Although the iconic Korakuen Hall is one of, if not the, busiest venue in world boxing it doesn't actually play host to many world title fights. This coming Monday we get one of those rare world title bouts in the headline of a pretty notable card put on by the Nitta Gym.
The world title bout in question will see IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25) defending his title against mandatory challenger Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16). It's a clash of veterans and a very, very interesting match up. Mthalane impressed last time out, when he made his first defense of his second reign, and stopped Masahiro Sakamoto in Macau, defending the belt he had won when he narrowly beaten Muhammad Waseem in July. In title win Mthalane did look sharp to begin with but his age began to get to him late and it's unclear what he really has left at the age of 36. Kuroda, himself 32, is getting his second crack more than 6 years after battling Juan Carlos Reveco for the WBA title. Kuroda has had mixed fortunes at Flyweight but has won 6 in a row to earn this shot. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuroda goes up against IBF champ Mthalane!
In a really good supporting bout we'll see the once beaten Ryo Hino (12-1-2, 7) go up against Tasuku Suwa (6-3-1, 1). On paper it's easy to think Hino is in for an easy night, but in reality we're expecting a very, very close bout. Hino's sole loss came to Reiya Abe way back in 2015, and since then he has gone 7-0-1 (5), with a notable win over Sho Nakazawa and a draw against Coach Hiroto. Suwa on the other hand has lost 3 of his last 4 is no push over and does have skills to test fighters, as we saw when he gave Ryo Sagawa a good battle last year. Hino's the clear favourite, but Suwa is a live under-dog.
One other bout of interest on this card is a well matched contest pitting Yui Oikawa (7-4-1, 1) against Shinnosuke Hasegawa (8-2-1, 6). Neither of these men are expected to be major stars, but both will enter this bout with the belief they can win. Oikawa was stopped last time out, but is 5-2 (4) in his last 7 and is certainly a man with some belief. Hasegawa on the other hand has won his last 7, but they have come against some very poor opposition, and it will be him stepping up in this bout.
Also on this card is 2018 Middleweight Rookie of the Year Nath Nwachukwu (3-0-2, 1) who takes on the once beaten Yasunori Mihara (4-1, 3) in what will be Nwachukwu's first bout since his Rookie triumph in December.
This coming Monday attention returns to the Korakuen Hall for a title double header courtesy of the Kawasaki Nitta gym.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Flyweight champion Masayuki Kuroda (29-7-3, 16) take on the under-rated Akinori Hoshino (13-7-2, 9). For Kuroda this bout will be his third defense of the title, which he won in June 2017 with a split decision win over Takuya Kogawa. Last time out the champion narrowly over-came Katsunori Nagamine in a thrilling 10 round war and he's currently in the form of his career as he chases a second world title bout, following on from a 2013 shot at the WBA Flyweight title. Hoshino fought in a title eliminator last year, fighting to a frustrating and sloppy draw with Nagamine, That draw ended a 3 fight winning run from Hoshino, who had upset both Kenya Yamashita and Shun Kosaka in recent contests. Hoshino is likely to be a stylistic nightmare for Kuroda, but we do suspect that the experience edge he has will help him score the victory.
The chief support bout will also be a title fight, with OPBF female Featherweight champion Kimika Miyoshi (13-10-1, 5) defending her belt against Wakako Fujiwara (5-2-2, 2). The champion has held this title since June 2016 but this will be her first defense. Since winning the belt Miyoshi has fought twice, but lost both of those contests to Shannon O'Connell and Hyun Mi Choi. Although Miyoshi has lost at the higher level she is very good at Oriental level and has won titles at 3 weights. The 37 year old Fujiwara is the Japanese Female Featherweight champion, having won the title this past March, but this is a huge step up in class for her, and one we suspect she'll come up short in.
In one of the leading supporting bouts fans will see Japanese ranked Featherweight Ryo Hino (11-1-2, 6) take on Toshizane Kinoda (6-4, 2). On paper it's hard to see how the talented Hino comes up short here. Hino has impressed against the likes of Sho Nakazawa, who he out boxed last September, and Coach Hiroto, who he drew with in January. Hino, from what we've seen of him, is a technically solid fighter who uses his jab brilliantly. Kinoda is pretty limited, and has lost 3 of his last 4 bouts, but has never been stopped so will be expected to go the 8 round scheduled with Hino, albeit come up clearly short.
