This coming Sunday sees 3 shows taking place across Japan.
The most notable of the shows is in Fukuoka where we get female world title action.
That world title bout will see WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (16-4-1, 8) battle against Mari Ando (13-9, 6), in what will be the second bout between the two ladies. Kuroki won the title in May 2014, when she defeated Ando, and has racked up 4 defenses of the title whilst showing genuine signs of improvement. For Ando the bout will be a chance to gain some revenge over Kuroki but a loss will almost be the end of her hard career.
In a really interesting supporting bout we'll see the struggling Hideo Sakamoto (16-3-3, 5) face of with Ryotaro Kawabata (11-2-2, 5). Sakamoto made a name for himself in 2014, when he upset Hiroki Shiino, and looked to be beading towards a Japanese title, but a draw with Hiroaki Teshigawara has been followed by losses to Kentaor Masuda and Seizo Kono, leading some to wonder how much he has left. For Kawabata the bout is a chance to score his biggest win following draws against the likes of Hirofumi Mukai and Rene Dacquel. It's hard to know how good Kawabata is, but he did run Mark John Yap very close just a few fights back and clearly has potential.
Another title bout in Japan sees unbeaten youngster Takuya Uehara (10-0, 6) battle Filipino Markquil Salvana (11-2, 5) for the WBC Youth Featherweight title. For Uehara this will be his first title bout, but his team have prepared him pretty well with a string of 8 rounders, though he has only gone that distance once. Salvana has previously fought for a title, losing in a WBA Oceania title fight in 2015, and is struggling for form coming into this bout with 2 stoppages losses in his last 4. On paper this looks good but with Salvana's struggle and the fact he is moving up in weight does mean it's hard to see anything but a win for Uehara.
On the under-card here we'll see the now struggling Tatsuya Ikemizu (13-2, 6) battle against limited Thai Jaipetch Chaiyonggym (5-6, 1). Ikemizu has lost 2 of his last 3 bouts, albeit to good fighters in the form of Mak John Yap and Jonas Sultan, and is now looking to rebuild his career before being written off. Despite the set backs Ikemizu was the 2013 Bantamweight Rookie of the Year and has shown plenty of promise, though one wonders about his mental state. Jaipetch is expected to offer no resistance and will likely suffer his 5th stoppage loss.
There will also be a show in Hyogo, featuring no title action.
The main event of the show will see former Japanese title challenger Takumi Sakae (14-1-1, 9) face off with Ryoki Hirai (7-4-1, 3) as Sakae looks to end a bad year. Sakae began 2013 as a world ranked hopeful but a loss in a Japanese title fight with Tatsuya Fukuhara and a technical draw against Lito Dante has left him really needing to rebuild and a win over Hirai here would steady the ship leading into 2017. It looks like Hirai is a safe opponent for Sakae, with little to really test the youngster, but their will be questions about Sakae's confidence following the year he has had.
On the under-card wee see the once beaten Tetsu Araki (6-1-1) look to score a third straight win as he takes on Takuya Fujioka (7-5-1, 1) for the second time. This looks like a straight forward win for Araki, who's only loss was a razor thin set back to Tenta Kiyose in September 2015, however Fujioka did run Araki very close when the two men first fought back in July 2015.
Another notable under-card bout here will see Giraffe Kirin Kanda (7-2, 4) take on Shota Aikawa (5-6-2, 2) in an interesting looking contest. On paper Kanda will be the favoured fighter but he was stopped inside a round last December and has fought only a single round since that loss . Aikawa has lost his last 2, but will come in here looking to change that here against a possibly rusty Kanda.
This coming Sunday sees Japanese attention turn to Osaka with the Sumiyoshi Ward Center playing host to two different shows, one after the other. The first is a Morioka card whilst the second is a Mutoh card.
To us the most interesting bout from the first show will see fast rising Japanese teenager Hinata Maruta (2-0, 1) go for his first professional title, as he faces unbeaten Filipino Wilbert Berondo (10-0, 4) for the WBC Youth Bantamweight title. The bout is, on paper, a huge step up for Berondo but the pressure will be on Maruta, who is tipped by many to be one of the next stars of Japanese boxing. Unfortunately very little is known about Berondo with even our Filipino friends admitting they know very little about him and the footage available shows a raw slugger.
Another interesting bout on this card will see Japanese based Korean fighter Teiru Atsumi (10-1, 4) battle Filipino visitor Dennis Tubieron (19-7-2, 8). Tubieron has been picking up losses recently, including a loss earlier this year to Ryosuke Iwasa. Atsumi is relatively unknown but impressed last time out when he stopped the touted Sho Nakazawa and some are suggesting he is one of the top two Korean prospects still in Asia, along with Ye Joon Kim. If he can add Tubieron to his record Atsumi really will be riding a high into the end of the year, and may well see his team try secure him a title fight in the near future.
On the second card we have another title bout, but one that perhaps doesn't quite have the same excitement as the Maruta/Berondo bout.
This time it's the case of OPBF Light Middleweight champion Takayuki Hosokawa (28-10-4, 9) facing off against multi-time title challenger Koshinmaru Saito (23-8-1, 13). For Hosokawa this will be his first defense, following his career defining victory late last year against Dennis Laurente to claim the Oriental title. For Hosokawa a good performance here may help open the door to a world title fight, with the Japanese fighter very highly ranked by the IBF, however Saito enters this bout knowing this will be his last chance at winning a world title.
In a supporting bout fans will see former world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (12-4-2, 2) battle against Ryotaro Kawabata (11-2-1, 5) in what is a really good, well matched contest. The bout sees two well matched men facing off in a bout that neither can really afford to lose. For Mukai the bout is his second since losing to Shohei Omori in a Japanese title fight whilst Kawabata looks to extend a 4 fight unbeaten run.
In a small step up the unbeaten Masahiro Sakamoto (7-0, 4) will be up against Il Che (7-11-5, 1). Che has lost his last 3, and only, has a single win in his last 8 but has proven to be a good test for prospects and gave Genki Hania Hanai a good run out back in March, we suspect the same will be the case here.
One fight we're not expecting to go the distance will see Japanese Middleweight puncher Koki Tyson (10-2-1, 10) face Korean Joon Yong Lee (5-4-3, 3). This will be Lee's second bout in Japan, following a loss in May to Ryosuke Maruki and although he went the distance, in a competitive bout with Maruki, we don't see him being able to take Tyson's power here.