It's fair to say that September, for the most part, was a disappointing month, with some notable gaps between noteworthy bouts. Sure the month finished with a bang, but there were certainly a few weeks where little happened and we were sat twiddling out thumbs waiting for the next notable fight. In October however that won't be happening, with great after great show, and notable name after notable name. Potentially the longest gap we'll see between notable fights will be 7 days. With that in mind we've had to break October into 3 parts for this series.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (G+ - Tape Delay)
Kenichi Ogawa (24-1-1-1, 18) Vs Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-4-1, 12)
The main event of the first notable show of the month will see former Japanese national champions facing off in a very interesting match up. In one corner will be former Japanese Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa, best known for his bout with Tevin Farmer, whilst the other corner will play host to Kazuhiro Nishitani, a former Japanese Lightweight champion. Coming into this both of these fighters have got world rankings, and both will know a loss will end their dreams of getting a big fight. On paper this could end up being a very, very good bout, with the styles of the two men expected to gel well. A great way to kick off the month.
Hayate Kaji (14-0, 9) Vs Hiroki Yajima (9-8-3, 4)
Unbeaten Japanese hopeful Hayate Kaji once looked like a star in the making and seemed destined for huge things. In recent performances however he has struggled to shine, and there's been a feeling that his career has started to stall with poor performance and a lack of professionalism. Sadly for Kaji the hope of taking on an opponent that could push his career forward isn't being realised here as he faces lower level domestic foe Hiroki Yajima. Coming into this Yajima has lost 3 of his last 4, and is 2-3-2 in his last 7. Despite his form Yajima has never been stopped and will likely make this tricky and awkward for Kaji.
Shokichi Iwata (4-0, 3) Vs Ryo Narizuka (9-9-1)
The hotly tipped Shokichi Iwata looks to stay busy as he steps into 8 round territory for the first time. Regarded as a future world champion Iwata is being moved smartly and this is a decent domestic level test for him as he takes on Ryo Narizuka. Whilst Narizuka isn't anything special he is generally quite durable and should give Iwata some rounds here, allowing the youngster to shake some ring rust. Given that Iwata has been out of the ring since November a fight like this is ideal, before potentially heading for a title fight in 2021, when the Japanese boxing scene is more "normal" than it is at the moment.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (G+ - Live)
Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) Vs Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5)
In the first Japanese title bout of the month we'll see JBC Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga defending his title against mandatory challenger Yuto Shimizu, in what could be a real thriller. Matsunaga is a thrilling little warrior who sets a high work rate, comes forward and looks to break opponents down with an aggressive and exciting style. Shimizu on the other hand is a tough, tricky, opponent who is big, strong, rangy and should be able to blunt some of Matsunaga's aggression. This might end up messy at times, but should be a compelling match up between the aggression of the champion the crafty skills of the challenger.
Kenshi Noda (2-0, 2) Vs Toshiki Kawamitsu (4-0, 1)
A low key one to watch will see the touted Kenshi Noda take on fellow unbeaten Toshiki Kawamitsu in a brilliant looking 6 rounder. Noda, a fooirmer amateur standout, is a Teiken hopeful who debuted last year and blitzed his first 2 opponents in under 3 and a half minutes, combined. He is tipped very highly and is regarded as one of the best prospects at Teiken, but this is very much his first bout against someone trying to beat him. Although he's been less impressive in terms of results Kawamitsu is the more proven professional and has faced stiffer competition whilst also getting more rounds under his belt. This is a hard one to call, and pits Noda's amateur experience and power against Kawamitsu's professional seasoning. A very interesting bout.
Shigetoshi Kotari (1-0, 1) Vs Motosuke Kimura (3-4-2, 1)
Talented hopeful Shigetoshi Kotari is regarded as one of the brightest hopes at the MT Gym, the same gym as Junto Nakatani, and here we see him in his second professional bout. On debut Kotari looked sharp, powerful and promising, but was up against a very limited opponent. On paper Motosuke Kimura isn't a big step up in class, but Kimura is better than his record suggests, and gave Hikari Mineta a good test last year. With that Mineta bout in mind we suspect he will take Kotari rounds here, but ultimately the gulf in class will prove too much.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (48-5-1, 41) Vs Jomar Fajardo (17-17-2, 9)
In Thailand we'll see former 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai return fight in a stay busy bout against limited Filipino Jomar Fajardo. Srisaket, who fought back in July, is expected to get a world title shot in 2021 and is looking to keep the rust off here in a bout that even the broadcaster describe as a tune up. Fajardo was once a capable fighter at Light Flyweight but will be expected to be blasted out here by Srisaket.
