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.
It's fair to suggest that February has been a slow month for fight fans in Asia, in fact at times it's felt down right glacial, with little happening, especially in the middle of the month. We had a good start, and a good end but then we had almost 2 weeks with nothing much happening. Thankfully March is set to be a whole different kettle of fish with interesting bouts right through the month.
With that said lets take a look at what to expect in the first part of March!
Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5) vs Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13)
A new Month kicks off with OPBF Light Flyweight title action as Daiki Tomita and Kenichi Horikawa clash for the vacant title. For Tomita this is a second shot at an OPBF belt, having come up short against Tsubasa Koura in 2018, whilst Horikawa will be lookin to bounce back from the loss of the Japanese national title to Yuto Takahashi. Although neither man is a huge name this is a very interesting looking bout, and could either send Horikawa into one final title run, or into retirement.
Dennapa Kiatniwat (21-2, 16) Vs Jeny Boy Boca (13-6, 11) -
Former world title challenger Dennapa Kiatniwat defends his WBA Asia Flyweight title against heavy handed, but very much out of form, Filipino Jeny Boy Buca. The Thai local got a world title fight last year and looked second rate against WBA king Artem Dalakian, but should have too much at this level. Buca was once regarded as a promising puncher, but then went 4-5 (2) and lost pretty much all of the momentum he had built in his first 10 bouts.
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
Knockout CP Freshmart (20-0, 7) Vs Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10)
Unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart seeks his 8th defense as he takes on Japanese challenger Norihito Tanaka. The once highly regarded, and still unbeaten, champion has failed to inspire in recent bouts, and with 5 decision wins in a row his name has become rather a joke. Although talented Knockout has certainly not enthralled. Sadly however it's hard to imagine the 35 year old Tanaka having the energy and power needed to defeat the local fighter, and become the first Japanese man to ever claim a world title in Thailand.
Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) Vs Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5)
In the main event of the monthly "Dynamic Glove" show we'll see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga defending his title against mandatory challenger Yuto Shimizu as part of the 2020 edition of the Champion Carnival. Matsunaga has looked mightily impressive in recent outings and will be looking to make his second defense. Although Shimizu is less exciting and aggressive than Matsunaga he is a big, awkward lump and give the champion fits with his size alone. A very interesting match up.
Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) Vs Joe Tanooka (15-7-5, 1)
On the same Japanese show world ranked slugger Keita Kurihara takes on the talented, but feather fisted, Joe Tanooka in a bout that really does give us very different styles. Kurihara is a genuinely dynamite puncher who has gone 12-1 (10) in his last 13 bouts and will be looking to show he can box a but, before taking apart Tanooka. Tanooka on the other hand is a quick, technically capable fighter who will be looking to lure Kurihara into a mistake and countering. A very interesting contest, even if it lacks in terms of big name intrigue.
Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) vs Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6)
Former 2-time Japanese national title challenger Reiya Abe looks to move towards a third potential title bout when he takes on unbeaten southpaw Ren Sasaki. The talented Abe had a 2019 to forget, fighting to a draw with Taiki Minamoto and losing to Ryo Sagawa, and needs to rebuild his moment. In terms of achievement he should be seen as a big favourite here, however he doesn't get a gimme. The unbeaten Sasaki is no push over, and is a very decent boxer himself, having won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017. Expect this to be a compelling 8 rounder.
Jacob Ng (13-0, 10) vs Valentine Hosokawa (25-7-3, 12)
In a potential hidden gem Australian Jacob Ng will be defending his IBF International and WBO Oriental Lightweight titles against the under-rated Valentine Hosokawa. On paper Ng should be regarded as a big favourite. He's the bigger, younger, hard hitting, unbeaten champion. And he's at home. But Hosokawa can't be over-looked at this level and the Japanese fighter is a very strong, aggressive fighter who throws a lot of leather and can take a lot of punishment. Don't be surprised if this one is one of the real highlights of March.
Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (15-0, 8) vs Mark Urvanov (17-2-1, 9)
Unbeaten 29 year old Kyrgyzstan born Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu will be looking to continue his rise through the ranks, and take a huge step towards a potential world title fight as he takes on Russian fighter Mark Urvanov. This will be Uulu's first 12 round bout and we dare say if he wins here his team will begin hunting a world title eliminator for him, for later in the year. Although no world beater Urvanov is a good test at this level and comes in on the back of a career best result, stopping former world title challenger Evgeny Chuprakov back in November. Hard not to like this one....a lot!
Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (15-0, 9) Vs Tomas Rojas (51-18-1-1, 34)
Unbeaten Tajik hopeful Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov looks to take his next step forward as he faces former world title holder Tomas Rojas. On paper this looks like a step up against a grizzled old veteran, but with the fight taking place up at Super Featherweight we do wonder whether Rojas, who was a Super Flyweight at his best, will simply be over-powered and out manned by Yaqubov. At the age of 39 and with a 2-4 record in the last 3 years we really do wonder what Rojas has left, other than his name.
Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) Vs Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) -
Hard hitting Seigo Yuri Akui looks to make his first defense of the Japanese Flyweight title as he takes on mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita. The explosive punching Akui has proven to be scarily dangerous early on, with 9 opening round T/KO's, and will be looking to make it #10 here. Fujikita has never been stopped stopped but with only a single, low key, win in the since June 2018 it's hard to know what he has to offer. Fujikita could be the type of durable test who can see out the Akui storm, or could be the next early victim for the destroyer from Okayama.
Rey Caitom (9-0-1, 4) vs ArAr Andales (10-2, 2)
Former world title challenger ArAr Andales is going to be in rebuilding mode this year after back to back losses in 2019, losing to Knockout CP Freshmart and Joel Lino. Rather than having an easy bout to kick off 2020 the 20 year old will be up against the unbeaten Rey Caitom, in a tough looking bout. Andales will be favoured, and has impressed at a higher level, but with those losses we do wonder about how he is mentally. Caitom has fought at a much lower level will clearly be in the ring knowing a win pushes him to within touching distance of a world title shot.
Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18) Vs Toshiya Yokogawa (11-12-2, 10)
Former world title challenger Shingo Wake was shockingly upset last year, by Jhunriel Ramonal, and now looks to begin rebuilding. He's being matched easily here, as he takes on 34 year old domestic foe Toshiya Yokogawa. Given the loss to Ramonal, and how brutal it was, we can't complain about Wake getting an easy bout here, but he really can't spend too long fighting at this level, and we suspect this will be a tune up to a much bigger bout in the summer as Wakes begins his climb, again, to a second world title fight.
Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2) Vs Issei Ochiai (2-0, 1)
On the same card we'll also see Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii make his first defense, as he takes on the touted Issei Ochiai. Ishii has impressed since turning professional and his title win, back in December over Haruki Ishikawa, was a sensational bout. The challenger hasn't quite impressed like the champion, but this is certainly a chance for him to shine. We expect big things from both men going forward, but the winner should be put on the fast track to more notable honours.
Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) vs Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10)
Another Japanese title fight will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi make his first defense, as he goes up against his mandatory Masamichi Yabuki. Takahashi scored a surprise title win last October, when he over-came veteran Kenichi Horikawa, and will be looking to prove that he can over-come a prime puncher like Yabuki, as well as a faded veteran like Horikawa. For Yabuki this is his first title fight and he'll be looking to prove he really is destructive at Light Flyweight, having move down to the division last year.
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