The middle of November is hectic with fights involving Asians at domestic, regional and even world level. The huge names might not be in action lots of solid fighters are.
On November 11th Japanese fans get a real treat with an OPBF title Quadruple header.
Merlito Sabillo (25-3-1, 12) v Ryuya Yamanaka (12-2, 3)
The lowest weight title being competed for on the OPBF quadruple header show is the Minimumweight title and will see former world champion Merlito Sabillo take on Japanese youngster Ryuya Yamanaka for the vacant title. Sabillo. In recent years Sabillo has struggled, and has gone 2-3-1 in his last 6 bouts, suggesting his career is hanging by a thread. Yamanaka is much less well known, but has been suggested as a possible future WBO title challenger and will have to win here if he's to get a shot in 2017. It should be noted however that this is a huge step up for the 21 year old Japanese fighter who is being thrown in with a proverbial shark here.
Takahiro Yamamoto (18-4, 15) v Mark John Yap (24-12, 10)
A much more interesting bout comes at Bantamweight where we'll see heavy handed champion Takahiro Yamamoto defending his title against Japanese based Filipino veteran Mark John Yap. On paper this doesn't look hugely interesting given that Yap has double digit losses, however his record, like that of many Filipino's, is misleading and in recent years he has been stringing together good wins, including two over Hiroyuki Hisataka and one over Tatsuya Ikemizu. Saying that however Yamamoto is a talented fighter, with heavy hands and an ultra aggressive style which makes him look like a fighter who is going to be very hard to beat at this level.
Shun Kubo (10-0, 7) v Jin Wook Lim (8-4-5, 2)
At Super Bantamweight we'll see the unbeaten, and world ranked, Shun Kubo attempting to defend his title against Korean visitor Jin Wook Lim. Kubo is talented and is seen as the future of the Shinsei gym however it does seem like his team are wanting to develop him at OPBF level before having him follow in the footsteps of stablemate Hozumi Hasegawa, and this will be his second defense of the OPBF title. Lim will be making his international debut here and comes in to the bout as a former Korean Bantamweight champion, and one who holds a win over Sa Myung Noh and a draw with Ye Joon Kim, this is however a huge step up for Kim and one that he's making on the road. A very tough assignment for him against a very talented hopeful.
Masayoshi Nakatani (12-0, 7) v Allan Tanada (14-5-3, 6)
At Lightweight we have OPBF champion Masayoshi Nakatani looking to extend his reign, and take it into a third year, as he takes on former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Allan Tanada. The under-rated Nakatani holds notable wins over the likes of Yoshitaka Kato, Ricky Sismundo and Shuhei Tsuchiya and will likely be adding another notable win to his record here. Tanada holds goof wins himself over the likes of Jose Ocampo, Rikiya Fukuhara and Roy Mukhlis but has lost 3 of his last 4 and few would back him here against the much taller Nakatani, however he is upset minded and won't fear Nakatani's reputation.
Momo Koseki (22-2-1, 8) v Chie Higano (6-4, 2)
On a separate Japanese card fight fans will be able to see Japan's longest reigning active world champion. That's WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki who has held her title for more than 8 years and looks to extend that reign with her 17th defence! The frightening Koseki will be up against domestic foe Chie Higano in what should be a straight forward win for Koseki who looks to extend various Japanese records here. For Higano the bout is a huge step up from facing domestic class foes to facing a nightmarish world champion in what really should be a mismatch.
Toshio Arikawa (13-4, 11) v Yasuhiro Okawa (14-12-3, 5) II
On November 14th we go back to Japanese title action here as Japanese Welterweight champion Toshio Arikawa attempts to make the first defense of his title. On paper this looks like a mismatch, and Arikawa is in great form winning his last 4 bouts with stoppages against Akinori Watanabe and Nobuyuki Shindo in his last 2 bouts. Saying that however Okawa holds a relatively recent win over Arikawa, and has lost only once in the last 5 years. This looks like a mismatch but should turn out to be a very interesting bout.
Iwan Zoda (11-1, 10) v Jeronil Borres (7-1-1, 5)
Our favourite Indonesian prospect returns to the ring on November 18th to defend his IBF Youth Flyweight title, and move towards a potential world title fight. The exciting Iwan Zoda will be up against fellow youngster Jeronil Borress, a once beaten Filipino who has has never been stopped and recent took on former world title challenger Richard Claveras. This is far from an easy defense for Zoda and instead it's a chance for him to prove himself, and his power, and the bout could end up telling us a lot about both fighters.
Ryosuke Iwasa (22-2, 14) v Luis Rosa (22-0-0-2, 10)
One of the most notable non-title bouts of the month for Asian fight fans sees former world title challenger Ryosuke Iwasa take on the unbeaten Luis Rosa in an IBF world title eliminator at Super Bantamweight. On paper this is a must win for Iwasa, who is best known for losing to Lee Haskins and Shinsuke Yamanaka, For Rosa the bout is a step up following a string of bouts against relatively limited opponents, like German Merez and Luis Hinojosa, but he's touted as a potential world champion and will be wanting to show his ability here. Interestingly the winner of this could find themselves up against the winner of the upcoming Jonathan Guzman/Yukinori bout.
Earlier this year Fuji TV ran a show featuring Naoya Inoue and dubbed it "Exciting Time". The show, which featured not only Inoue but also the public exhibition of Ryota Murata, really did suggest that we were at the beginning of a very exciting time in Japanese boxing.
