After a rather quiet June we see action really pick up in July, and to begin with we get a stacked Ohashi card with a wonderful mix of notable names, novice prospects interesting match ups.
The main event will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (13-0, 10) making his first defense of the title, as he takes on the limited but fun to watch Ryuji Ikeda (14-5-3, 9). Inoue, the cousin of Naoya and Takuma Inoue, won the title earlier this year, when he out pointed veteran Valentine Hosokawa and has suggested that he's wanting to put on a fun fight for fans here. Ikeda can punch, but is defensively open and we suspect he has been selected as an opponent to make Inoue look good. A full preview of this bout can be read here Inoue takes on Ikeda in Japanese title defense
An excellent supporting bout will see the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda (19-4-2, 17) take on Japanese based Korean Tae Il Atsumi (16-2, 8). Whilst the main event looks like it will be an easy one to pick the winner in this bout is the opposite, with a real 50-50 feel to the bout. Atsumi is a tough, aggressive and skilled with a lot of potential whilst Tameda is an explosive puncher, but one who hasn't looked was stopped last December, by Hinata Maruta, and didn't look his most destructive in his March win over Renerio Arizala.
The once touted Sho Nakazawa (12-3, 6) has a must must win bout as he takes on Jinya Ito (7-5-1, 2). Nakazawa was a solid Japanese amateur but with 3 losses in his last 7 bouts, including one to Tae Il Atsumi, and he looks like his potential won't be realised due to real question marks about his durability. Ito should pose no real threat, and has lost 5 of his last 8, but Nakazawa needs to do more than "just win", he needs to look good.
Touted prospect Katsuya Yasuda (3-0, 2) takes on his biggest test as he faces off with Japanese based Filipino foe Jerry Castroverde (10-6, 5). The talented Yasuda has a lot of potential, but has had issues with inactivity and at 27 years old now he needs to kick on and try to make the most of his potential, likely why Ohashi has matched him with Castroverde. The 22 year old Castroverde is a good young test for anyone at this level, and although he has lost 4 of his last 5 he should ask questions of Yasuda
Another touted prospect on this card is Taku Kuwahara (4-0, 3), who looks to continue his winning run as he takes on domestic foe Kyomu Hamagami (4-2-2, 4). The 24 year old Kuwaha really impressed us last December, when he beat Takamori Kiyama over 8 rounds, but since then his competition hasn't been the best and we're really hoping to see him stepping up again before the year is over. He's a real talent who should be pushed hard and fast. The 22 year old Hamagami is limited, but the guy can punch, and could, potentially, give Kuwahara his first chin check, though we do suspect the unbeaten man to be too sharp to really be tested by the hard hitting but technically limited younger fighter.
Interestingly one of the worst looking bouts on paper may end up being one of the most interesting. The bout in questions sees Ohashi puncher Kentaro Endo (7-9-1, 6) take on the in form Fumisuke Kimura (9-4, 6). Endo is very limited, but really can punch and will be looking to take Kimura out. Kimura on the other hand comes into this bout following big domestic wins over Hayato Ono and Giraffe Kirin Kanda, which have pushed him to the verge of a Japanese title fight. This could be very exciting and very explosive.
After June this card is an ideal way to kick off a packed July!
Attention turns to Tokyo this coming Saturday as we get a really interesting Kadoebi card at the Korakuen Hall, headlined by a Japanese title fight but also featuring numerous other notable fighters.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) defending his title against unbeaten mandatory challenger Koki Inoue (12-0, 10), the third member of the Inoue clan. For the 37 year old Hosokawa this will be his third defense of the belt, which he won in 2017 against Koichi Aso. As for Inoue this will be his first title fight, and comes after a relatively disappointing performance against Marcus Smith, though a performance that did see Inoue battling with injuries. A full preview of this bout can be read here Another Inoue goes for gold, as Koki takes on Valentine Hosokawa.
