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.
The most notable of two card for Japanese fight fans this Sunday comes from Kyoto, courtesy of Shinsei Gym, and featured a trio of title bouts.
The most significant of those title contests will see WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (12-0, 9) make his first defense of the title as he takes on American challenger Daniel Roman (22-2-1, 8). Kubo won the title earlier this year, defeating Nehomar Cermeno, and will continue to look at proving himself as the new star at the Shinsei gym, following on from the success of the legendary Hozumi Hasegawa. For Roman the bout is his first in Asia and his first for a world title. The challenger has looked good moving through the ranks, but this is a big step up against a world class fighter. The bout, for those interested, will be televised live in the Kansai region of Japan and should see good numbers, given that Kubo's title win was hugely popular with the regional audience.
In an OPBF title fight we'll see Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani (14-0, 8) take on Ryan Sermona (20-8-1, 13). The unbeaten champion will be seeking his 8th defense of the title and will almost certainly be eyeing bigger and better things in the near future. It's hard to see what Sermona brings to the table to really test the the tall and rangy champion, but hopefully we'll see him have some success in the biggest fight of his career. It's worth noting that Nakatani has held this title for well over 3 years but his last few performances haven't shown the progression many would have liked to have seen.
In the third of those title bouts we'll see Reiya Konishi (13-0, 5) defending his Japanese Minimumweight title as he takes on former world title challenger Shin Ono (20-8-3, 4). This will be Konishi's first defense of the title that he won April, when he defeated Masataka Taniguchi. The talented champion will see this as a huge opportunity to move towards a title bout, and know he really needs to shine. For Ono this will be a third shot at a Japanese title, and potentially his last as the 34 year is really pushing on in terms of his career. Interestingly Ono won't just be fighting for the title but also for his stable as he looks to avenge Taniguchi's loss to Ono.
A second Japanese show will be held in Aichi and whilst it doesn't feature any title fights it does feature a trio of notable names.
In one of the headline bouts we'll see former Japanese Featherweight champion Shota Hayashi (29-6-1, 17) return to the ring following his first stoppage loss. The exciting Hayashi lost the Japanese title back in April, being stopped by the big punching Kosuke Saka, and will be looking to bounce back as he faces Filipino Markquil Salvana (13-3, 7). The once touted Salvana was once 9-0 (3) but has yet to win on the road, where he is 0-3, and that's unlikely to change here against the aggressive and rough Hayashi.
Former 2-time Japanese title challenger Yushi Tanaka (20-2-3, 14) will also be looking to rebuild his career against a Filipino. The talented Tanaka has lost 2 of his last 6, including a loss in March to Ryo Akaho, but he should fancy his chances against Bryan Capangpangan (12-3-1, 9), who looks a good opponent on paper but lacks a win of any note. The Filipino was blown out just a few fights ago by Jack Tepora and there's a good chance we'll see something similar here.
In the main event of this card we'll see the fast rising Kento Hatanaka (3-0, 3) take on a Thai foe as the youngster continues to move towards his first title fight. Hatanaka, the son of former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka, made his debut last November and is already headlining shows thanks to his fun style and good looks, and there is real hope that he could prove to be the next star from the Hatanaka gym, run by his father.
Action returns to Kobe this coming Sunday as Shinsei Gym put on their next show.
The main event of the card sees the once beaten Shohei Kawashima (14-1-2, 3) return to the ring for the first time since he suffered a very close loss to Cristian Mijares in Mexico. The loss to Mijares may have been a loss for Kawashima but it certainly showed that Kawashima had the skills to go a long way in the sport. It seems Shinsei are happy to give him an easy win here as he takes on domestic foe Junnosuke Nagayasu (13-11-3, 3). The experienced Nagayasu has got experience on his side but has only scored two wins in the last 6 years and lacks the skills to really compete with Kawashima.
