Another day and yet more action in Japan as the country again shows just how fantastic it's domestic boxing scene is.
As far as we are aware there will be 2 seperate cards in Japan though one really stands out as being head and shoulders better than the other. That card will be the one held at the Aioi Hall in Kariya, so we'll look at that one first.
In action at Flyweight former national title challenger Yuki Sano (17-3-4, 12) looks to bounce back from his stunning 10th round stoppage loss to Naoya Inoue. Sano, ranked #5 by the JCB at Light Flyweight will be facing Takashi Omae (10-3-4, 1), himself ranked #10 by the JCB in the Light Flyweight division, in what promises to be a genuinely fantastic contest. Despite the loss to Inoue it's hard to imagine Sano not defeating Omae here.
It's not only Sano and Omae who are ranked and taking part on this card as Shinji Takayama (18-3, 10), the #7 ranked Featherweight is also in action. Takayama, entering on an 11 fight winning streak, will expect to add another victory to his record here as he takes on the relatively limited Hiroki Yoshimura (7-7, 4). Yoshimura has disappointingly lost 5 of his last 7 by stoppage and it'd be far from a shock to see that becoming 6 of his last 8.
We've got to admit that the remaining 2 bouts are much less exciting with the light punching Yuji Shimizu (13-7-1, 1) taking on Yoshihiro Kinjo (7-16-2, 2) in a bout that has "decision" written all over it and Shota Suito (7-3-1, 1) taking on Hajime Kawase (4-5-2, 2) in a rematch of a bout first fought in 2011. In their first meeting Suito was pushed hard so we might see an upset in this one, in fact Kawase has gone 3-2-2 since that loss with both of his loss being razor thin decision further adding to the feel of him being the proverbial banana skin.
With only a single card today the interest in Asian boxing will be clearly pointing at the Ohashi promoted show being held at the ever popular Korakuen Hall, Tokyo in what promises to be a show case card for a number of highly regarded prospects.
The least interesting bout on paper sees the highly regarded Yohei Tobe (4-1-1, 2) attempt to get his career back on track with what appears to be an easy match up against Thailand's Chatchai Or Benjamad (1-6). With Tobe winless in over a year (going 0-1-1 in his last 2 bouts) he needs a confidence building win and this should do the job.
Although on paper the Super Flyweight clash between Yuta Saito (7-3-1, 6) and Shuji Hamada (10-5-3, 2) looks unlikely to be anything special, those who have followed Saito over the last year will know what a class fighter he's developing in to. The 25 year old Saito started his career 2-3 but is now on a 5-0-1 streak including a KO of the year contender over Masashi Sato from last year. If Saito, ranked #12 by the JBC, can continue his excellent run he may well get a shot at the national title sooner rather than later.
Teenage KO artist Ryo Matsumoto (6-0, 6) looks to continue his streak as he faces veteran Yoshinori Koto (6-7-2, 1). With Koto having been stopped 5 times in his 7 defeats including his last 4 losses. Going in to this bout Koto is 2-4-2 in his last 8 (dating back over 4 years) and it'd be hard to imagine him upsetting Matsumoto.
In the main event of the card we see arguably the hottest prospect in world boxing Naoya Inoue (2-0, 2) fighting in his most notable bout to date as he faces JBC #1 ranked Light Flyweight Yuki Sano (17-2-4, 12) in a major test. Inoue is tipped by many inside Japan as a future world champion and the 20 year old has serious pressure on his shoulders. Although he has cruised past both of his opponents so far Sano is a whole different proposition.
Aged 31 Sano is a fighter who knows a loss here could spell the end of his career. He's spent more than a year out from the ring and has only a solitary victory in the last 2 years (going 1-1-1 in that time) though with only a solitary loss against his name in the last 5 years Sano will feel that he's the favourite here and that he could burst the hype of Inoue.
Whilst Inoue has been impressive the youngster has just 5 rounds of professional experience under his belt, a number dwarfed by the 117 rounds of Sano who knows what it's like to go 6, 8 or even 10 rounds and with this bout being scheduled for 10 this may be the decider. It's fair to say that this is by far the most intriguing bout of the day.