This coming Sunday is a busy day in Japan with 3 shows in the country, with 2 of those taking place in Osaka.
The most significant of those is a multi-title show from Muto promotions, with the card being headlined by OPBF Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (13-2-2, 11), who faces off with veteran Yasuyuki Akiyama (11-7-1, 8). The bout will see Tyson defending his OPBF title and also look to add the WBO Asia Pacific title, which is currently vacant but on the line for this bout. It's hard to see past a win for Tyson, given he holds almost every advantage, but the bout is likely to be the final one of Akiyama's career, and he will almost certainly give everything he has here.
A second OPBF title fight will see Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (27-12, 13) seek his second defense, as he puts his title on the line against Japanese foe Seizo Kono (19-8-1, 12). The Japanese based Filipino champion will be making his second defense of the title, following his dramatic win over Kentaro Masuda, and knows that if he can continue on his current winning streak there is a chance he will be able to move towards a world title fight. For Kono the bout perhaps comes at the perfect time, with the Japanese man having won his last 4, and seemingly ended his blotchy form, which saw him going 2-5. Despite being on a bit of a run this is still a big ask for Kono.
In a rematch we'll see former multi-time world title challengers collide, as Hirofumi Mukai (14-5-3, 4) and Inthanon Sithchamuang (31-9-1, 19) battle for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, just as they did in November 2016. In their first meeting Mukai stopped the Thai in 3 rounds, but since then he has gone 1-1, beating a novice Thai and being stopped in a war with Rex Tso. As for Inthanon, he's fought once since losing to Mukai, also a win over a novice Thai. It's fair to say that Mukai will be favoured, given how easily he won the first contest between the two, but it'll be interesting to see what the Tso bout took out of him.
A second Japan Vs Thailand bout for a WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title will see the once beaten Masahiro Sakamoto (10-1, 6) take on veteran former world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng (50-4-1, 27). Aged 26 Sakamoto is just coming into his prime and the Flyweight will be looking to claim the biggest win of his career here. His only loss came in a bout for this very same title last year, when he suffered a very close loss to current WBO world champion Sho Kimura, and he will know that a win against Kwanthai could push him into the world title mix. As for Kwanthai, he's a long way removed from the man who claimed the WBA Minimumweight title in 2010. He has gone 19-4 since that win, but suffered 2 stoppages and only beaten very limited opposition. This should be a win for Sakamoto, but the question is really “how impressive does he look here?”
A second show in Osaka will be promoted by Green Tsuda and although not a big card does have one of the day's most interesting contests on it, as well as the continued push of a man who has been matched hard through his career.
That hard matched man is Takayuki Okumoto (18-8-3, 8), who's record doesn't suggest anything special but he did recently challenge Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai, and ran Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking close in 2016. The Japanese fighter will be up against a Thai foe here, and should, easily, pick up the win in the card's main event.
Arguably the most interesting match up of the day is a supporting contest between two once tipped amateur stars, both in need of a big win after recent set backs. In one corner will be Kazuki Tanaka (7-1, 5), a Green Tsuda man who was tipped as a star but was stopped last time out by Ryohei Takahashi. Like Tanaka we saw Hikaru Marugame (6-2-1, 4) turn professional with high expectations, having competed on the international stage in the amateurs, but with 2 losses and a draw in his last 4 bouts those expectations are quickly dying. A loss here for either man would likely spell the end of any hope of them becoming a notable name, and the bout really is a must win for both.
A third card from Japan this coming Sunday is from Aichi, and is certainly one with an international feel, given the three most notable bouts all feature a visitor.
The main event sees former Japanese Light Middleweight title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (14-4-1, 9) take on Indonesia's Filipus Rangga (10-17, 1). The Japanese fighter looked like one to watch when he lost to Yuki Nonaka, with some suggesting just a tiny bit of seasoning was needed, and since then he has picked up two stoppage wins and looks like a genuine domestic contender, with a second title fight perhaps only a few bouts away. Rangga began his career 5-1 but since then has gone 5-16 and really is a very limited fighter on the domestic scene, and has fought at much higher weights. Not only is Rangga smaller, older, and less talented but he is also making his international debut. In all honesty Maruki should be disappointed if this goes beyond 6 rounds.
In an interesting support bout fans will see the pretty solid Shogo Yamaguchi (10-3-2, 5) take on domestically ranked Indonesian Lightweight Sam Puadi (7-8, 5). Yamaguchi has gone 1-3-1 in his last 5, though has faced the likes of Akihiro Kondo and Andy Hiraoka during that run, and really needs a win to kick start his once fledgling career. The visitor is 0-2 outside of Indonesia, including a loss earlier this year in Japan to Yuki Harada, though it's fair to say that the visitor will feel he has half a chance here against a very out of form Yamaguchi.
Also on this card will be a Heavyweight bout, as top ranked Japanese Heavyweight Kotatsu Takehara (13-11-3, 7) takes on Korean visitor Hoo Won Lee (4-3). The 39 year old Takehara is a 2 time Japanese title challenger and although he came up short in both bouts, to Kyotaro Fujimoto, he is a game fighter. Interestingly Takehara will be fighting for the first time since May 2016, when Japanese rules actually forbid him from fighting, and will surely be wanting to prove age is just a number. The 24 year old Korean visitor has age on his side, but the former Korean Heavyweight champion is stepping up in a big way here, and was stopped in a round back in June. If Takehara is half the fighter he was he should win, if he loses however it's got to be the end for him.
