Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The first Japanese show in August is a small one, but one worthy of some attention with two title bouts on it, and both of those do promise a lot of action, even if they are both, on paper, mismatches.
The first of the two will be for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title and will see Shunsuke Isa (8-3-1, 1) clash with Yuni Takada (8-7-2, 3), for the vacant title. Of the two men it's fair to say that Isa has the better looking record, and in many ways he will be regarded as the favourite. His overall record is more impressive and he's won two of his last 3. However Takada is no push over and in recent bouts he has held Hizuko Saso to a draw and gave both Norihito Tanaka and Kai Ishizawa genuine tests. Isa will have the tools to come out with a win, but if he over looks Takada he could be in a lot of trouble here thanks to Takada's solid jab and work rate. Our preview of this bout can be read here Isa and Takada face off for Japanese Youth title!
The second title fight will see Gakuya Furuhashi (27-8-1, 15) defending the Japanese Super Bantamweight title for the first time, as he takes on youngster Seigo Hanamori (7-3, 5). The all action Furuhashi won the title earlier this year, when he stopped Yusaku Kuga in a 2021 Fight of the Year contender, but he's hard a long, punishing and hard career, with a style that will take a toll on any fighter. As for Hanamoori, he's stepping up massively in terms of class, but has got some momentum of his own, with stoppage wins in his last 4 bouts. Sadly for Hanamori he's not a natural Super Bantamweight, he's very much untested at this level, and he is leaping up to face one of the best 122lb fighters in Japan. We really can't see this being anything but painful for the challenger who will do well to see the final rounds. Our full preview of this one can be read here Furuhashi returns to make first defense of Japanese title!
Matchroom Fight Camp, Brentwood, Essex, United Kingdom
At the end of July we'll see the ring return of human punching machine Can Xu (18-2, 3) as he defends his WBA Featherweight title against Englishman Leigh Wood (24-2,14). This will be Xu's third defense of the title, which he win in sensational fashion in 2019 when he over-came the big punching Jesus M Rojas, though sadly comes after will over a year out of the ring, in fact it's closing in on 2 years since he beat Manny Robles II last time out. During that time Covid19 has really slowed Xu's rise to superstardom, and cost him a potential 2020 fight of the year against Josh Warrington. As for Wood the English fighter is coming in to this on the back of an excellent win over Reece Mould in February and he will feel full of confidence on the back of that win.
For those who haven't seen Xu in action this will be a treat, as the "Monster" is a relentless action fighter, who lacks in terms of power, but more than makes up for it in terms of tenacity, hunger, desire and work rate. Wood on the other hand is a solid puncher, who will be full of confidence, having stopped 5 opponents in his last 6 bouts.
Whilst not the biggest Featherweight bout to take place in recent years, we are expect this will be an action bout with a lot of punches thrown and a great chance for international fans to see what Xu is really all about.
Our in depth preview of this one can be read here Can looks to chop down Wood in UK debut at the end of July
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Monday the Korakuen Hall plays host to the next Japanese card, and the final one this month, as Dangan put on a pretty small, but very interesting, card.
The lower end of the card is pretty easy to over-look but the main event and chief support bouts are both really interesting bouts, which should see a lot of questions being answered about the men involved in them.
The chief support bout will see the unbeaten Mikio Sakai (3-0) battle against 42 year old veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-10-2, 13), in what is a good step forward for Sakai. The talented, but light punching, 27 year old is regarded as one of the best Middleweight hopefuls in Japan, and is a youngster with a lot of talent, but he really does need to show a bit more in terms of stopping power if he intends to face the likes of Kazuto Takesako for a title in 2022. Saito on the other hand is a true veteran, and also one of the most notable "nearly men" in Japanese boxing, having come up short in a host of title bouts. A loss for the veteran would likely end his career, and sadly we really can't see what he has to offer against Sakai here. Sakai should be too good, too quick and too smooth for the slower, older, veteran.
The main event will see Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) and Ikuro Sadatsune (11-4-3, 4) battle for the vacant Japanese Bantamweight title. Whilst neither of these two men are too well known outside of Japan these are both very talented, and criminally under-rated, fighters. Sawada was a stellar amateur and was thrown in deep when he began his professional career, losing his first two bouts, but since then has found his grove and gone unbeaten in 15 bouts whilst carving out a reputation as a very skilled fighter. At 33 it's hard to see him bouncing back from a loss here, and getting a second title shot. As for Sadatsune, a 23 year old, this bout is a chance for him to announce himself in a big way, following some unfortunate losses in 2019. He's young, hungry and, like Sawada, very over-looked. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Sawada and Sadatsune clash for Japanese title!