In a supporting bout fight fans will see former OPBF champion Ryuya Yamanaka (13-2, 3) take on Thai visitor Khanongmek Sithkrukong (0-1), in what will likely act as a world title prelude for Yamanaka. The 21 year old Shinsei prospect won the Oriental title last year but vacated it earlier this year to begin focussing on a world title bout, and it seems likely that a blow out here will help him secure that shot at world honours. Interestingly Khanongmek was stopped inside a round in his only previously bout, being blown out in 67 seconds by Reiya Konishi last August.
Another notable supporting bout will see Ryo Kosaka (13-3-1, 7) take on Morihisa Iju (10-1, 8) in what should be the best bout on the show. Kosaka started his career 3-2-1 but has since gone 10-1 and scored notable wins over Satoshi Niwa and Dado Cabintoy. Although not a world beater Kosaka is 23 and showing signs of genuine promise. Aged 27 Iju has a good looking record but hasn't scored a win of note since a 2014 blow out against Masaru Urata and has a lot of questions to answer, with the potential to answer a lot of them here.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
As well as the card in Japan there will also be a show in the Philippines, featuring two title bouts.
One of those bouts will be a WBF Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title fight as 23 year old old Ronie Tanallon (10-3-1, 2) battles Arnold Garde (7-4-2, 3). Coming in to this Tanallon has impressed, but has lost 2 of his last 4 to unbeaten foes and will know he can't afford another loss here. As for Garde he has suffered 3 stoppage losses, though surprisingly went 10 rounds with Randy Petalcorin back in December.
The other title fight on this card sees Markquil Salvana (11-3, 5) look to bounce back from successive losses as he takes on domestic journeyman JP Macadumpis (11-8-1, 5), who has been stopped in 4 of his last 6. Salvana has mixed with good fighters, but has lost to the Moloney twins and Takuya Uehara, It's worth noting that Macadumpis has also mixed with good fighters, including Yukinori Oguni, but has also lost to some limited opponents like Rex Granada and it's hard to see him winning here.
This card will also feature the ring return of Jake Bornea (11-2, 5), who will be fighting for the girst time since he was stopped by Andre Selby. The 21 year old Borena will be up against Romulo Ramayan Jr (7-10-3, 3) in what should be a straight forward win for Bornea
This coming Sunday sees 3 shows taking place across Japan.
The most notable of the shows is in Fukuoka where we get female world title action.
That world title bout will see WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (16-4-1, 8) battle against Mari Ando (13-9, 6), in what will be the second bout between the two ladies. Kuroki won the title in May 2014, when she defeated Ando, and has racked up 4 defenses of the title whilst showing genuine signs of improvement. For Ando the bout will be a chance to gain some revenge over Kuroki but a loss will almost be the end of her hard career.
In a really interesting supporting bout we'll see the struggling Hideo Sakamoto (16-3-3, 5) face of with Ryotaro Kawabata (11-2-2, 5). Sakamoto made a name for himself in 2014, when he upset Hiroki Shiino, and looked to be beading towards a Japanese title, but a draw with Hiroaki Teshigawara has been followed by losses to Kentaor Masuda and Seizo Kono, leading some to wonder how much he has left. For Kawabata the bout is a chance to score his biggest win following draws against the likes of Hirofumi Mukai and Rene Dacquel. It's hard to know how good Kawabata is, but he did run Mark John Yap very close just a few fights back and clearly has potential.
Another title bout in Japan sees unbeaten youngster Takuya Uehara (10-0, 6) battle Filipino Markquil Salvana (11-2, 5) for the WBC Youth Featherweight title. For Uehara this will be his first title bout, but his team have prepared him pretty well with a string of 8 rounders, though he has only gone that distance once. Salvana has previously fought for a title, losing in a WBA Oceania title fight in 2015, and is struggling for form coming into this bout with 2 stoppages losses in his last 4. On paper this looks good but with Salvana's struggle and the fact he is moving up in weight does mean it's hard to see anything but a win for Uehara.
