This coming Sunday isn't a big day in Asian boxing but there are a number of bouts of note, with two Japanese eliminators in Fukuoka and a pretty interesting card in South Korea with Koreans, and Korean based fighters, taking on Japanese visitors.
The card in Fukuoka really is lacking in terms of depth, with just 6 total bouts on the card, but the top two bouts are mouth watering Japanese title eliminators, featuring local fighters taking on opponents from Tokyo for the right to compete at the 2019 Champion Carnival.
One of those two eliminators takes place down at 105lbs and will see the once touted Takumi Sakae (19-2-1, 13) take on recent OPBF title challenger Norihito Tanaka (16-7, 9). The 25 year old Tanaka debuted in 2011 and looked on the route to success when he claimed the Rookie of the Year crown in 2013. Sadly since that early success he has faltered, losing in a Japanese title fight in 2016 to Tatsuya Fukuhara, drawing with Lito Dante and losing to Ryoki Hirai. Sakae has won his last 5, but those wins have come against some very limited foes. The 33 year old Tanaka ran up a 14-5 (7) record before walking away from the sport in 2011. He returned to the ring in 2017 and has had mixed success, with a loss last time out to OPBF champion Tsubasa Koura. Given the need for both men to win, and look good, this could be very entertaining. A preview of this bout is available here Sakae and Tanaka face off in Japanese eliminator!
The other title eliminator bout bout will see heavy handed Yuki Beppu (18-0-1, 18) clash with Teiken hopeful Yuki Nagano (14-2, 11) in a Welterweight eliminator. Beppu, like Sakae, is a Rookie of the Year winner but at 27 years old it certainly feels like time for his to step up his competition, following 4 wins over terrible foes. The one time he really stepped, since his Rookie triumph, saw him fight to a draw with Charles Bellamy, and he seemed to bide his time whilst waiting for an opportunity like this. At 29 years old Nagano is slight older but also more tested. He comes into this bout on a 12 fight winning run, including a Rookie of the Year triumph in 2015 and a recent win over Riku Nagahama. Notably this will be Nagano's first bout outside of the Korakuen Hall, and that may be a problem with the crowd behind Beppu, but he'll be confident of continuing his good form. This has the potential to be very explosive. Our preview of this bout can be read here - Heavy handed Beppu and Nagano clash in eliminator!
There will be a second Japanese card, albeit a significantly less significant one.
The main event here will see Ryosei Hamaguchi (6-3, 2) taking on Chiharu Takasuka (5-4-1, 3), in what is a pretty low key bout if we're being honest, especially given the action in Fukuoka.
Daejeon, South Korea
In South Korea fans get a very interesting card, featuring several good looking international bouts and two BoxingM title bouts.
One of those Korean title bouts will see Doo Hyup Kim (10-6-1, 5) take on Gun Woo Gang (4-2-2, 1) for the Korean Light Middleweight title. This will be Kim's first defense of the title, and despite having been stopped in 2 of his previous 3 he will be the man with the champions mentality. On the other hand the 21 year old Gang will be having his third title fight, having come up short in two previous Korean title bouts.
The second title fight will be at 140lbs and will see Jin Soo Kim (3-1, 1) face off with Min Ho Jung (7-1-1, 1) for the vacant title. At 22 years old Kim is the younger, less experienced man but is a promising southpaw, who made an impact on his 2015 debut by scoring a brilliant KO of Andrew Silva. Jung will enter the bout as the older man, but will be the naturally smaller fighter. This could be an entertaining match up, but this will be the first title bout for either man.
On paper the most evenly matched of the international bouts will see unbeaten fighters collide as local Min Jang (6-0-2, 2) takes on Japan's Fumiya Fuse (6-0, 1). The 18 year old Jang debuted last year and has already racked up 8 fights, but this is a big step up for him. At 20 years old Fuse is tipped as one to watch on the Japanese scene, and was the 2017 Rookie of the Year, but this will be his first bout outside of Japan. With neither man being a puncher we are expecting a distance bout, but a very interesting one.
