This coming Saturday is a really busy day in Asia, but the standout card is a Japanese one with 4 notable bouts on it. Notably this card isn't just a good one on paper, but will also be available live, thanks to Boxing Raise.
The main event will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (18-3-1, 12) make his first defense, of his second reign, as he battles against the limited but typically fun to watch Yosuke Fujihara (18-6, 5). The hard hitting Kuga won the belt back earlier this year, winning a Japanese Fight of the Year Contender against Ryoichi Tamura, and will be looking to impress here as he attempts to put his 2018 loss to Shingo Wake behind him. The power, pressure and aggression of Kuga is likely to be too much for the challenger but Fujihara does make for fun fights and this should be a fan friendly 1-sided bout. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuga takes on Fujihara in first title defense!
A second title bout will see fast rising Japanese hopeful Tsubasa Murachi (4-0, 3) take on former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (30-3-1, 21) in a bout for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. Although not one of the big name hopefuls in Japan Murachi is very well regarded by those who have followed his career, and the plan had always been to fast track him, though we didn't expect such a big step up so early in his career. A win for Murachi at this stage will likely secure him a WBO world ranking but it's not an easy task. Saludar, who was once touted as a future world champion himself, has faltered in his biggest bouts, including bouts against Takuma Inoue and Sho Kimura, but is very capable. For Saludar another loss here would likely end his hopes of getting another world title fight, but he'll feel confident that his experience will be too much for the Japanese youngster. A very interesting match up. A full preview of this bout can be read here Murachi goes for gold in 5th fight, takes on Saludar for WBO regional title!
The third bout which is getting a lot of interest is a Japanese Minimumweight title eliminator. This bout, the second of the eliminators for the 2020 Champion Carnival, will see former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) going up against hard hitting youngster Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6). For Taniguchi this is a must win bout, but also a huge step backwards following a bout with Vic Saludar earlier this year. As for Ishizawa this is a massive step up in class, and a win will put him on the map and secure a title fight next year. Our view is that it maybe too much too soon for Ishizawa, but we understand why he has taken the fight. This is genuine high risk, high reward for both men. Our preview of this bout is available here Taniguchi and Ishizawa meet in Japanese title eliminator
The final of the notable bouts will see rising Afghan born Japanese based Welterweight hopeful Kudura Kaneko (10-0, 7) continue to step up as he takes on rugged veteran Moon Hyon Yun (18-7-3, 4) in what could turn out to be the best bout of the show. Kaneko is a very exciting, hard hitting boxer-puncher whilst Yun is a genuine tough guy who has scored more than his share of upset wins. This should be a real test for Kaneko, and could well be a genuine banana skin given the style that Yun brings to the ring. This bout has been featured as our One to watch-Kudura Kaneko vs Moon Hyon Yun this week.
In China we get an interesting card with an international feel to it.
In one of the main bouts we'll see Chinese puncher Jun Zhao (11-2-1, 8) take on Japanese foe Sonin Nihei (9-4-2, 1) in a contest for the WBA Asia Bantamweight title. Coming in to this the 26 year old Zhao has been in good form, winning his last 6, but hasn't looked sensational during that run and he certainly improvements to make. On the other hand Nihei has struggled for results, winning just 1 of his last 3, but will be travelling with the knowledge that he has the skills to spring in the upset.
In a supporting bout we'll see Mongolian hopeful Erkhembayar Batbayar (5-0, 3) take on Korean foe Jun Yong Lee (6-5-4, 3). This is a 10 rounder and on paper a big step up for the Mongolian, who has never been beyond 6 rounds so far. The Korean is a former national champion, but has won just 1 of his last 4, and is 2-4-1 in his last 7. Batbayar will be the favourite, and rightfully so, but this is certainly his biggest test to date.
Bang Phun, Thailand
We return to the Work Point Studio for a Thai card which will be available on Work Point in Thailand and DAZN in the US.
One of the main bouts on this card will see former Naoya Inoue opponent Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (43-9, 20) take on Filipino visitor Renz Rosia (15-8-1, 8). Petchbarngborn, also known as Karoon Jarupianlerd, has gone 8-1 since losing to Inoue in 2016 but has fought at a most limited level, with a loss earlier this year to Amnat Ruenroeng being the most notable of those bouts. Rosia on the other hand is 1-3-1 in his last 5 and despite once being a solid fighter at regional level looks like a man who is is often fighting above his best weight. Rosia always comes to fight, but there is a feeling that he probably won't have enough to over-come the Thai in Thailand, where an away win is never easy.