In the chief support bout we'll see former OPBF Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (13-3-2, 11) take on durable Thai Chaiwat Mueanphong (4-3, 2). For Tyson this will be his first bout since signing with the Kadoebi Gym and his first bout since losing the OPBF title to Yasuyuki Akiyama in December 2017. Chaiwat on the other hand comes into this bout on the back of 3 straight losses, but has proven to be tough and almost went 7 complete rounds with Kazuto Takesako last year. Tyson should win, but will have to work for it.
An excellent supporting bout will see Japanese-Brazilian Cristiano Aoqui (13-7-2, 9) battle against Anthony Marcial (24-3-1, 22) of the Philippines.The talented Aoqui isn't a world beater, but is an exciting and fun yo watch fighter who has a notable fan base. Marcial on the other hand has an impressive looking record, but has mostly been a can crusher on the Filipino domestic scene. This could be a much, much better bout than it looks on paper, though we're expecting Aoqui to be too good for the visitor.
Another supporting bout will see Tsuyoshi Sato (8-1-1, 4) take on Tetsuya Tomioka (5-3, 5) in a Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title tournament semi final bout. The exciting Sato is aggressive, all action and very fan friendly, whilst Tomioka is a big puncher, with questionable durability. This might end up being the bout of the show, and both are very fun to watch. It's worth noting that this bout will be a semi-final bout of a 4 man tournament to crown a new Japanese Light Flyweight youth champion, with the other semi-final taking place on April 11th.
Other supporting bouts will see Hironori Shigeta (5-1-1, 3) take on Mitsumasa Takahashi (9-5-1, 3) and Aso Ishiwaki (5-2, 3) battle Yoji Saito (1-1, 1). On paper neither of these bouts look amazing, but both promise a lot. Shigeta is a Japanese ranked Welterweight, and the 2017 Rookie of the year, whilst Takahashi is a very solid domestic level guy. Ishiwaki is the 2018 Lightweight Rookie of the Year whilst Saito is a former amateur standout, and despite having a loss on his record is very much a prospect to make a note of.
As well as the great show in Japan there is also a low key card in the Philippines. The headline bout here will see Eduardo Mancito (16-10-2, 9) battling against Nathan Bolcio (14-15-3, 4). On paper this is a pretty good domestic bout, it's nothing amazing, but should be pretty competitive and that's always a good thing!
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!
This coming Monday attention turns to Japan as Ohashi put on their next notable show, headlined by an OPBF title fight and featuring several fighters of note on the supporting card.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (5-0, 5) defending his title, for the second time, against Korean challenger Kyung Min Kwon (6-3, 3). The 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner has been fast tracked like few before him, even for the often fast tracked Japanese, and won the OPBF title after just 13 months as a professional. He made his first defense back in December and will be looking to score his third win in less than 6 months as he takes on Kwon. The Korean challenger is a bit of an unknown, though his record doesn't suggest he'll be much of a threat for the heavy handed Japanese fighter, who is expected to get a world title fight by the end of 2018.
The chief support bout will see former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (25-6, 13) take on Indonesian foe Frans Damur Palue (15-18-2, 10) in a bout at Super Flyweight, as Yaegashi chases a 4th world title. For the popular Yaegashi this will be his first bout since he lost the IBF Light Flyweight title inside a round to Milan Melindo last May. He's moving up 7lbs from that loss, though the general feeling is that he's pretty much a spent force as a fighter, after having had a career of wars. Palue is expected to lose, and to be stopped, but given how much damage Yaegashi has taken through his career, this could be his chance to score a career defining victory, and retire the very exciting Yaegashi. The visitor is the naturally bigger fighter, the younger man, and although the far less skilled he has a chance to define his career here.
Shimizu isn't the only fast rising unbeaten fighter on this card, as OPBF and JBC ranked Light Welterweight Koki Inoue (10-0, 9) is also on the card. Sadly the talented, destructive, Inoue isn't yet getting his first title bout, but will instead be fighting in a stay busy bout against a Thai visitor. The plan seems to be based around keeping Inoue busy as he prepares for a Japanese title fight, likely later this year. Koki is the cousin of Naoya Inoue and Takuma Inoue, and like those two he is an excellent talent who really doesn't need any more easy bouts after this one, though in fairness he has already scored 3 very solid domestic level wins and is just staying busy here.
Another unbeaten prospect on this card will be former amateur standout Kazuki Nakajima (3-0, 2), who takes part in his first 8 round bout. The talented Japanese hopeful failed to shine last time out, narrowly over-coming Taiga Higashi, and will be up against a Thai novice here in what should be little more than a show case for Nakajima, who has a lot of talent, but can't be rushed in the way Shimizu was. Instead he's maybe 2 or 3 years away from a title fight.
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 Wednesday in Japan fight fans have an interesting Ohashi card to look forward to. We'll be honest and not pretend that it's full of 50-50 bouts, but it keeps the gym's fighters busy, whilst a number them begin to move towards bigger and better bouts.
The main event of the card is the best looking contest on paper and sees Takuma Inoue (8-0, 2) return to the ring following almost a year out, to take on 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-16-1, 11) in a solid test for the youngster. Inoue was supposed to fight for a world title at the end of 2016, but an injury forced that bout to be cancelled and now he's in need of a warm up bout before looking at bigger and better things. For Kudaka, previously known as Hiroyuki Hisataka, the bout is a chance to score a career defining win after some recent struggles in the ring, including losing 7 of his last 11. Kudaka's record isn't great but he's a tough out for most and should ask questions of rInoue.
Another relatively attractive bout will see Koki Inoue (8-0, 7), Takuma's cousin, step up to take on former Japanese title challenger Cristiano Aoqui (11-6-2, 7) in what is essentially a Japanese title eliminator. Inoue enters the bout ranked #3 and Aoqui is #8, with the winner almost certainly looking to get a crack before the end of the year. For Inoue the bout is a slight step up, but it's a logical step as he continues to impress and leave a wake of battered and beaten fighters in his wake. For Aoqui the bout serves as a chance to get back in to the mix after 3 losses in his last 4.
When it comes to fighters who are looking at bigger and better things, it's fair to say that Ryo Matsumoto (20-1, 18) is on the verge of a world title fight. As a result he's having a stay busy contest on this show against Indonesian foe Jason Butar Butar (25-22-1, 16), in what should be another straight forward win for the likeable Matsumoto, who is looking to put health issues well and truly behind him.
Another fighter looking for bigger things is Go Onaga (27-3-3, 18),who also faces an Indonesian journeyman as he takes on John Bajawa (13-14, 7). Onaga is looking to get himself a Japanese title fight in the near future, and the veteran cannot afford another set back. This should be a straight forward win for the Ohashi man, but he is now 37 and 18 months removed from his last victory.
Rounding out the notable fights on this show are two Ohashi novices tipped for big things. One of those is Kazuki Nakajima (1-0, 1), who looks for his second professional win as he takes on Resnu Sundava (2-1, 2) whilst the other is debutant Katsuya Yasuda (0-0), who faces Reno Arizona (1-2). Neither Ohashi man should worry here about winning, but both will want to impress Mr Ohashi, who we suspect wants to fast track both men following their impressive amateur careers.
The Ohashi gym is one of the hottest in Japan right now and this coming Sunday they are hosting probably the most notable Asian card of the weekend, even if it's top matches are unlikely to be even slightly competitive.
The main event will see Ohashi fighter Koki Inoue (7-0, 6) take on a Thai foe in what is supposed to be a Japanese title prelude for Inoue. It's thought that Koki, the cousin of world champion Naoya Inoue and world level contender Takuma Inoue, will face Koichi Aso before the end of for the Japanese Light Welterweight title fight but will have to make sure he doesn't over-look his foe here in what is expected to be a mismatch.
In the chief supporting bout former Japanese Flyweight title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (14-8-2, 9) will be facing a Thai foe, in what should be a straight forward win for Sakashita, who has lost his last 2 and 4 of his last 6. Sakashita was once 12-4-2 but with losses piling up his career really cannot afford another setback.
Although Inoue and Sakashita are both well know the most interesting fight on this card may well be the debut of Kazuki Nakajima (0-0), a former amateur standout who will look to make an impact against a Thai opponent. The plans for Nakajima do seem to be about putting him on the fast track, and he is pencilled in to fight again in August, and he may well be fighting for a title in his first 5 or 6 fights. Little is known about his Thai foe, but the reality is that this is about Nakajima introducing himself to professional boxing.
In Fukuoka we'll see former Japanese Minimumweight title challenger Takumi Sakae (15-2-1, 10) continue to try to rebuild his career. The talented Japanese fighter looked like a man on his way to the top until he ran into Tatsuya Fukuhara, and since then he has gone 2-2-1. Sakae needs a win here and is likely to get it, as he takes on a limited Thai foe. It'd be a shock to see Sakae lose, but he really can't afford any more easy bouts after this one, given his last two wins have also been against limited Thai's.
A third Japanese card comes from Hokkaido, and features a very international card with the top three bouts all featuring a visitor against a local.
The main event of the card sees Japanese ranked Featherweight Junki Sasaki (17-3, 6) take on Korean visitor Sang Hoo Gil (6-5-2, 3). On paper this should be an easy win for Sasaki, who has won 6 of his last 7, but it's fair to say all Korean fighters will be travelling to Japan with their minds set on an upset following the recent shock win for Sa Myung Noh.
Also on this card will be Masaya Tamayama (8-1, 4), who will also be taking on a Korean foe, and Kyosuke Sawada (6-2-1, 3), who will battle a Thai visitor. Sadly the names of these two visitors haven't been as easy to get as Gil in the main event.
Lanao del Norte, Philippines
The biggest name in action is actually in the Philippines, and that's 2-weight world champion Johnriel Casimero (23-3, 15), who takes on former world title challenger Richie Mepranum (31-6-1, 8). The talented Casimero will be moving up to Super Flyweight, as he hunts a third divisional world title, and will be looking to do so against a notable yet safe foe. Casimero has lacked activity in recent years, with just 4 fights in 3 years and non since last September. Saying that however Mepranum has lost his last two bouts, and hasn't scored a win since November 2015.
In late March we see Ohashi putting on their first show of 2017, and although it's not a huge show, like the FES cards, it is a solid Phoenix Battle card with a host of notable names in action.
In the main event we see the highly talented Ryo Matsumoto (18-1, 16) take on domestic rival Hideo Sakamoto (17-3-3, 5) in a really good match up. Matsumoto, who under-went serious surgery last year to solve a long term medical issue, will be looking to make a huge mark in 2017 but will have to over-come Sakamoto first. If the youngster wins then all signs point towards Matsumoto getting a world title fight before the end of 2017. Sakamoto might not be a big name but he is a very under-rated fighter with notable wins over Kazuyoshi Niki, Hiroki Shiino and Ryotaro Kawabata, but has suffered recent losses to Seio Kono and Kentaro Masuda in recent years.
In a major supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Koki Inoue (6-0, 5) battle against Japanese ranked Mitsuyoshi Fujita (10-2, 3) in what should be a good test for Inoue. The unbeaten 24 year old only debuted in December 2015 but is one of the fastest rising fighters on the Japanese domestic scene and made a statement last year when he scored 5 wins, including a very impressive stoppage against Futoshi Usami. Fujita has suffered 2 losses, but has won 8 in a row since those back to back losses in 2013-2014. Although not as proven as Inoue he is experienced and has earned a Japanese ranking with wins against the likes of Yusuke Yamanouchi and Genki Maeda.
