This Saturday is a busy day for Asian fight fans with bouts across Asia and an international bout of note.
The most significant bout in many ways for Asian fight fans is in the UK as former world title challenger Hisashi Amagasa (30-5-2, 20) travels to Leeds to face off against the unbeaten Josh Warrington (22-0, 4) in a bout for the WBC International Featherweight title. For Amagasa the bout is a huge opportunity to prove himself as a world class contender, and a win could propel him to a much wanted shot at a Featherweight title. For Selby the bout could help him secure his own world title fight. A lot on the line for this one, and potentially it could be a fire cracker.
In Japan the action really doesn't stop this week and this time it's the turn of Woz who have a show in Kyoto.
In the main event Japanese Lightweight champion Kota Tokunaga (17-2, 11) will be defending his title against the teak tough Nihito Arakawa (26-6-1, 16). This will be Tokunaga's third defense of the title and by far the toughest with Arakawa looking to become a 2-time champion. If Tokunaga wins it does really legitimise him as the Japanese champion, and although Arakawa is a faded force we suspect he'll be more than a handful for the champion.
In the chief support bout fans will see former Japanese Bantamweight champion Shohei Omori (15-1, 10) attempt to bounce back from his first loss, a disappointing stoppage defeat by Marlon Tapales, and face off against Indonesia's Espinos Sabu (15-8-2, 8). On paper this looks like a very easy win for Omori however Sabu can be a handful on his day and could well give Omori the type of bout that he needs.
In South Korea the KBF put on the next of their rookie shows, despite it being a rookie card the real interest is in the main event, which sees former world champion Yong Soo Choi (29-4-1, 19) return to the ring, at the age of 43. The former WBA Super Featherweight champion will face Japanese visitor Kazuya Nakano (9-5-1, 7), in what will be Choi's first bout in over 13 years. At his best Choi was a wonderfully exciting fighter, however that was back in the 1990's, and this is now and Choi is really unlikely to resemble the fighter he once was.
The lowest profile Asian card of the day comes from Malaysia where A & A Promotions put on a small, but notable card.
The main event of this show will see the unbeaten Qudratillo Abduqaxorov (5-0, 5), from Uzbekistan, face Mexican Juan Bedolla Orozco (9-2-2, 8) for the lightly regarded WPBF Youth Welterweight crown. This looks like a good test on paper but the reality is that the unbeaten 22 year old should be strongly favoured.
Another bout of note from this card will see Jonathon Yeow Ming (1-0, 1) battle against Indonesian veteran Heri Andriyanto (21-21-2, 10). This is a massive test for the Malaysian based Ming and if he comes through it in impressive fashion he will deserve a lot of plaudits for taking on such a test at this early stage in his career.
December 16th-Omori battles Tapales for world title shot whilst Tokunaga and Nishitani face off for Japanese crown!
For a second day this week Japanese fans get a real treat with another double main event show. Unlike the first one however, this one is in Kyoto, not Tokyo.
The most notable of the main bouts is a WBO Bantamweight world title eliminator between Japanese national champion Shohei Omori (15-0, 10) and Filipino visitor Marlon Tapales (27-2, 10), with the winner to get a shot at the WBO crown in 2016. In recent bouts Omori has attracted the attention of international fans with some starting to see him as the the next great Japanese Bantamweight, following in the recent footsteps of Hozumi Hasegawa and Shinsuke Yamanaka, however this is a huge test for the youngster and one he will need to pass if he's to become the star some have suggested he will be. For Tapales, who's last loss came in a very close fight against David Sanchez almost 3 years ago, this is a huge opportunity and sees him returning to Japan for his 3rd bout in the country. Interestingly he is 2-0 in Japan and will be looking to continue that successful run.
The other main event will see Omori's stable mate Kota Tokunaga (16-2, 11) make the second defense of the Japanese Lightweight title. Tokunaga, who won the title earlier this year by stopping Yuya Sugizaki, will be up against the relatively unknown Kazuhiro Nishitani (15-3-1, 7) who is perhaps lucky to even be getting a title fight. Tokunaga isn't the best champion out there, and was relatively lucky in his last bout, where he scored a final round come-from-behind TKO, though his will to win is one of many positive traits for the fast improving champion. Nishitani will be the under-dog but should be regarded as a very live under-dog.
Chinese fans continue to have a wave of action as Top Rank continue their small foray into Shanghai, where they continue to put on shows at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. The show isn't a big one, in fact it's scarcely a footnote on the Asian boxing scene, but it is notable that Top Rank are continuing their commitment to China and seem to still view the area as a potential gold mine, even if Zou Shiming isn't the star that they were hoping for.
