This coming Wednesday Japanese fans get a treat as there's a world title double header in Osaka and small but notable show in Tokyo.
The Osakan card, which will be televised in part on TBS, is a really interesting show with 3 worth taking note of.
The most significant is an all Japanese bout for the IBF Super Bantamweight title as defending champion Yukinori Oguni (19-1-1, 7) takes on mandatory challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (23-2, 15). For Oguni this will be his first defense and see him fighting for the first time since his career defeingin victory over Jonathan Guzman at the end of 2016. Well school and building in confidence the champion has really shone recently and looks to be a fighter who still has areas that he's developing. The challenger will be having his second world title fight and seems hungry ti impress after failing in a previous challenge of the IBF Bantamweight title. Blessed with heavy hands Iwasa will believe he has the power to over-come the smooth skills of Oguni in what is set to be a corker.
In the other title bout we'll see WBO Light Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (9-0, 5) seek his second defense of the title as he takes on Thai challenger Palangpol CP Freshmart (14-1, 8), in his first world title bout. The Japanese champion came through a tough mandatory earlier this year, against Angel Acosta, and is looking to end the year in a unification bout with Ryoichi Taguchi, though needs to get through this assignment first. The Thai under-dog is a former Muay Thai champion but as a boxer has looked rough around the edges and this is a huge step up for him going his opponents in Western boxing so far.
In the leading support bout we'll see former world title challengers collide as Shingo Wake (21-5-2, 13) takes on Thai veteran Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (50-2, 31) in a world title eliminator. Wake is best known internationally for losing to the previously mentioned Jonathan Guzman in a gutsy performance and this will be his second bout since that loss. Tghe Thai veteran on the other hand is best known for losing to the then WBA Bantamweight champion Koki Kameda by razor thin decision. This could be, potentially, the best fight on the card and is one that will likely go over-looked given the two headline contests.
Further down the card will be bouts featuring talented prospect Masayoshi Hashizume (13-0, 10) and former OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (19-5, 16).
In the Tokyo show, from the Korakuen Hall we're guaranteed some excitement, but the show is a much lesser one than the Osakan one.
The main event here will see former world title challenger Koki Eto (20-4-1, 15) taking on a Thai foe as the all-action Eto looks to rebuild following his 2015 loss to Carlos Cuadras. Given the growing popularity of the Super Flyweight division Eto has the chance to be in some firecrackers over the coming years against Rex Tso, Jamie Conlan and Kohei Kono and hopefully we'll get the chance to see him in those types of bouts, rather than more contests against limited visitors.
Sadly other than Eto's bout there is little to get excited about here and a lot of the attention should be on the card from Osaka.
We may have lacked notable action in January but February promises to be a much more active month and we get notable action from the off with a major show this coming Thursday.
In the main event we get a rematch as local favourite Knockout CP Freshmart (11-0, 6) faces off against exceptional Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago (28-1-1-1, 16) in a bout for the WBA Flyweight title. These two met, for the interim title, back in October 2014 and had a really competitive and close bout. We're expecting another close one here with the two men being well matched and having very different skill sets. It wouldn't be a shock to again see the bout decided by the judges and it wouldn't be surprising for the loser to feel hard done by.
Whilst the main event is brilliant the under-card is also littered with notable fighters with bouts announced for former WBA “interim” Flyweight champion Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (37-3, 23), who is expected to be in a regional title bout, former world title challenger Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (47-2, 29) and former world champion Oleydong Sithsamerchai (58-1-1, 23). Sadly however we're unsure who those men are fighting on what is set to be a 3 hour telecast.
The first action of a new months takes place in Thailand where fans get an interesting looking card with a genuinely exciting main event.
The aforementioned main event will see WBA “interim” champion Knockout CP Freshmart (10-0, 5) defending his belt against unbeaten Venezuelan Alexis Diaz (16-0, 10). This bout is among the most mouth watering “interim” title fights we've seen and although Diaz has been in good form it's hard to see him getting a decision in Thailand so he may well throw caution to the wind and try to stop Knockout. If that's his tactics then we are in for a special kind of fight.
