Gimhae, South Korea
The most notable show of the day comes from Korea, where the we get top Korean female fighter making a defense of one of her titles.
The aforementioned female fighter is Hee Jung Yuh (20-3, 10), who will be defending her WBF Intercontinental Female Super Flyweight title against Thai foe Saowaluk Nareepangsri (7-14, 1). Yuh is an interesting and skilled fighter, though she is well below elite level, and her only loss in the last 10 years has come to Naoko Fujioka. Despite only losing once in 10 years her competition, Fujioka aside, has been appalling. Saowaluk has lost her last 5, including 3 by stoppage. She's very much a fight who will travel to pick up a loss, and that seems to be the case again here as she returns to Korea for the fourth time in her career, still seeking her first win in the country.
There will also be a bout featuring Seung Ho Lee (4-0, 4). Lee will battle for the WBF Asia Pacific Welterweight title as he takes on Thai visitor Girapan Boonpeng (4-1, 4), who was last seen losing inside a round to Rivo Kundimang in Indonesia in November. We'll get a chance to compare Lee to Kundimang, but that's about the only thing this bout will actually do.
As well as the title action in Korea there will also be a small, yet noteworthy, card in Osaka featuring two bouts of interest.
In a bout that genuinely excites us we'll see the inform Dynamic Kenji (10-3, 7) take on the once touted Naoto Iwai (5-2, 3). Coming in to this Kenji has won his last 5 by stoppage, including big wins over Futa Akizuki and Shota Kawaguchi. That winning run has taken him from 5-3 to 10-3 and he's quickly climbing up the rankings towards a potential title fight. Iwai was tipped highly as a prospect from Hyogo but the youngster suffered back to back defeats in 2017 and he's yet to really recover from those set backs. He's notched a couple of wins over Thai's since suffering his defeats but this is a clear step up, and it feels like Morioka will be looking to see if he sinks or swims against someone as good as Kenji.
The other bout of note will see 2016 Rookie of the Year runner up Hibiki Jogo (7-2, 4) take on Tricky Kumagai (9-8, 6). The 25 year old Jogo was stopped in 4 rounds in the Rookie of the Year final and was also stopped last time out, by Yoshihiro Utsumi, suggesting that perhaps he's lacking in durability. Kumagai has also been stopped, in fact 4 of his 8 losses have been inside the distance, and he is 2-6 in his last 8, meaning he can ill afford another loss here. This isn't a massive fight for the Japanese domestic scene, but is massive for both fighters, who will have a long road to climb if they come up short here.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines fans get a small card, expected to be headlined by the unbeaten Marlon Paniamogan (8-0-1, 5) taking on Jimmy Borbon (7-6-4, 4). This is a less than great match up, but the card looks like it will feature a bunch of more recognisable names.
Listed for the show are Wilbert Berondo (12-3-2, 5), Juan Miguel Elorde (26-1, 14), Arvin Magramo (8-1-1, 5) and Delmar Pellio (5-0, 3). Sadly none of those fighters have had their opponents named at the time of writing.
Kazakh fans get the chance to end the year on a high with a number of their fighters in action on a special card promoted by the Astana Arlans and Qazaq Promotions. The show will be free to attend, but sadly the level of bouts is a bit of a mystery.
Whilst full details on this card haven't been announced we do know that is it will feature Aidar Sharibayev (7-1, 6), Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (14-0-1, 5), Askhat Ualikhanov (4-1, 2), Ablaikhan Khussainov (9-0, 6) and Ruslan Myrsataev (5-0, 5), all of whom likely to be up against limited opponents in what we suspect will be little more than show case bouts.
This coming Sunday is set to be a busy day for fight fans following the Asian boxing scene. There is 3 cards in Japan and a number of Asian fighters in action in Russia.
The most notable of the Japanese cards comes from Kobe where fans will get a Japanese title fight at Minimumweight, with both of the fighters involved looking to claim the vacant title.
That title bout will see the under-rated Ryoki Hirai (10-4-1, 4) battle against former multi-time world title challenger Shin Ono (21-9-3, 5) for the vacant Japanese Minimumweight title. These two are ranked #1 and #2 by the JBC and are fighting for the title that Reiya Konishi vacated earlier this year, so that he could move up in class to fight for the WBA title. Hirai's record is a bit of a mess, but that's because he started his career 3-3-1, before rebuilding and going 7-1. In recent bouts Hirai has beaten the likes of Takumi Sakae and Ryoya Ikema and has really deserved a shot at the title and a chance to shine. As for Ono he has really struggled in recent years, going 4-4-1 in his last 9, though has mixed at a high level with losses to Katsunari Takayama, Kenichi Horikawa, Knockout CP Freshmart and Reiya Konishi. The bout really pits Hirai's youth and hunger against Ono's experience and should be very interesting.
