Action returns to Japan this coming Sunday with two shows. One in Osaka, where we get the chance to see a few domestically ranked fighters in action, and one in Aichi where we get Rookie of the Year action.
Although Rookie of the Year is great we'll begin by looking at the Osakan card, which has the more notable fighters in action.
The main event of thus card will see the in form Dynamic Kenji (9-3, 6), previously known as Kenji Kihisa, taking on the more experienced Kenta Sugimoto (12-11-2, 1). Although Kenji's record might not be incredible on paper but he is currently in the form of his career with recent stoppage wins over Futa Akizuki and Shota Kawaguchi. Those wins have taken Kenji into the WBO Asia Pacific, OPBF and JBC rankings and he won't be wanting to give those up. Sugimoto on the other hand is tough but limited domestic level fighter who, on his day, can be a nightmare. Sugimoto's best performance was in a losing battle to Tetsuya Hisada, show he;t tough and can be banana skin, but wit a 2-4-1 record in his last 7 we don't expect him to really push Kenji too close here.
Another ranked fighter on this card is JBC ranked fighter Ken Osato (13-2-1, 4), who takes on Retsu Kosaka (9-3, 3) in what looks like a competitive match up on paper and is a rematch of a very competitive 2016 bout. This will be Osato's first bout since his loss to Masaru Sueyoshi in a Japanese Super Featherweight title earlier this year and he'll be looking to bounce back with a win here. Kosaka showed some early promise, going 7-0 (2), but has since gone 2-3 with one of those losses being a razor thin one to Osato back in 2016. Given how close their first bout was this should be a very interesting match up.
A third bout of some interest here will see Tae Soo Kim (6-4, 1) take on Katsunori Imai (6-9-3, 1) in what looks like it could be a pretty competitive bout on paper. We suspect Kim will come out on top but he will certainly be forced to work for it against the normally tough Imai, who's only stoppage loss has come to Takuya Watanabe.
As for the Rookie of the Year card, which will be the Central Japan Rookie of the Year final, there will be 8 bouts, taking place from Light Flyweight to Welterweight.
The Welterweight bout pits real novices against each other, as Atsushi Matsui (1-0, 1) battles against Daisuke Hironaka (1-0, 1). Just to explain how inexperienced these two are they have less than 4 complete rounds of shared experience, with Matsui having just 21 seconds of ring time. We know the Welterweight division, particularly on the local level inside of Japan, is thin but this is really odd, though should be very entertaining.
At the other end of the weight spectrum is a Light Flyweight bout between 19 year old Mammoth Kazunori (5-1, 5) and 23 year old Alex Ota (2-2), who meet for the second time. These two fought last November, with Kazunori stopping Ota in 3 rounds, and since then both men have fought once, scoring a win each. The power edge certainly lies with Kazunori, who has scored 5 wins inside 3 rounds, and 3 inside the opening round, but Ota will have the drive of avenging his loss in what should be a very interesting match up.
New York, USA
In the US we get a number of Asian fighters in action.
One of those is the eye catching and fun to watch Shohjahon Ergashev (11-0, 11), who impressed back in January when he defeated Sonny Fredrickson. The Uzbek hopeful will be facing off with Chinese fight Zhimin Wang (10-2, 3) in what should be another chance for Ergashev to show case his skills. Wang isn't a terrible fighter, but he is naturally smaller than the Uzbek and is essentially taking a a pea shooter into a gun fight against Ergashev's brutal power.
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Dimash Niyazov (13-0-3, 6) will be seeking an 8th straight win as he goes up against limited Mexican Angel Sarinana (7-7-2, 3). Niyazov doesn't have the look of being the next Kazakh star but should be far too good for Sarinana, who lacks power and has already been stopped in 4 of his 7 losses.
The most interesting Asian on this card is Kazakh debutant Daniyar Yeleussinov (0-0). The Kazakh won gold at Rio 2016 and is touted to be a very special professional, given just how strong and impressive his amateur credentials are. He signed with Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Sports and is likely to matched aggressively. Sadly at the time of writing the opponent for his debut is unknown though we're not expecting any one too notable given the short notice.
