May 1st-Action in Kobe!
Tokiwa Arena, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
The bigger of two shows this coming Sunday comes from Kobe thanks to Senrima Kobe promotions. The card isn't a huge one, but does have a Japanese Youth title fight, as well as two relatively interesting lower level domestic fights.
The title fight will see Seira Kishida (5-1-2, 2) face off with Seika Fukuda (6-2, 1) for the vacant Japanese Youth Super Featherweight title. Aged 23 Kishida is the slightly older fight, and the mall taller one, standing just under 6 foot, and also the one bringing some momentum into the bout having gone unbeaten since losing in December 2018, running off a 4-0-2 run since then. As for Fukuda, who's 22, he's lost 2 of his last 3, though one of those was in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final in February 2021 to Tsubasa Narai. He'll go in with little momentum, but has gone 8 rounds, which Kishida hasn't and that could play a major role in this bout. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Kishida and Fukuda clash for Youth title
In the chief support bout Sho Omote (9-3, 3) will take on JBC ranked Flyweight Shun Kosaka (16-8, 4). The 27 year old Omote will know this is a chance for him to crash into the rankings, but with 2 losses in his last 3 he hasn't much momentum coming in to this, though did show his ability in 2019 and clearly has got potential to move towards a Japanese title fight in the next few years. Kosaka on the other hand has really struggled recently and is 1-5 in his last 6, with his only win in that run being a razor thin one against Shunji Nagata in 2019. Whilst Omote has no momentum, it's hard to imagine Kosaka has any confidence.
The main event of the card will see Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific ranked Super Flyweight Hiroki Tokuyama (11-3-1, 2) take on JBC 2 ranked Flyweight Keisuke Iwasaki (6-3-2, 2), in a bout at Super Flyweight. This should be on where Tokuyama is favoured, given the bout is at his weight and he is the local fighter, however it's certainly not a foregone conclusion and he has lost 2 of his last 4, and has struggled with the 8 round distance, even in bouts he has won over that distance. As for Iwasaki he comes into this on the back of a good win over Shota Asami last year, and also holds very solid wins over Ryuku Nakamine and Mammoth Kazunori, and whilst he is the smaller man, he has regularly fought at 115lbs and could end up having the tools to over-come Tokuyama here in a very matched bout.
Barangay Ligaya Gymnasium, General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
As well as the action in Japan we also have a small card in the Philippines. Sadly at the time of writing, the show hasn't yet had the B-sides announced, and even the A-sides aren't hugely appealing, though it's obvious they are being matched to pick up easy wins.
One of the A sides is veteran Ernie Sanchez (19-17-2, 10), who has genuinely faced a who's who of the sport over the years. In his 39 fight career he has faced the likes of Rey Vargas, Sergey Lipinets, Oscar Valdez, Masayuki Ito, and Evgeny Chuprakov. Sadly Sanchez has been struggling for victories in recent years, and comes into this with a 0-5-1 record in his last 6, so it's perhaps fair for his team to try and get him an easy win here.
One of the other A sides of note is young puncher Ken Jordan (9-1-2, 8) who seemed to be rebuilding well following a 2017 loss to Jimboy Haya. Sadly his rebuilding hit a wall at the start of the pandemic, and he's not fought since stopping touted Japanese fighter Tulio Dekanarudo in December 2019, which is a genuine shame, as that was the sort of win that should have served as a platform for his career taking off. Aged just 24, time is on his side, but it's still a huge shame that he has lost 2 years of his career.
This coming Saturday isn't a stacked day with huge fights, but there is a lot going on, including bouts with a number of solid names and some that look genuinely interesting in what could be a bit of an interesting day even if it's not one which will get a lot of attention.
Arguably the best bout of the day with an Asian interest takes place in Mexico, as former Japanese 154lb champion Hironobu Matsunaga (18-1, 11) takes on Mexican veteran Jhony Navarrete (34-17-2, 15), in what is a huge good opportunity for Matsunaga to build his profile internationally, and potentially begin to make a move towards a bout in the US in the next year or two. He's a fun guy to watch and Navarrete should have the style to push Matsunaga and give him some exciting rounds here, unlike some of Matsunaga's other international opponents who have at times been very poor.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
Whilst the best single bout will likely be in Mexico, the best show overall for fans of Asian fighters will be in Thailand.