A potentially more explosive match up will see 26 year old Korean Dong Kwan Lee (8-2-2, 4) take on heavy handed Japanese fighter Arashi Iimi (6-1, 6). Coming into this Lee's record doesn't look too interesting, but his short term for has seen him going 4-1 (4) and he hasn't seen the final bell in any of his last 5 bouts. Iimi, the runner up for the 2017 Japanese Rookie of the Year has never seen the final bell, and has scored two wins already this year. Given their recent shows we're expecting to see both men go for the KO and to go for it early!
One other bout of interest will see Korean based Mongolian Batzorig Batjargal (3-0, 2) take on Japan's Hironori Shigeta (5-1, 3). We've been impressed by Batjargal since his debut and he's looked really exciting so far, but this is a notable step up in class for him. Shigeta hasn't fought since December, but was crowned the Japanese Rookie of the Year last year at Welterweight, and he has a very good win over Rikuto Adachi. We can't help but think this could be the best bout on the card.
This coming Sunday fans in Fukuoka will get a relative low key card, featuring a once touted Japanese fighter in the main event.
That main event will see the Takumi Sakae (18-2-1, 13), who was once tipped for really big things, taking on Akihiro Toya (8-3, 1) in a bout between two Japanese ranked fighters each looking to score a big win and move towards a potential title fight. Sakae would win his first 13 bouts, including the 2013 Rookie of the Year, but has since gone 5-2-1 and has struggled to score a win of any real note since his Rookie win. Notably Toya struggled early in his career, winning just 1 of his first 3, before going 7-1 and has avenged his only recent loss. Toya has momentum coming into this one, whilst Sakae has the more notable accomplishments.
On the under-card there will be a number of 4 rounders, the most interesting of which will see Ryota Kosaka (2-0-1, 1) take on Ryusuke Ushihara (3-1-1, 1). Despite that being a good looking 4 rounder the really interesting looking support bout is an 8 rounder, slap bang in the middle of the show, and will see Yusuke Yamanouchi (9-3-1, 5) take on Fumisuke Kimura (6-3, 4). Yamanouchi has a misleading record, with his losses coming to 3 very solid domestic level fighters, whilst Kimura has lost to even better fighters, including Ryosuke Maruki and Andy Hiraoka. Given the quality of the fighters who have beaten Yamanouchi and Kimura we're happy to see them face off, and we're expecting that to be a very solid contest for fans who get to the event early on.
In Bangkok fight fans will get the chance to see a number of fights involving visiting Japanese fighters. Sadly their opponents, all of which are locals, are un-named at the present moment, but the show is worthy of note due to the quality of the Japanese fighters.
The main event will see the hotly tipped Hinata Maruta (5-1, 4) fight for the first time since he lost in an OPBF title fight against Hidenori Otake. The bout is expected to be a simple confidence builder for Maruta who will likely be seeking a rematch with Otake in 2018. Despite the loss last time out he's still one of the most naturally talented young fighters on the planet and it would be a huge shock to see anything but a win here from Maruta.
Maruta's stablemate Naoto Iwai (3-2, 1) will be on the show, and will be trying to end a 2-fight skid. The talented Iwai once looked like a prospect on his way through the ranks but losses to Ryosuke Nasu and Kenya Yamashita have slowed the 20 year old down. He'll be hoping for a win here and then a step up back in Japan in 2018 as he looks to rebuild his career as quickly as possible.
One other fighter of note on this card is former Japanese title challenger Takumi Sakae (17-2-1, 12). The talented Sakae has won his last 3 by stoppage but did have a frustrating 2016, in which he went 1-2-1, and will clearly be trying to string together another win before the start of 2018, as he continues to chase a second title fight.
This coming Sunday is a relatively quiet day, despite a show in Japan and one in the Philippines.
In Japan the action comes from Hiroshima where we see two bouts of some note.
The more notable of those bouts sees two men fighting for the opportunity to challenge for the Japanese Light Flyweight title in 2018. The bout will see the talented Koki Ono (12-3, 5) take on Koji Itagaki (17-11-3, 7) in what looks likely to be a really solid fight, despite the men having very differing records. Coming in to this Ono has won his last 5, though his best wins have been over the likes of Ryoya Ikema and Aiki Koto. On the other hand Itagaki has been suffered losses in 5 of his last 11, though he has been fighting at a much higher level and come up short against the likes of Rey Loreto and Kenichi Horikawa. This could be a very good bout between a rising contender, and a true grizzled veteran.
