This coming Friday our attention turns to Osaka for a small but notable card thanks to Hiroki Ioka.
The main event of the show is a brilliant Japanese Youth Welterweight title fight, pitting unbeaten champion Kudura Kaneko (9-0, 6) against Ioka protege Rikuto Adachi (12-1, 9), in what could end up being the best Japanese Welterweight bout of the year. Kaneko comes into this bout seeking his 10th straight win, and looking to build on an excellent win last year over former national champion Toshio Arikawa. Adachi on the other hand will be looking for his 5th straight stoppage win, and will be looking to score his biggest win to date. On paper this is mouth watering, and there is a very real chance that the winner fights in either a senior title fight this year, or gets a Japanese title eliminator at the end of the year. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kaneko and Adachi clash in battle of young Welters!
Former female world title challenger Terumi Nuki (10-4, 7) looks to bounce back from her 2018 loss to Mariana Juarez. She will be up against a Thai opponent in what should be a straight forward win for the local.
Sadly a bout that was supposed to feature 2017 all-Japan Super Bantamweight Rookie of the Year Toshiki Shimomachi (9-1-2, 5) hasn't actually materialise, leaving the entire card with just 4 bouts on it.
Western Australia, Australia
As well as the Japanese card there is also a bout of interest in Australia. The bout in question will see Australia's very own Wes Capper (19-2-1, 12) return to the ring after a little over a year out, to take on Filipino journeyman Arnel Tinampay (25-23-1, 11). On paper this is a mismatch, but one thing bout Tinampay is that he plays the under-dog. The Filipino is a heavy handed tough guy who is a lot better than his record suggests, and could well upset Capper here in a very intriguing contests, despite the obvious difference in the records of the two men.
Action's back in the Korakuen Hall this coming Thursday for an interesting card featuring a former national champion and two touted Japanese prospects.
One of those prospects isJapanese based Afghan born fighter Kudura Kaneko (8-0, 5), who takes a massive step up in class to face off with former Japanese Welterweight champion Toshio Arikawa (15-5, 13). For the 20 year old Kaneko this is a massive step up in class, though he has already impressed by winning the Japanese Youth title earlier this year, and looks to be one of the few really promising Japanese Welterweights. His back story is a fantastic one of hope and determination, have left Afghanistan with his parents for a better life and he's made it known that if he can have real success he wants to fund a school back in Afghanistan. Arikawa on the other hand is a bit a glass cannon, who really can bang, and at the age of 33 can ill afford another set back. Arikawa won the Japanese title in 2016, when he stopped Nobuyuki Shindo at the Champion Carnival, and defended it twice, avenging two losses in the process, but was dethroned earlier this year by Ryota Yada. With 4 of his 5 losses coming by stoppage Arikawa can clearly be hurt, but with 13 wins by stoppage, he can also bang, hard.
The other prospect is touted 24 year old Ryusei Kawaura (4-0, 3), who looks to follow up a good win over Filipino Marjun Pantilgan earlier this year. The talented Kawaura will be up against his first domestic opponent, as he takes on Yuki Yoshimura (8-3-4, 2), who hasn't fought in over a year. We are excited to see what Kawaura can do in his career, but so far he's lacked activity and it feels like he's perhaps not chasing glory in the way he should be, though hopefully that's something that we will see from him in 2019. Yoshimura should prove to be a should prove to be a solid enough test, but has been another fighter who's inactivity has cost him any real chance of making a name for himself, with only 2 fights in the last 8 years. It's worth noting that Yoshimura's only stoppage came to Hiroki Shiino so a win in the distance would be notable for Kawaura.
This coming Sunday attention turns to Japan, where there will be 3 separate shows. Although none of them are specifically notable there should be enough action across them to interest fans. That's, in part, due to with a female title fight and several prospects being in action.
One of the shows takes place at the City Civil Hall in Neyagawa and will be promoted by 3 Osakan based promotional outfits.
The main event of the card will see Nobuhiro Ishida promoted Shione Ogata (9-6, 2) take on former world title challenger Erika Hanawa (9-2, 3) for the WBO Asia Pacific female Light Flyweight title. Ogata began her career by losing 5 of her first 6 but has since gone 8-1 and scored a notable win last year against Saemi Hanagata. Hanawa on the other hand has lost 2 of her last 4, including a loss in a world title fight to Kayoko Ebata and a loss to the aforementioned Hanagata. This should be a very entertaining bout and a good headline bout for this level of show.
In a supporting bout Hikaru Matsuoka (13-4-3, 1) will face off with Yu Konomura (8-7-2, 2) in a second bout between the two men. These two fought back in 2016, with Matsuoka taking a split decision over Konomura. Since their first bout Matsuoka has gone 1-1, not fighting at all in 2017, whilst Konomura has seemingly had his confidence destroyed, going 1-3-1 since the loss to Matsuoka.
A second Osaka show will take place at the City Plaza Yayoinokaze Hall in Izumi.
The main event here has an international flavour as local hopeful Toshiya Yokogawa (8-11-2, 7) takes on Filipino visitor Glenn Medura (9-3-1, 5) in an 8 round contest. The 33 year old Yokogawa has, like many, a misleading record having faced very stiff domestic competition in recent years, but should prove to have more about him than his record suggests and he shares the ring with Medura. As for the visitor he's 0-2 in Japan, has has been matched tough with contests against Coach Hiroto and Ryosuke Iwasa. This looks like a mismatch but we suspect it will be hotly contested.
