Action returns to the Korakuen Hall this coming Monday as we get the next show in the A Sign Bee series of cards. The show isn't the best, in fact it's main event looks to be a huge mismatch between a 2-time world title challenger and a limited domestic fighter, but it does have a well matched Japanese Youth title fight, and a well matched domestic support bout.
As mentioned the main event will feature a 2-time world title challenger, that's Ryo Akaho (32-2-2, 21) who really is being matched softly here, as he takes on Naoto Mizutani (5-4-1, 2). On one hand Akaho has had a frustrating year, giving up the Japanese title in December and then blowing out Robert Udtohan inside a round when he returned to the ring. On the other hand he really should be wanting to shake some ring rust before a bit 2019. Mizutani has no right being in the ring with Akaho, and has already been stopped 3 times in his career. Not only has Mizutani been stopped a number of times but he brings nothing to the table to really test Akaho, who should have been matched against someone much more testing here.
The main supporting bout here will see Japanese Youth Light Flyweight champion Ryuto Oho (11-4-1, 3) defending his title against Yuta Nakayama (6-1-1, 3). The 23 year old champion has had a weird career so far. He was tipped for big things when he won the Rookie of the Year back in 2013 but numerous set backs since then have hampered his rise. He dropped down in weight, from Flyweight to Light Flyweight for the Youth title earlier this year and stopped Tetsuya Tomioka for the title. Nakayama went 1-1-1 to begin his career, but has impressive gone 5-0 since then, and done so with a notable win over Tatsuhiro Toguchi. This should be very hotly contest and very exciting, with both men starting to believe in their power in recent bouts. A full preview of this bout can be read here Oho seeks first defense, takes on tricky Nakayama
Lower down the card we'll see Japanese ranked Welterweight Makoto Kawasaki (9-7-1, 2) take on the limited but hard hitting Kentaro Endo (7-8-1, 6), in what looks like a surprisingly competitive contest on paper. Kawasaki is certainly the more skilled fighter, but has lost her last 3 bouts, and has taken punishment in recent bouts. Endo is limited, but he is very heavy handed and we suspect he'll be looking to use that power here, and he will be dangerous early on. Sadly for Endo the longer this bout goes the less chance he has of making the most of his power.
One other under-card bout of note is a contest between Japanese ranked Heavyweight Ryu Ueda (6-1-1, 3) and unbeaten Korean Jong Kook Kim (3-0, 2). Interestingly these two men both stopped Sang Ho Kim in their last bout, with Ueda doing it last year and Jong Kook Kim doing it more than 2 years ago. Sadly the inactivity for Kim could be the difference here, but the Korean southpaw will not have travelled to lose his unbeaten record. The Japanese fighter is also a southpaw, but he is notably 1-1-1 in his last 3, and doesn't have much momentum coming into this, despite his win over Sang Ho Kim last time out.
New Jersey, USA
Our attention will mostly be on New Jersey this coming Saturday as one Central Asian fighter defends a world title, and two others look to progress there careers.
The champion in question is the extremely talented and really exciting WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11), who defends his title against Malawi born challenger Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2, 10). The heavy handed and exciting Bivol comes into this bout on the back of his excellent victory over Sullivan Barrera this past March, in what was Bivol's 5th straight stoppage win. The Kyrgyzstan born fighter is making a name for himself and a win over Chilemba will help him there. Sadly for Chilemba it does feel like his career is coming to an en and he has lost 3 of his last 4, including a stoppage loss in November 2016 to Oleksandr Gvozdyk. At his best Chilemba was a handful for anyone but he's now a very old 31 who has been in a lot of wars during his career.
One of the guys looking to move forward with their career is unbeaten Kazakh Madiyar Ashkeyev (9-0, 5), who is set for a notable step up in class to take on Cleotis Pendarvis (21-4-2, 9). The Kazakh has looked close to flawless in recent bouts and has been impressing on US soil through his career. American southpaw Pendarvis has had a stop-start career, and his last 4 bouts really haven't been great to know what he has left, but at his best he was a solid fighter who managed to stop Michael Clark, though that was almost 6 years ago now. A prime Pendarvis would have made for an interesting test, but we now expect Ashkeyev to step up and put on a showcase performance against his more experienced foe.
