This coming Saturday is set to be a busy, yet thrilling, day with a show of note in each Japan and Hong Kong. Not only do both countries get a card of note, but both cards are genuinely significant as we go forward.
Hong Kong S.A.R, China
The Hong Kong card, put on by DEF HK and Watanabe as they continue to work together, has a trio of title bouts and potentially a fight of the year contender.
That fight of the year contender will see local star Rex Tso (21-0, 13) take on former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (33-10-1, 14), in a bout for Tso's WBO International Super Flyweight title. The local is one of the sports most exciting fighters, and although he has improved markedly in recent years he is still, at heart, a fighter there for the fans, and a man who enjoys a thrilling tear up at every opportunity. Kono on the other hand is a bit of a faded force, and has lost 2 of his last 3, but has a style that is very fan friendly, and should gel with Tso's here. Do not be surprised by this one being a little bit special.
In a second title bout we'll see Kono's stable mate Ayumi Goto (7-0, 5) battle with Indian teenager Kirti (3-0, 2). Reports have stated that this will either be a female OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight, with Goto defending her title, or a WBO Asia Pacific title bout, for a vacant title. On paper this should be an easy win for the Japanese fighter, but it is fair to say that Kirti is an unknown, and could be a surprise package of sorts.
The third title bout on this card will see the always fun to watch Takuya Watanabe (32-7-1, 17) battle against Chinese foe Leshan Li (13-2-1, 8) for the WBO Oriental Super Featherweight title. Watanabe is one of the many under-the-radar Japanese fighters who is guaranteed to put on good fight, no matter who he is facing, and we're expecting another fun one here. As for Li he's a bit of an unknown but is a heavy handed fighter and has won his last 7 bouts, suggesting good form and good confidence coming into this one.
One other bout on this card, which looks set to be explosive, will see Thai based Dutchman Nick Frese (6-0, 5) take on heavy handed Filipino Prabhjot Singh (7-1-1, 7). Given that these two have 12 stoppages in 13 wins we're expecting to see bombs away, though it's hard to see anything but a win for Frese, who looks like a genuine prospect.
In Japan we'll be getting a card that will be aired live on G+ and will be promoted by Teiken.
The main event of this card will see the in-form Masaru Sueyoshi (15-1, 10) take on Ribo Takahata (13-7-1, 5) for the vacant Japanese Super Featherweight title, in what will be the first title fight either man has been in. The bout, for the title vacated by Kenichi Ogawa, will see Sueyoshi coming in to it with a 12 fight winning run dating back more than 5 years, whilst Takahata has been inconsistent, alternating between wins and losses over his last 15 bouts. It's hard not to favour Sueyoshi but it is his most meaningful bout to date.
In a supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Shuya Masaki (8-0, 4) take on Filipino foe Ciso Morales (19-4-1, 12). It's fair to say that Masaki has shown touches of brilliance through his early career, but he has been inconsistent and it always seems like there is just something missing from his performances so far. We expect to see him show his maturity here against a visiting foe who shouldn't be over-looked and will be a very live under-dog. Morales might not be a sensational fighter, but he's a good enough fight to test someone like Masaki at this level.
In a really interesting under-card bout we'll see the once beaten Ryo Matsubara (7-1, 7) take on the unbeaten Kai Chiba (6-0, 5), in a bout between punchers. Coming in to this one Matsubara has won his last 6 bouts in a combined 7 rounds, and has well and truly put his sole defeat behind him, with that loss coming back in his second professional bout. Chiba on the other hand went 6 rounds last time out, ending his own stoppage run. Both of these men like to throw heavy leather, and this could be a very explosive contest.
Japanese ranked Welterweight Yuki Nagano (11-2, 8) will be risking a 9 fight winning run as he takes on Thai foe Kriengkrai Tor Silachai (3-0*) in what could be a potential banana skin for the local. Although ranked by the JBC it's hard to know how good Nagano really is, whilst the Thai is a bit of an unknown, and it's unclear really whether we even have his complete record here.
A second Japanese ranked Welterweight on this card is Ryota Toyoshima (7-1-1, 5), who risks his ranking against domestic rival Masaharu Kaito (5-2, 2). Coming in to this bout the 21 year old Toyoshima has won his last 5, though he did suffer a decision defeat to Kaito back in 2015, and it's obvious he is seeking to avenge that set back. Sadly for Kaito he has lost 2 of his last 3, including one to the previously mentioned Nagano and seems to be struggling for form coming in to this bout.
*-Record reported as being differed to the 3-0 figuire.