Apichet Petchmanee (6-0, 2) vs Musheg Adoian (7-1, 7)
In one of the more interesting bouts we'll see this month in Thailand the unbeaten Apichet Petchmanee will take on Thai based Russian fighter Musheg Adoian, in a bout for that will see Apichet defending a minor WBC title. The unbeaten Thai looked great in his first few bouts, but has looked less good in more recent bouts, and we do wonder if he's as good as first thought. In Adoian we have someone who could give Apichet a serious chin checking and let us see what the Thai really is made of. Adoian is no world beater himself but is a live under-dog here.
Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, California, USA (FS1 - Live)
Mark Magsayo (20-0, 14) Vs Rigoberto Hermosillo (11-2-1, 8)
World class Filipino Mark Magsayo looks to move a step closer to a world title bout, and score win #21, as he takes on Rigoberto Hermosillo. The bout sees Magsayo take on a late replacement, who is a massive down grade, but that hardly matters here as the focus is on the Filipino looking good, getting his face in front of a US TV and getting back in the ring after a lengthy break. Expect bigger and better matches for Magsayo in 2021, with this acting as little more than a show case for the unbeaten Pinoy.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (Fuji TV - Tape Delay)
Hiroaki Teshigawara (21-2-2, 14) Vs Shingo Kawamura (16-5-4, 8)
The second title fight to be held in Japan in October will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hiroaki Teshigawara defending his title against domestic foe Shingo Kawamura. The talented Teshigawara is hoping to land a world title fight in the coming year or two, and has transferred over to Misako Gym, which should help him secure a shot at the top. As for Kawamura he has come up short in an OPBF title bout at Featherweight and is dropping down in weight here, though we don't imagine he'll have much success against the under-rated Teshigawara.
Taiki Minamoto (16-6-1, 13) Vs Kanehiro Nakagawa (9-6, 5)
Former Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto looks to bounce back from a frustrating 2019, in which he drew with Reiya Abe and lost to Takuya Watanabe, as he takes on Kanehiro Nakagawa. The heavy and talented Minamoto is in the hunt for a Japanese title at 130lbs and should be favoured here against the less experienced Nakagawa. Saying that however Nakagawa is no push over and he is riding a 4 fight winning streak, including upsets over Seiichi Okada and Ken Osato. On paper this doesn't look great but in reality we are expecting a very interesting match up between men who should be more evenly matched than their records suggest.
A new week begins and looking back over the last 7 days we some good, some bad, and some bloody ugly. It's a week that will last long in the memory of some fans, be forgotten easily by others and really fade into a blur for others. Some fighters really shone, other covered themselves in nothing bis disgrace, and an extra layer of fat. Sometimes this sport does it's self no favours, however in a week like this we really did have more than enough positives to go with the bad.
1-Ryosuke Iwasa put in career best performance
On Saturday night Ryosuke Iwasa put together one of, if not the, most accomplished performance of his career to dismantle former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales. Iwasa, who turned professional with expectations, has been inconsistent through out his career but here he really showed what he could do and twice dropped the rugged Tapales. Through the fight Iwasa was busy, accurate, heavy handed and really, really impressed. Too many times in his career he has been focused on his power but this was an all round performance from a fighter who may, finally, have found his recipe for sustained success. Fingers crossed he can replicate this type of performance next time.
2-Kosuke Saka steam-rolls Sueyoshi
From one inconsistent fighter to another! Kosuke Saka really showed what he can do as he dominated the usually tricky Masaru Sueyoshi to become a 2-weight Japanese national champion. It was only around 8 months ago that Saka had been stopped in 2 rounds by Joe Noynay, but here he looked fantastic, aggressive, powerful and confident. He pressured Sueyoshi from the opening bell and refused to give Sueyoshi any space before dropping him in round. Saka's performance was the antithesis to how Andy Ruiz Jr fought Anthony Joshua, and showed how a pressure fighter should cut the distance.