The other bout of note on this show will see the once touted Takumi Sakae (16-2-1,11) continue his career rebuild as he takes on domestic foe Kenta Yokoe (6-12-2, 2). Sakae was once 13-0 and tipped as one to watch, but a 3-2-1 run has left his career in a bit of a mess and he is desperately seeking to right the ship. A win here would push him in the right direction, though much more will need to be done for him to really resurrect his career and get on with earning a second title fight.
Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines
In the Philippines the show is a small one, though the main event has the potential to be a really enticing contest as Jestoni Autida (9-7, 4) takes on Donny Mabao (22-32-3, 4). On paper that might not look even worthy of consideration but both are far better than their records indicate with Autida beating the likes of a then unbeaten Jeffrey Francisco, Xinghua Wang and Ratchasak Kokietgym and Mabao holding wins over Michael Enriquez, Mateo Handig and Florante Condes. We're not expecting a fight of the year contender, but a very competitive bout should be seen between two men seeking a win, and each believing they could get it here.
The Ohashi gym is one of the hottest in Japan right now and this coming Sunday they are hosting probably the most notable Asian card of the weekend, even if it's top matches are unlikely to be even slightly competitive.
The main event will see Ohashi fighter Koki Inoue (7-0, 6) take on a Thai foe in what is supposed to be a Japanese title prelude for Inoue. It's thought that Koki, the cousin of world champion Naoya Inoue and world level contender Takuma Inoue, will face Koichi Aso before the end of for the Japanese Light Welterweight title fight but will have to make sure he doesn't over-look his foe here in what is expected to be a mismatch.
In the chief supporting bout former Japanese Flyweight title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (14-8-2, 9) will be facing a Thai foe, in what should be a straight forward win for Sakashita, who has lost his last 2 and 4 of his last 6. Sakashita was once 12-4-2 but with losses piling up his career really cannot afford another setback.
Although Inoue and Sakashita are both well know the most interesting fight on this card may well be the debut of Kazuki Nakajima (0-0), a former amateur standout who will look to make an impact against a Thai opponent. The plans for Nakajima do seem to be about putting him on the fast track, and he is pencilled in to fight again in August, and he may well be fighting for a title in his first 5 or 6 fights. Little is known about his Thai foe, but the reality is that this is about Nakajima introducing himself to professional boxing.
In Fukuoka we'll see former Japanese Minimumweight title challenger Takumi Sakae (15-2-1, 10) continue to try to rebuild his career. The talented Japanese fighter looked like a man on his way to the top until he ran into Tatsuya Fukuhara, and since then he has gone 2-2-1. Sakae needs a win here and is likely to get it, as he takes on a limited Thai foe. It'd be a shock to see Sakae lose, but he really can't afford any more easy bouts after this one, given his last two wins have also been against limited Thai's.
A third Japanese card comes from Hokkaido, and features a very international card with the top three bouts all featuring a visitor against a local.
The main event of the card sees Japanese ranked Featherweight Junki Sasaki (17-3, 6) take on Korean visitor Sang Hoo Gil (6-5-2, 3). On paper this should be an easy win for Sasaki, who has won 6 of his last 7, but it's fair to say all Korean fighters will be travelling to Japan with their minds set on an upset following the recent shock win for Sa Myung Noh.
Also on this card will be Masaya Tamayama (8-1, 4), who will also be taking on a Korean foe, and Kyosuke Sawada (6-2-1, 3), who will battle a Thai visitor. Sadly the names of these two visitors haven't been as easy to get as Gil in the main event.
Lanao del Norte, Philippines
The biggest name in action is actually in the Philippines, and that's 2-weight world champion Johnriel Casimero (23-3, 15), who takes on former world title challenger Richie Mepranum (31-6-1, 8). The talented Casimero will be moving up to Super Flyweight, as he hunts a third divisional world title, and will be looking to do so against a notable yet safe foe. Casimero has lacked activity in recent years, with just 4 fights in 3 years and non since last September. Saying that however Mepranum has lost his last two bouts, and hasn't scored a win since November 2015.