There really isn't a lot of Asian action to talk about this coming Sunday, however Sakai has two noteworthy shows, as the West Japan Rookie of the Year rolls on with some semi final bouts taking place in Sakai City, over 2 cards, combining for a total of 18 bouts!
Sangyo Shinko Center, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
The first of the two shows it at mid-day local time, with the second set to start at 5PM.
On this first show the bout we're most looking forward to a bout at 140lbs between 35 year old old Yuya Igi (1-0, 1) and 23 year old Genki Yamashita (2-0-1, 2), which should be explosive. The two men have shown they carry power early with Igi's debut, earlier this year, lasting around 12 seconds and Yamashita himself scoring an opening round TKO in his debut. Given both have power, this could be fire works!
Another bout of interesting is at 122lbs and will see Ren Nishimura (3-2, 1) look to build on a win back in April as he takes on 17 year old Bakuto Nakahara (2-0, 1), who debuted in April and has quickly picked up two wins. We always love seeing teenagers in this tournament and it's going to be interesting to see what Nakahara brings to the table going forward. On the other hand the 25 year old Nishimura is coming into this on the back of a KO win over Shui Kawato and clearly has the advantage in terms of experience.
One other bout worthy of note is the Bantamweight bout between Daichi Hirai (3-1, 1) and Takahiro Morishita (3-11-1, 1). Morishita certainly has one of, if not the worst, record of a fighter in Rookie of the Year but he's had a lot of very close bouts and with some luck he could have gotten wins in bouts that went against him. Hirai on the other hand has won his last 3 and will come in to this with plenty of confidence and momentum, despite a blow out loss in his 2019 debut.
Sangyo Shinko Center, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
The highlights from the second show include a Super Flyweight bout between 19 year old Mikito Yuasa (1-0, 1) and 24 year old Satohiko Haga (3-3-1, 1). Yuasa debuted in December 2019, as a 17 year old, but saw his career put on ice during the pandemic. He'll be back here looking to notch his second professional win and show exactly what he can do. Haga on the other hand made his debut in 2014, scoring 3 wins, but then went 0-3-1 in his following 4 fights before seemingly retiring in 2016. Amazingly this bout will be his return to the ring after more than 5 years out of action and it's going to be very interesting to see how much hunger he has against the teen hopeful.
Another Super Flyweight bout on this card worth of note is a bout between Riku Yamashita (3-0-1, 2) and Takumi Moriyama (0-0). Both men are young, with Yamashita being 21 and Moriyama being 20, and yet both will know this year's Rookie of the Year could be huge for them and their career going forward. Interestingly the debuting man is around 4" taller than Yamashita and it'll be interesting to see if Moriyama can use that too his advantage, or whether nerves get to him and he fights the wrong figh
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
This coming Saturday isn't a big day for fight fans in the East, but fans in Kobe do get a pretty interesting show thanks to Shinsei who will be putting on a 5 fight card, with several good looking bouts, one of which includes a really interesting prospect that we're high on.
The first of three bouts deserving of attention here is a 6 rounder between former amateur standout Kazuki Anaguchi (0-0), who's making his debut at the age of 21, and Atsushi Takada (6-2-3, 3), in an all southpaw bout. The talented Anaguchi went an incredible 68-6 in the unpaid ranks, and really shone in the 2019 Kansai Student League, winning all 5 of his bouts despite being younger than many of his foes. He's regarded as one of the best youngsters in Japan and will be looking to show what he can do here against Takada. Takada on the other hand is ending a break from the ring of almost 2 years, and it's now more than 3 years since the now 24 year old last scored a victory. Takada can't afford a loss, though he may well be in with a future star of the sport here.
In the chief support slow we'll see the charismatic and enigmatic Takahiro Tai (2-0, 2) take on young veteran Joe Tanooka (15-8-5, 1) in a major step up. Tai is one of the most interesting prospects in Japan, with a switch hitting style, and a real flair for excitement. He's the sort of fighter who catches the eye quickly with his powerful shots and show boating nature, but will need to keep his cool here against the slippery and light punching Tanooka. Tanooka is certainly not a dangerous fighter to go up again, but he's got good ring craft, a smart boxing brain and can certainly pose questions to the novice. We expect Tai's power to be too much in the end, but don't be surprised if the youngster needs to work for a win here.
