Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California, USA
The biggest bout involving an Asian fight this coming Saturday is a bit of an unexpected one as Mongolian fighter Tugstsogt Nyambayar (12-1, 9) took a short notice chance to face unbeaten American Chris Colbert (15-0, 6), for Colbert's WBA interim Super Featherweight title. Originally Colbert had been set to face Yuriorkis Gamboa, but Gamboa had to pull out due to injury with Nyambayar replacing him. The Mongolian will be moving up in weight for this bout, but he will likely be aware that he's also being over-looked, and has nothing to lose here. He'll be hungry to claim a "world title", even a WBA interim belt, and it would open big doors for him. Colbert on the other hand looks like one of the future stars of American boxing, and a good performance by him could open the doors to some potentially huge fights at 130lbs down the line.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the great fight in California, it's also a busy day through Asia this Saturday, with the most meaningful single bout coming from Korakuen Hall, in the main event of a Dynamic Glove show.
That main event will see former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (26-3-1, 14) take on former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (25-8-3, 12) in a bout at Lightweight. Coming in to this both men will feel they need to win. Ito was beaten last December, losing a close decision to Hironori Mishiro, and has lost 2 of his last 3, including a loss to Jamel Herring in 2019. He really needs a big win to get his career back on track. The 40 year old Hosokawa on the other hand was last seen losing to triple crown Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino and he will be hoping that a win over Ito will secure him one more shot at a title. This should be a great mix of skills, excitement, and under-rated power from both men. It just really is a shame the rest of the card is rather weak on paper.
IPI Tingub Gym, Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines
As well as the card in Japan we have more action across Asia with shows in the Philippines and Korea. Of those shows it's the Filipino show which is the much more interesting and features a number of very notable fighters.
The main event here will see the once beaten Pete Apolinar (14-1, 8) battle against the regularly entertaining Jess Rhey Waminal (14-3-1, 8) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Featherweight title. Coming in to this both men are 26, but that's almost where the similarities end. Apolinar has been busy over the last 12 months, with 3 fights since October 2020, and has put his sole loss well behind him, winning his last 9. Waminal on the other hand hasn't fought since November 2019 and has lost 2 of his last 5. Regardless Waminal is a live opponent and will be here looking for the win.
In a truly fantastic match up we'll see Mark Vicelles (13-0-1, 7) take on Jerven Mama (12-0-1, 7) in a fantastic bout between unbeaten fighters. This is almost as good as it gets for All-Filipino bouts. The 25 year old Vicelles is world ranked and is looking to build on two wins in the last 12 months, but the southpaw is certainly not going to have things all his own way here. Aged 24 Mama is the slightly younger man and the slightly taller man, but will need to rely on more than those two small advantages. We genuinely wouldn't be surprised if this stole the show here.
In a likely mismatch we'll see the fringe world class Christian Araneta (19-2, 15) take on veteran puncher Richard Claveras (19-7-2, 16). On paper this isn't an awful match up, but it's hard to imagine Araneta losing. In fact it seems to be a clever bit of match making to get Araneta a win after his controversial decision loss to Sivenathi Nontshinga back in April. Claveras has the power and aggression to make this interesting, if he lands, but that's a big if.
On paper we're also set to get a mismatch between Tomjune Mangubat (13-2-1, 11) and Ernie Sanchez (19-15-1, 10), however this might be a lot tougher than it looks on paper. Sanchez, at his best, is a very upset minded fighter, with under-rated power, very high level experience, and the ability to take out opponents if they make a mistake. Mangubat should be favoured, but he'll need to make sure not to take liberties with Sanchez, or he could be made to pay.
Urdaneta Cultural Sports Complex, Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, Philippines
A second Filipino card will be coming from Urdaneta City, and this is a much less interesting event than the one in Cebu.
The star of the card here is the unbeaten Charly Suarez (6-0, 5), who will be expected to pick up an easy win as he takes on the limited, but experienced, Eduardo Mancito (18-11-2, 9). Suarez is one of the best natural talented in the Philippines, but the 32 year old now needs to step up, massively, and sadly for him it seems unlikely he'll be able to get the competition he needs to have a genuinely meaningful somewhere down the line. Mancito is a good, solid stalwart of Filipino boxing, but should be very clearly out of his depth here.
