The biggest show, for us, on Thursday will take place at the Korakuen Hall and feature a trio of title bouts.
The headlining bout will see OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (20-2, 7) defending his title for the second time, as he takes on fellow Japanese fighter Daishi Nagata (11-1-1, 5), in his first title bout. Naito won the title in January, when he stopped Jeffrey Arienza, and only just managed to retain the belt in May, when he narrowly defeated Jheritz Chavez in what was a very fortunate win that saw the Japanese fighter having a torrid final few rounds. Coming in to this Nagata is riding a 3 fight winning run, but was dominated in April 2017 when Vladimir Baez walked through him and stopped him in 7 rounds. That bout showed that Nagata wasn't the toughest, but he is skilled and this could be a lot more competitive than many suspect. Neither is much of a puncher but both are highly skilled and this should make for a really good contest. A preview of this bout can be read here Naito takes on Nagata in next OPBF title defense!
The co-main event of this card is an OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight, as the exciting Hiroaki Teshigawara (17-2-2, 10) takes on the inform Glenn Suminguit (21-3, 11) of the Philippines. The hard hitting always fun to watch Teshigawara is currently riding a 5 fight winning run, including wins over Keita Kurihara, Jason Canoy and Teiru Kinoshita, but this bout will see him moving up in weight, following his impressive run at Bantamweight. Suminguit on the other hand is 9-1in his last 10, with notable wins of his own over the likes of Lloyd Jardeliza, Renoel Pael and Alvin Bais. The Filipino will be the under-dog here, but will not be in Tokyo to make up the numbers and really could give Teshigawara fits in an action packed contest. - A full preview of this bout can be read here - Teshigawa hunts OPBF title as he faces Suminguit!
A third title bout on this card will see the unbeaten Ryuto Owan (5-0, 3) take on fellow youngster Tetsu Araki (11-1-1, 2) in a bout for the JBC Youth Bantamweight title. The 20 year old Owan was a stand out amateur at the youth level before making his professional debut last year. Since debuting he has shined and scored notable wins already over both Alvin Medura and Jun Blazo, leading to some in Japan getting very excited about him. Coming in to this Araki has won his last 7, since a split decision loss to Tenta Kiyose in September 2015. Araki isn't as highly regarded as Owan, but he does have the edge in experience and at 23 he should be just a tough more physically mature.
As well as the exciting card in Tokyo there is also a notable card in China with a couple of title fights.
One of those title fights will see the unbeaten Mingcun Chen (4-0, 4) face off with Clint Alderton (8-2-1, 6) in a bout for the WBF international Light Heavyweight title. The unbeaten Chinese fighter made his debut last November and has never gone between 2 rounds thanks to his power. This is however a huge step up in class for the 20 year old. Alderton is himself a solid puncher, but is 1-1-1 (1) in his last 3 and whilst he can bank there are question marks about his heart and his overall ability.
The other title bout will see the unbeaten Ziqiang Huo (7-0-1) taking on the limited Gregory Bell (4-3, 1) in a bout for the WBC Australasian Welterweight title. Aged 29 Huo is in his physical prime, but really lacks power and is without a stoppage through his 8 fight career. Bell on the other hand has shown a little bit of power, but the reality is that he's proven his ability either and we suspect that this could have messy distance bout written all over it.
In the US Kazakh prospect Ali Akhmedov (12-0, 9) will essentially be fighting in a stay busy bout, as he faces off against the limited Jovany Javier Gomez (17-14, 11). Gomez is a blown up Light Welterweight and shouldn't pose any threat at all to the excellent Akhmedov, who deserves a much better opponents than Gomez.
This coming Tuesday is a pretty interesting day for fight fans in Asia, which a big show in Tokyo and a notable card in China. In total, across the two cards, there will be 6 title fights! And other notable fighters will also be in action.
For us the most notable card for the day is from the Korakuen Hall, where we'll be getting a Japanese title fight, an OPBF title fighter and several interesting fighters on the under-card.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (19-2, 7) defending his title against tough Filipino challenger Jheritz Chavez (8-2-2, 6), in what will be Naito's first defense. The Japanese fighter won the title this past January, when he stopped Jeffrey Arienza in 9 rounds, and he looked great in that performance. Despite having fought much of his career at 130lbs Naito looks to have filled out his frame well into a Light Welterweight and could well have a really good run at his new weight. As for Chavez he has proven his toughness, having gone the 10 round scheduled in his two losses to Vage Sarukhanyan and Hiroki Okada. Despite being tough he has looked slow in both of his losses and that will likely be the case again here, with Naito likely to be too quick for the challenger. Chavez has the power to hurt Naito, but we suspect Naito will fight on his toes and look to keep distance between the two men and score at range.
