We get Japanese title action from the Korakuen Hall this coming Thursday as the next Diamond Glove card takes place.
The headline bout looks to be a stay busy defense by Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6), who defends the title against Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6). For the talented Yoshino the bout will serve as his third defense of the title that he won back in October 2017, when he stopped Spicy Matsushita for the then vacant title. Since then he has impressed, but this is really just a chance to stay busy as opposed to really building on his reign. The 35 year old Kobayashi has been a professional for close to 13 years and never done enough to earn a title fight. Coming in to thus Kobayashi is horribly out of form, especially given that he has gone 2-6-1 in his last 9 fights, but he will know this is is one and only chance to grab a title before his career is over. A full preview of this bout is available to read here Yoshino defends Japanese title against veteran Kobayashi!
Whilst the main event is less than great the under-card is a pretty good one, topped by an excellent match up between Ryo Sagawa (5-1, 3) and Shingo Kawamura (16-4-1, 8), in what we suspect will be the show stealing fight. Coming in to this Sagawa is riding an impressive 4 fight winning run including big domestic wins over Junki Sasaki and Ryo Matsumoto, who he stopped in September. Sagawa was a top amateur and despite an early career loss is showing the potential to build on that amateur success. As for Kawamura he last fought in a losing effort against Satoshi Shimizu, though gave Shimizu fits before losing to the OPBF Featherweight champion. Given the styles, skills and hunger of the two men this has the potential to be a tremendous contest, and the winner will certainly see themselves in the title mix in the new year. An in depth break down of this fight can be read here Sagawa and Kawamuro battle in mouth watering showdown!
One of the other supporting bouts will see Kei Iwahara (9-5, 4) face off with the hard hitting Daiki Ichikawa (11-4, 9), in another bout between two fighters with a Japanese ranking. The 28 year old Iwahawa has gone 2-2 in his last 4, but has mixed against decent domestic foes, such as Genki Ishikawa, Yuji Awata and Kazuma Sanpei. On the other hand the hard hitting Ichikawa is a 23 year old who has proven to be a bit of a glass cannon, being stopped in 2 of his 4 losses including a defeat last year in Russia to Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov. If Ichikawa can catch his man he'll be very dangerous, but there's a chance that Iwahara will be too good to be caught by a bomb here.
On paper the weakest of the support bouts will see the talented but light punching Joe Tanooka (15-5-4, 1) battle against Motoki Osanai (2-2, 1), a former amateur standout who has struggled as a professional so far. The 24 year old Tanooka came runner up in the 2013 Rookie of the Year and has been in with a who's who of the Japanese scene, scoring notable wins over Ryuto Oho, Kenya Yamashita and Hajime Nagai. Although a very light puncher Tanooka is popular and often fun to watch and will be risking his Japanese ranking here. Osanai was tipped for big things, but has been matched hard and is yet to really shine. The feeling is if, or when, Osanai finds his groove he could prove to be a real talent, and this could well be his chance to shine as he drops down to Bantamweight.
Another interesting match up on this card will see the limited but heavy handed Tetsuya Tomioka (5-3, 5) battling against Filipino visitor Jeronil Borres (8-4-1, 5). The hard hitting Tomioka has been stopped in all 3 losses, but has mixed with top domestic competition losing to Junto Nakatani and Katsunori Nagamine, but can certainly bang and fighters do need to respect his power. Borres, who was last seen getting stopped by Nakatani, has scored just a single win in his last 5, though was unlucky to lose in Korea against Joo Hyun Jung last year. For both this will be a chance to bounce back from a recent stoppage loss, and should make for a good action bout.
Next Thursday we see another notable card from the Korakuen Hall, and this one really is a rather exciting one with a number of notable names features.
The main event of the card will see the criminally under-rated Masayuki Ito (20-1-1, 8) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title against big punching Filipino title challenger Lorenzo Villanueva (32-2-0-1, 28). For Ito the bout will be his first defense, since he claimed the title at the very end of 2016, and he should be looking to extend a current 4 winning run which which includes really good wins over Shingo Eto and Takuya Watanabe. For the Filipino the bout is his first outside of the Philippines since his thrilling 2012 loss to Daud Yordan in Singapore. The challenger will have the big edge in power, but he's up against a very talented boxer, and will need to show more than just brute force to over-come Ito.
In a major supporting bout we'll see former world title challenger Keita Obara (16-2-1, 15) take on Indonesian Larry Siwu (24-7, 20) in a Welterweight bout. For Obara the contest will be his first since losing in a world title bout to Eduard Troyanovsky last September. The talented Obara is taking off the shackles of making Light Welterweight and it seems likely that he will be continuing his career at 147lbs going forward. Although Siwu is a decent fighter he really shouldn't have anything to really test Obara, who will be looking to shake some ring rust and make a statement.
Arguably the most intriguing match up on the card will see former Japanese and OPBF Lightweight champion Yoshitaka Kato (30-7-2, 9) take on touted former amateur standout Shuichiro Yoshino (3-0, 2) in what looks like a must win for the veteran and a potential coming out party for the novice. Although now a faded force Kato, who is more than 2 years removed from a win of note, is tough, skilled and a nightmare for fighters who look to have a war. If Yoshino can avoid a war and rely on his amateur skills then he could announce himself as a serious play on the Japanese scene at 135lbs, but this is a huge step up for the 25 year old.
Another former champion on this card is former 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (26-7, 14), who vacated his title around the start of the year. The world ranked Masuda will be up against Filipino visitor Romel Oliveros (8-3-1, 3), who is fighting in Japan for the third time. The talented Masuda is hunting a world title bout later in the year and this is clearly a stay busy bout for him, but one that should help him get some rounds under his belt. Oliveros has been stopped in 2 of his last 3 bouts, being stopped in 2 rounds by Daigo Higa and in 5 rounds by Jonas Sultan, and it's hard to see him lasting the distance here against Masuda.
Yoshino isn't the only touted novice on this card as former amateur star Motoki Osanai (1-0) returns to the ring for his second professional outing, and takes on fellow unbeaten Takeshi Kaneko (4-0-1). The talented Osanai turned professional last year, along with Hiroto Kyoguchi and Masataka Taniguchi, but has failed to shine like those two and will be looking to make up for lost time here. As for Kaneko he is unbeaten, but his 0 has certainly come under challenger during his career and it'd take a career best performance to keep that 0 here.