The biggest bout for us this Saturday is from the US as Filipino maestro Mark Anthony Barriga (9-0, 1) takes on fellow unbeaten Carlos Licona (13-0, 2) in a bout for the vacant IBF Minimumweight. The bout, on the same as Deontay Wilder's contest against Tyson Fury, will be for the title Hiroto Kyoguchi gave up, as he moved up to Light Flyweight, and promises to Barriga a notable platform to showcase his skills, which have been compared to those of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Licona is a bit of a mystery to some, but should prove a good opponent for Barriga. Sadly with neither being much of a puncher this has the potential to be a less than thrilling fight to watch, but in terms of skills on show, both are very talented, and this really could be a special one for purists. A preview of this world title fight can be read here Barriga looks to announce himself on world stage, faces Licona for IBF title
As well as the bout in the US there is also a lot of action in Japan, with 7 title bouts spread across 3 different shows.
The main event of this card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) make his second defense, as he goes up against fellow veteran Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9). The all action Hosokawa won the title late last year and made his first defense in the Champion Carnival earlier this year, stopping Vladimir Baez in May. At the age of 37 Hosokawa is likely fighting father time, but has looked very impressive recently, and a win here will set up a defense against Koki Inoue. Inagaki, fighting in his 40th professional bout, will be getting a third title shot, but will be the clear under-dog against Hosokawa. We expect this will be fun, but it's hard to see Inagaki over-coming the high octane champion. A preview of this Japanese title fight can be read here Hosokawa takes on Inagaki on December 1st!
A potentially exciting supporting bout will see ranked Light Welterweights facing off. In one corner will be Hosokawa's stablemate Yusuke Konno (13-4, 7), the #2 ranked Japanese contender, whilst the other cone will play host to recent Japanese title challenger Vladimir Baez (24-4-2, 22), the same man who was stopped by Hosokawa. Konno will know that he could get a title fight next year, but needs to over-come Baez. Baez on the other hand is ranked by the OPBF and the WBO Asia Pacific as well as the JBC. The winner here will go into the new year with their eyes on title glory, but the loser will have some serious rebuilding to do.
Another supporting nout will see former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7) return to the ring for the first since losing the world title to Ryosuke Iwasa In September 2017. The talented Oguni will be easing himself back into action here as he takes on Indonesian journeyman Arega Yunian (6-11, 1) in what should be little more than a tune up for bigger and better things in 2019.
As well as the action in Tokyo there is a busy day in Osaka, with a couple of shows there, featuring a combined 6 title bouts! One of those shows is a female card with 4 title bouts on it.
The most significant of the title contests on the female show will see Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) defending her WBO female Minimumweight title against former WBA and IBF champion Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5), in what looks like a brilliant must win bout between two veterans. This will be Ebata's second defense of the title she won in May 2017, when she finally won a world title in her fifth shot. Sadly for Ebata she is now 42 and her desire to have a long reign, after all the time she spent chasing a belt, does seem unlikely. At 37 Tada is no spring chicken, but the former 2-time champion does have the edge in youth, experience and winning mentality. We're expecting both to show their age, but that will likely lead to more exchanges and more intense action, which we won't complain about. This world title bout was previewed here Ebata looks to defend WBO crown against Tada
In the chief support bout fans will see former amateur standout Kasumi Saeki (2-0, 1) fight in her first title bout, as she takes on Thai visitor Wassana Kamdee (3-4, 2) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title. Saeki is seen as one of the top Japanese female prospects and will be expected to do a number the Thai, who has been stopped in all 4 defeats, though her performance may decide whether her team fasts tracks her to a world title fight in early 2019 or not.
In an OPBF female Featherweight title bout we'll see Wakako Fujiwara (6-2-2, 2) take on the woman she took the title from, Kimika Miyoshi (13-11-1, 5). Fujiwara's win over Miyoshi for the belt, back in July, saw her extend her unbeaten run to 6 fights, and add the Oriental title to her reign as the Japanese national champion. Sadly for Miyoshi the loss to Fujiwara is her third in a row, and she's now without a win since June 2016. Fujiwara's first win over Miyoshi was an upset, but we suspect this will be a repeat, given the form of both fighters coming into the fight.
The remaining title bout is another OPBF title bout, which will see novice professional Eri Matsuda (1-0) look to set a Japanese record by claiming an OPBF title in just her 2nd professional bout. The talented Matsuda will be up against Minayo Kei (6-3, 1) in a bout for the vacant OPBF female Atomweight title, and if Matsuda wins there's a chance she could set a Japanese record for fewest fights taken to win a world title. Matsuda was a good amateur and it's clear that she believes she can be a very good professional, but this is a genuine test.
The second show in Osaka will also be a Shinsei promoted card from the EDION Arena Osaka, this time however the fous will be men, with two WBO Asia Pacific male title bouts on the show.