Another Kazakh on this card is Middleweight prospect Meiirim Nursultanov (7-0, 6), who will be looking for this third win of 2018. His opponent for this bout hasn't been announced but we're not expecting anyone too testing for the 24 year old, who we think will be stepping up in class at this end of this year, or early next year. Heavy handed, talented and exciting Nursultanov has a lot going for him, but we wouldn't be surprised if he team just waited a year or two before throwing him in with notable names.
In Japan fans only get a single show from Okinawa, and even that show isn't massively great with two low key title fights and some small fights on the under-card.
One of those title fights is a WBO Asia Pacific female Bantamweight title fight, which will see Yuko Henzan (6-6-4, 2) take on unbeaten Chinese fighter Fan Yin (3-0, 1). The Japanese fighter started her career 0-3-1 but has managed to turn things and had gone 4-0-2 in her last 6 bouts, and claimed the OPBF female Bantamweight title, so a win here for Henzan would see her become a unified champion. The Chinese fighter made her professional debut last December, and scored 2 wins in the space of 2 weeks, but her activity has slowed significantly and she has only fought once since the turn of the year.
The other title fight will see Japanese Youth Light Flyweight champion Ryuto Oho (11-4-1, 3) defending his belt against the promising Hiroki Inamine (2-1, 2). The 23 year old champion won the 2013 Rookie of the Year at Flyweight but has since struggled, going 5-4-1 (1). To help rectify things Oho has dropped to Light Flyweight which appears to be a more suitable weight class for him, given his relative lack of power. Inamine's record suggest he's a heavy handed fighter but he's only stopped two Thai's since making his debut, though he was a well regarded domestic amateur. Inamine was beaten last time out, by the ultra promising Rikito Shiba, but will feel he has the power to take care of Ono, in what could be the fight of the day.
In a supporting bout fans will see once touted youngster Seita Ogido (11-3-3, 3) look to get his career back on track after going 0-1-2 in his last 3. Ogido hasn't been softly matched but he has failed to win any of his last 3 bouts, which were all title contest, and is clearly being matched softly here to get some confidence back. He'll be up against Takayuki Teraji (9-15-1, 4) who has won just 3 of his last 10 and should manage to give Ogido rounds with out really coming close to winning them.
One other fighter on this card worthy of note is American born Japanese fighter Marcus Smith (5-0-1, 5), who looks to secure his second win of 2018 as he takes on Koji Igarashi (4-2, 3). It's hard to see Igarashi coming out on top here, given both of his losses have been by stoppage, but he does have power of his own and could well chin check Smith here.
Fight fans in Japan really do get to see the title action action flow through this month, and for a fourth day in a row those fans are set to get title action, as well as an under-card with some pretty notable names on it.
The first of three notable under-card bouts will see the hard hitting Tetsuya Tomioka (5-2, 5) battle against Ryuto Oho (10-4-1, 2) in a bout to crown the first ever Japanese Youth Light Flyweight champion. The hard hitting Tomioka was involved in a thriller almost a year ago with Katsunori Nagamine, and proved he was one to keep an eye on there, but has been stopped twice in 7 and may well find himself burning out quickly given he has a very exciting and aggressive style. With 15 fights under his belt Oho is more experienced than Tomioka, but has lost 2 of his last 3, including an opening round defeat to Seigo Yuri Akui. This should be a really entertaining mid-card bout, and could well be a bit of a show stealer.
A second under-card bout of note will see former WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (17-5-1, 8) takes on Momoko Kanda (10-9-2, 4), in what will be Kuroki's first bout since losing the WBC title to the now retired Momo Koseki. At her best Kuroki is a genuine talent, in fact she defended the WBC title 5 times between her May 2014 coronation and her December 2017 loss to Koseki. Though against Koseki she was second best, by quite some margin. As for Kanda she has challenged for world and OPBF honours herself, but looks some way from being class. Kanda will be there to win, but Kuroki shouldn't struggle to get back to winning ways here.
