For us the most interesting bout takes place in Nagoya, as an unbeaten prospect takes an insane step up in class.
That step up will see former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (16-4, 13) take on the promising Masanori Rikiishi (2-0, 1), in what looks to be a serious acid test for Rikiishi. Saka held the Japanese title for 8 months last year, winning the title in April before losing it in his first defense in December. The loss was a surprise for Saka, who had entered that bout on an 8 fight stoppage run, and it seems like Rikiishi's team is hoping for Saka to be a damaged fighter. As for Rikiishi he has been matched hard since his debut in July last year but this is a massive step up. The 23 year old novice has looked fantastic so far, but this is still a bout that looks like he has been thrown into the deep end and told to sink or swim. A loss for Rikiishi won't be the end but a win would immediately put him into the title mix. A win for Saka will keep him relevant, whilst a loss will be very hard for him to come back from.
Despite the really interesting bout against Saka and Rikiishi that bout is only the chief supporting bout. The actual main event will see Japan's Kotatsu Takehara (14-11-3, 7) take on Indonesian foe Satria Antasena (6-9, 2) in a Heayweight bout. Entering this contest both men are ranked #1 in their respective nations, but it's hard to imagine the visitor, who is 0-4 outside of his homeland, pick up a win here.
Although we're really interested in the Nagaoya show there is also a notable card in Osaka, where we see a high profile prospect in the main event and several notable supporting bouts.
The main event here will see the popular Juiki Tatsuyoshi (7-0, 5), the son of the legendary Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, battle against Shun Ishibashi (10-22-1, 4). This bout was originally meant to take place last year, though injuries got in the way and Tatsuyoshi had to pull out. Since then he has matured, had a child and recovered from injuries. He should be strongly favoured here, especially given that Ishibashi has lost his last 6, but we suspect he will prove to be a test for the hard hitting but crude Tatsuyoshi.
In a supporting bout Takayuki Teraji (9-14-1, 4) will battle against recent Japanese title challenger Takeru Kamikubo (13-3, 8). Coming in to this one the limited Teraji has scored back to back wins, for the first time in his career, and will be looking to snowball that success here. Kamikubo was once touted as a real hopeful, but with 3 stoppage losses in his last 8 fights, including a loss last time out to Tetsuya Hisada in a Japanese title fight, he seems unlikely to reach his potential. This is a great chance for Teraji to score a big win, but he will have to work very hard for it.
In another supporting bout 2-time Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (13-5-1, 8) will be up against Masashi Wakita (8-6-2, 3). The talented Sugita, who came up short twice against Kenichi Ogawa, has gone 2-3 in his last 5 but is a genuine talent and will be looking to get another shot at the Japanese title in the near future. The 22 year old Wakita is better than his record suggests, and he gave really tough tests to Spicy Matsushita and Naotoshi Nakatani, but will likely come up short again here against Sugita.