3-Akhmedov lands a bomb
We have a few great shots this week, but the pick of the bunch was the right hand from hell that Sadriddin Akhmedov landed on Jose Antonio Villalobos. The 21 year old Kazakh really is one of the best prospects in world boxing, and whilst he's not getting much attention, outside of his native Kazakhstan and adoptive Canada, he is going to become a big star in the near future. A knockout like this one is the sort of thing he will be built on when people start putting together a highlight reel of him.
We're really not sure what the idea behind throwing Miguelk Gonzalez into a world title fight was, especially not on neutral soil. If it was to give Chilean fans something to get excited about it would have made more sense to have got him to fight at home. As it was they sent him to Mexico to get battered by Jerwin Ancajas. The win did Ancajas no favours, and was a third loss at a high level for Gonzalez, who should not be fighting in this type of company. Time for Ancajas to step up and face world class competition and for Gonzalez to be matched competitively, rather than jumping from soft touches to world class.
2-G+ go replay crazy
We love the G+ broadcasts, usually. This weekend however much of the broadcast was spent showing replays. Ususually the shows are smooth, and run from one fight to the next but this weeks it seemed to drag, horribly at times, with too time spent showing replays. The match ups on the under-card weren't good enough, they didn't last long enough, and they should, ideally, have had 1 more bout on the card. A poor show from G+, who consistently deliver fantastic events.
3-Dillian Whyte, Andy Ruiz, Eric Molina and Tom Little
The biggest boxing event of the weekend was held in Saudi Arabia, and while we could easily make a list of complaints about the card, it's venue, lack of atmosphere and the drug cheats on it, we could have potentially enjoyed the show had more than half the card actually looked like they wanted to be there. Dillian Whtyte and Andy Ruiz Jr came into the ring looking like human-whales, Eric Molina looked like a man wanting a way out and Tom Little looked like he didn't belong in the ring with his opponent. From the 5 Heavyweight bouts on the show only 1 genuinely delivered top level action between two men who were well matched and in shape. What was supposed to be a festival of Heavyweight was a showcase of the over-weights.
1-Noynay Vs Ogawa
Man head clashes aren't nice are they? Joe Noynay and Kenichi Ogawa shared headbutts in 5 rounds than fighters should ever share in a bout. Both were left badly cut, the run had little pools of blood on it, especially in Noynay's corner, and the styles never came close to gelling. This was ugly, bloody and a truly horrific mess. The worst thing is that we had really high hopes for this bout, which had two fighters who are a similar level fighting in a bout that promised a lot. Just one of those bouts that didn't click, sadly.
We're back to Andy Ruiz and really, if this is how a fighter with 3 world titles comes into the ring we really need to wonder why he even bothered. He might as well have polished the titles, handed the belts back to Joshua, and gone to take a seat in Burger King. Absolutely pathetic effort, and to the admit he didn't trainer, well we all have eyes Andy, we know you didn't train. Really embarrassing for boxing. Whilst Joshua fought the perfect game plan things were made easier for him by facing someone who had simply given up caring.
UKAD, or UK Anti-Doping, really did themselves no favours this week. Their statement about "clearing" Dillian Whyte for an "adverse sample" left more questions than answers, and really throws into question their entire purpose. They are supposed to enforce rules, push and push responsibility for clean sports. Instead it seems very much like "strict liability" is only applied sometimes and either their testing process is flawed or they don't trust it. To clear a fighter a day before they are scheduled to fight does their reputation no good at all, and looks more than coincidental. Whilst UKAD might have cleared the fighter they have sullied their own reputation in the process and unless things change they may end up getting a reputation similar to that of RUSADA, who proved to be of little use to the concept of clean sport. They have left the door open to too many questions, given too few answers, and we really need to wonder if they are fit for purpose.
