The final Japanese show of August is a big one from Tokyo as we see two world title bouts, both of which have the potential to be FOTY contenders.
The first of those world title fighters will be a WBA Super Flyweight title bout between defending champion Kohei Kono (32-8-1, 13) and exciting Panamanian Luis Concepcion (34-4, 24), who enters as the interim champion. For Kono the bout will be his 4th title defense and sees him looking to build on last year's memorable win over Koki Kameda, after which we saw Kameda head into retirement. For Concepcion it's a chance to finally win a “full” world title after having been an interim champion twice.
The other title bout, and the main event of the show, will see WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (24-2-1, 11) defending his title against former WBA Minimumweight champion Ryo Miyazaki (24-1-3, 15). For Taguchi this is the 4th of the title that he won at the end of 2014 and sees him facing his first Japanese opponent in 3 years, following his 2013 loss to Naoya Inoue. For the champion this is a step back up in class. For the challenger this is a huge step up from the opponents he has been fighting recently, usually imported fighters there to be fodder. Although he hasn't been mixing at a high level he has been hungry for a shot at a Light Flyweight title since late 2013, and were it not for a shock loss to Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr in December 2013 he would likely have already had a shot at a belt at 108lbs.
On the under-card we get two interesting but over-looked bouts. One of those will see Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Daisuke Watanabe (3-2, 2) take on Thai visitor San Saknarong (4-6, 2), who looks to end a 0-6 run in Japan. In the other under-card contest of interest we'll see the heavy handed Renji Ichimura (6-3, 5) face off against Jump Ikeo (5-3-2, 3).
The first show on a busy day is a Hatanaka promoted card, which will have it's headline bout broadcast on TBS.
That main bout will see WBO Minimumweight champion Kosei Tanaka (5-0, 2) defend his crown, for the first time, against Filipino puncher Vic Saludar (11-1, 9). On paper this looks a good test for the 20 year old Tanaka, who has sadly been inactive since winning the belt back in May. Saludar is genuinely dangerous and could well upset Tanaka if the Japanese champion has taken his eye off the ball, as compatriot Shohei Omori did recently.
On the under-card we see several interesting bouts. One of those features the unbeaten Yushi Tanaka (15-0-3, 9), who is tipped as a future champion. The unbeaten 24 year old will be up against Indonesian visitor Zun Rindam (11-8-1, 5), who is hoping to score his first win in Japan having twice been blown out in the country, losing in the opening round against both Yasutaka Ishimoto and Ryo Matsumoto.
Another bout of note sees world ranked Filipino fighter Genesis Servania (26-0, 11) makes his Japanese debut as he takes on Hendrik Barongsay (29-23-3, 18) in what should be little more than a showcase for the excellent Servania. The year has been a frustrating one for the Filipino and we suspect that frustration will come out here against an opponent who will have very little too offer in terms of competition.
On paper the show of the day is the Ioka promoted card from Osaka, which is also set to be televised by TBS.
The main event, and one of two world title fights, will see Kazuto Ioka (18-1, 10) defending the WBA Flyweight crown against former champion Juan Carlos Reveco (36-2, 19). Ioka beat Reveco for the belt back in April, claiming a majority decision, and will be hoping for a more conclusive result this time against the Argentinian visitor. For Reveco it's a chance to avenge his second professional loss whilst Ioka gets the chance to further strengthen his claim as a top Flyweight, and possibly move towards a potential unification bout with conqueror Amnat Ruenroeng.
The other world title bout will see IBF Minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama (30-7-0-1, 12) defending his title against Mexican foe Jose Argumedo (15-3-1, 9). For Takayama this will be the 3rd defense of the title that he won a year ago, when he stopped Go Odaira, and he will be hoping to build on his last win, back in September against Ryuji Hara. The all action Takayama will be hoping to retain the title here to set up a unification bout in 2016. For Argumedo this is a huge opportunity but one that he does enter as a clear under-dog and isn't expected to really present much of a challenger
As well as the two world title bouts this card also features an OPBF title fight and a Japanese title fight. The OPBF title bout comes at Bantamweight where heavy handed champion Takahiro Yamamoto (16-4, 13) defends his title against Yuki Strong Kobayashi (9-4, 5). This will be Yamamoto's first defense of the title that he won earlier this year, when he stopped Yu Kawaguchi in a 7 round thriller. It's fair to say the champion is more proven, heavier handed and will go in to this one as a clear favourite. For Kobayashi, who was battered around by Hinata Maruta's in Maruta's pro-test, this is a huge opportunity bur one he's not expected to win, especially given that he is 3-3 in his last 6.