Another bout on this card pitting a Thai against a Filipino will see Nawaphon Kaikanha (46-1-1, 36) take the under-rated and tough Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-14-3, 11). The once beaten Nawaphon is a former world title challenger who is also the brother of former world champion Suriyan Sor Rungvisai. Since his loss, in a WBC Flyweight title bout to Juan Hernandez, Nawaphon has moved up to Bantamweight and reeled off 10 straight wins. On paper Ponteras doesn't look like much of a threat, but in reality he's a really good journeyman who should take Nawaphon some rounds, and be competitive at times. Saying that however there are question marks about what Ponteras still has left following his first stoppage defeat back in March, when he was stopped in the opening round by Seiya Tsutsumi. At his best he was very much an upset minded fighter, who scored more than his share of wins against the odds, but he's now without a win in 4 bouts and could well be past his best.
Another bout on this card will be part of the WP Boxing Super Flyweight tournament and will see novices Danai Ngiabphukhiaw (2-1, 1) and Yodtanong Chaepet (2-0, 1) face off. These two were supposed to fight in August but their bout was pushed back to here. On paper this 6 rounder promises a lot and should be competitive, and of course we're big fans of tournaments, so fingers crossed the winner of the overall competition will be given a career boost as Thailand looks to unearth it's next generation of talent.
A second show in Thailand is a much lower profile card. The bouts here are much less interesting and the main event will see Murodjon Yokubov (4-0, 3) battle against teenager Tanawat Ketsiri (2-5, 2). The 25 year old Yokubov is a Thai based Uzbek who turned pro last year and really needs a step up in the near future. Ketsiri on the other hand has lost 4 times this year, and looks almost certain to pick up another loss here.
Sadly not other bout on this card is really worth talking about.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Yet another show of some note is a Filipino card from the Elorde Sports Center in Paranaque City.
Among the bouts on this card is a clash of once beaten youngsters, as Arvin Magramo (10-1-1, 6) and Francis Jay Diaz (8-1-1, 1) face off in an 8 round Light Flyweight contest. Magramo is very much in the rebuilding stages of his career, following a defeat at the hands of Garen Diagan a year ago, but this is a tough match up on paper and his team are taking a risk here. The 21 year old Diaz, dubbed "The Amazing Boy" began his career 1-1-1 before reeling off 7 straight wins, but this is a bi step up for him. Although a low key bout, in the grand scheme of things, this is a very interesting match up
A second contest between fighters with a single loss to their name will feature Marlon Paniamogan (9-1-1, 5) and Jino Rodrigo (5-1-2, 4), who will also be involved in a 10 round fight. On paper this should be more explosive than the other bout however it's worth noting that Paniamogan was beaten last time out, losing a decision in Japan to Kuntae Lee. Rodrigo, on the other hand, is 3-1-2 in his last 6, suggesting neither has much moment coming into this bout.
A third bout of interest here sees unbeaten men battle, with Delmar Pellio (7-0, 3) and Marjon Piencenaves (6-0-1, 4) fighting in an 8 rounder. The 19 year old Pellio has only previously faced 1 opponent with a winning record and will be looking for his third win of the year. Piencenaves on the other hand is a 24 year old who is facing his first opponent with a winning record, so for both men this is a step up and their real, serious test.
New Delhi, India
There's also a small show in India.
The main bout on this card will see the unbeaten Rajesh Kumar (10-0-1-2) take on Filipino foe Ivor Lastrilla (11-7-1, 6) in an 8 round contest. The 25 year old Kumar has won his last 5, following a draw in October 2016, and is looking to build on those wins here. On paper Lastrilla is a step down from Kumar's last 2 foes, but could still make for an interesting test. The 27 year old Lastrilla has lost his last 3, but when on form he can be a good test. Lastrilla is unlikely to have the size, power or strength to be a physical threat to Kumar, but may have the skills to ask questions of him.
In a supporting bout female hopeful Ramandeep Kaur (5-0) will take on Thai journey-woman Saranyaphong Theinthong (2-13, 2), in what really should be an easy win for Kaur over 6 rounds.
Attention turns to Tokyo this coming Tuesday for the next notable Watanabe card, headlined by a world title fight and supported by a number of really interesting prospects.
