We get Japanese title action from the Korakuen Hall this coming Thursday as the next Diamond Glove card takes place.
The headline bout looks to be a stay busy defense by Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6), who defends the title against Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6). For the talented Yoshino the bout will serve as his third defense of the title that he won back in October 2017, when he stopped Spicy Matsushita for the then vacant title. Since then he has impressed, but this is really just a chance to stay busy as opposed to really building on his reign. The 35 year old Kobayashi has been a professional for close to 13 years and never done enough to earn a title fight. Coming in to thus Kobayashi is horribly out of form, especially given that he has gone 2-6-1 in his last 9 fights, but he will know this is is one and only chance to grab a title before his career is over. A full preview of this bout is available to read here Yoshino defends Japanese title against veteran Kobayashi!
Whilst the main event is less than great the under-card is a pretty good one, topped by an excellent match up between Ryo Sagawa (5-1, 3) and Shingo Kawamura (16-4-1, 8), in what we suspect will be the show stealing fight. Coming in to this Sagawa is riding an impressive 4 fight winning run including big domestic wins over Junki Sasaki and Ryo Matsumoto, who he stopped in September. Sagawa was a top amateur and despite an early career loss is showing the potential to build on that amateur success. As for Kawamura he last fought in a losing effort against Satoshi Shimizu, though gave Shimizu fits before losing to the OPBF Featherweight champion. Given the styles, skills and hunger of the two men this has the potential to be a tremendous contest, and the winner will certainly see themselves in the title mix in the new year. An in depth break down of this fight can be read here Sagawa and Kawamuro battle in mouth watering showdown!
One of the other supporting bouts will see Kei Iwahara (9-5, 4) face off with the hard hitting Daiki Ichikawa (11-4, 9), in another bout between two fighters with a Japanese ranking. The 28 year old Iwahawa has gone 2-2 in his last 4, but has mixed against decent domestic foes, such as Genki Ishikawa, Yuji Awata and Kazuma Sanpei. On the other hand the hard hitting Ichikawa is a 23 year old who has proven to be a bit of a glass cannon, being stopped in 2 of his 4 losses including a defeat last year in Russia to Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov. If Ichikawa can catch his man he'll be very dangerous, but there's a chance that Iwahara will be too good to be caught by a bomb here.
On paper the weakest of the support bouts will see the talented but light punching Joe Tanooka (15-5-4, 1) battle against Motoki Osanai (2-2, 1), a former amateur standout who has struggled as a professional so far. The 24 year old Tanooka came runner up in the 2013 Rookie of the Year and has been in with a who's who of the Japanese scene, scoring notable wins over Ryuto Oho, Kenya Yamashita and Hajime Nagai. Although a very light puncher Tanooka is popular and often fun to watch and will be risking his Japanese ranking here. Osanai was tipped for big things, but has been matched hard and is yet to really shine. The feeling is if, or when, Osanai finds his groove he could prove to be a real talent, and this could well be his chance to shine as he drops down to Bantamweight.
Another interesting match up on this card will see the limited but heavy handed Tetsuya Tomioka (5-3, 5) battling against Filipino visitor Jeronil Borres (8-4-1, 5). The hard hitting Tomioka has been stopped in all 3 losses, but has mixed with top domestic competition losing to Junto Nakatani and Katsunori Nagamine, but can certainly bang and fighters do need to respect his power. Borres, who was last seen getting stopped by Nakatani, has scored just a single win in his last 5, though was unlucky to lose in Korea against Joo Hyun Jung last year. For both this will be a chance to bounce back from a recent stoppage loss, and should make for a good action bout.
This coming Tuesday attention turns back to the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo as Hideyuki Ohashi puts on a really interesting and notable card with a fantastic headline bout, and several notable fighters on the under-card.
