This coming Thursday Japanese fight fans will get the chance to see a really interesting double header at the Korakuen Hall.
One of those bouts will see Japanese Lightweight hopeful Shuichiro Yoshino (6-0, 4) make his first defense of the title as he takes on mandatory challenger Masaki Saito (14-12-6, 5) in the second Champion Carnival bout of 2018. The talented Yoshino has risen through the ranks at an impressive pace since debuting at the end of 2015 and despite only having 6 fights he has already beating veterans like Chaiyong Sithsaithong and Yoshitaka Kato as well as top domestic foes like Spicy Matsushita. Sadly Saito is a limited challenger, especially as a mandatory, and appears to have gotten a shot in part due to the lack of depth in the division. Although limited Saito is tough, having only been stopped once, back in 2006, and tall, at around 5'11”, and is more likely to ask questions of Yoshino rather than really test him.
Whilst the Japanese title bout looks likely to be a one-sided win for the champion the other title bout looks likely to be a thrilling war. That's because the all action Hiroaki Teshigawara (15-2-2, 9) will be defending his WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title against teak tough Filipino puncher Jason Canoy (27-7-2, 19). The champion first made a mark in 2015, fighting to a draw with Hideo Sakamoto and then made a name for himself in 2016 with a narrow loss to Ryo Akaho in one of the forgotten wars of the year. Last year we saw Teshigawara score a thrilling win over Keita Kurihara before stopping Jetro Pabustan to claim the regional title. As for Canoy he's a big punching tough guy, who has scored wins over the likes of Drian Francisco, Giovanni Escaner, Jestoni Autida and Renerio Arizala. To date Canoy tends to come up short against his best opponents, including a then debuting Hinata Maruta, but is always a tough out and should give us a war with Teshigawara, who is always up for a fire fight. This could be a very special fight.
One other fighter on this card of some note is Masataka Taniguchi (9-2, 7). The talented Watanabe gym fighter has lost 2 of his last 5, though they have both been razor thin losses to fellow talented youngsters, Reiya Konishi and Tsubasa Koura, and it'd be downright foolish to write the 24 year old off given the talent he has. We're unsure who he will be up against here, but we are aware it's a Filipino opponent and the odds are that Taniguchi will be moved towards another title fight later in the year.
This coming Saturday sees us turn our attention to G+ for the next live card to be aired on their channel
In the main event of the card we'll see former WBC Flyweight champion Toshiyuki Igarashi (23-2-2, 12) battle against upset minded American Miguel Cartagena (15-3, 6), with both men risking world rankings coming into this bout. Igarashi, who has had a stop-start career in recent times, will be looking to kick start his career which really has struggled to have momentum since losing the WBC title almost 4 years ago. Cartagena will be entering this bout 3-3 in his last 6, but does come into the bout on the back of a career best win over Joebert Alvarez, who he stopped inside a round last July.
The best of the supporting bouts will see the hotly tipped Shuya Masaki (6-0, 3) take on Shingo Eto (17-5-1, 9) in a delayed bout, that was originally scheduled for last year though had to be cancelled after Eto was forced to pull out of the bout. Masaki is tipped as one of the most promising fighters at the Teiken gym and is primed for big things, but this is a big step up for him and Eto, who has lost his last 2, will be looking to resurrect his career here. The bout is a key one for both men, and should be a thrilling one to watch.
Another supporting bout will see Yoshinobu Kakinaga (6-2, 2) take on 2016 Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year Ryoji Fukunaga (8-2, 8), one of two Super Rookie of the Year's on this card. The 30 year old Fukunaga will be fighting in his first 8 rounder and will be hoping that a win could move him, slowly, towards a Japanese title fight and we suspect that'll be where he and his team are looking for him to be in the next 24 months. As for Kakinaga the 23 year old will potentially see this bout as chance for him to move into the Japanese rankings and we're expecting a really exciting encounter here.
The other Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year on this card is 2015 winner Hayate Kaji (6-0, 5), who will be fighting in a relative stay busy fight against a Thai foe. We're hoping that Kaji will have a big 2017, but given he's a genuine youngster there is no need to rush him, and he's getting great gym time at the Teiken with the likes of Shinsuke Yamanaka. Sadly for Kaji fans it does feel like a second successive stay busy fight, a shame for someone with his natural talented and power.
American fans will see exciting Filipino Mercito Gesta (29-1-2, 16) return to the ring as he takes on the big punching Gilberto Gonzalez (26-3, 22) in a tough looking Lightweight bout. The once touted Gesta will be ending an 18 month break from the ring and his stop-start career has been a thoroughly frustrating one that promised so much, but has delivered so little. Gonzalez is beatable, and this is a must win for Gesta, but the Mexican has the power and size to cause Gesta real problems.
In the Netherlands we'll see Azeri Bakhtiyar Isgandarzada (11-10, 4) battle unbeaten Dutch hopeful Steve Suppan (6-0-1, 4). Suppan, the UBO Youth champion at 140lbs, should be far too good for the Azeri. Although a journeyman Isgandarzada has shared the ring with a number of respectable names, including Viorel Simion, and will look to make the most of that experience here.