This coming Sunday is a busy day for Japanese fight fans who have 3 separate cards, all with something of note on them. As well as the Japanese action we also see a veteran for the Philippines fighting in the US.
The most significant bout of the day will see Yu Kawaguchi (23-6, 10) defending the OPBF Bantamweight title against the heavy handed Takahiro Yamamoto (15-4, 12). These two men met earlier this year, with Kawaguchi winning a split decision against Yamamoto it one of the closest bouts of the year so far. For Yamamoto this is a chance at redemption whilst Kawaguchi is looking to prove he is better than his foe.
On the same card we'll see the very promising Kazuki Tanaka (2-0, 2) battle against win-less Thai visitor Kamraiyok Orwandavee (0-2). This is a clear mismatch but it could be one that tells us something about Tanaka, given that it took Takahiro Yamamoto 3 rounds to stop Kamraiyok last December, a 1uicker win really could back up the idea that Tanaka is a potential champion.
One other bout of note will see Japanese ranked fighter Takayuki Okumoto (14-6-2, 6) risk his ranking against the limited Yasuhiro Sakurai (7-19). This shouldn't be a tough ask for the 23 year old Okumoto but he'll know that another loss at this stage of his career really will but a hit on his hopes to climb through the ranks
Notable this show will also feature an exhibition between Nobuhiro Ishida and Crazy Kim. This exhibition will be part of Ishida's retirement ceremony. The two men fought twice as pros and have become really good friends since those bouts with Ishida having trained with Kim prior to Ishida's retirement earlier this year.
A second show in Osaka looks to be almost as interesting with several notable names in action.
Arguably the most significantly bout on the card features world ranked Light Middleweight Takayuki Hosokawa (26-10-4, 9) who puts his IBF ranking on the line against South Korean fighter Jung Hoon Yang (9-6, 2), who 1-4 on the road. Hang was last seen in Japan in 2014 being stopped in 4 rounds by Yoshihiro Kamegai and it would be little shock to see him suffer a very clear loss to Hosokawa, who is expected to move towards a rematch with Yuki Nonaka either at the end of 2015 or very early in 2016.
Another notable bout will see Japanese Middleweight hopeful Koki Tyson Maebara (8-1-1, 8) battle against Thailand's Kungsuk Sor Sompong (0-1). The bout is a mismatch but the general view is that this could be Maebara's last fight before he gets a title fight of some kind. The talented puncher is thought to be eyeing up the winner of the up coming bout between Akio Shibata and Yasuyuki Akiyama.
Another bout where the favourite is looking towards a future bout will be a contest between Jonathan Baat (29-6-3, 14) and Dado Cabin Toy (15-4-2, 8). It was announced last week that Baat has been lined up as the next opponent for the touted Hikaru Marugame however he'll need a win here or that bout will likely be off. This however shouldn't be a tough ask for the Japanese based Filipino veteran.
A third Japanese show is from Aichi and it's easily the “weakest” with only the main event really capturing our attention.
That headline bout will see Kazuya Maruki (18-3, 12) take on Indonesian visitor Heri Andriyanto (21-18-2, 10) in what looks to be a straight forward win for Maruki. The Indonesian veteran is 0-3 in Japan and 0-10 on his travels and it's unlikely that run will change here against a fighter who is well ranked by the JBC.
Although much of this card is set to be fought at a low level we must admit we have some interest in teenage hopeful Kevin Mendoza (1-0) who will be facing Naoki Masukawa (3-2). Mendoza is an 18 year old Japanese based Peruvian who debuted back in May and this could well be a great test for the southpaw.
We also get some a action in the US as Filipino veteran Dennis Laurente (49-5, 30) takes on the heavy handed John Jackson (19-2, 15) as part of a 4 man WBC Light Middleweight tournament. Laurente is seen as a huge outsider coming into this bout but will know that this is a huge opportunity. Laurente enters as the OPBF champion at 154lbs though his title won't be on the line.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
It's fair to say April has been a really interest month and it ends in an interesting fashion as well with a trio of Japanese title bouts as well as a compelling contest for a Filipino hopefully. A really good way to end the month and a brilliant way to move towards a potentially mind blowing May.
