This coming week kicks off in great fashion as the Korakuen Hall plays host to a really fantastic card courtesy of reason promotions who, once again, who just how good boxing can be when fighters want to prove themselves and match makers have foresight to put the fans first.
One of two main events will see Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (13-0, 5) defending his title against the big punching Kenichi Ogawa (16-1, 14). Coming in to this one Naito is, on paper at least, on a great run with wins over the likes of Kento Mastushita, Shingo Eto, Masayuki Ito and Nihito Arakawa. Whilst that is a great run it should be noted that the fights were all close, much closer than the cards suggest, and Naito has had some questions raised about just how far he really can go. Ogawa comes in to this as a man who has beaten everyone he has faced, avenging his sole loss in just 134 seconds. Coming into this the challenger is riding an 8 fight T/KO run and full of confidence in his skills and his power. This really will be speed Vs power and could be a brilliant way to kick off a few weeks of insanely good action in Tokyo.
The other main event sees two former Naito foes going head to head as Masayuki Ito (17-1-1, 8) takes on Shingo Eto (17-3-1, 9) in the first defense of Ito's OPBF Super Featherweight title. Of the two fighters it's Ito who has impressed us the most so far, however this is a tough test for the 24 year old, who won the title stopping Dai Iwai in August. Eto is an under-rated fighter but may have the toughness and stamina to really push Eto all the way.
Interestingly all 4 men in the main bouts here are between 24 and 27 and are part of the new wave of Japanese Super Featherweights. It's hoped a unification will happen in 2016 though with fighters like Masao Nakamura waiting in the wings, it's fair to say there are other options in a very competitive division.
The main events are both great, but so to is the under-card which features several notable bouts, One of those will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (8-2-1, 5) taking on Filipino visitor Ryan Bito (22-15-3, 8). The bout will be Tobe's first since he lost the Japanese title, in August 2014 to Sho Ishida, and he'll be hoping to avoid back-to-back defeats, however 16 months of inactivity will certainly not help him here. Bito will be coming into this one with a lack of former, including 7 losses in his last 8, however he will know what to expect from Tobe, with this being a rematch of their 2012 encounter, which Tobe won via unanimous decision. Tobe will be favoured but Bito will feel he has a point to prove and a great chance to avenge one of his losses.
Another undercard bout of note will see Japanese ranked Shuji Hamada (13-6-4, 2) battle against the once beaten Hiroaki Teshigawara (9-1-2, 4) in a brilliantly matched 8 round supporting match up. Last time out Teshigawara fought to a controversial draw with Hideo Sakamoto and is riding a 5 fight unbeaten run since his sole loss, more than 3 years ago. Hamada is 1-1-1 in his last 3, though those have been to capable fighters with his win coming last time out against Yota Hori, a win that got him his Japanese ranking. This really is a finely matched bout with the winner likely in the running for a Japanese title fight by the end of 2016.
Also on the under-card for this brilliant show is Shuichiro Yoshino (0-0) who makes his debut against Petchjah Sithphasean (0-4) in a 6 rounder. Yoshino was an amateur standout who is tipped to be the next star of the Misako gym. Whilst this bout isn't a tough one, especially not due to typical Misako standards, we are excited to see the 24 year old Welterweight kick off his life in the professional ranks.