Attention turns to Nevada this coming Saturday for the biggest card of the weekend, and one featuring several Filipino fighters.
The headline bout, and one of the biggest bouts of the month, will see Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) defending the WBA Welterweight title against controversial American Adrien Broner (33-3-1-1, 24). This will be Pacquiao's first defense of the title he took last July, when he beat Lucas Matthysse, and could potentially help set up another big bout later in the year, if he can over-come Broner. For the American, who was once tipped as the future of boxer, this is a must win bout and another loss, especially to a 40 year old Pacquiao, will be hard to bounce back from. This isn't the bout it could have been a few years ago, but should still be a very interesting must win bout. Our preview of this bout is available here Pacquiao and Broner battle for WBA Crown
Another title fight on this show will see WBA "interim" Featherweight champion Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17) defending his title against Mexican challenger Hugo Ruiz (38-4, 33). The unbeaten fighter, from the Philippines, took the title last year in Malaysia and has shown to be a brutally heavy handed fighter, who is lacking in terms of speed and crispness, but is very hard hitting and very dangerous. Ruiz on the other hand made name at Bantamweight, where he was a WBA interim champion, and Super Bantamweight, where he held the WBC title, but has been relatively inactive recently and has shown shaky whiskers. We're expecting this to be very explosive and very exciting, with both having very good power. Our preview of this bout is here Tepora looks to make first defense of "interim" crown, takes on hard hitting Ruiz
Interestingly both Jayar Inson (18-1, 12) and Genisis Libranza (17-1, 10) were scheduled to be on this card, though it now appears that neither man will actually feature. Sadly. Libranza was lined up to face former world title challenger Carlos Buitrago (30-4-1-1, 17) though only Libranza is actually listed for the show now and Libranza has been removed.
We also get a really notable card in Tokyo, as G+ televise the first Dynamic Glove card of the new year, a card featuring 3 very attractive bouts.
The main event will see former OPBF and Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) taking on Japanese veteran Takafumi Nakajima (29-11-1, 13), in what will be the second bout between the two men. These two met way back in May 2012, with Nakajima defeating Wake via unanimous decision. Since their first bout Wake has gone on the have notable success, going 15-1 (12) and has fought for a world title. Nakajima on the other hand has gone 9-6 since beating Wake, losing in title bouts to Hidenori Otake and Mark John Yap. This is clearly a bout to give Wake revenge for his last loss at domestic level, but is still an interesting match up, and one with a bit of history behind it.
The chief support bout will see the unbeaten Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) face off with Reiya Abe (18-2, 9), in a strange yet compelling match. Sugita, who is a full time policeman outside of the ring, has impressed since making his debut and is tipped for big things, but obviously stiffer tests than he has been getting following a very impressive amateur career. This is however a massive step up in class for Sugita, who has never faced anyone like the world ranked Abe. For Abe the bout is a risky one, given his next bout has already been arranged and is a Japanese Featherweight title bout in the middle of the year. This bout see Abe losing his title fight, if he loses, but an injury or a cut could force his plans to change. We suspect Abe will have too many tools for Sugita, at this early stage, but this is still an incredibly interesting match up. Our preview of this bout is available here World ranked Abe takes on Policeman Sugita!
The third terrific match up on this card pits ranked youngsters against each other. In one corner will be Japanese ranked Teiken promoted 24 year old Kenshin Oshima (4-1-1, 3) whilst the other corner will host 21 year old southpaw Ikuro Sadatsune (9-2-3, 3), who holds Japanese WBO Asia Pacific rankings. Coming into this bout Oshima is riding a 4 fight unbeaten run, including an ugly but notable win over Joe Tanooka back in August. Sadatsune on the other hand has won his last 3, with notable wins over Ryo Suwa and Tatsuya Takahashi. We're expecting to see Oshima's power and aggression against Sadatsune's skills and movement in a very well matched and intriguing contest.
Seoul, South Korea
In South Korea we'll see the first card under the recently announced Annihilation banner, which co-promotes MMA and boxing. The main event of this card will see Korean fighter Jung Kyoung Lee (6-2-1, 2) battling against Australian based veteran Samuel Colomban (25-10-1, 11) for the vacant OPBF Light Middleweight title. The bout will be the first OPBF title fight on Korean soil in quite some time, and seems to suggest that KBF are coming out for 2019 with some new fire in their belly. It should be noted Colomban has seen much, much better days but is still a very live fighter against the inexperienced Korean. Our preview of this bout is available here Lee and Colomban battle for OPBF crown!
