The biggest bout for us this Saturday is from the US as Filipino maestro Mark Anthony Barriga (9-0, 1) takes on fellow unbeaten Carlos Licona (13-0, 2) in a bout for the vacant IBF Minimumweight. The bout, on the same as Deontay Wilder's contest against Tyson Fury, will be for the title Hiroto Kyoguchi gave up, as he moved up to Light Flyweight, and promises to Barriga a notable platform to showcase his skills, which have been compared to those of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Licona is a bit of a mystery to some, but should prove a good opponent for Barriga. Sadly with neither being much of a puncher this has the potential to be a less than thrilling fight to watch, but in terms of skills on show, both are very talented, and this really could be a special one for purists. A preview of this world title fight can be read here Barriga looks to announce himself on world stage, faces Licona for IBF title
As well as the bout in the US there is also a lot of action in Japan, with 7 title bouts spread across 3 different shows.
The main event of this card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) make his second defense, as he goes up against fellow veteran Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9). The all action Hosokawa won the title late last year and made his first defense in the Champion Carnival earlier this year, stopping Vladimir Baez in May. At the age of 37 Hosokawa is likely fighting father time, but has looked very impressive recently, and a win here will set up a defense against Koki Inoue. Inagaki, fighting in his 40th professional bout, will be getting a third title shot, but will be the clear under-dog against Hosokawa. We expect this will be fun, but it's hard to see Inagaki over-coming the high octane champion. A preview of this Japanese title fight can be read here Hosokawa takes on Inagaki on December 1st!
A potentially exciting supporting bout will see ranked Light Welterweights facing off. In one corner will be Hosokawa's stablemate Yusuke Konno (13-4, 7), the #2 ranked Japanese contender, whilst the other cone will play host to recent Japanese title challenger Vladimir Baez (24-4-2, 22), the same man who was stopped by Hosokawa. Konno will know that he could get a title fight next year, but needs to over-come Baez. Baez on the other hand is ranked by the OPBF and the WBO Asia Pacific as well as the JBC. The winner here will go into the new year with their eyes on title glory, but the loser will have some serious rebuilding to do.
Another supporting nout will see former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7) return to the ring for the first since losing the world title to Ryosuke Iwasa In September 2017. The talented Oguni will be easing himself back into action here as he takes on Indonesian journeyman Arega Yunian (6-11, 1) in what should be little more than a tune up for bigger and better things in 2019.
As well as the action in Tokyo there is a busy day in Osaka, with a couple of shows there, featuring a combined 6 title bouts! One of those shows is a female card with 4 title bouts on it.
The most significant of the title contests on the female show will see Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) defending her WBO female Minimumweight title against former WBA and IBF champion Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5), in what looks like a brilliant must win bout between two veterans. This will be Ebata's second defense of the title she won in May 2017, when she finally won a world title in her fifth shot. Sadly for Ebata she is now 42 and her desire to have a long reign, after all the time she spent chasing a belt, does seem unlikely. At 37 Tada is no spring chicken, but the former 2-time champion does have the edge in youth, experience and winning mentality. We're expecting both to show their age, but that will likely lead to more exchanges and more intense action, which we won't complain about. This world title bout was previewed here Ebata looks to defend WBO crown against Tada
In the chief support bout fans will see former amateur standout Kasumi Saeki (2-0, 1) fight in her first title bout, as she takes on Thai visitor Wassana Kamdee (3-4, 2) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title. Saeki is seen as one of the top Japanese female prospects and will be expected to do a number the Thai, who has been stopped in all 4 defeats, though her performance may decide whether her team fasts tracks her to a world title fight in early 2019 or not.
In an OPBF female Featherweight title bout we'll see Wakako Fujiwara (6-2-2, 2) take on the woman she took the title from, Kimika Miyoshi (13-11-1, 5). Fujiwara's win over Miyoshi for the belt, back in July, saw her extend her unbeaten run to 6 fights, and add the Oriental title to her reign as the Japanese national champion. Sadly for Miyoshi the loss to Fujiwara is her third in a row, and she's now without a win since June 2016. Fujiwara's first win over Miyoshi was an upset, but we suspect this will be a repeat, given the form of both fighters coming into the fight.
The remaining title bout is another OPBF title bout, which will see novice professional Eri Matsuda (1-0) look to set a Japanese record by claiming an OPBF title in just her 2nd professional bout. The talented Matsuda will be up against Minayo Kei (6-3, 1) in a bout for the vacant OPBF female Atomweight title, and if Matsuda wins there's a chance she could set a Japanese record for fewest fights taken to win a world title. Matsuda was a good amateur and it's clear that she believes she can be a very good professional, but this is a genuine test.
The second show in Osaka will also be a Shinsei promoted card from the EDION Arena Osaka, this time however the fous will be men, with two WBO Asia Pacific male title bouts on the show.
