Action finally returns to this coming weekend as we get the first Japanese show of 2016.
In the main event we'll see a Japanese title unification bout at 140lbs. The bout sees unbeaten champion Hiroki Okada (10-0, 8) faces interim champion Masanobu Nakazawa (18-1-1, 7) in a bout to unify the title that was split, last year, when Okada was injured. This is, on paper, Okada;s toughest bout so far, especially when you consider his long lay off due to the injury, but will be confident of inflicting a second loss on Nakazawa, who was previously stopped by Shuhei Tsuchiya.
An interesting support bout comes at Middleweight where the promising Shoma Fukumoto (7-1, 6) battles recent OPBF and JBC title challenger Yasuyuki Akiyama (10-5-1, 8). This is Akiyama's first bout since being beaten last year by Akio Shibata whilst Fukumoto will be fighting for the first time since joining the Kadoebi gym. Fukumoto, due to the gym transfer, will be be fighting for the first time in 7 months though will be favoured over the 36 year old Akiyama, who looked awful against Shibata.
Another good looking support bout sees recent Japanese Flyweight challenger Yusuke Sakashita (13-6-2, 8) face Masashi Odaira (6-4-2, 2). On paper it's hard to doubt Sakashita's the favourite, but with 2 losses in his last 3 bouts, including a 1-punch KO loss to Suguru Muranaka, he really needs to shine here.
A third notable under-card bout will see another recent title challenger in action as Yuki Ogata (21-2-1, 3) battles Keisuke Arima (8-11-1, 1). It's hard to see this being anything but a decision win for Ogata but it could be much more competitive than the records suggest.
In the US fans will get the chance to see unbeaten Filipino Dodie Boy Penalosa Jr (17-0, 13), who faces a yet to be named opponent. The talented young Filipino scored 4 wins in the US last year and will be expected to grab a 5th successive victory, though sadly it's hard to get too excited given his level of competition.
To close out the month Japanese fans get a bit of a treat with a couple of national title fights and a couple of good support bouts. The card isn't one of the strongest you'll see but it's certainly not a terrible card to end September.
The main event sees Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (14-1-1, 4) defending his title for the second time, as he takes on the heavy handed Taiki Minamoto (10-4, 9). Oguni hasn't looked great in recent bouts, taking a razor think with over Yasutaka Ishimoto and a draw with Gakuya Furuhashi, but should be too skilled for Minamoto. For the challenger his best chance is to land a bomb, and he does have the power to do just that. This is one of thse Boxer Vs Puncher bouts and whilst we side the boxer here, he could well be caught at any point.
The other title bout comes at Welterweight where Japanese champion Suyon Takayama (22-1, 7) looks to extend his long, but uninspiring, reign as champion. Takayama will be putting his title on the line against the limited Ryoji Tanaka (8-4-1, 2), who has lost his last 2 bouts. Although Takayama has been less than great as a champion, at least in terms of how he has won his bouts, his reign has included 5 title defenses and he's certainly not a man who will let title easily slip from his grasp.
In a good supporting bout fans will see former Japanese Featherweight title challengers collide as Yuki Ogata (21-1-1, 3) takes on Noriyuki Ueno (17-13-5, 5). A few years ago this bout could have been a really good match up, sadly however Ueno has lost his last 2 bouts and looks to be on the slide, having suffered a rare stoppage loss last time out.
A well as the card in Japan there will also be a small show in the Philippines.
The main event here is a 10 round bout between teenagers as the unbeaten 18 year old Jerald Deniega (6-0, 4) takes on heavy handed 19 year old Geo Santisima (6-2, 5). Given the records of the two men this could be very explosive and may well be a “blink and you miss it” bout. Whilst the records are good we need to applaud both men for taking this bout at this embryonic stage in their career's and hopefully both will go on to move into bigger and better bouts down the line.
A well matched 8 rounder will see the unbeaten 20 year old Jess Rhey Waminal (6-0-1, 4) battles against 19 year old Carlo Demecillo (4-2, 1). This is another wonderful match up between two young fighters who know that a win really pushes them forward whilst they can bounce back from a loss.
A similarly matched 6 rounder will see 21 year old Junder Gregorio (4-0) take in Peter Apolinar (5-1, 3) in what again looks like a marvelous match up. Gregorio, a non-puncher, will know that Apolinar's only loss, suffered last time out, was a stoppage but will likely feel confident of extending his own perfect record
(Image courtesy of www.boxmob.jp)
It's fair to say April has been a really interest month and it ends in an interesting fashion as well with a trio of Japanese title bouts as well as a compelling contest for a Filipino hopefully. A really good way to end the month and a brilliant way to move towards a potentially mind blowing May.
One of the really exciting shows this month for Japanese fans comes on the final day of April as the fans get a brilliant Japanese title triple header with an under-card that also delivers.
The main event, and for many international fans the real bout of interest, comes at Heavyweight as Japanese champion Kyotaro Fujimoto (11-1, 6) defends his title against the well known Nobuhiro Ishida (27-10-2, 11) in a very interesting rematch. Ishida seems to have the support of many western fans going into this bout who remember his shock win over the then unbeaten James Kirkland. Notably however Fuimoto did win the first meeting between the two men and seems to be taking this bout very seriously after perhaps over-looking Ishida the first time around. It's not often we'll say this about a Japanese bout at Heavyweight but this is a really good match up and one that should really be a bit special.
In another title bout fans will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (14-1, 4) defending his belt for the first time as he takes on Gakuya Furuhashi (17-5, 7). Oguni, who is world ranked coming into this bout, won the title late last year when he narrowly over-came Yasutaka Ishimoto though will have to perform incredibly highly to over-come Furuhashi who has waited almost a year to get a shot at a world title following a bout with Hidenori Otake falling through last year, This could be a thoroughly engaging contest from start to end.
The third title bout will see two men looking to score a break out win, with neither being a name of note so far. This bout will see Kota Tokunaga (14-2, 9) battle against Yuya Sugizaki (20-9-1, 6) for the Japanese Lightweight title and it's fair to say that the champion will have an interesting list of possible challengers later in the year. This isn't a bout that sets out pulses racing but it could prove to be a very good contest between two men who both know that a win could be career changing.
The under-card, which only features a couple of bouts, is also mouth watering.
One of the under-card contests will see former Japanese Flyweight title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (12-5-2, 7) battle against Yasuhiro Sakurai (7-18). On paper this is a mismatch however Sakashita is coming into the bout following a 1-punch KO defeat to the then Japanese Flyweight champion Suguru Muranaka and that could well have shot the confidence and self belief out of Sakashita.
The other bout will see former Japanese Featherweight title challenger Yuki Ogata (20-1-1, 3) battle against Kentaro Yamada (8-5-1, 6). Again on paper this is a mismatch but Ogata only narrowly over-came Yamada when the two men met last September, with Ogata claiming a razor thin split decision. Yamada has to believe he can beat his more experienced foe, and will know that if he does he'll earn himself a Japanese ranking. Another brilliant match up on a genuinely fantastic card.
In the US fans will get the chance to see exciting Filipino southpaw Mercito Gesta (28-1-1, 16) in action against Carlos Molina (17-2-1, 7). Several years ago Gesta was one of the most hyped Filipino prospects though a 2012 loss to Miguel Vazquez seemed to show up a lot of his flaws. Since then he has worked hard on his issues improved notably. Those improvements should be on show against Molina, a talented fringe contender who managed to give Adrien Broner an unexpectedly competitive contest last year. This bout will push the winner towards a really good bout later in the year whilst the loser will be left with a lot of rebuilding to do.
(Image courtesy of http://www.kadoebi.com)