One other bout of note will take place in Onratio, where we see Canadian based Indian fighter Sukhdeep Singh Bhatti (3-0, 2) kicks off his 2019 with his first 6 round bout. Bhatti will take on Mitch Louis Charles (5-1-2, 2). Bhatti made his debut in March 2018and picked up 3 low key wins during the year. This is a credible step up, at least on paper, for the unbeaten man. We say on paper, because Charles hasn't fought in over 4 years and it's unclear what he'll look like given that lengthy lay off.
The biggest card this coming Friday is in Qingdao as we get two world title fights and several other minor title contests.
One of the world title bouts will see WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (16-1-2, 9) return to China, where he won the title last year against Zou Shiming, to defend the belt against Froilan Saludar (28-2-1, 19). Kimura has made just a single defense of the title, but looks like a solid champion who is strong, hungry and hard hitting, much more so than his record suggests. As for Saludar he was once tipped as a major star but has failed to reach the heights expected of him. Saying that however Saludar has seen his brother, Vic Saludar, score a massive win recently over Ryuya Yamanaka and will feel full of confidence following his brothers win. We're expecting heavy leather to be thrown here and we suspect both have the power to hurt the other.
The other world title fight will see unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (17-0, 7) defending his title against China's very own Xiong Zhao Zhong (27-7-1, 14). This will be Knockout's first bout outside of Thailand and will see him hunting a 5th defense of the WBA regular title. Although talented Knockout does have flaws and with the Chinese crowd against him he may need to up the pace in the later rounds, something he's rarely done when he's been fighting at home. For Zhong the bout is one final chance to become a 2-time world champion, though at the age of 35 it's hard to know what he really left in the tank.
In another title bout we'll see China's Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (13-2-1, 6) take on Filipino fighter Sonny Katiandagho (12-2, 7) for a couple of regional titles. Coming in to this Nasiyiwula will be trying to bounce back from his April loss against Fredrick Lawson in the US, and will be dropping back down from Welterweight to Light Welterweight for this bout. As for Katiandagho he was stopped 2 fights ago, and has been down a few times during his career, though will feel confident here having gone 2-0 in fights in China.
Other bouts on this card include Can Xu (13-2, 1) against Jelbirt Gomera (13-4, 7) and an interim regional Flyweight title bout between Wulan Tuolehazi (7-3-1, 3) and Yokthong Kokietgym (18-4, 11).
Fight fans in Tokyo will get something a bit special as reason put on a stacked card at the Korakuen Hall.
The major attraction here is an amazing match up for the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, as defending champion Yusaku Kuga (16-2-1, 11) takes on former world title challenger Shingo Wake (24-5-2, 16) in what is essentially a world title eliminator between two world class fighters. The hard hitting Kuga has made two defenses of the title that he won in February 2017, though certainly got pushed hard in the first of those against the aggressive and hard hitting Ryoichi Tamura. Wake on the other hand is a former OPBF champion who's only loss in the last 6 years came to the hard hitting Jonathan Guzman in 2016. This is a puncher against a boxer, and we're expecting a compelling stylistic match up here.
Whilst the main event is brilliant it may end up being outshone by a supporting bout between unbeaten Minimumweight prospects, who trade blows for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title. The bout in question will see 2016 Minimumweight Rookie of the Year Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4) take on the heavy handed Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) in what is really a fantastic match up. The 20 year old Tomita had a break out 2016 with his Rookie of the Year triumph and since then has gone 4-0 (2) with a notable domestic win over Desierto Nagaike. On the other hand Ishizawa, who debuted in June 2017, has just been destructive with his April win over Tatsuro Nakashima being a huge statement. This really has the potential to be a very special bout.
Former Japanese and OPBF champion Takuya Kogawa (29-5, 13) will be returning to the ring for his first bout of the year, as he takes on former Japanese title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (16-8-2, 11). At his best Kogawa was world class, and has long been a fan favourite due to his high octane style and willingness to have a tear up against anyone. Sadly though at the age of 33 we suspect his career is catching up with him and he may not have too long left at the top. Saying that however we still suspect Kogawa will have more than enough to over-come the somewhat limited Sakashita who has gone 4-4 in his last 8, losing to the 4 notable fighters that he's shared the ring with in that time.