In the main under-card bout Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (45-2, 27) will be defending his PABA Bantamweight crown against very limited Indonesian foe Arega Yunian (3-3), who was stopped in 2 rounds by Ryo Matsumoto back in 2013. This should be a very easy win for the Thai who has got eyes on WBA champion Jamie McDonnell.
Another under-card bout will see the experienced Ratchasak KKP (28-3-1, 13) battle against novice professional Saengthong Chor Pakdee (0-1), who suffered a KO of the year type loss on his debut to Kongfah CP Freshmart last year. Ratchasak will be looking for his 6th win since losing in Macau to Rex Tso, in a bout that saw him twice drop the Hong Kong “Wonder Boy”.
Another under-card bout will see novice pro Petchtae Petchyindee (1-0) take on “loser” Fahpikard Twins Gym (2-8), who has lost his last 7 straight bout. This should be a straight forward win for Petchtae though it's unlikely to tell us anything really notable about the unbeaten man.
(Image courtesy of The Champion - Thailand)
The most notable bout of the day comes from Thailand where a young and unbeaten fighter takes on a true veteran of the sport.
The youngster involved here is the WBA interim Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (9-0, 5) who attempts to defend his belt against Indonesian veteran Muhammad Rachman (65-11-5, 35). For Rachman this is a chance to become a 3-time “world champion” and become a title holder at the advanced age of 43 whilst for Knockout it's a chance to defend the title he won last October, when he narrowly out pointed Carlos Buitrago.
The biggest name fighter on the undercard will be Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (43-2, 25) who will be defending his PABA Bantamweight title against Filipino challenger Mateo Handig (13-8, 7) in what appears to be a horrible mismatch. Handig was world ranked not too long ago, and does hold a major win over Katsunari Takayama, but is a Minimumweight jumping up to Bantamweight and Panomroonglek will simply be too big and too strong for his challenger.
Another support bout will see Flyweight contender Noknoi Sitthiprasert (52-4, 30) put his 51 fight winning streak on the line against Filipino journeyman Donny Mabao (21-24-1, 4). Noknoi, who is unbeaten since 2005 and brings the longest active winning streak into the ring, sadly however Mabao has lost his last 4, including an OPBF Minimumweight title bout to Ryuji Hara and a WBC Asian Boxing Council Flyweight title bout against Nawaphon Por Chokchai.
Another notable fighter on this card will be former WBA interim Flyweight champion Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (34-3, 20) who makes his return to the ring for the first time since losing a WBA Flyweight unification bout against Juan Carlos Reveco last year. Yodmongkol has had a trio of hard fights coming into this bout and is now expected to face a very low level opponent.
The final bout we've been made aware of will feature the very exciting Chanachai Cp Freshmart (2-0, 1), who currently holds the WBC Youth Minimumweight title. Chanchai will be battling fellow unbeaten Chatpetch Por Pakdee (2-0) in a non-title bout that comes just weeks after Chanachai defended his belt with a clear decision against Wilber Andogan. Chanachai is fun to watch and we're fans though we know that he's being matched in a way to make him look good stylistically and this should be another bout like that.
Japanese fans have seen March kicking off with a swathe of nationally ranked fighters in action. Now they get the chance to see a trio of champions as the month really moves up a gear and Ohashi gives us their first show of the new year.
Technically the highest level of champion is a world champion and this shows sees a world champion in action. Sadly however it's WBA Atomweight champion Ayaka Miyao (19-5-1, 4) who fights in a non-title bout scheduled for 6 rounds with Momoko Kanda (8-6-2, 2). On paper this a great contest and it should prove to be a hit with the fans however as a female bout we suspect some fans, especially those in the West, will ignore this one.
The second tied of champion is a continental champion and we get one of those in action on this show as the sensational Ryo Matsumoto (13-0, 11) kicks off his year. Matsumoto, who won the OPBF Super Flyweight title at the end of last year, will be taking part in a bout contracted at 54KG's as he takes on Thai visitor Thanuthong Chor Kangwal (0-0). This bout is a complete mismatch on paper though we suspect it's hinting at a possible move to Bantamweight for Matsumoto who has always appeared to be a very big Super Flyweight.
