This coming Sunday is an ultra-busy day in Japan, but a day that has quantity but little in terms of quality. One bout stands out as being strong, but the others are, on the whole, low level Rookie bouts and mismatches.
The bout that stands out takes place on the first of two shows at the Aioi Hall in Kariya and will see the talented Masanori Rikiishi (6-1, 4) take on the world ranked Freddy Fonseca (27-3-1, 18). Rikiishi is one of Japan's more interesting hopefuls, who was rushed into a bout with former national champion Kosuke Saka maybe a touch too early, but has rebounded with 4 strong wins to build momentum coming into this bout. Fonseca on the other hand is just a few months removed from a bout with Jojo Diaz for the WBA "gold" Super Featherweight title. Fonseca, a southpaw from Nicaragua, is a real challenge for someone who has as little experience as Rikiishi but a win for the local would be huge at this point in his career. A full preview of this bout can be read here Rikiishi takes step up to face experienced Fonseca!
The second of the Aioi Hall cards is headlined by the unbeaten Musashi Mori (9-0, 5), who appears to be on the card in a stay busy capacity as he takes on Suntorn Panhom (5-4, 4). Mori is one of Japanese many fast rising youngster, and already has a couple of wins over Richard Pumicpic, though both were razor thin decisions. Suntorn is there to be taken out and we suspect Mori ticks over with an early win here.
Everything else on this card is Rookie of the Year action, over 4 rounds. These Rookie of the Year bouts include a Light Welterweight bout between Yasutaka Fujita (3-0, 3) and Ryota Uno (4-1, 2), in what looks like the pick of the bouts. Another notable Rookie bout is at Welterweight, between Hiroya Nojima (2-0, 1) and Rintaro Shiojiri (0-0), with Shiojari potentially being crowned the local region's Rookie of the Year in his debut bout.
The low level action with only a semi-notable main event continues in Hiroshima, where Hironori Miyake (9-8-2, 1) and Yoshihiro Utsumi (15-9-3, 10) clash at Bantamweight. The 31 year old Miyake has won 1 of his last 5, but is often competitive in his losses and really has been held back by a lack of fire power. Utsumi on the other hand might be a recognisable name to some as he has been in with a string of notable opponents including Yasutaka Ishimoto, Ye Joon Kim and Kazuki Nakajima, though has lost almost every time he has stepped up in class. Whilst this isn't a great bout it should be pretty competitive.
We are back to Rookie of the Year action in Osaka with the West Japan Rookie of the Year finals.
On paper one of the most interesting looking match ups will see Jinki Maeda (2-0, 2) and Konosuke Kirihigashi (2-0, 2) throw down in the Featherweight final. Both are young, unbeaten, hard hitting youngsters and will be looking to win here, and move one step closer to competing in the All Japan final in December. Given the two men have a combined 8 rounds under their belt it's hard to say how good either is, but we're expecting a shoot out here.
Another final between unbeaten fighters will take place at Minimumweight with 23 year old Sho Hatsuda (1-0) facing off against 19 year old Hyogo Kimura (4-0, 1). We're not expecting a shoot out here, but a good showing of boxing skills, speed and movement, very different to the Featherweight bout.
This coming Tuesday in Tokyo we see the highly anticipated God's Left Bantamweight tournament kick off, with the quarter final bouts all taking place on the card, along with one other notable and interesting domestic match up.
On paper the best of the 3 quarter final bouts will see the unbeaten Jin Minamide (3-0, 3) taking on the once beaten Tetsu Araki (14-1-1, 2). Araki was is a former Japanese Youth champion and also fared pretty well in the 2015 Rookie of the Year. Although not a man with stellar amateur pedigree he has proven himself in the pros, with notable wins against the likes of Yuto Nakamura and Ryuto Owan. Minamide on the other hand was a top amateur, with over 40 amateur wins, and has been put on the fast track as a professional, with some quick wins including a very impressive one against Marjun Pantilgan. This is a really interesting match up, and one we're really looking forward to.