As for the Japanese title fight, that will see Super Flyweight champion Sho Ishida (20-0, 10) defending his title against Ryuta Otsuka (15-8-2, 5). Ishida, another member of the prestigious Ioka gym, will be hunting his 4th defense of the title and continue what has been a good year for the Osaka based gym. For Otsuka this is a second shot at the title, having previously lost to Teiru Kinoshita in November 2011. Despite being given a second shot at a title it's fair to say Otsuka will; be regarded as a major under-dog following recent losses to Malcolm Tunacao and Ryuichi Funai.
On the under-card fans get the chance to see former world champion Ryo Miyazaki (23-1-3, 14) take on Thai visitor Thongchai Chaiyonggym (0-1) in what is a stay busy fight for the highly ranked Osakan warrior. A win here is expected for Miyazaki who will be hoping to fight for a world title, at 108lbs, in 2016, he was however famously upset on the same date 2 years ago by Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and will know that he cannot afford another set back like that.
Another under-card bout will see the very exciting Masayoshi Hashizume (9-0, 6) battle against a Thai novice, thought to be “Ken Meanyothin”. We have been impressed by Hashizume and are hoping to see him step up in class in 2016, with a potential title fight coming towards the end of the year.
As well as the action on TBS there is also a TV Tokyo card thanks to Watanabe.
The main event of this show sees WBA Super Featherweight “super” champion Takashi Uchiyama (23-0-1, 19) defending his belt against Nicaraguan challenger Oliver Flores (27-1-2, 17). This botu is widely regarded as a huge mismatch and it's hard to see Flores upsetting the long term champion, who looks for his 11th defense. If Uchiyama wins there is serious talk from his team about taking him to the US for 2016, with a bout against Nicholas Walters looking very likely.
Uchiyama's world title defense is one of two on the card with stable mate Ryoichi Taguchi (22-2-1, 9) defending his WBA Light Flyweight title against Colombian challenger Luis de la Rosa (24-5-1, 14). On paper this too is an awful mismatch with nobody giving de la Rosa any chance, and in fairness it's hard to see what he has to compete with the talented Taguchi, who could be looking at unification bouts in 2016 if he comes through this one.
Sadly this under-card is lacking with the most notable name on it being former Japanese title challenger Hayato Kimura (23-8, 15), who is in an awful mismatch against Thai visitor Petchnamnung Sor Thiebkhun (0-11), who is likely to suffer his 10th “recorded” stoppage loss.
As a bonus we also get a small bit of Indonesian action with the very promising Iwan Zoda (7-1, 6) battle in a 10 rounder against Thai visitor Phupha Por Nobnom (11-9-1, 10). The visitor's record isn't great but he has shared the ring with Tepparith Kokietgym, Richie Mepranum and Albert Pagara, so he has mixed at a good level, albeit he has been stopped by those 3 men. For Zoda this is his first bout since he stopped Petchchorhae Kokietgym in September, in what was an incredible win for the 19 year old Indonesian.
On the under-card of this show is an Indonesian title bout between Agus Kustiawan (13-4, 5) and Boido Simanjuntak (18-33-1, 7), who will be recognised by people who follow the Thai fight scene.
One of the most exciting days so far this year for Japanese fans comes on April 22nd with two notable shows at very different levels. Although the cards are a million miles apart in terms of international attention they both promise a lot of very interesting action.
The most notable of the two shows comes from Osaka where we get a couple of world title bouts, a Japanese title fight, a former world champion and a number of promising prospects all in action on a show that is genuinely mouth watering.
The main event promises to be something a little bit special as the once beaten Kazuto Ioka (16-1, 10) battles WBA Flyweight champion Juan Carlos Reveco (35-1, 19) in a bout that has looked brilliant since it was first mentioned last year. Ioka, attempting to become the second Japanese born fighter to become a 3-weight champion, will be hoping to claim a Flyweight title at the second time of asking, following a loss to Amnat Ruenroeng last year in a bout for the IBF title, whilst Whilst Reveco will be hoping to secure his second title defense in Japan, following a victory over Masayuki Kuroda back in 2013.