Another 8 round bout on this card will see the unbeaten Joe Shiraishi (6-0-1, 2), who was crowned the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Flyweight, take on Indonesian visitor Stevanus Nana Bau (8-8-2, 2). The 21 year old Shiraishi impressed last year, going 4-0, but has failed to capitalise this year and this will be his first bout since his Rookie of the Year final back in December. Bau is unbeaten in his last 3, but his competition in those 3 bouts was poor and he has lost to every notable name he's faced, including Iwan Zoda, Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and Paipharob Kokietgym.
A third Japanese show will take place in China and is arguably the best of the bunch.
The main event of this card will see Japanese Youth Welterweight champion Kudura Kaneko (7-0, 4) face off with Filipino veteran Joel Dela Cruz (20-26-3, 8). The Afghan born Japanese based Kaneko won his Youth title in May, when he defeated Change Hamashima in their second clash, and looks to advancing his career well, whilst remaining under the radar. The Filipino on the other hand is 32 years old and has been a professional since early 2006. Although Dela Cruz has mixed in good company he has suffered loss on a regular basis, and is unlikely to pose much or a threat to Kaneko.
The main supporting bout here will see Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kei Iwahara (8-5, 4) take on Mao Kawanishi (6-3, 2). Iwahara has been inconsistent through his career, and has lost 2 of his last 3, but can pull out the upsets as he did last year against Yuji Awata. On the other hand Kawanishi has won his last 2 bouts, but has failed to shine and will be looking at this bout as a potential chance to break into the national rankings.
The most significant card this coming Sunday will come from Rizal where we get a world title eliminator as well as a card featuring a host of notable Filipino fighters, who are sadly taking on a number of over-matched foes.
The main bout is an IBF Minimumweight final eliminator with unbeaten Filipino sensation Mark Anthony Barriga (8-0, 1) battling against Colombian Gabriel Mendoza (29-5-2, 23). The talented Filipino has been waiting for an eliminator for some time, having seen various foes drop out, and will now be looking to dazzle as he takes on the limited but hard hitting Mendoza. As for Mendoza this will be his second bout since losing to Jose Argumedo in an IBF title fight, and although he's not world class he can hit hard and could test Barriga chin, if he can land on the slippery Filipino. Interestingly the winner of this will likely face Hiroto Kyoguchi later in the year, if Kyoguchi can retain his title against Vince Paras later this year
One of the most notable names on this show is recent world title challenger Genesis Servania (30-1, 13), who fights for the second time since his loss to Oscar Valdez. The talented Servania will be up against Indonesian journeyman Jason Butar Butar (27-23-1, 18), in what should really bee little more than a show case for Servania. Although a mismatch the bout will see Servania fight in the Philippines for the first time since February 2015.
Another very notable name in action is the enigmatic Marvin Sonsona (20-1-1, 15), who looks once again to kick start his frustrating career. The former WBO Super Flyweight champion hasn't fought since May 2015, when he struggled past Jonathan Arrellano. Whilst Sonsona is a genuine talent there is real question marks surrounding the Filipino and his desire to make the most of his skills. He'll be up against Arief Blader (23-27-2, 8) in what should be a really easy ring return, though we really don't know what Sonsona will turn up.
Also on this card are AJ Banal (35-2-1, 23), James Enterina (10-0-1, 4), Lolito Sonsona (21-2-4, 9) and Dave Apolinario (6-0, 4) among others.
A second Filipino show will be held in Bulacan, and will be a much smaller show.
The most notable bout here will see Jose Roda Jr (3-1-1) take on Richard Morales (3-2, 2) in a bout scheduled for 6 rounds. Both men will come into this feeling confident of picking up the win and as a result this should make for an interesting contest, but we're not expecting anything in terms of high quality, at least compared to the other Filipino show which is much, much better than this card.
As well as the action in the Philippines there is also two shows in Japan, one of which is being held in Yamaguchi by Kanmon Japan.
The chief support bout on this card is a terrific match up as the unbeaten Kudura Kaneko (6-0, 4) takes on Change Hamashima (10-2-1, 4) in a rematch of their 2017 clash. In the first bout between these two Kaneko won a wide decision over 6 rounds but will be stepping up to the 8 round distance here. Interestingly this will be the first time either fighter has been scheduled in an 8 round bout, and should be a good test for the stamina of both men. Given how clearly Kaneko won the first bout however it's hard to see why these two are having rematch so soon after their first contest.
The main event of this card is fantastic on paper with Accel Sumiyoshi (10-4-2, 3) taking on Shogo Yamaguchi (11-3-2, 6). Since losing to Masayoshi Nakatani in an OPBF Lightweight title bout back on 2015 we've seen Sumiyoshi go 6-0-1 with notable wins over Tatsuya Yanagi, Allan Tanada, Naotoshoi Nakatani and Motoki Sasaki and really build himself a solid record at this level. As for the 24 year old Yamaguchi we've seen him begin to struggle. Yamaguchi went 9-0-1 (4) to begin his career but has since gone 2-3-2 and was stopped last year by Andy Hiraoka. Given the momentum in both men's careers it's hard to pick against Sumiyoshi, but it is a very good bout on paper.
The second Japanese show is from Ibaragi, where the fans will get the chance to see a number of unbeaten men in action.
One of the unbeaten fighters is Fumiya Fuse (5-0, 1), who is scheduled to face off with an Indonesian visitor. Last year we saw Fuse claim the Rookie of the Year crown at Bantamweight, when he stopped Hiroki Tokuyama in the final, and he'll be looking to build on that success here as he kicks off his 2018 and looks to secure a 6th straight win.
The bout scheduled as the final bout on the card is all unbeaten contest as Hideaki Onuki (3-0) takes on Akihiko Kurita (2-0) in a bout scheduled for 4 round. This looks almost certain to go the distance but should still prove to be a very interesting and well matched bout between two fighters with similar records and similar experience.