One of the really exciting shows this month for Japanese fans comes on the final day of April as the fans get a brilliant Japanese title triple header with an under-card that also delivers.
The main event, and for many international fans the real bout of interest, comes at Heavyweight as Japanese champion Kyotaro Fujimoto (11-1, 6) defends his title against the well known Nobuhiro Ishida (27-10-2, 11) in a very interesting rematch. Ishida seems to have the support of many western fans going into this bout who remember his shock win over the then unbeaten James Kirkland. Notably however Fuimoto did win the first meeting between the two men and seems to be taking this bout very seriously after perhaps over-looking Ishida the first time around. It's not often we'll say this about a Japanese bout at Heavyweight but this is a really good match up and one that should really be a bit special.
In another title bout fans will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (14-1, 4) defending his belt for the first time as he takes on Gakuya Furuhashi (17-5, 7). Oguni, who is world ranked coming into this bout, won the title late last year when he narrowly over-came Yasutaka Ishimoto though will have to perform incredibly highly to over-come Furuhashi who has waited almost a year to get a shot at a world title following a bout with Hidenori Otake falling through last year, This could be a thoroughly engaging contest from start to end.
The third title bout will see two men looking to score a break out win, with neither being a name of note so far. This bout will see Kota Tokunaga (14-2, 9) battle against Yuya Sugizaki (20-9-1, 6) for the Japanese Lightweight title and it's fair to say that the champion will have an interesting list of possible challengers later in the year. This isn't a bout that sets out pulses racing but it could prove to be a very good contest between two men who both know that a win could be career changing.
The under-card, which only features a couple of bouts, is also mouth watering.
One of the under-card contests will see former Japanese Flyweight title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (12-5-2, 7) battle against Yasuhiro Sakurai (7-18). On paper this is a mismatch however Sakashita is coming into the bout following a 1-punch KO defeat to the then Japanese Flyweight champion Suguru Muranaka and that could well have shot the confidence and self belief out of Sakashita.
The other bout will see former Japanese Featherweight title challenger Yuki Ogata (20-1-1, 3) battle against Kentaro Yamada (8-5-1, 6). Again on paper this is a mismatch but Ogata only narrowly over-came Yamada when the two men met last September, with Ogata claiming a razor thin split decision. Yamada has to believe he can beat his more experienced foe, and will know that if he does he'll earn himself a Japanese ranking. Another brilliant match up on a genuinely fantastic card.
In the US fans will get the chance to see exciting Filipino southpaw Mercito Gesta (28-1-1, 16) in action against Carlos Molina (17-2-1, 7). Several years ago Gesta was one of the most hyped Filipino prospects though a 2012 loss to Miguel Vazquez seemed to show up a lot of his flaws. Since then he has worked hard on his issues improved notably. Those improvements should be on show against Molina, a talented fringe contender who managed to give Adrien Broner an unexpectedly competitive contest last year. This bout will push the winner towards a really good bout later in the year whilst the loser will be left with a lot of rebuilding to do.
(Image courtesy of http://www.kadoebi.com)
We return to action after having had a short break for Christmas and the return is certainly an interesting one with notable action in both Japan and China.
In the first post-Christmas show in Japan we see a genuinely recognisable name in action in what is a relatively small show.
The most notable man in action is former WBA interim Light Middleweight champion Nobuhiro Ishida (26-10-2, 10) who continues his Heavyweight project as he takes on fellow Japanese Heavyweight Kotatsu Takehara (10-10-3, 4) in what is, for all intents a Japanese Heavyweight title eliminator. Both men have lost to Japanese champion Kyotaro Fujimoto but both would presumably like another fight with him, he is after all the only money in the division domestically. We know Ishida went to Heavyweight in pursuit of the Japanese title but he does need to win here to keep that dream alive.
In the co-feature on this card fans will see Japanese ranked Featherweight Kazuki Hashimoto (9-4, 5) fighting against Yoichi Oguma (15-6, 3). For Hashimoto this will be his first bout since February as he looks for a third successive win following a trio of losses. The 34 year old Oguma has been inactive even longer, in fact the southpaw has been inactive since last December, where he was stopped by Mike Tawatchai in Thailand. The loser here really will need to give a serious thought to retirement.
Although the show in Japan features the well known Nobuhiro Ishida we've got to admit we're more excited by the other show of the day which comes from China and features a trio of title fights.
The most interesting of the 3 bouts is a compelling rematch for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title. The bout will see China's very own Xiang Jing (7-3-2, 1) battle against unbeaten Filipino Ben Mananquil (10-0-2, 2). The men fought to a split decision draw earlier this year and we've got to admit this is a rematch we really like the look of. Although somewhat unknown we do like Mananquil a lot and feel he his first draw was very unfair in a bout that he should have had an opening round TKO over Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym. Jing however held his own with Mananquil last time out and this is by far the most well matched bout of the day.
Another rematch on this card will see Xian Wei Qian (5-4-1) defending his WBA Asian Boxing Council Featherweight title against Thailand's Thewa Onesongchaigym (5-1, 1). These two met back in August with Qian beating Thewa to become the first Chinese fighter to win a title in Thailand, he'll now be hoping to defend that belt for the first time.
Amazingly the third title bout will also be a rematch as Thailand's heavy handed Kajornsak Sithsaithong (7-3, 7) battles against Russia's Andrey Kalyuzhnyy (5-1, 3) in a bout for the IBF Youth Super Middleweight title. In their first bout the Russian stopped Kajomsak in just 32 seconds and he'll be hoping to do the same here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Whilst fans in the west will be talking about the action from the rematch between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Marcos Maidana there will actually be some pretty interesting and notable bouts taking place out East with two Japanese shows.
The most interesting of the two Japanese cards is at the Bodymaker Colosseum and features a trio of Japanese fighters all looking to put a recent loss behind them and move towards bouts of redemption.
The most well known of those 3 fighters is Light Middleweight-come-Heavyweight Nobuhiro Ishida (25-10-2, 10) who continues his Heavyweight campaign with a bout against Frenchman David Radeff (5-7-2, 2). For Ishida this will be his first bout since his controversial loss to Japanese Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto earlier this year. When Ishida first announced plans of campaigning at Heavyweight many thought he was crazy though it seems that he has the intentions of winning the national title come hell or high water. A win here will set him up for a title bout likely to be on New Years Eve.
Whilst Ishida's loss was controversial and competitive the same cannot be said of the loss suffered last time out by former Japanese Bantamweight champion Kohei Oba (35-3-1, 14), who was dominated and then stopped by American-Nicaraguan Randy Caballero in an IBF Bantamweight title eliminator. Oba's return to the ring will see him matched easily as he takes on domestic foe Keigo Soma (6-10-1, 3) in what appears to be a confidence building bout following the stoppage loss to Caballero. As for Soma he has lost 4 of his last 5 and this is likely to be little more than another clear defeat on his record.
The third man returning to the ring following a loss is Yu Kawaguchi (20-6, 9) who suffered his loss in a technical decision defeat to Kentaro Masuda for the then vacant Japanese Bantamweight title. Although Kawaguchi was a clear loser on the cards his team haven't wrapped him in cotton wool here and instead of taking on a no hoper he'll be up against Seizo Kono (14-6-1, 9). Kono is no world beater though he's certainly a capable fighter on the domestic scene and could give Kawaguchi a solid work out here.
The rest of this card will feature 5 other bouts, all scheduled for 4 rounds.
A second Osaka show will feature the Rookie of the Year West finals. This show was scheduled to see 12 bouts though we've seen 2 of the contests, bouts at Super Featherweight and Lightweight both aborted.
From the 10 bouts left on the show 4 of them have been scheduled for 5 rounds whilst the other 6 will be 4 rounders. The winners will be expected to make a name for themselves and compete, at some point, for a Japanese or OPBF title.