Another really interesting match up will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Masaaki Serie (27-9, 10) return to the ring after more than 2 years away from the ring. Unfortunately for the 35 year old Serie he will be up against the fast rising Daisuke Sugita (2-0, 1), who is tipped for big things. At his best Serie was a really solid fighter, who scored notable wins against the likes of Mikihito Seto, Shoji Kimura and Yasutaka Ishimoto. Sadly for Serie he was showing signs of his age before his break from the ring, and had gone 3-4 in his previous 7 bouts. Sugita is a former amateur stand out who debuted in April and is taking a big step up here, but one that we expect him to make with ease given just how good he was as an amateur, and how good he's been since turning professional.
A second Japanese card will be held in Osaka where we see several rising prospects and a former Japanese champion in action. Sadly however this card really lacks in terms of quality match ups.
The main event on this card will see second generation fighter Juiki Tatsuyoshi (8-0, 5), the son of the legendary Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, take on Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (32-24-2, 18). The Japanese fighter will be fighting in his first 10 rounder and taking a notable step up in class as he battles his first former world title challenger. Sadly though Manakane is a long, long way from the fighter who challenged Koki Kameda or the WBA Bantamweight title back in 2012 and the 34 year old has won just 8 of his last 21 fights.
The former champion on this card is former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (17-4, 14), who continues to rebuild his career following his shock loss to Takenori Ohashi last December. The heavy handed Saka shouldn't struggle at all with the light hitting Gusti Elnino (4-12-1, 1), who fights outside of Indonesia for the first time. Saka might not be the best fighter, or the smartest, but he should be far too strong and powerful for Elnino.
The once beaten, and heavy handed, Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto (7-1, 6) will be looking to score his 4th straight stoppage as he takes on Arega Yunian (6-10, 1). The Japanese fighter has rebuilt well since a loss in a 4 rounder to Bunta Okamoto back in 2016, and looks to be rising through the ranks, helped in part to a big win in April against Engelbert Moralde. The Indonesian fighter also fought in April, but unlike Tsutsumimoto he was himself stopped, being taken out in 3 rounds by super prospect Hintata Maruta. Given how their performances went in April it's hard to see anything but a stoppage win for Tsutsumimoto.
Also on this show will be the highly promising Ginjiro Tsutsumimoto (1-0, 1), who impressed us back in his amateur days. The talented Japanese hopeful will be up against his own Indonesian foe in the form of Iwan Sanca, who has been stopped in both of his defeats. We've got big hopes for Tsutsumimoto and really can't imagine him struggling, at all, in this bout as he moves towards bigger and better fights.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Outside of Asia the most interesting match up will see once beaten South African fighter Yanga Sigqibo (10-1-1, 3) face off against Filipino foe Rene Dacquel (20-7-1, 6) in a bout for the WBC international Super Flyweight title. The South African fighter won the national title last year and made one defense, but this is a big step up for him as he takes on a former OPBF champion. Dacquel was dominated last time out, by Andrew Moloney, but is a very capable fighter and has got a real chance of picking up a solid win on the road here.
The more notable of two Australian cards comes from Victoria where Brian Amatruda gives us a pretty interesting match up with a Thai involved, and also a bout with a notable Filipino.
The interesting bout, for us, will see the once touted Kaewfah Tor Buamas (27-4, 17) take on rising Australian hopeful Liam Paro (14-0, 10). The Thai would win his first 23 bouts but has since gone 4-4 as his career has began to go backwards and he has suffered recent defeats to Czar Amonsot, Masayoshi Nakatani, George Kambosos and Atchariya Wirojanasunobol all in the last 24 months. As for Paro this is a slight step up in class, but the 22 year old looks a class act and should have the edge in size, power, youth and skills as we go into this bout. A win from Paro is expected, but the real question will be about how he wins.
The Filipino on the other hand is Czar Amonsot (34-4-3, 22). He hasn't had his opponent for the contest announced as of yet, but isn't expected to face much of a test as he competes in a 6 rounder and looks to bounce back from an October 2017 loss to Carlos Manuel Portillo.
Western Australia, Australia
Staying in Australia there will also be a couple of mismatched featuring Indonesian fighters.
