Attention turns to the Korakuen Hall once again this coming Saturday for a stacked Dangan card, with 4 very good bouts on it.
The main event of the show will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai (30-7, 21) take on Mexican youngster Victor Emanuel Olivo (15-2-1, 7) in an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator, with the winner moving towards a world tittle fight against Jerwin Ancajas. Funai has been on a good run since losing in a Japanese title fight to Sho Ishida way back in 2016. He claimed the Japanese title last year and the WBO Asia Pacific belt earlier this year, and he's actually 6-0 (5) since the loss to Ishida. When it comes to assessing Olivo's career things aren't that impressive, with his most notable result being a narrow loss to Milan Melindo back in 2015. Aged 22 Olivo is a fighter who is developing but he was beaten just 2 fights back by Jose Briegel Quirino, in what looks to have been a home town decision. Olivo is probably better than his record indicates, but this is still a big step up in class for the Mexican. We've a full preview of this bout here Funai and Olivo battle in world title eliminator!
The chief supporting bout will match once beaten fighters, as Shuya Masaki (10-1, 5) takes on recent OPBF title challenger Izuki Tomioka (5-1-1, 1). The talented Masaki was tipped for big things, but his rise through the ranks was slowed this past January, when he was out pointed by Hironori Mishiro. Masaki has bounced back since his loss, with a decision win over Korean Hyun Je Shin, but this is a big step back up since that loss. On the other hand the 21 year old Tomioka surprised the Japanese scene this year when he pushed OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani very close in July, losing an 11th round TKO in a very competitive bout. Tomioka's biggest issue is his lack of power, but we wouldn't be surprised by him relying on his skills and picking up a career best win here.
Another mouth watering support bout will see Seiryu Toshikawa (10-4, 6) face off with the unbeaten Shawn Oda (9-0, 8) for the Japanese Youth Lightweight title. The more experienced man is 22 years old and debuted back in August 2014. He suffered a few early career set backs, losing 3 of his first 6, but has since gone 7-1 with a very notable win last time out against Ryuji Ikeda. On the hand Oda is a 20 year old with insane upside, as he showed when taking the 2016 Rookie of the Year crown at the age of 18. Oda hasn't been the busiest since his Rookie win, but has impressed, with 3 solid wins this year including a stoppage against Masashi Wakita in August. Oda is the more naturally gifted man, but this is likely to be his stiffest test to date. A preview of this bout is here Oda and Toshikawa battle for Lightweight youth crown!
A fourth major bout on this card will see 2017 Rookie of the Year Yuga Inoue (7-0-1, 1) take on the hard hitting Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) for the vacant Japanese youth Minimumweight title fight. The 19 year old Inoue, no relation to Naoya Inoue, really impressed last year before taking the Rookie crown in December against Retsu Akabane. Since that Rookie win Inoue has scored his only stoppage win, taking out Daisuke Sudo in 5 rounds this past May. As for the 21 year old Ishizawa he made his debut in June 2017 and has impressed ever since, scoring a huge win over Tatsuro Nakashima back in April. It should be noted that Ishizawa was supposed to fight for this title earlier in the year, against Daiki Tomita, but the bout was cancelled when Ishizawa suffered an injury, which he has now recovered from. Our in depth preview of this bout is here Ishizawa and Inoue battle for Japanese youth title!
As well as the stacked show in Japan there's also a notable card in the Philippines, headlined by former world title challengers facing off, and featuring several prospects in supporting bouts.
The main event will see Melvin Jerusalem (13-2, 8) battle against Toto Landero (10-3-2, 2). Both of these men have fought for world titles in recent years, with Jerusalem giving Wanehng Menayothin arguably the toughest bout of his career, in 2017, and Landero recently losing to Knockout CP Freshmart. The loser will have some serious rebuilding to do, but given that both men are still young that won't be a huge issue with the right mind set. The winner however will have taken a huge step towards getting a second shot at a world title. Our preview of this bout is here Jerusalem and Landero battle in brilliant all Filipino clash!
In one of the supporting bouts fans will see unbeaten 20 year old Esneth Domingo (10-0, 6) risk his unbeaten record against Reymark Taday (9-6-1, 4), in what could be a good test for the 20 year old Domingo. Another of the supporting bouts will see will see the unbeaten Christian Bacolod (9-0, 7) taking on fellow unbeaten Christoval Furog (5-0, 2) in what should be a compelling bout, though we do feel that Bacolod's power and extra experience will be the difference.