Although neither Miyao or Matsumoto are defending their titles it doesn't mean there won't be title action on this show. The title action comes in the main event as Japanese Featherweight champion Satoshi Hosono (26-2-1, 20) battles against former foe Rikiya Fukuhara (30-7-1, 22) in a second meeting between the two men. The heavy handed Hosono, best known for a trio of failures at world level, stopped Fukuhara back in 2012 and will be hoping to do the same here whilst Fukuhara looks to become a 2-weight Japanese champion, adding the Featherweight title to a previous reign at Super Bantamweight.
As well as the three bouts featuring a champion the card also features some other recognisable fighters. One of those is former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (18-5, 11) who essentially battles for his career after 4 stoppage losses in his last 6 bouts. Okada should be safe here as he takes on the very light hitting Masaki Saito (11-10-4, 3). On paper this another mismatch but Okada is looking very much like a shot fighter whilst Saito has gone 5-2-1 in his last 8 bouts, dating back almost 3 years.
Former Japanese Featherweight title challenger Toru Suzuki (24-4, 8) is also in action as he takes on Tatsuya Yanagi (10-2, 4). This is an intriguing contest with Yanagi trying to bounce back from back-to-back losses, including a wide decision to the excellent Johnriel Maligro, whilst Suzuki tries to rebuild after going 2-3 in his previous 5, including a stoppage loss to Hisashi Amagasa. For both men this is a must win bout.
One notable under-card bout will see Kenichi Miyazaki (7-1-1, 2) attempt to record his 3rd straight win as he takes on Takuro Habu (11-9-2, 3). On paper this looks like a horrible match up however Habu has fought much, much better competition than Miyazaki and has suffered losses to the likes of Amnat Ruenroeng and Yu Kimura. This is one of those bouts which is likely to be much better than the records of the fighters suggest.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
It's fair to say that 2015 has been incredibly slow to get going. We have had shows and fights but so far it's been a bit stop-start with the only notable bout for Asian fights in January being the OPBF Super Featherweight title bout between Jomthong Chuwatana and Daiki Kaneko. Thankfully however things are set to change, in a big way, throughout a very exciting looking February.
Technically the month started a few days ago however really begins today with the first world title bout of the month and several youth title fights as things get underway in impressive fashion.
In the main event fans will see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (36-0, 12) defending his belt for the first time as he goes up against the little known Jeffrey Galero (11-0, 5). Last time out we saw Wanheng over-come Oswaldo Novoa to win the title and prove he could step up to fight at world level, this time around the shoe is on the other foot and it's Galero looking to prove he belongs at this level. For Galero it's a huge opportunity however it's hard to see him over-coming the more experienced and proven Menayothin here.
Notably the winner of the Menayothin/Galero bout is expected to be made a seriously big financial offer to travel to Japan and defend the belt against Kosei Tanaka in April. That incentive could well be enough for both men to really go out and make a statement here.
In one of two supporting titles bouts fans will see the much touted Kongputorn CPFreshmart (5-0, 3)* defending his WBC Youth Flyweight title against Chinese visitor Zhang Fang Yon (0-1). We like Kongputorn, a lot, and suspect he'll make a good impression again here as he continues his rise through the boxing ranks. It may seem early to say this but we suspect Kongputorn will be a world champion somewhere down the line.
The other supporting title bout will see Chanachai Cp Freshmart (1-0, 1) defending his WBC Youth Minimumweight title against the much more experienced Wilber Andogan (10-17-4, 4). We'll be honest this looks like an amazing test on paper for Chanchai and it's clear his team have serious belief in him. We expect a win from the Thai however we also expect to see him have a few hairy moments en route to retaining his title.
In a monster mismatch fans will also get the chance to see the talented and highly experienced Noknoi Sitthiprasert (51-4, 30) battle against the win-less Mongkol Patanakan Gym (0-7). Coming into this bout Noknoi has one of, it not the, longest winning run in boxing with 50 successive wins dating back to 2005 and we suspect it'll continue here.
One final bout on this card is expected to feature former world title challenger Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (42-2, 24) who is said to be hunting a world title fight later in the year. The 30 year old southpaw is facing a yet to be announce opponent and will be hunting his 7th straight win since being narrowly beaten in Japan by the then WBA Bantamweight champion Koki Kameda back in April 2013.