This card features a notably, the likely very one sided bout, between two former world champions as 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (50-5-1, 43) takes on former WBC Light Flyweight champion Kompayak Porpramook (61-13-1, 41). The talented Srisaket will be fighting for the first time since medical issues forced him to pull out of a scheduled bout with Carlos Cuadras, and this bout is likely to be a case of him shaking some ring rust than anything else. In recent years the 39 year old Kompayak has been picking up a lot of losses, and this will be another, though he does make an honest account of himself. Fingers crossed, in some ways, that Srisaket doesn't set out to make a statement, as this could get very ugly very quickly if he looks to blast out Kompayak.
Another bout on this card will recent world title challenger Danai Ngiabphukhiaw (10-3, 5) take on unbeaten 19 year old Vijes Oak (3-0, 2) in a very interesting match up for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Light Flyweight title. Danai challenged for the WBA Minimumweight title last year, and gave Panya Pradabsri a really solid test, much more so than the scores cards suggest, and is certainly better than his 10-3 record suggests. Oak on the other hand is a Thai based Cambodian who will know this is a great chance for him to make a name for himself, and move towards bigger and better fights himself, though he will go in a very clear under-dog.
Dangcagan, Bukidnon, Philippines
In the Philippines we get two notable fighters in action, though sadly both of the notable men are in what appear to be stay busy bouts rather than real tests.
One of the notable names is recent world title challenger Samuel Salva (18-1, 11), who takes on fellow former world title challenger Jeffrey Galero (17-7, 8). On paper this isn't a great match up to begin with, and it should be a straight forward win for Salva, though beneath the hood we can under-stand Salva having an easy bout here. He's been out of the ring since January 2020 and clearly needs to shake some ring rust and get back in the ring. Galero on the other hand hasn't fought in over 3 years and has lost 4 of his last 5.
The other really notable fighter on this card is veteran Lito Dante (17-11-4, 9), who returns for his first fight in over 2 years as he takes on 31 year old professional loser Ryan Ralozo (11-36-2, 2). Dante, one of the most under-rated fighters in the sport right now, is a real danger man over 10 and 12 rounds, but he can be shown up in these short length bouts. Saying that however Ralozo has lost his last 6 and is 1-9 in his last 10.
225 Joo Chiat road , Singapore, Singapore
Over in Singapore fans will see Malaysian fighter Adli Hafidz (9-0, 5) defending his UBO Middleweight world title for the first time, as he takes on Thai visitor Theerawat Yoohanngoh (21-12, 15). Although no world beater Hafidz is, by far, the biggest name in the Malaysian and Singaporean region, and despite not being anywhere near world class he is someone who could inspire the area to develop a domestic boxing scene before he hangs up the gloves. As for Theerawat the 34 year old was once a decent fighter, for a regional level Thai, but has been out of the ring since the end of 2019 and has been picking up more and more losses, including losing twice in Singapore in 2019, this will likely extend that run without much debate.
Yodogawa Ward Center, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
In Osaka fight fans will get a low level Japanese show with novices and debutants. The only bout that really seems even slightly notable is a bout at Welterweight between the unbeaten Kazutoshi Adachi (3-0-1, 2) and the relatively limited Yusa Toyonaka (3-3-1, 1). This should be a very entertaining 4 rounder, but nothing too notable, and certainly not one where the winner will be racing towards a title fight or anything similar.
Sawai Mansingh Indoor Stadium, Jaipur, India
We also have a small card scheduled for Jaipur in India, and sadly this is a very, very low key card, with novices, and debutants all over the show, much like the Japanese show. It's hard to say much about this one, due to the level of the fighters involved, but it's another example of what's going on in Indian boxing, with plenty of shows, giving fighters a chance to be active, and build their records at an early stage.