The main event of the show will see WBO Minimumweight champion Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) making his first defense and taking on Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7). Saludar, who won the title last year when he beat Ryuya Yamanaka, has proven to be a difficult assign for top fighters, with Kosei Tanaka needing to pull himself off the canvas to stop him and his win over Yamanaka. Taniguchi on the other hand is taking a huge step up in class, but is a top class fighter who's only losses have been razor thin ones to Tsubasa Koura and Reiya Konishi. We're really expecting this to be something really special. Our preview of this bout can be read here Saludar returns to Japan to defend against Taniguchi!
The main under-card bout will see former amateur standout Shu Utsuki (3-0, 2) take on Japanese based Filipino Jerry Castroverde (10-5, 5), who is promoted by Nobuhiro Ishida. Utsuki has shown great promise already in his career, but this is a very clear step up in class and will be the first time he has taken on someone with real ring experience. Castroverde on the other hand has lost 3 of his last 6, but has mixed with good competition, including Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov and Tae Il Atsumi. This is a huge step up for the unbeaten man.
Another big supporting bout will see the 2017 Rookie of the year Fumiya Fuse (7-0, 1) take on Naoto Mizutani (5-5-1, 2) in a really good looking 8 round bout. We've been impressed by Fuse, who really shined last year on his international debut in Korea, and we're expecting to see huge things from him in 2019. This should be a straight forward win for the youngster, but Mizutani has mixed with so very notable foes, including Kenshin Oshima and Ryo Akaho, so may have a few tricks up his sleeve to teach Fuse.
Teenage sensation Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1) will be fighting his second professional bout on his card, as he takes on once beaten 20 year old Thai Gerttipong Kumsahwat (3-1, 3), in what should be another bout to allow Shigeoka to shine ahead of a planned 8 round bout in April.
Talking about low key Thai's it's worth noting that Suzumi Takayama (0-0) will be making his debut against a low key Thai, taking on Nirun Baonok (5-14, 4), who has stacked up losses in Japan. Typically Baonok has given rounds to good fighters and been matched really hard, but given the fact Takayama was a stand out amateur we don't see this being a competitive match up.
In Bangkok this coming Tuesday we'll see two Japanese fighters from the Watanabe gym fighting for regional titles.
One of those will be Masataka Taniguchi (10-2, 7), who will be fighting against Filipino fighter Joel Lino (10-0-1, 3) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title. There was talk about Taniguchi getting a world title fight at the end of the year, though it seems those plans are off, due to him lacking a WBO world title, but a win here will put him in to the rankings. The unbeaten Lino may feel he's being over-looked, but he's certainly a live under-dog against the under-rated Japanese fighter, who's losses have come ton Reiya Konishi and Tsubasa Koura. It should be noted that Lino hold a really notable win over recent world title challenger Pedro Taduran and will be feeling confident of picking up another huge win here.
The other title fight on this show will be an ABF Featherweight title bout between boxing-policeman Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) and Thai journeyman Worawatchai Boonjan (12-17-1, 11). Sugita is a very talented fighter and a win here is expected in what appears to be a mismatch in favour of the visitor.
This coming Thursday Japanese fight fans will get the chance to see a really interesting double header at the Korakuen Hall.
One of those bouts will see Japanese Lightweight hopeful Shuichiro Yoshino (6-0, 4) make his first defense of the title as he takes on mandatory challenger Masaki Saito (14-12-6, 5) in the second Champion Carnival bout of 2018. The talented Yoshino has risen through the ranks at an impressive pace since debuting at the end of 2015 and despite only having 6 fights he has already beating veterans like Chaiyong Sithsaithong and Yoshitaka Kato as well as top domestic foes like Spicy Matsushita. Sadly Saito is a limited challenger, especially as a mandatory, and appears to have gotten a shot in part due to the lack of depth in the division. Although limited Saito is tough, having only been stopped once, back in 2006, and tall, at around 5'11”, and is more likely to ask questions of Yoshino rather than really test him.
