The main show this coming Saturday comes from Osaka as Harada Promotions, along with reason Promotions, where we get a Japanese title double header.
One of those bouts will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Tetsuya Hisada (30-9-2, 19) defending his title against mandatory challenger Koji Itagaki (18-11-3, 7). Coming in to this bout Hisada has made 2 defenses already and is working his way towards a world title fight, in fact at the time of writing Hisada is ranked in the top 10 by all 4 world title bodies and talking about getting a shot at a belt by the end of 2018. Itagaki got this shot on the back of a win over Koki Ono last October, but with 11 losses in 32 fights, and recent defeats to Kenichi Horikawa and Rey Loreto don't suggest he'll be a tough challenger for the in form Hisada.
The other title fight will be a rematch between Go Onaga (28-3-4, 19) and Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-17-2, 11), who fight for the vacant Japanese Super Flyweight title. These two fought to a technical draw last year, in what was a title eliminator, but both will be getting a shot following Ryuichi Funai vacating the belt. At 37, soon to be 38, it's hard to envisage Onaga having much left in the tank but this will almost certainly be his final shot at winning a title, following set backs in previous Japanese and OPBF title shots. For Kudaka, who is a 4-time world title challenger, this is a chance to add to his career honours, which includes a short reign as the World Boxing Council International Silver Flyweight champion back in 2010. Kudaka has lost 7 of his last 11, but has mixed at a very high level losing to the likes of Omar Andres Narvaez, Ryo Matsumoto, Mark John Yap and Takuma Inoue. It's hard to not think the 33 year old Kudaka will come out on top here.
As well as the title action in Japan there will also be a title action in Benguet, in the Philippines.
One of those bouts will see GAB Flyweight champion Ryan Rey Ponteras (21-12-1, 10) make his second defense as he takes on one the once beaten Genisis Libranza (14-1, 9). Although Ponteras' record isn't impressive on paper he's far from a push over and on his day can be a real night mare, as he showed against Rusalee Samor in 2012, and more recently against Renerio Arizala. The 24 year old Libranza looked like a very promising prospect before being thrown to the wolves last year and getting stopped in 4 rounds by the criminally under-rated Moruti Mthalane in South Africa. Since that loss he has picked up 3 confidence building wins but this is a step up from those victories.
Another fighter of note on this card is the unbeaten Jayson Vayson (5-0, 3), who not only had a great name but also an unbeaten record. The 19 year old Vayson will be fighting in his 3rd 6 rounder as he takes on Alvin Tayo (2-5-1, 2). On paper this is a mismatch but Tayo pushed Vayson all the way last September and is clear going to be up for this mismatch, whilst Vayson will be wanting to leave no doubt this time around.
In the US fans will have a chance to see Uzbek Heavyweight prospect Rustam Tulaganov (1-0) fight in his second professional bout, as he takes on the dangerous Martez McGregor (5-1, 4). The Uzbek, a bronze medal winner a the 2016 Rio Olympics, is a top talent and is one to watch going forward. Despite the Uzbek's amateur credentials this is a very tough test for a second professional outing and McGregor is very dangerous early on, with all 4 of his stoppages coming in the first 2 rounds. A win for Tulaganov is expect, but he could also be given a chin check here.
In India fight fans will see unbeaten local Vikas Singh (5-0-1, 4) battle against former OPBF Super Middleweight title challenger Kajornsak Sithsaithong (11-7, 10), in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Cruiserweight title. The unbeaten Singh fought to a draw last time out, with the result ending a 4 fight stoppage run, but coming into this he's unbeaten and looks like he's taking a bit of a step up here, despite the fact the Thai is far from a natural Cruiserweight. The Thai is best known for his 2015 fight against Yuzo Kiyota, where he dropped the then OPBF champion before being stopped in the 10th round. At his best the Thai could be a nightmare for Singh, though he would need to be at his best to get the win in India, especially given that Kajornsak is 1-5 outside of Thailand. Despite his poor form away from home, Kajornsak did score an upset in his last fight, out pointing Yamato Fujinaka in Japan, and will be somewhat confident coming into this bout.
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.
Mandaue City, Philippines
The biggest show this coming Friday for us is in the Philippines, where we will see a nice mix of bouts, ranging from notable names to unbeaten prospects.
One of the biggest names on the card is the teak tough, and heavy handed, Jason Canoy (26-7-2, 19). Canoy, who was the debut opponent of Hinata Maruta, will be up against relatively notable domestic foe Renerio Arizala (13-7-2, 5) in what should be a straight forward win for Canoy. The talented Canoy was beaten last time out, losing a split decision in in South Africa to Mzuvukile Magwaca, but should have far too much for Arizala, who struggled in recent years and has scored just 1 win in his last 8 bouts.
In the only title bout on the card fans will be able to see Jhaleel Payao (15-1, 9) make his first defense of the PBF Bantamweight title, as he takes on the heavy handed Raul Yu (9-2-2, 8). The talented Payao has only been beaten by the very skilful Michael Dasmarinas, and since that loss has bounced back with 4 straight forward domestic wins, including his title winning effort back in March against Nelson Tinampay. The big punching Yu was beaten last time out, losing a wide decision to Jade Bornea, but should be viewed as a live challenger here, and he certainly has the edge in power here. This should be a really interesting match up, but we do see the champion retaining his title.
Another pretty decent match up on this card will see Kenny Demecillo (12-4-2, 7) take on domestic banana skin Gerpaul Valero (21-19-4, 15), in what could be a very tricky match up. On paper Demecillo will be the favourite, though he did lose his last bout, suffering a decision loss to Mark Anthony Geraldo, and Valero has scored notable upsets in the past.
Explosive youngster Tomjune Mangubat (7-0, 7) will be seeking to continue his impressive start as he battles against Crisanto Contemprato (6-3-1, 4) in an decent looking match up. The 20 year old Mangubat is being gradually stepped up, but has so far just been too powerful for everyone he's faced,scoring 7 T/KO's in just 11 combined rounds. The 25 year old Contemprato has only been stopped once in 10 bouts, and that was up at Super Featherweight, suggesting he can take a shot, which he'll need to do to over-come Mangubat.
Also on the under is a battle of unbeaten fighters as Rimon Rama (6-0-1, 4) takes on Richard Bulacan (3-0, 3) in a match up that looks likely to be explosive,a little bit wild and very exciting. Despite both men being novices this is scheduled for 8 rounds, and is 18 year old Rama's second bout scheduled for the distance.
In Canada we'll see touted Kazakh hopeful Batyrzhan Jukembayev (9-0-0-2, 8) take a huge step up in class as he faces off with once touted Panamanian Alberto Mosquera (24-3-2-2, 16). The Kazakh has been an exciting fighter so far, and looks like a very dangerous man with serious power, though has shown decent stamina with an 8 round decision win last year. It's worth noting that whilst Mosquera is a decent fighter he has been stopped in al 3 of his defeats and Jukembayev can certainly punch.
In the US fight fans will get the chance to see former Uzbek amateur star Rustam Tulaganov (0-0) make his professional debut. The talented 26 year old will be debuting in a 4 rounder, though the reality is that he could be fast tracked through the ranks and facing notable names before the end of 2018.