The most important of 4 Japanese shows comes from Osaka this coming Sunday and features an OPBF title bout.
The OPBF title contest will see OPBF Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (11-2-2, 10) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Sung-Jae Ahn (6-3, 1). The heavy handed champion shocked the Oriental scene last year as he comfortably out boxed Dwight Ritchie for the title and will be expecting an easier assignment here against a Korean fighter who really is fortunate to be getting this type of opportunity. Although Ahn is a former Korean champion it's almost 2 years since he last fought and it's hard to favour him given the inactivity, and it's worth noting he debuted more than 8 years ago. If Ahn is tough he can make life tricky for Tyson, but this should be a pretty clear win for the champion.
Another Japan Vs Korea bout sees Shachihoko Dragons Keita (6-5-2, 1) take on the unbeaten Ga-ram Kim (2-0, 1). The Japanese local has a very mixed record, and is 2-3-2 in his last 7, showing the struggle he has for consistency. As for the Korean he debuted in 2009, fought against in 2011 and has really not stayed active enough to build on any promise he had. This is a bout in which both men will fight to win, but it's not one that the winner will really build their reputation on.
There will also be a notable card in Okayama.
The headline fight on this card sees local prospect Seigo Yuri Akui (9-0-1, 5) take on limited Thai visitor Nattawut Siritoem (0-2). The 21 year old Japanese youngster made a mark in 2015, when he won the Light Flyweight Rookie of the Year, and had a sensational 2016 to build on his record with a huge stoppage win over Kenji Ono in December. Tipped as a real one to watch Akui will have extra pressure on his shoulders here, as the main event, and will be expected to put in a great performance. The Thai is 0-2 having been stopped in both bouts, and it's likely he'll suffer another early loss here.
In the chief support bout we'll see Kota Fujimoto (6-1, 2) take on Takahiro Murai (14-7-2, 5) in a really good looking domestic bout. Fujimoto suffered his only loss in December last year, in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final against Ryuji Fukunaga, and will be looking get his career back on track here, and record his biggest win to date. Murai is much more experienced, and has got some good results on his record, but was himself beaten in December, by Takeru Kamikubo, and will also be coming into this bout in search of a win.
In Fukuoka fans will see the once touted Takumi Sakae (14-2-1, 9) fight in a real must win against Thai visitor Nayoklek Sithsaithong (1-0, 1). Just over a year ago Sakae was touted as one to watch, he was world ranked and looked on the way to big things. The he lost to Tatsuya Fukuhara and has since gone 1-1-1 with his career now really on the rocks, following a big upset loss to Ryoki Hirai last December. The quality of the Thai is really a mystery, and this will be his first bout since September 2014, if boxrec have a complete record. The Thai could be there to fall over, or his could be a horrible surprise for a man who will be very low on confidence.
There will also be a very low key card in Tsu, Mie, and this card really is a very low quality one.
The main event will see the heavy handed Yuto Nakamura (6-3, 5) battle against the once beaten Kenta Nomura (4-1, 1). Aged 20 Nakamura looks like an exciting puncher who could make a name a name for himself in the local area, but the reality is that he will need to improve a lot to make a mark further afield. Nomura, also 20, is far from a puncher but is a nice boxer and could well make for a very interesting dance partner for Nakamura. Although a nice bout on paper, it's a bout that probably wouldn't main event in any major Japanese boxing region.
A similarly interesting looking bout will see Daiki Yamamoto (3-0, 1) take on Seiya Kaga (4-1, 1) in a 4 rounder. Again the bout looks interesting and well matched, but really won't make any mark at all outside of the local area. Another prospect on this card will be Junto Nakatani (10-0, 8), who will be battling against Filipino Joel Taduran (8-5-1, 2).
This coming Sunday sees 3 shows taking place across Japan.
The most notable of the shows is in Fukuoka where we get female world title action.
That world title bout will see WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (16-4-1, 8) battle against Mari Ando (13-9, 6), in what will be the second bout between the two ladies. Kuroki won the title in May 2014, when she defeated Ando, and has racked up 4 defenses of the title whilst showing genuine signs of improvement. For Ando the bout will be a chance to gain some revenge over Kuroki but a loss will almost be the end of her hard career.
