This coming Sunday is a pretty small day of action in Japan, but a pretty important one as we see two Rookie of the Year shows taking place in very different parts of the country. One is from Aichi, as part of the Central Japan Rookie of the Year and the other is from Saga, as the Western Japan Rookie of the Year also gets a dose of action.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
In the Central Japan Rookie of the Year we get a set of semi-final bouts with 5 bouts set to take place, from Bantamweight to Lightweight, after two bouts on the show were cancelled.
On paper the best match up is at Super Bantamweight, where the unbeaten pairing of Yuki Onaka (2-0, 1) and Prince Fujiwara (2-0-1, 2) battle for their place in the final. The two men are not just unbeaten but both are youngsters, with both being 22 years old, and both are coming in to this knowing that a win could help advance their careers massively. Notably Onaka made his debut this year, and has fought twice already in 2021, whilst Fujiwara has been out of the ring since September 2020, however he will feel he's the puncher. This is a really good match up and the sort of thing that the Rookie of the Year tournaments give us on a regular basis.
At Featherweight we get an all debutant bout, as 20 year old Kosuke Sato (0-0) takes on 25 year old southpaw Chihiro Iwashita (0-0). Although all debutant bouts can be hit and miss, we do expect this one to be really good. The division is one of the key ones when it comes to Rookie of the Year, and the orthodox Vs southpaw dynamic, at novice level, can give us some very, very entertaining bouts.
We also get an all novice bout at Lightweight as Shoya Fukuda (0-0) takes on Kiminobu Nakao (0-0). Like the Featherweight bout this is a southpaw vs orthodox bout, with Fukuda being the southpaw here, and both of these men are real youngsters, with Fukuda being 20 and Nakao being 22, suggesting that both have time to rebuild if they lose here.
Whilst we wouldn't expect anyone from this show to become a star, the central Japan region rarely develops true stars, the show should be well worthy of some attention and some eyeballs, and best of all our good friend Sakana1976 will be running a free stream of the event here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVOLBmRfVao
Sun Rise Park Gym, Saga, Saga, Japan
The Western Japan Rookie of the Year show is actually the regional finals, and will feature 7 bouts in total, from Flyweight to Welterweight.
Interestingly this show only has a single all debutant bout and that's the Flyweight contest which will pit Jungo Tominaga (0-0) against Kento Seki (0-0) in what actually seems like a strange one. On paper this is a typical all debutant bout, but Tominaga actually comes in as the 2020 Western Japan Rookie of the Year winner, winning by default when no one else entered the tournament, and will be looking to become a 2-time winner. As for Seki he's 18 and will be looking to make an impact in the sport and win the Western Japan Rookie of the Year for himself.
Up at Welterweight we'll see Rintaro Shiojiri (1-1, 1) battle against Taiki Henzan (2-1, 1), in what we expect to be a very, very fan friendly bout. Although neither man is well known we have seen Henzan in action before, notably his 2020 bout with Hiroya Nojima, and that showed he could be in some very exciting bout. Whilst the two men involved here are clearly limited we do expect them to put on a show, and Welterweight bouts in the Rookie of the Year are usually thrilling wars fought up close, and we expect that to be the case again here.
This coming Saturday isn't a big day for Asian action, but the little bit we do get is set to be something a little bit special as the US plays host to a Japan Vs Philippines world title bout, as we see the face of Japanese boxing show what he can do in front of a crowd in Las Vegas. We also get one of the most exciting prospects in world boxing take a massive step up in class as he begins to knock on the door of a world title fight.