The main event will see the once touted Tetsuro Ohashi (7-2-1, 2) take on the JBC ranked Isao Aoyama (12-8-1, 3). Ohashi was hotly tipped as we went in 2019, following an All Japan Rookie of the Year win in December 2018, but since then he has gone 1-2 and really needs to get his career back on track, and get some momentum building following losses to Suzumi Takayama and Hiroyuki Kudaka. As for Aoyama his record isn't great but he's much, much better than the numbers suggest and if he's hungry he could have the tools to defeat Ohashi and take another step towards a potential Japanese title fight. This one is expected to go the distance, as neither is a puncher, but should still be a very interesting bout as both men will be desperate for a victory given recent set backs.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The Edion Arena plays host to two different shows this coming Friday, one from Taisei Promotions and one from Harada Promotion, both of which were originally scheduled to take place in June.
The bigger of the two is the Taisei promoted event, which serves as a regional title double header.
The main event will see former world title challenger Riku Kano (17-4-1, 8) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title against the once touted Takumi Sakae (22-3-1, 16), in what could be a genuinely competitive match up. Kano was once regarded as the next super kid of Japanese boxing, but those hopes have faltered, repeatedly, in recent years and his ceiling, for now, appears to be this regional title level. Despite that comment he is a solid boxer, with good speed and he fights to his strengths. He is however too lightweight, at least at the moment, to make it to the top. Sakae was tipped incredibly highly at one point, but he has fallen short when he's stepped up and it seems clear that he doesn't have what it takes to reach the top. He's an exciting and fun guy to watch, but he's certainly lacking the tools to reach the world level. This bout could be a bit of a messy one, but should be competitive. Our full preview of this one can be read here Kano takes on Sakae in first defense of WBO Asia Pacific title
In the co-feature veteran fighter Yuki Nonaka (34-10-3, 10) will defend his WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight title against Koki Koshikawa (9-2, 6). The talented Nonaka has had a remarkable career, and at 43 is among the oldest fighters in Japan. He signed a contract with an American promoted before the pandemic, and it was hoped that he would land a big US bout, but the pandemic put those plans to bed and he's now been out of the ring since September 2019. He desperately needs to get back in the ring, before father time beats him. In the opposite corner is a man who was tipped to be a star when he turned professional, following a strong run as an amateur, but has, so far, fallen short. Sadly for Koshikawa a TKO loss last time out, to Hironobu Matsunaga in 2019, has left his career dangling by a thread, and he needs a win here. It's rare for a bout to be a legitimate must win, but that's exactly what we have here. Our in depth preview of this one can be read here Veteran Nonaka takes on flawed Koshikawa!
On the under-card we'll see WBO and JBC ranked Flyweight Arata Matsuoka (10-6, 4) take on Tetsuya Mimura (8-3, 1) in a 10 round bout. Matsuoka will be looking to fight for a domestic or regional title shortly, and this match up should help him prepare for something like that. As for Mimura he shouldn't be over-looked, but he's the big under-dog and probably lacks the power he'd need to defeat Matsuoka.
One other domestic bout on this card worthy of some note will see Ryo Suwa (11-4, 2) take on Tomoya Kishine (6-4-1, 2), in a scheduled 6 rounder at Super Bantamweight. Suwa was once regarded as a domestic contender, but he has now lost 3 in a row and is more than 2 years removed from his last win. Kishine on the other hand is no world beater, but will feel he's getting to Suwa at the right time and a win here would still be a sizable boost to his career.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The other show is a much smaller event headlined by a Japanese Youth title fight, and a really interesting one at that.
That Youth title bout will see the unbeaten Tsubasa Narai (7-0, 6), look to build on his Rookie of the Year win, back in February, as he takes on Kyonosuke Kameda (6-2-1, 5) in a mouth watering match up. Both of these men can punch, both are young, and both are coming to fight. For Kameda, the cousin of the fighting brothers, the key will be to use his height and reach to keep Narai at range and box behind his long straight shots. As for Narai we expect to see him relying on his power, and his aggression and for him to try and take Kameda out with single heavy shots, and well placed counters. Our preview of this one can be read here Narai and Kameda battle for Youth honours!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday we get the next card from the Ohashi Gym and it's a brilliant with 4 bouts worthy of real attention, including a Japanese title bout, and bouts featuring several exciting and talented prospects.
We'll start with some of those prospects, including the brilliant Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) who looks to bounce back from a close 2020 loss to Sho Ishida. The talented, aggressive and and heavy handed Ishii will be up against the flawed but hard hitting Jin Minamide (4-1, 3) in a bout that has the makings of a genuine shoot out. Ishii is the better boxer, the more rounded fighter, but also the man who will be looking to prove a point given his loss to Ishida. Minamide on the other hand is the bigger puncher, and a nasty at that, but also a man who hasn't fought since November 2019, when he lost to Kazuki Nakajima, and we need to wonder what sort of ring rust he'll be bringing into this fight.