In a really interesting supporting bout we'll see the struggling Hideo Sakamoto (16-3-3, 5) face of with Ryotaro Kawabata (11-2-2, 5). Sakamoto made a name for himself in 2014, when he upset Hiroki Shiino, and looked to be beading towards a Japanese title, but a draw with Hiroaki Teshigawara has been followed by losses to Kentaor Masuda and Seizo Kono, leading some to wonder how much he has left. For Kawabata the bout is a chance to score his biggest win following draws against the likes of Hirofumi Mukai and Rene Dacquel. It's hard to know how good Kawabata is, but he did run Mark John Yap very close just a few fights back and clearly has potential.
Another title bout in Japan sees unbeaten youngster Takuya Uehara (10-0, 6) battle Filipino Markquil Salvana (11-2, 5) for the WBC Youth Featherweight title. For Uehara this will be his first title bout, but his team have prepared him pretty well with a string of 8 rounders, though he has only gone that distance once. Salvana has previously fought for a title, losing in a WBA Oceania title fight in 2015, and is struggling for form coming into this bout with 2 stoppages losses in his last 4. On paper this looks good but with Salvana's struggle and the fact he is moving up in weight does mean it's hard to see anything but a win for Uehara.
On the under-card here we'll see the now struggling Tatsuya Ikemizu (13-2, 6) battle against limited Thai Jaipetch Chaiyonggym (5-6, 1). Ikemizu has lost 2 of his last 3 bouts, albeit to good fighters in the form of Mak John Yap and Jonas Sultan, and is now looking to rebuild his career before being written off. Despite the set backs Ikemizu was the 2013 Bantamweight Rookie of the Year and has shown plenty of promise, though one wonders about his mental state. Jaipetch is expected to offer no resistance and will likely suffer his 5th stoppage loss.
There will also be a show in Hyogo, featuring no title action.
The main event of the show will see former Japanese title challenger Takumi Sakae (14-1-1, 9) face off with Ryoki Hirai (7-4-1, 3) as Sakae looks to end a bad year. Sakae began 2013 as a world ranked hopeful but a loss in a Japanese title fight with Tatsuya Fukuhara and a technical draw against Lito Dante has left him really needing to rebuild and a win over Hirai here would steady the ship leading into 2017. It looks like Hirai is a safe opponent for Sakae, with little to really test the youngster, but their will be questions about Sakae's confidence following the year he has had.
On the under-card wee see the once beaten Tetsu Araki (6-1-1) look to score a third straight win as he takes on Takuya Fujioka (7-5-1, 1) for the second time. This looks like a straight forward win for Araki, who's only loss was a razor thin set back to Tenta Kiyose in September 2015, however Fujioka did run Araki very close when the two men first fought back in July 2015.
Another notable under-card bout here will see Giraffe Kirin Kanda (7-2, 4) take on Shota Aikawa (5-6-2, 2) in an interesting looking contest. On paper Kanda will be the favoured fighter but he was stopped inside a round last December and has fought only a single round since that loss . Aikawa has lost his last 2, but will come in here looking to change that here against a possibly rusty Kanda.
The most notable of two Japanese shows this coming Sunday comes from Fukuoka, and features two notable hopefuls.
In the main event we'll see Japanese Welterweight puncher Yuki Beppu (13-0, 13) hunt a 14th straight stoppage as he takes on a Thai foe. A win here for Beppu will almost certainly be his final step before moving into a title bout next year. Sadly unless the Thai visitor is better than most “unnamed” Thai's fighting in Japan this really isn't going to serve as any type of preparation for a title fight.
Also on this card will be Takumi Sakae (13-1-1, 8),who will look to put a bad year behind him. Sakae will be up against a Thai foe, like Beppu, but he needs a win here to stop 2016 being a total write off. He lost his unbeaten record in March, losing to Tatsuya Fukuhara in a Japanese title fight, and subsequently had a technical draw with Lito Dante in July.
A second Japanese show comes from Okayama and will features only one bout of real interest at the Japanese domestic level.