The second title on this fight will see former Japanese Welterweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (19-4-1, 8) face off with Ryosuke Maruki (15-4-1, 10) for the vacant Japanese Light Middleweight title, which was vacated by Takeshi Inoue earlier this year. Shindo claimed the Japanese Welterweight title in his second shot at the title, beating Yasuhiro Okawa, but only held the title for 3 months before being stopped by Toshio Arikawa. Since then he has gone 2-0 (2) but not looked that impressive. As for Maruki this will be his second shot at the title, having come up short in a very competitive contest against Yuki Nonaka in 2016. Since then he has gone 3-0 (3) and looked very destructive. The bout really is a must win for both men, who can't really afford another loss at title level, and should be very exciting.
On the under-card fans will see the hard hitting Ryosuke Takami (11-2, 10) take on Filipino foe Junny Salogaol (13-13-4, 12) in a bout that should be very explosive. Takami, given his record, will be the big favourite but the visitor has certainly got a punchers shot, and is tough enough to give Takami some real questions here. Although Salogaol was stopped by Hiroaki Teshigawara last year he does tend to go the distance in his losses and suspect Takami will be tested here.
Interestingly another bout on this card will see the under-rated Ken Achiwa (11-13-5, 4) take on Japanese based Filipino Rey Orais (19-17-2, 5). Although his record is less than flattering Achiwa is actually a really decent domestic level fighter, who has scored draws against the likes of Tatsuya Takahashi and Joe Tanooka, and ran Suguru Muranaka very close last December. The bigger talking point however is that of Orais, who will be having his first fight in a decade. The Filipino is now a trainer at the Flame Yamagami gym and despite not fighting since March 2008, when he was stopped by Denkaosan Kaovichit, he is still only 33. Given that Orais is working as a trainer we suspect he will look in surprisingly good shape for this and could prove to be a very interesting match up.
Xi An, China
In China fans get a quadruple header of regional title fights.
One of the most interesting of those bouts pits unbeaten fighters against each other, as China's Baolin Kang (4-0) takes on Indonesian puncher Ari Agustian (5-0, 5) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Youth Featherweight title. The 20 year old Kang made his debut back in October 2016 and despite never scoring a stoppage has looked pretty solid, whilst fighting mostly as a Lightweight. Agustian on the other hand has never fought outside of his homeland, though did score a notable domestic level win over Boido Simanjuntak back in November. The Indonesian fighter looks like a crude but very aggressive and hard hitting fighter. Although he has clearly been selected too lose he is a very under-dog here.
Another pretty interesting looking bout will see unbeaten Chinese fighter ZongLi He (3-0, 1) take on Filipino Diarh Gabutan (20-6-3, 11) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Flyweight title. The Chinese 23 year old really hasn't shown too much through his career so far, defeating 3 domestic novices, but this is a monstrous step up in class against a well schooled and experienced Filipino visitor. Gabutan, who has got a poor record on the road with 1 win from 4 bouts outside of the Philippines, is better than his record suggests and we think he'll be too good, too experienced and simply know too much for Chinese youngster.
Another Chinese local who could find themselves up against it is 19 year old Li Ping Shi (2-2, 1), who battles against Korean Hyun Hee Kil (4-1, 1) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Female Flyweight title. The Chinese fighter won her first couple of fights, against limited Thai fighters, but has gone on to lose her most recent bouts, including one to Korean veteran Hee Jung Yuh and has no real form coming into this bout. Kil on the other hand lost her debut, but has won her last 4 and will feel like she's in great form her, despite having faced very limited opposition. Shi has a good chance here, but will be the slight under-dog.
