It's fair to say that the start of April was a little bit crazy, and thankfully for us fight fans, the action continues to come thick and fast through the middle portion of the month with prospects and title fights!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Keita Obara (23-4-1, 21) Vs Shoki Sakai (25-11-2, 12)
The first of the title fights from this part of the month will see Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Shoki Sakai in a very interesting match up. The hard hitting Obara won the title in early 2020, when he stopped Yuki Nagano, but he's been out of the ring since and at 34 it's unclear what drive he has left for the sport. Sakai on the other hand has only just began to fight on the Japanese scene, having spent much of his career fighting out of Mexico. Given the pressure style of Sakai we expect him to be a nightmare for Obara, but he might be just a little too basic for the hard hitting champion.
Go Hosaka (4-0, 3) Vs Kanta Fukui (7-3-1, 5)
Talking about fighters who are new to Japan we can't ignore the wonderfully promising Go Hosaka. Hosaka is a Japanese born fighter who began his career over in the Philippines, fighting out of the now defunct ALA stable, and will now be making his Japanese debut. So far we've been impressed by Hosaka, who has looked very promising, but this should be the toughest bout of his career so far, and Fukui will be there to pick up the W. Fukui is no world beater but he's no push over either and we are expecting him to put in a very solid shift in one of, if not the, biggest fight of his career so far.
Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA
Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22) vs Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (22-1, 16)
The most important bout from this portion of the month for us, by far, will see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas defending his title, for the 9th time, as he takes on mandatory challenger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez. This bout, which was first scheduled for November 2019, yes 2019!, has been scheduled a few times but has slipped due to visa issues and Covid19. Despite the wait the bout is actually a fairly interesting one, especially given that fact that Ancajas, a fighter who relies on speed and sharpness, has been out of the ring for well over a year coming in to this. Rodriguez might not be the most technically polished fighter out there but he's tough, strong and brings the heat, something that could genuinely trouble Ancajas after such a long lay off.
Balai Sarbini Convention Hall, Jakarta
Tibo Monabesa (20-1-2, 8) vs Toto Landero (11-4-2, 2)
It's rare that we can get excited about a fight in Indonesia but we'll honestly say we're getting one such fight here. In one corner will be Indonesian hopeful Tibo Monabesa, who's sole loss came to Hiroto Kyoguchi, and in the other is former world title challenger Toto Lanadero, who gave Knockout CP Freshmart fits in 2018. Since being stopped by Kyoguchi Monabesa has fought just twice, though has picked up credible wins in both of those bouts, and he is clearly sniffing around for a world title fight in the talent laden Light Flyweight division. As for Landero he is 1-3 in his last 4, and 3-4 in his last 7, though has mixed at a very high level with losses to Knockout, Simpiwe Konkco and Melvin Jerusalem. Monabesa is the bigger man, and the man at home, but Landero will not be there to make up the numbers, and he could well be a banana skin here.
Hebi Marapu (15-0, 11) Vs Hero Tito (27-15-2, 11)
Althoiugh not a huge bout, by any stretch, we are excited to see Hebi Marapu back in the ring for his first fight since 2019. The unbeaten Indonesian puncher caught our eye around 3 years ago, when he almost gutted Phutthiphong Rakoon with a body shot, but sadly he failed to kick on since then, picking up 3 low key wins. He should pick up another here. Hero Tito is a stalwart of the Indonesian scene, having debuted in 2004, but he has been racking up losses in recent years and is likely to suffer another here. Tito is tough, and could drag Marapu late, but we would be hugely surprised if he gave Marapu a loss. Saying that, it's still a shame that Marapu's career failed to develop in the way it really should have.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Toshiki Shimomachi (12-1-2, 8) Vs Thunder Teruya (7-8-1, 4)
Over in Osaka we'll see one of the hidden gems of Japanese boxing in action, as Toshiki Shimomachi kicks off his 2021 with a bout against Thunder Teruya. The talented Shimomachi is a slippery, skilled, and tricky Japanese fighters, who's style really does appeared to be inspired by the American defensive masters. Teruya is no push over, and he gave Rentaro Kimura solid test last year, but we're expecting a show case from Shimomachi. If you've not seen the once beaten 24 year old we suggest you give him a watch before this show, as he's been very impressive in recent times.
Jinki Maeda (6-0, 4) Vs Yushi Fujita (9-8-4, 2)
Hard hitting Japanese youngster Jinki Maeda continues his rise through the ranks as he takes on the experienced Yushi Fujita. On paper this should be no test for the sharp punching Maeda, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2019, though we have a feeling that Fujita will not go away quietly and he could serve as a genuine test for Maeda, despite the records of the two men. Maeda, like stablemate Shimomachi, is a bit of a hidden gem from Japan despite his Rookie of the Year triumph and we have a feeling that Green Tsuda want to let him develop without too much fuss. Fujita is the perfect opponent for him at this point in his career.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ryusei Kawaura (8-0, 5) vs Joe Tanooka (15-7-5, 1)
One other under-the-radar Japanese prospect in action here is the wonderfully skilled Ryusei Kawaura, who is banging on the door of a title fight. The man dubbed "Untouchable II", after his mentor Hiroshi Kawashima, looks to be the real deal and has all the tools to be moved very, very quickly. We've been impressed by his skills, his boxing IQ and his understanding of range, though he has often been in against fighters who have allowed him to show those tools. Here he's up Joe Tanooka, a talented, but feather fisted, boxer who should be able to ask some questions that we've not yet seen Kawaura being asked. Tanooka won't have the power to hurt Kawaura, but he will have the tools to test him, and right now that's exactly what Kawaura needs. Someone to test his skills against, before a potential title fight.
