This coming Sunday we'll see two Japanese shows. Neither are particularly deep though both have significant main events.
On paper the slightly more significant card is in Yamaguchi, as we get a Japanese title eliminator and a noteworthy support bout.
The title eliminator is at Lightweight as 33 year old Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-2, 3) takes on 28 year old Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-1, 6) in a bout to decide who will go on to challenge for the Japanese title at the Champion Carnival next year. Of the two men Sumiyoshi is the more proven fighter, having challenged for the OPBF title in 2015 and scoring notable wins over the likes of Allan Tanada, Naotoshi Nakatani, Motoki Sasaki and Shogo Yamaguchi. In fact at the moment Sumiyoshi is riding an 8 fight unbeaten run following his loss in his OPBF title fight. Yanagi on the other hasn't fought for a title recognised by the JBC, but did come up short against Jhertiz Chavez in a bout for a minor regional title. Coming in to this Yanagi has won his last 3, but hasn't really shone in those wins. It's also worth noting that this will be the third meeting between these two men, with Sumioyoshi leading the series 1-0-1. A preview of this bout can be read here - Sumiyoshi and Yanagi finish off trilogy in Japanese eliminator!
The other bout of note on this card will see Change Hamashima (10-3-1, 4) take on the JBC ranked Masaharu Kaito (6-2, 2). The 22 year old Hamashima has lost 3 of his last 5, but 2 of those came to the very talented Kudura Kaneko and even in those losses he didn't embarrass himself against a very solid puncher. Interestingly Kaito is 2-2 in his last 4, with one of his losses coming to Kaneko as well, but his last outing was a huge win last October over Ryota Toyoshima. Sadly Kaito has been out of action for a little over a year, and that ring rust could be an issue here against Hamashima.
The other show will take place in Okayama and it's only the main event worthy of any attention at all.
That main event will see the fun to watch Japanese Flyweight Seigo Yuri Akui (12-1-1, 8) take on world ranked Filipino Jaysever Abcede (17-8, 11). We've been impressed with Akui, who won the Rookie of the Year crown in 2015 and has since gone 6-1 (6) with 5 opening round stoppages including big domestic wins over Kenji Ono and Masamichi Yabuki. Although beatable, as we saw when Junto Nakatani stopped him last year, Akui is very dangerous. The visitor from the Philippines has had a reputation for being limited, but scored a huge knockout win in Thailand over Stamp Kiatniwat in May and claimed a WBA ranking as a result. We're expecting something explosive here!
This coming Sunday fight fans in Japan get 3 different shows across the country. On paper the most notable of those is from Okinawa, where fans will get three title fights and several notable fighters from recent Rookie of the Year competitions.
The main event of the card will see hard hitting Ryoya Ikema (12-4, 11) take on fellow puncher Mongkol Kamsommat (6-2, 5) in a bout for the WBC Youth Light Flyweight title. The 20 year old Ikema had a 2017 to forget, with losses to Koki Ono and Ryoki Hirai, but will feel confident of claiming his first title here as he takes on an opponent who has been stopped in both of his losses. The Thai however will fancy his chances to make a name for himself and will be coming in to this on the back of 4 straight wins.
A second title fight on this card will see Yuko Henzan (5-6-4, 2) battle Phannaluk Kongsang (3-4-1, 2) for the OPBF female Bantamweight title, in a less than great looking bout which will actually be a rematch from a bout back in November. When these two first fought, in the Philippines, they fought to an 8 round draw, and given how competitive that bout was we're expecting another close one here, but it's unlikely to be a high quality match up.
A really mouth watering bout will see Tatsuro Nakashima (7-0-1, 5) face off with Kai Ishizawa (3-0, 3) in a bout for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title. Nakashima got all the way to the 2017 Rookie of the Year West final, where he fought to a draw with Yuga Inoue, and certainly looks like a talented youngster with power and ambition. As for Ishizawa he was a pretty solid amateur, going 28-14, and turning professional with a B class license. Since turning professional last June Ishizawa has looked sensational, and the 21 year old will be looking to continue to demonstrate his brutal power, which has seen him stop his first 3 foes in a combined 5 rounds. This could be a very explosive and exciting match up.
