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.
The calm to begin the year ends this coming Saturday as we get the first Dangan card of 2017, and it is a brilliantly intriguing card with two OPBF title bouts, and two very good looking support bouts.
The main event of the card will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (18-2, 6) take on Filipino foe Jeffrey Arienza (16-6-1, 10) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Light Welterweight title. The talented Naito will be looking for one of the most significant wins of his career, and whilst he will be favoured here he should be expecting to have a fight against Arienza. The Filipino visitor is far from a world beater but will likely know that one more loss is the end of him at this level, and he really cannot afford another set back if he's to remain relevant.
In a more 50-50 bout we'll see Filipino fighter Carlo Magali (22-9-3, 11) defending the OPBF Super Featherweight title against Japan's Masatoshi Kotani (22-2, 15). On paper this is a very interesting match up and will potentially see the winner move into a very intriguing position as fighters look towards getting a shot at the OPBF title. Magali and a limited but aggressive fighter and will take the fight to Kotani whilst the challenger will look to use his slightly better boxing skills to take the title from the champion. A really even match up.
Another mouth watering match up will see touted Teiken fighter Shuya Masaki (9-0, 5) take on Watanabe gym's Hironori Mishiro (4-0, 2) in what could be the surprise bout of the month. Masaki is ranked #3 by the JBC and will be looking towards getting a title fight later in the year, if he wins, but a win here is certainly no forgone conclusion. Mishiro has only been a professional for 10 months but has shone, and his October win over Shuma Nakazato was absolute incredible. This is set to be a war and should be something very special for fans watching.
Another very strong looking supporting bout will see Coach Hiroto (13-2-1, 4) take on the once beaten Ryo Hino (11-1-1, 6). The talented Hiroto took almost 5 years out of the ring until returning last June, and since then he has scored 2 wins. He will however be up against it here with Hino riding a 6 fight winning streak, including a huge win last time out against Sho Nakazawa. Coming in to this the 27 year Hino looks to be the man in form, and the man going places, but at 26 years old Hiroto shouldn't be over-looked in what appears to be a very competitive looking match up on paper.
In Illinois fight fans will be able to see American based Uzbek hopeful Rustam Tulaganov (1-0) take on the once beaten Martez McGregor (4-1, 4) in a 6 rounder. The 26 year old Uzbek was a former amateur standout, having claimed an Olympic Bronze medal and an Asian Championship's Silver medal and will be favoured here. The heavy handed McGregor has never been beyond 2 rounds and is likely to come out swinging here, win or lose.
This coming Saturday is set to be a busy, yet thrilling, day with a show of note in each Japan and Hong Kong. Not only do both countries get a card of note, but both cards are genuinely significant as we go forward.
Hong Kong S.A.R, China
The Hong Kong card, put on by DEF HK and Watanabe as they continue to work together, has a trio of title bouts and potentially a fight of the year contender.
That fight of the year contender will see local star Rex Tso (21-0, 13) take on former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (33-10-1, 14), in a bout for Tso's WBO International Super Flyweight title. The local is one of the sports most exciting fighters, and although he has improved markedly in recent years he is still, at heart, a fighter there for the fans, and a man who enjoys a thrilling tear up at every opportunity. Kono on the other hand is a bit of a faded force, and has lost 2 of his last 3, but has a style that is very fan friendly, and should gel with Tso's here. Do not be surprised by this one being a little bit special.
In a second title bout we'll see Kono's stable mate Ayumi Goto (7-0, 5) battle with Indian teenager Kirti (3-0, 2). Reports have stated that this will either be a female OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight, with Goto defending her title, or a WBO Asia Pacific title bout, for a vacant title. On paper this should be an easy win for the Japanese fighter, but it is fair to say that Kirti is an unknown, and could be a surprise package of sorts.
The third title bout on this card will see the always fun to watch Takuya Watanabe (32-7-1, 17) battle against Chinese foe Leshan Li (13-2-1, 8) for the WBO Oriental Super Featherweight title. Watanabe is one of the many under-the-radar Japanese fighters who is guaranteed to put on good fight, no matter who he is facing, and we're expecting another fun one here. As for Li he's a bit of an unknown but is a heavy handed fighter and has won his last 7 bouts, suggesting good form and good confidence coming into this one.