Whilst the Whyte test situation only came to light due to Thomas Hauser we need to wonder how many similar adverse tests don't come to light, how many charges are dropped, and how many tests are simply put down to contamination. For an organisation to push clean sport they need to have the financial backing needed to ban fighters, they need a quality drug testing system, and they need to take responsibility of their own findings. What we saw from UKAD was toothless, and not for the first time it appears they don't have the power to fully do their job. There needs to be a massive overhaul of the drug testing system, and a massive financial boost to allow them to do what they need to do. There needs to be transparency and so many changes to an organisation which is losing respect almost by the month.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This past week has certainly not been a banner week for Asian boxing, or boxing in general, but there was more than enough to talk about, and some stuff that was well hidden, hey we're looking at you Korea!
Fighter of the Week
John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20)
Filipino warrior John Riel Casimero has long been a road warrior, a true "had gloves, will travel, and fight anywhere" kind of fighter. Despite being one of the best road warriors in world boxing he has also been a fighter who blows hot and cold. When he's on fire he is excellent, but as we saw against Jonas Sultan in 2017 he can also turn up and not care about what happens in the ring. Thankfully he showed how hot he can be, at least for around a minute, as he claimed the WBO Bantamweight title and stopped Zolanu Tete to claim one of his biggest career wins.
Performance of the Week
John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20)
It's rare that a "Performance of the Week" will go to a man who really did nothing for 2 rounds but, lets be honest, what Casimero did in the third round made up for the nothingness of the first 2. He dropped Tete with a fantastic right hand just over a minute into the round and never let Tete back into things, in fact really the referee should have stopped things there and then. It was an awful showing by the referee but a brilliant round of destruction by Casimero.
Lei Wang vs Marlon Paniamogan
If we're being totally honest this past week was a weird one. There was little to really get excited about and looking for a fight that stood out, on a quiet week to begin with, was always going to be a struggle. Other than Casimero's bout with Tete nothing really got the juices flowing going into the week, and given how nothing happened for 2 rounds of that fight it massively under-delivered as an actual fight. Thankfully we did get some fun and games in China with Lei Wang and Marlon Paniamogan putting on a fun fight in Qingdao. Paniamogan brought the fight, walked through bombs and refused to go down, whilst Wang showed off some real skills. This wasn't a fight of the year contender, but it was the best of a weak bunch in a poor week of fights.
Hyun Je Baek vs Joo Hwan Suh (2)
With no major bout delivering a round to get excited about we had to turn out attention to a club level Korean show, and in fairness they do tend to deliver great action at the very lowest of levels. That was shown again this week when Hyun Je Baek and Joo Hwan Suh just stood their ground and lets shots fly. This was the sort of fight that trainers would hate their fighters for getting involved in, but for a week that was so lacking in action this was a highlight. Sadly the round involved a fight ending headclash that ended in a technical draw. Regardless what we got here was fun!
No suitable contender
It should be noted that whilst there was no suitable KO this week, the right hand that Casimero dropped Tete with was easily the punch of the week. A brute of a shot!
Yi Hung Chiang (4-0, 3)
The obvious choice for Prospect of the Week would have been Andy Hiraoka, who made his US debut with a quick win on the Top Rank show on Saturday night. We, however, have never been one for sticking with the obvious when someone else deserves a mention and the reality is that we were really impressed by two novice Taiwanese fighters. One of those was the debuting Kai Ting Chuang and the other was Yi Hung Chiang, who looked so exciting that it was hard to not be impressed. We don't imagine either fighter reaching the top of the sport, something Hiraoka could potentially do, but we do expect to be thoroughly entertained every time we see Chiang in action.
Joe Noynay (18-2-1, 7) vs Kenichi Ogawa (24-1, 18)
There may be bigger and better bouts out there next week, including a world title fight in Mexico and an interim world title fight in the US, but the one we are looking forward to the most is the WBO Asia Pacific title bout between Joe Noynay and Kenichi Ogawa. This year has been a huge one for Noynay, and another win here puts him well and truly in the world title mix, whilst Ogawa is still battling to redeem himself following his failed drug test in 2017. We expect explosive action here, and this should be a little bit of a gem in a very, very busy day of fights.