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
The headline of the day, at least for us, will see Japanese star Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) defending his WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight titles against IBF mandatory challenger Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20). The bout will be Inoue's first since beating Jason Moloney last August, and his second as a Top Rank fighter. Unlike that Moloney bout however this will be the first time he has fought in front of fans in Las Vegas, and the atmosphere is expected to be solid for the popular Japanese puncher. As for Dasmarinas, he is thought to be nothing more than a lamb to the slaughter, and a necessary hurdle for Inoue before unifications bouts late in the year and in 2022. The challenger has been out of the ring since October 2019, and is really lacking in terms of world class wins, though as we all know the IBF do order some rather poor mandatory defenses for their champions. On the other hand Dasmarinas has nothing to lose here, there is no real pressure on him, and the focus is purely on Inoue. With that in mind we might see a relaxed Dasmarinas and he could, given he's a tall southpaw, frustrate Inoue at times. Though a win for the challenger would be one of the biggest upsets in recent years. Our full in depth preview of this bout can be read here The Monster faces IBF mandatory Dasmarinas!
Don Haskins Center, in El Paso, Texas, USA
As well as the world title fight in Las Vegas there will also be some notable action in Texas, as hard hitting Uzbek Bektemir Melikuziev (7-0, 6) faces his most notable opponent to date, veteran Gabriel Rosado (25-13-1, 14). It's fair to say that 2021 has been a frustrating year for Melikuziev, who had seen a fight with Sergey Kovalev fall through and was then banned by AIBA for historic drug issues, but that will likely only fire him up here. Rosado, at his best, is a very good gate keeper, and he was unlucky not to get the win against Danny Jacobs recently, and he won't be wanting to roll over against the "Bek Bully". Melikuziev on the other hand will know that a stoppage win here will put him right on the verge of a world title fight.
We expect to see Rosado trying to show the "novice" some veteran tricks, but in the end Melikuziev.s power, strength, body punching, and amateur fundamentals should be enough to see him take home the W and get in the position to call out world champions.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
For a second day running we get action from Korakuen Hall, though this is a much smaller show than the stacked card we got on Thursdays. In fact this is a card where the names are minimal, but the action should again be very, very good. It should also be noted that this card was, originally, scheduled for April before the state of emergency in Japan forced it to be delayed, hence the poster above.
The main event will see Japanese ranked Super Featherweights clash as Kazuma Sanpei (19-6, 8) takes on the heavy handed Kazuaki Miyamoto (7-5, 6). On paper Sanpei comes in as the clear favourite, with the more impressive record and the better JBC ranking, however it's certainly not a gimmie for him and the 26 year old has shown a questionable level of durability and comes into this 16 months removed from his last win. Miyamoto on the other hand is the definition of a glass cannon, with only one of this 12 bouts going to the final bell. Expect Miyamoto to try and take Sanpei's head off, and for Sanpei to try and box early before letting his heavier shots go in the later stages.
The chief support bout will also feature a ranked fighter, in fact Tatsuya Yanagi (17-6-2, 7) will be risking his JBC, OPBF and WBO AP rankings here, as he takes on Toru Kiyota (10-4, 7) in an 8 round Lightweight bout. Coming in to this Yanaga has been putting together some of his best performances, including wins over Masashi Noguchi, Koichi Aso and Kazuki Saito, and at 31 will likely know that a seventh career loss would be a massive setback. Kiyota on the other hand has only won one of his last 3, and 3 of his last 6, but can be a tricky customer and two of those losses was very close. Although perhaps not a great contest on paper, we expect this one to be ultra competitive throughout the 8 round schedule.
In a potentially easy to over-look bout we'll see the limited but heavy handed Ken Koibuchi (6-5, 5) take on Katsunori Endo (7-3, 4), in what could be a very explosive encounter between two men with some history between them. These two men faced off back in 2019, with Endo stopping Koibuchi in 3 rounds, giving Koibuchi his sole stoppage loss. It's fair to say Koibuchi will be seeking revenge here, but Endo on the other hand will be confidence of scoring a third straight win inside the distance. Although not a high level match up, this could be something a little special
One other Japanese ranked fighter on this card is Welterweight Hironori Shigeta (6-2-1, 3), who is looking to bounce back from a 2020 loss to Shoki Sakai. The talented Shigeta shouldn't have many problems here as he takes on the limited Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-14-1, 9), who has been stopped in his last 5 and is without a win in almost 4 years. In fact Miyazaki is 1-10 in his last 11 bouts!