Another good looking bout on this card is a very evenly matched contest between Kosuke Arioka (7-3, 6) and Yui Oikawa (7-3, 4), who battle in an intriguing 8 rounder. The heavy handed Arioka won the 2017 Japanese Rookie of the Year at Lightweight, stopping Rikki Naito's younger brother Mirai Naito along the way. Although Arioka has nasty power he has been stopped in 2 of his 3 losses and can certainly be hurt. On the other hand Oikawa doesn't have a reputation as a puncher but has stopped his last 3 so seems to be developing belief in his power, and he's yet to be stopped, suggesting he could be a nightmare for Arioka.
This coming Saturday we get a world title in the West and we'll also see two very interesting and notable Japanese cards, both taking place in the Kanto region of Japan.
New York, USA
The world title bout is one of a trio of bouts at Madison Square Garden to feature Asian fighters, in what should be a great chance for a number of fighters to shine.
The world title bout will see Kyrgyzstan born Russian based Light Heavyweight Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10) defending his title against once beaten Cuban Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14). For both men the bout is a major step forward for their career with Bivol facing his most notable opponent to date and Barrera really fighting in a must win, against his second most significant opponent to date,only behind Andre Ward who beat him 2 years ago. The bout pits two top Light Heavyweights against each other, and could well be a very special bout.
This card will also feature a pair of Kazakh hopefuls. One of those is Meiirim Nursultanov (5-0, 4), who risks his unbeaten record against Alejandro Torres (9-3-2, 4). Nulrsultanov has looked really good since his debut in late 2016 and will be looking to launch himself up towards the world rankings by the end of 2018, with Torres being his first bout of the year. As for Torres the Mexican 24 year old has proven to be tough and should serve a good test for the Kazakh, who will be hunting his 5th straight stoppage.
The other Kazakh on this show will be Madiyar Ashkeyev (8-0, 4), who faces live under-dog Jose Antonio Abreu (13-3, 8). The Kazakh isn't as touted as his aforementioned countryman but is a skilled operator who will be looking to make up for lost time after having fought just once in 2017. Abreu, from the Dominican Republic, has lost 3 of his last 4, all in the US, and will likely come up short again here, though has been matched hard in those losses and is certainly no push over.
New York, USA
On a separate US card in New York, fans will see Kazakh hopeful Shyngyskhan Tazhibay (5-0, 2) risk his unbeaten record. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced, but it's unlikely to be too much of a step up in class for the unbeaten man.
On paper the Japanese card with the best single bouts take place in Kanagawa on a Kawasaki Nitta promoted card where fans will get two Japanese title fights and another solid support bout.
The main event of the card is a Japanese Flyweight title bout between defending champion Masayuki Kuroda (28-7-3, 16) and mandatory challenger Katsunori Nagamine (14-1-1, 10), who meet in a Champion Carnival bout. The champion will be seeking his second defense of the title, and will be expecting a much tougher bout than his last defense, which saw him dominate the limited but entertaining Mako Matsuyama. Nagamine on the other hand will be getting his first title bout, and, on paper, his toughest bout since his sole loss to Ken Shiro.
The other title bout is likely to be even better and will see teak tough Japanese Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida (17-8-1, 8) take on the explosive Kazuto Takesako (7-0, 7) in another of the 2018 Champion Carnival bouts. Nishida has held the title for almost 2 years, but has only managed a single defense, due to an out of the ring accident which forced him out of the ring for a while. Despite the lack of defenses he's a tough, aggressive and exciting champion with a solid mentality and style. Takesako is a talented slugger, and should take the fight to Nishida in a potential war. We are expecting this bout to be a potential Japanese fight of the year and something very special.
Also on this card will be the always fun to watch Gakuya Furuhashi (20-8-1, 9), who faces Masashi Kamon (7-2-1, 4) in an 8 rounder. Furuhashi has long been one of the fringe contenders on the domestic scene, and is far better than his record suggests, despite 3 losses in his last 6. Kamon on the other hand began his career 1-2 but has gone on a good run, going 6-0-1 in his last 7. Despite being on a good run Kamon is taking a notable step up in class here.