Other fighters of note on this card are 2016 Light Welterweight Rookie of year winner Ukyo Yoshigai (5-2, 4) and 2017 winner Marcus Smith (4-0-1, 4), though both men are up against relatively weak opponents and not each other, in what would have been a genuinely notable bout.
In Okyama we'll be able to see two really interesting match ups on the Japanese domestic scene, despite neither fight being a hugely significant one, for now.
The more interesting of those two bouts will see talented 22 year old Seigo Yuri Akui (11-1-1, 7) return to the ring since his first loss, to Junto Nakatani, and battle against the heavy handed Masamichi Yabuki (6-1, 6). The promising Akui was looking like a star in the making before running into the naturally bigger Nakatani last August and simply being out power by his foe. As for Yabuki he's a big puncher who lost in the 2016 Rookie of the year final, with that loss also coming to Junto Nakatani. It's clear both men will be looking for a statement win here, and a chance to work their way towards a rematch with Nakatani. This could be very exciting with both men having hands, and both looking to push themselves to a bigger and better fight.
The other bout of note on this card will see Kota Fujimoto (7-2-1, 2) battle against Shunji Nagata (11-16-2, 3). Coming in to this Fujimoto is ranked by the OPBF, and will be favoured here, but Nagata could be a banana skin, and certainly not be there to roll over though will be giving away significant size to Fujimoto.
At the L-Theatre in Osaka fans will get a relatively notable card featuring several fighters with some form of ranking, and 3 bouts worthy of some note.
The main event will see OPBF ranked Super Flyweight Kenji Kihisa (8-3, 5) take on WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter Shota Kawaguchi (21-9-1, 9). Coming in to this Kihisa is on a 3 fight stoppage run, including a career best win over Futa Akizuki which pushed him into the OPBF rankings. If we remove the run from Kihisa he doesn't have much else on his record, but the 27 year old does look like he is hitting his stride now. Kawaguchi is a former WBO Asia Pacific “Interim” champion, but has gone 4-5 in his last 9, including a stoppage last time out to Ryuichu Funai in a Japanese title fight. Kawaguchi needs a win to remain relevant whilst a victory for Kihisa will put him into the title mix, a really key bout at this regional level.
In a supporting bout fans will see OPBF ranked Super Flyweight Tatsuya Ikemizu (17-2, 7) take on Naoto Fujimoto (9-8-1, 4). The 25 year old Ikemizu has rebuilt well from losses to Mark John Yap and Jonas Sultan, scoring 4 straight wins, but this bout is a step up from the 4 Thai's he has faced over the last 18 months. Although a step up for Ikemizu from recent bouts, it's hard to imagine Fujimoto providing any sort of real test for the 2013 Rookie of the Year winner.
One other bout of note on this card will see Noboru Osato (8-6-4, 1) take on Takuya Yamamoto (8-8, 4) in a bout that both men really need to win. Osata has gone 3-3-1 in his last 7, including a close loss to Yuki String Kobayashi last time out, and really needs a win to give his career any sort of momentum. As for Yamamoto he has lost his last 2, including a 109 second blow out loss to Satoshi Shimizu, and has gone 2-5 in his last 7, showing just how much he needs another win.
For a second day running we get a show dedicated to the Japanese Youth Tournament, with 3 finals and two semi finals taking place on a show that really looks brilliant on paper in regards to even match ups, even if the card lacks bit name appeal.
On paper the best of the bouts is the Flyweight final, which pits two unbeaten punchers against each other in a real humdinger. In one corner is 2016 Flyweight Rookie of the year Junto Nakatani (12-0, 9), who had to answer real questions last time out against Yuma Kudo in his semi-final bout. In the opposite corner is 2015 Light Flyweight Rookie of the year Seigo Yuri Akui (11-0-1, 7), who enters on the back of 5 stoppage wins including a huge one over Kenji Ono and a solid showing in his semi final against Ryuto Oho. This has the potential to be the best bout of the whole Youth Tournament and is a really tough one to call.
At Super Bantamweight we're expecting a full on shoot out as 21 year old Ryota Ishida (8-1, 6) takes on 22 year old Takuya Mizuno (11-1-1,11). Ishida has stopped his last 3, and hasn't seen the final bell since he was fighting in 4 rounders, more than 2 years ago. Mizuno has stopped his last 4 foes, and has shown power through out fights with stoppages in rounds every round from 1 to 6. This promises to be be a hard hitting bout, and although we favour Mizuno, it could go either way, and should be a real treat.