One other fighter we want to briefly mention is Japanese based Italian fighter Federica Boni (0-0) who makes her belated debut against Asako Sugawara (0-0) in an all debutant bout. Boni was supposed to debut a few weeks ago, and has gotten a bit of press in Japan, for being an Italian born female boxer, and we really are looking forward to following her journey over the next few years.
Yunusabad Sports Complex in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Over in Tashkent we're set for a show featuring a number of notable Asian fighters, including three talented Uzbekistani fighters.
The main event of the show will see the heavy handed Shohjahon Ergashev (19-0, 17) take on Tanzania's Salimu Jengo (16-3, 10) in a bout for the lightly regarded EBP title at 140lbs. The talented Ergashev, will be fighting for the first time since his rather farcical bout with Dzmitry Miliusha last November, which had been postponed due to legal issues. The reality here is that Ergashev will almost certainly cruise past Jengo on route to bigger and better things. For those curious the most notable results on Jengu's record are a decision loss to China's Ju Wu and a TKO loss to former Devin Haney opponent Xolisani Ndongeni.
The other noteworthy local on this show is Jamshidbek Najmiddinov (16-1, 13), who appears to be in a stay busy bout after his US debut was delayed to September. His opponent has been named as Georgian fighter Merab Turkadze (6-9-1, 2), and it's really hard to see this being anything but an easy win for Najmiddinov, who's only loss was a very, very controversial one to Viktor Postol.
A third fighter of some note from Uzbekistan is Ulugbek Khakberdiev (6-0, 4), who returns to a pro ring for the first time in more than 2 years. The talented Middleweight is scheduled for 10 rounds against against Dzmitry Atrokhau (16-9, 7), from Belarus. Interestingly Atrokhau has proven to be durable, and it seems the focus here will be for the local man to get some rounds after such a long lay off. This should be a clear case of shaking some ring rust and cruising to a clear, wide, decision victory.
One other name worthy of mentioning the 36 year old Kazakh Alexandr Zhuravskiy (13-7-1, 11), who is much better than his record suggests, taking on Russian Sergey Vorobiev (10-1, 7), in a really good bout at 154lbs. This should be much, much more competitive than it looks on paper, and could end up being potentially the most interestingly contest on the show.
Vegas City Hall, Krasnogorsk, Russia
As well as the action in Japan there are a few Asian fighters in action over in Russia.
One of those is once beaten Russian based Azeri Elnur Samedov (11-1, 3) who is expected to be in action in an 8 rounder. Sadly his opponent for this show hasn't been confirmed at the time of writing, which is a shame as he's been putting on some good performances recently, including scoring wins over Aik Shakhnazaryan and Alexander Podolsky.
Another Russian based Central Asian fighter on this car is the 35 year old Server Emurlaev (23-2, 8), who is supposedly pencilled in to face the returning Andrey Kalyuzhnyy (14-2, 12). This is just an oddity. Kalyuzhnyy hasn't fought since 2016, when he lost to limited Thai Chaloemporn Sawatsuk. Emurlaev on the other hand has fought twice this year, returning after 8 years out of the ring, and recently suffered a loss to touted Kazakh fightr Kamshybek Kunkabayev. Notably Emurlaev is pencilled in for another fighter late in the month, so this one may end up being cancelled due to the other fight, which is a much more meaningful fight than this one.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday the Korakuen Hall plays host to the next show in the Diamond Glove series of events televised, on tape delay, by Fuji TV. Although not a massive card it does have a Japanese title bout, along with some very interesting supporting bouts, with some of the stars of the latest Rookie of the Year looking to shine.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Daishi Nagata (15-2-2, 6) look to make his second defense of the title, which he took from Koki Inoue in 2020, as he takes on the unbeaten Masahiro Suzuki (5-0, 3). The tough and rugged Nagata will come in to this as a huge favourite and will try to use his physicality and pressure to break down the smaller, less experienced Suzuki, however that might not be as easy to do as Nagata might think. Suzuki, although inexperienced as a professional was a very good amateur and has impressed since kicking off his professional career with an excellent win against Antonio Siesmundo. This will be pressure against movement, and those bouts do tend to make for some very good stylistic clashes. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Nagata defends against unbeaten Suzuki!