Lancashire, United Kingdom
The Funai bout isn't the only world title eliminator taking place as the UK plays host to a Lightweight world title eliminator between Indonesian warrior Daud Yordan (38-3-0-1, 26) and popular Englishman Anthony Crolla (33-6-3, 13), who will be hoping to take a step towards a WBA title shot. Yordan has been one of the few Indonesian fighters in recent years to make a mark internationally and his win earlier this year against Pavel Malikov was one of the best bouts of 2018. He is however up against here, with Crolla being a former WBA world champion and one of the best contenders in the division, with great stamina and under-rated skills. With a big reward for the winner we're expecting this to be a very exciting and action packed contest, with a lot of leather being thrown. We've previewed that bout here Yordan and Crolla set for a thriller...
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia we're set for a bit of a mismatch, with the all action Joel Brunker (33-3, 19) battling Indonesian journeyman Rivo Rengkung (37-27-6, 14). The 32 year old Brunker isn't going to reach the heights many had hopes for, but Rengkung shouldn't pose any sort of a threat at all, and will instead be expected to pick up his 28th career defeat.
In Russia we'll see former Uzbek amateur stand out Makhmud Gaipov (0-0) make his professional debut. Sadly at the time of writing no opponent has been named for Gaipov, but we're expecting him to be moved quickly and in 2019 we'll expect to see him fighting in 6 or even 8 rounders.
This coming Thursday world title action returns to the Korakuen Hall as the Hall hosts an IBF Super Bantamweight title fight and also potential showcases for two notable Japanese fighters.
The IBF Super Bantamweight title fight will see defending champion Ryosuke Iwasa (25-2, 16) battling against unbeaten mandatory challenger TJ Doheny (19-0, 14), an Australian based Irish born fighter. For Iwasa this will be his second defense, following a lacklustre defense against Ernesto Saulong back in March. Coming in to this Iwasa is unbeaten since losing in an IBF Bantamweight title bout to Lee Haskins back in June 2015, and has reeled off 6 straight wins since that loss. The unbeaten Doheny has been on an impressive run of results and has earned this shot thanks to a victory over Mike Tawatchai in an eliminator last year. Given the power of Doheny this could be a very tough second defense for “Eagle Eye”.
One of two notable under-card fights will see former WBA “interim” Flyweight champion Koki Eto (22-4-1, 17) fight in a stay busy contest against Delfin de Asis (9-5, 6). The talk from Japan is that Eto is trying to secure a big bout, but is ticking over until that big bout can be made, which could potentially be a world title fight at 115lbs. Interestingly this is a 10 round bout, though we would be surprised to see it go the scheduled distance.
The other bout of note on this card sees heavy handed youngster Shawn Oda (8-0, 7) take on Masashi Wakita (8-7-2, 3). The 19 year old Oda was taken the distance for the first time last time out, when Roldan Aldea lasted 6 rounds with the teen. We suspect he'll be looking to get back to hid destructive best here. Wakita is no push over, and is a very tall fighter at Lightweight, but has been stopped in his last 2 bouts and has won just 2 of his last 6 contests.
The main chunk of action this coming Sunday is from Kanagawa as Fuji TV put on a world title double header, with a couple of notable prospects packing out the under-card.
The headline bout of this show will see WBA Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (13-1, 10) make his first defense, as he battles Italian veteran Emanuele Felice Blandamura (27-2, 5), who is getting his first world title fight at the age of 38. Murata won the title last year, when he stopped Hassan N'Dam in their second meeting, and looked sensational doing it, literally picking and breaking N'Dam down through 7 rounds. The Japanese fighter has already been linked to a summer defense against Esquiva Falcao but will be aware that Blandamura is no push over. The Italian is a former European champion who has only lost to world class fighters, in Billy Joe Saunders and Michel Soro, and should give Murata some real questions. Blandamura has solid speed, timing and skills and should force Murata into showing something new here, but the challenger hasn't shown the best chin and that will likely be his down fall here, because Murata can certainly punch.
The other world title fight will see WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-0, 15) defending his title against Nicaraguan challenger Cristofer Rosales (26-3, 17. For Higa this bout not only serves as his 3rd defense but will also see him, potentially, set a Japanese record for the most successive stoppages, a record that he tied earlier this year when he stopped Moises Fuentes. The youngster from Okinawa has been a destructive force since his 2014 debut and and another win here will likely see him begin the hunt towards a Super Flyweight title. As for Rosales, the Nicaraguan has never been stopped and has only been beaten by Keyvin Lara, Khalid Yafai and Andrew Selby, with all 3 men having some problems with the Nicaraguan. Coming in to the Rosales has won his last 3, since the loss to Seby, including a win over the tricky Martin Tecuapetla and a big win in Italy against Mohammed Obbadi. This looks likely to be Higa's hardest fight so far, but a win will really legitimise him as a world class talent.