One bout where the Chinese local will be favoured is a contest between the hard hitting Yiran Li (4-0, 4) and the out of form Filipino Joe Tejones (10-5, 6), for the WBC Youth World Featherweight title. The Chinese puncher, who will be defending the title for the first time, has looked very dangerous at the lower levels and will be looking to step up here. The Filipino has been going on a win-loss, win-loss run over the last few years, with a notable stoppage loss to Hinata Maruta. Tejones is a decent fighter at this type of level, but we suspect the Chinese fighter will shine here and take his best win to date.
The calm to begin the year ends this coming Saturday as we get the first Dangan card of 2017, and it is a brilliantly intriguing card with two OPBF title bouts, and two very good looking support bouts.
The main event of the card will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (18-2, 6) take on Filipino foe Jeffrey Arienza (16-6-1, 10) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Light Welterweight title. The talented Naito will be looking for one of the most significant wins of his career, and whilst he will be favoured here he should be expecting to have a fight against Arienza. The Filipino visitor is far from a world beater but will likely know that one more loss is the end of him at this level, and he really cannot afford another set back if he's to remain relevant.
In a more 50-50 bout we'll see Filipino fighter Carlo Magali (22-9-3, 11) defending the OPBF Super Featherweight title against Japan's Masatoshi Kotani (22-2, 15). On paper this is a very interesting match up and will potentially see the winner move into a very intriguing position as fighters look towards getting a shot at the OPBF title. Magali and a limited but aggressive fighter and will take the fight to Kotani whilst the challenger will look to use his slightly better boxing skills to take the title from the champion. A really even match up.
Another mouth watering match up will see touted Teiken fighter Shuya Masaki (9-0, 5) take on Watanabe gym's Hironori Mishiro (4-0, 2) in what could be the surprise bout of the month. Masaki is ranked #3 by the JBC and will be looking towards getting a title fight later in the year, if he wins, but a win here is certainly no forgone conclusion. Mishiro has only been a professional for 10 months but has shone, and his October win over Shuma Nakazato was absolute incredible. This is set to be a war and should be something very special for fans watching.
Another very strong looking supporting bout will see Coach Hiroto (13-2-1, 4) take on the once beaten Ryo Hino (11-1-1, 6). The talented Hiroto took almost 5 years out of the ring until returning last June, and since then he has scored 2 wins. He will however be up against it here with Hino riding a 6 fight winning streak, including a huge win last time out against Sho Nakazawa. Coming in to this the 27 year Hino looks to be the man in form, and the man going places, but at 26 years old Hiroto shouldn't be over-looked in what appears to be a very competitive looking match up on paper.
In Illinois fight fans will be able to see American based Uzbek hopeful Rustam Tulaganov (1-0) take on the once beaten Martez McGregor (4-1, 4) in a 6 rounder. The 26 year old Uzbek was a former amateur standout, having claimed an Olympic Bronze medal and an Asian Championship's Silver medal and will be favoured here. The heavy handed McGregor has never been beyond 2 rounds and is likely to come out swinging here, win or lose.
At the Korakuen we get a genuinely important card, as Japanese and Chinese fighters face off in the second Japan Vs China Dangan card.
The main event of the show will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (17-2, 6) take on unbeaten Chinese visitor Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (12-0-1, 5), in a really good looking bout. For Naito it's his second as a 140lb'der, and his 6th since losing the Japanese Super Featherweight title to Kenichi Ogawa. Although Naito's has been troubled recently he will feel confident of picking up a win over the Chinese fighter. For Nasiyiwula the bout will be his first outside of China and his second successive bout against a Chinese foe, having won adecision back in May against Taisho Ozawa. A win for the visitor will open up doors for more significant fights and could well see him in the mix for an OPBF title sooner rather than later.
A second good looking bout on here will see the once beaten Takeshi Kaneko (5-1-1) look to bounce back from a June loss as he takes on Wulan Tuolehazi (5-3, 1). The Chinese visitor has a mixed record, but has won his last 3, including a win over former world title challenger Nouldi Manakane. Although this bout will be expected to go the contacted 8 rounds it should still be a lot of fun and a very exciting contest.
Negros Occidental, Philippines
We get another notable card in the Philippines, with two bouts of note.
The biggest in terms of names will see former world champion Merlito Sabillo (26-4-1, 13) battle against well regarded journeyman Crison Omayao (22-14-4, 7), who has share the ring with the likes of Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka. Since losing the WBO Minimumweight title to Francisco Rodriguez Jr back in 2014 life has been hard in the ring for Sabillo, who has gone 3-3 and cannot really afford any more set backs. Whilst Omayao has also had mixed results recently he certainly has time on his side, and the 24 year old really isn't at the end of the line, despite the fact he is racking up losses now a days.