Another excellent match up between youngsters will see the touted Kosuke Tomioka (4-1, 3) battle against the often over-looked Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3). For Tomioka this is his first bout since being stopped in the Rookie of the Year in December by Shunpei Kubo, and he'll know he can't afford to get caught against here. Takayama on the other hand has really seen his career hit a brick wall following an excellent win over Tetsuro Ohashi in October 2019, a win that saw him win the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title. If Takayama is as good as he looked in 2019 he should be favoured here, but after almost 2 years out of the ring we do wonder what he'll look like here in this match up. We need to give Tomioka credit for jumping in with someone as dangerous as Takayama following his recent loss, however we suspect thus will be another defeat for the teenager.
One bout that could easily go over-looked on this card is a contest between the unbeaten Masayoshi Hashizume (17-0-2, 10) and the often over-looked Yoshiki Minato (9-4, 4). The 27 year old Hashizume has long been earmarked as a promising fighter, and did win the Rookie of the Year, way back in 2014, but has never managed to deliver on that promise. Interestingly this will be Hashizume's first bout since joining the Ohashi Gym, and it's going to be really interesting to see if the moves helps to kick start his career. As for Minato he's looking to bounce back from a loss to Taku Kuwahara earlier this year, and although he's now 1-3 in his last 4 he shouldn't be written off, he is talented, he's tough and he'll be in to win here. This should be a very interesting, high level boxing contest and we are not anticipating a stoppage either way.
The main event of the card is a genuinely mouth watering match up as the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) looks to defend his Japanese Flyweight title against the aforementioned Taku Kuwahara (8-0, 4). For Akui this will be his second defense, and he will be looking to build on a solid 10 round decision win over Seiya Fujikita back in October 2020, in his only defense of the title. That win was the first time Akui had gone 10 rounds and showed there was more to him than just his heavy hands and his fast starts. Kuwahara on the other hand is one of the most unheralded prospects in Japan, but he seems to be a fighter who has the potential to be something very, very special. This is the first time Kuwahara has been in with a real puncher, but if he can take Akui's power he could well answer one of the few questions that remain about him. Although neither man is a star the winner of this should be just a fight or two from a world title bout. Our preview for this bout can be read here Akui and Kuwahara battle for Japanese Flyweight crown!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesdays fight fans in Tokyo will get a small card from Kaneko Boxing, who put on a very small card at Korakuen Hall. Sadly the card only has a total of 5 bouts on it, and from those 5 bouts only one is really worth much attention at all, though that one bout should be an incredibly solid and action packed one.
That one fight of note will see former 2-time OPBF Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-6-1, 11) taking on the fun to watch Nath Nwachukwu (6-1-2, 3), in what could be a very, very hard hitting and tough fight. The hard hitting Hosokawa is rarely in a bad fight, with his aggression, work rate and power making him one of the most fan friendly fighters in Japan, though he is a crude boxer at times, and isn't the hardest man to out box and isn't the quickest on his feet. Coming in to this Hosokawa's career really is hanging by a thread, after a 1-3-1 record in his last 5. Nwachukwu on the other hand is a tough, solid fighter, with under-rated skills, spiteful power, and a fighters mentality. He's very early in his career, but will know this is a massive opportunity for him to make a name for himself. Given the styles of the two men involved this could, very easily, be a thrilling 8 round war, and a treat to end what is a very limit looking card.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
This coming Sunday boxing is back at the Aioi Hall in Aichi as we get a show from HEIWA promotions. It's not a big show, but there are notable names on it.
The most notable fighter on the show is former Japanese Bantamweight champion Kohei Oba (36-4-1, 14), who is scheduled to face Ryumei Nakamura (3-1-2, 1) in a 6 round bout at Featherweight. Oba, who was once a world ranked fighter, began a comeback last year, after 6 out of the ring, and this will be his second since returning to the sport. As for Nakamura he's 20 and this is his biggest bout by far, as he looks to bounce back from a disappointing draw against Turtle Nishida in May. It's probably fair to say that Oba is expected to win here, however a loss really should spell the end of his career, for good.
In a much more interesting match up we'll see Welterweight Rookie of the Year winner Hiroya Nojima (6-1, 2) fighting for the first time since his Rookie triumph in February. The exciting Nojima will be up against 24 year old Shoma Okada (4-3, 2), who enters the bout on the back of 3 straight losses. Nojima, who is still very much a work in progress, will come into this with momentum and should he win we'll hopefully see him in more meaningful bouts in the not too distant future.