The main event will be a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator, as OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (29-12, 14) takes on the unbeaten Takuma Inoue (11-0, 3) for a shot at the currently vacant WBC Bantamweight title. Yap hasn't got a fantastic record, but comes into this bout on the back of a fantastic 10 fight winning run, including wins against the likes of Hiroyuki Kudaka, Takahiro Yamamoto, Kentaro Masuda and Takafumi Nakajima. Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue, has long been tipped for the top but an injury in 2016 slowed his rise. On paper this might look like a mismatch, due to the records, but in reality this is a fantastic 50-50 contest.
A full preview of that bout can be read here - Takuma Inoue and Mark John Yap clash in WBC Eliminator!
One of the main support bouts will see Ryo Matsumoto (21-2, 19) return to the ring for the first time since he lost to Daniel Roman in a WBA Super Bantamweight title fight earlier this year. The touted Matsumoto will be up against the in form Ryo Sagawa (4-1, 2), who has won his last 3 including a major domestic upset against Junki Sasaki. This should be a straight forward return to domestic level for Matsumoto but it'll be interesting to see what his confidence is like following the loss to Roman, where he was out boxed, out thought and out fought.
Another notable supporting bout will see Japanese Light Welterweight Youth champion Andy Hiraoka (12-0, 8) defending his title against Ukyo Yoshigai (6-2, 5), in what will be the second between the two men. These two fought back in August 2017, with Hiraoki stopping Yoshigai to claim the Japanese Youth title, which he has since defended once. Yoshigai will be seeking revenge, but will be be the under-dog against one of the top young talents in Japan.
Lower down on the under-card fans will be able to see former amateur stand out Katsuya Yasuda (2-0, 1) take on experienced Indonesian Anshori Anhar Pitulay (9-16-2, 6), in what is likely to be a mismatch, whilst Taku Kuwahara (1-0, 1) faces off with Ardi Tefa (6-7-1, 4), in what suspect will be a quick blow out win for the unbeaten Japanese fighter.
The first Japanese show of June takes place at the Korakuen Hall and features a number of notable fighters, including a couple of touted debutants and a Japanese champion.
The main event will see hard hitting Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (8-0, 8) defending his title against a Thai foe. Originally Takesako was supposed to battle Filipino journeyman Joel Dela Cruz (20-26-3, 8), though Dela Cruz has been replaced just days before the fight. The destructive Takesako won his Japanese title in 92 seconds back on March 3rd, destroying Hikaru Nishida, and was unable to find a suitable challenger in time for this date so will instead be staying busy with this bout. Whilst it doesn't make a lot to fight a mismatch just to stay busy Takesako has fought just 3 minutes and 2 seconds in the last 12 months and returning to the ring as soon as he could was probably in his best interest.
One of the debutants here is Jin Minamide (0-0), who takes on Indonesian Anthony Holt (5-3-1, 3) in what should be a show case for Minamide. The other debutant is Takuma Takahashi (0-0), who will be facing a Thai in another bout that is expected to be a show case. These two Japanese debutants are both B class fighters and both former amateur standouts who are expected to go on to have success going forward, so are well worth making a note of their names.
In a supporting bout Japanese ranked Flyweight Spicy Matsushita (17-10-1, 2) will go up against Ryusie Ishii (7-4, 4). Matsushita fought for the Japanese title last October, losing in 7 rounds to Shuichiro Yoshino and this will be his first bout since that defeat. The 21 year old Ishii has lost 3 of his last 5, but will feel like this is a great opportunity to claim a big over a Japanese ranked foe, who just turned 35 and is thought to be past his best.
The chief support bout from this card will see JBC and OPBF ranked Featherweight Junki Sasaki (19-3, 7) going up against the very hard matched Ryo Sagawa (3-1, 2). Coming in to this Sasaki is riding a 6 fight winning streak, since losing in April 2015 to Ryo Takenaka. On paper that sounds good, but the reality is that his competition haven't been great and it's hard to know just his good he really is. On paper Sagawa looks to be a big under-dog but he has been matched hard and this is certainly the sort of bout and his team will feel their man can win, and will know that if he does he will automatically find himself in the title mix. High risk and high reward from Sagawa's team here.
In Azerbaijan we get a rescheduled show that was originally supposed to take place on April 27th.