The other bout of note on this card will see the unbeaten Jayr Raquinel (7-0-1, 5) take on Richard Rosales (12-4-2, 7) for the OPBF interim Flyweight title, despite the fact the “regular” title was defended just a week ago. The bout should be a good one, given the men involved and their desire for a win, but one does wonder what the OPBF are playing at with the logic that this was going to be an interim title fight, so soon after the last defense of the actual title.
The deepest of the Asian shows is from Singapore, where Ringstar Management Pte Ltd will be hosting a notable show with a host of title bouts, and notable names,
In one of the supporting bouts on this card we'll see talented Filipino hopeful Michael Dasmarinas (26-2, 17) take on Thai journeyman Phupha Por Nobnom (11-10-1, 10). This should be a total mismatch in favour of the criminally under-rated Filipino, who has won his last 8 and looks ready to be stepped up massively after this contest.
A slightly more competitive looking supporting bout will see Thailand's Decha Kokietgym (34-11-3, 18) take on Australian veteran Chad Bennett (36-4-3, 27). The 32 year old Thai hasn't fought since June 2013, and is certainly not the fighter her once was, though Bennett is no spring chicken and had his 44th birthday a few months ago. It's also worth noting that Bennett himself has been out of the ring for over 2 years. This bout may not excite fans, but there is some intrigue on paper.
A much more relevant bout will see Malaysian hopeful Keng Fai Hui (3-0, 3) compete in his first title bout, as he battles Petch Fonchang Chonburi (7-3, 2) for the IBO Oceania Welterweight title. On paper this looks like a mismatch but it's a step up for the unbeaten 22 year old, who has been in with really limited opposition for. The Thai is nothing special, but should prove a better opponent that Hui's previous 3.
In a competitive looking bout we'll see Muhammad Meeraj (6-2, 3) battle against Chase Haley (5-1, 2), in a second contest between the two men. These two fought back in May, with Haley winning a majority decision in a bout that saw both men being dropping, and it's clear that Meeraj will be out for revenge whilst Haley will be chasing a second win over the Malaysian hopeful. On the line in this bout will be the International Boxing Organization Oceania Light Heavyweight Title, which Haley won last time out.
The biggest name on the card will be 2-weight former world champion Sirimongkol Singwancha (92-3, 57), who continues his long career as he takes on Australian fighter Tommy Browne (34-6-2, 13). The 40 year old Thai has lost just once in his last 53 and will be hoping to edge towards 100 wins here, as he takes on a 34 year old Australian, who is 8-0-1 in his last 9. The bout will see the two fighters trading blows for the International Boxing Organization Asia Pacific Super Welterweight Title and there is a good chance the winner will try and move on towards a more notable title bout in 2018.
The main event of the show will see Singapore's very own Muhamad Ridhwan (8-0, 7) face off with Namibia's Nataneal Sebastian (9-0, 5) in a battle of unbeaten's. The two men will be trading blows for the International Boxing Organization International Super Featherweight Title and will be looking to extend their unbeaten records. Ridhwan struggled on his debut but has stopped his last 7, taking small but progressive steps up whilst Sebastian will be fighting in a notable step up, and his first bout outside of Namibia.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
In Argentina fight fan will be able to see unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Bobirzhan Mominov (4-0, 4) take on Argentinian based Uruguayan fighter Carlos Andres Chaparro (7-15-1, 3). The heavy handed Kazakh has needed just 11 rounds for his first 4 wins and will be looking to keep his stoppage run alive here, but may find that tricky against a durable but limited foe.
At the Korakuen Hall we see a small, yet notable card featuring a former Japanese champion and a former world champion.
The main event of the card will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (16-2, 5) take on a Thai foe. The talented Naito will be fighting for the second time since suffering his second loss to Kenichi Ogawa and should be expected to pick up a confidence building win before having a more meaningful bout towards the end of the year, potentially with that being another title fight for the once touted youngster.