In the other world title fight we will see the always fun to watch Katsunari Takayama (28-7-0-1, 11) take on Thailand's Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (27-3-1, 15) in an IBF world title defense by the Japanese warrior. Takayama, who vacated the WBO belt earlier this year, will be looking for the first defense of his second reign as the IBF champion and is looking to move on to bouts with Kosei Tanaka and Hekkie Budler later in the year. As for Fahlan, he'll be looking to record his second big win in the Osaka Prefectural gym and try and replicate his shock win over Ryo Miyazaki from December 31st 2013.
It's not just the top two bouts that are exciting but also the chief support bout which will see the highly skilled and fast rising Sho Ishida (18-0, 10) defending his Japanese Super Flyweight title against Taiki Eto (14-3, 10). This will be Ishida's second defense of the belt and will see Eto getting his second shot at the title. Incidentally Eto lost his first shot to Yohei Tobe who went on to lost the belt in his first defense, to Ishida. This bout promises a lot and a win for Ishida would likely move him to a world title shot later in the year whilst a win for Eto would be a massive achievement for the youngster of the Eto brothers.
As well as the 3 title bouts we will also see the next bout in the career of the exciting Ryo Miyazaki (22-1-3, 13) who is fighting Thailand's Namphol Sithsaithong (7-9, 5) in a clear mismatch. This is viewed as a warm up bout for Miyazaki, a former WBA Minimumweight champion, and from what we understand he is targeting a Light Flyweight title and will almost certainly try to chuck his hat into the ring to fight the winner of the upcoming WBA title fight between Ryoichi Taguchi and Kwanthai Sithmorseng, who meet on May 6th.
As for the card's prospects there are several. Among them is the exciting Masayoshi Hashizume (7-0, 4), the 2014 Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year. Hashizume is set to fight a Thai foe Saenrachan Sor Theptanee (0-1)in what should be a mismatch as Hashizume looks to sepdn the rest of the year moving up the domestic rankings, possibly fighting for the national title after Ishida gives it up.
Another prospect on this card is Reiya Konishi (7-0, 4), who was the 2014 Rookie of the Year at Minimumweight. Konishi will be in a solid looking bout against Kenta Shimizu (8-4-1, 4), a much better fighter than his record indicates.
A third prospect is female fighter is Kei Takenaka (8-0, 3). Takenaka, the current OPBF female ligth Flyweight champion, will be facing a Thai opponent who we believe will be Kannittha Saknarong (0-2). On paper this should be an easy day's work for the talented Japanese fighter, though we are hoping to see her in a real test before she starts to be moved towards a world title bout.
At the Korakuen Hall we get a trio of notable bouts. One of which is a cross roads bout between two experienced fighters whilst the other two are both notable bouts involving touted Japanese prospects.
The main event is the bout between the experienced fighters and will see former Japanese Lightweight champion Akihiro Kondo (21-5-1, 10) battling against former Filipino champion Ricky Sismundo (27-8-1, 12). Coming into this bout both men are 2-1 with a notable win the last time and both are going to be heading into the bout with the hope of generating a bit of traction in their career. Last time out we saw Sismundo defeat Shuhei Tsuchiya with an 8 round decision win, back in December, whilst Kondo recently stopped Jimrex Jaca in 4 rounds, back on March 16th. Coming into this bout we're expecting a very competitive and tough bout.
In the chief support bout we get the chance to see the touted, the fragile looking, Naoto Uebayashi (7-0-1, 4) fighting against exciting Filipino Giovanni Escaner (12-3, 8). This is a brilliant match up between unheralded fighters who know a win puts them into serious contention for an OPBF title fight later in the year. Whilst Uebayashi is the more “hyped” of the two men Escaner has shown that he's a man who has a lot of promise, despite his record, and won't be turning up just to lose. Fantastic to see both men signing up for this bout.
The other notable bout sees the exceptionally promising Hikaru Marugame (3-0, 2) battle against Wataru Miyasaka (9-2-1, 2). Marugame, a stablemate or Uebayashi's, hasn't had the attention of some other Japanese youngsters but he's every bit as good as some of the others and has shown that ability against solid competition for such an inexperienced fighter. On paper this is a big step up for the unbeaten 25 year old and although Miyasak hasn't set the world he is in good form with 3 notable wins in his last 4 bouts. As with the previous two match ups, this is very interesting.