On paper the worst of the finals is at Bantamweight, where the recently beaten pairing of Wataru Takeda (10-1-1, 4) and Yuto Nakamura (7-3, 6) face off. Takeda was beaten last October, just 2 fights back, by Ryohei Takakhashi after claiming the 2015 Rookie of the year, and although he has shown some signs of being a real prospect there are still a lot of questions left for him to answer. Although beaten 3 times Nakamura has never been outclassed, with all 3 losses being razor thin ones and he will be in there looking to make a statement. This looks like the worst of the finals for the day, but should still deliver a great contest.
At Light Welterweight we get two semi-final bouts. One of those will see the once beaten Ukyo Yoshigai (5-1, 4) take on Andy Hiraoka (9-0, 6) in a really interesting contest. Yoshigai, who won the 2016 Rookie of the year, was beaten back in April by Giraffe Kirin Kanda, but that loss will have helped his development. Hiraoka on the other hand has looked great in recent bouts, but has only fought 10 rounds since the end of 2014, and it's hard to know how good he really is, even if he does pass the eye test with ease.
The other bout looks like a potential fire fight as Hayato Ono (5-1, 5) battles Takahiko Kobayashi (6-2, 5). Between the two men they have heard the final bell just once, in what was Kobayashi's most recent bout. Ono will see this as a potential chance to set up a rematch with Yoshigai, the only man to have beaten him, whilst Kobayashi will be looking to avenge a 2016 loss to Ono, in which he was stopped in the 5th round. There's history here, two punchers, and two men who have questionable durability. With this one the best advice is don't blink!
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 most important of 4 Japanese shows comes from Osaka this coming Sunday and features an OPBF title bout.
The OPBF title contest will see OPBF Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (11-2-2, 10) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Sung-Jae Ahn (6-3, 1). The heavy handed champion shocked the Oriental scene last year as he comfortably out boxed Dwight Ritchie for the title and will be expecting an easier assignment here against a Korean fighter who really is fortunate to be getting this type of opportunity. Although Ahn is a former Korean champion it's almost 2 years since he last fought and it's hard to favour him given the inactivity, and it's worth noting he debuted more than 8 years ago. If Ahn is tough he can make life tricky for Tyson, but this should be a pretty clear win for the champion.
Another Japan Vs Korea bout sees Shachihoko Dragons Keita (6-5-2, 1) take on the unbeaten Ga-ram Kim (2-0, 1). The Japanese local has a very mixed record, and is 2-3-2 in his last 7, showing the struggle he has for consistency. As for the Korean he debuted in 2009, fought against in 2011 and has really not stayed active enough to build on any promise he had. This is a bout in which both men will fight to win, but it's not one that the winner will really build their reputation on.
There will also be a notable card in Okayama.
The headline fight on this card sees local prospect Seigo Yuri Akui (9-0-1, 5) take on limited Thai visitor Nattawut Siritoem (0-2). The 21 year old Japanese youngster made a mark in 2015, when he won the Light Flyweight Rookie of the Year, and had a sensational 2016 to build on his record with a huge stoppage win over Kenji Ono in December. Tipped as a real one to watch Akui will have extra pressure on his shoulders here, as the main event, and will be expected to put in a great performance. The Thai is 0-2 having been stopped in both bouts, and it's likely he'll suffer another early loss here.
In the chief support bout we'll see Kota Fujimoto (6-1, 2) take on Takahiro Murai (14-7-2, 5) in a really good looking domestic bout. Fujimoto suffered his only loss in December last year, in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final against Ryuji Fukunaga, and will be looking get his career back on track here, and record his biggest win to date. Murai is much more experienced, and has got some good results on his record, but was himself beaten in December, by Takeru Kamikubo, and will also be coming into this bout in search of a win.
In Fukuoka fans will see the once touted Takumi Sakae (14-2-1, 9) fight in a real must win against Thai visitor Nayoklek Sithsaithong (1-0, 1). Just over a year ago Sakae was touted as one to watch, he was world ranked and looked on the way to big things. The he lost to Tatsuya Fukuhara and has since gone 1-1-1 with his career now really on the rocks, following a big upset loss to Ryoki Hirai last December. The quality of the Thai is really a mystery, and this will be his first bout since September 2014, if boxrec have a complete record. The Thai could be there to fall over, or his could be a horrible surprise for a man who will be very low on confidence.