One other bout on this card, which looks set to be explosive, will see Thai based Dutchman Nick Frese (6-0, 5) take on heavy handed Filipino Prabhjot Singh (7-1-1, 7). Given that these two have 12 stoppages in 13 wins we're expecting to see bombs away, though it's hard to see anything but a win for Frese, who looks like a genuine prospect.
In Japan we'll be getting a card that will be aired live on G+ and will be promoted by Teiken.
The main event of this card will see the in-form Masaru Sueyoshi (15-1, 10) take on Ribo Takahata (13-7-1, 5) for the vacant Japanese Super Featherweight title, in what will be the first title fight either man has been in. The bout, for the title vacated by Kenichi Ogawa, will see Sueyoshi coming in to it with a 12 fight winning run dating back more than 5 years, whilst Takahata has been inconsistent, alternating between wins and losses over his last 15 bouts. It's hard not to favour Sueyoshi but it is his most meaningful bout to date.
In a supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Shuya Masaki (8-0, 4) take on Filipino foe Ciso Morales (19-4-1, 12). It's fair to say that Masaki has shown touches of brilliance through his early career, but he has been inconsistent and it always seems like there is just something missing from his performances so far. We expect to see him show his maturity here against a visiting foe who shouldn't be over-looked and will be a very live under-dog. Morales might not be a sensational fighter, but he's a good enough fight to test someone like Masaki at this level.
In a really interesting under-card bout we'll see the once beaten Ryo Matsubara (7-1, 7) take on the unbeaten Kai Chiba (6-0, 5), in a bout between punchers. Coming in to this one Matsubara has won his last 6 bouts in a combined 7 rounds, and has well and truly put his sole defeat behind him, with that loss coming back in his second professional bout. Chiba on the other hand went 6 rounds last time out, ending his own stoppage run. Both of these men like to throw heavy leather, and this could be a very explosive contest.
Japanese ranked Welterweight Yuki Nagano (11-2, 8) will be risking a 9 fight winning run as he takes on Thai foe Kriengkrai Tor Silachai (3-0*) in what could be a potential banana skin for the local. Although ranked by the JBC it's hard to know how good Nagano really is, whilst the Thai is a bit of an unknown, and it's unclear really whether we even have his complete record here.
A second Japanese ranked Welterweight on this card is Ryota Toyoshima (7-1-1, 5), who risks his ranking against domestic rival Masaharu Kaito (5-2, 2). Coming in to this bout the 21 year old Toyoshima has won his last 5, though he did suffer a decision defeat to Kaito back in 2015, and it's obvious he is seeking to avenge that set back. Sadly for Kaito he has lost 2 of his last 3, including one to the previously mentioned Nagano and seems to be struggling for form coming in to this bout.
*-Record reported as being differed to the 3-0 figuire.
In Tokyo we get one of two notable cards, with a title bout in the headliner and some interesting supporting bouts.
That title bout at the top of the card will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Ryo Akaho (30-2-2, 19) defending his title against the #1 ranked contender Yuta Saito (10-7-3, 7), in a bout that doesn't look great on paper. Saito is an upset minded fighter, and is better than his record suggests, but this is a massive step up in class and Akaho, a 2-time world title challenger, should comfortably win here. For the champion this will be his first defense of a title he won earlier in the year against Yushi Tanaka and we can't see him giving up the title easily, especially not to a fighter like Saito.
The chief support bout will see Teiken prospect Shuya Masaki (7-0, 3) fighting against a Thai foe, as Masaki continues his rise towards a potential title fight. Although he hasn't set the world on fire like we had hoped Masaki does look a talent, and we expect him to make a statement here, as he looks to convince Teiken that he deserves a title fight of some kind.
A really solid looking support bout will see Masashi Noguchi (12-7-1, 6) take on Tatsuya Yanagi (12-5-1, 4) in a bout that has a real 50-50 feel. Coming in Noguchi has been stopped in his last two, but those stoppages have been to very good fighters in the form of Shuhei Tsuchiya and Satoshi Hosono. Yanak on the other hand has gone 2-5-1 in his last 8, though did score a notable win over Ryusei Nakajima last time out. This has two men who need a win and we expect them to fight like men who really need to perform.