Mielparque Hall, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
This coming Friday the Mielparque Hall will host the latest show from Koki Kameda's 3150 Kameda Fight Club. The card isn't the best matched, though that's not much of a surprise given the fact the 3150 Fight Club is still finding it's feet.
Although the card isn't the deepest it does feature to very well notable bouts. The first of those will see former WBA Minimumweight champion Ryo Miyazaki (25-2-3, 16) take on Takumi Sakae (22-4-1, 16) in a genuinely well matched and interesting bout at Flyweight. The 33 year old Miyazaki began a comeback last year, after more than 5 years away from the ring, and this will be his second of that comeback, and it's a big step up from his 2021 ring return against Takayuki Teraji. This should be a genuine chance to see what he has in the tank. As for Sakae, the 28 year old was once tipped for big things, but has fallen short in a number of notable bouts, including a loss to Riku Kano last year, and he'll know he needs a win to keep alive any hope of getting a shot at a world title. Given the styles of the two men this should be a very entertaining bout, with fireworks expected from both men.
The other bout, and an arguably more interesting bout, will see the long awaited, and much over-due, debut of Japanese-Brazilian Heavyweight hopeful Brandon Mitsuro Tajima (0-0), who passed hi pro-test bout in 2020 but bouts fall through at short notice delaying his debut. The former amateur stand out, who went 42-9 (20) in the unpaid ranks, will be up against Korean fighter Sang Ho Kim (8-3-1, 2). Kim has been stopped in all 3 of his losses, and isn't an incredible fighter by any stretch, but he should make for a good test for Tajima, in what is a scheduled 8 rounder, something we see very very rarely in Japan. We suspect that if Tajima shines here he and his team will race towards titles, and he might even end up in a national title fight in just his second professional bout, which would be a new Japanese record. Kim will be there to win, and is an exciting fighter, but we suspect there will be a huge gulf in skills here.
Sangyo Shinko Center, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
As well as the Kameda promoted show we'll also be getting a small, low key, card in Sakai City. This is a very, very low quality card, with the main event being a 4 round female bout between Riyuna Yoshikawa (2-1-1, 1) and Moemi Inukai (2-1, 1). Coming in to this Yoshikawa is ranked #7 by the JBC, and will be risking that ranking, whilst Inukai will be looking to bounce back from a November loss to Ayana Miyasaka, in what was a very well contested 4 rounder in Tokyo.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday Hiroshi Kawashima puts on his next show under the Untouchable Fight banner. Sadly it is a very week looking show, and whilst these usually over-deliver they don't really have a notable fighter to sell the show on.
The main event on this card is a 6 rounder, as Soara Hirezaki (5-2) takes on Kei Fujita (6-2, 4) in what should be a very entertaining bout between two men who well; matched, and both hungry for victory here after both men lost in the East Japan Rookie of the Year finals last year. Of the two men Hirezaki is the naturally bigger man, given he's a natural Super Flyweight whilst Fujita is a Flyweight, but the move up in weight may well help Fujita up with his punch resistance. Both men are 25 years old and both will be looking to move their careers forward, in what is a very, very interesting match up. It might be a low key bout, but it it should be a genuinely fun one.
Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Over in the UK we'll see little known Indian fighter Sandeep Singh Bhatti (6-3) take on Scottish novice Andy Tham (2-1, 1), in a rematch of a contest the two men had in February. In their first bout Bhatti beat Tham on a points decision, giving Tham his first loss, and he'll be looking to repeat that feat here. For Tham revenge will be in mind, though it's hard to say how good he is, and whether he has the tools needed to over-come Bhatti this time around.
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Wednesday the Shinjuku FACE plays to some East Japan Rookie of the Year qualifying bouts, on a small card with 5 scheduled contests.
As with all Rookie of the Year qualifying shows, none of the fighters on the card has much of a name or reputation behind them. In from the 5 fights on this card none of the fighters have winning records, and 3 of them actually lost all of their pro bouts.
The one bout that stands out, as a result, is an all debutant bout at Super Featherweight as 24 year old southpaw Eiji Inami (0-0) takes on 35 year old Kazuya Shibuya (0-0). On paper this is well matched, as all bouts between debutants are, but the two men are very different with Shibuya likely too old to be able to afford a loss if he wants a career in the sport, and Inami coming into his physical prime, and being a much taller fighter.