One bout will see the under-rated Brandon Ogilvie (19-2-1, 10) take on Indonesian journeyman Rusmin Kie Raha (15-15-3, 3). Although no world beater Ogilvie is certainly not a bad fighter, and his 2016 draw in Tokyo against Yoshitaka Kato was impressive, as was his stoppage win against Pharanpetch Tor Buamas. As for the Indonesian he has suffered 9 stoppage losses in his 15 defeats and has gone 3-13-1 in his last 17 bouts.
The other match up with an Indonesian visitor will see the once beaten Jackson Jon England (4-1, 3) battle against the very limited Arief Blader (23-28-2, 8). Although England was beaten last time out, losing to the then debuting Richard Lockett, he should easily pick up a win here against a very out of form Blader, who has lost his last 6 and has started to collect losses on a very regular basis.
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.
This Sunday closes out an incredibly long year for us boxing fans and does so in spectacular fashion with a trio of world title bouts, including a two mandatory title defenses by champions in their first defenses and a world title unification.
The first part of the world title triple header will see IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (8-0, 6) making his first defense of the title he won earlier this year as he takes on talented Nicaraguan challenger Carlos Buitrago (30-2-1-1, 17)). For the fast rising Kyoguchi, who won the title a little more than a year into his career, the bout is another big step up in class and this really does look like a baptism of fire for the youngster, who looked explosive whilst going to 6-0 (6) to begin his career. In Buitrago we'll see Kyoguchi up against a challenger in his 4th world title challenger, and it's likely that it's now or never for the man who was once regarded as the next Roman Gonzalez. The bout matches aggressive against skills and should be a very entertaining clash of styles.
The second part of the triple header is an all Japanese bout, as WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (15-1-2, 8) makes his first defense, following his shock upset over Zou Shiming in July. The new champion will be up against mandatory challenger Toshiyuki Igarashi (23-2-3, 12), a former WBC and Linear champion. Kimura really showed his will to win as he broke down the naturally more skilled Shiming and will be hoping to do the same here against the more experienced Igarashi, who will know it;s now or never if he's to become a 2-time world champion. Sadly fans who have followed Igarashi in recent times will be expecting head clashes to mar this bout, but on paper it's a very interesting and incredibly tough first defense for the Aoki gym fighter.
The main event of the triple header is one of the best match ups we've seen this year and pits WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (26-2-2, 12) against his IBF counter part Milan Melindo (37-2, 13) in a mouth watering world title unification bout. Coming in to this Taguchi is the longest active reigning champion at 108lbs, having held his title since the end of 2014 and racked up 6 defenses, but his form has been inconsistent and he's certainly frustrated at times during his reign, whilst seeking a big bout. For the technically superb Melindo this is his second defense, and sees him returning to Japan, where he won his title, with a chance to earn Fighter of the Year honours with an impressive performance. Since winning the title in May Melindo has beaten Hekkie Budler and had a career defining year, with a win here potentially putting a cherry on top. The winner will not only unify the WBA and IBF titles but also claim the Ring magazine title and be regarded by some as the de facto best in the division.
Also on this card will be former world title challenger Shingo Wake (22-5-2, 14), who is looking for his third successive win since being stopped by Jnathan Guman in 2016, and the excellent Masataka Taniguchi (8-2, 6), who's only losses have been razor thin ones in battles for the Japanese and OPBF Minimumweight titles. Both Wake and Taniguchi will be up against limited Thai foe
This coming Wednesday Japanese fans get a treat as there's a world title double header in Osaka and small but notable show in Tokyo.
The Osakan card, which will be televised in part on TBS, is a really interesting show with 3 worth taking note of.
The most significant is an all Japanese bout for the IBF Super Bantamweight title as defending champion Yukinori Oguni (19-1-1, 7) takes on mandatory challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (23-2, 15). For Oguni this will be his first defense and see him fighting for the first time since his career defeingin victory over Jonathan Guzman at the end of 2016. Well school and building in confidence the champion has really shone recently and looks to be a fighter who still has areas that he's developing. The challenger will be having his second world title fight and seems hungry ti impress after failing in a previous challenge of the IBF Bantamweight title. Blessed with heavy hands Iwasa will believe he has the power to over-come the smooth skills of Oguni in what is set to be a corker.
In the other title bout we'll see WBO Light Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (9-0, 5) seek his second defense of the title as he takes on Thai challenger Palangpol CP Freshmart (14-1, 8), in his first world title bout. The Japanese champion came through a tough mandatory earlier this year, against Angel Acosta, and is looking to end the year in a unification bout with Ryoichi Taguchi, though needs to get through this assignment first. The Thai under-dog is a former Muay Thai champion but as a boxer has looked rough around the edges and this is a huge step up for him going his opponents in Western boxing so far.