Another good looking support bout will see Ryohei Takahashi (11-2-1, 3) take on Yuki Iriguchi (8-1-1, 4). Coming in to this Takahashi is on a 3 fight winning run with wins against Kazuki Tanaka and Wataru Takeda. Interestingly Iriguchi has also won his last 3, including an upset win over Kenshin Oshima last October.
One other bout of interest will see KO article Kai Chiba (5-0, 5) take on teenager Ikuro Sadatsune (6-1-2, 2). Both men appear to be stepping up here, with both being pretty untested, but they should answer some questions as they face off in a good looking match up, and a nice supporting contest for the show.
We also get a genuinely huge show in India, as two super powers go against each other with both fighters looking to put their country on the boxing map.
In one corner will be unbeaten Indian Vijender Singh (8-0, 7), a huge hero to his homeland, whilst his opponent will be big punching Chinese fighter Zulipikaer Maimaitiali (8-0-1, 6). Coming in the the bout both men hold different WBO regional titles, with Singh defending the WBO Asia Pacific title and Maimaitiali looking to defend the WBO Oriental crown. The winner will unify the titles and move a long way towards getting a world title fight, so this really is a huge bout, for both Indian and Chinese boxing.
On the under-card we'll see 25 year old Indian hopeful Neeraj Goyat (8-2-2, 2) take on former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Allan Tanada (15-6-3, 7). On paper the bout looks like a good test for Goyat, but the Indian is naturally much bigger and will be using that size in what will be his first defense of the WBC ABC Welterweight title, which he won back in October.
In Cebu we'll get a low key card featuring a couple of notable names in what look like horrible mismatches.
One of those mismatches wlll see once beaten prospect Cris Ganoza (12-1, 6) take on Garry Rojo (7-10, 4). Ganoza was stopped in 9 rounds last time out by Edward Heno and it's clear that his team want him to get an easy win under his belt as he begins rebuilding his career, and in many ways it's hard to complain about them giving him an easy comeback win.
The other mismatch will see the out of form, but very talented, Rey Labao (27-9, 18) take on Jhun Ryan Quimbo (5-14-2). Although Labao's record doesn't show it, he was a real handful on the fringes of world class a few years ago, with power that stopped Jay Solmiano and Masao Nakamura and a toughness that always made him a nightmare. Labao has lost his last 3, and 4 of his last 5, and is coming to the end of his roller coaster career, but should have far too much for Quimbo, who is little more than a domestic journeyman.
New Jersey, USA
In the US we see another Chinese fighter in action as Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (16-0, 12) takes on Nick Guivas (13-7-2, 9). This will be Zhang's fourth fight this year, following 3 first round stoppages, and it's great that he's staying so busy, but it's time he took a step up in class and hopefully next time out he'll take on someone a bit more notable than Guivas, who has been stopped 4 times in 22 bouts already
This coming Saturday sees us turn our attention to G+ for the next live card to be aired on their channel
In the main event of the card we'll see former WBC Flyweight champion Toshiyuki Igarashi (23-2-2, 12) battle against upset minded American Miguel Cartagena (15-3, 6), with both men risking world rankings coming into this bout. Igarashi, who has had a stop-start career in recent times, will be looking to kick start his career which really has struggled to have momentum since losing the WBC title almost 4 years ago. Cartagena will be entering this bout 3-3 in his last 6, but does come into the bout on the back of a career best win over Joebert Alvarez, who he stopped inside a round last July.
The best of the supporting bouts will see the hotly tipped Shuya Masaki (6-0, 3) take on Shingo Eto (17-5-1, 9) in a delayed bout, that was originally scheduled for last year though had to be cancelled after Eto was forced to pull out of the bout. Masaki is tipped as one of the most promising fighters at the Teiken gym and is primed for big things, but this is a big step up for him and Eto, who has lost his last 2, will be looking to resurrect his career here. The bout is a key one for both men, and should be a thrilling one to watch.