In a really, really good looking chief support bout we'll see the very highly regarded Rentaro Kimura (3-0, 3) take on the once beaten Hikaru Fukunaga (8-1, 5) in a very solid 6 rounder. Kimura has looked fantastic since making his professional debut, late last year, and clearly has his eyes on getting title fights later this year. To do that he needs to keep winning and can't afford a slip up here against Fukunaga. As for Fukunaga he reached the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, but sadly tested posted for Covid19 before the bout and was unable to compete in his scheduled bout. With that disappointment we expect to see Fukunaga come in to this bout full of hunger and desire, and he could be a real test for Kimura in this mouth watering contest.
Another excellent match up on the under-card will see All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Ryota Karimata (6-0, 3) take on Hayato Aoki (4-0, 3) in a brilliant match up. The 25 year old Karimata is one of the potential stars from the belated Rookie of the Year tournament, and he looked solid through the tournament, despite some struggles in the final against Hyogo Kimura. He's aggressive, heavy handed, and a fun to watch fighter who lets his hands go. Aoki on the other hand is a 36 old who knows he can't afford any more set backs if he's ever going to secure a title fight. Expect to see a hot tempo set early on and bombs to be thrown by both men in this one.
Another notable standout from the latest Rookie of the Year tournament was Akira Hoshuyama (5-0, 2), who won a Flyweight. He will be looking to build on his Rookie success with a bout against former amateur standout Shisui Kawabata (2-2, 2), who has struggled since moving over to the professional ranks. Hoshuyama's Rookie of the Year final, against Yasuhiro Kanzaki, was one of the more controversial, and exciting, finals and he'll be looking to put to bed some question marks that hang over his head from that bout. Kawabata on the other hand desperately needs a win after back to back losses to Rikito Shiba and Yuki Nakajima. Kawabata might have two losses in 4, but he can fight, and if he clicks here he could end rebuilding rapidly, and becoming the fighter many expected him to become when he made his debut in early 2018.
The remaining bout on this carer will see the crude but fun to watch Shota Ogasawara (6-3, 3) take on Rookie of the Year runner up Naito Oikawa (3-1, 1) in a 6 rounder. This isn't a great bout, but it should be regarded as a must win for both men, following some disappointing performances in recent contests.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Action returns to Korakuen Hall this coming Monday for a Watanabe and Dangan co-promoted card. This is a small card, with just 3 bouts on it in total, but it is also a very notable card, with all 3 bouts being title contests. As well as the 3 bouts, fans will also get an exhibition featuring one of the biggest stars in Japanese boxing, who makes a long awaited return to Korakuen Hall.