Another notable Ohashi gym fighter in action here is former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (21-2, 12), who faces domestic opponent Akiyoshi Kanazawa (14-6-4, 7). Hara scored two wins last year and looks to be rebuilding his career step by step following stoppage losses in 2014, to Kosei Tanaka, and in 2015, to Katsunari Takayama. This is a decent match up for for Hara, given he is rebuilding, but it's fair to say he needs to step up a bit later this year. Kanazawa has gone 3-4-1 in his last 8 though has been matched hard, and almost scored an upset last year over Kenichi Horikawa. Although limited Kanazawa will serve as a good test here.
A really interesting bout sees the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) finally battle with Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5). Originally this bout was supposed to take place in December 2014, as the Rookie of the Year Lightweight final, but Hiraoka suffered an illness forcing him out of the bout. Since then Yamaguchi has gone 4-2, though has been matched hard with losses to Akihiro Kondo and Genki Maeda, whilst Hiraoka spent notable time training in the US and signed with Ohashi late last year.
Another interesting match up will see Quaye Peter (9-8-2, 5) take on recent Japanese title challenger Valentine Hosokawa (20-6-3, 9) in a very fan friendly match up. Both guys have lost their last two, and will be coming to impress here, but neither has performed badly in all honestly Hosokawa was very unlucky last time out against Hiroki Okada. Given the styles of both men and their need to score a win we suspect this will be a really exciting contest with both men knowing a win could net them a title shot later in the year.
Also on the card is former Japanese champion Seiichi Okada (19-6-1, 11), who battles against the limited but tough Kentaro Yamada (8-7-1, 6). Yamada has lost his last 6, but he has been in with a real who's who including Rikki Naito, Masayuki Ito and Yuki Ogata, and will certainly be looking at this bout as a chance to end that losing run.
Whilst big cards, with multiple noteworthy bouts, aren't rare in Japan it's rare to get a full card of notable and notable bouts. There is however one such card on December 30th when Ohashi put on a genuine super show with two world title bouts, two Olympic medal winners, several prospects and just one of those rare cards where everything looks to have significance...and that's despite the fact one of the key announced bouts for the show was actually cancelled due to an injury!
The main event of the card will see WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9) taking on former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (32-9-1, 13). This will be Inoue's most notable bout in 2 years, since he beat Omar Andres Narvaez to claim the title, and will see him hunting his 4th defense and most notable so far. For Kono this is a chance to prove he's still a world class Super Flyweight and potentially a chance to become a 3-time world champion.
In the chief main event of the show we see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (24-5, 12) defending his title against Thailand's Samartlek Kokietgym (35-5, 12), who is best known for being stopped by the aforementioned Naoya Inoue in 2014. Yaegashi will be seeking his second defense of the title and will know that a win will lead him to about with interim champion Milan Melindo in 2017. A win for the challenger would be a shock and it would genuinely shake up the 108lbs division.
The chief support bout behind the double main event will see 2012 Olympic gold medal winner Ryota Murata (11-0, 8) fight against the once beaten Bruno Sandoval (19-1-1, 15). For Murata this bout is the next step forward as his team continue to pursue a 2017 fight with WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, of the UK. Whilst Sandoval is a live opponent he hasn't really proven his worth and could well be an easy target for Murata, who has shown real improvement in recent bouts and with his heavy hands there is genuine potential.
Another major under-card bout will see the once beaten Ryo Matsumoto (17-1, 15) face off with his sole conqueror Victor Uriel Lopez (10-5-1, 4). This rematch was announced earlier in the year but cancelled as Matsumoto required surgery for a serious medical issue, the same issue that reared it's head in the first bout with Lopez. Now, supposedly healed, Matsumoto is looking for revenge whilst Lopez is looking to prove that Matsumoto's medical woes weren't the only reason for the result in the first bout.
In a relatively interesting bout we'll see former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (20-2, 12) battle with Hiroya Yamamoto (10-4, 4). Hara is looking to get his career back ion the right track after a 2-2 record in is last 4, and should be too good for Yamamoto however the under-dog is a 2-time Japanese title challenger, having come up short to Go Odaira and Takuya Fukuhara, and is certainly a live under-dog here.