This coming December is absolutely insane with notable fights taking place almost daily. As has become traditional Japan has a packed scheduled for the month, but this time around it's not just Japan delivering the action in the final month of the year, in what is really a massive month all around the globe!
Koki Inoue (14-0, 11) Vs Jheritz Chavez (9-3-2, 7) - Tokyo, Japan
The first notable show of the month will see unbeaten Japanese national champion Koki Inoue look to add the WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title to his collection as he takes on Filipino foe Jheritz Chavez, This should be a really interesting match up between two men who have power and can both take a show. Inoue should be favoured, as the unbeaten local is a real talent, but Chavez will not be there to just make up the numbers, and the Filipino has proven himself to be a dangerous fighter, having come close to beating Rikki Naito. This could end up being much, much tougher for Inoue than many expect.
Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) vs Miguel Gonzalez (31-2, 8) - Puebla, Mexico
On a packer Saturday we'll see a lot going on. Among the most notable bouts, for us at least, we'll see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas take on Chilean challenger Miguel Gonzalez, in what looks like a good bout on paper. Sadly we suspect the paper lies here and can't see anything other than an Ancajas win. The Filipino world champion should be too quick, too sharp and too powerful for the game, but light hitting and limited, Gonzalez who has come up short the two times he has mixed at close to world class. One thing worth noting is that Ancajas was supposed to fight a few weeks earlier, before having that bout cancelled, and may well look lacklustre as a result of having a change of opponent. Even with that in mind we still see this as being an easy win for the "Pretty Boy"
Marlon Tapales (33-2, 16) vs Ryosuke Iwasa (26-3, 16) - New York, USA
A second major IBF bout on December 7th will see former world champions collide for the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title. In one corner is the criminally under-rated Marlon Tapales, who is a former WBO Bantamweight and has proven himself as a hard hitting road warrior who is much more dangerous than his record suggests. Tapales will be up against former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa, who is the naturally bigger man, but very much a fighter who blows hot and cold. This is a hard one to call, though we are leaning to Tapales, and is a wonderful bout mixing fighters with different styles that should gel, and heavy hands. A potential hidden gem for the month, despite the "interim" title.
Joe Noynay (18-2-1, 7) vs Kenichi Ogawa (24-1, 18) - Tokyo, Japan
In 2019 Filipino fighter Joe Noynay has has impressed. He travelled to Japan and stopped Kosuke Saka to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title and then returned to stop Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu. Noynay looks to make it 3-0 against Japanese fighters this year as he takes on Kenichi Ogawa in a really, really, good looking bout. Ogawa is attempting to move towards a second world title bout, but will need to over-come the in form Noynay, which is tough for anyone. There's a lot on the line here, and the winner will be in the world title mix in 2020, whilst the loser will have some genuine rebuilding to do in the new year. This bout is very much high risk, high reward, for both men.
Masaru Sueyoshi (19-1-1, 11) vs Kosuke Saka (19-5, 16) - Tokyo, Japan
A second title bout at 130lbs, on the same show in Tokyo in fact, will see Japanese national champion Masaru Sueyoshi defending his title against Kosuke Saka, who looks to bounce back from his loss to Joe Noynay. For Sueyoshi this bout will mark his 5th defense of the title as he continues to edge closer and closer to a bout for some form of international or world title. The talented, though often frustrating, Sueyoshi is a tricky man to beat, though we do have questions over his chin. Hopefully Saka will manage to test Sueyoshi's whiskers though we suspect that the boxing brain and unique rhythm of the champion will be too much for the naturally smaller Saka to deal with here.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (10-0, 9) vs Jose Antonio Villalobos (12-5-2, 7)
Hard hitting Kazakh youngster Sadriddin Akhmedov looks like he has got superstar potential, with an exciting style, a great look, and the ability to box or bang. He is as a good a prospect as Kazakhstan has right now and his promoters in Canada seem to know they have a special talent on their hands. Despite Akhmedov being a special talent Eye of the Tiger Management aren't rushing him, and here he gets another fight to develop his experience and talent, as he goes up against tough Argentinian fighter Jose Antonio Villalobos, who has only been stopped once. This should be another win for Akhmedov, who already has 4 wins this year, but we're glad he's being kept active and getting experience at such a young age. Bigger fights will come for the 21 year old, and this is just the next step to those bigger bouts.