This coming Tuesday sees action return to the Korakuen Hall for what is a genuinely intriguing title double header, featuring two really nice looking bouts.
Technically the main event of the card is a Japanese Light Middleweight title fight, as Koshinmaru Saito (23-8-2, 13) takes on Takeshi Inoue (9-0-1, 4) for the currently vacant title. Originally Saito was supposed to fight Yuki Nonaka for the title, but Nonaka vacated and as a result this bout was made, which in fairness is a much more even looking bout. Saito is a genuine veteran of the sport, aged 38 and with almost 17 years of experience under his belt. Despite being a veteran Saito has never win “a big one” and will likely know that this will be his final title shot. For the exciting Inoue this is a big step up, but could well see him becoming a champion less than 3 years after his debut.
Talking about being fast tracked the other title bout will see Hiroto Kyoguchi (6-0, 6) make the first defense of his OPBF Minimumweight title, as he takes on Jonathan Refugio (16-5-5,4). The ultra-fast rising Kyoguchi has been a professional for just over a year but has had a meteoric rise since debuting in April 2016 and has already claimed his first title, with others expected to follow before the end of 2017. Although Refugio is 23 years old he's already a bit of a veteran and has shared the ring with a string of notable names and should serve as a very legitimate first challenger for Kyoguchi.
On the under-card we'll see Noriyuki Ueno (18-14-5, 5) battle against a Thai visitor and veteran Ribo Takahata (12-7-1, 4) battle against recent Japanese Lightweight title challenger Yusuke Tsukada (8-6, 3), in what should be a very interesting card.
The month of June has started relatively slowly though this Saturday sees things heating up with a lot of action featuring Asian fighters, including notable bouts outside of Asia.
One of those notable bouts is set to take place in the UK where Thai veteran Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (38-7-1, 18) faces former IBF Bantamweight champion Paul Butler (21-1, 12) in a bout for the WBO International Super Flyweight title, and a bout that could well set the winner on the way to facing world champion Naoya Inoue. For Petchbarngborn the bout sees him risking a 16 fight winning streak though he will be the clear under-dog and will be facing one of his best opponents to date. For Butler the bout is a step up in class, but one he will be strongly favoured to win.
Staying “on the road” Indonesian fighter Daud Yordan (35-3-0-1, 24) will be in Uruguay where he will face Argentinian fighter Cristian Rafael Coria (24-4-2, 9) in a bout for the “Interim” WBA International Lightweight title. Yordan should be the favourite here, but will be looking to do more than “just win” in what could potentially be a huge stepping stone towards a world title fight, later in the year.
Continuing with title action action outside of Asian fight fans in the US will see Filipino Jhon Gemino (13-6-1, 5) battle against the unbeaten, and heavy handed, Christian Gonzalez (13-0, 12) for the WBC Youth Lightweight title. This looks like a huge ask for Gemino but he will go in to the ring knowing that a win would open up some doors, and be a genuinely good win.
Quintana Roo, Mexico
One final bout of note outside of Asia will see former OPBF title challenger Jovylito Aligarbes (12-3, 6) face off against Edgar Jimenez (21-11-2, 15) in what looks like a well matched bout in Jimenez's homeland of Mexico.
As well as the bouts outside of Asia there is some interesting match ups in Asia.
One of those interesting match ups sees former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko (22-5-3, 15) battle against Ribo Takahata (12-6-1, 4), in what could see the winner move towards a title fight. On paper Kaneko should be strongly favoured however he has lost 3 of his last 6 and doesn't look like the fighter that many tipped to become a world champion, following his competitive bout with Takashi Uchiyama at the end of 2013.
Another really good bout will see Shingo Eto (17-4-1, 9) face the once beaten Masaru Sueyoshi (11-1, 7). Eto is the better known man here but he has lost twice in his last 5 bouts and knows that another loss here could be the end of his title dreams. For Sueyoshi the bout will see him going for a 9th straight win and build on victories over the likes of Yuta Nagai and Kazuma Sanpei. This could be the bout of the day and is really well matched.
Talking about the possible “bout of the day” it's hard not to get a little bit excited about seeing Kenji Ono (10-1, 5) face Takumi Suda (12-11-2, 3). The records may not suggest that this one will be anything special but Ono has been in a FOTY once already this year, his 8th round win over Jun Takigawa, and could be forced into a war here against the under-rated Suda.
Davao del Sur, Philippines
There's also action in the Philippines, though the matches here are mostly looking like mismatches.