Also it's worth noting all of these bouts were originally scheduled to take place in May, but were delayed due to the Sumida City Gymnasium being closed during the recent State of Emergency in various Japanese regions.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Minimuwmeight champion Masataka Taniguchi (13-3, 8) making his first defense, as he takes on the once beaten Tatsuro Nakashima (11-1-1, 7). Taniguchi won the Japanese title late last year, winning the belt in his second shot at it, and he could end up having a very strong reign if he and his team are happy with him developing on the Japanese scene for the next few years. The talented champion will have hopes of winning a world title one day, but for now he's best off developing, getting some experience and fighting at this level. As for Nakashima he's a decent fighter, but it does feel like he's ill prepared for a bout with Taniguchi. He lost in 2018 to Kai Ishizawa and narrowly got past Ariston Aton in 2019. Nakashima has the potential to win a Japanese title, but we suspect he's getting this shot too soon in his career, and before he's really ready. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Taniguchi hunts first defense as he takes on Nakashima
In another of the title bouts we'll see former world champion Yuko Kuroki (17-6-2, 8) battle against the unbeaten Mizuki Chimoto (2-0, 1) for the vacant OPBF female Minimumweight title. For Kuroki this really is a must win bout, she's more than 3 years removed from her last win, she's 1-2-1 in her last 4, and was last seen fighting to a draw with veteran Nao Ikeyama. The now 30 year old Kuroki went from looking like a woman on the verge of stardom to a woman who boxing has seemingly forgot. Another loss here and it'll be really hard for her to bounce back. As for the 27 year old Chimoto, she was a good amateur who has been on the fast track since making her debut in late 2018 and it's great to see her fighting for a title, against a former world champion, this early in her career. Our preview for this bout can be read here Chimoto steps up to take on former world champion Kuroki in third pro bout!
The third title bout will see Kanako Taniyama (3-1-1, 1) and Yuko Henzan (8-10-4, 2) clash for the vacant Japanese female Bantamweight title. Both of these women are 34 years old and neither can really afford another set at this point. Taniyama turned professional with plenty of attention but has struggled to make a mark in pro boxing, something she was expected to do very easily. Henzan on the other hand has lost her last 3, and is limited, but has the clear edge in experience and will know that this is almost certainly going to be her final shot at a title. This could end up being a bit of a messy fight, with desperation setting in from both women, but with only 6 rounds it could also be a frantic and exciting one. Our in depth preview for this one is here Taniyama and Henzan battle for Japanese female title!
As well as the three bouts the card will also feature an exhibition bout, with WBA "super" Light Flyweight champion Hitoro Kyguchi (15-0, 10) showcasing his skills before the main event. Sadly at the time of writing his "opponent" hasn't been named.
This coming Monday is a really great day for fight fans wanting to watch some Japanese action with two free shows being made available through the promoters YouTube channel.
Amagasaki Cultural Center, Amagasaki, Hyogo, Japan
The more notable the shows will be streamed on the Boxing Real YouTube channel, and it's a pretty interesting show overall, even if it lacks major names.
The main event will see once touted prospect Rikito Shiba (4-1, 2) return to the ring for the first time since being stopped in a Japanese Light Flyweight title fight by Masamichi Yabuki, back in December 2019. The talented 25 year old will be dipping his toes at Flyweight as he takes on the experienced Hideyuki Watanabe (8-13-3, 6). On paper this is a clear mismatch, but given Shiba's confidence destroying loss to Yabuki, the 18 month lay off and the move up in weight it might not be the foregone conclusion that it looks. Watanabe, although no world beater, is a 36 year old veteran who has ran some solid domestic fighters very close in a number of his losses, including Takuya Kogawa, Naoki Mochizuki, Ryuto Oho and Yusuke Sakashita, giving him one of the most misleading records in the sport. Watanabe is expected to lose, but we expect him to give Chiba a genuine test.
The brilliantly named Condor Inaba (7-5-1, 3) looks to make a successful return to the ring himself, following a lengthy lay off, as he takes on light punching Yuga Inoue (10-2-1, 1). Inaba hasn't fought since October 2019, and although not a star in the making the 26 year old will be desperate to pick up his next win and get back on track. In the opposite corner is Inoue, no relation to Naoya and Takuma, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017 but came undone against Kai Ishizawa and has moved through the weights ever since. Inoue is the more talented fighter, but we do worry for him here as he will be giving away quite a bit of size to Inaba.