In the leading support bout we'll see former world title challengers collide as Shingo Wake (21-5-2, 13) takes on Thai veteran Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (50-2, 31) in a world title eliminator. Wake is best known internationally for losing to the previously mentioned Jonathan Guzman in a gutsy performance and this will be his second bout since that loss. Tghe Thai veteran on the other hand is best known for losing to the then WBA Bantamweight champion Koki Kameda by razor thin decision. This could be, potentially, the best fight on the card and is one that will likely go over-looked given the two headline contests.
Further down the card will be bouts featuring talented prospect Masayoshi Hashizume (13-0, 10) and former OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (19-5, 16).
In the Tokyo show, from the Korakuen Hall we're guaranteed some excitement, but the show is a much lesser one than the Osakan one.
The main event here will see former world title challenger Koki Eto (20-4-1, 15) taking on a Thai foe as the all-action Eto looks to rebuild following his 2015 loss to Carlos Cuadras. Given the growing popularity of the Super Flyweight division Eto has the chance to be in some firecrackers over the coming years against Rex Tso, Jamie Conlan and Kohei Kono and hopefully we'll get the chance to see him in those types of bouts, rather than more contests against limited visitors.
Sadly other than Eto's bout there is little to get excited about here and a lot of the attention should be on the card from Osaka.
This coming Wednesday sees Japanese fight fans focus on a really notable oriental level show at the Korakuen Hall, with two OPBF title fights and a supporting card that features a former world title challenger taking on a former Japanese interim champion.
The main event of the show will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hidenori Otake (28-2-3, 12) making his first defense of the title as he takes on 37 year old veteran Kinshiro Usui (27-5, 11). On paper this bout may not interest fans, given how unknown Usui is outside of Japan, but those who have seen him will have seen him push Hisashi Amagasa incredibly close and will know he's a genuine threat to Otake's reign. We accept Otake should be favoured, given his experience and the proven qualities of his toughness and energy, but this is certainly no foregone conclusion.
The other OPBF title fight is also one where the under-dog challenger is a live challenger and the bout is again no foregone conclusion. This bout will see OPBF Super Flyweight champion Rene Dacquel (19-6-1, 6) take on Japanese challenger Hayato Kimura (26-9, 17) in a good looking contest. The champion is 3-2-1 in Japan, but has won in his last two visits beating Go Onaga and Shota Kawaguchi and looks to be moving his career along nicely in recent times. As for the challenger he has twice come up short in a Japanese title fight, but should be a competitive challenger here.
In a notable non-title bout we'll see Shingo Wake (20-5-2, 12) return to the ring for the first time since his loss in July 2016 to Jonathan Guzman in an IBF title fight. Wake will be up against fellow Japanese fighter Mikihito Seto (34-13-3, 18), a former Japanese interim Bantamweight champion. At his best Seto was a really solid fighter but he's notched just a single win in the last 60 months, and has gone 0-3-1 in his last 4, with all 3 of those losses being by stoppage. It's a bout that should be a good return for Wake, but also a safe one for the popular and gutsy sharp shooting southpaw.
On the under-card we'll see Japanese ranked Welterweight Shusaku Fujinaka (15-7-2, 10) take on Tomoyuki Omura (8-8, 4) and Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (6-3, 5) battle with Naoki Wada (10-10-2, 2), both of these bouts should be interesting, but both have a very clear favourite.
This coming Wednesday is a big one for Japanese boxing with 2 world title fights and two other title bouts all taking place on Ioka show in Osaka.
The most interesting bout on the card is an IBF Super Bantamweight title bout which sees Japan's tricky Shingo Wake (20-4-2, 12) face off against Dominican power puncher Jonathan Guzman (21-0-0-1, 21) fighting for the vacant title. The bout sees both men taking part in their first world title fight and both men know that a win will open the door to them getting more high profile bouts in the near future. For Wake the bout is his first against a genuine puncher whilst Guzman will be facing his first world class Super Bantamweight and the bout really should be something very telling.
In the co-main event WBA Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (19-1, 11) will be facing off against Nicaraguan fighter Keyvin Lara (18-1-1, 6). For Ioka the bout will be his third defense and it seems likely that he could be up against Juan Francisco Estrada later in the year if he wins here. For Lara the bout is a huge step up in class and a huge opportunity, however it seems likely to be one that has come far too soon for him again a man who appears to be really growing into the Flyweight division.