There will also be a very low key card in Tsu, Mie, and this card really is a very low quality one.
The main event will see the heavy handed Yuto Nakamura (6-3, 5) battle against the once beaten Kenta Nomura (4-1, 1). Aged 20 Nakamura looks like an exciting puncher who could make a name a name for himself in the local area, but the reality is that he will need to improve a lot to make a mark further afield. Nomura, also 20, is far from a puncher but is a nice boxer and could well make for a very interesting dance partner for Nakamura. Although a nice bout on paper, it's a bout that probably wouldn't main event in any major Japanese boxing region.
A similarly interesting looking bout will see Daiki Yamamoto (3-0, 1) take on Seiya Kaga (4-1, 1) in a 4 rounder. Again the bout looks interesting and well matched, but really won't make any mark at all outside of the local area. Another prospect on this card will be Junto Nakatani (10-0, 8), who will be battling against Filipino Joel Taduran (8-5-1, 2).
The coming month is packed for Japanese fans with title bouts taking place regularly through the month. The first of those takes place on December 3rd at the Korakuen Hall, the home of Japanese boxing.
That title fight is a really highly anticipated rematched between Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa (19-1, 16) and former champion Rikki Naito (15-1, 5). The two men fought a year ago, with Ogawa dropping Naito on route to a technical decision win to claim the title and give Naito his sole defeat. Since then however neither guy has looked great. Ogawa has defended the title twice, stopping both Satoru Sugita and Kento Matsushita, but looked very poor and was outboxed for stretches of both fights. Naito on the other hand easily beat Chaiyong Sithsaithong this past May but was very fortunate last time out to take a technical decision over Argie Toquero, in a bout that Toquero seemed to deserve. The winner of this may have the title but it's fair to say that both will have to put in better efforts than they have in recent bouts.
A real humdinger of a support bout will see the exciting Kenji Ono (11-1, 6) take on the unbeaten Seigo Yuri Akui (8-0-1, 4) in a really attractive bout. Ono, who won the 2014 Light Flyweight Rookie of the Year, may be best remembered for his February war with Jun Takigawa, a bout that could potentially be the Japanese FOTY, and that proved that he really was a fun to watch fighter. Akui is a 2015 Rookie of the Year winner, also at Light Flyweight, and has the unbeaten record, but is stepping up big time here. This is a wonderful match up and the type of bout that Japanese youngsters seem to take part in more than similar fighters in any other country.
Another prospect in action here is the unbeaten and exciting Hayate Kaji (5-0, 4), who will be looking to extend his perfect professional start as he takes on Thai visitor Sitthiphong Saithong (0-1), who's only recorded bout was a 4th round TKO loss in Japan from last year. Kaji impressed last year, when he won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Super Flyweight, but has lacked activity since and this will be only his second fight since the start of the year
The most notable of two Japanese shows this coming Sunday comes from Fukuoka, and features two notable hopefuls.
In the main event we'll see Japanese Welterweight puncher Yuki Beppu (13-0, 13) hunt a 14th straight stoppage as he takes on a Thai foe. A win here for Beppu will almost certainly be his final step before moving into a title bout next year. Sadly unless the Thai visitor is better than most “unnamed” Thai's fighting in Japan this really isn't going to serve as any type of preparation for a title fight.
Also on this card will be Takumi Sakae (13-1-1, 8),who will look to put a bad year behind him. Sakae will be up against a Thai foe, like Beppu, but he needs a win here to stop 2016 being a total write off. He lost his unbeaten record in March, losing to Tatsuya Fukuhara in a Japanese title fight, and subsequently had a technical draw with Lito Dante in July.
A second Japanese show comes from Okayama and will features only one bout of real interest at the Japanese domestic level.
That bouts will see the unbeaten Seigo Yuri Akui (7-0-1, 3) take on Yamato Uchinono (6-6-5, 4) in an interesting match up. Akui, the 2015 Rookie of the Year at Flyweight, is stepping up to his first 8 round. Uchinono has lost 4 of his last 5 but has mixed at a better level than the unbeaten youngster and could genuinely be a good test for a man moving up in class.