The former world champion on this card is former IBF Female Light Flyweight queen Naoko Shibata (16-4-1, 5), who returns 6 months after losing her title, to take on Thai novice Shisa Manopgym (0-2). The bout should be an easy win for the 36 year old Japanese veteran but it's still going to be good to see her back in the ring, for what will be her first fight in Tokyo in almost 2 years.
In a supporting bout we'll also see Hideyuki Watanabe (8-9-3, 6) battle Ryuto Oho (9-4-1, 2) in a must win for both men. Watanabe has lost his last 3, why Oho has lost his last two, and neither man can really afford another set back here if they are ever going to make much of a mark on the Japanese domestic scene going forward.
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia fans will see local prospect Kye MacKenzie (16-1, 14) take on Filipino visitor Jonel Alibio (21-18-5, 12). MacKenzie has only been beaten once, by the under-rated Jack Asis, and has bounced back well with two wins since then. Alibio will be the under-dog here, and is certainly no world beater, but he has won his last 5, with 4 stoppages, and picked up wins on the round in Japan, Korea and Australia during that run. He's a very live under-dog here.
In Ghana we'll see Indonesian journeyman Hero Tito (23-12-2, 8) take on Albert Mensah (29-6-1, 13) in what should be a mismatch in favour of Mensah. It's fair to say Tito has been around for a while, debuting more than 13 years ago, but his career has rarely seen him shine. Mensah might not be a world beater, but he should be far too good for the visitor.
A new week kicks off with another Dangan card, and whilst it's not a hugely exciting one there are a number of notable names on the card, and a debut of a someone who is tipped as one to watch.
The main event will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (15-2, 5) battle against Yusuke Nakagawa (10-6-1, 6). Last time out Naito suffered his second loss and he's certainly looking like a fighter who needs to score a confidence building win, which he may be expecting to score here. Nakagawa is beatable, and has lost his last 2, but will be looking at this bout as a chance to claim a notable win and get his career back on track. The bout is a real must win for both and should be a really good bout.
In the chief support bout we'll see recent Japanese Super Flyweight title contender Hayato Kimura (25-9, 16) take on an unknown Thai foe. For Kimura the bout will be his first contest since losing a highly entertaining decision against Kenta Nakagawa late last year, and he'll be looking to string together some wins and move towards another title bout in the near future.
Another supporting bout will see the exciting Hiroaki Teshigawara (12-2-2, 6) up against the heavy handed and tough Filipino Junny Salogaol (12-10-4, 11). Although Teshigawara may not have a great record he did impress last time out, when he was narrowly beaten by Ryo Akaho and this is a good bounce back for him, against an under-rated but dangerous foe.
Also on this card will be the heavy handed Tetsuya Watanabe (0-0), who will make his professional debut. Watanabe went 30-4 (20) in the amateur ranks and will be looking to make a statement here in a debut against Shogo Sakai (6-5-2, 4), himself a heavy handed fighter.
The coming month is packed for Japanese fans with title bouts taking place regularly through the month. The first of those takes place on December 3rd at the Korakuen Hall, the home of Japanese boxing.
That title fight is a really highly anticipated rematched between Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa (19-1, 16) and former champion Rikki Naito (15-1, 5). The two men fought a year ago, with Ogawa dropping Naito on route to a technical decision win to claim the title and give Naito his sole defeat. Since then however neither guy has looked great. Ogawa has defended the title twice, stopping both Satoru Sugita and Kento Matsushita, but looked very poor and was outboxed for stretches of both fights. Naito on the other hand easily beat Chaiyong Sithsaithong this past May but was very fortunate last time out to take a technical decision over Argie Toquero, in a bout that Toquero seemed to deserve. The winner of this may have the title but it's fair to say that both will have to put in better efforts than they have in recent bouts.
A real humdinger of a support bout will see the exciting Kenji Ono (11-1, 6) take on the unbeaten Seigo Yuri Akui (8-0-1, 4) in a really attractive bout. Ono, who won the 2014 Light Flyweight Rookie of the Year, may be best remembered for his February war with Jun Takigawa, a bout that could potentially be the Japanese FOTY, and that proved that he really was a fun to watch fighter. Akui is a 2015 Rookie of the Year winner, also at Light Flyweight, and has the unbeaten record, but is stepping up big time here. This is a wonderful match up and the type of bout that Japanese youngsters seem to take part in more than similar fighters in any other country.