In a supporting bout we'll see Japanese and OPBF ranked Giraffe Kirin Kanda (11-2, 6) take on the limited but heavy handed Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-10-1, 9). Although Kanda should be favoured he has has been stopped before and Miyazaki will have the belief that he has the power to stop Kanda, just like Yuki Nagano did in 2015.
Staying in Hyogo, though going from Kobe to Kawanishi, fight fans will be able to see the next Morioka card, featuring several noteworthy fighters in what will likely be some horrific mismatches.
The main event of the card will see former OPBF title challenger Hinata Maruta (6-1, 5) battle against Indonesian visitor Arega Yunian (6-9, 1), in what looks like a really disappointing match up for the talent Maruta. Despite losing to Hidenori Otake last November Maruta is an exceptional talent and a bout like this will do little to help build that talent, and it feels like he would have been much better off taking on a domestic level fighter than someone like Yunian. The Indonesian has already suffered 6 stoppage losses, all of which have come when he's fought on the road and include stoppages to Ryo Matsumoto and Takashi Igarashi in Japan
As well as Maruta fans will also be able to see former world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (25-7-1, 22) and former Japanese Youth title challenger Naoto Iwai (4-2, 2) both in action, as they each face Thai opponents. Parrenas will be seeking his second win since a 2015 loss to Naoya Inoue, in a bout for the WBO Super Flyweight title, whilst Iwai will be looking to put a poor 2017 behind and begin to rebuild his career.
As well as the action in Hyogo there will also be a low key card in Fukuoka. This card is a pretty weak one in all honesty, but will be headlined by former WBO Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-6-6, 7), who will look to bounce back following back-to-back defeats to Ryuya Yamanaka and Wanheng Menayothin. The former champion, will be up against domestic foe Yuto Takahashi (8-3, 4) in what looks to be a big step down in class. Despite stepping down in levels Fukuhara does deserve an easy one given his run from winning the Japanese title in 2015 to today has seen him facing 3 unbeaten men, two current world champions and two other fringe world class fighters. Takahashi hasn't shown he can compete at the top of the domestic level and although this is a big chance for him to make a mark, it's very hard to see how he can over-come the under-rated Fukuhara.
As well as the Japanese action there is also a lot of Asian interest in a Russian card, with several notable fighters in action.
The main event of the card looks set to be a special kind of bout, as Indonesian warrior Daud Yordan (37-3-0-1, 25) takes on unbeaten Russian Pavel Malikov (13-0, 5) in a really good looking 12 round bout. Yordan seems to have been around around forever but at 30 years old he still has some time on his side to get a second world title fight, following a set back against Chris John back in 2011, and a win against Malikov might be what he needs to get a crack at a world champion. As for Malikov he has been in some great bouts recently, and his last two have been razor thing wins over Daiki Kaneko, in an under-rated 2017 war, and Deiner Berrio. Malikov is certainly beatable, but whether Yordan will be the man to beat him is yet to be seen. It's worth nothing that both of these men hold world rankings and the bout is essentially a world title eliminator.
In a great support bout we'll see unbeaten men collide, with Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (10-0, 5) battling Leonardo Padilla (16-0, 12) for the vacant WBA Asia Super Featherweight Title. Uulu is a Kyrgyzstan born Russian based fighter who has struggled at times but appears to be improving and has got the talent to go a long way, if he can correct some defensive flaws. Those defensive flaws could be a major problem here however as Padilla, like many fighters from Venezuela, can bang with 8 stoppages in his last 10. We'll be honest and admit we're unsure how the Venezuelan qualifies for a WBA Asia title but that can't take away from what looks like a really exciting match up.
Another battle of unbeaten men will see Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov (2-0, 2) take on Georgian Merab Turkadze (5-0, 2). The Uzbek looks to be a natural prospect and was a solid amateur before making his debut at the end of last year. So far Umurzakov has fought only 2 rounds, taking both of his opponents out with brutal left hands to the body in the opening round. It's always hard to know what you get with a Georgian fighter but given that Umurzakov is scheduled to fight again in May it seems like his team are confident of another quick win here.
One other bout of note will see Russian novice Mekhdi Abdurashedov (1-0) take on the once touted Iwan Zoda (14-3-1, 13) of Indonesia. At one point Zoda looked like a star in the making, and his 2015 win over Petchchorhae Kokietgym was a sensational performance. Sadly though he has gone 1-2-1 in his last 4 and really is fighting an up hill battle to remain relevant. It's unclear how good Abdurashedov is, but this is a big step up for the Russian and hopefully Zoda will show of the skills that got many of us excited when he was younger
In Bangkok fight fans will get the chance to see a number of fights involving visiting Japanese fighters. Sadly their opponents, all of which are locals, are un-named at the present moment, but the show is worthy of note due to the quality of the Japanese fighters.
