Action returns to the Korakuen Hall this coming Friday for a small, but notable card featuring a few names known around the Asian scene.
The main event of the card will see the teak tough Tatsuya Takahashi (29-8-5, 21) take on the underrated Gaku Aikawa (9-6-1, 3). The 29 year old Takahashi first came to our attention in 2014, when he challenged the then Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda in a thrilling 10 round contest, in which Takahashi was described as a "zombie" afterwards. Since losing to Masuda in their entertaining bout Takahashi has gone 11-1-2 (8) and been in some entertaining contests. Aikawa is a win some, lose some fighter, going 6-6 in his last 12, though has mixed with good fighters. Sadly for Aikawa it's hard to imagine him picking up a win against Takahashi, even if Takahashi is himself rather crude.
Another bout of note on this card will see former Japanese Minimumweight title challenger Masashi Tada (12-5-3, 8) take on former OPBF Light Flyweight title challenger Lester Abutan (13-9-3, 7) in an interesting match up. Coming into this Tada is 1-2-2 in his last 5, dating back 5 years, whilst Abutan has lost 4 of his last 6, though those losses do include defeats by Kenshiro in an OPBF title bout and Ryota Yamauchi in late 2017. Neither of these are a world beater, but this should still be an interesting and competitive contest.
As well as the Japanese card there will also be a show in Thailand, featuring 2 notable Thai fighters.
The main event will see OPBF "silver" Super Flyweight champion Kongfah CP Freshmart (24-1, 13) defending his title against Filipino foe Salatiel Amit (11-5-2, 8). This is a mismatch on paper, but the reality is that Amit is much better than his record suggests, and we suspect that Kongfah will have to work hard for a win here. We don't expect to see the title changing hands, but Amit will certainly give Kongfah a really tough test.
Another bout on this card will see WBA #2 ranked Flyweight Noknoi Sitthiprasert (68-5, 42) take part in what was being promoted as a tune up bout ahead of a potential world title fight later in the year.
The main card card for us this coming Saturday comes from Aichi, where we'll see a 2-weight world champion along with several prospects.
The former world champion is Kosei Tanaka (10-0, 6), who has won world titles at both Minimumweight and Light Flyweight. Tanaka's pursuit for a Flyweight title kicks off with a bout against unbeaten Filipino Ronnie Baldonado (10-0-1, 7), who had a huge 2017 with stoppages against Ma Yi Ming and Iwan Zoda. A win for Tanaka is likely to set up a world title fight at Flyweight later this year. Saying that however Baldonado will know a win here will give his career a massive boost in the arm and move him onto a world title fight of his own.
In a major supporting bout fans will see unbeaten prospect Kento Hatanaka (4-0, 4) take on former Japanese Minimumweight title challenger Kenta Matsui (8-7, 1). The hard hitting Hatanaka has looked fantastic so far, but this is a huge step up in class following fights against very limited opposition. Matsui may not have a great record but he's a massive step up in class for Hatanaka, and is an upset minded fighter, as seen with his wins against Rikito Hattori and Genki Hanai. This is a big step up, but a win for Hatanakawould have him instantly in the domestic title mix.
Also on this card will be 2-time Japanese Bantamweight title contender Yushi Tanaka (21-2-3, 14), who will be battling against Jinya Ito (6-3-1, 1). The 26 year old Tanaka has scored a couple of low key wins since losing a decision to Ryo Akaho just over a year ago. Ito has lost 3 of his last 5 and is very unlikely to pose much of a threat to Tanaka who will be looking to earn a third Japanese title fight in the near future.
As well as the the card in Aichi Japanese fans will also get a card in Shizuoka.
The main event of the card will see OPBF ranked Super Bantamweight Takashi Igarashi (12-3, 5) battle against Yutaka Motoyoshi (7-11, 5),in an 8 rounder. On paper this isn't that mouth watering, but Igarashi isn't as much of a foregone winner as his record suggests, and with two stoppages against his name he is certainly not the toughest man out there. Motoyoshi has been stopped in 3 of his last 4, but he has mixed at a decent level and could well have the power to give Igarashi problems if he can connect .
Another man at risk if gets caught is Omrri Bolivar (5-1, 3), who will be up against bit punching Filipino visitor Junny Salogaol (13-12-4, 12). Last time out Bolivar was stopped in 5 rounds by Jelbirt Gomera and will be looking to get his career back on track here. Salogaol looks like an easy win for the South American on paper, but Salogaol is tough and dangerous and will be looking to score one of the best wins of his career. This could be a very tough contest if Bolivar isn't careful.
One other bout of note on this card will see Asami Jinnari (5-2-1, 2) battle against Wakako Fujiwara (4-2-2, 2) for the Japanese female Featherweight title. These two fought to a draw in December last year and we're expecting another close and competitive match up here.