Whilst the Japanese title bout looks likely to be a one-sided win for the champion the other title bout looks likely to be a thrilling war. That's because the all action Hiroaki Teshigawara (15-2-2, 9) will be defending his WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title against teak tough Filipino puncher Jason Canoy (27-7-2, 19). The champion first made a mark in 2015, fighting to a draw with Hideo Sakamoto and then made a name for himself in 2016 with a narrow loss to Ryo Akaho in one of the forgotten wars of the year. Last year we saw Teshigawara score a thrilling win over Keita Kurihara before stopping Jetro Pabustan to claim the regional title. As for Canoy he's a big punching tough guy, who has scored wins over the likes of Drian Francisco, Giovanni Escaner, Jestoni Autida and Renerio Arizala. To date Canoy tends to come up short against his best opponents, including a then debuting Hinata Maruta, but is always a tough out and should give us a war with Teshigawara, who is always up for a fire fight. This could be a very special fight.
One other fighter on this card of some note is Masataka Taniguchi (9-2, 7). The talented Watanabe gym fighter has lost 2 of his last 5, though they have both been razor thin losses to fellow talented youngsters, Reiya Konishi and Tsubasa Koura, and it'd be downright foolish to write the 24 year old off given the talent he has. We're unsure who he will be up against here, but we are aware it's a Filipino opponent and the odds are that Taniguchi will be moved towards another title fight later in the year.
This Sunday closes out an incredibly long year for us boxing fans and does so in spectacular fashion with a trio of world title bouts, including a two mandatory title defenses by champions in their first defenses and a world title unification.
The first part of the world title triple header will see IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (8-0, 6) making his first defense of the title he won earlier this year as he takes on talented Nicaraguan challenger Carlos Buitrago (30-2-1-1, 17)). For the fast rising Kyoguchi, who won the title a little more than a year into his career, the bout is another big step up in class and this really does look like a baptism of fire for the youngster, who looked explosive whilst going to 6-0 (6) to begin his career. In Buitrago we'll see Kyoguchi up against a challenger in his 4th world title challenger, and it's likely that it's now or never for the man who was once regarded as the next Roman Gonzalez. The bout matches aggressive against skills and should be a very entertaining clash of styles.
The second part of the triple header is an all Japanese bout, as WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (15-1-2, 8) makes his first defense, following his shock upset over Zou Shiming in July. The new champion will be up against mandatory challenger Toshiyuki Igarashi (23-2-3, 12), a former WBC and Linear champion. Kimura really showed his will to win as he broke down the naturally more skilled Shiming and will be hoping to do the same here against the more experienced Igarashi, who will know it;s now or never if he's to become a 2-time world champion. Sadly fans who have followed Igarashi in recent times will be expecting head clashes to mar this bout, but on paper it's a very interesting and incredibly tough first defense for the Aoki gym fighter.
The main event of the triple header is one of the best match ups we've seen this year and pits WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (26-2-2, 12) against his IBF counter part Milan Melindo (37-2, 13) in a mouth watering world title unification bout. Coming in to this Taguchi is the longest active reigning champion at 108lbs, having held his title since the end of 2014 and racked up 6 defenses, but his form has been inconsistent and he's certainly frustrated at times during his reign, whilst seeking a big bout. For the technically superb Melindo this is his second defense, and sees him returning to Japan, where he won his title, with a chance to earn Fighter of the Year honours with an impressive performance. Since winning the title in May Melindo has beaten Hekkie Budler and had a career defining year, with a win here potentially putting a cherry on top. The winner will not only unify the WBA and IBF titles but also claim the Ring magazine title and be regarded by some as the de facto best in the division.
Also on this card will be former world title challenger Shingo Wake (22-5-2, 14), who is looking for his third successive win since being stopped by Jnathan Guman in 2016, and the excellent Masataka Taniguchi (8-2, 6), who's only losses have been razor thin ones in battles for the Japanese and OPBF Minimumweight titles. Both Wake and Taniguchi will be up against limited Thai foe
Title action continues in Tokyo for a second day running, with a trio of title bouts at the Korakuen Hall, including an OPBF title defense, a Japanese youth title defense and a bout for a vacant Japanese youth title, as well as a Japanese title eliminator. It's fair to say fans are in store for a packed card!
The most notable of the title bouts will see the fast rising Tsubasa Koura (11-0, 8) defending his OPBF Mnimumweight title against former amateur stand out Masataka Taniguchi (8-1, 6). The champion will be making his first defense of the title, a title that he won this past July, and he will be looking to continue his impressive stoppage run, which currently stands at 5 stoppages including wins over Jeffrey Galero and Jaysever Abcede. As for Taniguchi this will be his second title bout, having come up short in a bout against Reiya Konishi for the Japanese title.