On the under-card here we'll see the now struggling Tatsuya Ikemizu (13-2, 6) battle against limited Thai Jaipetch Chaiyonggym (5-6, 1). Ikemizu has lost 2 of his last 3 bouts, albeit to good fighters in the form of Mak John Yap and Jonas Sultan, and is now looking to rebuild his career before being written off. Despite the set backs Ikemizu was the 2013 Bantamweight Rookie of the Year and has shown plenty of promise, though one wonders about his mental state. Jaipetch is expected to offer no resistance and will likely suffer his 5th stoppage loss.
There will also be a show in Hyogo, featuring no title action.
The main event of the show will see former Japanese title challenger Takumi Sakae (14-1-1, 9) face off with Ryoki Hirai (7-4-1, 3) as Sakae looks to end a bad year. Sakae began 2013 as a world ranked hopeful but a loss in a Japanese title fight with Tatsuya Fukuhara and a technical draw against Lito Dante has left him really needing to rebuild and a win over Hirai here would steady the ship leading into 2017. It looks like Hirai is a safe opponent for Sakae, with little to really test the youngster, but their will be questions about Sakae's confidence following the year he has had.
On the under-card wee see the once beaten Tetsu Araki (6-1-1) look to score a third straight win as he takes on Takuya Fujioka (7-5-1, 1) for the second time. This looks like a straight forward win for Araki, who's only loss was a razor thin set back to Tenta Kiyose in September 2015, however Fujioka did run Araki very close when the two men first fought back in July 2015.
Another notable under-card bout here will see Giraffe Kirin Kanda (7-2, 4) take on Shota Aikawa (5-6-2, 2) in an interesting looking contest. On paper Kanda will be the favoured fighter but he was stopped inside a round last December and has fought only a single round since that loss . Aikawa has lost his last 2, but will come in here looking to change that here against a possibly rusty Kanda.
In Australia on Wednesday fight fans will see a trio of Filipino fighters in action.
One of those Filipino's is the once beaten Jeffrey Francisco (14-1-1, 1) take on the heavy handed Jason Moloney (8-0, 8), a former amateur stand out. Francisco may not have a glitzy record but hs isn't a bad fighter and his only loss has come to the criminally under-rated Jestoni Autida, whilst his other mark was a draw on debut. Moloney is tipped to be a star but this could prove to be a good test.
Another Filipino on this show is Markquil Salvana (11-1, 5) who faces another of the Moloney brothers, Andrew Moloney (8-0, 4). The Filipino coming in to this one has lost once, a 5th round TKO defeat to Andrew's brother Jason last year. Salvana will be hoping to avoid a second loss to a Moloney, but Andrew is a very talented fighter much like his brother.
Although both Salvana and Francisco will be the under-dogs in their bouts one Filipino will be favoured going in to his. That's Czar Amonsot (31-3-3, 19) who takes on big punching Dominican Julio De Jesus (24-1, 23). Although De Jesus has an impressive record he was stopped by the only notable name that he's fought, Victor Manuel Cayo. De Jesus will be dangerous but we suspect Amonsot's experience at a higher level will be the difference here.
Australian fans get the chance to see two bouts featuring Asian fighters.
In one of those bouts fans will get the chance to see unbeaten hopefuls colliding as 19 year old Filipino hopeful Markquil Salvana (9-0, 3) takes on Australia's very own Jason Moloney (4-0, 4) for the WBA Oceania Super Bantamweight title. On paper this is the sort of match up we like to see, with two fightings pitting their perfect records against each other. Coming in to this Salvana has scarcely lost a round, though hasn't faced anyone of any note, whilst Moloney has looked impressive overall, but was dropped last time out, prior to stopping Danilo Gabisay. This should tell us a lot about both men
Whilst the Salvana/Moloney bout is a great one the other bout of note for us is a mismatch as journeyman Roberto Lerio (16-22-1, 6) faces Andrey Moloney (4-0, 2). Coming in to this Lerio is riding a 5 fight losing streak, that is almost certainly going to continue.
