This coming Sunday sees a number of shows taking place in Asia, though the reality is that much of the focus is on just one of those shows, as Watanabe gym put on world title double header. Despite that there is notable names on a second Japanese card and title action from Korea.
The obvious starting point for a look into the fights for the day begins with that Watanabe card, which will feature a trio of title bouts, including two at world level.
The most notable of the world title fights sees WBA “super”, IBF and Ring magazine Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-2-2, 12) defending his titles against talented South African challenger Hekkie Budler (31-3, 10). The defending champion has a really strong claim to being the best Light Flyweight on the planet, with notable wins against the likes of Alberto Rossel, Ryo Miyazaki and Milan Melindo, though will know that this will not be an easy assignment against a former WBA Minimumweight champion. At his best Taguchi is a nightmare to fight, he's tough, has great stamina, freakish size and fantastic work rate. Sadly however he is inconsistent and can look like his mind is else where. If Taguchi is anything but his best he could be very easily beaten by the “Hexecutioner”, who had a notable title reign at 105lbs and can be a genuinely awkward fighter with his speed, determinedness and high out put. Whilst Taguchi should be favoured, this is far from a foregone conclusion and should be a very enthralling 12 round war.
Whilst we're expecting the Taguchi Vs Melindo bout to go the distance the same cannot be said of the other title bout, which pits hard hitting IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (9-0, 7) against big hitting Filipino Vince Paras (13-0, 11). This bout looks less likely to be a long drawn out war of attrition and more of a shoot out, with both men believing in their power and aggression. From the footage available it does seem like Kyoguchi has got more weapons in his arsenal, and he has showed them against a higher level of competition. Although Kyoguchi will be favoured Paras can bang and looks like a dangerous fighter, so the champion will not want to take too many risks here. Given how the two men fight this has the potential to be something very special, but also potentially very short.
The third title bout will see WBOA Asia Pacific Lightweight champion Nihito Arakawa (31-6-1, 18) defending his title against Rimar Metuda (12-3, 7). It's been known that Arakawa is chasing another world title fight, and we suspect Metuda has been hand selected as an opponent to make Arakawa look good against. Metuda is tough and can bang, but with 3 losses in his last 5 he certainly come into this as the under-dog, and as the man taking a huge step up in class.
A second, much over-shadowed, Japanese card comes from Shizuoka
The main event of the card will see the fantastically promising Kento Hatanaka (5-0, 5) take on a Thai visitor over the 8 round distance in a Super Flyweight bout. The 19 year old Japanese youngster, who is already ranked by the JBC, shined last time out when he stopped Kenta Matsui and is expected to continue his rise here as he looks to move towards a title fight of some kind. Sadly little is known about the visiting Thai.
The heavy handed but some what fragile Daiki Ichikawa (10-4, 8) will be up against Indonesian Agus Kustiawan (18-7-2, 8) in the shows chief support bout. On paper this doesn't look amazing but it could prove to be a pretty interesting bout. Ichikawa has lost 2 of his last 3, and needs a win if he's to keep his once promising career alive. The visitor has never won outside of Indonesia, but could see this as a great chance to pick up a win on the road.
In a third bout of some note fans will see Yuta Horiike (13-6-3, 3) take on upset minded Filipino veteran Edison Berwela (16-37-8, 5), who looks to build on his big January win over touted Thai teenager Saenganan Sithsaithong. On paper this looks a bit like a mismatch but Berwela has shown a tendency to score the occasional shock win, beating Saenganan as well as Jetro Pabustan and Robert Udtohan, and could see this as a chance to take another unexpected scalp. Horiike will be favoured but can't make the same mistakes as others when it's come to facing Berwela.
Seoul, South Korea
In Korea fans will get a small but notable Boxing M card, headlined by a title fight and featuring a number of Rookie bouts.
The title bout will see Gi Won Shin (3-1-2) and Shin Yong Kim (3-3-1, 2) face off for the vacant Boxing M Korean Welterweight title. On paper this probably shouldn't be a title fight, given that neither has a solid record and neither has won any of their last 3 bouts, but the contest should be competitive and both will be very hungry to pick up the win.