Whilst this is a weak looking show, the action is likely to be frantic, exciting, crude and well worth watching, as we typically see in shows with novices.
Sanman Gym, General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
This coming Tuesday we'll be getting a very, very interesting card from the Philippines featuring 3 men who have competed in world title bouts!
The best of the bouts on the card is a mouth watering clash between Vince Paras (16-2, 14) and Robert Paradero (18-2, 12). Paradero is a 2-time world title contender, who lost to Vic Saludar and Knockout CP Freshmart last year. Although he has those two losses against his name, he is a very solid fighter, and someone who did seem to look to make a fight of things against Knockout, before being taken out in round 5. As for Paras the 23 year old showed what he could do when he challenged Hiroto Kyoguchi in 2018, losing but putting up a solid effort. Sadly neither man has a win of note in recent years, however this is a great match up which will see the winner move towards another major bout, whilst the loser will have some serious rebuilding to do.
Another former world title challenger on this card is Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5), who is being matched against unbeaten prospect RV Deniega (6-0, 3). Heno was last seen in action in 2019, when he lost a very competitive bout with the then WBO Light Flyweight champion Elwin Soto, and sadly any momentum he could have had from that bout has been lose with around 30 months of inactivity. Despite that he will come in to this bout as the favourite against the unbeaten 22 year old. Daniega is a talent, and a genuine hopeful for the Philippines, but sadly for him he is stepping up big time here and looks to be taking a leap up in class. Saying that Daniega is the bigger, younger, fresher and more active man and his team will know a win here gives his career a huge boost.
One other fighter of note on this card is the hard hitting Jhack Tepora (23-1, 17), who looks to rebuild from a huge upset loss to Oscar Escandon in 2019. Sadly for Tepora he has been out of the ring since December 2019, and that loss to Escandon really has derailed his career. Coming in to this bout, his opponent is unknown 2 weeks out so we're not expecting anyone too testing for the talented Tepora, who will be hoping to get an easy confidence building win here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the Filipino card we also get a small, but interesting, card from Korakuen Hall.
In one of the main bouts here the 37 year old Hiro Ichimichi (6-0-1, 5) will face off with Ryuto Araya (14-9-1, 4). Ichimichi made his debut in 2019, aged 34 and despite having a draw on debut, he has impressed since then, and has shown really nasty power, with 5 stoppages in 6 bouts, including one against Hyoga Taniguchi. For him this will be his first 8 rounder, and he'll known a win over Araya will move him towards a potential title fight, something few would have expected when he was debuting. As for Araya he has fought a bit of a who's who of the Japanese scene over the last few years, and even challenged for the OPBF Featherweight title, but he has gone 3-5 in his last 8, and has suffered 5 stoppage losses, a worry against someone like Ichimichi.
In another solid bout on this card unbeaten teenager Kai Watanabe (6-0-1, 2) will be up against Ryota Ishida (11-2, 6). Aged 19 Watanabe is a genuine prospect, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in February and looks to build on that success here. He is quick, sharp and a very intelligent out-side boxer. Ishida on the other hand the type of fighter who wants to take the fight to opponents, and will look to drag Watanabe into something of a war. This should be a great chance to see what Watanabe is really made of, and really see what his potential is at this early stage of his career.
San Andres , Quezon, Philippines
This Monday Quezon City plays host to a small Filipino card, with some relatively notable names on it, but not really any bouts that scream out as being genuinely interesting bouts.
The main event of the card will see a rematch between Roldan Aldea (16-8-1, 9) and Monico Laurente (30-17, 7). Their first bout, in 2020, saw Aldea stop Laurente in 2 rounds, and almost take him out in the opening 3 minutes. Since then Laurente has been out of the ring, and now, aged 36 is unlikely to pose any sort of a test for the 28 year old Aldea. This really is a pointless bout, and is clearly just a case of getting Aldea back in the ring, something that is needed given his last fight was a year ago.