One of those bouts will see WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight champion Reiya Konishi (16-1, 6) defending his title against Filipino challenger Richard Rosales (13-7-2, 7). For Konishi this will be his first defense, following a victory over Orlie Silvestre for the belt earlier in the year, and he's said to be expecting a world title fight next year, if he wins here. Rosales will play the part of a game challenger, be we suspect he will be ground down by Konishi, and his high intensity work rate and body shots. Despite strongly favouring the champion to retain we do expect this to be a very fan friendly bout. We've previewed this bout here Konishi looks to end year with defense against Rosales
The other title bout will see Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) and Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) battle for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight. Both of these men have held the OPBF version of this title, and both are talented fighters in their own right. Of the two Nakamura is the more pure fighter, and he's a damned good boxer-puncher, but also the more vulnerable. The much shorter Magali is the more defensively sound and has regularly found ways to get inside bigger fighters and breaking them down. This has the potential to be a genuine thriller, with both men capable of hurting the other. A full preview of this bout can be read here Nakamura and Magali to battle for regional crown!
Originally the card was also announced as having former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-1, 9) facing off with Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (33-25-2, 18), but this bout was cancelled back in November due to an injury suffered by Kubo. As a result Manakane will face off with 19 year old prospect Ryo Suwa (9-1, 1), who will be looking to score his third win of the year.
A new week kicks off with an interesting Kadoebi card on Monday, with a host of notable fights, including two title fights a world ranked contender and a fast rising prospect.
The main event of the card with see Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto (18-1, 10) defending his two regional titles as he battles Australian Aaron Russell (11-4, 4). The bout seems to be more of a case of keeping Kyotaro busy rather than really testing him, with Russell being an under-sized and under-powered opponent who has fought mostly at Cruiserweight. With 4 stoppage losses against his name Russell seems like an opponent there to make Kyotaro look good, and that's exactly what we expect to see here.
A much more interesting title fights comes at 140lbs, as Japanese national champion Valentine Hosokawa (22-6-3, 9) defends his title against Japanese based Dominican puncher Vladimir Baez (24-3-2, 22) in what looks like a bout that could be something special. Hosokawa might not be well known outside of Japan but he has been involved in some thriller during his career and has proven to be tough, have a great engine and loves to fight. Baez is a huge puncher at this weight and is a marauding fighter, who will come forward and look to bomb out his opponent. We're not expecting a technical masterpiece here, but we are expecting some great action.
The aforementioned prospect is Flyweight hopeful Ryota Yamauchi (2-0, 2), who made his debut last June before shining in December by stopping Lester Abutan. Yamauchi will be looking to continue his rise as he takes on domestic contender Yota Hori (13-6-2, 8) in what is another still test for the 23 year old hopeful. A win for Yamauchi is likely to see him begin the push towards title fights and we wouldn't be surprised to see him in a title fight in the next 12 months, if he wins here. Of course a win for Yamauchi is no foregone conclusion and Hori is no push over, with wins over Musashi Suzuki, Kenta Okamura and a draw with Koki Eto showing he's a live underdog in this bout.
Another unbeaten man on this card is the world ranked Hiroki Okada (17-0, 12), who is looking to get a world title fight in the near future. Okada will be up against visiting Filipino fighter Ciso Morales (19-6-1, 12). On paper this looks like it could be a test for Okada, but reality is that Morales was stopped in a round on his last visit to Japan, by Shuya Masaki, and has been stopped in 5 of his 6 defeats. Not only that but he has made his career fighting well before the Light Welterweight limit, that Okada competes at. There's a risk of Okada over-looking the Filipino here but the reality is that Okada should come out on top with no real worries.
The biggest card, at least for us, this coming Thursday is a doubler header at the Korakuen Hall, with a WBO Asia Pacific title fight and a Japanese domestic title fight, along with a supporting bout involving a former Japanese champion.
The main event will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (18-2-1, 16) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title against the exciting Shusaku Fujinaka (16-7-2, 11). The bout will be Obara's first defense of the title, which he won earlier this year when he stopped Saddam Kietyongyuth, and should be a relatively straight forward one, against a limited but aggressive Fujinaka. The challenger is best known for a his 2015 loss to Randall Bailey and has shown a questionable chin, with 3 stoppage losses. Saying that however he's an exciting warrior and his recent bout with Moon Hyun Yun is one of the best Japanese fights of 2017. We expect action and excitement, but a clear win for Obara here.
The other title fight will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso (22-7-1, 15) taking on exciting challenger Valentine Hosokawa (21-6-3, 9). The bout is set to be one between two men who simply like to fight. They have styles that should gel, they have mentalities that should be made for each other, and it's hard to see how this bout will fail to be anything but thrilling. Aso, defending the title for the second time, is a high octane pressure fighter whilst Hosokawa is a bit more of a swarmer and the bout should be a balls to the wall war.