The main event will see South African Cruiserweight Kevin Lerena (20-1, 9) battle against German based Ukrainian Roman Golovashchenko (19-1-0-1, 17) for the IBO Cruiserweight title. Larena is riding a 9 fight winning streak coming into this bout with notable victories over Micki Nielsen, Youri Kayembre Kalenga and Dmytro Kucher, as well as avenging his sole loss to Johnny Muller. Golovashchenko on the other hand is unbeaten in 16, including a no-contest against Yakup Saglam, but hasn't yet beaten anyone of real note, and this should be a straight forward win for Lerena.
The most notable show this coming Sunday, Easter Sunday, comes from the Sumiyoshi Ward Center in Osaka.
The main event will see WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight champion Masahiro Sakamoto (11-1, 7) make his first defense of the title, as he takes on highly experienced Thai Pigmy Kokietgym (60-9-2, 24). The Japanese fighter won the title last December, when he stopped Kwanthai Sithmorseng, and he'll be looking to score a second successive win over a Thai veteran here. For Pigmy another loss might well spell the end of his career, especially given he's already 36 years old and has been a professional for closing in on 19 years! A win for Sakamoto will take him a step closer to getting a rematch with Sho Kimura, the only man to beat him so far.
In a supporting bout former world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (15-5-3, 5) looks for a stay busy win as he takes on Thai visitor Kathawut Saikaew Boxing Camp (0-1). Mukai has score back to back wins since his 2017 stoppage loss to Rex Tso in Hong Kong, and although bigger fights are around the corner we can't grumble too much about him staying busy given the competition he has faced through his career so far.
Arguably the most even looking match up on the show is a contest between Yuki Strong Kobayashi (12-7, 6) and Taichi Sugimoto (6-4, 2). We're not expecting anything too special here, but it does see Kobayashi risking his OPBF Bantamweight ranking.
Another show in Osaka, this time at the EDION Arena Osaka, will be promoted by Green Tsuda and looks a very interesting card with several bouts of note.
The main event is the most notable contest on the show and will see once beaten hopeful Kazuki Tanaka (8-1, 6) battle recent OPBF title challenger Seizo Kono (19-9-1, 12). The talented Tanaka was expected to be fast tracked into becoming a star however a 3rd round TKO loss last year to Ryohei Takahashi really did set him back, despite a bounce back win over Hikaru Marugame. Last time out Kono battled against Mark John Yap, and despite a solid effort he was stopped in 10 rounds. Given that both men need a win this should be a very hotly contested bout.
In a supporting bout Takayuki Okumoto (19-8-3, 9) will take on Indonesian Frengky Rohi (5-3-1, 1). The 26 year old Okumoto has gone 3-2-1 (3), with set backs to Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking, Eranio Semillano and, most recently, Ryuichi Funai in a Japanese title fight. The Indonesian visitor when 5-0-1 to begin his career, but has lost his last 3 bouts, and will struggle to over-come Okumoto here, in what looks like a very tough bout on Japanese soil.
A great match up between 24 year old fighters will see Ryo Sagawa (3-1, 2) take on the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Sawai (5-2-1, 5). Sagawa caught out eye on debut and looked very impressive, though was stopped in his second bout by Retsu Kosaka in a Japanese Youth title fight. Since that loss he has bounced back with two credible wins and will be looking for another one here. As for Sawai he's a very dangerous puncher at this level, and despite being flawed he can bang, with his power taking him to the 2016 Rookie of the Year final, where he lost to Yoshimitsu Kimura. This is a very interesting bout, and the winner could well go a very long way, despite already having a loss on their record.
Another bout pitting men with one loss against each other will see 2017 Super Bantamweight Rookie of the year Toshiki Shimomachi (7-1-1, 4) take on former amateur stand out Kiyohei Endo (1-1, 1). Shimomachi started his career 2-1-1 but is now riding a 5 fight winning run and has broken into the Japanese rankings. Endo, a former amateur stand out, suffered a surprise loss on debut but looks a class fighter and a win here would move him to the fringes of a Japanese ranking. A very interesting bout and one that both will be wanting to win, and win impressively.