Potentially the hidden gem on this show will see Hibiki Jogo (10-3, 5) take on Wataru Ikegami (8-5-1, 5). It's fair to say that international fans will not be too aware of these two men, but both are fan friendly fighters, who are happy to let their shots go, and their styles should gel really well. Jogo is a 27 year old who was last seen losing in a competitive bout to Tatsuya Takahashi and although not the biggest or strongest fighter he does have the desire to be involved in exciting contests. Ikegami on the other hand is one of the most under-rated fighters in the sport, with an eye pleasing aggressive style. He seemed to find his groove last time out, against Shion Tamada, and he'll want to build on that performance, which was genuinely very impressive. This one really could be a show stealer.
One other bout worthy of some attention will see Hyogo Kimura (6-2-1, 1), who lost in the All Japan final of the Rookie of the Year back in February, taking on the debuting Goki Kobayashi (0-0). Kimura was unfortunate in the Rookie of the Year, and his bout with Ryota Karimata was one of the best bouts on the show. He proved himself to be tough, skilled, and at 20 years old incredibly promising. Kobayashi on the other hand is a 22 year old debutant who fought more than 30 bouts as an amateur and picked up more than 20 wins. Hard to know much about how good Kobayashi is, but in all honest we're glad to see more of Kimura.
Arena Tachikawa Tachihi , Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan
The other Japanese show will come from Tachikawa, and is also expected to be live streamed on the promoters YouTube channel. This is a much smaller show, but is a good example of a Japanese style "small hall" show. None of the bouts are high profile, or feature anyone with exceptionally high ceilings, but the contests should be well matched competitive bouts.
The main event will be a rematch between Shinnosuke Saito (8-3, 2) and Hokuto Matsumoto (6-4, 1), who battled late last year in a very competitive 8 rounder. Last time around Saito took a razor thin split decision and we expect a super close bout again here. Coming in to this Saito is riding a 5 fight winning run and certainly has some momentum on his side, whilst Matsumoto is struggling for form with just a single win in his last 4, however given how competitive their first bout Matsumoto will come into this believing he can pick up the win.
In the chief support bout the light punching Yoshiki Yamashita (7-3) will be up against the JBC ranked Hizuki Saso (12-7-2, 4). Coming in to this Yamashita does have some momentum, having won 3 of his last 4, and the 23 year old will know that a win here would put him on the domestic map and help him secure a JBC ranking. As for Saso this will be his first fight since being stopped by Masataka Taniguchi, in what was a Japanese title fight last year. Whilst this is not a huge bout, we do expect it to be a very competitive one.
Another former Japanese title challenger on this show is Ryuji Ikeda (14-7-3, 9), who is in dire need of a win having gone 1-3-1 in his last 5. Whilst Ikeda is a former Japanese title challenger he will probably be the under-dog here, as he takes on the heavy handed Hayato Ono (8-4, 8). Kato is a stop or be stopped fighter, and he will be looking to bomb out Ikeda and get his own career back on track. We are not expecting high level boxing here and we're also not expecting the judges to be needed.
One final bout worthy of note for those tuning in is a match up between Dominique Kenshin (5-2, 2) and Shogo Sakai (7-6-3, 5). Kenshin reached the East Japan Rookie of the Year final last year, and whilst not a great fighter the 20 year old has got ambitions to compete at the domestic title scene. He is a crude heavy handed, and chinny fighter so his fights are always worth tuning in to. Sakai is also heavy handed, but hasn't been seen in the ring since 2017, and now aged 32 he can ill afford any more set backs with his career.
The One Boxing Stadium, Seoul, South Korea
As well as the action in Japan we're also set to get a small show in South Korea. The main event here will see Kook Min Moon (7-1-1, 5) battle against Tae Sun Kim (5-1-1, 2) for the KBM Super Featherweight title. For both men this is a huge opportunity to win their first title, though it feels like it's a bigger chance for the 21 year old Moon who is more active than Kim and appears to be the man with more ambition in the sport. Saying that however a win for Kim would see him being given a massive boost and potentially begin his move towards bigger and better international fights.