A notable prospect on this card is Junto Nakatani (14-0, 11), the Japanese Youth Flyweight champion. The unbeaten 20 year old, who went 4-0 (3) last year will be going up against WBC world ranked Mario Andrade (13-6-5, 3). On paper this is a huge step up in class for Nakatani, but he has looked sensational for the most part, with only Masamichi Yabuki and Yuma Kudo even testing the youngster so far. Andrade has a rather weird looking record, though much of that weirdness has come from a bizarre 3-5-4 start to his professional career. Since that odd started he has gone 10-1-1 with a win against Masayuki Kuroda, a draw against Oswaldo Novoa and a loss to Jesus Silvestre. This should be a really good test for Nakatani and win will put him on the fast track to a title fight.
Another prospect on this card is 2016 Rookie of the Year Shawn Oda (7-0, 7), who takes on Filipino foe Roldan Aldea (12-4-1, 6). The talented Oda is one of Japan's most promising Lightweights and at just 19 years old he looks to be well on his way to mixing at title level in the near future. So far his 7 fight career has lasted just 17 combined rounds and he is a pure natural puncher. Aldea on the other hand has been stopped in 3 of his 4 losses, and was taken out in December 2016 by Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov. Despite lacking toughness Aldea has stopped his last 2 and will have some momentum coming into this one.
There inst much action of note in Yamaguchi, but fans will see the exciting and heavy handed Teiru Atsumi (13-2, 6) return to the ring for his first bout since his 2017 loss to Shingo Kawamura. The loss to Kawamura ended Kawamura's 7 fight winning run, which featured 5 stoppages including wins over Sho Nakazawa and Burning Ishii, and we expected to see the Japanese based Korean out to make a statement as he faces Katsuhiko Kanno (10-10-7, 4). Kanno has a lot of losses but he's only been stopped once in 27 bouts and should prove to be the tough foil that Atsumi needs to make a statement against.
In the main of a card in Mie fans will see Yuto Nakamura (7-4, 6) challenge OPBF ranked Bantamweight Tetsu Araki (10-1-1, 2) in what could be one of the unheralded bouts of the day. The 21 year old Nakamura is a gutsy youngster who gave the under-rated Matcha Nakagawa a good test last year, and has only close decisions other than that loss. Araki on the other hand is riding a 6 fight winning run, but does lack any real quality in terms of his wins and could be given a surprisingly tough test here.
Another potentially good bout on this show will see the once beaten Shuma Sugawara (4-1, 3) take on Yudai Imada (6-2-3, 3) in a solid and competitive 6 rounder. Both men have some power, and both have ambition so this should make for a very hotly contested contest.
For a second day running Asian fight fans have a world title fight to get excited about, as WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (14-0, 14) looks to kick off his 2018 with a homecoming defense in Okinawa. The destructive champion will be facing off with former WBO Minimumweight champion Moises Fuentes (25-4-1, 14). The aggressive and powerful Higa will be seeking his second defense, following an impressive win over Thomas Masson in October, and with 2018 being a potentially huge year for Higa there is few who would want to deny him a homecoming bout in Okinawa. For Fuentes, who looked terrible in his 2016 loss to Kosei Tanaka, this is likely to be one final shot at becoming a 2-weight champion. At his best Fuentes was a nightmare to fight, though his best days are well behind him and were down at Minimumweight, where he could use his size effectively. At Flyweight the Mexican is going to find life very difficult against the younger, stronger, bigger, fresher Higa.
In a leading support bout we get the chance to see another young puncher in action, as teenager Shawn Oda (6-0, 6) take on Filipino visitor Warren Mambuanag (11-8-2, 3). Oda came to our attention in 2016, when he claimed the All Japan Lightweight Rookie of the year, less than 7 months after his debut, and he has looked extremely promising and destructive. Despite the perfect start from Oda this is a step up and Mambuanag is no push over, having been the GAB Super Featherweight champion and a solid domestic level fighter on the Filipino scene.
Another teenager on this show will be former amateur stand out Ryuto Owan (3-0, 2), who goes in for a serious test as he battles big punching Filipino Jun Blazo (7-4-3, 6). Aged 19 Owan has a lot of potential, and his team really do have a lot of belief in him, putting him against someone as dangerous and heavy handed as Blazo, especially given that Blazo dropped Owan's stablemate Koki Eto back in 2016. Coming in to this Blazo has suffered back to back losses, but is a real dangerman for Owan and a monstrous step up in class.
There is also a small card in the Philippines this coming.
The main event will see Michael Escobia (12-16-1, 3) take on Jestoni Autida (10-7,5), in what should be a highly entertaining domestic level clash. Escobia is 2-13 in his last 15 bouts, but has mixed at a decent level and took a big upset win last September against Jelbirt Gomera. Interestingly Autida is also best known for his upsets, wins over Jeffrey Francisco and Ratchasaki Kokietgym, and he did manage to be competitive with Jason Canoy and Ernesto Saulong. Both of these men are better than their records suggest, and we expect that to be shown here in what is likely to be a very good fight.
Sadly the rest of the card is pretty forgettable and unlikely to be too exciting.
