After numerous delays and false starts we'll now see unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight Zhan Kossobutskiy (13-0, 12) return to the ring this coming Tuesday, as he takes on English based Polish fighter Kamil Sokolowski (9-17-2, 3). On paper the bout is a total mismatch in favour of the unbeaten and solid punching Kazakh, however paper doesn't fight and Sakolowski shouldn't be written off. The man with 17 losses has repeatedly played the upsetting in the UK and he'll be looking to do the same here, and give another fighter their first loss. In terms of skills Sokolowski has the tools to make life very awkward for Kossobutskiy, but the Kazakh is heavy handed and has shown some promise.
This might look like a mismatch but in reality we suspect it could be a very, very good test for the unbeaten 31 year old southpaw.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
We get more Rookie of the Year action this coming Monday as Korakuen Hall plays host to a 4 bout East Japan Rookie of the Year card. As is expected with these Rookie of the Year cards the entire show is only Rookies.
On paper the most intriguing match up is at Bantamweight, where Izuki Kodaka (1-0, 1) and Koichi Aoki (1-0, 1) clash in an all southpaw bout. Although the two only debuted last year, with Kodaka making his debut in October and Aoki in July, we do love seeing unbeaten fighters clashing in bouts like this. Kodaka has just recently turned and actually debuted on the under-card of Junto Nakatani's bout with Milan Melindo. Aoki on the other hand is 22 and will be looking to build on his debut win over Kazunari Kosaka.
The most experienced fighter on the show is 8 fight "veteran" Shunta Terai (2-5-1 2), who will be up against the unbeaten Shota Tanaka (2-0, 1) in a Super Bantamweight bout. The 26 year old Terai debuted way back in 2013, and has had a stop start career that has really struggled to get going. Coming in to this he has lost his last 3. Tanaka made his debut last Just and squeaked a win in his second pro bout, against Tomoyuki Okada. On paper this looks a mismatch though we wouldn't be surprised if it was a very close one.
One other bout worthy of some interest going on is a match up between Yuto Sekiguchi (1-1, 1) and Soshi Nakazato (1-0, 1), who also face off at Super Bantamweight. The 31 year old Skiguchi debuted in 2017, winning his debut, before vanishing from the ring for over a year. He returned last year and lost, but will now know that he needs to perform. At 21 years old Nakazato is the much younger man, and a southpaw, and could be one of the ones to keep a close eye on in the tournament.
Originally this show had 7 bouts set for it, including one with friend of the site Caliente Koyasu (3-2, 1), though three of those bouts have now been cancelled including that of Koyasu.
Sun Rise Park Gym, Saga, Saga, Japan
The Rookie of the Year continues this coming Sunday with an event from Saga as part of the Western Japan Rookie of the Year. The show here has only had 4 bouts planned for it and unsurprisingly none of the fighters are particularly experienced.
On paper the most interesting clash is one between Hiroki Kinjo (4-0, 3) and Shoki Yamauchi (0-1), who clash at Bantamweight. Kinjo turns 22 just days before this fight and is looking to build on a very positive start to his professional career. He debuted in December 2018 and has scored all 4 of his wins in a combined 10 rounds. Kinjo will clearly by the favourite but Yamauchi is certainly not going to be there to just make up the numbers and lost a very close decision on his debut, just over a year ago.
In a Light Flyweight clash we'll get Asahi Noborikawa (0-2) facing off with Nozomu Wakiyama (1-1). The 22 year old Noborikawa debuted last June, with a decision loss, and was stopped in December. Aged 20 Wakiyama would likely be the slight favourite, though he lost last time out as well, and has been out of the ring for almost a year.
The other two bouts will both be at Featherweight. One sees Majisuka Kosaka (4-2-1, 3) clashing with 36 year old debutant Kohei Suzuki (0-0) in an all southpaw bout whilst the other matches Takayoshi Kurokawa (1-2-1, 1) with the debuting Misaki Hirano (0-0).
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Our attention returns to Thailand this coming Saturday as we get the next WP Boxing event from the Workpoint Studios for one of the channels biggest ever fights.
The main event of the show will see two former world champions colliding in a bout that has been delayed several times due to the on going global situation, but is still very highly anticipated by fans who follow the Thai scene.