Another supporting bout will see Yoshinobu Kakinaga (6-2, 2) take on 2016 Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year Ryoji Fukunaga (8-2, 8), one of two Super Rookie of the Year's on this card. The 30 year old Fukunaga will be fighting in his first 8 rounder and will be hoping that a win could move him, slowly, towards a Japanese title fight and we suspect that'll be where he and his team are looking for him to be in the next 24 months. As for Kakinaga the 23 year old will potentially see this bout as chance for him to move into the Japanese rankings and we're expecting a really exciting encounter here.
The other Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year on this card is 2015 winner Hayate Kaji (6-0, 5), who will be fighting in a relative stay busy fight against a Thai foe. We're hoping that Kaji will have a big 2017, but given he's a genuine youngster there is no need to rush him, and he's getting great gym time at the Teiken with the likes of Shinsuke Yamanaka. Sadly for Kaji fans it does feel like a second successive stay busy fight, a shame for someone with his natural talented and power.
American fans will see exciting Filipino Mercito Gesta (29-1-2, 16) return to the ring as he takes on the big punching Gilberto Gonzalez (26-3, 22) in a tough looking Lightweight bout. The once touted Gesta will be ending an 18 month break from the ring and his stop-start career has been a thoroughly frustrating one that promised so much, but has delivered so little. Gonzalez is beatable, and this is a must win for Gesta, but the Mexican has the power and size to cause Gesta real problems.
In the Netherlands we'll see Azeri Bakhtiyar Isgandarzada (11-10, 4) battle unbeaten Dutch hopeful Steve Suppan (6-0-1, 4). Suppan, the UBO Youth champion at 140lbs, should be far too good for the Azeri. Although a journeyman Isgandarzada has shared the ring with a number of respectable names, including Viorel Simion, and will look to make the most of that experience here.
The biggest card of the weekend comes from Nevada where fight fans will get 4 world title bouts, all involving Asian fighters, in fact from the 4 bouts there are 5 Asian's in action.
The highest profile of the bouts sees multi-weight world champion Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38) battle against WBO Welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10) in what will be Pacquiao's ring return after a short lived retirement. The Filipino sensation is the clear betting favourite but is close to 38 years old and will be the much smaller man in the ring. For Vargas the bout sees him facing his first legend and a win for the once beaten American will open huge doors, and legitimise his world title reign.
At Featherweight we see little known Japanese fighter Hiroshige Osawa (30-3-4, 19) take on WBO champion Oscar Valdez (20-0, 18), in what is Valdez's first defense. The Japanese fighter is a former OPBF champion but this is a massive step up in class for him and he hasn't really fought anyone of much renown in a while, with perhaps his best recent win being over prospect Kosuke Saka. Valdez is earmarked as a potential Mexican super star and with his style, power and skills he has the potential be one of the biggest things in boxing, and we think that will be shown here.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see Filipino champion Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24) defending his WBO title against the unbeaten Jessie Magdaleno (23-0, 17), in what is likely to be the best bout on the card. Donaire will be making the second defense of his title and although there are question marks over what he has left in the tank this is a massive step up for the challenger. The bout should tell us how good Magdaleno is and just how much Donaire has left.
In an all Asian bout we'll see Chinese star Zou Shiming (8-1, 2) battle Thailand's Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym (39-1-2, 24) in a second bout between the two men, with them now fighting for the WBO Flyweight title. These two have fought before, fighting in Macau where Shiming dominated Kwanpichit on route to a very wide decision, and we suspect we'll see the same again here, though he has has been relatively inactive whilst Kwanpichit has been stringing together low level stoppage wins in his homeland.
In Japan we get another live televised card courtesy of G+, who are showing a Gushiken card featuring several notable names.
In the main event of the show we'll see OPBF Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (10-0, 10) defending his title for the first time as he takes on Filipino challenger Felipe Cagubcob Jr (6-2-5, 2). The exciting Higa is one of the fastest rising prospects in world boxing today and is looking to build on quick victories over Romel Oliveros and Ardin Diale earlier this year. Cagubcob is looking to build on a career best win over Donny Mabao back in July and avenge Higa's wins over several Filipino fighters in recent years.