Another prospect in action here is the unbeaten and exciting Hayate Kaji (5-0, 4), who will be looking to extend his perfect professional start as he takes on Thai visitor Sitthiphong Saithong (0-1), who's only recorded bout was a 4th round TKO loss in Japan from last year. Kaji impressed last year, when he won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Super Flyweight, but has lacked activity since and this will be only his second fight since the start of the year
This coming Saturday is a mouth watering weekend for hardcore fight fans who are in for treat if they can find some of the bouts on TV.
Distrito Federal, Mexico
The most meaningful bout featuring an Asian comes from Mexico where we see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ganigan Lopez (27-6, 17) defending his belt against Filipino slugger Jonathan Taconing (22-2-1, 18). For Lopez this is a baptism of fire for his first defense whilst Taconing finally gets his second shot at a world title. Potentially this is a FOTY contender and really could be something very special.
The bout in Mexico isn't the only only of note featuring an Asian and may actually have a serious contender for the fight of the weekend status featuring another two Asian's.
That other potential fire cracker will see OPBF Flyweight champion Ardin Diale (31-9-3, 15) face off against fast rising Japanese star Daigo Higa (9-0, 9) in one of the bouts that we have been hoping to see all year. A couple of years ago Diale was in a FOTY contender with Higa's stablemate Koki Eto, losing in a crazy 8th round, and Higa will be looking for similar success here as he looks to continue his rise through the ranks. For Diale it's a chance to get some revenge of Shirai Gushiken Sports Gym and continue his reign, and work his way towards another potential world title fight.
On the under card of this Japanese card fight fans will see Junki Sasaki (15-3, 6) battle against Reiko Sugiyama (7-5-3, 5) in one of the very few supporting bouts of note.
Unfortunately a mouth watering match up between Ryuto Maekawa (11-0-1, 7) and Ryuto Oho (9-2-1, 2) has been cancelled following an injury to Maekawa, though we have been informed that the bout will be rescheduled.
On a second Japanese card fight fans will get the chance to see two notable names in action.
One of the notable names is former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (14-1, 5) who faces Argie Toquero (9-4-2, 7). This will be Naito's second bout since losing the Japanese title last year to Kenichi Ogawa and should be a straight forward win for the talented 24 year old, who will be fighting for the first time this year.
The other notable name on this show is former OPBF and Japanese Light Middleweight champion Charles Bellamy (25-3-1, 17), who faces Elfelos Vega (6-3, 4). This will be Bellamy's first bout this year and is likely to help kick start his career after some issues out of the ring. The talented Japanese based American should over-come Vega relatively easily, given that Vega has lost 2 of his last 3.
New South Wales, Australia
Back on the road there is also action in Australia with several Asian fighters.
One of those Asian's is Joebert de los Reyes (15-6-1, 10) who faces off against Darragh Foley (8-2, 6) for the WBA Oceania Light Welterweight title. On paper this doesn't look anything special but the reality is that both men have something to gain here, and de los Reyes is looking to avenge a 2015 defeat to Foley, this really could be an intriguing bout.
Two other Asian fighters clash in a female bout as Filipino Gretchen Abaniel (16-8, 6) faces Thailand's Petcharas Superchamp (6-0, 1) for the GBU and WIBA Minimumweight titles. On paper Abaniel will be favoured given her edger in experience though the Thai will likely feel confident of continuing her unbeaten run.
After a few days break action returns to Tokyo, where we see several notable fighters in action on the latest “Dangan” card.
In the main event of the card fight fans will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (13-1, 5) battle against Thai veteran Chaiyong Sithsaithong (40-15-4, 29) in a genuinely pivotal bout for the young Naito. The bout is key to the Japanese fighter as it will be his first bout following last year's loss to Kenichi Ogawa, the only loss of Naito's career so far. For Chaiyong the bout will see him return to Japan for the first time since his February loss to touted novice Shuichuiro Yoshino, who took a near shut out over the Thai. Interestingly the winner of this may find themselves thrust into an OPBF title fight before the end of 2016.
Also looking to bounce back from a loss on this card is the popular Koki Eto (17-4-1, 13), who was last seen losing to Carlos Cuadras in a WBC world title bout. The exciting Eto will be looking to claim a win over Filipino Michael Escobia (11-11-1, 3), in what looks like a mismatch in favour of the local fighter. Whilst this shouldn't be a test for Eto we are expecting to see him show more boxing nous here than usual with the fighter stating that he has been working on making more of his jab in the build up to this fight.
