This coming Friday features 2 notable shows, one of which will end a saga that has dragged on for over 2 months with some frustrating moments and the other being a lesser notable, though perhaps more interesting, card.
After months of rescheduling we finally see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) face off with former WBO champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-6-6, 7) in what will be their second bout. This was originally scheduled for early March, then late March then April and finally the end of May. It's a bout that we're looking forward to, given that Fukuhara gave Wanheng fits in their first bout, but are thoroughly annoyed by, due to all the scheduling changes. Wanheng, although still unbeaten, has looked more and more beatable in recent years but has found a way to maintain his winning run and title. Fukuhara on the other hand will likely know that he won't be getting too many more shots in the near future, and really needs to make the most of this. A full preview of this bout is available to read here Wanheng and Fukuhara battle again for WBC crown
As well as the world title show in Thailand we also have a compelling lesser card in Japan, where we get a number of faltering youngsters in action.
One of the most talented fighters on this card is the skilled but light punching Izuki Tomioka (5-2-1, 1), who gave Masayoshi Nakatani fits in an OPBF title bout. The talented Tomioka will be up against Filipino journeyman Marbon Bodiongan (15-8-2, 11), in what should be a straight forward win for Tomioka, who desperately needs a victory after going winless in his last 3. The Filipino does usually come to fight, but will struggle with the movement of Tomioka.
On the subject of someone who desperately needs a victory Kiyohei Endo (2-2, 2), a former talented amateur, cannot possibly have another defeat at this stage of his career, but he's in hard against Daiki Maniwa (7-3-1, 4). Endo was touted when he turned professional but was shocking stopped by Piyanut Sintao, in what could be classed as a fluke, and he hasn't lived up to his talent since. Whilst Endo needs a win, he may not get it here, and Maniwa, who has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, will be looking to save his own career in what is a must win for both men.
On paper the best of the bouts will see Jin Miura (10-3-1, 1) battle against the talented, and exciting, Mugicha Nakagawa (24-6-1, 14), who is looking to bounce back from a decision loss to Ryoichi Tamura in a Japanese title fight. It's hard to see anything but a Nakagawa win, but this should be a fairly entertaining contest, as most Nakagawa bouts are.
One other bout of some note will see the light punching Ryo Narizuka (9-8-1) battle against Seiya Fujikita (12-4, 5), in what should be an interesting bout though one that isn't likely to be particularly explosive.
The most notable show this coming Sunday, Easter Sunday, comes from the Sumiyoshi Ward Center in Osaka.
The main event will see WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight champion Masahiro Sakamoto (11-1, 7) make his first defense of the title, as he takes on highly experienced Thai Pigmy Kokietgym (60-9-2, 24). The Japanese fighter won the title last December, when he stopped Kwanthai Sithmorseng, and he'll be looking to score a second successive win over a Thai veteran here. For Pigmy another loss might well spell the end of his career, especially given he's already 36 years old and has been a professional for closing in on 19 years! A win for Sakamoto will take him a step closer to getting a rematch with Sho Kimura, the only man to beat him so far.
In a supporting bout former world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (15-5-3, 5) looks for a stay busy win as he takes on Thai visitor Kathawut Saikaew Boxing Camp (0-1). Mukai has score back to back wins since his 2017 stoppage loss to Rex Tso in Hong Kong, and although bigger fights are around the corner we can't grumble too much about him staying busy given the competition he has faced through his career so far.
Arguably the most even looking match up on the show is a contest between Yuki Strong Kobayashi (12-7, 6) and Taichi Sugimoto (6-4, 2). We're not expecting anything too special here, but it does see Kobayashi risking his OPBF Bantamweight ranking.
Another show in Osaka, this time at the EDION Arena Osaka, will be promoted by Green Tsuda and looks a very interesting card with several bouts of note.
The main event is the most notable contest on the show and will see once beaten hopeful Kazuki Tanaka (8-1, 6) battle recent OPBF title challenger Seizo Kono (19-9-1, 12). The talented Tanaka was expected to be fast tracked into becoming a star however a 3rd round TKO loss last year to Ryohei Takahashi really did set him back, despite a bounce back win over Hikaru Marugame. Last time out Kono battled against Mark John Yap, and despite a solid effort he was stopped in 10 rounds. Given that both men need a win this should be a very hotly contested bout.