This coming Satudays promised a lot, but sadly due to Covid19 and the extended state of emergency in Osaka two shows set for the date have been postponed, whilst a Thai show, seemingly, vanished with out a trace. As a result we went from having a good day to look forward to, to having a rather small, limited and quiet day with just a single show. Albeit a fair interesting one from Tokyo.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The show in question will come from Korakuen Hall, with G+ airing the show live across Japan. It's not a massive show, but it's certainly a notable one, with a solid main event, a very good chief support bout and one other bout worthy of some attention.
The main event will see former 2-time world title challenger Ryo Akaho (36-2-2, 24) take on boxing policeman Daisuke Sugita (6-1, 3). On paper this looks like a mismatch in favour of the much more experienced Akaho, but in reality it will likely be a lot, lot more competitive than it looks. Whilst Akaho is more proven as a professional Sugita was a good amateur, and is the naturally bigger man. Akaho is a former Super Flyweight who has grown into a Super Bantamweight, Sugita on the other hand is a Featherweight-come-Super Bantamweight. Akaho will, rightly, be favoured, but Sugita is certainly no push over and his sole loss has come to the excellent, if sometimes frustrating, Reiya Abe. We expect this one to be a very compelling contest.
Talking about compelling contests the chief support bout will see unbeaten prospect Shokichi Iwata (5-0, 4) take on tough veteran Toshimasa Ouchi (22-10-3, 8), in a major step up for Iwata. Iwata made his debut in December 2018, in the US, surrounding by a lot of excitement, but has yet to kick on. He's a real talent, but now needs to prove it. Ouchi on the other hand is a true grizzled veteran who has been a pro since 2003, and has take the likes of Shin Ono, Kenichi Horikawa, Kenshiro Teraji and Masamichi Yabuki the distance. This should be the first, real, test we see for Iwata, and a win should open see him finally securing his first title bout.
A third bout of note here will see JBC #1 ranked Lightweight Seiryu Toshikawa (13-5, 8) take on the #15 ranked Masaki Saito (15-15-6, 5). On paper Toshikawa's record is underwhelming, with the 5 losses, but he was very competitive in a number of those and is 7-1 in his last 8, having turned a 6-4 start to his career around really well. Saito on the other hand is very much a win some, lost some, type of fighter, but sadly he is picking a lot more losses than wins in recent years, going 2-5-1 in his last 8. Despite poor recent form Saito always comes to win, and this should be a very entertaining bout, even if the winner does seem pretty obvious.
This coming Friday looks likely to be a rather quiet day for Asian action, though there is a decent amount of global action taking place, including a British show on the newly launched Fightzone TV, which could end up being a game changer for British fight fans.
Sibur Arena, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Sadly the only real bout of note featuring an Asian fighter will come in Russia as Uzbekistani Heavyweight hopeful Lazizbek Mullojonov (1-0, 1) competes in his second professional bout. The southpaw hopeful, who made his professional debut in January, will be looking to build on a 2nd round TKO win over Alexander Stepanov. Sadly no opponent has been named for Mullojonov, who really does need a test sooner rather than later. The 23 year old was a standout amateur and at just 22 years old it would be a shame to see him meander through the pro ranks whilst he's still this young.
Although we d want to see him step up it is worth noting that Mullojonov has been staying busy with amateur action, and has had several amateur bouts this year as well as his pro debut. We know some aren't fans of fighters going back and forth, though it's fair to say his amateur opponents are probably better than his pro opponents will be, at least for the next year or two.
On the same show in Russia fans will see a lot of interesting action, including Fedor Chusinov Vs Ryno Liebenberg, in what should be a solid Super Middleweight bout, the return of former Russian amateur stand out Mikhail Aloyan, who hasn't fought since late 2019, and the fast rising Khariton Agrba, who takes on former Takashi Uchiyama opponent Jaider Parra.