The main focus this coming Tuesday is on the Korakuen Hall the much anticipated Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament quarter-finals. The card features the 3 quarter-final bouts and we are expecting serious fireworks in some of these.
The standout bout among the quarter finals will see the unbeaten Koshin Takeshima (4-0, 3) take on the criminally under-rated Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-1, 6). The talented Takeshima will be looking to build on solid wins already this year over Jian Wang and Jon Jon Estrada, but this will be his first bout against a fellow Japanese fighter. Watanabe on the other hand is unbeaten in his last 4, including a KO win last time out against Dai Iwai, and is unbeaten since a 2018 loss to Reiya Abe. This is by far and away the most interesting of the 3 quarters and should be a very hard one to call.
In a bout with an international flavour we'll see China's Qiang Ma (5-1-2, 3) take on the out of form Shingo Kusano (11-8-1, 4). Although this is Ma's international debut he does appear to have all the momentum coming into this and is unbeaten in 7 bouts, including a win last time out for a minor, regional, WBO belt. The 30 year old Kusano has lost his last 4 bouts, and is win-less since a February 2016 victory over Apisak Puttawong, who has gone 0-6 since losing to Kusano.
Whilst we would be shocked by a Kusano win over Ma that's not the quarter final we see as the biggest mismatch. Instead that mismatch is the quarter-final pitting the huge punching Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-4-2, 19) against Korean Jae Woo Lee (6-2, 5). Coming in Tameda should be regarded as one of the clear favourites for the tournament and he's looking for his 4th win of the year, and his 9th win in 10 bouts. Lee, a former Korean Featherweight champion, has a punchers chance, but he's been out of the ring since March 2018 due to injuries and should be regarded as a very, very clear under-dog. If Lee comes out swinging this could be very fun, but we see Tameda's power and experience being too much for the visitor.
Also on this card is the highly touted Masahiro Suzuki (3-0, 2), who looks to continue his ascent to big fights as he takes on fellow Japanese fighter Hokuto Matsumoto (5-2, 1). this will be Suzuki's second bout against a Japanese foe, as he looks to build on August's win over Kosuke Arioka, and net his third victory of the year. We regard Suzuki very highly, but this isn't a gimme. The light punching Matsumoto was stopped last time out, by Kenta Endo, but is a tough and talented fighter and he will be looking for an upset win here.
This coming Thursday we see the next Diamond Glove card from Korakuen Hall, in what looks like being an excellent show. The card will feature two title fights, including one of the most mouth watering OPBF title bouts we've had in a very, very long time, as well as a big step up for a promising prospect and a very interesting lower key bout.
The main event will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hiroaki Teshigawara (19-2-2, 12) defending his title against former world title challenger Shohei Omori (20-2, 15). The hard hitting Teshigawara will be seeking his second defense of the belt, and built on an 8th round TKO win over Yuki Iriguchi. Coming in to this bout he has won his last 7, with 6 wins by stoppages, and has looked super destructive since moving to 122lbs earlier this year. Interestingly Omori has moved up recently and has also on two bouts at Super Bantamweight by stoppage. Omori has looked brilliant since moving up in weight, and totally dismantled both Brian Lobetania and Takahiro Yamamoto. Of the two men Teshigawara appears to be the tougher, more rugged fighter, however Omori is the more smooth fighter and the more powerful one, so this is going to be a wonderful match to watch, and should be something very special. A full preview of this bout is available here - Teshigawara and Omori set for OPBF war!
The other title fight on this card will see veteran Kenichi Horikawa (40-15-1, 13) seek his second defense of the Japanese Light Flyweight title. In the opposite corner to the 56 fight veteran will be rising youngster Ryuto Oho (12-5-1, 4), in an interesting match up. At 39 years old Horikawa is a true veteran, who debuted more than 19 years ago and has run off 8 wins in a row since losing in a national title fight back in April 2017. The 24 year old Oho showed real promise early in his career, winning the 2013 Rookie of the Year, but since then has had some mixed success, winning the Japanese Youth title in 2018 but losing to Masamichi Yabuki earlier this year. At Light Flyweight Oho is a solid fighter, and could pose a genuine test to the highly experienced champion. Our preview of this bout can be read here Veteran champion Horikawa faces Oho in upcoming defense
In a really good supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Masahiro Suzuki (2-0, 1) continue his rapid climb up the ranks as he takes on the heavy handed Kosuke Arioka (9-3-1, 8). The 24 year old Suzuki turned professional last year, and really impressed on his debut win over Antonio Siesmundo, before adding a win over Kelvin Tenorio this past March and he does look like he is going to be a big player on both the domestic and regional scene. Arioka is no world beater, but has gone 6 bouts without a loss, going 5-0-1 (4), and is certainly a dangerous fighter as Yui Oikawa and Mirai Naito found out. Not only is Arioka dangerous but he is talented, and actually won the Rookie of the Year in 2017. This should be a real test for the highly touted Suzuki.