In Hyogo Japanese fans get a really interesting card with two notable bouts.
The most interesting of those will see former world champion Shun Kubo (12-1, 9) take on former world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa (33-4-4, 19). The bout is being sold as a “survival match” for the two men, with neither really able to afford a loss at this point. For Kubo this bout will be his first as a fully fledged Featherweight and his first since losing the WBA Super Bantamweight title to Daniel Roman last September. For Osawa this bout will see him hunting a 4th straight win since his 2016 loss to Oscar Valdez. The winner of this will move towards another world title fight, whilst the loser could well be looking down the end of a barrel.
In a supporting bout we'll see former OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (20-5, 17) battle against Filipino visitor Jestoni Autida (11-7, 5). The Japanese slugger will be looking for his third straight stoppage win since having the title ripped out of his hands in November 2016 by Mark John Yap. At his best Yamamoto is a pure raw heavy handed slugger who can be a nightmare to fight, though his competition since his loss to Yap has been poor. Autida on the other hand is one of the many under-rated Filipino fighters, and he has toughness and ability to give Yamamoto real fits here. Although on paper a mismatch Autide has mixed with top level company, and suffered losses to fighters like Ryo Matsumoto and Petch Sor Chitpattana, so we do not expect this to be a walk in the park for Yamamoto.
One other bout of note on this card is a bout between Retsu Kosaka (8-3, 3) and Koichi Ito (11-6-3, 10). This should be a pretty interesting contest, despite neither fighter being particularly goo. Ito really does have nasty power and if he connects Kosaka could be in trouble, however Kosaka has the edge in skills and could be simply too good for the cruder fighter.
A second Japanese show will come from Osaka, where we get a relatively low key card.
The main event is a very interesting match up as Matcha Nakagawa (12-1-1, 5) faces off with Yuki Iriguchi (9-2-1, 4) in a bout for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title. This is one of the many interesting match ups to come from the Japanese Youth title scene. Coming into this one Nakagawa is riding a 3 fight winning run since losing unbeaten record in late 2016 to Ryohei Takahashi. Iriguchi on the other hand lost his unbeaten record last time out in a split decision loss to Takuya Mizuno. Given the quality of these two fighters this match up should be very competitive and compelling, even if it does lack in terms of excitement.
Also on this card will be Shingo Kawamura (15-3-1, 7) and Daiki Tomita (11-0, 3), who will both be fighting Thai foes. We haven't got the names of the visiting fighters, which should really sum up the quality of the opponents in this bout, and both Kawamura and Tomita will be expecting to pick up wins here.
The day is set to be an incredibly busy on in the Philippines. The most notable of the shows is to come from Glan in Saragani province.
The main event of this card will see unbeaten fighters collide in a bout for the WBO Oriental Youth Super Flyweight title. The bout will see Jade Bornea (10-0, 7) take on Danrick Sumabong (5-0, 4) in what should be a really good match up. Bornea was a top Filipino amateur before turning professional and should be favoured, but 19 year old Sumabong is a hard hitting with confidence and could prove to be the sort of opponent who could give Bornea absolute fits.
Other fighters on this card are Harmonito Dela Torre (19-1, 12), Jayson Mama (9-0, 5), Mark Bernaldez (15-1, 10) and Jake Bornea (13-2, 7). None of them are expecting to face any sort of tests, but the promoters do look like they are stacking the card with notable hopefuls and prospects.
Another Filipino card with a title bout headlining it will see the unbeaten Carl Jammes Martin (7-0, 6) take on Tanzanian Hashimu Zuberi (14-2, 4) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Bantamweight title. The 18 year old Martin has been really impressive on the lower level of the Filipino domestic scene but this is a notable step up and he will have to prove that he is one to watch with this bout. As for Zuberi he lacks power but the 22 year old showed his toughness in 2016, when he went 12 rounds with Rakniran Muadransarakam. He was stopped last year by Andrew Moloney, in 4 rounds, but is a fantastic test for the unbeaten Martin.