One other bout on this card worthy of note will see former Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (33-15-1, 7) fight for the 50th time! The 37 year old veteran will be up against a limited Thai foe, and will be expected to pick up a win to mark his half century of bouts.
In Canada we'll see a couple of talented fighters from Central Asia.
One of those will be heavy handed Canadian based Kazakh Ablaikhan Khussainov (6-0, 5), who faces off with Mexican Jesus Silveira (8-4-2, 3). The talented Kazakh has quietly gone about business and looks like a real talent but does still need some seasoning and it looks like that's the purpose of this bout. Silveira's record might suggest that he's a very limited fighter but but he's mixed with quality fighters, like Jose Zepeda, and no one has managed to stop him yet, suggesting he'll be a durable foe for Khussainov.
A second Canadian based Kazakh on this card will be Nurzat Sabirov (3-0, 3), who will be looking to record his 4th win in just over 6 months. The talented 23 year old has just needed 6 rounds to dispose of his first 3 opponents and if he keeps ripping through low tier foes it won't be long until they push him into bigger and better bouts against stiffer competition.
New York, USA
There will also be some central Asian interest in the US, courtesy of American based Uzbek fighter Hurshidbek Normatov (4-0, 2), who risks his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Nicklaus Flaz (5-0, 4). So far through his short career Normatov has impressed, not losing any of his 13 professional rounds, and looks like a potential one to watch. However the 25 year old born in Andijan hasn't really faced a notable test and this bout with Flaz should serve as a test of sorts. Puerto Rican puncher Flaz is a 22 year old with genuine bang, having stopped his first 4 opponents in a combined 5rounds, but was taken the distance last time out by Elie Augustama and may be biting off more than he can chew here.
In late March we see Ohashi putting on their first show of 2017, and although it's not a huge show, like the FES cards, it is a solid Phoenix Battle card with a host of notable names in action.
In the main event we see the highly talented Ryo Matsumoto (18-1, 16) take on domestic rival Hideo Sakamoto (17-3-3, 5) in a really good match up. Matsumoto, who under-went serious surgery last year to solve a long term medical issue, will be looking to make a huge mark in 2017 but will have to over-come Sakamoto first. If the youngster wins then all signs point towards Matsumoto getting a world title fight before the end of 2017. Sakamoto might not be a big name but he is a very under-rated fighter with notable wins over Kazuyoshi Niki, Hiroki Shiino and Ryotaro Kawabata, but has suffered recent losses to Seio Kono and Kentaro Masuda in recent years.
In a major supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Koki Inoue (6-0, 5) battle against Japanese ranked Mitsuyoshi Fujita (10-2, 3) in what should be a good test for Inoue. The unbeaten 24 year old only debuted in December 2015 but is one of the fastest rising fighters on the Japanese domestic scene and made a statement last year when he scored 5 wins, including a very impressive stoppage against Futoshi Usami. Fujita has suffered 2 losses, but has won 8 in a row since those back to back losses in 2013-2014. Although not as proven as Inoue he is experienced and has earned a Japanese ranking with wins against the likes of Yusuke Yamanouchi and Genki Maeda.
Another notable Ohashi gym fighter in action here is former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (21-2, 12), who faces domestic opponent Akiyoshi Kanazawa (14-6-4, 7). Hara scored two wins last year and looks to be rebuilding his career step by step following stoppage losses in 2014, to Kosei Tanaka, and in 2015, to Katsunari Takayama. This is a decent match up for for Hara, given he is rebuilding, but it's fair to say he needs to step up a bit later this year. Kanazawa has gone 3-4-1 in his last 8 though has been matched hard, and almost scored an upset last year over Kenichi Horikawa. Although limited Kanazawa will serve as a good test here.
A really interesting bout sees the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) finally battle with Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5). Originally this bout was supposed to take place in December 2014, as the Rookie of the Year Lightweight final, but Hiraoka suffered an illness forcing him out of the bout. Since then Yamaguchi has gone 4-2, though has been matched hard with losses to Akihiro Kondo and Genki Maeda, whilst Hiraoka spent notable time training in the US and signed with Ohashi late last year.
Another interesting match up will see Quaye Peter (9-8-2, 5) take on recent Japanese title challenger Valentine Hosokawa (20-6-3, 9) in a very fan friendly match up. Both guys have lost their last two, and will be coming to impress here, but neither has performed badly in all honestly Hosokawa was very unlucky last time out against Hiroki Okada. Given the styles of both men and their need to score a win we suspect this will be a really exciting contest with both men knowing a win could net them a title shot later in the year.
Also on the card is former Japanese champion Seiichi Okada (19-6-1, 11), who battles against the limited but tough Kentaro Yamada (8-7-1, 6). Yamada has lost his last 6, but he has been in with a real who's who including Rikki Naito, Masayuki Ito and Yuki Ogata, and will certainly be looking at this bout as a chance to end that losing run.