One other potentially exciting fighter here will see Daiki Wakamatsu (6-1, 4) taking on the heavy handed Riki Hamada (7-2, 6), who has lost his last 2 by stoppage, losing to Arashi Iimi and Xiao Tao Su. Hamada can bang, but is almost 2 years removed from his last win. Interestingly Wakamatsu hasn't fought in over 2 years, since stopping Pathon Aiemyod last time out in July 2017, so neither man has much momentum coming into this bout, but both will feel this is a great chance to pick up a win and get back in to the swing of things.
Action returns to the Korakuen Hall this coming Satuday for the next Dynamic Glove card, though sadly it won't be aired live on G+ as we typically see, instead being delayed for broadcast on Monday.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) defending his belt for the second time, and taking on mandatory challenger Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6), a former Rookie of the Year winner. Takesako has looked brutal so far through his career, but has struggled to get suitable opponents on the domestic scene, and likely needs to look beyond domestic title challengers, if he gets past Kato. For the challenger this is a huge step up in class, a very, very tough match up, but a huge chance for him to make a big name for himself. Our preview for this bout is available here Japanese king Takesako faces mandatory challenger!
The main event is mouth watering and it's strange that the under-card appears to be focused on showcasing a trio of notable Japanese prospects. One of those is Celes Kobayashi protege Jin Minamide (2-0, 2). The unbeaten Minamide, a former standout amateur, has taken out good looking opponents very easily so far, but will be taking a huge step up in class here, as he goes up against Filipino Marjun Pantilgan (18-7, 14), in what could be a very tough outing for the unbeaten hopeful.
On paper Takuma Takahashi (2-0, 2) is also taking a step up as he goes up against 21 year Filipino Jonel Dapidran (10-3, 6). On paper this is a credible step in the right direction for Takahashi, though we wouldn't be surprised to see him score another early win. Dapidran fought in Japan late last year and was stopped by Rikuto Adachi, retiring after 3 rounds, and that will almost certainly be a marker for Takahashi to try and beat.
Interestingly Masahiro Suzuki (1-0, 1) is the only prospect on the card not taking a clear step forward, and in fact is taking a slight step backwards. His debut came against the big punching Antonio Siesmundo, and he was forced to dig deep to win, so it seems sensible to ease things a bit, as he takes on Kelvin Tenorio (4-4, 2). It's hard to imagine anything but a win for Suzuki, who is one of the best prospects in Japan, but here we'll be looking to read more from the performance, rather than the result.
There is one really competitive looking bout on this card, as Japanese ranked Kenji Ono (11-2-2, 6) takes on the returning Hayato Yamaguchi (14-7-1, 2). Both of these guys can be in entertaining scraps, and despite their records they are really well matched. Ono is more active in recent years, but is winless in 3, whilst Yamaguchi hasn't fought since October 2016, when he lost to Tetsuya Hisada. Don't be surprised if this one steals the show.
The best single bout to feature an Asian fighter comes from Glasgow, where legendary Filipino Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24) takes on WBA Bantamweight “super” champion Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9) in the final WBSS Bantamweight quarter final. This has the potential to be Donaire's last bout, if he loses, given he turns 36 on November 16th, but a win secures him a semi-final bout against Zolani Tete. For the unbeaten Burnett the bout is a chance to score a big win over a huge name in the lower weights, as well as setting himself up for a bout with Tete. This is real must win for both men, but sadly has the potential to be a bit of a stinker with Burnett likely to be too quick, too smart and too elusive for the Filipino veteran. A full preview of this bout can be read here Burnett and Donaire face off for final semi-final place!
The most notable card for us this coming Saturday comes from the Korakuen Hall where we get a Japanese Middleweight title bout and bouts featuring several notable Japanese prospects.