Boxing in Kyoto hasn't been particularly big in recent years. It's a shame but the country really hasn't developed a genuine scene of it's own. That however will forgotten this coming Wednesday when Kyoto based fans get a genuinely brilliant show featuring two local champions who are both hoping to retain their titles and continue their development
In the main event we'll see the fast rising Shohei Omori (14-0, 9) defending his Japanese Bantamweight title for the first time. Omori, who destroyed Kentaro Musada earlier this year, will be putting his belt, unbeaten record, and world ranking on the line as he faces former 2-time world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (11-3-2, 1). On paper this looks like an easy win for Omori, and if he's as good as we suspect, then he'll impress, however Mukai has faced more established fighters than Omori and this could prove to be a tricky first defense for the man dubbed “Yamanaka II”. If Omori does win, as expected, there is serious talk that he could be fighting for a world in the next 12 months.
Another title fight on this card will see Japanese Lightweight champion Kota Tokunaga (15-2, 10) defending his title against fellow puncher Yuhei Suzuki (16-4, 12). For Tokunaga this is a genuinely difficult first defense against a heavy handed fighter. For Suzuki this is his third shot at the title, after coming up short against Yoshitaka Kato, twice. This one could be very explosive and with both men having stoppages again them it could turn in to a shoot out!
In the chief supporting bout Shun Kosaka (9-2) will face win-less Thai Petchmai Sor Praithong (0-4) in a 8 round bout. Kosaka, who has lost his last 2, will be hoping to score his first win since November 2014. Although not a great fighter Kosaka did show promise last year and should pick up a win here.
In another supporting bout Japan's Tamao Ozawa (8-2, 2), the OPBF female Super Flyweight champion, will battle Filipino visitor Carleans Rivas (4-2-3). This 6 round bout will be a non-title contest though it does seem possible that Ozawa will be moved into a world title bout if she puts in an impressive performance here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
It's fair to say April has been a really interest month and it ends in an interesting fashion as well with a trio of Japanese title bouts as well as a compelling contest for a Filipino hopefully. A really good way to end the month and a brilliant way to move towards a potentially mind blowing May.
One of the really exciting shows this month for Japanese fans comes on the final day of April as the fans get a brilliant Japanese title triple header with an under-card that also delivers.
The main event, and for many international fans the real bout of interest, comes at Heavyweight as Japanese champion Kyotaro Fujimoto (11-1, 6) defends his title against the well known Nobuhiro Ishida (27-10-2, 11) in a very interesting rematch. Ishida seems to have the support of many western fans going into this bout who remember his shock win over the then unbeaten James Kirkland. Notably however Fuimoto did win the first meeting between the two men and seems to be taking this bout very seriously after perhaps over-looking Ishida the first time around. It's not often we'll say this about a Japanese bout at Heavyweight but this is a really good match up and one that should really be a bit special.
In another title bout fans will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (14-1, 4) defending his belt for the first time as he takes on Gakuya Furuhashi (17-5, 7). Oguni, who is world ranked coming into this bout, won the title late last year when he narrowly over-came Yasutaka Ishimoto though will have to perform incredibly highly to over-come Furuhashi who has waited almost a year to get a shot at a world title following a bout with Hidenori Otake falling through last year, This could be a thoroughly engaging contest from start to end.
The third title bout will see two men looking to score a break out win, with neither being a name of note so far. This bout will see Kota Tokunaga (14-2, 9) battle against Yuya Sugizaki (20-9-1, 6) for the Japanese Lightweight title and it's fair to say that the champion will have an interesting list of possible challengers later in the year. This isn't a bout that sets out pulses racing but it could prove to be a very good contest between two men who both know that a win could be career changing.
The under-card, which only features a couple of bouts, is also mouth watering.
One of the under-card contests will see former Japanese Flyweight title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (12-5-2, 7) battle against Yasuhiro Sakurai (7-18). On paper this is a mismatch however Sakashita is coming into the bout following a 1-punch KO defeat to the then Japanese Flyweight champion Suguru Muranaka and that could well have shot the confidence and self belief out of Sakashita.
The other bout will see former Japanese Featherweight title challenger Yuki Ogata (20-1-1, 3) battle against Kentaro Yamada (8-5-1, 6). Again on paper this is a mismatch but Ogata only narrowly over-came Yamada when the two men met last September, with Ogata claiming a razor thin split decision. Yamada has to believe he can beat his more experienced foe, and will know that if he does he'll earn himself a Japanese ranking. Another brilliant match up on a genuinely fantastic card.
In the US fans will get the chance to see exciting Filipino southpaw Mercito Gesta (28-1-1, 16) in action against Carlos Molina (17-2-1, 7). Several years ago Gesta was one of the most hyped Filipino prospects though a 2012 loss to Miguel Vazquez seemed to show up a lot of his flaws. Since then he has worked hard on his issues improved notably. Those improvements should be on show against Molina, a talented fringe contender who managed to give Adrien Broner an unexpectedly competitive contest last year. This bout will push the winner towards a really good bout later in the year whilst the loser will be left with a lot of rebuilding to do.
(Image courtesy of http://www.kadoebi.com)