The main show this coming Saturday, for us at least, is the annual All-Japan Rookie of the Year final which will be held at the Korakuen Hall and feature 12 bouts, from Minimumweight to Middleweight. The event is so significant in the Japanese boxing calendar that it will be aired, live, on G+ in one of their final pre-Christmas shows of 2017.
Whilst the show is a really significant one we won't go through all the bouts, just a few that stand out for us.
One of those bouts is the Minimumweight contest, which will seen teenagers Retsu Akabane (2-0, 1) and Yuga Inoue (5-0-1) clash. Akabane is an 18 year old who claimed the Rookie of the East by beating two unbeaten men and really not losing a round on route. He looked fantastic and very promising. The West Japanese fighter is more experienced with 6 bouts but he could only score a draw in his last outing and does appear to lack power, which could be an issue against someone as talented as Akabane.
Another bout between unbeaten men takes place at Featherweight, with Ren Sasaki (5-0, 3) taking on Shuto Takase (4-0-1, 1). Aged 22 Sasaki is the East Japan champion and comes into this bout on the back of a big win over Rotu Kiyota, though has had questions asked of him in other bouts. Takase is the slightly younger man at 21 and has had a number of very close bouts, despite those close ones he's unbeaten and will come into this with plenty of confidence.
We're expecting the most explosive bout to be at Super Featherweight as we get two punchers colliding. In one corner will be the once beaten Zirolian Riku (8-1, 8), a 29 year old who won the East Japan Rookie of the year whilst the other corner will have 18 year banger Musashi Mori (4-0, 4). Riku has fought 24 rounds as a professional, since debuting in November 2014. He lost on his debut but has since reeled off 8 straight stoppages including 3 in the opening round. Mori on the other hand has fought just 6 rounds, he has never gone beyond round 2 and has looked like a vicious southpaw so far since his debut juster over a year ago. This bout will not be one you want to look away from and will not be one that is likely to go to the final bell.
At Light Welterweight we see 20 year old Munetaka Kihara (3-1, 1) take on 32 year old Japanese based American Marcus Smith (4-0, 4). The youngster lost on debut in November 2016 but has since reeled off 3 wins and got his career motoring whilst winning the East Japan Rookie of the Year. He's still perhaps a little physically immature but with 15 rounds under his belt he has proven his stamina at this level and can go 4 rounds. Smith has taken his 4 wins in a combined 6 rounds and the Southpaw is a very heavy handed fighter who has never seen the start of round 3. This is going to be Kihara's skills against Smith's power in what should be a very intriguing bout.
As well as the Japanese rookies we'll also see Filipino rookie Carl Jammes Martin (6-0, 5) in action, with the talented 19 year old looking to build on an excellent year. Martin will be up against Thailand's Chatpayak Sithkopon (14-18, 12) in a bout for the Interim WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Bantamweight title. The promising Filipino has scored 3 wins already this year, and claimed his first title, but a win here could help him begin a relationship with the WBC. The Thai visitor on the other hand has had an ultra busy 2017 and has gone 8-4 in 2017, though it should be noted he is 0-3 when fighting outside of Thailand this year.
In India fight fans will be able to see local hero Vijender Singh (9-0, 7) defending his regional WBO titles against hard hitting visitor Ernest Amuzu (23-2, 21), from Ghana. For Singh the bout looks like a potential chin check against a heavy handed and tough visitor. It's worth noting that the visitor has fought very low level competition, but his power does seem to be effective at that lower level and he will come into this one with a lot of confidence. For Singh the bout is another chance to shine in front of his local fans, but it's hard to see him moving towards a world title fight, and given his age he doesn't have time to waste on bouts like this.