The main event will see the hotly tipped Hinata Maruta (5-1, 4) fight for the first time since he lost in an OPBF title fight against Hidenori Otake. The bout is expected to be a simple confidence builder for Maruta who will likely be seeking a rematch with Otake in 2018. Despite the loss last time out he's still one of the most naturally talented young fighters on the planet and it would be a huge shock to see anything but a win here from Maruta.
Maruta's stablemate Naoto Iwai (3-2, 1) will be on the show, and will be trying to end a 2-fight skid. The talented Iwai once looked like a prospect on his way through the ranks but losses to Ryosuke Nasu and Kenya Yamashita have slowed the 20 year old down. He'll be hoping for a win here and then a step up back in Japan in 2018 as he looks to rebuild his career as quickly as possible.
One other fighter of note on this card is former Japanese title challenger Takumi Sakae (17-2-1, 12). The talented Sakae has won his last 3 by stoppage but did have a frustrating 2016, in which he went 1-2-1, and will clearly be trying to string together another win before the start of 2018, as he continues to chase a second title fight.
One of the biggest changes to the Japanese domestic scene in 2017 is the development of the new Youth Tournament, aimed at those who have progressed beyond Rookie status but aren't yet ready for Japanese title fights. The tournament has it's semi finals this coming Tuesday in a second successive day of Dangan cards.
The lowest weight being competed at is Flyweight, and we get two really good semi-finals. One of those will see the unbeaten Seigo Yuri Akui (10-0-1, 6) battle against the light punching Ryuto Oho (9-3-1, 2). The bout looks like one where Akui will be favoured but this is a really creditable test and Oho won't be turning up to pick up a loss, especially after having lost last time out to Yuta Matsuo.
The other Semi final at Flyweight will see 2016 Rookie of the Year Junto Nakatani (11-0, 9) take on the light hitting Yuma Kudo (6-2-2, 1). On paper this looks like a mismatch in favour of the unbeaten puncher but Kudo has never been stopped and will likely be looking to break Nakatani mentality by simply not going away. This could be a very interesting test for both men.
At Super Flyweight we'll see the exciting Kenya Yamashita (9-3, 6) take on the once beaten Naoto Iwai (3-1, 1). The bout will be Yamashita's first since changing gyms earlier this year and will be Iwai's first since losing his unbeaten record, also earlier this year. This bout really has the look of being something a bit special with Yamashita being a brawler with an exciting style and Iwai being a more pure boxer type, giving a good stylistic combination, and both will be very hungry for a win.
The next division with a semi-final bout will be Featherweight, where Retsu Kosaka (7-2, 2) will take on novice Ryo Sagawa (1-0, 1). Looking at the records alone suggests that this will be a mismatch in favour of Kosaka, but he has lost his last 2 bouts and last scored a win a year ago, against a poor Thai import. Segawa on the other hand looked great on debut last December and is tipped as a real diamond in the rough, which he'll be looking to prove here.
The Super Featherweight semi final will see Sho Nagata (7-2, 2) face off with the heavy handed Ryusei Ishii (6-3, 4). Although Nagata has the better looking record he has had a few very close wins, including his last 2 bouts, and could consider himself lucky to have the record he currently has. Ishii is the bigger puncher but we have seen him being stopped. With both men having limitations it's fair to say that this may actually be the most interesting bout, despite the less than great records of the two men involved.
In Osaka we get the next Morioka gym card.
In the main event we'll see the sensationally gifted Hinata Maruta (4-0, 3) defending his WBC Youth Bantamweight title against Indonesian champion Hamson Tiger Lamandau (8-0, 5). The talented Maruta will be looking to record his second defense of the title and has openly stated that he has his eyes on more significant titles later in the year. Whilst Lamandau is relatively unknown it's clear that this will be a huge opportunity for him and a win would put him on the boxing map. The bout is an interesting one and another one for Maruta, who has really impressed throughout his career so far.
Another highly touted prospect on this card is unbeaten teenager Naoto Iwai (3-0, 1), who looks to score his first win against a domestic foe, as he takes on Ryosuke Nasu (6-2-2, 1). Although Iwai hasn't yet faced a domestic foe he has looked good against Filipino fighters, including Donny Mabao, and some are tipping him as a star of the future. In Nasu we have a fighter who is looking to bounce back from an opening round blow out to Masamichi Yabuki. Coming in Iwai will be the clear favourite but this should prove to be a good test.