The other Japanese card will be televised on G+ and despite being higher profile in it's coverage it's arguably a lesser card, despite having a number of notable fighters on it.
The main event here will see WBO #1 ranked Super Featherweight contender Masayuki Ito (22-1-1, 11) take on under-rated Filipino Vergil Puton (17-9, 8), in a bout which appears to be a world title prelude for Ito. The talented Japanese fighter, a former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific champion, will be expected to easily over-come Puton but the visitor is no push over, and has asked genuine questions to the likes of Paul Fleming, Ibraham Balla, Shuya Masaki and Ye Joon Kim. Ito should win, but this will be much tough than a public spar for the Japanese fighter.
In a really good chief support bout fans will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (12-2-1, 8) take on Hajime Nagai (15-9-2, 5), with both men risking JBC rankings. Coming into this Tobe is ranked #7 by the JBC and Nagai is ranked #10. Tobe is riding a 4 fight winning run since losing the Japanese title to Sho Ishida, in a very competitive bout back in 2014, and despite issues with activity he is still a top domestic talent. Nagai on the other hand has lost 2 of his last 3, bith technical decisions,but does have under-rated skills, as he's shown against the likes of Yuji Shimizu back in 2016. This should be Tobe's to lose, but is a very good test on paper for the Misako gym fighter.
Another support bout will see the often fun to watch Koki Eto (21-4-1, 16) take on Filipino journeyman Marzon Cabilla (16-15-1, 5). Eto is currently riding a 4 fight winning run, albeit against limited competition, since his 2015 loss to Carlos Cuadras. Despite his low level of competition the Japanese fighter is a fringe world class talent, and is well known for his thrilling bouts against the likes of Kompayak Porpramook, Yodmongol Vor Saengthep and Ardin Diale. Cabilla enters this bout in the form of his career, riding a 7 fight winning run, but is stepping back up in class here and is likely to see that run of success come to an end.
One other bout of note will see Japanese ranked Light Flyweight Kenji Ono (11-2-1, 6) take on former Japanese Minimumweight contender Masashi Tada (11-5-2, 7). Ono is best known for his up-and-down war with Jun Takigawa from 2016, and has gone 1-1-1 since that bout, suffering an opening round loss to Seigo Yuri Akui in late 2016. He needs a win if he's to move into a title bout. As for Tada he has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3, and over 4 years removed from his last win, however at the age of 28 he does still have time to rebuild his career and a win here would see him move into the JBC rankings.
There's quite a lot of title action this coming Friday with title fights in both Japan and the Philippines. Of those two shoes it's the Japanese card that looks the much better show.
The most significant bout on the card sees Japanese Light Middleweight champion Takeshi Inoue (11-0-1, 6) challenge OPBF champion Ratchasi Sithsaithong (9-3, 7), in a bout which will see the winner also claim the WBO Asia Pacific title. On paper it looks like a bout where Inoue should be favoured, and in all honesty if he wins he could be regarded as the Japanese break out fighter of the year, but Ratchasi is no mug. Coming into this Ratchasi has scored 3 wins in a row against Japanese fighters, including a 12th round TKO of Yutaka Oishi and an 11th round TKO of Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine, who subsequently retired. Whilst Inoue has had a great year a win for Ratchasi would see him going 3-0 in Japan and have a very legitimate claim to being the best 154lb fighter in Asia.
Although the bout above is the biggest bout of the card it's technically not the main event. Instead that will be a Japanese Flyweight title bout between defending champion Masayuki Kuroda (27-7-3, 15) and the limited but entertaining Mako Matsuyama (8-12-2, 3). The bout will be Kuroda's first defense of the title he won earlier this year, when he beat Takuya Kogawa, to become a 2-weight Japanese champion. Matsuyama is best known for his 2014 FOTY contender against Rex Tso, though has some how gotten this title shot having won just once in his last 7 bouts. Kuroda should easily retain his title here if we're being honest, but this should be a fun fight all the same.