The match up in question will see former 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-5-1, 41) battle against former IBF Flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng (20-3, 6) in what looks like a compelling match up. On paper it seems like it will be an easy win for the heavy handed and frighteningly strong Srisaket, but we all know that Amnat is a slippery and tricky customer who will be looking to make this a very awkward and messy bout. We can't see past a Srisaket win, though we do wonder what he has left in the tank after a number of wars with the likes of Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzalez. It's worth noting that if he wins here Srisaket is eyeing a major bout for later in the year, and that could be a rubber match with Estrada or a third fight with Gonzalez, so a lot is on the line for him and his career.
A second bout of note on this card will see talented Thai hopeful Chainoi Worawut (10-0-1, 9) going up against Filipino visitor Jomar Fajardo (17-16-2, 9). The unbeaten Thai is regarded as one of the nation's brightest hopes and will be strongly favoured here to pick up his next win and continue his climb towards a world title fight. Although not a big name Fajardo on the other is possibly a name that is in the back of your mind if you follow the lower weights. That's because Fajardo twice went to war with Francisco Rodriguez Jr, and even held for the former unified Minimumweight champion to a draw in their first bout. Sadly we don't think Fajardo if going to have the size or tools to be competitive with Worawut here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Attention again heads to Tokyo at the end of the month as the Korakuen Hall hosts the first set of East Japanese Rookie of the Year bouts for 2020. In total there are 8 bouts set for the event, though there is a chance the card will see bouts cancelled at late notice, given all that is going on in the world at the moment.
From the 8 bouts that have been set for the show the two that really intrigue us are both at Super Bantamweight.
One of those bouts will see 25 year old Ryotaro Nakabayashi (1-0) battle against 22 year old Ryuya Nihei (4-0, 1). With 4 bouts to his name Nihei will enter as the favourite, though it is worth noting that his career has been horribly stop start since his debut in March 2017. He's talented but this will be the first time he has fought twice in a calendar year, having also fought back in February. As for Nakabayashi this will see him return to the ring for first time since his December 2019 debut.
The other bout will see 19 year old Takeshi Wako (1-0) battle against 25 year old Nozomu Yoshimura (2-0, 2). The teenager made his debut last December, taking a wide decision over Tomoya Tanaka, and looked like he had some real promise. Yoshimura on the other hand debuted in February 2019 and has taken out both of his opponents in a combined 7 rounds.
We do love seeing unbeaten novices matched up in Rookie of the Year bouts and that's no exception here as we finally see the tournament kick off in East Japan, months after things were originally set to start.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
Rather interestingly in Aichi this coming Sunday fans will be allowed in a venue to watch boxing, though the show will only have 2 bouts on it, and social distance will be enforced with a lot of the venue also set to be empty. With only 2 bouts on the card we'll talk about both, and thankfully both have something to say about them.
The main event will be a Champion carnival bout as the heavy handed Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) clashes with Tsuyoshi Sato (10-1-1, 5) for the vacant Japanese Light Flyweight title. Originally Yabuki was supposed to face the defending champion Yuto Takahashi for the title earlier in the year. Sadly that bout was postponed due to the on going global situation and Takahashi, who had previously spoke about being frustrated by the sport, retired. His frustration at being unable to fight saw him retire and vacate the title.
Whilst a bout between Takahashi and Yabuki would have been great we feel this may be a more fun bout with the heavy handed handed Yabuki up against the intense pressure and energy of Sato. We think Sato might be lacking the power needed to get Yabuki's respect, but it's clear he's going to be there to win, and we can't help but feel this has the potential to be a very exciting fight. Our preview of this fight can be read here Yabuki and Sato clash to crown new Japanese champion!
The only other bout on this card will see the crude but exciting Takumi Chono (5-1, 3) take on Takefumi Higashi (5-8, 1) in a 6 round Minimumweight bout. Whilst we don't think many fans will be aware of Chono he came runner up in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year, losing in the final to the excellent Katsuki Mori, and we enjoyed watching his aggression, pressure and energy. Higashi is a long way from a world beater, having scored just 2 wins in his last 8, but typically he goes the rounds and makes a fight of things. Chono should win, but he has a dance partner who will give everything and potentially make the perfect foil to the talented youngster.