Another notable fighter on this card is Middleweight Brandon Lockhart Shane (7-5-1, 6), who will be in against a Thai foe.
In Aichi we'll see the first round of the Central Japanese Rookie of the Year shows. The card doesn't have much in terms of name value but will feature some well matched, as the Rookie shows always do.
The best of the bouts will see once beaten Southpaw Masaki Sasaki (3-1, 1) battle the unbeaten Shuto Takase (3-0, 1) in one of two Featherweight bouts. Sasaki started his career with 3 straight wins but was beaten last time out, when Yudai Imada stopped him in 4 rounds. Takase, who is just 20, will be looking to continue his nice start, but did struggle last time out when he just squeaked past Japanese based Filipino Miguel Ocampo.
The other bout we'd like to make a note of is an all-debutant match up between Tatsuki Toyoshima (0-0) and Sadayuki Kai (0-0). Both fighters will be looking to get their careers off to a good start and this Super Bantamweight bout could be very entertaining.
New South Wales, Australia
There will also be a card in Australia where the unbeaten Haithem Laamouz (8-0, 3) battles against Indonesian veteran Roy Tua Manihuruk (19-16-2, 15). The unbeaten Laamouz will be faxing, arguably, his best opponent to date, but should have no issues at all in getting past the limited fighter from Bengkulu.
The best show of the week, and one of the best of the month, comes on Wednesday when Morioka and Mutoh co-promote a great show with 5 title bouts in Osaka.
The “main event” of the show will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Takayuki Hosokawa (28-10-5, 9) look for his second defense of the title as he takes on fellow Japanese fighter Yutaka Oishi (13-5, 7). The bout will see Hosokawa looking for a much better performance than his last one, a hard fought struggle for a draw with Koshinmaru Saito, however there are some suggesting he is at the very end of his career with injuries and accumulated damage adding up. For Oishi this is a great opportunity to claim a major title, but he will be the big under-dog here.
The most exciting fighter on the card is 19 year old hopeful Hinata Maruta (3-0, 2), who looks to make his first defense of the WBC Youth Bantamweight. The talented Japanese youngster will be up against Filipino southpaw Joe Tejones (6-1, 2) in what should be a chance to Maruta to get rounds against a southpaw. From what we under-stand a win here will see Maruta progress towards either a Japanese, an OPBF or a WBO Asia Pacific title fight in 2017 with his team actively chasing tougher assignments. For Tejones the bout is a big step up and it's hard to see what he'll have to test Maruta.
The other OPBF title fight will see Middleweight champion Dwight Ritchie (14-0-0-4, 1) make the first defense of his title as he takes on the limited but heavy handed Japanese slugger Koki Tyson (10-2-2, 10). Ritchie won the title earlier this year in Japan, where he defeated Hikaru Nishida, and will be hoping for more success here. He is however up against a very different type of fighter here with Nishida being a basic pressure fighter whilst Tyson is a boxer-puncher, sadly for Tyson he is rather limited and comes into this on the back of a very poor performance against Joon Yong Lee.
In a WBO Super Flyweight Asia Pacific title bout we'll see former world title challengers face off as Japan's Hirofumi Mukai (12-4-3, 2) battles Thailand's Inthanon Sithchamuang (30-8-1, 18). Mukai has twice fought for world titles in Thailand, having a technical draw with Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and suffering a stoppage loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and has struggled against other notable opponents like Shohei Omori and Mark Anthony Geraldo. Inthanon on the other hand is best known for losing to Kohei Kono earlier this year, and has suffered other losses in Japan, where he is yet to score a win.
At Flyweight we'll see the unbeaten, and genuinely promising, Masahiro Sakamoto (8-0, 4) take on the once beaten Sho Kimura (12-1-2, 6) for the WBO Asia Pacific title. Sakamoto has been unbeaten since his debut back in December 2014, and has won the 2015 Rookie of the Year and holds wins over Atsushi Aburada and Il Che. As for Kimura he was beaten in his debut but has gone 14 fights unbeaten since fighting 3 of those bouts in Thailand. This is the first title bout for both men and should tell us a lot about both fighters.
In a notable non-title bout on the card we'll see exciting prospect Naoto Iwai (2-0, 1) take on Filipino veteran Donny Mabao (22-27-3, 4) in a 6 rounder. The bout is a good step up for Iwai, who was last seen beating Juan Purisima in the Philippines, and a win here is likely to see Iwai move into 8 rounders in 2017, with the teenager already showing glimpses of real talent like stablemate Maruta