This card will also feature 4 other bouts though none of them really caught our attention like the trio we've mentioned.
In Mexico fans will have the chance to see Mexican based Japanese fighter Shoki Sakai (17-5, 11) battle against Fernando Torres (16-10-1, 13). This is a great opportunity for Sakai who narrowly lost his last 2 bouts. The Japanese fighter, who is based in Mexico city, has shown a surprising amount of potential and hopefully he'll manage to build on that potential down the line.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
After having seen the excellent "Super Boxeo" show on December 30th, including Naoya Inoue's historic win over Omar Andres Narvaez, we now get to look forward to New Year's Eve which features 2 massive shows with 5 world title fights between them!
Of the two New Year's Eve shows in Japan the best is in Osaka in an Ioka-Kyoei joint promotion card. This show is notable pretty much from top to bottom with major almost every bout featuring either a title level fighters, a prospect or a notable name.
One of the interesting under-card bouts will see unbeaten female hopeful Terumi Nuki (5-0, 2) battle battle against debuting Thai Petchluksor Sor Praithong (0-0). It's thought that if Nuki wins here her next bout will be an OPBF title bout as she moves towards a world title bout sometime in the next 2 years. Another notable Japanese female fighter on this show is Tomomi Takano (6-1, 5) who also finds herself up against a debuting Thai in the form of Rannada Sor Vorapin (0-0).
The two female fights are both scheduled for 6 rounds as are two of the male bouts. One of those will see the busy Takeru Kamikubo (7-0, 4) fighting for the 8th time this year. Sadly the talented Kamikubo has been matched very softly here as he fights against the win-less Phetsaifar Lukmaelamperigym (0-5). For Phetsaifar this is likely to be his 6th straight stoppage loss and his 5th in Japan having previously lost to Kamikubo's stable mate Masayoshi Hashizume and the very interesting Kohei Kashino. The other will see Ryuto Maekawa (9-0, 5) fighting against Chanachai Sor Siamchai (0-1).
In an 8 rounder the heavy handed Takahiro Yamamoto (14-3, 11) will find himself up against Thailand's Kamraiyok Or Wandavee (0-0). Yamamoto comes into this bout on the back of 8 successive victories and has shown real promise with all 3 of his losses being very close decision losses. Another 8 rounder on this show will see former world champion Ryo Miyazaki (21-1-3, 12) fighting against Kajonsak Nattapolgym (0-0). For Miyazaki this bout falls exactly a year after his sole loss to, another Thai Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr., and he'll be hoping to avoid the same fate here.
The first title fight on this show will see the promising Sho Ishida (17-0, 9) making the first defence of the Japanese Super Flyweight title as he battles against Masato Morisaki (9-3-1, 5) in what looks to be a relatively straight forward defense for the talented Ishida. From what we understand if Ishida is successful here their will be moves to make a bout between Ishida and Teiru Kinoshita in 2015.
The second title fight on this show will be a strange unification bout as the IBF and WBO vacant belts will be unified. The belt situation of the bout is an odd one but the fight it's self looks to be a great one as former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (27-7-0-1, 10) battles against Japanese champion Go Odaira (11-3-3, 1). This bout is expected to be very high paced and all action though it's not expected to have the “drama” that some may expect in a FOTY contender.
Splitting up world titles fights fans we will see former 2-division champion Kazuto Ioka (15-1, 9) battle against former "interim" world champion Jean Piero Perez (20-7-1, 14). This bout does look like a disappointing one considering the quality of Ioka and the fact Perez has been struggling in recent years, though it does seem like Ioka will be fighting in a WBA world title fight early next year against Juan Carlos Reveco, who recently defended his title with a stoppage victory against Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep.
In the main event fans will see Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9) defending his WBO and WBA "super" Super Bantamweight titles against OPBF Featherweight champion Hisashi Amagasa (28-4-2, 19). The talented Cuban is a clear betting favourite going into this bout but the contest does look like an interesting one given that Amagasa will have a massive size advantage and also an advantage in activity with Rigondeaux having only fought one round in the last 12 months.
