This coming Wednesday attention turns back to the Korakuen Hall where Kawasaki Nitta will be putting on a small but notable show with a Japanese title eliminator and the second bout for a very highly touted novice.
The Japanese title fight eliminator will see former champion Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) battle against 2017 Rookie of the Year Shuji Kato (9-1-1, 6), with the winner set to get a title shot at the title in early 2019. Nishida lost the title earlier this year to Kazuto Takesako, who stopped him in just over 90 seconds, with that loss ending a reign of almost 2 years. Sadly Nishida hasn't fought since that defeat and he's now 18 months removed from a win of note. Kato on the other hand hasn't scored a major win yet, but did win the 2017 Rookie of the Year crown and has gone 7-0-1 since his sole loss, back in 2015. A full preview of this bout can be read here Former champion Nishida takes on Rookie winner Kato!
In the only notable supporting bout we'll see the hotly tipped Takuma Takahashi (1-0, 1) take a clear step up in class as he takes on Filipino Joepher Montano (9-3-2, 8). The unbeaten Japanese fighter debuted back in June, when he defeated a Thai visitor in 2 rounds, and this is a clear step up from that bout. Takahashi is regarded as one of the most promising Japanese fighters above 130lbs though we're yet to to see him really face any adversity as a professional. The Filipino isn't a world beater by any stretch, but did give Atchariya Wirojanasunobol a decent test in August and will be hoping to do the same to Takahashi, despite being a very clear under-dog. We're hoping to see Takahashi being asked some new questions here, but we would be very surprised if he didn't come out on top.
This coming Thursday attention turns back to the Korakuen Hall as we get a show with two title bouts, and several other interesting match ups.
One of those title bouts will see Filipino puncher Alvin Lagumbay (10-2, 9) attempt to score his second victory over Keita Obara (19-3-1, 17), and make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. These two fought earlier this year, with Lagumbay upsetting the former world title challenger courtesy of a 2nd round KO. The bout not only saw an upset, but did so in a spectacular way, with a double knockdown that saw Lagumbay manage to beat the count whilst Obara was counted out. For Obara another loss will likely spell the end of his dreams to get a second world title fight, as for Lagumbay a loss wouldn't be the end, but a win would certainly enhance his options going forward.
A preview for the rematch between Lagumbay and Obara can be read here.
The other title bout will see Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto (15-5, 12) make his first defense, as he faces voluntary challenger Tatsuya Otsubo (12-8-1, 4). The champion impressed in his title winning performance earlier this year, when he stopped Takenori Ohashi but will now need to continue the momentum with his first defense. At his best Minamoto looks fantastic, and we're hoping the title boosts his performances going forward. For Otsubo this is a second shot at the Japanese title, following a 2015 loss to Satoshi Hosono. Since the loss to Hosono we've not really see Otsubo impress, despite going 4-1 (1) he has really been lucky in 3 of those wins, and could well have been 1-5 in his last 6 contests. Interestingly the winner of this will likely face Raiye Abe in early 2019.
On paper the best of the under-card fights will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight title challenger Ryoichi Tamura (10-3-1, 6) take on upset minded Filipino visitor Jestoni Autida (11-8, 5). The exciting Tamura gave Yusaku Kuga absolute hell last year, and proved to be one of the few fighters who could not only take Kuga's power but could also force the champion onto the back foot. Autida is 0-2 in Japan but has managed to be a nightmare for fighters like Ratchasak KKP and Petch Sor Chitpattana and could give Tamura some real questions.
Other bouts on this card will include Japanese ranked Middleweight Shuji Kato (8-1-1, 5) take on Naritsugu Nishihara (5-2-1, 1) and former Japanese title challenger Masaki Saito (14-13-6, 5) take on Takashi Sakamoto (7-10, 2). These should both see the more experienced men come out on top, but neither should be a mismatch.
This coming Wednesday fight fans in Japan will get the chance to see a title double header at the Korakuen Hall, with both bouts being for WBO Asia Pacific titles, and pitting Japanese fighters against Filipinos. As well as the two title fighters there's also a Japanese ranked fighter and a very highly touted debutant.
The first of the two title fights is the more interesting as WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Richard Pumicpic (20-8-2, 6) takes on the unbeaten Yoshimitsu Kimura (9-0, 4). The Filipino won the title last year, when he upset former world title challenger Hisashi Amagasa, and will be returning to the scene of that win. Although his record doesn't suggest he's anything great Pumicpic is a total nightmare to fight, and has given problems to fighters like Yohei Tobe, Ryosuke Iwasa and Cesar Juarez. As for Kimura this is a massive step up in class,and he's yet to fight anyone of any note. In fact the challenger is stepping up from low level domestic competition to facing one of the most tricky fighters on the regional scene. A win for Kimura would be both a huge statement, and a massive upset.
The other title fight will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (19-2-1, 17) take on Filipino foe Alvin Lagumbay (9-2, 8), with Obara seeking his second defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. The heavy handed Japanese fighter is looking to move towards a second world title fight, now at a more natural Welterweight, but opponents like Lagumbay aren't going to help him get fights at the top level. For those unaware Lagumbay has fought in Japan before, and was stopped by the then 3-0 Lightweight prospect Kazuki Saito, which should sum up why he's such a terrible opponent for a Welterweight like Obara here.
In a domestic Middleweight bout we'll see Japanese ranked Shuji Kato (7-1-1, 5) take on Sosuke Sakata (5-4-1, 2). Kato won the 2017 Rookie of the Year, and is riding a 5 fight winning streak, to show that he deserves some attention. However this is a clear step up in class from the fellow novices he has been fighting, despite Sakata himself being a limited fighter. As for Sakata he has been plying his trade at Welterweight though could see the move up in weight give his career a new lease of life.
The debutant of real note on this card is former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita (0-0), who went 110-31 (47) in the unpaid ranks before turning professional at the start of this year. The talented Sugita will be up against hard hitting Filipino visitor Jun Blazo (7-5-3, 6). The Filipino is 0-4 in Japan, but has fought very good competition, losing to Koki Eto, Daisuke Watanabe, Hayate Kaji and Ryuto Owan. This is a really tough debut bout for Sugita, but there is very high expectations on his shoulders and this sort of debut is a great statement of intent.
Originally there was also a Japanese Bantamweight title bout set for this card, between Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) and Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8). Sadly this bout has been cancelled, with Suzuki pulling out of the bout due to an injury suffered in training. From what we under-stand Muranaka will be fighting for the vacant title down the line, though this is understandably a cruel twist for Suzuki who already missed out on a title fight this past January when Ryo Akaho was forced to cancel a fight against him.