Another noteworthy name on this card is the upset minded, and heavy handed, Jhunriel Ramonal (17-8-6, 10), who looks set to shake some ring rust as he takes on the very limited Landy Cris Leon (13-22-5, 6). Sadly for Ramonal, who had such much momentum at the end of 2019, his career hit a brick wall due to the Covid19 pandemic and he's not fought since scoring a brutal KO win over Yusaku Kuga at the very end of 2019. He should pick up an easy win here, though we suspect he might want to get a few rounds before taking Leon out.
DND Boxing Gymnasium, Hwaseong, South Korea
On a KBM show in Hwaseong we'll see an international title fight as Min Ho Jung (10-3-2, 1) clashes with Hwang Kook Je (6-2-2, 2) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council silver Welterweight title, which is currently vacant. Coming in to this the 27 year old Jung will be the favourite, given his better record and the fact he's the slightly bigger man, but he's lost 2 of his last 3 and is really struggling for form coming in to this one. Je on the other hand has stopped two of his last 3 and was more active in 2020. Although this isn't for a major title the bout is still a pretty interesting one and should provide great entertaining for fans at the DND Boxing Gymnasium
Songwon University, Nam-Gu, Gwangju, South Korea
The card in Hwaseong isn't the only one in Korea this Saturday as we'll also be getting action from Gwangju, thanks to KBA who show case one of the most exciting talents in Korea in what appears to be a mismatch.
The exciting local headlining the event is the unbeaten Jong Seon Kang (12-0-2, 6), who will be facing John Ray Logatiman (6-9-2, 2), who is a late replacement on this show. Originally Kang was supposed to defend his WBO Oriental Featherweight title but his original opponent was injured and has had to be replaced.
As well as the chance to see Kang we'll also see Jung Woo Kim (4-3-1, 2) defending his KBA Welterweight title in the co-feature bout.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday the Korakuen Hall will play host to the latest show from Misako promotions. The card isn't a bit one but it does feature a world title rematch in the main event, a good prospect in the chief support bout and some Japanese ranked fighters in supporting bouts. It's a decent show, but not one which set the world alight.
The main event will see WBO female Super Flyweight champion Tomoko Okuda (7-2-2, 1) make her first defense as she takes on Miyo Yoshida (14-2), the woman she beat for the title back in December. The first bout between these two saw Okuda prove to be too strong, too aggressive and too powerful for Yoshida, before headclashes and cuts forced the bout to be stopped in round 6. This time around we dare say Yoshida knows what to expect from the 38 year old Okuda and we could end up seeing a more purposeful display from the former champion. As for Okuda she will not be looking to hand the title back without a fight and this could end up being very, very competitive and very personal. Our preview of this bout can be read here Okuda and Yoshida II - Repeat or revenge?
In the chief support bout we'll see the very talented Tsubasa Murachi (6-1, 3) battle against Ken Achiwa (12-15-6, 4) in a bout that should see the winner knocking on the door of a title fight. Entering the bout Murachi is ranked in the top 10 by the JBC and the WBO AP whilst Achiwa is in the top 20 of the JBC rankings. On paper this looks a mismatch, and Murachi should be strongly favoured as he is a genuine talent, but Achiwa is an upset minded fighter and he has proven to be much better than his record suggests. Achiwa will look for the upset, but we see the boxing brain and speed of Murachi being too much and the youngster should take a clear, if hard fought, decision here.
At Welterweight we'll see veteran's collide as Motonobu Suzuki (5-6-2, 2) takes on the JBC ranked Yuichi Ideta (14-15-1, 7), who is actually on the verge of a very unexpected title fight. The 37 year old Suzuki hasn't fought since January 2019, and despite his record looking like a mess he is 3-1-2 in his last 6 bouts dating back to 2015, impressive form for a man who was 2-5 in his first 7. Ideta on the other hand is a 36 year old who lost 11 in a row between 2012 and 2019, but scored an upset of the year contender in 2020, when he beat Ryota Yada. That shock win has put Ideta in the top 10 of the JBC rankings and just a win or two away from a very, very unexpected title fight.