Agusan del Norte, Philippines
In Agusan del Norte fans will get the chance to see another low key card, headlined by Monico Laurente (29-13, 6) battling against Ralph Jhon Lulu (12-2-2, 5), who we believe was a late replacement for JP Macadumpis. On paper this is a decent match up, especially given that Laurente is on the slide, however Lulu has lost his last two bouts and is 20 months removed from a win, which came against the limited Junjie Lauza.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In Metro Manila fans get a title double header.
One of the bouts on this card will see the aggressive Allan Vallespin (11-2, 8) defending his GAB Super Featherweight title against the limited Warren Mambuanag (11-9-2, 3). Both of Vallespin's losses have been by stoppage, with the Filipino being stopped by both Masaru Sueyoshi and Denys Berinchyk, and he shouldn't be worried about Mambuanag's power here. The challenger has 4 of his last 5, including a loss to Vallespin in December 2016, and will be a major under-dog coming in to this bout.
A second title fight will see Mugicha Nakagawa (22-5-1, 13), the brother of the aforementioned Match Nakagawa, battle against Ricky Manufoe (27-32-3, 10) for the WBA Asia East Super Bantamweight Title. This should be a mismatch and a pretty straight forward win for Nakagawa, who impressed us last year when he came up just short against Yasutaka Ishimoto. Indonesian foe Manufoe has lost 4 of his last 5, and is likely to be beaten again here.
The most interesting show of the day, at least for us, is in the Korakuen Hall where we see the first set of Japanese Youth Tournament finals, with 4 finals, all of which are really interesting match ups, and bouts that should be really hotly contested.
The stand out bout is a rematch between Joe Tanooka (14-3-4, 1) and Kenya Yamashita (10-3, 7), who meet at Super Flyweight. Tanooka came runner up at the 2013 Rookie of the year whilst Yamashita won the Rookie of the Year the following year. In 2015 Tanooka scored a decision win over Yamashita, to give the heavy handed Yamashita his first loss, and since then both men have faltered yet remained popular. Tanooka has gone 5-1-1 since beating Yamashita, but shown a real lack of power with only a single stoppage. Yamashita is like an all action warrior and has gone 3-2 (3) since losing to Tanooka, with both losses being by stoppage. This will be a boxer vs bralwer, with history and the potential to be something really thrilling.
Another potential thriller comes at Featherweight as the talented, but out of form, Tsuyoshi Tameda (13-3-2, 11) takes on Retsu Kosaka (8-2, 3). We've seen Tameda losing his last two, suffering a decision loss to Simpiwe Vetyeka and suffering a stoppage to Reiya Abe, but has been given time to rest, heal and reignite his fire, with this being his final bout for the Yonekura gym, before joining the Ohashi Gym. As for Kosaka he has lost 2 of his last 3, but shone last time out beating the touted Ryo Sagawa in 2 rounds. This looks like a win on paper for Tameda, but it's not going to be easy against the hungry Kosaka.
Potentially the hidden gem on this show will be the Lightweight bout, as the really exciting and promising Izuki Tomioka (3-0, 1) takes on the Japanese Yuichiro Kasuya (9-1-1, 1). We were really impressed by Tomioka last time out, as he stopped Shun Shimazaki in 5 rounds, and the 20 year old from Saitama looks like a real one to watch. Kasuya, who won the Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight in 2014, has faltered in his last two, drawing with Masaki Saito and losing to Spicy Matsushita. With those recent set backs against Kasuya we suspect he'll try to up his game, but Tomioka will be too good for him.
At Super Featherweight we'll see the struggling Kazuma Sanpei (12-4, 4) battle the inconsistent Ryusei Ishii (7-3, 4) in what looks like the black sheep of the match ups. Sanpei has gone 1-4 in his last 5, with 3 stoppage losses during that run, and his 11-0 (4) start to professional boxing is a distance memory, with only a single win in the last 3 years. Ishii has gone 2-2 in his last 4, though did earn his place in this bout with a dominant win over Sho Nagata in May. Ishii has some momentum here, Sanpei has none, leading us to favour Ishii for the win.