This coming Sunday is set to be a very busy day in Japanese boxing circles
The most interesting card of the day comes from the EDION Arena Osaka where Green Tsuda put on what looks like a really interesting show.
The main event of the card will see Japanese and OPBF ranked Takayuki Okumoto (18-7-2, 8) battle against Filipino visitor Eranio Semillano (13-7-2, 4), with the Filipino himself holding a top 10 OPBF ranking. Both fighters will be entering this bout with the knowledge that a good performance could move them to an OPBF title fight, and both will also know that their opponent can be beaten, and can be stopped. Interestingly this is an southpaw bout with both men being 25 years old, but it's the visitor who will be the taller man.
In the chief support bout we'll see the hotly tipped Kazuki Tanaka (6-0, 5) take on world ranked Thai Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (16-6, 11). Although inexperienced Tanaka is tipped for the top and is a former stand out amateur who has long been viewed as a future world champion in the making. On paper this could be a step up, given that Sukkasem has a #15 ranking with the IBF, but the Thai has lost every time he's faced a notable fighter, and was stopped in 5 rounds last year by Japanese champion Yusaku Kuga, with that likely being the marker that Tanaka will be looking to beat.
Another Japan Vs Philippines bout will see exciting local Ryuto Kyoguchi (14-1-1, 10) takes on former world title challenger Silvester Lopez (27-12-2, 9). For Kyoguchi this is a real gut check with the youngster, the older brother of Hiroto Kyoguchi, having only had 1 round of in ring action in almost 2 years. At his best Kyoguchi is a real talent, but this is a genuinely tough test. Lopez, who fought for the WBC Super Flyweight title in Japan back in 2012, has picked up a lot of losses recently but is still a test at this level and did drop Sho Nakazawa back in 2015. Sylvester has power and could well be a banana skin if Kyoguchi over-looks him.
Also on this card will be former OPBF champion Yu Kawaguchi (25-8, 12) and rising female star Fuka Komura (2-0, 1), who will both be up against low key Thai foes.
Staying at the EDION Arena in Osaka there will also be a Dangan card. Originally it was set to be headlined by Ken Shiro defending the Japanese Light Flyweight title against Tetsuya Hisada but Ken Shiro chose to vacate the title, with a rumoured WBC title fight set to be announced, forcing that bout to be cancelled. Despite that the show will still go ahead and Hisada will get a shot at the Japanese title on April 21st.
As a result of Ken Shiro vacating the Japanese title we now see the main event as a bout between defending OPBF Super Flyweight champion Rene Dacquel (18-6-1, 6) and Japanese challenger Shota Kawaguchi (20-7-1, 8). The bout is a pretty good one on paper, but one where Dacquel will be favoured and one that feels like a disappointing main event given that Ken Shiro was supposed to be headlining.
In supporting bouts we'll see former world title challenger Atsushi Kakutani (18-5-1, 11) and unbeaten teenager Daiki Tomita (8-0, 2), both of whom will be battling against limited Thai visitors.
We also get a small card in Okinawa. The card really doesn't have much of note on it, but does feature one man who we suspect will be one to watch over the coming decade or so.
The fighter is Lightweight puncher, and 2016 Rookie of the Year, Shawn Oda (5-0, 5). The teenager really impressed last year, debuting in May and winning the Rookie of the Year in December, and will be looking to kick off 2017 with a bout against Thai visitor Tienchai Sor Kanitsorn (2-8, 1). Tienchai is a regular in Japan, fighting his 10th bout in the country, and although he's there to be beaten by Oda we suspect the local will still be looking to give the fans a show before stopping the Thai.
There will also be a low key card in Shizuoka.
In the main event of this card we get a really good match up as former Japanese title challenger Cristiano Aoqui (11-5-2, 7) takes on the under-rated Noriaki Sato (4-1-1) in a bout at Welterweight. Aoqui's best success has been at 140lbs, where he fought the then Japanese champion Hiroki Okada last year, but it looks like he's moving up to continue his career. Sato on the other hand was forced up in weight after failing to make weight for last year's Strongest Korakuen, when he was unable to make 140lbs to face Koichi Aso. The bout should be an exciting one and a real crowd pleaser.
In a supporting bout on this card the 21 year old Daiki Ichikawa (8-2, 6) will be risking his OPBF ranking against Takaki Sakurai (7-7-1, 3). Coming in Ichikawa is ranked in the top 15 by the OPBF at Lightweight and may well feel like he is just a few fights away from getting a title shot, something he is ill prepared for at the moment. As for Sakurai he's lost his last 5, but could still be a problem for the heavy handed Ishikawa, if the youngster is over-looking Sakurai.
Daejeon, South Korea
There is also set to be a very low profile card in South Korea. This card doesn't have anyone of any note on it , with the main event being a 6 rounder between Hyun Min Yang (4-1, 4) and Heuk San Lee (1-0-1).