Hongtang Shopping Center, Chengdu, China
Staying in Asia there's also set to be a small show in China, which, like many recent Chinese cards, is focused on novices.
We won't go through all the bouts here, but the most notable of the contests on the show is a 6 rounder between 22 year old Wen Song Liu (4-1, 3) and 19 year old debutant Xiaolong Jiang (0-0). Despite only being 22 Liu made his debut way back in 2017, when he suffered a TKO loss. Since losing in 2017 we've seen Liu score 4 straight wins and get his career back on track and he is coming in to this bout with some momentum.
Over in Belarus, of all places, we'll be seeing a show promoted by Suliemen Promotions. This card is stacked with unbeaten Kazakh hopefuls, in what should be a very interesting card on Khabar TV.
The main event will see world ranked Super Middleweight contender Aidos Yerbossynuly (13-0, 9) defending his numerous minor titles against 38 year veteran Nuhu Lawal (27-6, 15). The 28 year old Yerbossynuly has unified minor titles from the WBA, WBC and WBO and is looking to move towards a potential future world title fight. Lawal is a true veteran, at the age of 38, and will be expected to take Yerbossynuly rounds though isn't expected to be much of a threat to the talented Kazakh fighter.
In the co-feature Nursultan Zhangabayev (8-0, 5), another world ranked Kazakh, will be up against French southpaw Sandy Messaoud (13-6, 1). Although Messaoud has 6 losses to his name he is enjoying a nice run, with 5 straight wins, and will be full of confidence here. Saying that however it's hard see him over-coming the criminally under-rated Zhangabayev, who has impressed time and time again.
Also on this card are Bek Nurmaganbet (0-0), who won a gold medal at the 2019 Asian Amateur Championships, and Yevgeniy Pavlov (0-0), who will both be taking part in their debuts, and the unbeaten Nursultan Amanzholov (2-0, 1)
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
This coming Saturday our attention turns to Kobe for a Japanese card that features two title bouts, and a couple of well matched lower level bouts.
The main event of this show will be the rescheduled bout between Japanese veteran Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13) and promising youngster Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5), who battle for the vacant OPBF Light Flyweight title. Originally this bout was supposed to take place in March before the boxing calendar got shaken up by the lengthy hiatus caused by the on going global situation. Thankfully this bout, which looked good back in February when we were waiting for it, looks just as good now, and we are anticipating a really well contested battle between two men at very different stages of their careers. Our preview of this bout can be read here Tomita clashes with veteran Horikawa for OPBF title!
In a Japanese Atomweight title bout we'll see Kaori Nagai (4-2-3, 2) and Momoko Kanda (10-12-2, 4) clash, in what will be the second bout between the two women. The title, which was vacated by Eri Matsuda, isn't a well established one with a long history, but the winner here will likely see themselves taking a huge step towards a potential world title fight. Of the two Nagai probably has the advantage, given she won the first bout, but the experience Kanda could be the difference here, with this likely to be her last big opportunity if she loses. Our preview of this fight can be read here Nagai and Kanda battle for Japanese national crown!
In a supporting bout we'll see Japanese ranked Bantamweight Koichi Wakita (7-2-2, 2) take on Kaito Takeshima (6-3, 1) in what looks like it could be a competitive bout. Sadly despite being in good form, having gone 5-0-2 in his last 7, Wakita is now 30 years old and it's hard to imagine him going through the rankings and getting a title fight. On the other hand Takeshima, who's only 21, is needing to rebuild following a recent upset loss to Takuya Fujioka and we expect to see him give his all here.
In another well matched under-card bout the 20 year old Aoba Mori (6-2) will take on 25 year old Keisuke Iwasaki (4-2, 1). The young Mori may have won 6 of his 8 bouts but he has had 5 very close decisions in his favour and it seems hard to imagine him going far unless he can start to make himself stand out in bouts. Iwasaki on the other hand was last seen in the 2019 Rookie of the Year final, losing to Seiya Meguro last December. Both men will come in to this bout hungry and both are young, so we expect a high energy bout here between two men looking to make a point.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
There is also a show in Thailand as we see the sport begin to resume in the Land of Smiles.