In the chief support bout the well travelled Jhon Gemino (22-13-1, 12) will be up against Michael Escobia (12-20-1, 3) in a Super Featheight bout. Although his record, and recent performance, haven't been great Gemino is a decent enough fighter, who loves to travel and score upsets, something he did in Japan in 2018 against Sho Nakazawa and something he did in 2019 in the US against Arnold Alejandro. Sadly though he has started to look old in recent years, and was stopped in 6 rounds last time out, against Elnur Abduraimov. Escobia on the other hand is a genuine journeyman who has been used to pad out records for years now. He has scored just a single win since 2016, with a record of 1-9 in that time period. He can score upsets, as he did in 2017 against Jelbirt Gomera, but it does seem that desire has faded and he's been out of the ring for over 2 years now.
This coming Sunday attention is focused on Japan where we are set to get 3 shows, across 2 venues.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The best of the shows is a Taisei promoted event at the EDION Arena Osaka in which we see a two notable fighters in action, though both are matched relatively easily in what should be straight forward wins.
One of those fighters is former Super Flyweight title challenger Sho Ishida (29-3, 15) who looks to bounce back from a recent loss to Kosei Tanaka as he takes on Filipino visitor Carlo Demecillo (15-5-1, 8), in what should be something of a mismatch. The talented Ishida has only lost to high level fighters, with losses to Tanaka, Kal Yafai and Israel Gonzalez, and given he has 2 of his last 3 it's hard to begrudge him a gimmie here. Sadly though Demecillo really is a gimmie, despite the fact he's riding a 6 fight unbeaten run coming into this. His competition has been poor, he's been out of the ring for more than 2 years and last time he was in Japan he was flattened within 3 rounds by Satoshi Shimizu. Ishida will likely go rounds here, but should take a very comfortable win.
The other main bout will see fellow former world title challenger Riku Kano (18-4-1, 9) compete in what looks to be a tune up bout against Thai visitor Sanchai Yotboon (7-4, 6). Kano is knocking on the door of a WBO world title fight at Light Flyweight, and likely wants to keep ticking over rather than waste more time out of the ring, having not fought since July last year. The reality is that Sanchai is really terrible, and has been stopped in all 4 of his previous visits to Japan, including a loss to the then debuting Ginjiro Shigeoka. An obvious tune up before bigger and better things for Kano.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
At the same venue as the Taisei card will be an Hiroki Ioka promoted show. This card is very low key, with only 5 bouts in total and with 4 of those being over the 4 round distance.
It does however have a very good looking 8 round main event as Katsuhiro Nakata (7-1, 4) takes on Rei Nakajima (4-1) at Middleweight. The talented, and diminutive, Nakajima is looking to bounce back from his first defeat, which came in a Japanese title fight against Hironobu Matsunaga last April, and he will be the favourite here given his excellent technical skills. As for Nakata he's big and strong, and his last two bouts against Ran Tomomatsu were really entertaining, and he does make for fun fights. We very much expect to see this to be a case of Nakajima's skills and speed taking on Nakata's size and strength in what should be a really good bout.
Messe Mie, Tsu, Mie, Japan
As well as the cards in Osaka, we also get one in Mie Prefecture. This card isn't a big one, or a particularly notable one, but there are two bouts of some interest on it.
The main event, a scheduled 8 rounder, will see the talented Tom Hamaguchi (6-3-2) take on Teru Nobita (6-3-1, 3). The talented Hamaguchi has gone unbeaten in his last 6 bouts, but sadly has been inactive since a July 2017 win over Kazuki Fukuhara. Despite his long lay off Hamaguchi is still only 28 and will be expecting a great reaction for his return, especially given he is a local fight to Mie Prefecture. Nobita on the other hand is a 24 year old who was last seen in 2020, when he stopped John Yano, despite that win he is probably better known for his 2019 loss to Tantaro Kimura in the Rookie of the Year. Whilst not an amazing match up both of these guys can fight and both will see this as a way to kickstart their careers after lengthy lay offs.