Naoya isn't the only fighter from the Inoue clan on this card, as his cousin Koki Inoue (5-0, 4) takes on his biggest test to date, Futoshi Usami (14-2-1, 11). Inoue is touted as another world champion in the making but this is a credible test for the Kanagawa man, especially given that Usami fought for the OPBF Lightweight title in 2014, and went the 12 round distance with the world ranked Masayoshi Nakatani.
Another unbeaten prospect on this card is 20 year old hopeful Andy Hiraoka (7-0, 4), who fights for the second time as an Ohashi fighter. The talented youngster will be up against Indonesian journeyman Naty Yongraksa (0-0), in what should be a straight forward win for the local star. The visitor is 1-5-1 in his last 7 and it's hard to see what he has to really Hiraoka.
The second Olympian on the show is 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (1-0, 1), who takes a huge step up in class to take on Filipino Carlo Demecillo (6-3, 1). Whilst this is a big step up for Shimzu from his debut it should be noted that Demecillo struggled to win a round recently when he took in Hisashi Amagasa, back in October. Demecillo should give Shimizu some resistance, but the bout should be a win for the Japanese local
The first big Japanese show of the month takes place this coming Sunday in Kanagawa and looks set to be a significant one for a number of fighters as well as fans who can tune in on Fuji TV.
The main event of the show sees WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (10-0, 8) defending his title, for the third time, against Thai Petchbarngborn Kokikietgym (38-7-1, 18). For the challenger this will be his most notable fighter to date, and sees him return to Japan for his 6th bout in the country, it will however be his most difficult, and probably most painful. For Inoue the bout is a chance to get back to his most destructive against an opponent who really isn't in his league.
Naoya's little brother Takuma Inoue (7-0, 2) is taking on another serious test as he faces fringe level Filipino fighter Froilan Saludar (23-1-1, 14). Saludar was, once, tipped to be one of the big stars of Filipino boxing but appears to have fallen well short of that mark. A win here for the Filipino would however reignite his career and put him back in the title mix. Inoue is the favourite and will be viewing this bout as a test before a potential world title fight, with the Japanese youngster said to be targeting a Bantamweight title later in the year.
A third Inoue on this card is cousin Koki Inoue (4-0, 3) who looks to continue his impressive start as he takes on Indonesian veteran Heri Andriyanto (22-22-2,10). Inoue will be stepping into his first 8 round bout but we don't expect to see Andriyanto lasting the distance against the aggressive and heavy handed Japanese fighter.
Whilst much of the attention will be on the Inoue family there is however a lot of buzz around the debuting Satoshi Shimizu (0-0), who will be facing off against Korean visitor In Kyoo Lee (3-2, 1). Shimizu won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Aged 30 Shimizu's time to progress is relatively short but he's likely to be fast tracked and we could see him facing notable names as early as his next fight
A second Japanese card will be taking place in Osaka, with boxingraise.com showing this one on a 1 day tape delay.
In the main event fans will see the promising Takuya Uehara (9-0, 6) face off against the much more experienced Katsuhiko Kanno (9-9-7, 4). This Kanno has won just 1 of his last 9 bouts, but he has faced stiff competition and held several fighters to a draw, in fact with 7 draws from his 25 fights we can call him a draw expected. Aged 20 Uehara is a really promising fighter but this is a step up in class.
In a supporting bout former Japanese title challenger Masato Morisaki (11-4-1, 6) will be up against Takahiro Murai (13-6-2, 4) in what looks like a relatively even match up between two men each in need of a big win to build towards 2017 on.
Another notable match up here sees 23 year old prospect Kazuaki Miyamoto (1-0, 1) facing off against an Indonesian foe. Not much is known about the “opponent” but Miyamoto is tipped to be a special fighter and a win here will likely result in him moving into 8 round bouts and then building towards a title opportunity in 2017