Musashi Mori (10-0, 6) vs Takuya Mizuno (17-1-1, 14) - Osaka, Japan
Unbeaten Japanese youngster Musashi Mori has been tipped as one to watch for a while by those in the know in Japan and the currently WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion is certainly an excellent prospect, with a lot of potential. Here we'll see him risking his title and unbeaten record against the heavy handed Takuya Mizuno in a very interesting test. Mori once looked like a bit of raw talent, but has been getting nurtured this year and has been taken under the win of Ismael Salas, who is expected to to help round off the rough edges that Mori has, and calm his offensive mentality. That'll be a big ask, but if Salas can get Mori to buy into the philosophy he can go a very long way. Mizuno is technically quite crude, but with heavy hands he tends to be able to punch his way to victory, and if he catches Mori the youngster could be in trouble. We suspect Mori should have the scales to win, but this is no walk in the park for the youngster.
Takayuki Okumoto (23-8-4, 11) Vs Kenta Nakagawa (17-3-1, 12) - Osaka, Japan
Takayuki Okumoto looks to make his next defense of the Japanese Super Flyweight title as he takes on former champion Kenta Nakagawa in what looks like a decent match up. Okumoto has been in great form over the last few years in terms of results, but looks to be very much a transitional champion, who is rather lucky the division is a weak one in Japan right now. Nakagawa held the title for 5 months in late 2016 and early 2017, but lost in his first defense and hasn't really impressed since then. Nakagawa has the skills to test Okumoto, but we suspect the champion will retain again here.
Yuki Beppu (20-1-1, 19) Vs Ryota Yada (19-5, 16) -Osaka, Japan
We'll see a potential shoot out at Welterweight as former Rookie of the Year Yuki Beppu faces former Japanese champion Ryota Yada for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. Both of these men can bang, both are aggressive and both believe in their power. Of the two Yada is the more proven, but he's also been stopped multiple times, whilst Beppu has shown a gritty toughness that could help here in what could be one of the most exciting bouts of the month. We don't expect this one to go the distance, and instead we expect fireworks, a lot of fireworks! If you're watching this one, don't blink!
Toshiki Shimomachi (10-1-2, 6) vs TBA -Osaka, Japan
The once beaten Toshiki Shimomachi is pencilled in to make his first defense of the JBC Youth Super Bantamweight title. At the moment no opponent has been named, sadly, We suspect an opponent was in mind but that bout has failed to materialise and Shimomachi has been left opponent-less. There is a chance his team will secure a decent opponent in the coming days but it is looking less and less likely as the days go by. As for Shimomachi he's a very talented, having won Rookie of the Year in 2018 and the Japanese Youth title earlier this year.
Thanongsak Simsri (12-0, 11) vs Christian Bacolod (12-0, 9) - Osaka, Japan
One of the most interesting match ups for the month comes quite low down the profile scale, but features two unbeaten young hopefuls in what could be a truly compelling match up. In one corner is Thai punch Thanongsak Simsri, who has already been compared to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, whilst the other corner plays home for world ranked Filipino Christian Bacolod. On paper this looks excellent, and despite being quite far down the card, and lacking any immediate title honours, we suspect this could be a bit of a thriller.
After a relatively quiet month of June we see things really pick up in July, with what looks to be a truly hectic schedule. We though May was busy but even the craziness of May could end up playing second fiddle to June which features everything we could ever ask for.
If we're being honest January was a bit of a slow burn month, with a lack of action at the start of the month before picking up over the last 2 weekends. There was action through January but it was very bitty and very slow to get going. Thankfully the same can't be said for February which starts hot and continues to be busy throughout, even if the action doesn't hit the same heights as January in terms of quality.