At Lightweight we'll see Japanese Youth champion Izuki Tomioka (4-0, 1) defending his title for the first time, and facing off with with 21 year old puncher Taiju Shiratori (8-2, 5). The talented Tomioka won the title in August, defeating Yuichito Kasyua, and has had a stellar 2017 with with with wins over Joon Woo Park and Shun Shimazaki. As for Shiratori he's stopped his last 3 foes but this is a step up in class for him and going to be a test of how he can cope with a very skilled fighter.
The other Japanese Youth title fight will see the highly regarded Andy Hiraoka (10-0, 7) taking on Takahiko Kobayashi (7-2, 5) for the JBC Youth Light Welterweight title. These two both fought in the Semi-Final of the Japanese Youth tournament on August 23rd with Hiraoka blowing out Ukyo Yoshigai in 3 rounds whilst Kobayashi struggled to over-come Hayato Ono, avenging one of his two losses. Of the two it's Hiraoka who has impressed more, but at 6'0” Kobayashi will be one of the very few fighters taller than Hiraoka and could pose some questions based on size alone.
Despite there being 3 title bouts on this show the main event is technically a Japanese title eliminator at Light Middleweight as former national Welterweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (18-4-1, 7) takes on veteran Cobra Suwa (19-12-2, 11). Shindo's reign at 147lbs was a short lived one, lasting just over 3 months, and he has fought only once since, getting off the canvas to defeat Sansouke Sasaki. The 37 year old Suwa had been a professional for more than 14 year and although he has challenged for both the OPBF and JBC titles he hasn't had a career defining win, but will know that a title fight in 2018 could given him one last chance.
One other bout of note here will see recent Japanese title challenger Ryoichi Tamura (8-3-1, 5) take on experienced Filipino Robert Udtohan (24-2-3, 15). Tamura recently challenged Yusaku Kuga, and gave Kuga all sorts of hell showing his power, aggression and energy. The Filipino is best known for his 2016 bout Qiu Xiao Jun, in which he was stopped in 3 rounds. It's hard to see Udtohan win here, but this should be a very entertaining contest.
New York, USA
There will also be some central Asian fighters in action in the US.
One of those fighters is hard hitting Uzbek Welterweight Shohjahon Ergashev (9-0, 9), who will be making his US debut and risking his perfect record against Marquis Hawthorne (5-7, 1). The Uzbek has taken out his first 9 foes in a combined 15 rounds and looks like a genuine monster, though with this being his first fight Stateside it really does look like he's being matched softly on paper. Hawthorne has shown little power during his career so far, but has only been stopped once and should be able to test Ergashev's power.
Also on the card is unbeaten American based Kazakh Dimash Niyazov (12-0-3, 5), though at the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced.
This coming Sunday Japanese fight fans in Osaka are in for a treat as they get an OPBF title triple header with supporting bouts featuring a hot prospect and a former 2-time world title challenger.
The former world title challenger is Hirofumi Mukai (13-5-3, 3), who was last seen losing a thriller with Rex Tso in Hong Kong. Although Mukai was battered by Tso he put on a brave and courageous showing and it'll be nice to see him back in action, even if he is facing a Thai who has been picked to help Mukai rebuild. The other notable fighter on the under-card is former Japanese Minimumeight title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (7-1, 5), who also faces a Thai foe. For Taniguchi the bout will be his first since suffering a narrow loss to Reiya Konishi for the Japanese title, and we suspect he will be in there with a point to prove.
The first of the three title bouts will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Ratchasi Sithsaithong (8-3, 6) defending his title against Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine (10-4, 8). For the Thai the bout will be his first defense and see him return to Japan following a massive come-from-behind victory against Yutaka Oishi back in April. For Petagine this will be his first title fight and although neither fighter is a big name the bout should be a good chance for the winner to begin making a name for themselves.
The stand out bout, on paper at least, will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (26-12, 12) defending his title against former 2-time Japanese champion Kentaro Masuda (27-7, 15). On paper this bout may not get pulses racing but fans who have followed the two fighters will know their records are misleading, and both fighters can really go. Both hit harder than their records suggest, both are in good form and both are world ranked by the WBC and IBF, essentially making this a world title eliminator as well as an Oriental title bout.