In a supporting title bout Japanese Light Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (29-8-3, 9) will be defending his title against hungry lion Ryosuke Maruki (12-3-1, 7). Maruki will be in his first bout at this level, though is a former WBC Youth champion, and will need a career best performance to really trouble the veteran champion. As for Nonaka the 38 year old will be seeking a 5th defense of his title and will be hoping to extend his 11 fight unbeaten record.
Another supporting title bout on this show will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (17-4, 14) take on Filipino puncher Rex Wao (11-2, 9) in what could be a thrilling, but short, bout. For Yamamoto this will be his second defense and is one that he will be expected to win however Wao is a serious puncher and knows that a win here will help kick start his career after 2 losses in his last 3 bouts, with the most recent loss coming well about above the Bantamweight limit.
In regards to non-title bouts on this card we are interested to see Masayoshi Hashizume (10-0, 7) return to the ring as he faces fellow unbeaten Sangthong Tor Buamas (5-0, 5) in what could be an interesting assignment for the 2014 Rookie of the Year. Hashizume has impressed us in the past and does look fun and will hopefully move on to bigger things. For Sangthong this could be a coming out fight or it could see him exposed for his paper record.
Japanese fans get a real treat this week with a solid looking card at the Korakuen Hall.
In the main event fight fans will see IBF #1 ranked Super Bantamweight contender Shingo Wake (19-4-2, 11) battle against Indonesian visitor Waldo Sabu (7-2, 2) in what is regarded as a tune up bout for Wake, ahead of a world title fight later in the year. The IBF have ordered the winner of the upcoming Scott Quigg Vs Carl Frampton fight to face Wake in a mandatory title fight and this bout is just to keep the juices flowing for Wake ahead of such a bout later in the year. Sabu does have a huge opportunity to make a name for himself but the reality is that he'll be lucky to see out the distance against the under-rated Wake.
Whilst the main event is a mismatch the under-card does have some interesting supporting bouts. One of those will see Wake's stablemate Kenya Yamashita (8-1, 5) battle the returning Katsunori Nagamine (10-1, 6), who is fighting for the first time since a loss last year to Ken Shiro. On paper this is a great bout, and one where an argument could be made for either man, but the reality is that Yamashita should be the favourite given that Nagamine has recently under-gone serious eye surgery following a detached retina, suffered in the Ken Shiro bout.
Another brilliant supporting bout will see former Japanese Super Flyweight title challengers collide as Toyoto Shiraishi (25-8-3, 12) takes on Hayato Kimura (24-8, 16). This is a really well matched contest and the two men will be fighting with the hope of securing another title fight down the line, however both will know that current champion Sho Ishida is out of their league and they will likely have to wait until he vacates before going for the belt
In the US fan will see Kazakh hopeful Dauren Yeleussinov (4-0, 3) continue his development in a 6 rounder. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent hasn't been named.
Action returns to the Korakuen Hall for the second time in the space of just 3 days for what is set to be another very interesting card. This one doesn't have as many good match ups as the June 8th show but it does have 3 bouts that are worthy of some real attention.
The most significant of those bouts is an IBF Super Bantamweight world title eliminator between Japanese slickster Shingo Wake (18-4-2, 11) and experienced Thai visitor Mike Tawatchai (35-7-1, 21). Wake comes into this bout on an impressive run of 8 straight wins, with 6 by way of T/KO, and should rightfully be favoured however the Thai is himself unbeaten in 9 and is very highly ranked by the IBF following a reign as the IBF Asia champion. Notably Tawatchai is 1-7 in Japan and will be hoping to score his first win in the country in more than 5 years, a tough ask against someone as good as Wake.
In the chief support bout we'll see the return to the ring of former world title challenger Hisashi Amagasa (28-5-2, 19), who fought Guillermo Rigondeaux at the end of 2014. Amagasa has been matched with visiting Thai Patomsith Pathompothong (12-3, 5). Patomsith is facing his most notable foe to date though it is possible that Amagasa will still be suffering the effects of his loss to Rigondeaux, which finished with the Japanese fighter looking like a swollen mess.