*Boxrec refuse to acknowledge Kongputorn's debut win over Veeradej Manoprungroj, which can be seen here
For the second day running we get Rookie of the Year East bouts as we get the second set of semi final contests. As with the first batch of bouts we aren't going to cover every contest for the upcoming show but instead a selection of the ones we feel stand out, though for those interested the show will feature a total of 12 contests with bouts taking place in every division from Minimumweight to Middleweight, barring Light Middleweight.
At Flyweight we'll get the chance to see 20 year old destroyer Naoki Mochizuki (5-0, 4) ply his skills against fellow unbeaten 20 year old Sonin Nihei (4-0-1, 1). This is one of those outstandingly even, on paper, matches that we get thrown by the Rookie of the Year competitions every year and something worth looking forward to if you have tickets to the show.
In the Welterweight division fans will get the chance to see the tall and powerful Hiroki Ashizawa (2-0, 2) battle against Teiken's very young Masaya Tamayama (3-0, 3). Going on the records of the two men involved here this bout may not go the distance and although their is 8 years difference between the men involved they will know that the division, domestically, is wide open for the winner to progress through quickly.
We've also got to admit that the Middleweight bout is thoroughly under-whelming with Naoya Kaneko (3-2, 3) fighting against Asahi Hatsumi (3-1, 1). This really shows the lack of depth at Middleweight, unfortunately this is the final bout on the show and the winner will progress to the Rookie of the East final later in the year.
Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
As well as the action in Japan we will also get fights in Thailand, in fact the fights in Thailand are somewhat more significant than the Japanese contests and will be shown on Channel 7.
The main event here will see former world title challenger Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (40-2, 23), best known for his loss to Koki Kameda, battle against Indonesian visitor Junior Bajawa (14-3, 7). Going in to the bout Bajawa is 0-3 in bouts outside of Indonesia and we'd be shocked if that run doesn't continue against the fringe world-level Panomroonglek. Our source has informed us that if Panomroomglek wins, which he really should, his promoter will attempt to get him a WBA world title fight later this year. Of course with the WBA employing their patented 3 world champion concept we're unsure which champion the Thai will attempt to line up though out feeling is Jamie McDonnell, the WBA "regular" champion, would be the preferred target.
In the chief support bout Kongputorn CPFreshmart (3-0, 2)* will be attempting to extend his winning run as he battles against Jomyuthlek Sor Narongchai (10-2, 4), who was reportedly stopped in August by Tommy Seran in Indonesia. We'll be honest we really like Kongputorn and although this looks tough on paper it's likely to be a relative 1-sided bout with Kongputorn showing his class against an opponent who we don't think belongs in the ring with him
A third bout for this show will see Kaenpetch Sithmuangkan (8-4, 1) attempt to end a 2 fight losing streak as he takes on the win-less Chanachai Sor Siamchai (0-1) in a relatively meaningless bout.
*We know that Boxrec are missing one of Kongputorn's bouts, his contest with Veeradej Manoprungroj.
The action this week is pretty busy and pretty active and on Tuesday we get a small card in Thailand.
The main event will see the highly regarded Knockout CP Freshmart (6-0, 3) defending his WBC Youth Minimumweight title against Indian novice Sandeep (0-3). Although Sandeep is win-less he has been matched insanely toughly having twice fought Oleydong Sithsamerchai and having also shared the ring with Samartlek Kokietgym.
Sandeep isn't the only Indian fighter on the card and he will be joined by a compatriot. We believe this will be former amateur stand out Balbir Singh (0-0), though we're unsure. Balbir will be fighting former world title challenger Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (39-2, 22) who famously gave Koki Kameda a very tough bout and is 1-1 with Koki Eto. This is even more of a mismatch on paper than the title bout.
We've also been informed that Kongphutorn Mor Watanachai (0-0), fighting under the name "Kongphutorn Nor Nophiran", will be debuting on this show after having had an excellent career in Muay Thai. We're unsure on his opponent or whether this will be a long term thing but it's certainly worth noting that he is trying his hand as professional boxing.