This coming Monday Japanese fight fans get a genuinely exceptional card, headlined by an OPBF Featherweight title fight, between unbeaten fighters, and stacked with several other notable bouts, including 2 genuinely brilliant support bouts.
The main event of this card will 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (7-0, 7) take on Takuya Uehara (16-0, 10). The bout will be Shimizu's 4th defense of the OPBF Featherweight title and if he wins he's expected to be moved aggressively into a world title fight in the new year. Despite being a stand out amateur Shimizu has looked like a flawed professional, but with his unbeaten record and perfect T/KO run it's hard to double the results, even if the performances haven't been the best. The 23 year old Uehara is a former WBC Youth champion but this is a massive step up in class, and is likely to be his first bout against a genuine puncher. This could be a good test for Shimizu, but one he'll be expected to pass. A full preview of this bout can be found here - Olympic hero Shimizu takes on Uehara in next OPBF title defense!
The co-feature looks even better than the main event, and is a really well balanced match up that should give us a combination between explosive heavy handed blows and skills. The match up pits the very heavy handed Tsuyoshi Tameda (18-3-2, 16) against the incredibly highly skilled Hinata Maruta (7-1-1, 6), in a bout that will likely lead the winner to a regional title fight in 2019. Tameda is the more raw fighter, but also the hard hitting and the one with real explosive power. Maruta is the more skilled man, but has failed to deliver on the promise he has in recent bouts, and some are perhaps not doubting the Morioka man. This really could be something very, very special. A preview of this can be read here - Preview - Maruta and Tameda to fight on December 3rd!
Another interesting all prospect match up is a mouth watering 8 rounder between Taku Kuwahara (2-0, 2) and Takamori Kiyama (2-0, 2), which may well go down as the best match up between a couple of 2-0 fighters ever. As an amateur Kuwahara was a 2-time national champion and the Ohashi gym view him as a potential major player in their gym, this is however a massive step up in class from the Indonesian fighters he has faced in his first two bouts, neither of which have lasted a round. Kiyama, from the Atsumi gym, was also an amateur standout, and he's has looked fantastic since turning professional as well. This is really a risky bout for both fighters but they should both be admired, for willing to risk their "0" against a fellow prospect this early on.
Former Japanese Supe Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (21-6-1, 12) looks to record his 4th straight win, as he takes on the limited Takahiro Araki (12-7, 4). Okada is a faded force to the man who had pushed Takashi Miura hard in 2010 and had gone on to win the Japanese title the following year, running up 3 defenses before losing to Daiki Kaneko. He is however capable against the lower level domestic fighters and will see this as a good chance to score his 22nd professional win. The 31 year old Araki however is no push over and will see this an opportunity to get a win against a former national champion.
The once touted Sho Nakazawa (11-2, 5) looks to continue rebuilding his career after a 2017 loss to Ryo Hino. The former amateur standout will be looking for a second straight win as he takes on Filipino journeyman Jhon Gemino (17-11-1, 7). On paper this looks like a mismatch but Nakazawa really has failed to shine as a professional and Gemino is the sort of fighter who can be a very tricky out. We suspect Nakazawa gets the win, but Gemino won't have travelled to just roll over.
Another prospect on this card is the highly touted Kazuki Nakajima (5-0, 4), who takes a notable step up in class to fight the experienced Yoshihiro Utsumi (15-8-3, 10). So far Nakajima has only been tested one, with Taiga Higashi giving him issues last December, and has otherwise had things all his own way. Utsumi on the hand has collected losses, but has faced tough competition with losses to Yasutaka Ishimoto, Ye Joon Kim and Hiroaki Teshigawara. It's worth noting that coming into this bout Utsumi scored a huge upset win over Hibiki Jogo and is riding a 3 fight stoppage run into this contest.
This coming Wednesday Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall get a stacked card from Ohashi, with a world title fight headlining the card and a number of notable fighters on the under-card as the Ohashi gym put on a really solid show.
The main event will see the highly touted Ryo Matsumoto (21-1, 19) challenge WBA Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman (23-2-1, 9) in a bout that looks amazing on paper. The Japanese 24 year old has long been tipped as a future world champion and one of the future faces of Japanese boxing thanks to his strong amateur background, skills, speed and power. He has however been troubled by medical issues, which lead to his shock 2016 loss to Victor Uriel Lopez. Roman on the other hand broke Japanese hearts last year, when he battered Shun Kubo into a 9th round TKO. The American will be looking to repeat the feat here and move towards bigger bouts. Going into the bout with Kubo few would have thought Roman was a puncher, but the way he broke down and stopped the Shinsei man did impress and show that there was more on his shots than his record suggests.
Another youngster on this card is the very talented Andy Hiraoka (11-0, 8), who risks his unbeaten record against Fumisuke Kimura (6-2, 4). At just 21 years old Hiraoka is seen as the future of the Ohashi gym and although he has some questions to answer he does look a class fighter. The youngster will be in there with a tough and heavy handed foe who can be out boxed, but is a very solid test and should provide a stern test for Hiraoka.
A third youngster from the Ohashi gym in action here will be Tsuyoshi Tameda (15-3-2, 13), who faces off with a Thai foe in what is likely to be a bit if a straight forward win for the heavy handed 24 year old. This will be Tameda's second bout under the Ohashi banner and it's clear they view him as a key fighter for the future, and will be looking to guide him towards title fights by the end of the year.
It's not all about youngster on this show, and in a battle between more established fighters fans will see 29 year old Quaye Peter (10-9-2, 6) take on the heavy handed Yuichi Ideta (13-10-1, 7). Coming into this the inconsistent Peter is 4-4 in his last 8, though is better than the numbers suggest. As for Ideta recent results are rather damning, with a 0-7-1 record in his last 8, though he was a promising fighter earlier on in his career and will be looking at this bout as a chance to re-establish himself as someone who matters. It's worth noting that Ideta has been out of the ring for 4 years, and it's now 7 years since his last win, which came against Suyon Takayama.