In Indonesian we'll see the unbeaten Tibo Monabesa (16-0-2, 8) continue his climb to a world title fight as he takes on former OPBF title challenger Lester Abutan (12-7-3, 6). The unbeaten Monabesa is one of the best hopes for the Indonesian scene but this is a step up and one of the first real tests for the 27 year old southpaw. Abutan was last seen being stopped by Ryota Yamauchi but despite that loss he is still a very capable fighter, and should bring the best out of Monabesa, especially given that a win for Abutan will give his career a boost and he'll be there to win. Interestingly this will be Monabesa's second defense of the World Boxing Council International Silver Light Flyweight title.
A second title fight on this card will see the huighly experienced Samuel Tehuayo (21-43-2, 6) battle against former Hinata Maruta foe Hamson Lamandau (8-2-1, 5), who has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3 bouts. The winner of this will become the new Universal Boxing Organization (UBO) International Flyweight champion.
For Asian fans in China there will also be a low key card in Jinan from Top Rank and SECA Ltd. This card is set to only feature novices, but should be a pretty interesting card with every fighter on the card looking to take a step towards bigger and better things.
Seoul, South Korea
It's not only Chinese fans who get a low key novice card but also Korean ones with Boxing M putting on a a small card in Seoul. These match up here, like with the Chinese card, are all low key contests, but the winners will take a step towards something big, as this is part of a big tournament show.
Outside of Asia there will also be some Asian fighters in action in Canada, where they have been building their respective careers so far.
One of those is the promising Batyrzhan Jukembayev (11-0-0-2, 9) of Kazakhstan. The 26 year old will be facing off with Mexican Noe Nunez (18-5-1, 13). The Kazakh looks like a real prospect, and although he does look like he's treading water with this fight, given his other recent fights, it is worth noting that he should look good. For those who recognise Nunez's name he has been stopped in 3 rounds by Britain's Jack Caterall and in 6 rounds by Tony Luis, showing he's not the toughest fighter out there.
The other Asian fight on this card is Ablaikhan Khussainov (7-0, 5), also a a Kazakh, who will battle against Gilberto Meza (8-3-1, 5). Last time out Khussainov had some questions to answer, as Jesus Silveria pushed him hard through a 6 rounder, but the Kazakh will be out to make a statement here. It's worth noting that Meza has never been stopped, and did score a career best win last time out, when he stopped Francisco Javier Hernandez.
On the final Tuesday before Christmas Japanese fight fans get a really good looking Kadoebi promoted card from the Korakuen Hall, with several bouts of genuine significance.
The most important of the bouts is the main event of the show, which will see the unbeaten Hiroki Okada (16-0, 11) take on the highly experienced Jason Pagara (40-2-1, 25) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title. The Japanese local knows that a win here will almost certainly be followed by a world title eliminator next year, with Okada having been ordered to face Ivan Baranchyk in an IBF eliminator however Pagaea is no push over. Interestingly Pagara, who is the WBO #8 ranked fighter at 147lbs, comes into this bout on the back of a FOTY contender against James Onyango, a bout that showed Pagara's faults and heart as he narrowly came away with a draw. This could be a very entertaining fight, and is a very significant one for both men involved.
The chief support bout will see touted former amateur star Ryota Yamauchi (1-0, 1) take a huge step up in class to face off with Lester Abutan (12-6-3, 6). The talented and touted Yamauchi impressed on debut and will now be tasked with facing someone who really is a very tough opponent for a second bout and is ranked in the top 15 by the OPBF. For Abutan the bout sees him returning to Japan for his second bout in the country, with the first being a loss in an OPBF title fight to Ken Shiro. It should be noted that Abutan hasn't just faced off with Ken Shiro but also fought to a split with Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and is a really still test for Yamauchi
A third bout pitting Japan against the Philippines will see Yuta Nakagawa (21-5-1, 12) take on Markquil Salvana (13-4, 7). We last saw Nakagawa involved in a thrilling contest with Yasutaka Ishimoto, in a Japanese title eliminator, with Nakagawa losing the split decision in that bout. That loss to Ishimoto saw Nakagawa ending a 12 fight unbeaten run, and he'll be looking to get back to winning ways here. Salvana was once 9-0 (3) but has gone 4-4 (4) in his last 8 bouts, including losses in Japan to Takuya Uehara and Shota Hayashi, and has interestingly never won outside of his homeland.
In an all Japanese bout fans will see Japanese ranked Light Welterweight Yusuke Konno (11-4, 5) take on Welterweight puncher Kazuya Maruki (20-5, 13). The 32 year old Konno was last in the ring back in June, when he lost in a thriller against Koichi Aso for the Japanese Light Welterweight title. That bout showed that Konno really could fight, and he'll be looking to put in a similar performance here. The naturally bigger, and younger, Maruki has gone 3-3 in his last 6, including 2 losses in his last 3 bouts, but will likely feel his edge in youth and natural size advantage will be enough. It's hard to not excited about this bout given that both are flawed, aggressive and exciting fighters.