Fight fans in Las Vegas will see American based Uzbek hopeful Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (7-0-1, 3) fight in an 8 rounder, as he looks for a 4th straight victory. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced, so we suspect it will be a less than taxing foe foe the unbeaten prospect.
In Pakistan we'll see a bizarre all-debutant 10 rounder, as Ali Dad (0-0) takes on Asmatullah (0-0). It's really odd to see a debutant in a 10 rounder, to see two of them in a 10 rounder is even weirder and it's hard to see what the plan behind this bout was, though hopefully it helps in the development of Pakistani boxing going forward, and is interesting to see how they are growing the sport there.
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.
The end the weekend attention turns to Hiroshima where Japanese fight fans get an easy to over-look card from Hiroshima.
In the main event of this show we see veterans colliding for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title. The match up sees former Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (31-14-1, 7) taking on 33 year old Koji Itagaki (17-10-2, 7). It's fair to say that Horikawa is the more proven fighter, having been in with a variety of well known fighters, such as Akira Yaegashi to Florante Condes, Edgar Sosa, Yu Kimura Shin Ono and Ken Shiro, and has typically held his own with them. Although he has 14 losses to his name Horikawa has proven to be a very solid fighter during a very hard career. Itagaki on the other hand has been in good form, winning 5 of his last 6 bouts, with notable victories over Benezer Alolod, Michael Enriquez and Michael Landero. Although neither man will be in the running for a world title fight, this should be a very good match up and a real war between two men really fighting for their pride.
Whilst the main event is something we're excited about we also really like some of the supporting bouts. One of those bouts we like will see the heavy handed teenager Ryoya Ikema (11-2, 10) take on domestic foe Koki Ono (11-3, 5). Ikema debuted back in 2013, as a 15 year old, and although he was 4-2 at one point he has been impressing recently with a 7-0 (6) run, including an 8 round decision win over Jomyuthlek Sor Narongchai. Ono is currently riding a 4 fight winning streak and will feel confident here of upsetting the teenage hopeful, but he has been stopped before and it's clear that Ikema has got power.
Another supporting bout will see the once beaten Retsu Kosaka (7-1, 2) battle against the out of form Yuki Ozawa (10-5, 2). Last time out Kosaka suffered a competitive loss to fellow youngster Ken Osato and will be looking to get back to winning ways here. Ozawa will be looking to end a 5 fight slide here, and looking to make the most of a ring return following a sizeable break from the ring. On paper 5 losses looks terrible for the once 10-0 Ozawa but he has been matched hard with bouts against the likes of Masaaki Serie and Ryo Takenaka. If Ozawa is in form he could prove to be an excellent test for Kosaka and he is much better than the raw numbers suggest.
The Olympic break is over and we see action resuming now with regular shows picking up Asia. This Sunday attention turns to Hiroshima where Shinsei put on their next show.
In the main event Japanese ranked Bantamweight Ryo Kosaka (12-3-1, 6) will be up against Corrales Kawashimo (7-7-1, 2). The 23 year old Kosaka is on a 5 fight winning streak, including notable wins over Satoshi Niwa and Dado Cabintoy and will be expecting to extend that streak here against a man who has lost his last 2 and is 3-3 in his last 6.
In a supporting bout the OPBF ranked Shun Kosaka (12-2, 3) will be up against Tatsuya Kaneko (7-12-3, 1). Kosaka was the Flyweight runner up at the 2014 Rookie of the Year and although he was stopped by the experienced Tetsuya Hisada in 2015 there is genuine promise with the youngster, who at 21 is still a long way from his peak. For Kaneko the focus has to be on a good performance with the 29 year old going 3-10-3 in his last 16!
Another really good looking supporting bout will see unbeaten teenager Retsu Kosaka (7-0, 2) battle against once beaten Japanese ranked Ken Osato (8-1-1, 3) in what looks like a genuinely mouth watering match up. The 18 year old Kosaka debuted in April 2015 and has quickly made a name for himself a genuinely promising younger Aged 22 Osato isn't much older than his foe but has fought at a much higher level, and fought to a draw with Kento Matsushita last year. This is the best bout on the card and is a clear step up for Kosaka and a great test for Osato, just the sort of match up we love.