The Japanese title bout will see Japanese Middleweight king Kazuto Takesako (9-0, 9) make his first defense, as he faces off with former champion Sanosuke Sasaki (12-6, 6). The unbeaten champion won the title earlier this year, decimating Hikaru Nishida in 92 seconds, and since then has fought only a stay busy bout against tough Thai visitor Chaiwat Mueanphong. Former champion Sasaki had a 4 month reign from last 2012 to early 2013 but is 1-5 coming into this bout and looks to be a very under-whelming challenger for the heavy handed champion. It's nice to see Takesako defend the title, but it's a shame that he's not in there with a man anyone is giving much of a chance to. A preview of this title fight can be read here Takesako's first defense sees him takes on former champion!
In a supporting bout Masaya Tamayama (11-1, 6) will battle against Daijiro Yuki (8-4-1, 4). Coming in to this the 25 year old Tamayama is riding a 7 fight winning streak, and has broken into the JBC rankings at Welterweight. Yuki, also 25, is unbeaten his last 2 bouts but is 3-4-1 in his last 8, and has been stopped twice. We can't see anything but a win for Tamayama, but we do expect him to have to earn it.
Another supporting bout will see Daiki Funayama (7-3-1, 2) take a part in his first 8 rounder, as he takes on once beaten puncher Kenta Yamada (5-1-1, 4). Funayama has won his last 4, though has had to go the distance in those wins, and seems to lack power, even at the low end of the domestic level. Yamada on the other hand will be fighting for the first time in over 2 years. Although no world beater Yamada does hold a notable win over Kazuki Sanpei and will be looking to get himself back on the domestic map here.
One of the notable prospects is Jin Minamide (1-0, 1), who will take a notable step up in class to face Filipino Conrado Tanamor (10-2, 4). On paper this looks like a great match up for the young prospects, though digging beneath the surface we do wonder what Tanamor really brings to the ring following back to back stoppage losses, and a 0-2 record in fights outside of the Philippines. Despite Tanamor not being a great opponent we are looking forward to seeing how Minamide goes about his business here
Another of the prospects on this show is the debuting Masahiro Suzuki (0-0), who is scheduled to take on Antonio Sismundo (6-1, 6). Suzuki is a touted fighter who is a notable Japanese amateur with a lot of expectation on his shoulders, and he's been matched aggressively here against a man who clearly has power. Sismundo has stopped 6 men inside the first 3 rounds, but was stopped himself in his sole defeat back in September 2017.
Staying in Asia we also get a title double header in the Philippines, though neither match looks particularly competitive.
One of them will see Eranio Semillano (16-9-3, 5) and Edison Berwela (16-39-8, 5) battle for the PBF Bantamweight title. It's hard to imagine Semillano losing here, but Berwela is a live under-dog and did shock the Asian scene earlier this year when he stopped Saenganan Sithsaithong way back in January. It should be noted that since that upset win Berwela has lost his last 2 bouts.
The other bout will be for the PBF Super Flyweight bout and will see Cris Alfante (14-7-1, 6) take on Zoren Pama (8-14-3, 5). Alfante has mixed with great competition, such as Knockout CP Freshmart, Andrew Moloney and Daigo Higa, and we suspect that he will have far too much for Pama, who lacks a win of any note, though did surprisingly go 7 rounds before losing a technical decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2014.
There will also be a couple of bouts of note in Texas where two Kazakh prospects will be in action.
One of those prospects will be the very highly touted Janibek Alimkhanuly (3-0, 1), who faces off against Vaughn Alexander (12-1, 8) in what looks like an excellent test for the unbeaten man. The 25 year old Kazakh southpaw failed to really shine in his US debut, back in September, but he is a genuine talent and the expectation is that he will adapt to the professional ranks quickly. The once beaten Alexander is looking to bounce back from an August loss to Dennis Doughlin, and will not be coming in to this bout to lose. This should be an excellent test for Alimkhanuly.
The other prospect is less hyped Sagadat Rakhmankul (3-0, 1), who hunts his fourth win as he takes on the once beaten Nicklaus Flaz (5-1, 4). The unbeaten Rakhmankul has been impressive so far, following a debut this past February, and will be looking to close out the year with arguably his best win so far, as the 25 year old looks to move to the next level. Flaz is a 22 year old Puerto Rican who was beaten last time out by Hurshidbek Normatov and will be looking to get back to winning ways, though sadly hasn't fought since that Normatov bout back in December 2017.