The main event here will see former world title challenger Nawaphon Kaikanha (48-1-1, 38) battle against Suradech Ruhasiri (6-2, 5) in a bout for the WBC Asia Banatamweight title. We expect this to be little more than a mismatch in favour of Nawaphon, who should be too good, too experienced and too big for the limited Ruhasiri.
On paper the co feature is a much better bout and will see Phongsaphon Panyakum (8-1, 3) take on Sophon Klachun (5-4-1, 1). Although a more competitive bout than the main event we don't see this as being a very high level contest.
Antai Tennis Park, Rizhao, China
As well as the Japanese and Thai shows we'll also be getting a small card in China. This card, like many of the other recent Chinese ones, is a novice show, where most of the fighters are taking one of their first steps as a professional.
Despite most of the bouts being between two novices it is worth noting that the show will have an interesting match up on it between Ju Wu (9-0-2)* and Wei Liu (1-0, 1). We've been impressed by the talented young Wu, who has shown a good boxing brain and ring craft and it's hard to see him losing to a 1-0 debutant. Saying that however over 4 rounds a quick start by Liu could see him potentially playing the role of a human banana peel, and the bout is more interesting than it looks on paper.
*It appears that Ju Wu and Lei Wang's draw from earlier in the year is no long on either man's record
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
We return to Korakuen Hall this coming Wednesday for the next show in the Japanese capital and this is an interesting one, with a Japanese title fight, the notable debut of a very promising young fighter and female bout. In total the card only has 3 bouts so for this, as we did with the Ohashi card last week, we'll look at all the bouts on the show.
The female bout, which we believe is the first Japanese female bout up on the countries boxing restart, will see 20 year old youngster Nanako Suzuki (3-2, 1) take on 36 year old Aoi Watanabe (2-2, 1). Coming into this it seems like both fighters do have limited potential, but may be able to make a mark on the domestic title scene and both are in the top 10 of the Japanese female Flyweight rankings. Of the two Suzuki is the one with the more upside, and despite losing last time out to Renz Dacquel she did some nice skills as she battled back from a knockdown. For Watanabe this will be her first bout in the capital and only the second she'll have faced someone not making their debut.
The big debut is that of Rentaro Kimura (0-0), who has been tipped for huge things by those in the know in Japan. Kimura has spoke about getting a world title fight within 10 fights, is managed the Suruga Boys gym and trains at the Misako gym, alongside a number of Japanese champions and world champion Kenshiro Teraji. The expectation is on the 23 year old to shine as he takes on Yuya Azuma (5-3-1, 1), however Azuma is no push over and has won his last 3 in a row. In fact Azuma's last two losses have both meen razor close and had he had a bit of luck on his side he could easily have an 8-1 record. This might look like an easy debut for the very talented Kimura but in reality this should be regarded as a very serious debut for former amateur standout.
In the main event we'll see a Champion Carnival bout as Japanese Super Flyweight champion Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) defends his title against mandatory challenger Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8). On paper this is likely to be a much, much better fight than the records of the two men suggest. Nakagawa is a very solid punching boxer-puncher, who has notable domestic wins against the likes of Hayato Kimura, Ryosuke Nasu and Takayuki Okumoto, but with his 35th birthday just a few weeks away we do wonder what he has left in the tank. He look great in December, beating Okumoto, but at his age a fighter can get old over-night. Matsuo on the other hand is a pressure fighter, with an exciting style and a point to prove following back to back set backs. Despite failing to win a bout last year Matsuo is hungry and could end up having the desire needed to over-come the champion. This is the sort of bout that the Champion Carnival gives us, and is one of the best match ups for the month of July. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Nakagawa takes on Matsuo in first defense!
Ishikawa Multipurpose Dome, Okinawa, Japan
The third show as Japanese boxing begins to build some moment comes from Okinawa and will be promoted by former world champion Akinobu Hiranaka. This is a small show, with just 4 bouts set for it, but it certainly shouldn't be a bad show. And there is talk that it could, potentially, be the first Japanese card with fans in attendance.