The third, and final, OPBF title bout on the card will see Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (12-2-2, 11) defending his title against Japanese based American puncher Brandon Lockhart Shane (8-5-1, 7). On paper this looks like an easy win for the defending champion, who is younger, bigger and more proven than the challenger, however the challenger can puncher, and Tyson has got a suspect chin. The champion should retain, but we wouldn't be surprised if he showed a lot of respect to the American here, and looked to use his size, rather than his power, to defend his title.
Metro Manila, Philippines
The final Filipino show of the month is a card put on by United and although it's not the best card it does feature a number of notable names, both established fighters and rising novices.
The most established fighter on the card is former world title challenger Ardin Diale (32-11-4, 15), who looks to make the most of his experience as he faces southpaw foe Wiljan Ugbaniel (13-4-1, 4). It's hard to see Diale losing here, but he has had a long and hard career and recent bouts against the likes of Daigo Higa, Ryan Lumacad and Andrew Selby will have taken their toll on his body.
Another notable name on this show is once touted Joebert Alvarez (16-2-1, 7), who looked like a champion in the making against Juan Francisco Estrada. Alvarez will be up against domestic veteran Roque Lauro (13-21-5, 3), in what should be a mismatch in favour of the 27 year old Alvarez.
A third domestic show down will see Ivan Soriano (15-1-1, 7) take on Bimbo Nacionales (14-13-1, 3), in what will likely be a quick show case for Soriano. In his 28 fight career Nacionales has been stopped 12 times, and it's likely another stoppage loss will follow here.
As for newer faces we'll see Japanese 23 year old Masataka Taniguchi (6-1, 4) take on Benjie Bartolome (2-9-2) in what should should be a very straight forward win for the Watanabe gym fighter. Taniguchi was beaten last time out, narrowly losing to Reiya Konishi in a Japanese title fight, and will likely be in the Philippines with a statement to make. Taniguchi's stable mate Hironori Mishiro (1-0, 1) will also be on this card, with the 22 year old taking on Pablito Canada (6-11-3, 1) in what should be a straight forward win for the really exciting Mishiro, who looked great on debut back in March.
The biggest show this week, at least for Asian fans, takes place on Sunday and features a title triple header as Shinsei gym give us fight fans a real treat.
The main event of the card will see WBA “regular” Super Bantamweight champion Nehomar Cermeno (26-5-1-1, 15) take on unbeaten Japanese challenger Shun Kubo (11-0, 8), with Kubo getting his first world title bout. Coming in to this Cermeno is enjoying an Indian summer in regards to his career and and reeled off 4 wins last year, including 2 against Qiu Xiao Jun and one against Nop Kratingdaenggym, to claim and defend the title. Although good last year the champion is 37 and has had a long career. Aged 26 Shinsei gym view Kubo as the next Hozumi Hasegawa and know that a win here would see Hyogo based gym have their next star. For Kubo the bout is a huge step up in class, but he and his team wouldn't have taken this bout if they weren't confident of coming out on top in what should be a bout that answers a lot of questions about both men.
In a supporting bout we'll see OPBF title action as OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani (13-0, 8) takes on once beaten Thai challenger Kaewfah Tor Buamas (23-1, 16). For the champion this will be his 7th defense of the title, a title that he won more than 3 years ago, and it's arguably one of the more interesting defenses on paper. As for the Thai this is a must win bout given that he was dominated by Czar Amonsot last year, before being stopped in round 7. If Nakatani, as we suspect, wins here there will be serious talk of him getting a world title fight, and it could well be that he gets such a shot later this year, or early next year. For the Thai a win would be a shock, and it would take a career defining performance for him to walk away as the Oriental champion.
In another title bout from this card we see unbeaten youngsters clash in a bout for the vacant Japanese Minimumweight title. The bout will see Reiya Konishi (12-0, 5) battle with Watanabe's exciting Masataka Taniguchi (6-0, 4). Aged 23 Konishi has been a professional since 2013 and made his first real mark in 2014, when he claimed the Rookie of the Year crown. Despite being the Rookie of the Year in 2014 he's not really progressed and hasn't really moved forward in his career in 2015 or 2016. Taniguchi is also 23 but has been a professional for just over a year, debuting last April, and has already impressed with a very notable win last October against Dexter Alimento being a stand out win. Although flawed, and inexperienced, Taniguchi has been seen as a fighter on the fast track and a win here would put him on to the fringes of a world title fight.