The biggest of the mismatches sees former Filipino Light Welterweight champion Adones Cabalquinto (22-1, 15) battle against journeyman Rodel Wenceslao (11-11-1, 4). Cabalquinto was once tipped for big things but has seen his career flat line recently, despite that he should be far too good for Wenceslao here.
Thankfully there are some prospects on this card, despite them being in mismatches. One of those prospects is Genesis Libranza (9-0, 6) who looks to extend his perfect start as he battles veteran Jetly Purisima (21-18-4, 6). Although likely to be a mismatch this is a step up for Libranza and is the right way to move the promising 22 year “Cobra”.
Another prospect of note on this show is Lightweight hopeful Jayar Inson (10-0, 7), who faces Richard Betos (20-14-1, 7). This another “logical step” for a prospect, but one that doesn't look too exciting on paper. Inson has impressed in recent times and some are tipping him to fight for regional honours in the near future, he will however have to see off fighters like Betos if he's to progress to fighting for an OPBF title
The final Japanese card before Christmas comes on December 21st as we get the final Dangan card of the year.
The main event of the card is a really intriguing match up for the Japanese Super Bantamweight title as promising youngster Yusaku Kuga (11-1-1, 7) battles against the experienced Yasutaka Ishimoto (26-8, 7). The title is vacant going in to this one, after having recently been given up by Yukinori Oguni, but that shouldn't take the shine off what will be a thrilling contest between a young puncher and a speed veteran, both looking to claim the biggest win of their career, and a Japanese title. Don't be surprised if this is a pre-Christmas cracker!
In an excellent under-card bout fans will get the chance to see Jo Tanoka (12-2-3) battle against the heavy handed Kenta Nakagawa (9-2-1, 7). Coming in to this one both are JBC ranked and both know that a win will leap them towards a Japanese Super Flyweight title fight in 2016. This skill Vs power and whilst Tanoka hasn't yet stopped anyone he is a young man growing into his body and has proven himself as a very capable boxer. This really is a brilliant match up.
Another bout that sees Japanese ranked fighters face off will see Ribo Takahata (11-6-1, 3) take on Yusuke Tsukada (8-4, 3). The match up isn't as exciting as the other two bouts we've made a note of, but it is a very significant bout that will see the winner move towards a title fight in 2016. Coming into this one Tsukada is on a 3 fight winning streak including a victory over recent title challenger Kazuhiro Nishitani. Tsukada has lost 2 of his last 3, but does hold a notable win over the then unbeaten Johnreil Maligro, and has faced very good competition including current Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa.
For a second day running Japanese fans have domestic title action as we see the vacancy at Light Flyweight being filled. The vacancy, which arose after Yu Kimura gave up the title to focus on getting himself a world title shot, will be filled by either former world title challenger Shin Ono (18-6-2, 2) or multi-time domestic challenger Kenichi Horikawa (29-13-1, 6), who meet in an intriguing match up. Of the two men Ono will likely be favoured, he is a former OPBF champion and did, as mentioned, fight for a world title however Horikawa may well “win a big one” after coming up short numerous times in title bouts. We wouldn't suggest this will be a FOTY contender, but it should be very entertaining with a lot of exchanges and trading.
Interestingly the winner of the Ono/Horikawa bout may well become an immediate target for the fast rising Ken Shiro who will almost certainly be eyeing up a potential national title clash in 2016.
In the chief support bout fans will get the chance to see former Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (21-7, 11) fight in a warm up bout against Wataru Miyasaka (9-3-1, 2). This should be a relatively straight forward win for Masuda who will be back in action, if he wins, on November 2nd as he takes on Hideo Sakamoto in the Strongest Korakuen bout, with the winner of that one to get a shot at the Japanese Bantamweight title in 2016. Although a clear favourite this will be Masuda's first bout since he was blitzed by Shohei Omori earlier this year
Another supporting bout will see Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Ribo Takahata (11-5-1, 3) battle against 2013 All Japanese Rookie of the year Kazuma Sanpei (11-2, 4). Sanpei, who looked really promising back in 2013 has lost back-to-back fights, by stoppage, and will know that he needs a win here if he's to do anything going forward with his career.
One other bout of note will see the talented, but light hitting, Jo Tanoka (11-2-3) battle the gutsy, but limited, Mako Matsuyama (7-9-2, 3). Coming in to this bout Tanoka is JBC ranked at Flyweight and will be hoping to move towards a title fight in 2016. Whilst limited Matsuyama is the more well known of the two men following his memorable war with Rex Tso in Macau.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)