Originally one of the key support bout was supposed to see former OPBF and JBC title challenger Shingo Eto (17-5-1, 9) take on the fast rising Shuya Masaki (5-0, 2). Sadly Eto has been injured in the build up to the show and has been replaced by Thailand's Tienchai Yoongkaogym (2-6, 1), in what is a much less interesting bout. We are looking forward to seeing Masaki back in action but it's hard to deny that what we've been left with is a long way from what was originally announced.
There is still one Eto brother fighting on this card with former WBA “interim” Flyweight champion Koki Eto (18-4-1, 13) taking on Jun Blazo (5-1-3, 5) in the chief support bout. The bout will be Eto's second since his 2015 loss to Carlos Cuadras in a WBC Super Flyweight world title bout, and he'll be hoping for a much more fluent performance than he had in May against Michael Escobia, in a bout that was surprisingly competitive. Blazo is limited but has won his last 3 by stoppage and is the type of fighter we've see Eto over-look before.
Mox Power Promotions put on their next Chinese card with a low profile card in Zhengzhou. The show is low profile but features 5 bouts, all scheduled for 6 rounds, and all featuring at least one debutant.
On another lower profile show, this time in Australia, we'll see the win-less Maks Chylewski (0-2) take on tough Thai loser Pramool Boonpok (1-26-1),in what could potentially be an interesting bout, despite the obvious limitations of both fighters.
This coming Tuesday sees an interesting card at the Korakuen Hall with a highly regarded propest in a supporting bout and a former world title challenger in the main event.
In the chief supporting bout fans will get the chance to see touted Japanese prospect Shuya Masaki (4-0, 2) face off with domestic foe Yuya Shimakura (7-1-2, 3). Masaka is highly touted though we will admit we weren't massively impressed last time out, when he faced Vergil Puton, and would like to see a lot more from him here than we did there. Shimakura has gone 2-1-1 in his last 4 but has always fought to his opponents level and will be looking to do that again here. Notably of the two men Shimakura arguably has the best win, a decision last year over Keita Manabe, and should use that experience to really test Masaki.
The main event will see recent world title challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (21-2, 13) face off against Thailand's Patomsith Pathompothong (15-5, 5). For Iwasa the bout will be his third since coming up short last year against Lee Haskins and will see him fighting at 123.5lbs, suggesting that his future really is at Super Bantamweight, and not the 118lbs that fought Haskins at. For Patomsith the bout will see him return to Japan for his second bout in the country, following his loss last year to Hisashi Amagasa. For both this is a potentially key bout, but it's fair to say that Iwasa will be the clear favourite.
Japanese fans have been a bit unlucky so far this year with the most notable action taking place on either tape delay or pay TV. That changes on March 4th as the fans get their first world title fight of the year, in fact they get their first two world title bouts of the year, though one of those is on pay TV.
The higher profile of those bouts sees WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (24-0-2, 17) defending his title, for the 10th time, against Venezuelan Liborio Solis (23-3-1, 10), a former WBA Super Flyweight champion. This looks likely to be a really bout between Yamanaka's power and Solis's aggressive pressure. The fight is a tough one for the champion but one he will be favoured to win. The winner of this is expected to face the winner of the upcoming eliminator between Anselmo Moreno and Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, both men who gave Yamanaka tough bouts in recent years.
The other title fight will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Yu Kimura (18-2-1, 3) defending his title, for the first time, against Mexican slugger Ganigan Lopez (26-6, 17). This is a tough first defense for the Japanese fighter, who upset Pedro Guevara last year, but with a pro-Japanese crowd behind him the champion will feel confident of proving himself, and taking a huge step towards an all-Japanese world title unification bout later this year.
In the most notable of the support bouts fans will see the much touted Shuya Masaki (3-0, 2) battle Filipino foe Vergil Puton (15-6, 7). On paper this looks like a huge step up for Masaki however it should be noted that Puton is the naturally smaller man and is likely to look like a man lacking fire-power against the much touted Masaki.