There will also be a low key card in Aichi, as Yakushiji put on a show.
The main event of this card will see teenager Musashi Mori (5-0, 4) take on a Thai foe. The 18 year old Mori won the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight and enters this bout ranked by the JBC. A win for the teenager won't push him up the ranking, but will kick off a year which should push him towards a title fight, if not see him in the mix for a Japanese youth title before the end of 2018.
A pretty interesting supporting bout on this card will see Rookie of the Year runner up Katsuki Matsuura (5-1, 1) take on Toma Kondo (6-2, 1). These two men are both 21 years old, both have very similar looking records and whilst neither is much of a puncher they should make for a very exciting contest against each other. This could be a very interesting bout between two men each looking to bounce back from a loss. Very good match making here.
We get the second Dangan show of the year this coming Tuesday, in what will be a show featuring bouts from the Dangan Rookies, C class and B class tournaments finals.
The most notable bouts on the show are all B class finals and all features who have got some genuine talent and hopes at the domestic level.
One of those bouts will see once beaten Teiken hopeful Kenshin Oshima (3-1, 3) take on the unbeaten novice Nobuaki Kanazawa (0-0-1). The talented Oshima has won 2 in a row since suffering a narrow decision loss to the under-rated Yuki Iriguchi in October 2016. In the ring Oshima is a destructive fighter and will be looking to prove that power here. Sadly little is known about Kanazawa who had a technical decision on debut in October, though he was a good amateur at the high school level.
In a really good looking bout novice Ryo Sagawa (2-1, 2) will look to build on his opening round blow out of Kazuki Sanpei as he takes on Tasuku Suwa (5-1-1, 1). Aged 23 Sagawa has been tipped for big things, but a loss to Retsu Kosaka last May has slowed his rise. Suwa on the other hand is just 20 and has shown some promise, but hasn't yet developed the man strength he'll need to progress through the ranks.
A third bout of note will see Yasuki Katagiri (5-2-2, 1) attempt to extend his current 3 fight unbeaten run, as he takes on Shoma Sekine (4-5-2, 1). Katagiri began his career with a promising 4-0 run but since then has gone 1-2-2 and appears to have struggled in bouts scheduled for more than 4 rounds. As for Sekine he was winless in his first 3 fights, going 0-1-2 but has since gone 4-4 and managed to create some career momentum, though has been very stop-start and he'll know that he needs to put on a career best performance to win here.
Also on this card will be the ring return of the much touted Chaoz Minowa (4-0, 3), who will be returning to the ring for the first time since she fought in May. The Watanabe gym fighter is one of the most exciting female fighters on the planet, and hopefully 2018 will be her big year, though from what we understand this bout here will be a simple one against a Thai foe to shake some ring rust.
This coming Monday Japanese fight fans in Tokyo get an interesting card at the domestic level, featuring a number of notable fighters, many of which were touted and have yet to really shine in the way some had hoped.
The main event of the card is a brilliant match up between unbeaten fighters Hironori Mishiro (3-0, 2) and Shuma Nakazato (6-0-1, 5). Mishiro was a touted former amateur standout, and a lot is expected of him during his career, whilst Nakazato was the runner up at the 2015 Rookie of the Year, losing out on the crown on a rule used to separate fighters who draw. This really will push the winner forward with their career, and promises a lot between fighters who are both in their early 20's.
In a interesting looking bout on paper Coach Hiroto (12-2-1, 4) will take on Naoki Kumagai (8-6, 5) in what could be an under-the-radar battle. Coming in to this Hiroto will be the favourite, but he has fought just 5 rounds in the last 5 years, whilst the more limited Kumagai is limited but has been busy and has faced decent competition with bouts against the likes of Jin Miura, Naoto Uebayashi and Ryuto Araya.
The once touted Kenshin Oshima (2-1, 2) will be looking to get some momentum in his careeras he takes on the heavy handed Takuya Mori (6-2, 5) in a bout that really should be explosive. Oshima was a standout amateur, but was beaten in his second bout by the very capable Yuki Iriguchi, ina very competitive bout. Mori has lost a couple of close decision but has scored all 5 of his stoppages in the opening 2 rounds, and is a very dangerous fighter early on.