Another JBC ranked fighter on this show is Shuri Hasebe (8-5, 2), who defends his top 15 JBC Minimumweight ranking as he takes on 28 year old Kosuke Ando (8-3, 3). Although no world beater Hasebe has put in some good performances, notably beating Desierto Nagaike last time out, and will know that if he keeps plugging along and picking up wins he could land a title fight. As for Ando this is an opportunity to rebuild his career after a blow out loss last time out to Toshiki Kawamitsu. Ando impressed in the 2019 Rookie of the Year, reaching the All Japan final, and will feel he needs win here to get his career back on the right track.
Sangyo Shinko Center, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
This coming Monday we see the West Japan Rookie of the Year get under way with a string of quarter final bouts from the Sangyo Shinko Center in Sakai City. As with all Rookie of the Year bouts the names of the men involved certainly wont be familiar to many, but the action is expected to be well fought, with well matched bout coming thick and fast. In total the show is set to have 7 bouts, though originally there was 10 bouts scheduled for the show with 3 falling through.
One of the bouts we like the look of is the show opener, at 122lbs, which will see the debuting Ayato Ogasawara (0-0) take on Bakuto Nakahara (1-0, 1). Aged 34 Ogasawara will be one of the oldest men in the tournament and despite making his debut he is a fully matured man. Nakahara on the other hand is a 17 year old novice who debuted in April with an 81 second blow out against Yasunori Ueda. It's rare we see novices this far apart in age, and that alone makes it one that we'll have a keen eye on.
At Featherweight, which is always one of the best divisions for the Rookie of the Year tournament, we'll see 23 year old southpaw Yutaka Nakamoto (1-1, 1) take on heavy handed 24 year old Shotaro Miya (3-0, 2). Nakamoto made his debut in 2019, scoring a win, but was stopped last year by Yuki Kikuchi. Miya on the other hand fought 3 times in 2019 but has been inactive for well around 20 months, and he desperately needs a win here. Despite his lay off Miya had been impressive, and his debut win over Takafumi Iwaya has aged pretty well.
Up at Welterweight we'll see 21 year old debutant Narumu Takahashi (0-0) make his debut, as he battles the unbeaten Tomoya Ichikawa (1-0-1, 1). Stood at just under 6 foot Takahashi is a big fighter by Japanese standards and he will look to use his size and reach to take control here. As for Ichikawa he debuted in 2018, was inactive for almost 2 years, but returned last August and picked up a draw against Yusa Toyonaka. Aged 24 Ichikawa is the older man, but questions will be asked regarding how he copes with the size of Takahashi. As with all Rookie of the Year bouts at Welterweight, we're expecting a violent shoot out here!
International Conference Hall, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Over in Aichi Midori promotions put on a very, very interesting card with two bouts worthy of attention. One of those is a very attractive looking Japanese Youth title bout whilst the other features a very well regarded prospect looking for his second pro win.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Tom Mizokoshi (8-2-1, 4) take on the limited, but heavy handed, Haruki Ishikawa (8-3, 6) in what is Mizokoshi's first defense of the title. The talented 22 year old champion won the title in March with a well fought, and hotly contested, 8 round decision win over Satoru Hoshiba and he'll be looking to build on that performance here. Ishikawa, at his best, in an all action slugger, and his 2019 bout with Toshiya Ishii was a brilliant 4 round thriller. Sadly though Ishikawa looked completely out of his depth last time out, when he lost to Kai Chiba, and we do wonder how effective he can be against a good boxer-mover like Mizokoshi. Regardless the challenger has power, and if he lands clean we could see the champion being in some real trouble here. Our full preview of that bout can be read here Mizokoshi takes on Ishikawa in Boxer Vs Banger affair!
In the main supporting bout the talented Narumi Yukawa (1-0) competes in his second professional bout, as he takes on Kazuki Hase (5-2-1, 3). As an amateur Yukawa showed great promise before he was convicted of a drug offense which killed his amateur career and delayed his move into the professional ranks. Now however he's served his punishment and looks likely to become one of the stars of the Shizuoka region, and a potentially great story of redemption in Japan, where marijuana possession is still regarded as a serious crime. Hase on the other hand is a win some-lose type of fighter who's competing in his first 6 rounder here, and comes in on the back of a loss to Kazuki Higuchi. It's hard to see anything a Yukawa win here, but we are hoping that Hase at least asks questions of his foe.