Whilst the bouts in Osaka are the most interesting we also have a meaningful bout in Hyogo as former world title challenger Atsushi Kakutani (14-4-1, 7) battles Thailand's Dawut Manopkanchang (0-1) in what is thought to be a warm up bout before an OPBF title challenge. On paper the bout is a mismatch though the only recorded bout for Dawut saw him battling against Kohei Kono on last New Years Eve, he lost that one by TKO in 3 but Kono is a much more imposing fighter than Kakutani and shouldn't be beaten that easily. Kakutani, best known for his fight with Adrian Hernandez, should over-come Dawut with out too many problems though he'll know that a bout with OPBF Light Flyweight champion Jonathan Taconing won't be an easy one and this may not be the best warm up for that bout.
This show will feature a further 5 bouts, the most notable of which will be an 8 rounder between Yuichi Arai (8-8-1, 2) and Thai visitor Saensak Sithvarunee (0-1). On paper this looks like a stay busy fight for Arai though it's hard to be certain and with a lot of these Thai's it's hard to really know just how correct their records are. What we do know about Saensak is that he's fought in Japan before, losing a wide decision to Ken Achiwa and probably should lose here given that result.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
April 30th-Ishida makes Heavyweight debut against Fujimoto whilst Kato defends Lightweight title against suzuki
T end April we get a show that appears to have gotten more attention outside of Japan than inside of Japan despite being in Tokyo, featuring a Japanese title fight and featuring one of the most interesting domestic bouts we've seen in a long, long time.
"Kamikaze 3", as the show is known, has managed to interest our readers, especially ones from the US. It has managed to have fans showing a real interest in a bout that appeared, just 6 months ago, as unlikely as seeing Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao square off, though it's now upon.
That bout in question is a Japanese Heavyweight bout between former Light Middleweight Nobuhiro Ishida (25-9-2, 10) and Japanese Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto (8-1, 5). The interest from the US is clear and it's pretty easy to explain, the fans want to see the guy that stopped James Kirkland.
Unfortunately for Ishida the shock upset over Kirkland, a Ring magazine Upset of the Year, has made Ishida more well known in the US than Japan, ironically meaning that whilst he does have fans at home his US popularity seems to be more significant than his domestic popularity. Unfortunately this means the fight won't be televised live, though we hope it will shown on tape delay over the coming days.
Oddly despite being the main event the Ishida/Fujimoto bout is only scheduled for 8 rounds and features no title, though it's a bout with significant interest from ourselves.
Of course whilst the Heavyweight bout is the big attention grabber it's not the only bout on the show, far from it in fact. As well as the Heavyweight we also have a brilliant Japanese Lightweight clash between defending champion Yoshitaka Kato (26-5-1, 7) and the big punching Yuhei Suzuki (14-3, 11). For Suzuki this is a chance to avenge his most recent loss, for Kato it's a chance to get back to winning ways after losing his OPBF title to Masayoshi Nakatani last time out.
There are two other bouts of note on this card. One of those sees the once touted Kenji Kubo (3-2-1, 1) taking on Atsushi Hosogai (6-7) whilst the other will see Japanese ranked Yusuke Sakashita (11-4-2, 7) battle against Hideyuki Watanabe (7-5-2, 5).
(Image courtesy of http://www.kadoebi.com/)
We know the new year has began but, without trying to sound moody, the boxing really hasn't. Sure we've had a world title fight, a female world title fight and one or two other bouts but it's still not really back to the usual action we expect to see...or is it? This Saturday may well be the official start to the boxing year with major fights in Asia and in Mexico as we finally get to say the year, has kicked off.
For us the key card is a small one in Japan at the Korakuen Hall. The show, promoted by Kadoebi Jewel, will be their first show of 2014 and will feature the first OPBF title fight of the new year as Yoshitaka Kato (26-4-1, 7) defends his belt against the unbeaten Masayoshi Nakatani (6-0, 5).