One of those bouts will see WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight champion Reiya Konishi (16-1, 6) defending his title against Filipino challenger Richard Rosales (13-7-2, 7). For Konishi this will be his first defense, following a victory over Orlie Silvestre for the belt earlier in the year, and he's said to be expecting a world title fight next year, if he wins here. Rosales will play the part of a game challenger, be we suspect he will be ground down by Konishi, and his high intensity work rate and body shots. Despite strongly favouring the champion to retain we do expect this to be a very fan friendly bout. We've previewed this bout here Konishi looks to end year with defense against Rosales
The other title bout will see Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) and Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) battle for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight. Both of these men have held the OPBF version of this title, and both are talented fighters in their own right. Of the two Nakamura is the more pure fighter, and he's a damned good boxer-puncher, but also the more vulnerable. The much shorter Magali is the more defensively sound and has regularly found ways to get inside bigger fighters and breaking them down. This has the potential to be a genuine thriller, with both men capable of hurting the other. A full preview of this bout can be read here Nakamura and Magali to battle for regional crown!
Originally the card was also announced as having former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-1, 9) facing off with Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (33-25-2, 18), but this bout was cancelled back in November due to an injury suffered by Kubo. As a result Manakane will face off with 19 year old prospect Ryo Suwa (9-1, 1), who will be looking to score his third win of the year.
This coming Monday fight fans at the Korakuen Hall will get a pretty low key card, but one that does feature a few bouts of some note, with 3 JBC ranked fighters and a promising unbeaten hopeful.
The main event will see two ranked fighters facing off, with Light Welterweights Takashi Inagaki (20-16-2, 9) and Yusuke Konno (12-4, 6) fighting in what amounts to a Japanese title eliminator. Both men are ranked in the top 10 by the JBC and with both men being in their 30's they will know that they can't really afford any more set backs if they are to get a shot at the national title. Coming into this Inagaki has had some mixed results, losing 3 of his last 6, but has often faced off against bigger men with many of his bouts being at Welterweight. As for Konno he did fight for the Japanese title last year, and put up a great effort before being stopped in the 10th round by Koichi Aso. This isn't an amazing match up on paper, but with a lot at steak we're expecting a very hotly contested fight.
Another of the notable bouts will see the promising Fire Ikkyu (6-0, 4) risk his unbeaten record against the returning Yuji Okinori (8-4-1, 1), who hasn't fought since April 2017. Although unbeaten Ikkyu has been pushed to the wire twice and will know that another another close bout will hard his chances of moving into the Japanese rankings in the near future. As for Okinori he's actually the most proven opponent Ikkyu will have faced, despite having lost his last 2 bouts. Again this bout is likely to be better than it looks on paper.
The third Japanese ranked fighter in action here is Takaaki Kanai (9-7, 4) who takes on Hiroshi Niiza (7-4, 5). Coming in to this Kanai has a Bantamweight ranking with the JBC but will actually be competing at Super Bantamweight for this bout, as he looks to build on his career best win against Hideo Sakamoto back in March. A win here won't magically jump him to a number one contender, but a loss will set Kanai back massively. As for Niiza the 36 year old has gone 3-3 in his last 6, but has lost to the only notable fighters he has faced in those 6 bouts, and it's fair to say his career is coming to an end, win or lose here.
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.
Attention in Japan this coming Thursday focuses on a Misako promotion in Tokyo, where fans get two title bouts.
The first of those title bouts will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso (21-7-1, 14) making the first defense of his title as he takes on Yusuke Konno (11-3, 5), who comes into the bout as the #1 ranked challenger. Aso won the title earlier this year, in what was his third shot at the belt, and will be looking to keep a tight grasp on it given his long and hard career, though it's fair to say he has taken punishment during his career and it's hard to know how much he has left in the tank. This will be Konno's first title bout, and he'll come into the contest very hungry,but will be the under-dog. Interestingly the winner of this could be the next target for the really talented Koki Inoue.
The other title bout will see world ranked OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (16-3-1, 9) defending his title against Korean challenger Sa Myung Noh (10-3, 3). The under-rated Takenaka is a very talented boxer who has built from losses to good fighters, like Hisashi Amagasa, and looks to be one of the rising contenders in the packed Featherweight division, though he would be the big under-dog against any of the current world champion. Noh is a pretty good fighter, but his technical flaws should see him be easy pickings for Takenaka, who we suspect will box his way into control, before closing the show in the middle rounds.
In an interesting under-card bout we'll see the under-rated Yusuke Suzuki (7-3, 5) battle against the more experienced Keita Nakano (14-10-6, 4). On paper Suzuki might not look anything special but he's a genuine talent, and was a very good amateur before turning professional in late 2012. He has been matched hard through his career, losing to Yusaku Kuga, Ryoichi Tamura and Jeffrey Francisco, though could well have been 10-0 (5) with a bit of luck. Nakano, fighting for the 31st time as a professional has mixed at a good level and will be the under-dog here, but he is certainly a live under-dog.
In Thailand on the same day fight fans will see former world title title challenger Stamp Kiatniwat (16-1, 6) battle against Filipino foe Michael Enriquez (13-6-1, 9) in what looks like an interesting match up. The Thai youngster will be favoured, and he showed he was legitimate in his 2016 loss to Kazuto Ioka, but Enriquez will go to war with him and the bout could be very, very fan friendly, as Enriquez's bout against Rex Tso was back in 2015.