When you recall that actual card, on April 16th this year, you'll also remember that it saw the 7th straight stoppage victory for the highly touted Ryo Matsumoto further adding to the idea of "Exciting Time".
Since then however things have just become a little more exciting, in fact we'd go as far as to suggest Japanese boxing is on the verge of a Golden Age thanks to all the young talent coming through. There are so many good youngsters that we felt the need to talk about them, though unfortunately we're bound to over-look some just due to how many there are right now.
The most obvious of the promising Japanese youngsters is clearly Naoya Inoue (4-0, 3). The youngster has already claimed the Japanese national title and will be looking to add the OPBF title next time out as he takes on Jerson Mancio of the Philippines.
Whilst there is still a lot development to be done with Inoue, who's been fast tracked so far, there is so much to like about the kid that it's easy to see why so many are excited about him. He has wonderful shot selection, great movement, very hurtful power and one of the best boxing brains of any youngster in the sport. In fact it's fair to say that he's just a flat out natural in the ring and there is no doubt that he'll be a world champion sooner rather than later.
Whilst we all know about the talent of Naoya Inoue it's also worth noting that his 17 year old brother has just turned professional himself.
Takuma Inoue (0-0) has followed in his brother's footsteps by signing up with the Ohashi stable of fighters and although he's yet to fight as a professional there is a lot of expectation surrounding him. In fact the rumour is that Takuma will be trying to claim a Japanese national title in just 3 fights, beating his older brother by a fight.
Takuma Inoue is expected to make his professional debut on December 6th on the same show as Naoya attempts to claim the OPBF title and we'd be very shocked if he was given an easy opponent looking at how Naoya has done so far.
Whilst the Inoue brothers are youngsters with as much time as they want to build a career it's fair to say that Ryota Murata (1-0, 1) has a bit less time to reach his potential.
Aged 27 Murata has huge expectation on his shoulders though has the talent to go as far in the sport as he wishes. In fact in the case if Murata it's not just talent but the personality, the looks and the natural charisma to be a genuine star in either the west or the east.
Murata is a former amateur standout who claimed both an Olympic Gold and World Amateur Champion silver and that appears to have served him well. He made his professional debut back in August and dominated OPBF champion Akio Shibata and looked like he was made.
Incidentally Murata will also return on December 6th on the same show as the two Inoue brothers.
It's easy to fall in love with a puncher and we hope that's not what we're doing here but Masayoshi Nakatani (6-0, 5) looks like a monster.
Stood at 5'11" the Ioka trained Nakatani is a Lightweight with serious power, lovely body punches and a great jab, when he uses it. Although still fairly raw he looks like someone who has the potential to be very special.
Nakatani came to our attention earlier this year when he stopped fellow puncher Shuhei Tsuchiya in 3 rounds and we'll admit we're very excited about his future, which will hopefully see him fighting for either a Japanese of OPBF title in the next 12 months.
It's not just the debut of Takuma Inoue that is getting Japanese boxing fans excited but also the debut of Kosei Tanaka (0-0) who debuts on November 10th against the world ranked Oscar Raknafa of Indonesia.
Tanaka is just 18 but is seen as one of the future stars of Japanese boxing thanks to his excellent amateur career which saw him picking up 4 High School titles before turning to the professional ranks.
Tanaka is viewed as a "super prospect" like Naoya Inoue and Kazuto Ioka before him and on the showing of his test bout against Yuji Shimizu there really is no limit to what this youngster could produce in the ring.
As well as the five names mentioned above we'd also advise keeping an eye on the following fighters:
Sho Ishida (14-0, 7) is a Super Flyweight who at just 21 is starting to make a name for himself. Although more experienced than the names above he is still young and has already started to move up in terms of the quality of his opponents. We'd like to see him take another step up but he certainly doesn't need rushing at his age.
Shohei Omori (9-0, 5) is a southpaw currently campaigning in the Bantamweight division. Aged 20 he's slowly making a name for himself and really made an impact last time out stopping Kiron Omura in 92 seconds in by far his most notable victory to date. Stood at 5'8" he certainly could fill out in to a solid looking Featherweight at full maturity and is looking likely to move up the domestic Bantamweight rankings in the near future.
Hiroki Okada (6-0, 6) is another puncher much like Nakatani though one not likely to go as far as the Lightweight hopeful. Stood at 5'9 Okada is a sightly shorter than average Light Welterweight though he really impressed us by stopping Heri Andriyanto in 2 rounds earlier this year. Although it was the fifth stoppage of Andriyanto it's worth noting he had taken both Shuhei Tsuchiya and Yoshihiro Kamegai the distance in his two previous bouts in Japan.
Ryo Matsumoto (8-0, 7) is another Bantamweight prospect who is worth keeping a close eye on. The Ohashi fighter is 19 years old though already showing his man strength with a quick victory over the likes of John Bajawa. As well as his power he has also shown the ability to pace himself as he did out pointing Takuya Miyamori over 8 rounds last time out. Being in the Ohashi gym will see him maturing quickly and the rub of fellow stablemate will help him develop into a very good young fighter
With the likes of the fighters we've mentioned here, and of course the top youngsters who are already established like Kazuto Ioka and Tomoki Kameda, it really is a very exciting time for Japanese boxing. The next decade or so could give us a truly golden age in Japanese boxing.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).