The winner of the Minamide Vs Araki bout will face off with either Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5) or Kenichi Watanabe (8-4-1, 4), who battle in the same half of the tournament. Nakajima, like Minamide, is a highly regarded prospect following a very good stint as an amateur, and will be regarded as one of the tournaments favourites. Watanabe on the other hand is a live under-dog though will looking for a career best win. Although Watanabe is the under-dog he has shared the ring with the likes of Hiroaki Teshigawara and Koki Eto, so has mixed with good company.
The remaining quarter final bout will see Gaku Aikawa (9-7-1, 3) battle against the all action Kenya Yamashita (13-5, 10). On paper this is the "lesser" quarter final, but in reality it's one of the more even bouts with both being flawed fighters who can upset better foes. On paper Yamashita is the favourite, but the aggressive youngster has taken a lot of punishment through his career and it's unclear what he has left to offer. Aikawa on the other hand has picked up losses recently but has shown an upset minded mentality and could well pick up an another upset win here. The winner of this bout will face Seiya Tsutsumi in the next round, with Tsutsumi getting a bye to the semi-finals.
One other bout of interest will see Shogo Yamaguchi (11-4-3, 6) take on the highly regarded Masanori Rikiishi (5-1, 3). Yamaguchi is a "win some, lose some" fighter but on his day he's a solid fighter who has scored a draw with Genki Maeda, went 8 pretty competitive rounds with Akihiro Kondo, and is far from a pushover. Rikiishi on the other hand is a highly regarded prospect solid wins over the likes of Genki Maeda and Kei Iwahara and will be strongly favoured here.
This coming Sunday there will be a couple of Asian cards, one in Japan and one in Korea.
The Japanese card is a pretty interesting one, headlined by a rising hopeful and featuring a fairly solid supper bout.
The main event will see the once beaten Masanori Rikiishi (4-1, 3) take on Kei Iwahara (10-5, 5) in an 8 round bout between two Japanese ranked lightweights. Riikishi suffered his first loss last April, losing to Kosuke Saka after stepping up too much too soon, but bounced back with a couple of stoppages, including one over former Japanese title challenger Genki Maeda in December. Iwahara on the other hand is 3-1 in his last 4, and comes into this with notable wins over the likes of Yuji Awata, Mao Kawanishi and Daiki Ichikawa. This could be something very special.
In the main support bout Japan's Ryosuke Maruki (15-6-1, 10) will take on South Korean Gun Woo Gang (4-2-3, 1). Coming in to this Maruki has lost his last two, being narrowly out pointed by Nobuyuki Shindo and being blasted out by Akonori Watanabe, but typically he has been a solid and dependable fighter on the Japanese scene. Gang on the other hand has won just 1 of his last 5, going 1-2-2 during that stretch. This looks like a rebuilding fight for Maruki, and hopefully he'll be back into bigger fights later this year.
This card will also feature a number of Rookie of the Year fights as we begin the largest annual boxing tournament.
Busan, South Korea
Gun Woo Gang won't be the only Korean in action, with a card in Busan, which will feature several Korean fighters.
One of those Korean's is Bo Mi Re Shin (6-0-3, 3), who takes on Indian foe Rupinder Kaur (1-0, 1) in a bout for the Interim WIBA Super Featherweight title. The 24 year old Shin has a mostly weak looking record, but did notable score a stoppage win over Chika Mizutani in August last year and will be coming into this bout on the back of that big win. Kaur on the other hand will be fighting outside of India for the first time, and will be taking a serious step up in class, and cutting weight, significantly, having last fought above Light Welterweight.
In an interesting Champion V Champion bout we'll see KBF Super Featherweight champion Ki Soo Lee (8-3, 1) battling against IBC Super Featherweight champion Alvius Maufani (6-2-2, 3) in a clash between Korean and Indonesian champions. Lee has the edge in experience and home advantage, but Maufani has won bouts against more experienced foes in the past.
One other bout will see Uzbek puncher Abdurasul Ismoilov (3-0, 3) take on unbeaten local Jong Sun Gang (7-0, 4). This looks like the best match up on the show, with the Uzbek looking to build on a win over veteran Jaime Barcelona. Gang turned professional in late 2017 and has been active, with stoppage wins in his last 3. This looks like it could be very explosive, and very fun.
