The most notable card this coming Sunday comes from Kobe where we get a world title fight, a Japanese title fight, a once beaten hopeful and an unbeaten prospect.
The world title bout will see the once beaten Reiya Konishi (17-1, 7) challenge huge punching IBF Light Flyweight champion Felix Alvarado (34-2, 30), in what looks like a really tough test for the Japanese hopeful. Konishi is a former Japanese Minimumweight champion who is best known for losing a competitive bout to Carlos Canizales last year, in a really good but now forgotten bout, and this will be his second shot at a world title. Alvarado on the other hand is looking to make his first defense of a title he won last year, when he battered Randy Petalcorin into submission. Alvarado is one of the true danger men at 108lbs and we suspect he will be too powerful for Konishi, though few can question Konishi's heart and desire, which could make this very, very fan friendly. A full preview of this bout can be read here Konishi challenges heavy handed champion Alvarado!
The second title fight on this card will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (39-15-1, 13) make his first defense, as he goes up against Masashi Tada (13-5-3, 8). Horikawa is a true veteran of the Japanese scene, and is enjoying his second reign at the age of 39. Although an old man Horikawa has great energy and desire and is riding an excellent 7 fight winning run into this bout, having gone unbeaten since a 2017 loss to Tetsuya Hisada. As for Tada this will be his second Japanese title fight, following a loss in 2014 to Go Odaira in a bout for the Japanese Minimumweight title. The loss to Odaira saw Tada take a lengthy break from the ring before returning in 2017 and going 0-1-2 in his first 3 bouts, though he has now scored back to back wins to get this shot at Horikawa. At 29 Tada has youth on his side, but this is a massive step up for him. Our preview of this bout is available here Veteran Horikawa battles Tada!
Also on this card are Ryo Suwa (10-1, 1) and Tetsuro Ohashi (6-0-1, 1), neither of whom have had their opponents named at the time of writing. Suwa has scored 3 straight wins since losing in 2017 to Ikuro Sadatsune, and is a very talented fighter, even if he lacks power. Ohashi, also a feather fisted fighter, impressed last year when he won the Rookie of the Year and we're really excited to see where the 20 year old Super Flyweight can go following that success.
A second Japanese card comes from Shizuoka, where we get the next Suruga Boys card. Although a much smaller card than the Kobe one, it is an interesting one with several good looking match ups, and the next appearance of a very promising young prospect.
The main event will see former Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (14-6-1, 9) take on the heavy handed but limited Daiki Ichikawa (11-5, 9). Coming in to this Sugita has gone 4-4, alternating wins and losses in his last 8, and using that record he should be on track to pick up a win here. Ichikawa has lost 3 of his last 5 and whilst he's not the most skilled fight he does have heavy hands, and if he lands cleanly on the crafty Sugita he could pick up a shock stoppage.
The chief support bout will see Japanese ranked Super Bantamweights clashing, with Yuta Horiike (15-6-3, 3) taking on Gakuya Furuhashi (24-8-1, 13). Of the two men it's Furuhashi who is better known, thanks to 2 domestic title fights, but the 31 year old from Kanagawa has had a very tough career and is stepping up after 6 relatively straight forward wins. At 34 Horiike is the older man, and whilst he hasn't got the in-ring miles that Furuhashi has he isn't as technically good as his foe. The loser of this really will have no where to go.
Arguably the best bout on this card is actually a huge step up for a touted prospect. That prospect is Tsubasa Murachi (3-0, 3), who leaps up in class to take on Filipino Raymond Tabugon (21-9-1, 11) in a mouth watering clash. Although little known outside of Japan Murachi is a fantastic talent who had real questions to answer last time out, against Chinese fighter Sheng Peng, and we're expecting him to need to answer more questions here. Tabugon is a 28 year old who has lost 2 of his last 3, but has mixed with a who's who, including Luis Nery, Juan Francisco Estrada, Andrew Moloney and has previously scored upsets in the past, including wins over Lito Dante and Jake Bornea. This could be a very, very tough test for Murachi.