This coming Sunday is a big day for Asian fight fans, before than however fans get a busy, though not hugely exciting, Saturday.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
Arguably the Asian show of the day comes from Cotabato del Sur where fans get a come genuinely good looking bouts and a number of prospects.
The main event here sees 23 year olds collide as Daryl Basadre (14-2-1, 10) takes on Kenny Demecillo (9-3-1, 6) in what looks like a genuinely solid domestic match up. There is some minor title attached to the bout but there really needn't be as it is a great bout on paper and could well help the winner establish themselves as a real hopeful. Notably this is a rematch from a very controversial clash earlier this year that Demecillo won via TKO with the referee's decision being hotly disputed.
Another good match with a minor strap attached to it will see Rimar Metuda (7-0, 3) face the heavy handed Jason Tinampay (6-1, 5). These two, both southpaws, are very young fighters and the winner will certainly be one to keep an eye on, however we wouldn't rule out the loser from becoming a solid fighter in the future.
In our eyes the best fighter on the card is John Vincent Moralde (13-0, 7) who takes on the once beaten Jerry Castroverde (6-1, 3). This could be a really good bout though we suspect that Moralde will be too good for his 18 year old foe, who will need a career best performance to even be competitive.
Other prospects on thus card worth making a note of are Markquil Salvana (8-0, 2), an 18 year Super Bantamweight, Michael Angelo Plania (6-0, 3), another 18 year old plying his trade at 122lbs and 19 year old Bantamweight puncher Raymart Gaballo (9-0, 7). Unfortunately all 3 of these youngsters are softly matched.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Another show in the Philippines takes place in Metro Manila where we have one of our favourites Filipinos in action.
That man is Giovanni Escaner (13-3, 9) who battles the horribly over-matched Jayar Estremos (10-11, 4) in what should be an easy win for Escaner, who really impressed when he stopped Naoto Uebayashi earlier this year.
In Ibaragi Japanese fans get a relatively poor show which lacks a really significant bout but does does feature a fighter that we have liked to keep close tabs on in recent times.
That man is domestic Bantamweight contender Tatsuya Takahashi (20-6-4, 15), aka the “Zombie”, who faces Thai fighter Kukiet Sorkaeokamsi (0-0). Takahashi caught our eye last year, in an exciting loss to the then Japanese champion Kentaro Masuda, and since then we've been fans so we're hoping he can pick up another win here and move towards a second Japanese title fight.
The rest of the card however is entire missable.
A second Japanese show, which is even worse than the Ibaragi one, comes from Oita.
The one bout which does look interesting on paper here will see Yamato Uchinono (6-3-5, 4) battle against Koki Ono (8-3, 4) in what should be a genuinely compelling 8 round bout around the Flyweight limit. Another well matched bout, albeit at a low level, will see Yuta Sasaki (6-7, 1) face off against Taisei Higashi (6-8, 5) in a 50-50 match up, but at a very low level.
Wr. Neudorf, Austria
In Germany fans will get the chance to see a female world title fight as Thailand's Teeraporn Pannimit (20-8, 5) battles Austrian “Golden Girl” Eva Voraberger (19-4, 9) in a bout for the IBO, GBU and WIBF Super Flyweight titles. The bout is a tough one for the Thai but she has traveled in the past and shouldn't be concerned about fighting in Voraberger's homeland.
In the US fans will get the chance to see the very exciting Dodie Boy Penalosa Jr (13-0, 12) take on as yet unnamed opponent. This will be Penalosa's first bout in 14 months and sadly his career has really slowed after a very exciting win against Jesus Lule, in his US debut back in December 2012. Hopefully a win here will see Penalosa kick on with his career rather than battle with inactivity.