Also on this card will be the once beaten Sho Nakazawa (9-1, 4), who will be up against Filipino visitor John Ray Logatiman (5-4-2, 1).
A second card in Osaka will be put on by Muto gym, and unfortunately whilst it does boast some notable names, the card looks to be a very one sided one. In fact it looks to be little more than a bunch of mismatches.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (25-12, 11) fight in a stay busy contest against a Thai foe. In a leading support bout former OPBF, Japanese and IBF Asia Light Middleweight champion Takayuki Hosokawa (28-11-5, 9) will fight in his retirement, also against a Thai foe, and Masahiro Sakamoto (8-1, 4) is also set to take on a Thai visitor. Sadly none of the Thai's are known quantities suggesting very limited visitors.
In an all-Japan bout we'll see Kazuyasu Okamoto (13-4, 3) battle with Ryo Okayama (8-3-1, 5), who returns to a Japanese ring for the first time since 2014.
There will be a third show in Osaka, though with much less attention than the other two.
The main event here will see Yuta Uetani (19-5-1, 9) facing off with a no-name Thai foe. Although Uetani's bout is the main event there will also be a domestic match up between Ken Osato (10-1-1, 3) and Keita Ito (8-20-2, 4), in what looks like a clear mismatch.
The only non-Osakan show on Saturday comes from Fukuoka and is again a low key show.
The main event here will be a really well matched 6 rounder as Yuki Hirashima (5-1-1, 1) battles against Shinji Uramoto (5-1, 4) in what should be a really good match up. Sadly the rest of the card is merely full of novices.
The final day of 2016 is one of the most notable on the boxing calendar as Japanese TV promoters, and TV channels put on a number of shows. This year we get three shows, each with multi-ple title bouts and notable prospects.
The most notable of the three shows takes place in Kyoto and will be aired on TBS as part of their huge end of year celebrations.
The headline bout here will see the WBA regular and interim titles at Flyweight being unified. The bout sees regular champion Kazuto Ioka (20-1, 12) battle with unbeaten interim champion Stamp Kiatniwat (15-0, 6) from Thailand. The bout is an interesting match up with Stamp's team showing confidence in their man, who seemed to believe he was travelling to Japan to stop the champion. The experience Ioka will be looking to show that experience is key here and will likely be looking to prove he's the best Flyweight on the planet in 2017, after getting this mandatory defense out of the way.
A second world title fight on this card will see IBF Super Bantamweight chamion Jonathan Guzman (22-0-0-1, 22) defending his title for the first time. The heavy handed Dominican will be up against once beaten Japanese challenger Yukinori Oguni (18-1-1, 7), who is looking to add a world title to his collection which already includes a Japanese and OPBF title. Guzman, who won the title in Japan with a stoppage win over Shingo Wake, has looked relaxed but some have felt that he is over-looking Oguni who has started to find his own power in recent bouts.
Sadly an IBF Bantamweight title bout between Lee Haskins (34-3, 14) and Shohei Omori (17-1, 12) was cancelled in the weeks leading up to the bout, as Haskins suffered an injury that forced him out. Omori's team, who are promoting the show, managed to find their man a solid late replacement in the former of multi-time world title challenger Rocky Fuentes (32-8-2, 20). The bout isn't a bad one given the short notice but it should be noted that Fuentes is best known for his run at Flyweight and will be dwarfed by Omori who is around 5” taller than the Filipino.
Another bout pitting a Japanese fighter against a Thai will see the unbeaten, and world ranked, Sho Ishida (22-0, 11) up against the hapless Petchnamnung Sor Thiebkhun (0-10). The Thai has been stopped 8 times in his 10 defeats and will be unlikely to test Ishida who has made it clear that he's wanting world title fights in 2017. A bout like this won't prepare him for world class opposition but serves the task of keeping him busy and ticking him over whilst looking for a big fight.
Another Ioka gym hopeful on this under card is the unbeaten, and exciting, Super Flyweight Masayoshi Hashizume (11-0, 8). Hashizume won the Rookie of the Year in 2014 and although we had hoped to see him in notable fights since he actually this year facing unknown Thai Chatpetch Saithonggym (0-0). Hopefully 2017 will be a better year for the Osaka man who hasn't progressed like some had hoped.
Another notable multi-title show will come from Tokyo and be promoted by Watanabe promotions, who continue their association with TV Tokyo.
