Action finally returns to this coming weekend as we get the first Japanese show of 2016.
In the main event we'll see a Japanese title unification bout at 140lbs. The bout sees unbeaten champion Hiroki Okada (10-0, 8) faces interim champion Masanobu Nakazawa (18-1-1, 7) in a bout to unify the title that was split, last year, when Okada was injured. This is, on paper, Okada;s toughest bout so far, especially when you consider his long lay off due to the injury, but will be confident of inflicting a second loss on Nakazawa, who was previously stopped by Shuhei Tsuchiya.
An interesting support bout comes at Middleweight where the promising Shoma Fukumoto (7-1, 6) battles recent OPBF and JBC title challenger Yasuyuki Akiyama (10-5-1, 8). This is Akiyama's first bout since being beaten last year by Akio Shibata whilst Fukumoto will be fighting for the first time since joining the Kadoebi gym. Fukumoto, due to the gym transfer, will be be fighting for the first time in 7 months though will be favoured over the 36 year old Akiyama, who looked awful against Shibata.
Another good looking support bout sees recent Japanese Flyweight challenger Yusuke Sakashita (13-6-2, 8) face Masashi Odaira (6-4-2, 2). On paper it's hard to doubt Sakashita's the favourite, but with 2 losses in his last 3 bouts, including a 1-punch KO loss to Suguru Muranaka, he really needs to shine here.
A third notable under-card bout will see another recent title challenger in action as Yuki Ogata (21-2-1, 3) battles Keisuke Arima (8-11-1, 1). It's hard to see this being anything but a decision win for Ogata but it could be much more competitive than the records suggest.
In the US fans will get the chance to see unbeaten Filipino Dodie Boy Penalosa Jr (17-0, 13), who faces a yet to be named opponent. The talented young Filipino scored 4 wins in the US last year and will be expected to grab a 5th successive victory, though sadly it's hard to get too excited given his level of competition.
Although the new month has had a slow start it does appear that things are going to get going on the month's first Saturday, and what a day it looks to be with a genuinely mouth watering domestic Japanese card.
The Japanese card comes from the Korakuen Hall and features a bit of everything.
The main event is a Japanese Light Welterweight interim title fight between the once beaten Masanobu Nakazawa (17-1-1, 7) and former challenger Masayoshi Kotake (9-9-2, 5). Originally Kotake was supposed to fight reigning champion Hiroki Okada though a serious injury to Okada's right thumb saw him need to cancel the bout which has lead to this fight. On paper it's hard to see anything but a win for Nakazawa though the truth is that his record is very padded and this is a huge step up against the much more proven, though limited, Kotake.
A really mouth watering match up will see former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Shinya Iwabuchi (25-5, 21) battle against former OPBF champion Romeo Jakosalem (16-10-1, 8). Iwabuchi is rarely in a bad fight and the heavy handed southpaw is known to want another OPBF title fight, having fallen short twice in the past. Jakosalem isn't the fighter he once was, but is still a dangerous foe if given full preparation time, which he has been here, and as a result we're expecting a very special war here.
Another former champion in action is the always entertaining Rikiya Fukuhara (30-8-1, 22) who will look for win #31 as he takes on Yusuke Nakagawa (8-3-1, 4). Although not the best fighter on the planet Fukuhara is a real handful for many and he's only been beaten by one man in the last 4 years, the world ranked Satoshi Hosono. It's hard to see Nakagawa giving Fukuhara too many problems here though we'd be shocked if the bout wasn't entertaining all the same.
One man who will be hoping to move from contender to champion in the near future is Ryuta Otsuka (14-8-2, 4) who will be risking his JBC ranking against Takaaki Ishikawa (11-6, 6). Otsuka is ranked at Super Flyweight though will be testing the waters at Bantamweight here. Ishikawa, who has lost 2 of his last 3, may see this as a huge opportunity to get himself a domestic ranking and as a result we'd not be shocked for this one to be very exciting.
Another really meaningful bout will see Japanese ranked fighters facing off against each other as Hiroya Yamamoto (8-3, 3) takes on Takumi Suda (12-10-2, 3). Both of these men are seen as possible title challengers for the Japanese title in the near future and we'd not be shocked at this bout being incredibly competitive. We've got to admit neither guy has been incredible in recent times though both have mixed with good company. Yamamoto's last two losses have come to Xiong Zhao Zhong and Go Odaira whilst Suda has suffered losses to the likes of Akira Yaegashi, Warlito Parrenas and Shin Ono and both are better than their records indicate.
A second Japanese show comes form Osaka and really pales in significance to the Tokyo card.
The most interesting of two notable bouts will see Akira Shono (8-7-2, 4) face a Thai foe in an 8 round bout. We've not got the name of the Thai though we do know that Shono is ranked by both the OPBF and the JBC, so those rankings could be at risk.
The other bout of note will see Takuya Uehara (6-0, 3) facing another Thai foe. It's hard to predict where Uehara is going in his career but this will be his first 8 round bout and there should be some excitement around him even if his opponent is an unknown Thai
As well as the two bouts we've mentioned there will be 7 other bouts on this card.
Yangju, South Korea
In South Korea the KBC put on their next rookie card. On the whole this show is less than inspiring and features mainly 4 rounders.
The one bout which isn't for just 4 rounds will see unbeaten teenager Gun Woo Gang (1-0-1, 1) face the more experienced Dong Suk Han (1-6) in a bout scheduled for 6 rounds at Welterweight.