On April 8th we'll see Japanese youngster Go Hosaka (4-0, 3) make his Japanese debut, and feature on a Diamond Glove show from Korakuen Hall. The bout will be Hosaka's first since September 2019 and will be a great chance for him to build on a very promising start to his professional career. With that in mind we thought this was the perfect time to have a look at Hosaka, his career, what he brings to the sport and why fans should be excited about the 24 year old Lightweight hopeful. With that said, let us introduce you to Go Hosaka in this week's Introducing...
Hosaka was born in Fukuoka prefecture, in the the south east of Japan. It was there that he learned to box, and he was a solid fighter when he was at high school, the Higashi Fukuoka High School. It was there that he made his first mark on the boxing world, and he managed to make his way to the semi finals of the 2013 Japanese Interschool Athletic Meet, losing a close decision to Naoto Yonezawa. Notably that tournament featured a who's who of Japanese fighters from today, including the likes of Kosei Tanaka, Mikito Nakano, Hinata Maruta, Shokichi Iwata and Takuma Inoue.
Just a few months after that Interschool tournament Hosaka came runner up at the Japanese National Athletic Meet, losing in the final to Gonte Lee. With solid results in two national tournaments Hosaka was on the radar of those who followed Japanese amateur boxing as we went into 2014, a year that defined his amateur career.
Hosaka began 2014 by reaching the semi-finals of the Asian Youth Championships in Bangkok, beating local fighter Somchai Wongsuwan in the quarter final before losing to eventual winner Abylaykhan Zhusupov in the semi-final. Hosaka would also go on to reach the final 4 of the AIBA Youth World Championships in Bulgaria a few months later, where he scored 3 wins before running into Arsen Mustafa in the semi-final. Back on the domestic scene Hosaka won come runner up in the High School Selection Tournament in Spring of 2014 before winning the Japanese Interschool Athletic Meet later that same year. To end 2014 Hosaka managed to continue his success internationally, and came 4th at the Youth Olympics.
Sadly things were less busy for Hosaka in the years that followed, though he continued to compete in numerous tournaments, before ending his days in the unpaid ranks with a reported 50-13 amateur record.
Unlike many Japanese fighters Hosaka didn't want to begin his professional career in Japan. Whilst it's not unheard of for Japanese fighters to begin there careers away from Japan, with a number of notable fighters such as Tomoki Kameda and Shoki Sakai starting there careers away from home, it was rare that such a stand out amateur began to fight away from home. Instead of signing with a Japanese promoter he dropped out of Komazawa University and travelled to the Philippines to begin his professional career, and joined with the well established ALA Gym in Cebu. It was under the ALA Gym that Hosaka trained as a professional, living in a dormitory with some of their top fighters, and learned how to boxing as a professional, alongside the likes of Milan Melindo, who he claimed taught him a lot.
In June 2018 the then 21 year old Hosaka finally made his professional debut, doing so in a 6 round Lightweight bout against Holly Quinones in Maasin City. The match up was the first chance to see what Hosaka could do in the professional ring, but was a blink and you miss it affair, with Hosaka stopping his man within a round. Just 5 months later Hosaka was back in the ring, and was matched with decent fighter Jason Tinampay in another 6 rounder. This was a much better match up, and we saw what Hosaka could really do, as he controlled Tinampay for all 6 rounds, forcing Tinampay on to the ropes and picking his spots well. It was an impressive performance for a fighting in just his second bout, and it was clear he had the ability to go a long way.
Sadly in 2019 ALA put on very, very few shows. The shows they did have were poor, and their match making really went backwards. Despite that Hosaka fought twice, stopping Romnick Magos in July and then stopping Kim Lindog in September, both of which were serious steps backwards from the win over Tinampay.
Things went from bad to worse for ALA Gym, who went from running very few shows in 2019 to closing complete in 2020. That left Hosaka as a free agent, and in 2020 he finally signed with a Japanese promoter, joining the legendary Misako Gym in Kansai.
Despite signing with the Misako gym in 2020 Hosaka remained out of the ring, training in Japan and developing his skills back at home. Thankfully however the wait to see him boxing in Japan is almost over, and on April 8th he'll face Kanta Fukui (7-3-1, 5) in a good, solid looking, 8 round test. A win there will begin the next chapter in Hosaka's career, the journey to his first title.
In the ring Hosaka looks like a relaxed boxer-puncher. He's a southpaw with a lovely crispness to his punching, a patient pressure based style, and although there is still work to do, he looks very much a natural in the ring. Albeit a natural who still has some polishing to do.
It's clear, from watching Hosaka, that he has a strong amateur background, but that he is a young man developing a professional style. As a trainee at the Misako gym we suspect his development as a professional fighter will be quick. The gym is one of the best in Japan and he will get high level sparring, high level training and the chance to train alongside some of the best in Japan. Those things will all help him become a better boxer and we suspect those things will all help him move quickly towards titles at either Lightweight or Super Featherweight.
For those who haven't seen Hosaka we've included his 2018 bout with Jason Tinampay below. This was just his second bout, and he has improved since, but it is a good chance to see what he has to offer the sport, and what tools he has in his arsenal.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces