On the final Tuesday before Christmas Japanese fight fans get a really good looking Kadoebi promoted card from the Korakuen Hall, with several bouts of genuine significance.
The most important of the bouts is the main event of the show, which will see the unbeaten Hiroki Okada (16-0, 11) take on the highly experienced Jason Pagara (40-2-1, 25) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title. The Japanese local knows that a win here will almost certainly be followed by a world title eliminator next year, with Okada having been ordered to face Ivan Baranchyk in an IBF eliminator however Pagaea is no push over. Interestingly Pagara, who is the WBO #8 ranked fighter at 147lbs, comes into this bout on the back of a FOTY contender against James Onyango, a bout that showed Pagara's faults and heart as he narrowly came away with a draw. This could be a very entertaining fight, and is a very significant one for both men involved.
The chief support bout will see touted former amateur star Ryota Yamauchi (1-0, 1) take a huge step up in class to face off with Lester Abutan (12-6-3, 6). The talented and touted Yamauchi impressed on debut and will now be tasked with facing someone who really is a very tough opponent for a second bout and is ranked in the top 15 by the OPBF. For Abutan the bout sees him returning to Japan for his second bout in the country, with the first being a loss in an OPBF title fight to Ken Shiro. It should be noted that Abutan hasn't just faced off with Ken Shiro but also fought to a split with Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and is a really still test for Yamauchi
A third bout pitting Japan against the Philippines will see Yuta Nakagawa (21-5-1, 12) take on Markquil Salvana (13-4, 7). We last saw Nakagawa involved in a thrilling contest with Yasutaka Ishimoto, in a Japanese title eliminator, with Nakagawa losing the split decision in that bout. That loss to Ishimoto saw Nakagawa ending a 12 fight unbeaten run, and he'll be looking to get back to winning ways here. Salvana was once 9-0 (3) but has gone 4-4 (4) in his last 8 bouts, including losses in Japan to Takuya Uehara and Shota Hayashi, and has interestingly never won outside of his homeland.
In an all Japanese bout fans will see Japanese ranked Light Welterweight Yusuke Konno (11-4, 5) take on Welterweight puncher Kazuya Maruki (20-5, 13). The 32 year old Konno was last in the ring back in June, when he lost in a thriller against Koichi Aso for the Japanese Light Welterweight title. That bout showed that Konno really could fight, and he'll be looking to put in a similar performance here. The naturally bigger, and younger, Maruki has gone 3-3 in his last 6, including 2 losses in his last 3 bouts, but will likely feel his edge in youth and natural size advantage will be enough. It's hard to not excited about this bout given that both are flawed, aggressive and exciting fighters.
One other fighter of note on this card is Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Wataru Takeda (11-1-1, 5), who will be facing off with a Thai opponent. Takeda has won his last 2 by stoppage following a close loss to Ryohei Takahashi in October 2016 and it does seem like his team have got big plans for 2016, with this bout serving as just a stay busy fight before Christmas.
For a second day running we get a show dedicated to the Japanese Youth Tournament, with 3 finals and two semi finals taking place on a show that really looks brilliant on paper in regards to even match ups, even if the card lacks bit name appeal.
On paper the best of the bouts is the Flyweight final, which pits two unbeaten punchers against each other in a real humdinger. In one corner is 2016 Flyweight Rookie of the year Junto Nakatani (12-0, 9), who had to answer real questions last time out against Yuma Kudo in his semi-final bout. In the opposite corner is 2015 Light Flyweight Rookie of the year Seigo Yuri Akui (11-0-1, 7), who enters on the back of 5 stoppage wins including a huge one over Kenji Ono and a solid showing in his semi final against Ryuto Oho. This has the potential to be the best bout of the whole Youth Tournament and is a really tough one to call.
At Super Bantamweight we're expecting a full on shoot out as 21 year old Ryota Ishida (8-1, 6) takes on 22 year old Takuya Mizuno (11-1-1,11). Ishida has stopped his last 3, and hasn't seen the final bell since he was fighting in 4 rounders, more than 2 years ago. Mizuno has stopped his last 4 foes, and has shown power through out fights with stoppages in rounds every round from 1 to 6. This promises to be be a hard hitting bout, and although we favour Mizuno, it could go either way, and should be a real treat.
On paper the worst of the finals is at Bantamweight, where the recently beaten pairing of Wataru Takeda (10-1-1, 4) and Yuto Nakamura (7-3, 6) face off. Takeda was beaten last October, just 2 fights back, by Ryohei Takakhashi after claiming the 2015 Rookie of the year, and although he has shown some signs of being a real prospect there are still a lot of questions left for him to answer. Although beaten 3 times Nakamura has never been outclassed, with all 3 losses being razor thin ones and he will be in there looking to make a statement. This looks like the worst of the finals for the day, but should still deliver a great contest.
At Light Welterweight we get two semi-final bouts. One of those will see the once beaten Ukyo Yoshigai (5-1, 4) take on Andy Hiraoka (9-0, 6) in a really interesting contest. Yoshigai, who won the 2016 Rookie of the year, was beaten back in April by Giraffe Kirin Kanda, but that loss will have helped his development. Hiraoka on the other hand has looked great in recent bouts, but has only fought 10 rounds since the end of 2014, and it's hard to know how good he really is, even if he does pass the eye test with ease.
The other bout looks like a potential fire fight as Hayato Ono (5-1, 5) battles Takahiko Kobayashi (6-2, 5). Between the two men they have heard the final bell just once, in what was Kobayashi's most recent bout. Ono will see this as a potential chance to set up a rematch with Yoshigai, the only man to have beaten him, whilst Kobayashi will be looking to avenge a 2016 loss to Ono, in which he was stopped in the 5th round. There's history here, two punchers, and two men who have questionable durability. With this one the best advice is don't blink!
This coming Tuesday sees attention turn back to Tokyo for the next show from the Korakuen Hall. The card, for those interested, will be featured on A-Sign giving fans a chance to see the bouts a day after they take place.
The main event of the card sees former world title challenger Ryo Akaho (27-2-2, 18) take on the once beaten Hiroaki Teshigawara (12-1-2, 6). Coming in to this Akaho is the #2 ranked Japanese Bantamweight contender, however he has only fought once in the last year and is only 14 months removed from a 2nd round KO loss to Pungluang Sor Singyu in a world title bout in Thailand. Teshigawara is riding an 8 fight unbeaten run coming in to this and will be high on confidence and looking for a career best win.
A really interesting looking supporting bout will see Ryohei Takahashi (9-2-1, 2) face the unbeaten Wataru Takeda (9-0-1, 3) in a rematch. These two met 3 years ago, fighting to a draw, and since then have both progressed nicely. Takahashi has claimed the 2014 Rookie of the Year and gone 9-1, with that sole loss being in a regional title fight to Andrew Moloney in Australia, whilst Takeda has gone 9-0 (3) and claimed the Rookie of the Year crown in 2015. This is a bout that is really intriguing and will go mostly over-looked despite having all the ingredients of a brilliant fight.
This coming week look likely to be an interesting one for boxing, after a relatively quiet week, and it kicks off tomorrow, in Japan with a card headlined by a very good looking bout.
In the main event fight fans will see former Japanese and OPBF Lightweight champion Yoshitaka Kato (29-7-1, 9) battle against the once beaten, and currently world ranked, Brandon Ogilvie (16-1, 8). Coming in to this one Kato has lost his last two and will know that he cannot afford a third successive loss, however Ogilvie will be confident of winning, especially given the recent performance by fellow Aussie Dwight Ritchie in Japan.
In a supporting bout former Japanese Flyweight title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (14-6-2, 9) will be up against Seiya Fujikita (8-3, 1). Fujita has lost his last two bouts, but both were very close decisions, and will know that he's better than his record suggests. Sakashita on the other hand is 2-2 in his last 4, though those wins came against very limited opponents.
One other bout worth noting here will see the unbeaten, and promising Wataru Takeda (8-0-1, 2) face off against Yuki Furuya (6-7, 2). Takeda, who is on an 8 fight winning run, is stepping up to fight in his first 8 rounder and will know that a win here will push him up the domestic rankings. As for Furuya, he is fighting for the first time since November 2014 and is win-less in almost 8 years.