The main event of the card will be an 8 rounder and will see Thunder Teruya (6-7-1, 3) look to build on back to back wins as he takes on Ikemen Atsushi (7-5-2, 2) in what looks like a really competitive contest. Neither man here is a world beater, neither is likely to win, or even fight for, Japanese titles but they should make for a compelling match up and very evenly matched here.
In a 6 rounder we see an even more evenly matched bout with Ryosei Niguma (5-2-1, 3) taking on Hokuto Matsumoto (5-3, 1). Coming in to this Niguma is riding a 2-fight winning run following a loss in 2018 to Aso Ishiwaki in the West Japan Rookie of the Year final, whilst Matsumoto has lost his last 2. Despite the form favouring Niguma Matsumoto is the naturally bigger man. We expect this to be just as good, if not better, than the main event.
What this show does is prove that you don't need great records to make for fun bouts and these should both be really good, competitive lower level wars.
Yubei Stadium, Chongqing, China
As well as the Japanese card in Okinawa there is also a Chinese card in Chingqing, and this a novice show. A real novice show. The card has 10 bouts in total with 13 debutants on the card, and 4 all debutant bouts.
Despite most of the righters being novices there is one bout on the card that features two fighters who do have some experienced, though neither has a win. That's a 4 round round female clash between Manli Lei (0-1) and He Xiu Wang (0-1). We don't experience much from either woman though we do love seeing fights between win-less novices, with both fighters coming in to the bout seeking a win. This could be an interesting, but very low level bout.
In another bout the show's most experienced fighter, Yu Wang (3-4) will take on 19 year old debutant Jingtao He (0-0). Despite his record Wang has won 3 of his last 4, turning his career around from a 0-3 start, and will have momentum coming into this bout. Saying that however He will be desperate to get his career off to a start with a win and will not be there to roll over.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
After a low profile Rookie of the Year card on July 12th in Kariya we see higher level action return to Japan this coming Thursday as we get the first card in Tokyo since February. Thankfully this is actually worthy of attention, despite only having 2 bouts on it. This is a card where quality comes first, and the two bouts we get are both very solid match ups.
The first of the bouts on the show will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (8-1, 8) defending his title against Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2-1, 4), in what will be Shimizu's 5th defense of the belt and Tonomoto's first bout at Oriental level. Shimizu won the belt way back in October 2017 and looked like he was going to quickly rise through the rankings, but a 6th round TKO loss at Super Featherweight last July put a stop to that and injuries delayed his return. Now aged 34 he can't afford another set back if he's to get a world title shot. Whilst Shimizu had a nightmare 2019 Tonomoto had a solid year winning, and defending, the Japanese Youth Featherweight title. Aged 25 Tonomoto will know that a win here will put him on the boxing map, but he will also know that he's been chosen as a supposedly safe opponent for Shimizu, given the champion's inactivity and recent injury woes. Our preview of this bout can be read here Shimizu returns to Featherweight to defend OPBF title!
The other title bout on this show is a Champion Carnival bout and will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) defending his belt against mandatory challenger Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5). This bout was originally supposed to take place in March before being delayed, originally due to Inoue being injured, to May which it's self was delayed by the on going global situation. As a stand alone bout this is an excellent match up with Inoue, the cousin of Naoya and Takuma, looking to extend his reign and Nagata looking to claim a title in his second title fight. Style wise we're expecting this to be a really fun contest, with Nagata pressuring the more naturally skilled champion, who will stand and fight in spurts. Although we feel the champion will have too much we do expect this to be a very, very good fight and the ideal type of bout to headline the first Korakuen Hall boxing show in months. Our preview of this bout can be read here Koki Inoue returns to the ring to take on mandatory challenger!
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Former OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (30-15, 15) looks to end his 2 fight losing run as he takes on former world title challenger Miguel Marriaga (29-3, 25). Although Yap is fighting above his best weight, and has never really refound the form he had when he was fighting out of the Muto Gym, he's going to be alive under-dog here against the big punching Marriaga. The heavy handed Marriaga is the naturally bigger man, and has only lost at world level, but there are questions about his mental attitude after his 2017 bout with Vasyl Lomachenko.
On the same card will be fellow Filipino John Vincent Moralde (23-3, 13), who will be up against Mexican Alexis del Bosque (17-5, 9) in what looks like a very interesting match up and an even contest on paper.