Although the more experience fighter, Kato will know that he's in for a tough one against the big hitting Nakatani, a gym mate of Kazuto Ioka and Ryo Miyazaki. Kato, both the OPBF and Japanese Lightweight champion, will only have his OPBF belt on the line though will know that a loss will really hurt his career whilst on the flip-side of that Nakatani will know that a win will put him on the platform to challenge for world honours like his more established gym mates. Whoever wins will certainly have to show how good they are.
On the same card we expect to see Yukinori Oguni (11-1, 2), the former OPBF Super Bantamweight champion, dipping his toe at Featherweight as he takes on Yuki Fujimoto (7-2-1, 2) in a 10 rounder. This bout, the chief support of the show, will be Oguni's second bout since losing his title to he excellent Shingo Wake back in March 2013.
Further down the card is Kenji Kubo (3-2, 1) who takes on Kota Sato (9-5-1, 4). Kubo, who is highly tipped despite his record, will be expected to easily beat Sato despite the relative lack of experience compared to Sato who has lost 3 of his last 7.
This will also be the card which sees former Japanese Light Middleweight champion Nobuhiro Ishida take part in a public sparring session with Yamato Fujinaka. If Ishida can impress the JBC with this sparring session he's expected to receive a Heavyweight ranking and a possible fight with Kyotaro Fujimoto could be made for the Japanese Heavyweight title in April.
In total we are expecting just 5 bouts on this show, but with the 3 mentioned above we're expecting a very solid all-round card with no real weak link, other than the relatively poor poster.
The Philippines-Metro Manila
Whilst we are really excited by the Japanese card we have to admit we're disappointed by the card that we appear to be getting in the Philippines. Originally we were expecting to see Sonny Boy Jaro (34-13-5, 24), the former WBC and Linear Flyweight champion, fight domestic journeyman Pit Anacaya (8-22-2, 1) and Florante Condes (25-8-1, 21), the former IBF Minimumweight champion, return to action to face Rey Morano (8-38-1, 1). Sadly the GAB haven't allowed either of these fights to take place on the grounds that they are mismatches.
Unfortunately this was a chance for both Condes, pictured above, and Jaro to put some losses behind them and get back to winning ways, though the GAB's decision has seen both fights cancelled and left the matchmaker without enough time to find replacement opponents.
Thankfully one bout that has passed the GAB's inspections sees the of the promising Neil John Tabanao (5-0, 4) in action. The unbeaten prospect takes on his biggest challenge so far as he battles Warren Mambuanag (6-3-2, 3) who should ask Tabanao some previously unasked questions in what looks to be a brilliant matched bout, unlike the 2 that were cancelled.
As well as the bout we've mentioned above we're expecting a total of 12 bouts courtesy of Jaro Promotion International. The show, which looks like a deep one, may not be that competitive but with all the bouts we'd expect at least one or two worth watching especially on the under-card.
As well as the fights in Asia we also have a trio of Filipino's in action in Mexico on a special "Mexico v Filipinas" show courtesy of Promociones del Pueblo.
In terms of name value the lowest profile of the bouts sees Adones Aguelo (20-8-2, 12) taking on Nery Saguilan (26-4-1, 10). Although it's a lower profile bout it's probably the best chance the Philippines has of getting a win on the board with both men being relatively well matched on paper and Aguelo being a slightly bigger puncher and the tougher of the two men.
Sadly we find it very hard to see a way to win for Lionel Mark Duran (11-9-2, 5) to over-come Ramon Garcia Hirales (19-4-1, 12), the former WBO Minimumweight champion. Although Garcia isn't great, and was blasted out in 4 rounds by Roman Gonzalez, he shouldn't have many problems with Duran who is tough but limited.
If life will be hard for Duran we expect it to be doubly hard for Vergel Nebran (11-6-1, 7) who will be trying to score a major upset against former WBC Super Flyweight champion Tomas Rojas (41-14-1-1, 27). Rojas, who has wins over Kohei Kono and Nobuo Nashiro, may have lost to both Suriyan Sor Rungvisai and Shinsuke Yamanaka in recent years but it's highly unlikely he loses to Nebran, and in fact the likely outcome is that Nebran doesn't hear the final bell.