A third title bout will see former world champions collide, with Naoko Shibata (17-4-1, 6) and Etsuko Tada (16-3-2, 5) facing off for the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title. These two fought back in September 2012, with Tada defeating Shibata to retain the WBA female Minimumweight title. Since then both women have held IBF titles, with Tada holding one at 105lbs and Shibata at 108lbs. Since there first bout Tada has gone 5-3 whilst Shibata has gone 8-3-1 but both have been fighting at the top level and know that a win here will help them remain relevant, whilst a loss could end their career as a world class fighter.
The only bout of note from the under-card sees the big punching Kazuto Nakane (8-2, 8) take on former Kuroda opponent Yuta Matsuo (12-3-1, 6), in what could be an entertaining lower tier scrap. Nakane has fought at a lower level, but has show natural power and is the bigger man, whilst Maysuo is more tested man, having shared the ring with Kuroda, Ardin Diale and Ryuto Oho. This is arguably the most well matched bout on the card, despite no title being on the line.
There is also a show in the Philippines full of title bouts, though if we're being honest it's not the most attractive of shows, despite 4 “title bouts”.
The most interesting looking title bout will see the once beaten Carlo Caesar Penalosa (9-1, 3) take on Salatiel Amit (10-3-2, 7) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Flyweight title. Neither man is very well known, even in Filipino boxing circles, but Penalosa is notable not just for his famous surname but also the fact he's one of the few to stop tough journeyman Vincent Bautista. As for Amit he's best known for losing to notable opponents, suffering losses to Jade Bornea, Jonathan Taconing and Froilan Saludar, though should prove to be a very solid opponent for Penalosa here.
In an interim OPBF Featherweight title fight we'll see Venezuelan Omrri Bolivar (5-0, 3) take on Filipino Jelbirt Gomera (12-4, 6), in a bout that makes very little sense. The OPBF champion, Satoshi Shimizu, won the full title in October and he's not injured, Bolivar isn't from the OPBF region and Gomera has lost his last 3. For the OPBF to sanction this bout is a mystery and really beggars belief. The one positive is that Bolivar will find himself involved in more notable bouts going forward, after he beats Gomera, and we'd quite like a Bolivar Vs Shimizu bout in 2018.
One actual "full" OPBF title bout will see Yuko Henzan (5-6-3, 2) take on Kongsang Palum (2-3, 1) in a bout for the OPBF female Bantamweight title. It's fair to say that this isn't a very attractive bout given the limited records of both fighters, but given that both fighters are limited the bout at least be relatively competitive. Coming in Henzan has won her last 3, and is unbeaten in her last 4, but has faced limited foes in that run. As for Palum she has never scored a win over a fighter with a positive record.
In another female title bout we'll see former world title challenger Erika Hanawa (7-1, 2) take on Thai foe Sornsawan Sarakarngym (2-4, 1) for the OPBF interim Female Minimumweight title. Last time out we saw Hanawa lose to Japanese veteran Kayoko Ebata, in a bout that showed up Hanawa's limitations at that point, but it's hard to see anything but a win for her here. The Thai has been stopped in 3of her losses, including the aforementioned Ebata, and we wouldn't be shocked to see her being stopped again here.
In Australia we'll see a notable Filipino and a novice Indonesian.
The Filipino in action is the world class Randy Petalcorin (27-2-1, 20), who returns to Australia for his first bout in the country since his controversial loss to Omari Kimweri in 2016. The talented Filipino will be up against faltering Indonesian Oscar Raknafa (13-15, 5), who was once world ranked but has gone 2-12 in his last 14 bouts and is now essentially a record padder on the Asian scene.
In the other bout on the card we'll see Daniel Huculak (1-0, 1) take on Indonesian novice Mujiyono (0-1). It's hard to say much about these two, but Huculak won his debut with an opening round stoppage and it's clear that he will be favoured here.
We get the next Dangan card this coming Tuesday and although the card isn't a particularly stacked one, it's hard not to be very excited about the main event, which has the potentially to be a FOTY style war, and with an OPBF title bout as a co-feature bout it's hard not to give the show some real attention.
The aforementioned potential FOTY will see Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (28-4, 13) battle with interim champion Masayuki Kuroda (26-7-3, 15) in an exciting looking bout, which will also serve as a rematch. The two men fought last year, with Kogawa easily beating Kuroda, but since then the champion has suffered an ear injury and gone through a number of hard rounds. The injury opened to the door for Kuroda to claim the interim title and now we'll see the two men face off in what has the potential to be an all out war. Both men are limited, flawed but exciting and that combination tends to make for thrilling fights,as we're expecting here.