In a decent, and well matched supporting, match up we'll see Shuma Sugawara (7-2, 4) battle against Ryukyu Oho (7-5, 4). The under-rated Sugawara is looking to build on a good 2021 win over Arashi iimi, and although not a major name he is one of the brighter hopes plying his trade in Mie, with this being his 5th bout at the Messe Mie in what is clearly his boxing home. As for Oho, he will be looking to bounce back from a loss to Ryo Hino, though he is 1-3 in his last 4 bouts, and will certainly be low on confidence following his recent run.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The big show this coming Saturday is in Osaka, where Nakazato Boxing Gym will be promoting a very good looking Japanese title double header, with both title bouts being genuinely good looking ones.
On paper the less competitive looking bout will see Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (21-6, 18) defending his belt against the criminally under-rated, but very much in form Kanehiro Nakagawa (11-6, 5). Saka won the title in 2019, in arguably the best performance of his career as he battered Masaru Sueyoshi into submission, and defended it 2021 with a destructive win over Takuya Watanabe, but lost in a regional title bout against Yoshimitsu Kimura at the end of last year, which could see his confidence being shattered coming in to this. Nakagawa has a very scruffy looking record, but he is 7-1 in his last 8 and has won his last 6, including notable victories over Seiichi Okada, Taiki Minamoto and Shinnosuke Hasegawa, and will be full of confidence here, in the biggest opportunity of his career. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Japanese champion Saka faces Nakagawa!
The other title fight will see veterans collide as Hiroyuki Kudaka (28-18-4, 11) faces Kenta Nakagawa (20-4-1, 12) for the Japanese Super Flyweight title, which was vacated by Ryoji Fukunaga. For both men it feels like a must win bout. Aged 37 Kudaka is a true veteran, a 4 time world title challenger and a former 1-time Japanese national champion who has had a thrilling career, with an exciting style, and some really memorable nights. Sadly at his age and with his style things will catch up with him, but he's very much a true warrior, with impressive work rate, stamina, toughness and fighting spirit, even in his mid 30's. As for Nakagawa, who's a 2-time Japanese champion, he is 36 himself and the better technical boxer here, but also the man who took an absolute pasting just 2 fighter ago, against the aforementioned Fukunaga. These two could put on a stinker, if father time has his word, or a legitimate fight of the year contender, it really is a very hard one to call, and one we are seriously intrigued by. Our preview of this bout can be read here Kudaka and Nakagawa clash for Japanese title!
The Grand Ho Tram Strip, Vung Tau, Vietnam
There is also set to be a small, but notable, card in Vietnam, where Cocky Buffalo will be putting on their next show.
The most notable bout on this card will see Uzbek veteran Olimjon Nazarov (27-5, 15) defending his WBO Oriental Flyweight title, as he takes on Filipino youngster Jerome Baloro (6-1, 4). The 33 year old Nazarov is highly ranked by the WBO, but his competition has, for the most part, been weak and this feels very much like a case a case of defending his regional title until he becomes the mandatory and gets a shot almost by default, without being prepared or particularly qualified for a shot at a fighter like Junto Nakatani. As or Baloro his competition has been weak and he was beaten last December by fellow Filipino hopeful Regie Suganob.
Dauis, Bohol, Philippines
As well as the action in Japan and Vietnam there is also set to be a show in Bohol, headlined by an interesting domestic Super Flyweight title bout.
The aforementioned regional title bout will see the unbeaten Rodel Suganob (6-0-1, 2) battle against Ranelio Quizo (10-2, 3) for the very lightly regarded, and currently vacant, WBF Asia Pacific Super Flyweight crown. The 25 year old Suganob has is a promising youngster who showed his potential last time out, when he stopped former world title challenger Vergilio Silvano in 4 rounds. The promising southpaw looks like he could go a long, but needs to be tested so we can see what he's really made of. As for Quizo he's 23 and has won his last 3 bouts, including a good win over Philip Luis Cuerdo, but did lost back to back bouts not too long ago, and it's unclear just how good he is. One thing that we should see here is both men answering questions and pushing each other which is exactly what both men need at this point in their careers.