Sadly the planned main event for this show, which would have seen former Japanese amateur standout Mitsuro Tajima (0-0) make his professional debut against Japanese Heavyweight champion Ryu Ueda (9-1-1, 5) had to be cancelled earlier in the month when Tajima suffered back pain and couldn't train as a result. Despite that bout being off there is still a lot to like about this card.
USC Soviet Wings, Moscow, Russia
As well as the action in Aichi we're also getting some action worthy of our attention over in Moscow. The bout in question will see once beaten Uzbek fighter Bakhromjon Fozilov (3-1-3, 3) take on the limited, but experienced, Pavel Mamontov (12-13-2, 1) in a scheduled 10 rounder. On paper Fozilov's record is a weird one, to say the least. He started his career 0-1-2, but since then has gone unbeaten in 4 and shown some very heavy hands. He's a puncher, but looks technically limited and it seems like he needs to get opponents out early to take home a win. In Mamontov we have a Kazakh born Russian fighter who has lost his last 9, only has a single win since 2016 and should pose no problems, at all, to Fozilov. The real question is whether or not Mamontov can last more than 2 or 3 rounds with the Uzbekistani fighter.
This coming Saturday is set to be an incredibly busy day for fighters from Asia, with a host of Asian fighters competing in the US and a handful also competing in Russia
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
The biggest card for us this weekend comes from Las Vegas and is a Top Rank card with 4 different Asian fighters involved, including a debutant from Japan, an Olympic gold medal winner from Uzbekistan, a world ranked Kazakh and a talented and tricky Japanese Lightweight.
The debuting Japanese fighter is former amateur standout Subaru Murata (0-0), who looks to kick off his professional career with a 4 round bout against fellow professional novice Keven Monroy (1-1, 1). Murata is tipped incredibly highly after a strong amateur career, and some in Japan do view him as a future world champion in the making. Despite the hype and the expectations he will need to impress here, and is getting a chance to shine, in front of a global audience, on a major US show.
The Uzbekistani Olympic gold medal winner is Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (9-1, 5), who also needs to shine as he takes on the unbeaten Quinton Randall (8-0, 2). Gaibnazarov won gold at the 2016 Olympics and was tipped for big things, but has struggled to acclimatise to the professional ranks and hasn't really bounced back from a 2019 loss to the awkward Mykal Fox. Randall on the other hand is 30 years old and fighting in his most notable bout to date. Coming in to this one neither man can really afford a loss and although we're not expecting a fight of the year contender this could be a very, very interesting contest between two men who will both be looking to prove a point
On the subject of interesting contests the chief support bout on this card will see talented Kazakh Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (9-0, 5) take on former WBA "regular" Middleweight champion Rob Brant (26-2, 18), in a huge step up in class for Alimkhanuly. The Kazakh is already world ranked, after just 9 bouts, and has been calling out Demetrius Andrade over the last 12 or so months. A win against Brant here will really strengthen his call outs and could help him land a world title fight later in the year. As for Brant this will be his second bout since losing to Ryota Murata in 2019 and he'll know that a win over Alimkhanuly could, potentially, lead to him getting a chance to become a 2-time world champion. This is a true 50-50 style match up and one of the most interesting looking bouts on the schedule right now, with both men likely feeling they have what it takes to score a victory here.
As for the main event we'll see once beaten Japanese Lightweight Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13) taking on former Ukrainian amateur boxing god Vasyl Lomachenko (14-2, 10), in a really important bout for the Lightweight division. The tall, rangy, tough Nakatani has impressed in his last two bouts, losing a competitive bout with Teofimo Lopez and stopping Felix Verdejo, and he'll know that a win here would almost certainly secure him a world title bout, potentially even a rematch with Lopez. As for Lomachenko he looked rather poor last time out, losing a decision to Lopez, and there are question marks about whether he's a natural Lightweight, and at 33 what his long in ring career has taken from him. This is a great opportunity for Nakatani, though he will be the clear under-dog against the magical Lomachenko.