An interesting clash of young and old will see 24 year old puncher Kazuaki Miyamoto (5-1, 4) take on 35 year old former Japanese champion Seiichi Okada (20-6-1, 11). The youngster will be stepping up massively for this bout and will know he's the under-dog, despite being the younger man, and his own loss to Shuzo Inada last year does leave a lot of questions regarding his durability. Okada, another of the fighters from the Ohashi gym, has struggled since losing the domestic title to Daiki Kaneko back in 2012, though has won his last two bouts and will be hoping to move towards another title fight before his career is over.
In late March we see Ohashi putting on their first show of 2017, and although it's not a huge show, like the FES cards, it is a solid Phoenix Battle card with a host of notable names in action.
In the main event we see the highly talented Ryo Matsumoto (18-1, 16) take on domestic rival Hideo Sakamoto (17-3-3, 5) in a really good match up. Matsumoto, who under-went serious surgery last year to solve a long term medical issue, will be looking to make a huge mark in 2017 but will have to over-come Sakamoto first. If the youngster wins then all signs point towards Matsumoto getting a world title fight before the end of 2017. Sakamoto might not be a big name but he is a very under-rated fighter with notable wins over Kazuyoshi Niki, Hiroki Shiino and Ryotaro Kawabata, but has suffered recent losses to Seio Kono and Kentaro Masuda in recent years.
In a major supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Koki Inoue (6-0, 5) battle against Japanese ranked Mitsuyoshi Fujita (10-2, 3) in what should be a good test for Inoue. The unbeaten 24 year old only debuted in December 2015 but is one of the fastest rising fighters on the Japanese domestic scene and made a statement last year when he scored 5 wins, including a very impressive stoppage against Futoshi Usami. Fujita has suffered 2 losses, but has won 8 in a row since those back to back losses in 2013-2014. Although not as proven as Inoue he is experienced and has earned a Japanese ranking with wins against the likes of Yusuke Yamanouchi and Genki Maeda.
Another notable Ohashi gym fighter in action here is former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (21-2, 12), who faces domestic opponent Akiyoshi Kanazawa (14-6-4, 7). Hara scored two wins last year and looks to be rebuilding his career step by step following stoppage losses in 2014, to Kosei Tanaka, and in 2015, to Katsunari Takayama. This is a decent match up for for Hara, given he is rebuilding, but it's fair to say he needs to step up a bit later this year. Kanazawa has gone 3-4-1 in his last 8 though has been matched hard, and almost scored an upset last year over Kenichi Horikawa. Although limited Kanazawa will serve as a good test here.
A really interesting bout sees the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) finally battle with Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5). Originally this bout was supposed to take place in December 2014, as the Rookie of the Year Lightweight final, but Hiraoka suffered an illness forcing him out of the bout. Since then Yamaguchi has gone 4-2, though has been matched hard with losses to Akihiro Kondo and Genki Maeda, whilst Hiraoka spent notable time training in the US and signed with Ohashi late last year.
Another interesting match up will see Quaye Peter (9-8-2, 5) take on recent Japanese title challenger Valentine Hosokawa (20-6-3, 9) in a very fan friendly match up. Both guys have lost their last two, and will be coming to impress here, but neither has performed badly in all honestly Hosokawa was very unlucky last time out against Hiroki Okada. Given the styles of both men and their need to score a win we suspect this will be a really exciting contest with both men knowing a win could net them a title shot later in the year.
Also on the card is former Japanese champion Seiichi Okada (19-6-1, 11), who battles against the limited but tough Kentaro Yamada (8-7-1, 6). Yamada has lost his last 6, but he has been in with a real who's who including Rikki Naito, Masayuki Ito and Yuki Ogata, and will certainly be looking at this bout as a chance to end that losing run.
The key show for the day is from Tokyo where Ohashi will put on their next card.
In the main event we'll see multi-time world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (32-2-1, 21) face former world champion Jonathan Victor Barros (40-4-1, 22) in an IBF Featherweight world title eliminator. The styles of these two should gel, well with Hosono being a basic pressure fighter fighter and Barros being more of a stick-and-move fighter, and with a potential world title fight up for grabs for the winner neither will be looking to do anything other than give the bout their all. This really could be a bit of a treat for fans in Tokyo.
In a key supporting bout we'll see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (18-6-1, 11) take on Tatsuya Yanagi (11-4-1, 4) in a must win for the 34 year old veteran. Coming in to this Okada is more than 2 years removed from his last win and has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3, including a loss Masaki Saito, who has a less than 50% win record. Yanagi showed early promise, winning his first 10 bouts, but has gone 1-4-1 in his last 6 and won't be looking to roll over for for the beatable former champion.
Other supporting bouts will see the once beaten Yoshimichi Matsumoto (10-1, 8) and the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (6-0, 3) face off against unnamed Thai visitors. For Matsumoto his bout will be a 10 round test in what is the chief support bout whilst Hiraoka will be making his ring return after more than 2 years away from the ring.
When this show was first announced Ryo Matsumoto (17-1, 15) was set to feature on it. Matsumoto was however pulled from the card a few weeks later and underwent surgery for a medical condition that had plagued him previously, and played a part in him losing unbeaten record last time out.
Unfortunately the Televised portion of this card, which we think will just be the main event, will only be shown on tape delay over the weekend.
Gwangju, South Korea
There is also set to be a KBF show though details of this one are scarce with the bouts all said to be 4 rounders except for a single 6 rounder.