Seoul, South Korea
Fans in Korea will get their own title bout, as the unbeaten In Duck Seo (8-0-1, 5) takes on the limited Joong Kyung Lee (3-2) in a bout for the KBF Light Middleweight title. Seo is unbeaten, but could only a manage a draw last time out, in a very good match up against Dong Hee Kim down at 140lbs. As for Lee, who will be having his 6th bout of the year, this bout follows an 8 round loss to Moon Sung Choi and he will certainly be coming into this one looking to score a big domestic win.
It's fair to say we, boxing fans, have been treat especially well to begin the start of May, at least in terms of great match ups. That run continues on May 6th as we get a genuinely brilliant Super Featherweight title fight headlining a title triple header in Japan
The Japanese show is a fiesta of sorts for Watanabe gym who have 2 of their 3 world champions in action whilst another of their fighters attempts to become a world champion and finish their long career with a world title.
The main event here is really mouth watering and will see WBA Super Featherweight “super” champion Takashi Uchiyama (22-0-1, 18) defending his belt for the 10th time. In the opposite corner will be unbeaten Thai Jomthong Chuwatana (9-0, 4), a Muay Thai exponent who has had a very interesting boxing career and shown that his skills can generate genuine success in western boxing. The bout isn't expected to be a “FOTY” style war but technically we may struggle to find a better bout between two heavy handed technicians who are both very capable fighters. This is really, as good as it gets.
In the co-feature Uchiyama's young stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi (21-2-1, 8) looks to make the first defence of his WBA Light Flyweight title. This is another Japan Vs Thailand bout and will see Taguchi battle against Thai veteran Kwanthai Sithmorseng (49-3-1, 26) in a bout that looks really good on paper though is likely to be relatively one sided with Kwanthai not looking like a “world class” fighter in recent years. For a first defense this is acceptable though hopefully Taguchi's next bout comes against a more interesting opponent, such as Ryo Miyazaki or Randy Petalcorin, both of which would be mouth watering bouts.
A third world title bout here will see Kayoko Ebata (8-5, 4) attempt to claim the WBO female Minimumweight title as she battles defending champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (6-1-2, 3). The 39 year old Ebata will be in her 4th world title bout and it comes 7 years after her first, a very close and controversial loss to Samson Tor Buamas. As for Ikehara this will be her second defense of the title, though her first was a less than memorable opening round technical draw with Jessebelle Pagaduan back in February.
As well as the 3 bouts which have been mentioned there will be a further 2 on this card, one of which will feature Japanese ranked Light Flyweight Takumi Suda (11-10-2, 3) who will be risking his ranking against Yoshinori Wakahara (7-4, 4).
As well as the Japanese card there will also be a show in Thailand where we get the chance to see some recognisable faces in action.
The main event here will see former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (49-3, 33) defending his WBO Asia Pacific title against former world title challenger Nouldy Manakane (29-16-1, 18). Pungluang, best known for being stopped by Tomoki Kameda, will be seeking his 4th straight win and shouldn't really struggle here against a man who is 0-6 in Thailand and a long way removed from his WBA Bantamweight title fight with Koki Kameda, back in 2012. Incidentally it's thought that if Pungluang gets through this he may get a chance to recapture his old title with a bout against Ryo Akaho looking very possible for later in the year.
In the co-feature fans will see 2-time world title challenger Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (53-2, 34) in action against Indonesian visitor Yakobus Heluka (8-10, 1) in what should be little more than a tune up bout for the talented Chonlatarn. Although the Thai was made to look absolutely terrible by Vasyl Lomachenko last year he is a capable fighter and this really does have “ugly mismatch” written all over it.
(Image courtesy of http://www.watanabegym.com)
For the second day running Thai fans get treat to televised title action with Channel 7 showing a card from the Thai capital of Bangkok. We won't pretend the card is great but there interesting fighters involved in it.
One of those interesting fighters takes part in the main event which will see PABA Welterweight champion Teerachai Kratingdaenggym (28-0, 22) defending his belt against against South African fighter Nthuthuko Memela (10-1-2, 7), who looks like a puncher according to the numbers though sadly hasn't beaten anyone to really make a note of. Teerachai brings both the PABA and world ranking into this bout and will be hoping to get a world title shot in the future, sadly however bouts like this won't prepare him for a fight at the top level.
Another of the interesting fighters on this card is Nop Kratingdaenggym (11-0, 1)* who fights a stay busy fight against Indonesian foe Boido Simanjuntak (18-26-1, 7). Simanjuntak has lost his last 8 bouts, including a KO loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and will be expected to suffer another defeat here. As for Nop he looks a talented fighter and fights in a very a-typical style for a Thai however he does lack power and we suspect that will, ultimately, hold him back from reaching his potential.
A third notable fighter on this card is former WBA Minimumweight world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng (48-3-1, 25) who is fighting for the third time since he was beaten by teenage hopeful Stamp Kiatniwat back in August. The 30 year old Kwanthai hasn't had his opponent named so we're expecting a very poor foe
In the US fans will get the chance to see Jordanian fighter Ahmed Majed Mahmood (3-0-1, 3) attempting to secure a 4th straight win as he takes on Carlos Alcala (2-5, 1).
*Boxrec.com don't recognise Nop's win over Skak Max which can be seen here.