A really well matched under-card bout here will see the unbeaten 18 year old Retsu Kosaka (5-0, 1) take on the once beaten 22 year old Yuto Nagano (5-1, 2). Kosaka debuted last year and quickly ran his record to 5-0 in a great year, though the youngster does have questions over his strength and power. As for Nagano, he was stopped last time out and will not be wanting to suffer a second successive loss, which really could derail his career before he really gets go.
In China Top Rank, along with SECA,will be promoting a low profile card at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.
The card isn't a great one, though we would suggest keeping an eye out for two bouts, both at Super Featherweight.
One of those bouts will see the once beaten Leshan Li (6-1-1, 4) battle against the more experienced puncher Cai Yong Liu (4-3-2, 4). The other will see the unbeaten 18 year old Jin Xiang Pan (5-0, 3) face off against Yongle Feng (2-1, 1). We hope the winners of these two bouts face off later in the year, though it does need to be noted that already Li holds a win over Feng, having stopped him earlier this year, whilst Pan holds a win over Liu, having out pointed him late last year.
This coming Friday is a really busy day in Asian boxing with shows in Japan and China as well as notable bouts outside of Asia.
The most notable the Asian shows is a Shinsei promoted card from Hyogo which features a former 2-weight world champion, a female world title bout and several notable prospects.
The former world champion in action is the legendary Hozumi Hasegawa (34-5, 15) who will be dipping his toes at Super Featherweight as he faces the world ranked Mexican fight Carlos Andres Ruiz Machuca (14-1, 5). For Hasegawa this is a step up in weight but potentially could see him make a move towards a world title fight at 130lbs in 2016. For Ruiz it's a monstrous step up in class as he faces his most notable opponent so far.
The co-feature of this show is a female world title bout that sees former WBA female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (14-2-2, 4) face of against Mexican Kareli Lopez (8-5-3, 2) in a bout for the vacant IBF female Minimumweight title. Tada was originally scheduled to be facing Victoria Argueta but Argueta is out and has been replaced by Lopez, who really shouldn't test a fighter as talented as Tada.
The most notable of the fighters on the under-card is the unbeaten Reiya Konishi (9-0, 4). The unbeaten 22 year old will be up against Shogo Hayashi (7-2, 4) in a really good looking 8 rounder. Konishi came to our attention last year, when he won the Rookie of the Year, and has already won a couple of 8 rounders this year. For the youngster this is a step up but a step up that he will be expected to make without too many problems.
Another notable Minimumweight youngster in against here is Ryuya Yamanaka (10-2, 2), a 20 year old title hopeful. Yamanaka will be up against the light punching Ryo Narizuka (7-6) in what looks like a stay busy fight for Yamanaka before a potential title fight in 2016. Although Yamanaka isn't a prospect with much fanfare he will know that a win would do and he will also know that a loss will cost him his rankings, with the JBC, OPBF and WBO.
A third notable under-card bout will see OPBF fighters face off as Japan's Seizo Kono (15-7-1 10) battles Benjie Suganob (9-4-1, 5). The winner of this one will be in the running for an OPBF title fight in 2016. On paper Kono is the more established fighter however Suganob is the fighter who has been competing at a higher weight and may be able to use that to his advantage in what is a very intriguing match up.
As well as the show in Hyogo Japanese fans also have a card from the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. The card, from Flash Akabane, is a less interesting one, though does feature an OPBF title fight and a bout involving one of Teiken's most promising young prospects.
The title bout on this card sees OPBF Super Middleweight champion Yuzo Kiyota (28-4-1, 26) defending his title against limited Indonesian challenger Michael Speed Sigarlaki (16-15-2, 14). On paper this looks like it could be an explosive one, however Sigarlaki will need to be regarded as a major under-dog coming in to this one and we're not expecting the challenger to have much success.
The prospect in action is the really exciting Lightweight hopeful Shuya Masaki (2-0, 1) who takes on Fumio Ujihara (4-2, 3). On paper this is a step up for the unbeaten 21 year old Lightweight prospect however it's step up that he should make if he's anywhere near being as good as touted.