*Note Boxrec recently corrected Ismoilov's record which was previously 4-1 (4)
The Taisei gym put on a notable card this coming Sunday with two youth title fights, as well as a contest featuring a former world title contender. It's not a huge card by any stretch but is a notable one.
The more interesting of the two Japanese Youth title fights will see the talented but light punching pair of Hikaru Matsuoka (14-4-3, 2) and Noboru Osato (10-6-4, 2) battle for the Japanese Youth Featherweight title. On paper this looks pretty competitive, and although almost certain to go the distance we should see some real skills on show. Both fighters are talented boxer, and we're not expecting a tear up, but we should see a lot of skill in the ring, with both fighters being smart and understanding their role in the ring. A full preview of this bout is available to read here Matsuoka and Osato battle for Youth Featherweight title!
The other Japanese Youth title fight will see Arata Matsuoka (6-6, 4) face off with Hikaru Ota (9-8, 5) for the vacant Japanese Youth Flyweight title, which has been vacated by the excellent Junto Nakatani. The bout isn't an amazing looking one, but given both fighters are flawed it should at least be evenly contest, and if bot Matsuoka's win they would be the first twins to pick up Japanese Youth titles together. This is one of those bouts where we expect to be better than it looks on paper, and could end up being pretty explosive if we're being honest. An in depth preview of this bout can be read here Matsuoka and Ota battle for vacant Youth Flyweight title
Also on this card is former world title challenger Riku Kano (13-4-1, 7), who looks to be in a confidence building fight against Takayuki Teraji (9-16-1, 4). There was a time when Kano was seen as one of the brightest young prospects in Japan, but losses to Katsunari Takayama, Jerry Tomogdan and Shin Ono in his last 6 bouts have taken the gloss off his potential. Teraji usually puts up a good fight at domestic level, but has come up short against every notable fight he's faced, such as Sho Kimura and Reiya Konishi and will be expect to lost a decision here.
As well as the Taisei card there will also be a show in Aichi, thanks to Green promotions
Overall this is a really weak card, but we do like the look of the main event, which will see the once beaten Masanori Rikiishi (3-1, 2) taking on Genki Maeda (6-3-1, 2). This is a fantastic match up between two Japanese fighters both looking to score a solid domestic win to end a year which has been disappointing. Rikiishi's disappointment came when he was stopped by Kosuke Saka whilst Maeda was stopped in a Japanese title fight by Shuichiro Yoshino, and the fight between these two should be hotly contested here.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a bout of note in South Africa, as Joey Canoy (14-3-1, 7) challenges IBO Minimumweight champion Simphiwe Khonco (19-5, 7). The Filipino doesn't have an amazing record, but does hold very notable wins over both Toto Landero and Melvin Jerusalem, showing he can compete against world class fighters, though has been stopped twice and perhaps has question marks about his chin. Khonco, who also has a misleading record due to losing 4 of his first 10 bouts, is riding a 4 fight winning run since a 2015 loss to Hekkie Budler. Those wins have included victories over Nkosinathi Joyi and Toto Landero. We suspect home advantage will play a key factor in this bout, but it should still be very competitive.
They key show this coming Friday comes from Osaka, where we get a Japanese title fight, and several under-card bouts featuring notable fighters.
The main event will see Japanese Super Flyweight champion Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-17-2, 11) make his first defense, as he takes on Takayuki Okumoto (20-8-3, 10), a man fighting in his first world title challenge. Kudaka, a 4-time world title challenger, won the Japanese title this past April, when he out pointed Go Onaga for the vacant title. At 33 years old Kudaka will know that he can't really afford another set back, but will feel like he can pick up a straight forward defense. So far Okumoto is 0-2 in title fights, including a Japanese title fight last year against Ryuichi Funai, but he's a capable fighter who has gone 4-1-1 in his last 6 and will be riding some momentum here. We favour the champion, but suspect he will have to work hard for the victory.