That bouts will see the unbeaten Seigo Yuri Akui (7-0-1, 3) take on Yamato Uchinono (6-6-5, 4) in an interesting match up. Akui, the 2015 Rookie of the Year at Flyweight, is stepping up to his first 8 round. Uchinono has lost 4 of his last 5 but has mixed at a better level than the unbeaten youngster and could genuinely be a good test for a man moving up in class.
It's fair to say this Sunday doesn't look the best day for fight fans, saying that however there are two shows in Japan
One of those comes from Fukuoka where we will see pair of notable Japanese fighters in action, as they both look to build towards title fights.
In the main event fight fans will see former Japanese title challenger Takumi Sakae (13-1, 8) battle against Filipino foe Lito Dante (11-6-3, 6). For Sakae this will be his first bout since being out pointed by Tatsuya Fukuhara in March, in what was a competitive but clear win for the defending champion. This bout will be a great chance to see how Sakae bounced back from that defeat, but Dante shouldn't be over looked and he is incredibly tough and very under-rated. This should be a real test for Sakae.
Also on this card is former multi-time Japanese title challenger Yosuke Kirima (22-6-2, 15), who faces a Thai foe in a 6 rounder. For Kirima it may well be last chance saloon and another loss is likely to end his dreams of ever becoming a champion, especially given he has lost 2 of his last 3, however the 31 year old will perhaps know that stringing together a few wins now could, potentially, land him a title fight in the next 12-18 months.
The other card is a low quality show from Aichi.
In the main event of this card the heavy handed Takuya Mizuno (8-1-1, 8) will be up against the hard matched Shota Okuda (7-3, 2). Whilst Mizuno has got the undeniable edge in power, given his 80% KO rate, it should be noted that Okuda has shared the ring with Ryota Kajiki and Shinji Takayama, both of whom are better than anyone Mizuno has faced. This should be a really goof test for both but Mizuno should take the win, if he's as good as some suspect.
In the co-feature Daiki Ichikawa (6-2, 4) will be facing off against Petchmahalert Eminent Air (0-2), with both men trying to bounce back from successive losses. Ichikawa started his career 6-0 and looked promising but losses in his last two bouts have killed his momentum and it's clear this easy match up has been made to get him back on the winning road.
The Champion Carnival continues this Saturday as Japanese fans get a Minimumweight title fight between two world ranked fighters each looking to prove their ability and move towards a world title fight.
That champion carnival bout will see Japanese champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (16-4-5, 6) defending his title, for the first time, against the unbeaten Takumi Sakae (13-0, 8). The champion won the title last year, out pointing a determined Hiroya Yamamoto, though is best known for set backs against Yu Kimura, Takuma Inoue, who was making his debut, and Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, who he actually held to a draw. For Sakae this is a big step up in class and although he won the Rookie of the Year in 2013 he hasn't really kicked on since. This is an acid test for both and the winner will almost certainly be thinking about world honours later in the year.
The only other bout of note on this card will see Japanese ranked Ryusei Yoshida (26-8, 13) face off with Thailand's Maneeden Kiatpratpat (0-0) in a 10 round support bout at 140lbs. Yoshida has gone 3-5 in the last 4 years but will be hoping to get his career back on track with a victory over Maneeden.
For a second day running Chinese fans have action with a show in Shanghai. This time around the main bouts come at 154lbs where we see two battles of unbeaten fighters.
One of those bouts will see Tong Hui Li (5-0, 3) take on Cheng Su (7-0-1, 5) in a contest between two 26 year olds. On paper this is a huge step up for both men but the winner should establish themselves as one of the more notable Chinese fighters.
The other bout will see teenager Alimu Tuersun (5-0-1) face off against 30 year old puncher Qiang Luo (5-0, 4) in what looks likely to be a “skill Vs power” match up. Neither of these two have faced anyone of note so far and this really could be a very intriguing bout.
In the USA fight fans will be able to see Kyrgyzstan born America based Urmat Ryskeldiev (11-3-2, 7) take on Aaron Coley (12-1-1,6). This looks like a really watch matched bout and although Coley will be favoured it is worth noting that Ryskeldiev is an upset minded fighter who always comes to win and could well shock the naturally bigger Coley.