As well as the Japanese action Asian fans will also get a small show from Yunnan, courtesy of Zovi promotions. The card isn't a big one, and it features no notable names, however fans will likely get some enjoyable action from the show.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Whilst the headline action for us are the Japanese cards they aren't the only ones to feature notable names. Another notable name is in Puerto Rico as he looks to continue moving towards a major title bout.
That notable fighter is former multi-weight world champion Nonito Donaire (35-3, 23). The “Filipino Flash” looks to scored his third win since being stopped by Nicholas Walters as he takes on Mexican fighter Cesar Juarez (17-3, 13), in a bout for the WBO International Super Bantamweight title. Coming in to this one Juarez has been on a good run and enters following back to back wins over Cesar Seda and Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr, Donaire however is regarded as being better than anyone Juarez has fought. Whilst Donaire is still regarded highly there are question marks about how much he has left and this fight could well see those question marks answered one way or another.
On the same card fans also get the chance to see Mongolian fighter Bayan Jargal (17-7-3, 11) take on the unbeaten William Silva (22-0, 13). This looks to be a very tough ask for Jargal, who has gone 2-7-1-1 in his last 9, though Silva does have a typical “padded Brazilian” record and is very much an unknown quantity.
August 1st-Yu Kimura moves towards world title shot, Park defends title, Hashimoto looks for huge upset
August begins this weekend and there is a wealth of action scheduled for the coming weeks.
The first Japanese show of the month is a Teiken promoted card from the Korakeun Hall.
The most notable bout on the show sees former Japanese Light Flyweight champion Yu Kimura (16-2-1, 3) battle against Mexican visitor Jesus Faro (14-9, 9) ahead of a possible world title bout. Kimura, who vacated his national title earlier this year, has said he is focused on fighting for a major title sooner rather than later and this could, potentially, be a prelude to a bout with Ryoichi Taguchi or Donnie Nietes, both of which could be made towards the end of 2016.
A notable under-card bout sees Yosuke Kirima (21-4-2, 14), a former Japanese title challenger at 154lbs, battling against Yuto Shimizu (9-2-2, 3) in what should be a much better bout that it appears on paper. Coming in Shimizu is on a 6 fight winning streak including wins against Hikaru Nishida, Toru Chiba and Takehiro Shimokawara.
Another notable under-card contest will see the very promising Shuya Masaki (1-0, 1) battle against the more experienced Shintaro Nakamura (5-4-1, 2). This is a solid step up for Masaki who only needed 134 seconds to despatch of Phanthong Por Panya back in April. Nakamura has lost his last 2 bouts but will give Masaki experience against the southpaw stance.
As well as the 3 bouts mentioned there is set to be 4 others on this card.
In South Ji Hyun Park (21-2, 6) will be defending her IFBA and WIBA titles at 102lbs against Filipino visitor Gretchen Abaniel (15-7, 6). This bout will see Park going for a 16th straight win though she's certainly not faced the stiffest of competition with some frankly terrible title fights in recent times. This is actually step up in class for the Korean though one she should pass against a fighter who has lost 3 of her last 5.
Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico
In possibly the biggest mismatch of the weekend fans will see Japanese fighter Kazuki Hashimoto (11-4, 7) battle former 3-weight world champion Jhonny Gonzalez (57-9, 48). The idea of this bout is for Gonzalez to introduce himself to the Super Featherweight division before a possible bout with Takashi Miura towards either the end of this year or early in 2016.
In Australia we see former world title challenger Nouldy Manakane (29-17-2, 18) battle against the unbeaten Luke Jackson (8-0, 3). Whilst we are only 3 years removed from Manakane's world title shot at the then WBA Bantamweight champion Koki Kameda he hasn't had the best of time going 5-6-1 and we expect to see him lose again here.
In the US Filipino Rey Perez (20-6, 5) will be battling against former world title challenger Chris Avalos (25-3, 19) in what looks to be a very tough ask for the Filipino. Avalos, fighting for the first time since being stopped by Carl Frampton in an IBF Super Bantamweight title fight, will be looking to make a statement against Perez, is 0-4 outside of his homeland including a 2011 loss to Nobuo Nashiro.
(Image courtesy of www.boxmob.jp)