Staying with Korean fighter's we actually get a Korean novice in action in the US as Tae Woong Jung (3-2-2, 3) battles against the unbeaten Antonio Nieves (12-0-1, 6) in an 8 rounder. This is a considerable step up for Jung, who hasn't fought out of Korea before. Sadly for Jung he is 0-2-2 in his last 4 and won't be expected to end that win-less run here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This Saturday is an incredibly busy day in the world of boxing with bouts coming thick and fast on a day thats sees notable fighters in action and some wonderful match ups.
In Tokyo we get the first Japanese title fight of the month alongside a couple of other noteworthy bouts.
The title bout in question will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion, and current world ranked fighter, Yu Kimura (15-2-1, 2) defending his national crown against Hayato Yamaguchi (12-5-1, 2), who is making his second Japanese title challenger. For Kimura this is a must win bout if he hopes to get a world title fight later in the year however he won't have been able to prepare for Yamaguchi as he would have liked as the challenger only signed for the fight a few weeks ago after Shin Ono suffered an injury that forced him out of the bout. Of course saying that Yamaguchi will not have had a full training camp himself for this bout.
On the same card we will see the return to the ring of Yasutaka Ishimoto (24-8, 7) who will be fighting for the first time since his narrow loss to Yukinori Oguni last December in a Japanese Super Bantamweight title fight. The popular Ishimoto should be able to end a 2-fight skid as he takes on the limited Yoshihiro Utsumi (12-5-3, 7) in what looks to be a confidence building bout for the 33 year old Ishimoto.
In another bout of note fans will get the chance to see the once beaten Masanobu Nakazawa (16-1-1, 6) battle against the hard hitting Kazuya Soma (7-6-2, 6). Coming into this bout Nakazawa is on a 13 fight winning streak and we suspect that'll continue here, though Soma can hit hard enough to trouble fighters at this level.
A third noteworthy bout on this show will feature 2014 All Japan Flyweight Rookie of the Year Kenji Ono (7-1, 3) who battles against Taichi Yokote (6-2, 3), who has been inactive since a close decision loss in November 2013. This looks like a really good match up on paper and the sort of 50-50 fight that we love seeing, even if Yokote has been out of the ring for more than a year.
In Osaka there are two shows in the same venue, the “L Osaka”.
The first of those shows will be the Taiho promoted card which features only a single notable fighter, in a mismatch no less. Though it does have two relatively interesting looking support bouts.
The main event will see the Japanese and OPBF ranked Ryota Kajiki (24-9, 15) battle the horribly over-matched Tokiya Nishioka (9-4-2, 5). Whilst Kajiki has gone 4-3 in his last 7 they did include a loss to Daiki Kaneko in a Japanese title bout and he is much better than fighters like Nishioka who was stopped in 2 rounds last time out. A horrible mismatch.
A much better looking bout sees Ippo Nishiwaki (7-3-1, 4) fight against Hirokazu Okajima (8-4-2, 4) in an even looking an match up between two flawed but capable fighters who will each be hoping that a win will move them towards bigger and better things. It's not a headline style bout but it's a very solid match up in it's own right.
A second notable support bout will see Akiyoshi Kanazawa (11-3-4, 5) attempt to score his first in 3 fights as he fights Junya Nishikawa (7-5-2, 2), Kanazawa isn't as good as his record suggests, despite a notable win over Atsushi Aburada, though he should be good enough to see off Nishikawa.
The other Osaka show is promoted by Osaka Teiken and unfortunately looks just as bad in regards to it's main event, though the two support bouts are both solid and meaningful domestic bouts.
The main event will see OPBF and Japanese ranked Flyweight Myung Ho Lee (17-4-1, 5) battle against Thai visitor Dawut Manopkanchang (0-2), who has been stopped in two previous visits to Japan. Aged 20 Dawut is still a young fighter but there is no need to have him in the ring with someone like Lee, even though he may see out there bell here given Lee's relative lack of power.
A solid looking support bout will see Japanese ranked Featherweight Ryuto Kyoguchi (13-0-1, 9) battle against Kosuke Saka (9-3, 6). We expect Kyoguchi to come out on top however this no walk in the park and Saka has been in with good competition losing to the likes of Masayuki Ito and Hiroshige Osawa. For Kyoguchi it's a tough assignment but one he'll need to pass if he's to be taken seriously as a Japanese contender, for Saka it's a chance to move himself towards a possible title fight.
The other notable support bout will see former All-Japanese Rookie of the Year Bunta Mitaka (6-2-2) take on Shingo Kawamura (9-2, 4) in a real must win for both. Mitaka has lost his last 2 bouts, including a 3rd round TKO loss to the excellent Shohei Omori, and has seen his 2013 Rookie of the Year crown becoming little more than history. On the other hand Kawamura was stopped last time out by the excellent Kongthara KKP and will know that he needs a win to remain relevant. A brilliant match up.
We see Korean outfit AK Promotions continuing their activity in Thailand as they take Jaesung Lee (18-4-2, 9) over to Chonburi to battle against Joaquim Mahe (10-2, 6) in a contest for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council silver Featherweight title. Lee was run close last time by Angelito Merin, who fought under the name Rivera AK Gym, and may well find himself being run close again here by his French opponent, who gave Tepparith Kokietgym a very competitive contest earlier this year.
In Mexico fans are going to be treat to a potentially explosive clash between hard hitting Filipino Jonathan Taconing (20-2-1, 17) and Mexico's very own Raul Garcia (36-3-1, 22). Taconing, the OPBF Light Flyweight champion, is a thunderous puncher who has stopped his last 7 opponents since being controversially beaten by the then WBC Light Flyweight champion Kompayak Porpramook back in 2012. As for Garcia he's a former IBF champion who has a number of notable wins on his record, including his world title win over Florante Condes. This is potentially the fight of the weekend and has the potential to be a FOTY contender.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)