A new month kicks off and we're immediately into action with Boxingraise wasting no tume in streaking their first card of November, and it's a pretty good one from Kadoebi Houseki.
The main event of the card, and we suspect the real reason Boxingraise are streamign the show instead of putting it on delay, is a Japanese Light Welterweight title fight that sees reigning champion Hiroki Okada (13-0, 10) defending his title against veteran Valentine Hosokawa (20-5-3, 9). For Okada the bout will be his 6th defense of the title and many have assumed that if he wins he will choose to vacate the title in 2017 and chase the OPBF title, rather than face mandatory challenger Koichi Aso, who he has already beaten twice. For Hosokawa the bout will be a third title bout and if he loses here the odds are that he won't get another at this level.
In the chief support bout we see Japanese ranked fighters facing off with Japanese ranked Featherweight Takenori Ohashi (12-4-2, 8) taking on ranked Super Featherweight Takahiro Araki (9-5, 4), with Araki coming down in weight for the bout. Whilst neither guy looks great on paper they have styles that should gel well and should make for an interesting bout, that both will believe they can win.
Top ranked Japanese Welterweight contender Daisuke Sakamoto (12-8-3, 7) will be in action against unknown Thai Kriangkrai Suksanguan (1-0, 1). Sakamoto, like many Japanese fighters in and around the Middleweights, has a misleading record full of early career setbacks. Just 3 years ago he was 7-8-1 (3) but has since gone 5-0-2 (4) and holds a major win over Japanese champion Toshio Arikawa and will be hunting a title fight in 2017.
On the under-card we'll see the touted Kazuki Saito (1-0, 1) battle against Thailand's Petchmahalert Eminent Air (0-3). Whilst Saito might not be one of the big name Japanese prospects the 24 year old was a very accomplished amateur, going 83-14, and is tipped to do big things in the near future. The Thai has been stopped in his 3 previous bouts and we suspect to see the same happen again here.
We were also supposed to see Yuta Nakagawa (18-4-1, 9) face Keigo Soma (8-11-2, 4) on this card, though that bout has been cancelled.
The Japanese action continues through this coming week, and on Wednesday Hideki Todaka puts on a show at the Korakuen Hall. The card is certainly not a big one but it does have some interesting match ups.
One of those interesting match ups is the main event, which will see former JBC and OPBF title challenger Valentine Hosokawa (20-4-3, 9) take on talented novice Noriaki Sato (2-1-1). On paper it's clear that Hosokawa will be the favourite but Sato is a live under-dog and a man who will know winning here will totally change his career. Whilst he will be the under-dog he did impress last time out, fighting to a draw with Yuya Okazaki.
Another bout of interest on this card will see the light punching Koya Sato (7-3-1, 1) face the more experienced Ganbare Shota (11-6-1, 2). Neither of these fighters will be expecting to score a knockout but both will be coming to win and that could result in this being a very good fight.
Japanese fight fans get a real treat this coming Tuesday with a brilliantly matched Dangan show, that has two solid looking main bouts and another good looking support bout.
In the main event of the show fans will see the always fun to watch Shuhei Tsuchiya (18-4, 15) battle against Kazuki Matsuyama (12-5, 6) in what looks like a thrilling match up between two Japanese ranked fighters. Coming into this one Tsuchiya is ranked at 135lbs whilst Matsuyama is ranked at 140lbs, however the bout will be fought around 136.7lbs, a point between the two divisions. Of the two men Tsuchiya is the more well known, and is a very fan friendly fighter, despite numerous limitations. Matsuyama on the other hand is less well known, though does come into the bout on the back of a 6 fight winning streak and will have a lot of confidence coming into this.
In a supporting bout we'll see another two Japanese ranked fighters facing off. This time it will be Valentine Hosokawa (19-4-3, 9), a former OPBF and Japanese title challenger, up against Cristiano Aoqui (10-3-2, 6). These two are both highly ranked by the JBC and the winner may be heading towards a title shot next year. Hosokawa has lost 2 of his last 5, though they have come against Shinya Iwabuchi and Min Wook Kim, but he is currently on a 3 fight winning run. Aoqui is also on a 3 fight winning streak, though is 3-1-1 in his last 5, whilst competing at a lower level than Hosokawa. This could be a really good bout, and it will certainly be a very important one for the domestic Japanese scene.
Another ranked fighter in action is the JBC and OPBF ranked Hirotsugu Yamamoto (18-11-2, 3) who goes up against the heavy handed Toshiya Yokogawa (7-9-1, 6). Yamamoto has shown frailties in the past, and has suffered 6 stoppage losses, so whilst he will be the favourite coming into this he will need to be aware of Yokogawa's power, which has been his key weapon so far in his career.