Junto Nakatani (17-0, 12) Vs Naoki Mochizuki (15-3, 8) - Tokyo, Japan
The first Japanese title fight of the new month sees Junto Nakatani and Naoki Mochizuki battle for the vacant Japanese fight title, which Masayuki Kuroda vacated in late 2018. Coming in to the bout Nakatani will start as the favourite but Mochizuki is a tough and underrated fighter who will know this is a huge opportunity to claim a national title, put himself in the mix for big fights down the line and impress on a televised Japanese card.
Kenichi Ogawa (21-1-0-1, 17) vs Roldan Aldea (12-6-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa returns to the ring after more than a year out of action, following a failed drugs test. The hard hitting Ogawa, who is best known for taking a controversial win over Tevin Farmer that was later over-turned due to the aforementioned drug test, will be facing off with Filipino journeyman Roldan Aldea, in what is supposed to be a show case for the talented and returning Japanese fighter.
Gonte Lee (0-0) vs Aphisit Namkhot (1-1, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
One of the biggest debuts of 2019 will see Japanese-Korean fighter Gonte Lee, a former amateur standout, take on Thai foe Aphisit Namkhot. The talented Lee won over 100 amateur fighters, with 62 wins in a row, competed for North Korea and was expected to go to the 2020 Olympics. Instead he chose to go professional and his debut is something to be very highly excited about. The Thai foe is expected to provide little more than the perfect foil for Lee's debut.
Mikito Nakano (1-0, 1) vs TBA - Tokyo, Japan
Talking about amateur standouts it's worth noting that another Japanese amateur stand out will also be on this card, Mikito Nakano. Nakano, who debuted last year, is tipped for huge success and will be looking to score his second professional win. His opponent is currently unknown, though we do know it will be a Thai, and like Lee's bout this should be little more than a show case for a fantastically talented young prospects.
Janibek Alimkhanuly (4-0, 1) vs Steven Martinez (18-4, 13) - Texas, USA
In the US we'll see Kazakh fighter Janibek Alimkhanuly take a good step up in class as he battles Steven Martinez. The talented Alimkhanuly has yet to shine since signing with Top Rank in 2018, putting in two forgetable performances last year. Despite failing to look great recently we do have high hopes for the 25 year old Kazakh and we're expecting to see him show that potential sooner rather than later. Martinez is a tough opponent, with ambitions of his own, but we suspect that Alimkhanuly will have the skills to defeat the tough American.
Dave Apolinario (9-0, 6) vs Mark Vicelles (9-0-1, 5) - Metro Manila, Philippines
Young prospect Dave Apolinario takes on his stiffed test to date as he battled against fellow unbeaten Filipino Mark Vicelles, in what looks like an excellent bout on paper. Apoinarion, the younger brother of former world title challenger Mark John Apolinario, has looked like an excellent prospect since making his debut back in 2017 but has yeat to face someone looking to score a win of their own. Vicelles on the other hand has proven he can get through hungry fighters, taking the unbeaten records of Rey Tagulaylay and Roldan Sasan. He's a capable fighter himself and will know a win here would be huge. This has the hallmarks of a weekend stealing contest.
Reymart Gaballo (20-0, 17) vs Yuya Nakamura (9-2-1, 7)- Metro Manila, Philippines
WBA "interim" Bantamweight champion Reymart Gaballo is one of the forgotten men at 118lbs, due to the WBSS, but is building a reputation at home, a reputation he'll be looking to enhance here when he takes on charismatic Japanese warrior Yuya Nakamura. Gaballo is an excellent boxer-puncher with really crisp punching and he looks like one of the better contenders in the division. Nakamura on the other hand is a fun but limited fighter who we suspect will play his part in a fun fight, but a fight that he loses.
Romero Duno (18-1, 14) vs Kuldeep Dhanda (7-1, 1) - Metro Manila, Philippines
Filipino boxer-puncher Romero Duno put his name on the international stage when he travelled to the US and upset the much fancied Christian Gonzalez in 2 rounds. Since then he has fought only once in the Philippines, and 4 times in the US, whilst building his international presence. He returns "home" to face Indian foe Kuldeep Dhanda in what appears to be a stay busy contest for the Filipino hopeful, who will be expected to return to the US later in the year for potential world title eliminator, or minor title bout of some kind.
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