April 22nd-Taniguchi and Ishizawa headline in world title bout at Korakuen Hall!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Friday we get the next Ohashi promoted show, and it's a really good one, with an excellent main event, and 3 very noteworthy supporting bouts.
The main event is a very anticipated WBO Minimumweight world title bout, which will see Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10) make his first defense of the title he won late last year, and take on the hard hitting Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9), in the second bout between the two men. These two fought back in 2019, with Taniguchi taking a hard fought but clear win over Ishizawa. Since that first bout Taniguchi has gone 3-0 (3) and won the Japanese and WBO title, with his biggest wins so far coming last year when he stopped Wilfredo Mendez for the WBO title. As for Ishizawa he has gone 4-0 (3) since losing to Taniguchi, with his most notable win coming last time out when he stopped Katsuki Mori for the Japanese title. Given how good their first bout was, and the styles the two men employee, this should be a genuinely excellent bout and an action bout between two men who each really want to prove a point. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Taniguchi seeks first WBO title defense in rematch against Ishizawa!
In the chief support bout we'll see the fast rising Yoshiki Takei (3-0, 3) take part in his 4th professional boxing bout, as he takes a huge step up and battles against Shingo Kawamura (15-8-4, 8). So far Takei, who first made his name as a kick boxer, has taken out his first 3 opponents inside the opening round. He was a very, very good kick boxer, and is now looking like one of the most dangerous prospects in Japanese boxing, with brutal power, very good technique and a significant amount of combat sport experience. Kawamura on the other hand is an experienced 31 year old who has twice challenged for OPBF titles, being stopped by Satoshi Shimizu in 4 rounds and Hiroaki Teshigawara in 6 rounds. Given Takei's power this could be over quickly, though if Kawamura can see out the first few rounds this could get interesting.
Another unbeaten prospect on this card is third generation fighter Keisuke Matsumoto (4-0, 4), who takes a notable step up in class as he battles Morihisa Iju (11-5, 9). The talented Matsumoto, who has had his name circulated in Japanese boxing circles since he was competing in the Under 15 tournaments, did look shaky at times early in his career, but has progressed nicely in his last two bouts, and appears to be developing really well, likely why his team have stepped him up in such a notable fashion here. Aged 33 Iju is no world beater in the making, but he has respectable power, and is tough, having not been stopped since his 6th bout. Iju has been inactive recently, and has lost his last 3, but is rugged, and a genuinely good test for the 22 year old Matsumoto at this point in the youngster's career.
Also on this card is a potential shoot out, as the hard hitting, yet frustrating, Jin Sasaki (11-1, 10) takes on Marcus Smith (7-1-1, 7) in an 8 round Welterweight bout. An 8 round bout that really isn't expected to go the distance. The 20 year old Sasaki started his career 11-0 (10) before losing last time out against Andy Hiraoka in a in a bout for the WBO Asia Asia Pacific and Japanese Light Welterweight title, with Sasaki missing weight as well as looking lacklustre through the bout. The result was a disappointing one, for one of the most fan-friendly young prospects in Japan. Here he is moving up in weight but is up against a naturally bigger fight who's also a puncher. Smith, a Japanese based American born fighter, has shown nasty power of his own, and has also shown a good chin, going 8 rounds with Koki Inoue in 2018. Sadly Smith has been out of the ring for over 2 years, but he will come into this knowing it's a huge opportunity for him to make up for lost time against a popular young banger.
Echo Arena, Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
As well as the interesting show in Japan we are also set to see WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21) make his long awaited mandatory title defense against English fighter Paul Butler (33-2, 15). This bout was supposed to take place in 2021 before Casimero had to pull out, on the week of the fight, due to illness. Butler had a chance to fight for the interim title, but turned it down, and as a result both men are now essentially forced into facing each other. If Casimero fails to fight he will be stripped and if Butler pulls out or misses weight he will miss out on being the mandatory challenger. In this right this will be a case of Casimero's wild power, and freakish ability to hurt fighters, against Butler's slippery technical, boxing. Sadly though it does feel like an under-whelming fight in one of the sports best divisions Our preview of this fight, which was done for the original date of the bout, can be read here Casimero defends WBO crown against Butler in mandatory defense