The headline bout of this is the “revenge or repeat” bout between Panama's tricky Jezreel Corrales (20-1-1, 8) and Takashi Uchiyama (24-1-1, 20). Earlier this year Corrales blitzed Uchiyama in 2 rounds to give “KO Dynamite” his first professional defeat and to claim the WBA Super Featherweight “super” title and shocked the boxing world. Now the champion will be looking to repeat the feat as he returns to a Japanese ring whilst Uchiyama will be looking to prove the result was an anomaly. At 37 years old however the view is that Uchiyama is several years removed from his prime and will likely be over-whelmed by the speed and movement of Corrales once again.
The second of the world title bouts on this card will see WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (25-2-1, 11) defending his belt against unbeaten Venezuelan puncher Carlos Canizales (16-0, 13). On paper this looks like a good defense for Taguchi but in fairness Canizales hasn't yet fought anyone of any name recognition and it's hard to know how good he really is. He could be the next gem of a talent from Venezuela or he could be a crude domestic fighter, as the footage suggests, either way we'll see questions answered about him, even if we don't learn anythign new about Taguchi.
Arguably the most interesting bout of the whole day is an OPBF / WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title unification bout as the once beaten Masayuki Ito (19-1-1, 9), the current OPBF champion, takes on the teak tough and criminally under-rated Takuya Watanabe (30-6-1, 16), the current WBO Asia Pacific title holder. This bout is one for the hardcore but is something we expect to actually leave the fans the happiest with. Both men are incredibly talented, have under-rated power and skills and the winner really does deserve some other major bouts in 2017. We think Ito is the more proven but Watanabe is always a handful and appears to be getting better with every fight.
One of the hottest young talents in Japanese boxing will be looking to secure his 5th straight stoppage win. That is the wonderfully aggressive Hiroto Kyoguchi (4-0, 4), who will be up against Filipino visitor Junuel Lacar (7-3-3, 5). The bout should be a test for Kyoguchi but the reality is that he has made supposed tests, like Kenichi Miyazaki and Michael Camelion, look poor courtesy of his speed and power. A win here could see Kyoguchi begin to fight for titles in 2017.
Another fast rising prospect on this card is the really exciting Masataka Taniguchi (5-0, 4), who is looking to build on his recent win over Dexter Alimento as he takes on Vicent Bautista (5-5-3, 1) in what looks like a straight forward bout for the much fancied Taniguchi. It's thought that 2017 will see Taniguchi battle for titles and this could be his final bout before he gets to wear his first strap.
For those interested in final 3 bouts mentioned here they will be features on tape delay as part of the Boxingraise service.
A third show, in fact the first of the three, takes place in Gifu where Hatanaka will be promoting a card. The main event of this will have a legal stream broadcast world wide for fans interested.
The main event of this card will see former WBO Minimumweight champions collide as Kosei Tanaka (7-0, 4) takes on Moises Fuentes (24-2-1, 13) for the vacant WBO Light Flyweight. For Tanaka this is a huge chance to match Naoya Inoue's Japanese record of becoming a 2-weight world champion in 8 bouts however it's a tough bout against a very talented Mexican who many feel should should have scored a win a win over Donnie Nietes in his first bout with the talented Filipino. On paper this is probably the most interesting of the bouts from the day, at least at world title level.
At Japanese title level we'll see Shota Hayashi (28-5-1, 17), making his first defense of the Japanese Featherweight title, taking on former world champion Akifumi Shimoda (31-5-2, 14). For Hayashi, who won the title back in September, a win here would legitimise his reign and prove him to be a worthy champion. For Shimoda this is a second shot at this title following a narrow loss to Satoshi Hosono last year.
In a supporting bout we'll see former Japanese Bantamweight title contender Yushi Tanaka (18-1-3, 12) face off with Takuya Taniguchi (6-9-2, 1). For Tanaka this is a chance to record a third straight win following his March loss to Kentaro Masuda for the Japanese title. The little known Taniguchi will be looking to score his biggest win, though he has gone just 1-3 in his last 4 bouts dating back more than a year.
Another supporting bout will see Kento Hatanaka (1-0, 1), the son of former former world champion Kiyohi Hatanaka, battle against Yukihiro Asahara (2-4, 1). The 18 year old Hatanaka will be seeking to score his second win in the space of just 5 weeks! On his debut Hatanaka score a quick blow out over an over-matched foe and will be looking to do the same again here.