Among the most interesting of the rookie bouts is a clash between Super Featherweights Dong Kwan Lee (5-1-2, 1) and Ro Joon Suh (5-0, 2), in what could be the bout of the show. Another bout that stands out is a Heavyweight clash between Korean based American Aaron Singleton (3-0, 1) and Sung Min Lee (3-1, 2). A third Rookie bout worthy of some attention will see Mu Soon Kwon (1-0) face off with Korean based Mongolian hopeful Batzorig Batjargal (2-0, 1) in a bout at Welterweight. All 3 of these bouts will be fought over the 6 round schedule.
The most notable from 4 Japanese cards takes place in Osaka where Green Tsuda put on a notable show with several “name” fighters.
The most notable of those fighters is former world champion Denkaosan Kaovichit (63-6-1, 26) who returns to a Japanese ring, for the first time since his stoppage loss to Ryo Matsumoto, to face Kazuki Tanaka (4-0, 3). This should be another step forward for the 23 year old who will be looking to get himself a title fight before the year is over.
The Kaovichit Vs Tanaka bout is one of 4 notable Japan Vs Thailand bouts. Another, at the top of the card, will see Takayuki Okumoto (16-6-2, 6) battle world ranked Thai Eaktawan Mor Krungthepthonburi (17-3, 12). Eaktawan is 0-3 outside of Thailand, having lost to Albert Pagara, Sho Ishida and Froilan Saludar, but has looked like a promising fighter in recent times, winning his last 10 bouts. Okumoto has won his last, following a loss in 2013 to Rusalee Samor, and will see this as an opportunity to climb into the fringes of the world rankings. A really good match up on paper and hopefully one that will deliver in the ring.
Another bout will see former OPBF Bantamweight champion Yu Kawaguchi (24-7, 11) battle a Thai, though we haven't been given the name of the Thai, just that he's a Mor Krungthepthonburi fighter. Likewise Masataka Taniguchi (0-0), will be making his debut in a 6 rounder against a Thai foe.
Another card in Japan comes from Chiba with this one featuring several bouts of note.
One of those bouts sees the once touted Kenta Onjo (5-2, 3) fight for his career as he battle Akihiko Katagiri (17-8-2, 8). Early in his career Onjo looked like one to watch but having lost 2 of his last 3, by stoppage, this is a real must win for him. Katagiri is a win-some-lose-some but has been in good form, with a 5-1-1 (4) record in his last 7 and will be expected to continue that run here.
Another of the notable bouts will see the Japanese ranked Yuta Saito (9-7-2, 7) battle against Corrales Kawashimo (7-6-1, 2). Saito's record isn't great but he's a dangerous fighter and is better than his record suggests. Incidentally Kawashimo was stopped last time out by Katagiri, who was in the previously mentioned bout.
A third bout of note, and in fact the main event of the card, will see Atsuki Hayashi (6-2-1, 2) battle against Naoya Nishimura (4-8-1, 3). Local man Hayashi will be fighting for the first time since he lost a competitive bout with Naoto Uebayashi back in May 2013 and there seems to be some genuine hope that his return will be a successful one.
There's low profile show in Fukuoka. The main event on the card will see Yoshihiko Matsuo (18-7-6, 3) battle against the limited Yuta Sasaki (7-7-1, 1). This Super Bantamweight bout, scheduled for 8 rounds, is unlikely to move the winner to a title fight but it could kick start their career after both men have faltered recently. Coming in to this one Sasaki is 1-4-1 in his last 6 whilst Matsuo is 1-2-1 in his last 4.
In a supporting bout Areji Kato (7-1, 2) will be facing a Thai opponent in a 6 rounder.
Another low profile show is set to take place in Okayama. The main event here will see the JBC ranked Light Flyweight Seigo Yuri Akui (6-0-1, 2) take on Hideaki Yamaji (5-10, 2). This looks like a mismatch though Akui, the 2015 Rookie of the Year at Light Flyweight, will be facing his most experienced man so far.