In a supporting bout Takayuki Okumoto (19-8-3, 9) will take on Indonesian Frengky Rohi (5-3-1, 1). The 26 year old Okumoto has gone 3-2-1 (3), with set backs to Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking, Eranio Semillano and, most recently, Ryuichi Funai in a Japanese title fight. The Indonesian visitor when 5-0-1 to begin his career, but has lost his last 3 bouts, and will struggle to over-come Okumoto here, in what looks like a very tough bout on Japanese soil.
A great match up between 24 year old fighters will see Ryo Sagawa (3-1, 2) take on the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Sawai (5-2-1, 5). Sagawa caught out eye on debut and looked very impressive, though was stopped in his second bout by Retsu Kosaka in a Japanese Youth title fight. Since that loss he has bounced back with two credible wins and will be looking for another one here. As for Sawai he's a very dangerous puncher at this level, and despite being flawed he can bang, with his power taking him to the 2016 Rookie of the Year final, where he lost to Yoshimitsu Kimura. This is a very interesting bout, and the winner could well go a very long way, despite already having a loss on their record.
Another bout pitting men with one loss against each other will see 2017 Super Bantamweight Rookie of the year Toshiki Shimomachi (7-1-1, 4) take on former amateur stand out Kiyohei Endo (1-1, 1). Shimomachi started his career 2-1-1 but is now riding a 5 fight winning run and has broken into the Japanese rankings. Endo, a former amateur stand out, suffered a surprise loss on debut but looks a class fighter and a win here would move him to the fringes of a Japanese ranking. A very interesting bout and one that both will be wanting to win, and win impressively.
There will also be a low key card in Aichi, as Yakushiji put on a show.
The main event of this card will see teenager Musashi Mori (5-0, 4) take on a Thai foe. The 18 year old Mori won the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight and enters this bout ranked by the JBC. A win for the teenager won't push him up the ranking, but will kick off a year which should push him towards a title fight, if not see him in the mix for a Japanese youth title before the end of 2018.
A pretty interesting supporting bout on this card will see Rookie of the Year runner up Katsuki Matsuura (5-1, 1) take on Toma Kondo (6-2, 1). These two men are both 21 years old, both have very similar looking records and whilst neither is much of a puncher they should make for a very exciting contest against each other. This could be a very interesting bout between two men each looking to bounce back from a loss. Very good match making here.
This coming Sunday is a relatively quiet day in Asian boxing, with only a couple of shows of note.
The most notable of those shows comes from Hokkaido where Dangan take their show on the road and put one a rare card outside of Tokyo.
The main event of this card is a genuinely intriguing one, as the under-rated Daisuke Watanabe (6-2, 3) battles Naoya Okamoto (11-6-1, 5) in a really good match up. Of the two men it's Watanabe who has impressed us more, with notable wins against Ryuto Araya and Yosuke Fujihara, and he's currently riding a 4 fight winning run since back-to-back losses in 2015. Okamoto is a decent fighter but a 1-1-1 record in his last 3 seems like like he's now found his level and he looks like he'll always be a decent fringe domestic level guy. Watanabe should win and move a step closer to a title fight, but he should have to work for his win here.
Another bout on this card worthy of a note is a contest between Kiyohei Endo (0-1) and Ninmongkol Phetphumgym (0-1). The bout looks like it should be ignored on paper, but Endo is a real talent and he showed that on his debut, before being stopped by a real lucky punch. Endo will likely show a bit more caution here and it'd be amazing to see anything but an Endo win, as he looks to score his first win as a professional.
The other show comes from Kochi and will be headlined by the once beaten Tetsu Araki (9-1-1, 1) taking on the heavy handed Akira Ono (7-5-1, 6). Araki has won his last 5, since losing a split decision to Tenta Kiyose in the 2015 Rookie of the Year tournament, and looks to be a promising youngster slowly making a name for himself. Although promising Araki hasn't really been too much of a chin checking, and we're expecting that to change here as Ono can really bang. Although not the most talented Ono can bang, and we're expecting to see that again here. This will be skills against power, and should be very intriguing.