The chief support bout will see 2017 Welterweight Rookie of the Year runner up Rikuto Adachi (9-1, 6) face off with limited Indonesian fighter Maxi Nahak (7-15-3, 3). Adachi lost to Hironori Shigeta in the Rookie final, but has bounced back with a 6th round KO of a Thai foe which he's looking to build on here. As for Nahak, he's 0-4 in Japan and has been stopped in 3 of his last 4, suggesting that Adachi should be able to pick up a win here with out too many problems here
Also on this card will be former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Masao Nakamura (23-3, 22),
who will be fighting for the second time since ending his retirement earlier this year, and former Japanese and OPBF Light Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (31-10-3, 10), who looks to bounce back from his recent loss to Takeshi Inoue. We've been informed that Nonaka will be facing a Thai whilst Nakamura will be up against Marbon Bodiongan (14-7-2, 11).
As well as the action in Osaka there will also be a show in Tokyo, though this card is lacking in the name value that the Osakan card has.
The main event will see Masanori Rikiishi (2-1, 1) look to bounce back from his recent loss to Kosuke Saka as he takes on limited Indonesian foe Egy Rozten (5-18-2, 3). Despite the loss to Saka it seems clear that Rikiishi's team have big hopes for him and despite this being a straight forward bout, at least on paper, the fact he is main eventing shows the belief that the Green gym have in him. Rozten comes into this on the back of 6 straight stoppages, and has gone 0-6-1 in his last 7 bouts, showing just how much of an easy opponent he should be for Rikiishi.
In the chief support bout fans will be able to see Japanese ranked Featherweight Yosuke Kawano (12-7-2, 6) take on Masajiro Honda (6-9, 4). The 29 year old Kawano has gone 2-3-1 in his last 6, but is better than that form suggests with his draw coming to Takenori Ohashi, who went on to claim the Japanese Featherweight title last year, and ran the likes of Dai Iwai and Ryuto Araya very close. Honda has been stopped in his last 5 bouts, and is without a win since November 2014. It's clear that Kawano has been matched softly here and should pick up a pretty simple win.
Another Japanese ranked fighter on this card is Takahiro Araki (11-7, 4), who will be facing off with Yoshiyuki Takabayashi (9-9, 4). Araki is nothing great, going 3-3 in his last 6, but should have more than enough to deal with Takabayashi, who has gone 1-6 in his last 7 bouts.
Staying in Asia there will also be a double title show in Jakarta.
One of the bouts will see the very experienced James Mokoginta (37-18-3, 23) take on hard hitting Filipino Jon Jon Estrada (11-4-1, 10), in what will be Mokoginta's first defense of the WBA Asia Featherweight title. Although Mokiginta has 58 career bouts he's only 27 years old and has the potential to be in some good fights. It is worth noting however that Estrada is a genuine banger, and has stopped usually durable fighters like Pablito Canada and Brian Lobetania in recent years. Given the power of Estrada we can
The other title bout will see the limited Ruben Manakane (24-17-1, 13) face off with the unbeaten Muhammad Ashiq (4-0, 3) for the vacant WBA Asia Super Bantamweight title. The 25 year old Manakane is limited but is currently riding a 5 fight winning streaking, having claimed several titles during that run. Ashiq is a bit of an unknown, only debuting last September, but looks like he could be a prospect worth following and a win here would put him on the map, at least domestically.
In California fight fans will be able to see unbeaten American Genaro Gamez (8-0, 5) take on Filipino foe Recky Dulay (10-3-0-1, 7) in a bout for the NABF Super Featherweight title. Gamez started his career slowly but has stepped up this year, beating Shoki Sakai in April to notch his best win to date. Dulay is coming into his prime has lost 2 of his 3 bouts in the US, including a stoppage to Gervonta Davies. We would be surprised by a win for Dulay, but he has surprised us in the past.
This coming Monday Japanese fans will get two different shows, neither of which is huge but both of which are worth making a mental note about.
For us the most interesting bout takes place in Nagoya, as an unbeaten prospect takes an insane step up in class.
That step up will see former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (16-4, 13) take on the promising Masanori Rikiishi (2-0, 1), in what looks to be a serious acid test for Rikiishi. Saka held the Japanese title for 8 months last year, winning the title in April before losing it in his first defense in December. The loss was a surprise for Saka, who had entered that bout on an 8 fight stoppage run, and it seems like Rikiishi's team is hoping for Saka to be a damaged fighter. As for Rikiishi he has been matched hard since his debut in July last year but this is a massive step up. The 23 year old novice has looked fantastic so far, but this is still a bout that looks like he has been thrown into the deep end and told to sink or swim. A loss for Rikiishi won't be the end but a win would immediately put him into the title mix. A win for Saka will keep him relevant, whilst a loss will be very hard for him to come back from.