In Tokyo we have the “other” show promoted by Watanabe. Although there are 3 world titles on this show the card it's self is actually the weaker of the two cards with 2 of the 3 world title fights looking like mismatches.
The main event will be one of those mismatch world title fights as WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (21-0-1, 17) looks to make the 9th defence of his belt. The heavy handed Japanese fighter, known as “KO Dynamite”, will be defending his belt against 35 year old Argentinian challenger Israel Hector Enrique Perez (27-2-1, 16), a man who really doesn't look fit to step in the ring against Uchiyama.
In another world title fight fans will see the popular Kohei Kono (30-8, 13) defending his WBA Super Flyweight world title for the first time since he re-won it earlier this year with a KO of Denkaosan Kaovichit. The "Tough Boy" will be defending his title against Dominican challenger Norberto Jimenez (20-8-3, 10). Sadly like the other bout the challenger looks completely out of his depth and is unlikely to pose much of a threat.
The most interesting of the title fights is at Light Flyweight where Ryoichi Taguchi (20-2-1, 8) attempts to become a world champion. Taguchi is involved in the most interesting of the world title bouts as he takes on Peru's WBA Light Flyweight world champion Alberto Rossel (32-8-0-1, 13). For Taguchi this is the most significant fight of his career and is clearly his toughest since he fought the then fat rising Naoya Inoue.
As well as the 3 world title fights there are a further 6 other bouts on the same card though none of them feature anyone of note.
For those wanting to watch the main bouts from his show they will be televised on TV Tokyo.
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The last 12 months have been mixed for the Ioka Gym. At the very end of last year we saw Ryo Miyazaki suffer a huge upset loss to Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and a few months later we saw Kazuto Ioka suffer a loss to Amnat Ruenroeng. Those two disappointments have been lessened in a way by the success of Masayoshi Nakatani, who has claimed the OPBF Lightweight title, and Sho Ishida, who was recently crowned the Japanese Super Flyweight champion.
The gym have gone from 2 world champions to 0 yet neither lost their belt in the ring. Thankfully however those men are still young, young enough to mount serious career revivals, revivals that begin this week.
For former 2-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka (14-1, 9) his return to the ring comes on the fringes of world level as he battles the world ranked ranked Colombian hard man Pablo Carrillo (15-2-1, 8) and comes just a few short months after his decision loss to Amnat Ruenroeng in a battle for the IBF Flyweight title. In that bout Ioka used the wrong game plan and was made to look technically inferior to his Thai foe. This time he's facing a much less technically able fighter in a bout designed to let Ioka get some experience at Flyweight with out risking another loss. It shouldn't be a problem for him to win, though he will be aware that Carrillo is a tough fighter and trying to blast him out would be a mistake. For Ioka this bout needs to see him working mentality to fight to has advantages, using his skills, movement and speed to take a win. Anything but a convincing win may put him down the queue for a world title bout later this year.
As for stable mate Ryo Miyazaki (20-1-3, 11) he'll be facing a real soft touch as he goes up against Indonesian journeyman Ichal Tobida (10-12, 8). Having been out of the ring all year this is the perfect bout for Miyazaki to look good in though we do expect him to easily see off Tobida who is very limited and shouldn't be given any chance of taking home the victory.
A third notable bout on this show, though one not featuring an Ioka fighter, will see Japanese based Filipino fighter Malcolm Tunacao (34-3-3, 20) battle against Ryuta Otsuka (14-6-2, 4). Tunacao is a former WBC Flyweight world champion who has, in recent years, given Shinsuke Yamanaka one of his hardest bouts. Aged 36 the Filipino knows his career is coming to and end but he still has enough in the tank to be a fringe contender, at least for now. Otsuka on the other hand is a 28 year old Japanese fighter best known for his loss in a Japanese Super Flyweight title bout last year against Teiru Kinoshita. This is one of the shows most appealing match-ups though we do favour Tunacao who has the advantages in experience, power and skills.
As well as the three bouts mentioned this card will feature a further 3 bouts, albeit none with much in terms of "name value". Those bouts do feature one possibly interesting contests and two bouts that, on paper, look like mismatches. With the main trio however it'll be easy to enjoy the talent on offer even if the fights aren't the best.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)