The main event for this show will see former Japanese title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (17-7-1, 12) take on Masateru Hatagami (6-2-1, 2), in what should be a straight forward win for Maruki. The heavy handed and fun to watch Maruki saw his career hit a bit of a wall in 2018, with losses to Nobuyuki Shindo and Akinori Watanabe, and he's looking to rebuild after those set backs. Hatagami on the other hand is unbeaten in his last 3, but they are spread over the last 8 years and it's hard to imagine him having much of a chance against someone as aggressive and exciting as Maruki.
For fans wanting to watch this one it will be streamed live on the Sakana1976 YouTube channel.
This coming Saturday is a big day for fight fans in Hachioji, as they get two shows at the Fujimori Gym. One of the shows an East Japan Rookie of the Year card, whilst the other is headlined by a mouth watering Youth title fight, with serious implications for later in the year.
Fujimori Gym, Hachioji, Tokyo, Japan
The first of the two cards, set to begin at 11AM, is an East Japan Rookie of the Year show featuring 7 bouts across a variety of weights. As with all these Rookie of the Year shows the fighters involved are all novices.
On paper the most interesting match up, at least in our eyes, is the Super Bantamweight bout between Ryusei Sasanoike (1-0) and Mizuki Isozaki (0-0). The 18 year old Sasanoike made his debut last December and will be looking to build on a victory in that bout. Isozaki on the other hand is a 29 year old debutant looking to kick off his career by avoiding a loss to a teenager.
One other bout that looks oddly compelling is a Lightweight clash between Keigo Nagata (3-3-1, 1) and Tsuyoshi Kato (2-2). Unlike most on this show both men have suffered losses, but together they should make for an interesting bout. Kato has won his last 2, and is unbeaten since running into Jin Sasaki in 2019 whilst the 39 year old Nagata will be returning to the ring after 13 years out of action. This is certainly an interesting bout, without being one that will get much attention.
Fujimori Gym, Hachioji, Tokyo, Japan
The second show is a much more notable one, featuring three bouts of genuine interest and will be streamed worldwide on YouTube, thanks to A-Sign boxing.
The main event will see the hard hitting Jin Sasaki (10-0, 9) battle against Kaiki Yuba (7-0-2, 5) in a bout between unbeaten men, who are fighting for the JBC Youth Light Welterweight title and a shot at the JBC senior title, against Andy Hiraoka later in the year. Although 2020 was a bad year for most fighters it saw Sasaki putting himself on the map with a string of solid performances, including a beat down of Aso Ishiwaki, and he has all the momentum coming into this bout. He's heavy handed, dangerous and has that "star" appeal about him. Yuba on the other hand is the JBC Youth champion at 135lbs, moving up in weight for this bout, and is a second generation fighter looking to following in his father's, Tadashi Yuba, footsteps. Sadly Yuba has little momentum coming into this bout, and hasn't fought in almost 18 months, something that could be a problem against a fast starter like Sasaki. The only thing that seems undeniable here is that this should be a slugfest, for as long as it lasts! Our full preview of this bout can be read here Sasaki and Yuba face off in clash of Youth Champions
One of the main undercard bouts here will see 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hyoga Taniguchi (4-2-2, 1) take on the unbeaten Hiro Ichimichi (4-0-1, 3) in a 6 rounder at 130lbs. This isn't a huge bout, but it is good to see the technically skilled Taniguchi back in the ring after almost a year of inactive. Saying that it's worth noting that Ichimichi has also been out of the ring for close to a year and at 36 he can't afford to have a slip up here if he intends to have a bout of note in the future.
Another under-card bout will see the usually fun to watch Ryugo Ushijima (4-2-2, 2) battle against Reiji Murata (4-3-1, 2). The 20 year old Ushijima is not a star in the making, but he's a good, TV friendly fighter who right now needs a win after going 1-2-2- in his last 5. He was easily outboxed last time out and really needs a good performance here. Aged 25 Murata is someone we've not seen much of, but he'll know this is a great opportunity to show what he can do on a show that's set to be streamed worldwide.
KO Addiction Boxing & Fitness Center, Plant City, Florida, USA
As well as the action in Japan we're also expecting to see unbeaten Chinese fighter Fanlong Meng (16-0, 10) to return to the ring for the first time in almost 2 years as he takes on Victor Fonseca Calderas (18-10-1, 14). Meng was supposed to get a world title fight in 2020, against Artur Beterbiev, but Covid and travel issues prevented that from happening, and instead saw him waste more than a year of his career. With that in mind we won't complain too much about him shaking some ring rust here, but his next fight needs to be a meaningful one!