The debuting Nobuaki Kanazawa (0-0) is a former amateur standout who looks to make a mark on his debut as he takes on Naoto Mizutani (4-3, 2) in a pretty tricky debut. On paper Kanazawa should have the skills to take home a win, and look good, but the bout is certainly no foregone conclusion and Mizutani will be there win.
Another interesting bout sees Ryo Sagawa (1-1, 1) look to bounce back from a loss in a Japanese Youth title semi final to Retsu Kosaka. The touted Sagawa lacked the experience to cope with Kosaka and should find himself at a more comfortable level here, as he takes on Kazuki Sanpei (4-4, 1), who gave Juiki Tatsuyoshi a scare last year. On paper this looks like a really interesting match up, and could turn out to be the bout of the show.
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.
This key show this weekend for Asian fight fans comes from the Korakuen Hall where we get two title bouts.
In the main event we'll see Japanese youngster Ken Shiro (8-0, 4) make his first defense of the OPBF Light Flyweight title as he takes on Filipino foe Lester Abutan (11-5-3, 5), and attempts to take another step towards a world title fight. The Japanese youngster, who has claimed the WBC Youth, Japanese and WBC Youth titles already in his career, will know that a loss will be a major set back in his climb towards a shot at a world title, but that a win will put further pressure on the divisional champions to face him. For Abutan the bout will be his Japanese debut, though he has performed well in his two bouts away from the Philippines and could be a genuine banana skin for Ken Shiro, if he's on form here.
The other title bout on this show will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (25-7, 13) face first time challenger Satoshi Ozawa (13-6-1, 2). On paper this is a big step up for Ozawa however the 29 year old challenger is on a 4 fight winning streak, including 2 solid wins over Yoshihikp Matsuo, and has been making a mark at Super Bantamweight over the last 18 month or so. For Masuda the bout will be his second defense of his second reign and could open the doors to a potential rematch with Tatsuya Takahashi next year, if he wins here and Takahashi wins in January, which we would love to see!
A really fan friendly bout will see the once beaten Katsunori Nagamine (12-1, 8) face off with the limited but gutsy Mako Matsuyama (8-10-2, 3). Nagamine was in one of the most intensely fun fights of the year, his win over Kenya Yamashita back in February. Whilst Nagamine is certainly a fun and aggressive fighter it's fair to say that Matsuyama's 2014 bout with Rex Tso, an insane war in Macau, was a better bout and with these two getting it on we're expecting to see something very special.
Another under-card bout will see Jin Miura (8-1, 1) battle against Naoaki Kumagai (7-5, 4). The light hitting Miura does look like the favourite here but has struggled in a number of his wins and could well be given a really good test here by Kumagai, who is a very under-rated fighter. Although he has lost his last 3 Kumagai has mixed in good company and could be a banana skin for Miura.
As part of the under-card we'll also see the debut of Ryo Sagawa (0-0), who takes on Korean foe Ho Ya Kim (4-4, 2). Sagawa was a former amateur standout and is tipped for big things, kicking off his career in a 6 rounder here. Kim will be fighting in Japan for the second time, following a loss to Ryuya Kaji earlier this year, and may come into this with the belief of scoring a win on Japanese soil, though will have to put in a career best performance against Sagawa to even be competitive.
In California we'll see fast rising Mongolian Tugstsogt Nyambayar (6-0, 6) take on veteran fighter German Meraz (55-39-1, 32) in what looks like a step up for Nyambayar. Merez, a real veteran with more than 90 fights under his belt, is a proven tough guy who has only lost by stoppage 7 times in his long career. Nyambayar has never been extended beyond 4 rounds and this is, potentially, set to be his toughest and longest bout to date. If the Mongolian can blow away Meraz in quick fashion it could time to put him in with the divisional wolves, rather than continue to slowly develop the Mongolian monster.