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.
The first Japanese show of June takes place at the Korakuen Hall and features a number of notable fighters, including a couple of touted debutants and a Japanese champion.
The main event will see hard hitting Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (8-0, 8) defending his title against a Thai foe. Originally Takesako was supposed to battle Filipino journeyman Joel Dela Cruz (20-26-3, 8), though Dela Cruz has been replaced just days before the fight. The destructive Takesako won his Japanese title in 92 seconds back on March 3rd, destroying Hikaru Nishida, and was unable to find a suitable challenger in time for this date so will instead be staying busy with this bout. Whilst it doesn't make a lot to fight a mismatch just to stay busy Takesako has fought just 3 minutes and 2 seconds in the last 12 months and returning to the ring as soon as he could was probably in his best interest.
One of the debutants here is Jin Minamide (0-0), who takes on Indonesian Anthony Holt (5-3-1, 3) in what should be a show case for Minamide. The other debutant is Takuma Takahashi (0-0), who will be facing a Thai in another bout that is expected to be a show case. These two Japanese debutants are both B class fighters and both former amateur standouts who are expected to go on to have success going forward, so are well worth making a note of their names.
In a supporting bout Japanese ranked Flyweight Spicy Matsushita (17-10-1, 2) will go up against Ryusie Ishii (7-4, 4). Matsushita fought for the Japanese title last October, losing in 7 rounds to Shuichiro Yoshino and this will be his first bout since that defeat. The 21 year old Ishii has lost 3 of his last 5, but will feel like this is a great opportunity to claim a big over a Japanese ranked foe, who just turned 35 and is thought to be past his best.
The chief support bout from this card will see JBC and OPBF ranked Featherweight Junki Sasaki (19-3, 7) going up against the very hard matched Ryo Sagawa (3-1, 2). Coming in to this Sasaki is riding a 6 fight winning streak, since losing in April 2015 to Ryo Takenaka. On paper that sounds good, but the reality is that his competition haven't been great and it's hard to know just his good he really is. On paper Sagawa looks to be a big under-dog but he has been matched hard and this is certainly the sort of bout and his team will feel their man can win, and will know that if he does he will automatically find himself in the title mix. High risk and high reward from Sagawa's team here.
In Azerbaijan we get a rescheduled show that was originally supposed to take place on April 27th.
The main event will see South African Cruiserweight Kevin Lerena (20-1, 9) battle against German based Ukrainian Roman Golovashchenko (19-1-0-1, 17) for the IBO Cruiserweight title. Larena is riding a 9 fight winning streak coming into this bout with notable victories over Micki Nielsen, Youri Kayembre Kalenga and Dmytro Kucher, as well as avenging his sole loss to Johnny Muller. Golovashchenko on the other hand is unbeaten in 16, including a no-contest against Yakup Saglam, but hasn't yet beaten anyone of real note, and this should be a straight forward win for Lerena.