State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
As well as the collection of Asian fighters competing on the Top Rank show in Nevada we also bet the chance to see once beaten Uzbekistan born fighter Batyr Akhmedov (8-1, 7) take on Dominican veteran Algenis Mendez (25-6-3, 12) in a very good looking match up. This is Akhmedov's second bout since his fantastic 2019 bout with Mario Barrios, in what was a legitimate Fight of the Year contender, and is a big step back up in class after a win last September against the limited Rey Perez. Mendez on the other hand is a faded for from the fighter he once was, but he's still a smart and capable fighter, and he'll know that a win here puts him in the mix for some big fights. Expect to see this being a really interesting clash of styles with Akhmedov's pressure and aggression matching up against Mendez's guile and boxing brain.
801 Event Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
On a third US card we'll see Uzbekistani veteran Ravshan Hudaynazarov (18-4, 14) battle against the unbeaten Sergio Sarabia (5-0, 4). The 37 year old Hudaynazarov won his first 17 bouts before disappearing from the sport in 2014. Sadly when he returned in 2018 he lost 4 in a row, before picking up a very low key win in April this year. The 29 year old Sarabia on the other hand hasn't fought since 2013, and although he's unbeaten we have to assume ring rust will be a major issue for him here.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
As well as the action in the US there's also a show in Russia that features some Asian fighters.
One of the Asian fighters on this card is Southpaw Erzhan Turgumbekov (8-2-1, 2), who looks to bounce back from back to back losses as he takes on Zhora Hamazaryan (10-3-2, 7) in a very good looking 10 round Super Featherweight bout. After going unbeaten in his first 9 bouts Turgumbekov will now have low confidence and be questioning his place in the sport, knowing another loss could be the end of his place in notable bouts on RCC shows. On paper Hamazaryan doesn't have the best of records, but the Armenian is a genuine handful and with his aggression, power, work rate and will to win, he should be regarded as the favourite here, in what could be the hidden gem of the weekend.
Another Asian on this card is Turkmenistan's Bahodur Yakubov (1-0), who looks to build on his debut win over Viktor Vezhlivtsev. At the time of writing his opponent here hasn't been named, though he's expected to be competing in a 4 rounder on this show.
WOW Arena, Krasnaya Polyana, Russia
There's not much Asian action this coming Friday, but we do have two bouts worthy of attention from the WOW Arena in Russia. It's a low key stuff, but it's on a card that has a lot of interesting stuff going on, including a mouth watering Russian Lightweight title bout, and the debut of Gadzhi Navruzov, who kicks off his career in a 10 rounder!
The more interesting of the Asian action here will see Russian based Georgian Tigran Uzlyan (3-0, 2) risk his unbeaten record against once beaten Indian fighter Digari Mahesh (4-1-1, 1). It appears that Uzlyan's handlers want to move him quickly, and he's already had one scheduled 8 rounder and is clearly a man that could go on to do big things in the future, given he does have spiteful power. Mahesh on the other hand has had a stop-start career, debuting in 2016. His most notable result was a loss to the talented Lalrinsanga Tlau in 2019 and he'll be looking to avoid another defeat here.
The other bout with Asian interest here sees Russian Cruiserweight hopeful Ruslan Fayfer (26-3, 17) look to continue his rebuilding process as he's scheduled to take on the very limited Server Emurlaev (23-2, 8), a Russian based fighter from Uzbekistan. Emurlaev was, once, a capable fighter but he's been horribly inactive in recent years and looked beyond shot when he fought Kamshybek Kunkabayev in February. It's hard to see anything but a win for Fayfer here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
We're back at Korakuen Hall this coming Thursday for a Kadoebi promoted event featuring a standout talent defending a regional title in the main event, and a couple of decent on the under-card. It's not a stacked by any stretch, with just 5 bouts on the card, but there really is a feeling that this could be a surprisingly good show.
