One of the best Japanese shows of the month comes on June 8th in a card that has so many good bouts it's difficult to really know which contest is the most exciting.
The main event is a Lightweight clash between current Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (12-0, 5) and former “world” title contender Nihito Arakawa (25-5-1, 16). This is a huge step up in class for Naito and is also a move up in weight for a man that many have tipped as a potential world champion. For Arakawa, who has shown signs of being on the slide, this is a must win after 3 losses in his last 4. On paper it's a brawler against a mover and we expect this could be something very special with both men being forced to answer a lot of questions if they are to come out on top. Brave match making from both and the sort of match up that we love.
The co-main event will see the always fun to watch Koki Eto (16-3-1, 12) defending his OPBF Flyweight title against unheralded challenger Yuki Fukumoto (17-9, 5). On paper it looks like a mismatch though having followed Eto's career in the way we have we know he never makes life easy for himself and he'll almost certainly find a way to get himself in to some sort of trouble before scoring the all important win. We suspect that a win for Eto will be followed by him vacating the title and turning his focus on to winning a world title, though he is unfortunately stuck in one of the sports most stacked divisions.
In a supporting bout we see the promising Koki Koshikawa (4-0, 2) take a huge step up in class as he takes on former Japanese and OPBF title challenger Koshinmaru Saito (20-7-1, 11). Koshikawa, a fighter from the Celes gym, is tipped to go a long way following a solid amateur career on the domestic scene however Saito is very experienced and came very close to winning the Japanese Welterweight title last year. This is a great match up and should answer questions regarding the future of both fighters.
Another supporting bout will see Yusaku Kuga (10-1-1, 6) put his OPBF and Japanese rankings on the like against the more experienced Kojiro Takada (13-8-3, 9). We suspect that the talented Kuga will over-come Takada but this will be a good test for the once beaten fighter who will likely be looking at getting a Japanese title fight in the next 12-18 months, if he wins again here.
One other bout of note will see the heavy handed and really exciting Daigo Higa (5-0, 5) in action against Filipino southpaw Cris Alfante (11-4, 4). Higa has looked like a destructive ball of anger so far but this is a big step up against a man who has mixed with very good fighters. Alfante has experience to make things very tricky for Higa however the home fighter has looked like a sensational prospect and will be hoping to shine again here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)