One other fighter of note on this card is Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Wataru Takeda (11-1-1, 5), who will be facing off with a Thai opponent. Takeda has won his last 2 by stoppage following a close loss to Ryohei Takahashi in October 2016 and it does seem like his team have got big plans for 2016, with this bout serving as just a stay busy fight before Christmas.
After a huge weekend in Japan we see action quieten off and the only Asian card this coming Monday is a small show in the Philippines.
The main event of the card is an interesting GAB Light Flyweight title fight as Lester Abutan (11-6-3, 5) takes on the out of form Rene Patilano (16-3-3, 8). Abuton comes into this bout as the reigning champion, having won the belt last June when he defeated Renren Tesorio, and he's certainly better than his record suggests, having run Fahlan Sakkreerin very close last year. Once touted as one to watch Patilano has lost 2 of his last 4, including a 6th round KO loss to Kosei Tanaka. This could be an excellent bout for fans at the Binan Town Plaza.
Another interesting look bout will see Lloyd Jardeliza (7-5-3, 6), a former OPBF Super Bantamweight title contender, take on Jimmy Aducal (8-6-2, 6) in what could be a bombs away affair. Neither man is going to the top, but both can bang, and both have very similar records, suggesting this a real 50-50.
One other bout of note will see Mark Rey Taday (6-2, 3) take on the once beaten Toto Landero (8-1-2, 2) in another good match up. Again neither guy looks likely to be moved into a world title fight any time soon, if ever, but both can be very good at domestic level and this could be a really fun bout.
This key show this weekend for Asian fight fans comes from the Korakuen Hall where we get two title bouts.
In the main event we'll see Japanese youngster Ken Shiro (8-0, 4) make his first defense of the OPBF Light Flyweight title as he takes on Filipino foe Lester Abutan (11-5-3, 5), and attempts to take another step towards a world title fight. The Japanese youngster, who has claimed the WBC Youth, Japanese and WBC Youth titles already in his career, will know that a loss will be a major set back in his climb towards a shot at a world title, but that a win will put further pressure on the divisional champions to face him. For Abutan the bout will be his Japanese debut, though he has performed well in his two bouts away from the Philippines and could be a genuine banana skin for Ken Shiro, if he's on form here.
The other title bout on this show will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (25-7, 13) face first time challenger Satoshi Ozawa (13-6-1, 2). On paper this is a big step up for Ozawa however the 29 year old challenger is on a 4 fight winning streak, including 2 solid wins over Yoshihikp Matsuo, and has been making a mark at Super Bantamweight over the last 18 month or so. For Masuda the bout will be his second defense of his second reign and could open the doors to a potential rematch with Tatsuya Takahashi next year, if he wins here and Takahashi wins in January, which we would love to see!
A really fan friendly bout will see the once beaten Katsunori Nagamine (12-1, 8) face off with the limited but gutsy Mako Matsuyama (8-10-2, 3). Nagamine was in one of the most intensely fun fights of the year, his win over Kenya Yamashita back in February. Whilst Nagamine is certainly a fun and aggressive fighter it's fair to say that Matsuyama's 2014 bout with Rex Tso, an insane war in Macau, was a better bout and with these two getting it on we're expecting to see something very special.
Another under-card bout will see Jin Miura (8-1, 1) battle against Naoaki Kumagai (7-5, 4). The light hitting Miura does look like the favourite here but has struggled in a number of his wins and could well be given a really good test here by Kumagai, who is a very under-rated fighter. Although he has lost his last 3 Kumagai has mixed in good company and could be a banana skin for Miura.
As part of the under-card we'll also see the debut of Ryo Sagawa (0-0), who takes on Korean foe Ho Ya Kim (4-4, 2). Sagawa was a former amateur standout and is tipped for big things, kicking off his career in a 6 rounder here. Kim will be fighting in Japan for the second time, following a loss to Ryuya Kaji earlier this year, and may come into this with the belief of scoring a win on Japanese soil, though will have to put in a career best performance against Sagawa to even be competitive.
In California we'll see fast rising Mongolian Tugstsogt Nyambayar (6-0, 6) take on veteran fighter German Meraz (55-39-1, 32) in what looks like a step up for Nyambayar. Merez, a real veteran with more than 90 fights under his belt, is a proven tough guy who has only lost by stoppage 7 times in his long career. Nyambayar has never been extended beyond 4 rounds and this is, potentially, set to be his toughest and longest bout to date. If the Mongolian can blow away Meraz in quick fashion it could time to put him in with the divisional wolves, rather than continue to slowly develop the Mongolian monster.