The co-feature is also at Flyweight as Filipino Richard Claveras (17-2-2, 14) takes on Japan's Keisuke Nakayama (9-2-1, 4) in a bout for the OPBF Flyweight crown. The title, vacated by Daigo Higa, has often been a stepping stone to world class and winning it would be the biggest achievement for either man. Claveras is best known for losing in a world title fight to Pedro Guevara, being stopped in a round, but has improved since then and will be favoured. Nakayama on the other hand is one of the more obscure Japanese Flyweights, and is taking a huge step up for this fight, with his most notable result so far being a very wide loss to Hiroyuki Hisataka.
In another supporting bout we'll see 21 year old Japanese fighter Taiju Shiratori (7-2, 4) take on Filipino veteran Prell Tupaz (10-31-5, 2) in an 8 rounder. Tupaz appears to have been selected to make Shiratori look good, but the youngster has been stopped twice already and it seems clear that he'll be in need of some real seasoning, which seems to be the aim here against a true veteran like Tupaz.
Also in a supporting bout we'll see second generation fighter Kaiki Yuba (1-0, 1) battle against Filipino visitor Bener Santig (5-1-1, 1). Yuba, the son of Tadashi Yuba, looked fun in his debut but is facing a much bigger test here and Santig won't have travelled to pick up a loss. Whilst the Filipino will be the under-dog he has experience in his favour and is a hungry fighter himself.
To end February Dangan give us a nice looking card with a title double header and several fighters of note on the under-card.
One of the title bouts will see Yuta Matsuo (12-2-1, 6) and Masayuki Kuroda (25-7-3, 15) battle for the “interim” Japanese Flyweight title. The two men, who are facing off whilst Flyweight champion Takuiya Kogawa recovers from an ear injury, will be guaranteed a shot at the full title later in the year if they win here. Of the two men Kuroda is the more well known, he's a former Japanese Light Flyweight champion and has fought for a WBA Flyweight world title in the past, he is however a fighter who has struggled recently, with a 4-4-3 record in his last 11 dating back 5 years. Matsuo on the other hand is getting his first title fight, though has beaten solid fighters like Yota Hori and Ryuto Oho so far in his career, and fought to a very narrow loss against Ardin Diale. This should be a very competitive and fun to watch contest.
The other title bout sees Watanabe's fast rising Hiroto Kyoguchi (5-0, 5) take on Filipino veteran Armando dela Cruz (25-14-3, 11) in a bout for the OPBF Minimumweight title, recently vacated by Ryuya Yamanaka. The bout seems to suggest that Watanabe are going to be pushing hard for Kyoguchi to get a world title fight this year, and although this fight was put together on about a month's notice it's hard to see the unbeaten youngster coming up short against the veteran.
The main under-card bout looks like a genuine treat as the under-rated Reiya Abe (13-2, 7) takes on the once beaten Joe Noynay (12-1-1, 4). Although relatively unknown outside of Japan Abe has been impressing fans in Tokyo recently with notable wins over Ryo Hino, Hikaru Marugame, Shingo Kusano and Tsuyoshi Tameda, showing poise, skills and power. Noynay, also known as Joe Misako, will be looking to score his first win outside of the Philippines and although he has got a good looking record this is a big step up for him here.
Another of the under-card bouts will feature the debuting Kaiki Yuba (0-0) making his debut, as he takes on Thai visitor Petchmahalert Eminent Air (0-4). Yuba is the son of the popular Tadashi Yuba, a 5-weight Japanese national champion and is expected to have a strong career going forward. His interest hasn't recieved massive attention but it is clear that those in Japan are hoping that he can have a similar level of popularity to his father.
Action again hits A-sign on Wednesday as we get a title double header from the Korakuen Hall.
The main event of the card is a 10 round Middleweight bout between reigning Japanese champion Hikaru Nishida (15-8-1, 7) and former world title challenger Makoto Fuchigami (23-11, 14), with the two men not only fighting for the Japanese title but also the WBO Asia Pacific title, making it the third WBO Asia Pacific title bout to be fought for in Japan. This will be the third bout between these two, with Nishida winning their first two, and a loss for Fuchigami will probably be the end of his career.