This coming Wednesday is a notable day in Asian boxing, with a big fight in Thailand, and a small yet noteworthy card in Japan.
The Thai show will be headlined by the rematch between WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (18-0, 7) and Nicaraguan foe Byron Rojas (25-3-3, 11), who he actually beat for the title in 2016. Knockout had been the interim champion prior to taking the full title from Rojas, and since winning the full title he has made 5 defenses including wins over Shin Ono, Rey Loreto and Xiong Zhao Zhong. In recent fights the champion has looked solid and dependable, rather than sensational and exciting, with an going joke that his name should be Unanimous Decision CP Freshmart. As for Rojas he comes into the bout on an 8 fight winning streak, though those wins have come at a much lower level than Knockout's and it's unclear how he will cope with the step back up in class. Given their first bout we're not anticipating a thrilling clash here. A preview of this bout is available here Knockout and Rojas meet in rematch for WBA crown!
In Tokyo we'll get another in the Japan Vs China series of shows that Dangan have been putting on.
Among the fighters included on this card is former amateur stand out Shu Utsuki (2-0, 1), who we believe is taking on fellow unbeaten Da Xu (3-0-1, 1) in an 8 round Super Featherweight bout. Utsuki is tipped to be a star and we have to strongly favour him to defeat the Chinese teenager.
Another unbeaten Japanese prospect on this card is Tsubasa Murachi (2-0, 2), who faces off with limited visitor Sheng Peng (3-5, 2), in another that should go Japan's way however we are interested to see what Murachi can show here.
One other Japanese prospect on this card is Kaiki Yuba (3-0-1, 2), though sadly we don't have the name of his opponent.
Arguably the best of the Japan Vs China bouts is a match up between the limited pairing of Shun Wakabayashi (8-3, 1) and Xian Qian Wei (13-6-1, 1). Both of these fighters are very flawed, lack power, but do make for entertaining contests and we wouldn't be surprised to see this being the potential bout of the day, with a high intensity and the belief that either man can win.
This card will also include an OPBF female title bout as Erika Hanawa (9-3, 3) battles Jujeath Nagaowa (13-18-1, 8) for the Minimumweight title. Both of these fighters have come up short at the top level, but they should make for a competitive bout against each other, with both being flawed and limited fighters. Despite their limitations they aren't actually bad fighters and this could be a very entertaining distraction from the Japan Vs China competition.
A third card for the day will come from Shenzhen in China, with a trio of title bouts on the card.
In a WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Crruiserweight title fight Chinese local hopeful Peng Qu (13-2-1, 9) will take on the hard hitting Abraham Tabul (14-1-1, 12). This will be Qu's second bout since abandoning the Light Heavyweight division at the turn of the year, following a loss to Gasan Gasanov, and we suspect his frame will suit Cruiserweight much better than it did at 175lbs. Saying that however Cruiserweights do hit significantly harder than the Light Heavyweights he had previously been fighting and we expect to see him being chin checked here. Tabul, from Accra in Ghana, is 0-1 outside of his homeland, and his competition so far lacks any real quality and it's very hard to know what he brings to the ring.
A second title fight on this show will see Cheng Su (12-2-1, 6) battle against Thai foe Panturak Namtong (10-4-1, 7) for the WBO Oriental Super Welterweight title. It's hard to know what either man has done to get a shot at this belt, given that neither has notched a win of note and both have suffered a recent stoppage loss to a poor opponent. All things considered we suspect the local will pick up the win, but he's not going to go much further as a professional.
Sadly the biggest name on the card, OPBF Silver Super Featherweight champion Takuya Watanabe (35-8-1, 20) is actually a man involved in the biggest mismatch on the card, as he defends his title against Wisitsak Saiwaew (6-7, 5), who is best known for being stopped by Watanabe's stablemate Sho Kimura, at Flyweight. We are huge admirers of Watanabe, and his career has been a thoroughly entertaining one as well as one which has seen him fighting in Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taipei and China, but this is his third limited foe in a row. This really is little more than a show case for the talented. tough and exciting Watanabe.