This coming Thursday sees attention turn to Tokyo as we get a world title double header, thanks to Teiken.
The headline bout from the card is a WBC Bantamweight title rematch, as controversial champion Luis Nery (25-0, 19) takes on former champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (27-1-2, 19). These two fought last year with Nery stopping Yamanaka, and ending the long reign of “God's Left's” which had began in 2011. Following his win it was revealed that Nery had failed a drugs test, though the WBC seemed to believe his excuse of eating a huge amount of tainted beef. This time around Nery has had his diet tracked by the WBC, and it seems like they have tried to punish him, without really punishing him. The Mexican's win over Yamanaka last year put him at the top of the Bantamweight division, though the failed drug test has left a huge cloud over his win and he will have to repeat the exercise here if he's going to get the respect that he will feel he deserves. For Yamanaka this rematch is a chance to avenge his sole loss, reclaim his title and prove that he is the better fighter, with the drugs that Nery tested for. Sadly for the Japanese southpaw he is now 35 and even before the first bout with Nery he was showing signs of being on the slide, having been down several times in his bouts leading up to the Nery contest and looking like a fighter who may well have been caught at the right time by Nery. This is a huge bout for both men, but win or lose we don't Yamanaka sticking around long after this one.
The second world title fight on this show will see IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa (24-2, 26) make his first defense, as he takes on little known Filipino challenger Ernesto Saulong (21-2-1, 8). The hard hitting Japanese fighter impressed in his title winning effort last year, when he stopped Yukinori Oguni, and showed that he has got the skills to go with his early promise. There are still flaws, but against Oguni he looked like a fighter who had found his way, and nothing like the fighter who looked lost and confused against Lee Haskins. Whilst Iwasa has been on the title scene for a while, since his loss to Yamanaka for the Japanese Bantamweight title back in 2011, it's fair to say that much less is known about Saulong, who has spent much of his career on the Filipino domestic scene. His most notable bouts have been losses to Rey Megrino and Lwandile Sityatha, though he does hold some decent wins over Alie Laurel, twice, and Jestoni Autida, sadly those wins aside there is little to suggest that Saulong belongs at world level. The Filipino might be better than he's shown, but it's very hard to see him holding his own with someone as heavy handed and dangerous as Iwasa.
Another rematch will see Takahiro Ao (27-3-1-1, 12) take on Gamaliel Diaz (40-18-3, 19) in a battle of veterans. These two first fought way back in October 2012,when Diaz defeated Ao for the WBC Super Featherweight title, though since then neither had had much success. Diaz has gone 2-9-1, and was stopped in his first defense by Takashi Miura, whilst Ao has gone 4-0-0-1, with his most recent bout being a painful No Contest against Raymundo Beltran. Ao will be favoured here, but it's hard to imagine either man will have much of a career after this bout.
May looks likely to be one of the best boxing months of the and it takes absolutely no time to get under-way with exciting action almost from the off.
The Asian action for the month of May kicks off in Tokyo with a Fuji TV card from the Ota City gymnasium.
The main event here will see Japanese Middleweight star Ryota Murata (6-0, 4) battle against world ranked Brazilian foe Douglas Damiao Ataide (13-1-1, 6). This is a significant step up in class for Murata though he is still expected to take a win and continue to move towards a world title fight later in the year. From what we've seen of Ataide he does seem to have a style which could trouble Murata and this could well be a lot more competitive than many are suspecting.
Although the main event features Murata there is actually a world title fight on the card as WBC Super Featherweight champion Takashi Miura (28-2-2, 21) looks to record his 4th defense. In the opposite corner to Miura will be former IBF Featherweight champion Billy Dib (32-3, 29) who has sounded confident in the build up to the fight though appears to be a major under-dog against a very impressive and aggressive champion.
Another notable name in action on this card is former 2-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (20-5, 10) who makes his Super Flyweight debut in a bout against Songsaenglek Phosuwangym (1-11). This should be an easy win for Yaegashi though he has lost his last two bouts, suffering stoppages to Roman Gonzalez, in a Flyweight title bout, and Pedro Guevara, at Light Flyweight. Songsaenglek has previous experience of fighting in Japan, with 2 bouts in the country, though was stopped in both of those bouts.
On the under-card fans will also have the chance to see 2014 Bantamweight Rookie of the Year Ryohei Takahashi (5-1-1) in action as he faces the limited Hokuto Sakata (5-4-1, 3). This will be Takahashi's first bout since claiming the Rookie crown in December and he should be favoured here there he has shown a lack of power and has got question marks in regards to his chin.
Several hours after the action in Japan fans will get the chance to see Takahiro Ao (27-3-1, 12) attempt to add his name to an exclusive list of Japanese fighters who have claimed world titles in 3 weight classes. The Teiken fighter will be battling against Tough Mexican Raymundo Beltran (29-7-1, 17) in a bout for the vacant WBO Lightweight title with Beltran looking to claim a world title in his third attempt whilst Ao looks to become the third Japanese fighter to be a 3-weight champion. On paper this is a brilliantly matched bout between a technically capable but flawed boxer and an exciting and busy pressure fighter.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
A big mid week show this week takes place in Japan as Teiken put on a very interesting show.