The other tile bout is another WBO Asia Pacific title bout and comes at 130lbs as the teak tough Takuya Watanabe (29-6-1, 15) face Thai puncher Amin Sor Wangmoo (14-1-2, 11). The Thai, making his international debut, has gone 12-0-1 (9) since suffering his sole loss however this ius a big step up for the visitor. The local fighter is as tough as they come and has featured in some great wars, with his bout against Jaesung Lee being a particularly bloody affair, and we're expecting a real fun bout here.
In the only notable under-card bout we'll see former world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (24-7-3, 14) essentially fight for his career. The former Japanese Light Flyweight champion is 3-4-3 in his last 10 but will be hoping to over-come Masashi Odaira (6-6-2, 2) and get some career traction going, Odaira has gone
For a third day running Japanese fans in Tokyo get some interesting action, and in fact it seems the pick of the bunch comes today with a pair of Japanese title fights, one of which has the potential to be a FOTY contender.
That FOTY contender will see Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (25-4, 13), one of the most fan-friendly fighters on the planet, battle former world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (24-6-3, 14). The bout is expected to be a high action bout with both men being relatively light hitters with good engines and very respectable toughness. Between the two men they have had just a single stoppage loss, suffered by Kuroda against the world ranked Suguru Muranaka, and we're expecting something very exciting here.
The other title bout will see former Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (23-7, 12) face off against the unbeaten Yushi Tanaka (16-0-3, 10), for the vacant Bantamweight crown. For Masuda this is a chance to reclaim the title he lost last year to Shohei Omori, and it's a chance that he will be slightly favoured to make the most of, whilst Tanaka is seriously stepping up in class. Although unbeaten, and the younger man, Tanaka does lack a notable win against a genuine Bantamweight and this really is a huge step up for him.
In a support bout fans will see a couple of Japanese ranked fighters. One of those is Hiroaki Teshigawara (10-1-2, 5), who will be risking his ranking against Kenichi Watanabe (7-2-1, 4), whilst the other will be the limited but dangerous Takuya Yamaguchi (10-9, 8), who risks his ranking against Ryuto Araya (8-4-1, 1).
In Australia fight fans will see popular Australian based Filipino Czar Amonsot (30-3-3, 18) battle in a 10 round bout, against Fijian Farzan Ali Jr (28-6-2, 19), who hasn't fought many notable name,s but was stopped in 2002 by Vic Darchinyan. This should be a straight forward win for Amonsot who is expected to be back in the ring in April.
Staying with Filipino's on the road the unbeaten Jheritz Chavez (5-0-2, 3) will be in Moscow where he's risking his unbeaten record and his WBC Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council Lightweight title. The 27 year old Chavez will be up against the once beaten Vage Sarukhanyan (12-1-1, 2),who is the interim title holder to Chavez's title. Given this bout is in Russia it's easy to favour the adopted local, originally from Armenia, but Sarukhanyan hans't really proven his quality as of yet and could well be upset by the visitor.
The second day of the month of November is genuinely one of the most interesting with 4 really notable bouts all taking place on same show, a show dubbed the “Strongest Korakuen Million Yen Fight”. The show is a return to the Strongest Korakuen tournament, which helps to decide the mandatory challengers for various Japanese titles. As well as the eliminator status of the bouts their will be additional bonuses, with a ¥1,000,000 up for grabs for the MVP of the event.
At Flyweight we'll see former world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (23-6-3, 14) battle against Yusuke Sakashita (13-5-2, 8) for a shot at the domestic Flyweight title next year. Both have been beaten by former champion Suguru Muranaka but should make for an excellent match up together. Both have a lot to prove and both have styles that should make for a lot of action.
At Bantamweight we see former Japanese champion Kentaro Masuda (22-7, 11) battle against the under-rated Hideo Sakamoto (16-1-3, 5). Masuda is the more proven of the two fighters however Sakamoto has long been under-the-radar and could well see this bout as his potential coming out party. Notably Masuda's last bout of note saw him being blown away by Shohei Omori and it's hard to know how much he has left after a long and hard career whilst Sakamoto hasn't had the wars that Masuda has had.
