This coming Monday attention turns to Hiroshima, as we get an OPBF title fight and a very interesting supporting bout, featuring a Japanese Youth champion.
The OPBF title bout will see OPBF Light Flyweight champion Edward Heno (13-0-5, 5) look to defend his title against veteran Koji Itagaki (18-13-3, 7), in what is set to be Heno's third defense of the title. The unbeaten champion, from the Philippines, won title in Japan in 2017, stopping Seita Ogido, and has impressed since with wins against Merlito Sabillo and Jesse Espinas. Despite impressing it's clear he still needs some more experience and development before moving on to a world title fight, and we suspect the 26 year old will be looking to make those improvements this year, before a world title fight in 2020. At 35 years old Itagaki is a proper veteran, who debuted back in the summer of 2005. During Itagaki's career he has come up short in bouts for the Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific title, but he'll be perfectly aware that this is his last chance. There is do over. For Itagaki this will be the final shot at a title, and if he loses that could well end his career. Sadly for the challenger, it'd be a major surprise if he could over-come the excellent Heno. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Heno returns to Japan to defend OPBF title against veteran Itagaki
In the chief support bout Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Tetsu Araki (12-1-1, 2) will be battling against domestic puncher Morihisa Iju (11-3, 9), with Iju returning to the ring for the first time since September 2017. Araki won the Youth title last time out, upsetting Ryuto Owan, and is riding an 8 fight unbeaten since losing in the 2015 Rookie of the Year to Tenta Kiyose. At the age of 24 Araki is showing genuine promise but this is a good step up and a good chance for him to show what he can do. Iju, as mentioned, has been inactive recently and actually lost 2 of his 3 most recent bouts. Despite limited Iju can bang and with this being his return to the ring we're expect to see him show some real hunger, which should make for a very interesting fight. Araki will be favoured, but Iju is certainly a live under-dog.