a test here.
In another support bout the Japanese and OPBF ranked Dai Iwai (15-3-1, 5) will be up against the hard hitting Takumi Koyama (9-2-1, 7). Iwai enters this bout on a 6 fight winning streak but Koyama is better than many, if not all, of those 6 beaten foes of Iwai. This could prove to be a very interesting bout and a great test of Iwai's credentials before any possible title fight.
As well as the bouts mentioned for this card there will be a further 3 bouts on the same show.
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a bout involving Kyrgyzstan's Timur Shailezov (17-4-1, 8). Unfortunately for Shailezov this is going to be a very tough ask as he goes up against the unbeaten and highly touted Ivan Morales (26-0, 15) in what we suspect will be a painful night for Shailezov.
(Image courtesy of http://www.kadoebi.com)