At Lightweight we see the teak tough Nihito Arakawa (25-6-1, 16) battle against recent title challenger Yuya Sugizaki (20-10-1, 6). Of the two men Arakawa is the more well known and the more proven however his recent form has been disappointing with a 2-5 run in his last 7. Saying that however he has been mixing at a higher level to Sugizaki who was last seen being stopped by Kota Tokunaga. A win for Sugizaki would a career best whilst a win for Arakawa is pretty expected here.
The highest weight covered by the Strongest Korakuen show here is Welterweight where punchers collide as Akinori Watanabe (33-4, 28) take on the little known Toshio Arikawa (11-4, 9). Of the two men Watanabe is the more established, having held various titles, but has shown frailties when he's been hit back. Arikawa is scarcely known but with his power he is a danger man and a 3rd round TKO win over Shusaku Fuinaka is clear proof of that. We really don't expect to see this one go the distance and it really could be a very explosive and short lived encounter.
May 5th-Chris Paulino Vs Lolito Sonsona headlines in the Philippines whilst Masayuki Kuroda fights in Mexico
We'll not pretend that this coming Friday is the best looking day in boxing this year but there is plenty of action, including an intriguing all Filipino bout and a Japanese fighter traveling to Mexico for a make-or-break bout.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines there is an interesting card at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. The card isn't littered with huge match ups but there is a great bout and a few other notables in action.
The stand out, for us anyway, will see Cris Paulino (14-2, 4) battle against Lolito Sonsona (18-1-4, 8) in a bout for the lightly regarded WBC Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council Super Flyweight title. Paulino impressed us last year with his smart boxing, prior to being stopped by Koki Eto in an OPBF Flyweight title bout. As for Sonsona he'll be hoping to extend a 5-fight unbeaten streak dating back more than 3 years. Genuinely an excellent domestic scrap.
In a Flyweight title bout Renan Trongco (16-4, 9) will be defending his WBC International title against late replacement Rolio Golez (15-13-1, 6). Trongco enters this bout with a WBC world ranking and although he's a long way from being world class he does appear to be an attractive “target” to others who may view him as an easy step to a top rating. Golez, who has mixed in good company, shouldn't have anything to really trouble Tronco with.
At Super Bantamweight the unbeaten Joe Noynay (8-0, 2) will be up against journeyman Edison Berwela (13-29-8, 3). On paper this is a mismatch but Berwela does come to win and may well managed to shock the youngster in a bout that is better than it “looks”. This is another of the WBC Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council title bouts.
Another bout for a WBC Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council title comes at Minimumweight where the unbeaten Rolly Sumalpong (7-0-1, 4) takes on the unpredictable JC Francisco (6-9-4, 2). On paper it should be a mismatch, especially considering that Francisco is 0-3-2 in his last 5 but he is much better than those results suggest. This is by far the toughest bout, so far, for Sumalpong.
Also on this card is former world title challenger Silvester Lopez (23-10-2, 17) who takes on Pablito Canada (4-5-2, 1) in a stay busy fight before facing Sho Nakazawa in Japan in July. The idea seems to be for Lopez to shake some ring rust and get a confidence building win before taking on the touted Japanese youngster.
In Mexico we'll see Masayuki Kuroda (23-5-3, 14) will return to the ring on June 5th as he fights outside of Japan for the first time in his career. The 28 year old, best known for facing Juan Carlos Reveco back in 2013, will be up against Mexico's Mario Andrade (6-5-5, 1) in what really is a must win bout for the Japanese fighter.
In Australia fans will get the chance to see limit Thai Morakote Patanakan Gym (9-5, 5) take on former OPBF title contender Omari Kimweri (13-3, 5). Morakote is limited and has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, including a 2 round blow out to Young Kil Bae, and will likely be stopped again here by the under-rated Kimweri, who gave Shin Ono a very close bout in 2013.
Also on this card will be Filipino Alvin Bais (14-5, 3) who will be up against unbeaten puncher Ibrahim Balla (6-0, 4) in what looks to be a very tough bout for the Filipino.
Although we're unsure who we have been informed that Channel 7 will be showing some fights. Sadly no details have been made available as of yet.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)