In an under-card bout the promising Sho Kimura (10-1-2, 4) looks to continue a 12 fight unbeaten run as he takes on the limited but heavy handed Yamato Uchinono (6-5-5, 4). Whilst Uchinono has lost 3 of his last 4 he is still dangerous and Kimura will have to avoid Uchinono's power if he's to come out on top here.
Another under-card bout will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Masaaki Serie (27-8, 10) battle against Keigo Soma (7-11-2, 4). Soma is perhaps best known for “retiring”Kohei Oba, who beat Soma but retired almost immediately afterwards, and although he's nothing special he has proven to be a good test. For the 33 year old Serie this should be a good test to see what he has left, but he's certainly a fighter who is a long, long way from his prime. Given how far Serie has slid this could be a very entertaining and well fought bout to prepare fans for the more significant contests higher up the card.
This coming week kicks off in great fashion as the Korakuen Hall plays host to a really fantastic card courtesy of reason promotions who, once again, who just how good boxing can be when fighters want to prove themselves and match makers have foresight to put the fans first.
One of two main events will see Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (13-0, 5) defending his title against the big punching Kenichi Ogawa (16-1, 14). Coming in to this one Naito is, on paper at least, on a great run with wins over the likes of Kento Mastushita, Shingo Eto, Masayuki Ito and Nihito Arakawa. Whilst that is a great run it should be noted that the fights were all close, much closer than the cards suggest, and Naito has had some questions raised about just how far he really can go. Ogawa comes in to this as a man who has beaten everyone he has faced, avenging his sole loss in just 134 seconds. Coming into this the challenger is riding an 8 fight T/KO run and full of confidence in his skills and his power. This really will be speed Vs power and could be a brilliant way to kick off a few weeks of insanely good action in Tokyo.
The other main event sees two former Naito foes going head to head as Masayuki Ito (17-1-1, 8) takes on Shingo Eto (17-3-1, 9) in the first defense of Ito's OPBF Super Featherweight title. Of the two fighters it's Ito who has impressed us the most so far, however this is a tough test for the 24 year old, who won the title stopping Dai Iwai in August. Eto is an under-rated fighter but may have the toughness and stamina to really push Eto all the way.
Interestingly all 4 men in the main bouts here are between 24 and 27 and are part of the new wave of Japanese Super Featherweights. It's hoped a unification will happen in 2016 though with fighters like Masao Nakamura waiting in the wings, it's fair to say there are other options in a very competitive division.
The main events are both great, but so to is the under-card which features several notable bouts, One of those will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (8-2-1, 5) taking on Filipino visitor Ryan Bito (22-15-3, 8). The bout will be Tobe's first since he lost the Japanese title, in August 2014 to Sho Ishida, and he'll be hoping to avoid back-to-back defeats, however 16 months of inactivity will certainly not help him here. Bito will be coming into this one with a lack of former, including 7 losses in his last 8, however he will know what to expect from Tobe, with this being a rematch of their 2012 encounter, which Tobe won via unanimous decision. Tobe will be favoured but Bito will feel he has a point to prove and a great chance to avenge one of his losses.
Another undercard bout of note will see Japanese ranked Shuji Hamada (13-6-4, 2) battle against the once beaten Hiroaki Teshigawara (9-1-2, 4) in a brilliantly matched 8 round supporting match up. Last time out Teshigawara fought to a controversial draw with Hideo Sakamoto and is riding a 5 fight unbeaten run since his sole loss, more than 3 years ago. Hamada is 1-1-1 in his last 3, though those have been to capable fighters with his win coming last time out against Yota Hori, a win that got him his Japanese ranking. This really is a finely matched bout with the winner likely in the running for a Japanese title fight by the end of 2016.
Also on the under-card for this brilliant show is Shuichiro Yoshino (0-0) who makes his debut against Petchjah Sithphasean (0-4) in a 6 rounder. Yoshino was an amateur standout who is tipped to be the next star of the Misako gym. Whilst this bout isn't a tough one, especially not due to typical Misako standards, we are excited to see the 24 year old Welterweight kick off his life in the professional ranks.