We regard the main event here as a bit of a mismatch as the talented Ryota Yamauchi (7-1, 6) defends his WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title against Yuta Nakayama (8-3-1, 5) , in what should be little more than a stay busy defense for the champion. Yamauchi, who is world ranked by the WBA, WBO and IBF, is one of the more over-looked Flyweights in Japan and looks to be one of the most exciting, with an aggressive style, nasty power and a flawed defense. He can be hit, but he has the power to take opponents out. Nakayama on he other hand has lost his most meaningful bouts, by stoppage, and looks almost made to order for the pressure and power of Yamauchi. Don't expect this one to be competitive, but it's a clear sign that Kadoebi want him to have a few more bouts before an eventual world title shot. Our full, in depth, preview of this bout can be read here Yamauchi looks to make first defense of WBO AP title as he takes on Nakayama!
One of the notable prospects on this card is JBC ranked Super Flyweight Ayato Hiromoto (3-0, 1), who takes on the more experienced Hiroki Yajima (9-9-3, 4). Hiromoto has impressed since debuting in 2019 and looked really good against Ryosuke Nasu, despite the very poor scorecard of Takaki Handa, and it seems clear that Kadoebi can move him very quickly, with title bouts likely in 2022 or 2023. Yajima on the other hand is limited, but tough and we should see Hiromoto being forced to go 8 rounds, at a decent pace, against a very game foe. Given Yajima went 8 rounds with Hayate Kaji recently this is the perfect sort of test for Hiromoto at this early stage of his career.
Another excellent prospect on this show is the technically solid Jun Ikegawa (1-0), who turned professional after a strong amateur career and showed some very good technical ability in his debut. Although technically solid we didn't see Ikegawa get out of first gear in his debut, and we'd like to see a lot more from him. Thankfully we expect to see Ryuya Nihei (5-1-1, 1) try to push him a bit and beat him here, showing a mix of his experience, his own desire and his own skills. Ikegawa should still be too good, but Nihei will certainly not be there to roll over, especially given that he lost last time out, to Yuki Yazan in the East Japan Rookie of the Year final.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Action returns to Korakuen Hall this coming Monday for the next show from Dangan. This isn't a particularly big show but it is one worthy of some interest with a title fight headlining the event and several interesting bouts featuring debutants.
The main event will see triple crown champion Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) defending his WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Super Flyweight titles against the unheralded Takahiro Fujii (12-6-1, 3), who is stepping up massively here. The heavy handed Fukunaga had a brilliant 2020, with wins over Froilan Saludar and Kenta Nakagawa, but both of those bouts were punishing wars and it's probably a good thing that he's being matched a little bit more lightly here than we've seen for his last two bouts. Fujii really is a very limited, domestic level fighter and shouldn't pose too much if a threat to the champion, but it's a huge opportunity for him, and likely to be his only fight at this level. We expect Fujii to be hungry, fight to win, but then be broken down by the heavy hands of the champion. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Fukunaga defends two titles as he takes on Fujii!
In a brilliant chief support bout we'll see Jukiya Iimura (1-0, 1) take on Tomoki Kawasaki (0-0), in what we believe is the third of fourth date set for this fight. Iimura really impressed in his debut, back in January and we've been desperate to see him back in action. He looked really explosive, exciting and heavy handed in that bout and oozed charisma. Kawasaki on the other hand was a very decent amateur and will come into this bout with hunger to make a statement and shine in his first pro bout. These are the type of bouts that Japan gives us regularly, and others don't. Two young, talented, good amateurs facing off early in their careers, taking a risk and knowing that they can prove how good they are without waiting years. Something w would love to see in the UK and US.
Another debutant going in rather hard here is former amateur fighter Josuke Nagata (0-0), who went 38-20 in the unpaid ranks. Whilst not a stellar record he looked the part in the unpaid ranks and we're excited to see what he's going to do in the pros. He'll be up against the relatively decent Koji Tsurumi (5-3-1, 2), who comes into this bout on the back of an excellent win over the then debut Yugo Kon in January. Although his record looks poor Tsurumi is unbeaten in his last 3 and has shown some genuine ability, with wins against Kon, Kazusa Arai and Shion Yokoyama. This might look like a gimme for Nagata, but it's not and we expect him to be given a genuine test here.
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.