Despite the really interesting bout against Saka and Rikiishi that bout is only the chief supporting bout. The actual main event will see Japan's Kotatsu Takehara (14-11-3, 7) take on Indonesian foe Satria Antasena (6-9, 2) in a Heayweight bout. Entering this contest both men are ranked #1 in their respective nations, but it's hard to imagine the visitor, who is 0-4 outside of his homeland, pick up a win here.
Although we're really interested in the Nagaoya show there is also a notable card in Osaka, where we see a high profile prospect in the main event and several notable supporting bouts.
The main event here will see the popular Juiki Tatsuyoshi (7-0, 5), the son of the legendary Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, battle against Shun Ishibashi (10-22-1, 4). This bout was originally meant to take place last year, though injuries got in the way and Tatsuyoshi had to pull out. Since then he has matured, had a child and recovered from injuries. He should be strongly favoured here, especially given that Ishibashi has lost his last 6, but we suspect he will prove to be a test for the hard hitting but crude Tatsuyoshi.
In a supporting bout Takayuki Teraji (9-14-1, 4) will battle against recent Japanese title challenger Takeru Kamikubo (13-3, 8). Coming in to this one the limited Teraji has scored back to back wins, for the first time in his career, and will be looking to snowball that success here. Kamikubo was once touted as a real hopeful, but with 3 stoppage losses in his last 8 fights, including a loss last time out to Tetsuya Hisada in a Japanese title fight, he seems unlikely to reach his potential. This is a great chance for Teraji to score a big win, but he will have to work very hard for it.
In another supporting bout 2-time Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (13-5-1, 8) will be up against Masashi Wakita (8-6-2, 3). The talented Sugita, who came up short twice against Kenichi Ogawa, has gone 2-3 in his last 5 but is a genuine talent and will be looking to get another shot at the Japanese title in the near future. The 22 year old Wakita is better than his record suggests, and he gave really tough tests to Spicy Matsushita and Naotoshi Nakatani, but will likely come up short again here against Sugita.
In Japan we get a small card in Aichi, featuring three pretty good looking bouts.
One of the bouts will be a clash between two Japanese ranked fighters, as see Yota Hori (13-5-2, 8) takes on Shun Kosaka (14-3, 4). Coming into this Hori is a top 10 ranked fighter at Light Flyweight whilst Kosaka holds a similar Flyweight ranking. Neither man is a world beater, but both will be looking to get a Japanese title fight in 2018, and know that a win here will help them move towards a shot at the domestic crown.
The supposed chief support bout of the card will see talented novice Masanori Rikiishi (1-0) take on Ryo Tanimoto (4-1, 3) in what a very tough second bout for Rikiishi. The novice made his debut in July, impressing in a win over Korean visitor Sa Ya Lee, a former Korean Lightweight champion, but this is a genuinely interesting test. Tanimoto was stopped last time out, in an upset against Yuta Teruya, but prior to that has looked destructive and can certainly bang, which could mean a chin checking for Rikiishi here.
The min event will see the heavy handed Masamichi Yabuki (5-1, 5) take on Masashi Tada (11-4-2, 7). The hard hitting Yabuki has needed just 6 rounds to score his 5 stoppage, and his only loss came in last year's Rookie of the Year to the brilliant Junto Nakatani. Although limited Tada has got far more experience than Yabuki and he has yet to be stopped, having fought for a Japanese title and going 10 rounds, which is actually the total rounds of Yabuki's career. Despite Tada being a good opponent it should be noted he's not scored a win in over 4 rounds.
There is also a very low profile card in the Philippines.
The main event of the card will see the unbeaten KJ Natuplag (5-0-1, 4) face off with veteran Danilo Pena (27-28-5, 11) for the PBF Featherweight title. The 21 year old Natuplag will be looking to claim his second title, after having previously claimed the LuzProBA Bantamweight title, and will be strongly favoured here. Pena on the other hand has is looking to stop the rot, and he has gone 0-7-1 in his last 8, going back more than 2 years.