The main event will see the exceptional and very heavy handed Shinsuke Yamanaka (21-0-2, 16) returning to the ring for his 7th world title defence. This time around Yamanaka, the man known as the "God of Left", will be taking on WBC mandatory challenger Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (37-5-1, 16). Sor Rungvisai is a former WBC Super Flyweight champion has proven ability at both Super Flyweight, where he was a world champion, and at Flyweight, where he ran the great Pongsaklek Wonjongkam very close way back in 2010. For Yamanaka this isn't a gimme, after all Suriyan is tough and more skilled than many other Thai's that we see competing at world level. We suspect Yamanaka will make this look easy though it's a genuine tough bout for the champion, especially considering that how Rungvisai has competed tall southpaws in the past, including Thomas Rojas who made to chase shadows at times by the diminutive Thai. For Suriyan this bout will see him returning to Japan for the first time since he lost his Super Flyweight title to Yota Sato and he'll certainly be looking to score a big win here, though he is with out a win in 4 previous bouts outside of Thailand.
In the co-feature we have another excellent match up as 2-weight world champion Takahiro Ao (26-3-1, 12) battles against former 2-time Super Featherweight champion Juan Carlos Salgado (26-3-1-1, 16). Ao, a former world champion at both Featherweight and Super Featherweight, is on the hint for a third divisional world title though will know that this could be a very difficult assignment considering that Salgado is a proven world class fighter and a former WBA and IBF champion at Super Featherweight. For many Salgado's "signature" win came the first time he fought in Japan, stopping Ao's stablemate Jorge Linares inside a round in a real upset of the year contender, since then however he has been stopped himself by Takashi Uchiyama, also in Japan. Coming into this bout Salgado has lost his last 2 by stoppage and won just 2 of his last 5 bouts with many feeling that he's now coming to the end of his career at the top level. Ao is on a 3 fight willing streak though didn't look good prior to that when he was out pointed by Gamaliel Diaz and some may question how good he really is going into what looks like a clear cross roads bout.
In a third notable bout, albeit one notable only to those who follow the Japanese domestic scene, fans will get the chance to see a bout between two Japanese ranked Super Featherweights. The bout will see the heavy handed Kenichi Ogawa (12-1, 10) battling against Ribo Takahata (10-4-1, 2). Going in to this one Ogawa is ranked #15 by the JBC whilst Takahata is #12 despite those rankings we do suspect that Ogawa will come out on top here, and probably inside the distance considering his power and the fact Takahata was stopped just 2 fights back.
As well as the 3 bouts mentioned this show will feature a further 4 bouts, albeit at a much lower level to the 3 we've already mentioned.
For those interested in watching the card it will be televised on both NTV in Japan and Channel 7 in Thailand.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
As we all know top level boxing is rare to see on a week day. This week however is no normal week and rather brilliantly we have two world title fights in Japan and a world ranked fighter in action on a tremendously exciting Wednesday in the world of boxing
Technically the day has two cards but there is only one that will have fans really talking, that's the one in the Castle Hall, Osaka which really is one of the highlight shows of the year so far.
The first of 3 notable bouts on the show feature the world ranked Lightweight Takahiro Ao (25-3-1, 12). Ao, a former world champion at Featherweight and Super Featherweight is hoping to, one day, capture a Lightweight title though will need to over-come Mexican Marco Lopez (23-3, 14) here if that dream is continue. Ao is a talented fighter but blows hot and cold. His talent is obvious and wins over Oscar Larios, Vitali Tajbert, Devis Boschiero and Terdsak Kokietgym prove that but losses to Larios, Gamaliel Diaz and Elio Rojas do leave some questions about whether or not he is truly a world level talent.
After Ao's bout we get the first of the world title fights as the popular and fun to watch Hozumi Hasegawa (33-4, 15) attempts to claim the IBF Super Bantamweight title. Hasegawa, one of Japan's most popular fighters, will be up against it as he takes on the heavy handed and hard nosed Kiko Martinez (30-4, 22) who will be defending his title for the second time. We're expecting, due to the styles of these two men, that this will be a scintillating affair with both men throwing a lot of leather though we simply can't image the contest going the scheduled 12 rounds.
Although Hasegawa is always going to be a popular figure in Japanese boxing a win would make him just the second ever 3-weight world champion from Japan and would further enhance his reputation as a modern day Japanese great.
The show's third major bout then sees the destructive Shinsuke Yamanaka (20-0-2, 15) in action. Yamanaka, one of the worlds hardest hitting fighters, will be seeking the 6th defence of his WBC Bantamweight title as he takes on former European champion Stephane Jamoye (25-4, 15) in what looks like an exciting but potentially one-sided contest. Jamoye is an exciting brawler who has come to Japan with a lot of confidence though it's hard to imagine him really testing "The god of Left"
As well as the show in Japan there is also a small show in the Philippines. The main even on this show will see Rey Ramos (6-4-2, 3) battling against veteran Richard Olisa (23-24-2, 12). This is a well matched bout but we'll be honest it's hard to care about the action in the Philippines considering what we have in Japan.