The only title fight on this show is a bout for the OPBF female Super Bantamweight title and will see the once beaten Tomomi Takano (7-1, 5) take on Thailand's Nongbua Lookpraiaree (9-12-1, 1), who is a replacement for Filipino Carleans Rivas. We suspect that Takano will be the more skilled of the fighters in the ring here but she has shown questionable stamina and Nonbua has only been stopped once in her 12 losses. Interestingly we did manage to find footage of Nongbua fighting South Korea against Hee Jung Yuh and from the footage it does seem like she could test Takano.
Khon Kaen, Thailand
It's not just Japanese fans getting action but also Thai fans who will be getting a show from Khon Kaen which will be televised on Channel 7.
The main event here will see the very good Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (40-6-1, 20) battle against the upset minded Filipino slugger Jomar Fajardo (14-7-2, 7). Whilst Fajardo did impress us in both of his fights against Francisco Rodriguez Jr this does seem much too much for the “Wallopman” who has no right fighting at Bantamweight.
In a supporting bout the unbeaten Kongfah Nakornluang (21-0, 13) will take on Filipino visitor Wilber Andogan (10-19-4, 4). The weight difference between the two men here should again take any real drama from the bout and Andogan's key aim will be to make things fun to watch rather than try to win. Whilst Kongfah is flawed he should be far too good for the Filipino journeyman.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
As we've gone through the month of February we've slowly seen action pick up. As we come to the end of the month we're seeing action pick up again with an OPBF title fight in Japan, a collision of prospects and the third professional bout in the career of a Chinese Heavyweight hopeful.
One of the shows is in Japan where we get a genuinely important card with a couple of really notable bouts at different levels.
The most significant of the bouts is in the Super Bantamweight division as the world class Shingo Wake (17-4-2, 10) defends his OPBF title for the 5th time in a little under 2 years. Wake, who is chasing a world title fight later this year, will find himself up against Filipino challenger Jimmy Paypa (16-2-1, 6). This fight was apparently close to being made for December last year and it could well be that we end up with both fighters coming in “over-boiled” for this, or we could see a destruction by a man looking to make a statement. If Wake does come out and scores an impressive win the talk is that he will be getting a shot at WBA "Super" and WBO Super Bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Wake isn't the only fighter from the Koguchi gym to be on this card as rising teenager Kenya Yamashita (7-0, 4) puts his unbeaten record on the line against Jo Tanooka (9-2-3). The unbeaten Yamashita was the Flyweight Rookie of the Year in 2014 and he is being tipped to go a very long way in his career however Tanooka is a great test and will be looking for a win himself after coming up short last time out against Hiroki Saito.
Another notable bout on this card will see former OPBF and Japanese Super Flyweight title challenger Toyoto Shiraishi (24-8-2, 11) battle against Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi (8-7-1, 4). For Shiraishi this is a must win bout following a run of just 1 win in 4 bouts however Yamaguchi shouldn't provide much in terms of competition
Talking about fighters who need a win Kota Sato (9-6-2, 4) has to be desperate to get a “W” after going 0-2-1 in his last 3 bouts. Sato will be up against Toshikuni Wake (8-14-3, 2). Wake is nothing other than a journeyman and shouldn't be able to beat Kota though we suspect a loss for Kota will be the end here.
One other bout on this card, a really interesting one in fact, will see Kazuma Sanpei (11-1, 4) battle against Masaru Sueyoshi (8-1, 5). Sanpei comes in to this bout on the back of his first career defeat, an 88 second blow out loss to Japanese based Filipino Johnreil Maligro, whilst Sueyoshi brings a 5 fight winning streak into this bout including a very notable decision over Yuta Nagai. Brilliant and brave match up for both guys.
In Russia fans will get the chance to see unbeaten Kazakh prospect Roman Zhailauov (13-0, 8) battle against the tough but limited Vyacheslav Yakovenko (7-19-1, 3). This will be Zhailauov's first bout of the year though we'll be honest it does seem like his team have slowed his progress over the past few bouts.
In the US American fans will get the chance to see Chinese giant Taishan Dong (2-0, 2) who hopes to extend his winning run as he battles against Roy McCrary (3-2, 3). The imposing Dong has to be a big favourite here against the 41 year old McCrary though we're more interested in the performance of Dong here rather than just getting the win. So far Dong has shown some ability but there are a lot of questions regarding his potential and so far none of his opponents have really been able to ask any questions of him with Tommy Washington Jr being a laughably bad opponent last time out.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)