The chief support bout, and probably the biggest mismatch on the card sadly, will see former world title challenger Shingo Wake (23-5-2, 15) take on Filipino visitor Roman Canto (12-10-3, 7). Wake is expected to be moved into a Japanese title fight with Yusaku Kuga later in the year and this bout looks little more than a stay busy contest, just to keep the ring rust off before that fight takes place. Canto is a naturally bigger man, having fought a fair bit at Super Featherweight, but really shouldn't be much of a test for the talented Wake.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (12-0, 8) making the second defense of his title, as he takes on Norihito Tanaka (16-6, 9) and looks to take a huge step towards getting a world title fight. The exciting champion saw his 5 fight stoppage run come to an end last time out, as he struggled to over-come Masataka Taniguchi in a thrilling and hotly contested bout, but will be looking to impose his power again here. For the 33 year old Tanaka, this will be a second shot at a title, following a 2011 loss to Akira Yaegashi and although he will be the under-dog he is experienced and tough, and has never been stopped. On paper this could be a tough test for Koura, but one we expect him to pass.
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.
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.
The wonderful Boxingraise give us their next live show this coming Tuesday with a really good looking, and deep, card from the Korakuen Hall. The show doesn't look like an outstanding one on paper, but fans who know the fighters involved will know that the card will deliver some real highlights.
The main event of the card sees Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (27-4, 13) defending his title against Yudai Arai (8-3-3. 4), in what will be Kogawa's second main event on the Boxingraise service. The veteran champion will be looking for his 4th defense of the belt and it's possible that a win here could see him getting a long awaited third world title fight in 2017. For Arai the opportunity is a rather unearned one but one that he was never going to turn down and we hope that he puts up a credible effort in what will almost certainly be a fun fight, as all Kogawa contests are.
The chief support bout will see #1 ranked Japanese Flyweight Yuta Matsuo (11-2-1, 6) take on Ryuto Oho (9-2-1, 2) in an intriguing 8 rounder, that will likely serve to build up a a potential Matsuo Vs Kogawa bout in 2017, as part of the Champion Carnival if both fighters win. Oho is unranked coming into this bout but is a real potential banana skin and has shown his ability against the likes of Jo Tanooka, Shuji Hamada and Katsunori Nagamine, and was a 2013 Rookie of the Year. Matsuo cannot over look his foe here.
In another supporting bout the highly experienced Masaki Saito (13-11-5, 4) faces the unbeaten Yuichiro Kasuya (9-0, 1) in a bout between two men with Japanese rankings. Saito is really experienced and holds notable results against the likes of Seiichi Okada, Tsuyoshi Tojo and can be a handful on his day. Kasuya on the other hand is rising prospect but this could be, potentially, his toughest bout to date, as he looks to build on a win over Kazuma Sanpei.
Talking about Kazuma Sanpei (12-3, 4) he will himself be in action as he goes up against the JBC and OPBF ranked Masaru Sueyoshi (12-1, 7) in possibly the best looking bout on the card. Sanpei has lost 3 of his last 6, including a 7th round TKO to Sueyoshi and a split decision to the aforementioned Kasuya, but he is certainly better than those results would suggests. Seuyoshi on the other hand looks like a man heading for titles and comes into this on a career best win over Shingo Eto. Good bout that sees Sanpei seek revenge and Sueyoshi look continue his solid run of 9 wins.
A final out of note sees former OPBF title contender Dai Iwai (18-4-1, 7) battle Takehiro Shinohara (7-4-2, 7). Iwai is looking for his second win since last year's stoppage loss to Masayuki Ito and although he'll be the favourite he is facing a real puncher in Shinohara, who stopped Daisuke Watanabe last year, but has sadly been inactive for more than a year coming in to this.