After what has been a good August for fans of the Asian scene things slow down massively in early September. Which is a huge shame, as it seems to kill some of the growing momentum we've seen in places like Japan and Kazakhstan. Despite that we do get a Japanese show this coming Thursdays from Tokyo, it's a small show but pretty notable one all the same.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This show sadly only features two bouts, but both are expected to be interesting ones.
The only supporting bout will see 2019 Rookie of the Year runner up Yasutaka Fujita (5-1, 5) take on Kensuke Nakamura (4-8-2). Since losing in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final last December, in a barn burner against Kodai Honda, we've seen Fujita change gyms and sign up with the Misako gym. The transfer to the well established gym is expected to see Fujita improve his boxing skills, and partner them up with power and aggression. On paper Nakamura is a weak opponent for Fujita, but the idea will be for Fujita to show those in charge at Misako what improvements he's been making, and to rebuild his confidence after the loss to Honda. We expect this one will be fun, be we do expect technical changes from Fujita.
In the main event Shuichiro Yoshino (12-0, 10) will be defending his JBC, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight titles against veteran Valentine Hosokawa (25-7-3, 12). For Yoshino the bout serves as his first defense of the triple crown and he will be coming in to the bout in search of a 9th straight stoppage. The hard hitting champion had has some issues at times, but he's proven to be a very good boxer-puncher and the hope, from him and his team, is for him to move beyond regional title level in the near future. As for Hosokawa the 39 year old is looking to become a 2-weight Japanese champion having previously held the Light Welterweight title. Despite his age Hosokawa is still very much a live fighter and a very under-dog here. We wouldn't be surprised at all if Hosokawa's aggression and work rate drags the very best from Yoshino here in a very good match up. Our full preview of this bout can be read here.
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
We turn our attention back to Japan to end the month, and we get treat very nicely thanks to A-Sign boxing who are putting on a live stream of their event from the Shinjuku Face in Tokyo. The event isn't a massive card, but it is a compelling card, featuring a nice mix of prospects, domestic hopefuls and the Japanese debut of a fighter who has, until now, been fighting entirely in the west.
In the main event we'll see veteran Shoki Sakai (23-11-2, 13) make his Japanese debut after more than 30 fights in Mexico and the US. The tough and rugged Sakai was once a fighter with a genuine hunger and ambition, but in recent years he has been used as a gatekeeper of sorts in the West. He has lost his last 4, though managed to ask questions of Genero Gamez, Eddie Gomez, Alexis Rocha and Gor Yeritsyan and has proven his value as a genuine trial horse. For his Japanese debut he is being matched some what easier than he has been in the West as he takes on Hironori Shigeta (6-1-1, 3), who is best known for winning the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year, at Welterweight, though he has failed to kick on since then and has fought just twice since that Rookie triumph. Shigeta is unbeaten in his last 7 but this is a serious step up in class for him.
One of the best prospects on this card is unbeaten teenage Jin Sasaki (7-0, 6), who turned 19 in July. The talented Sasaki will be taking a big step up, as he takes on Shun Akaiwa (5-1-1, 3), who answered what was essentially an open challenge by the promoters of the event. Sasaki has shown a lot to be excited about, including power, skills and timing, though unfortunately had to pull out of the East Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2019. The youngster is tipped for big things but this is expected to be a real test. Akaiwa enters the bout ranked #13 by the JBC at 140lbs and has won his last 3, which has seen him avenge his sole defeat and score a shock TKO win over Kenta Endo. This is a genuinely serious test for Sasaki and a win here will give him a huge boost after the disappointing end to his Rookie of the Year journey last year. A win for Akaiwa on the other hand will continue his great form and move him a step closer to a title fight. This is a real 50-50 type bout.
In a bout that could, potentially, be an explosive bout we'll see Ryugo Ushijima (3-1-2, 2) and Ryukyu Oho (6-3, 3) battle in a 6 rounder. We were impressed and frustrated by Ushijima last year. His bout with Shota Ogasawara was an instant classic, but he then went 0-1-2 for the rest of the year, and failed to show any real development. Aged 19 and stood at 5'10" he is very much a growing boy and not the complete product, but we do need to start to see some improvements from the youngster, who has the size and frame to be a genuine prospect, despite his current record. Oho on the other hand has struggled for form recently, losing 2 of his last 3 including a 2018 Rookie of the Year bout with Hikari Mineta. This has the potential to be the hidden gem on the card with both men desperate to get a win.
The 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year Super Featherweight king Hyoga Taniguchi (3-2-2, 1) will be up against Yoshiki Tatsukami (4-6-1), in what will be Taniguchi's first bout since his Rookie triumph in December. The 21 year old Taniguchi has got promise but his lack of power could be a major issue, unless he develops it in the coming years. Coming in to this Tatsukami has lost his last 3, but has generally asked questions of fighters, testing Mirai Naito and Hokuto Matsumoto. We expect Taniguchi to take the win, but this will not be easy for the youngster.
In an easy to over-look bout the limited but hard hitting Ken Koibuchi (5-4, 4) will be up against one of our favourite unheralded fighters Takuya Yamaguchi (4-11-2, 2). Coming in to this Koibuchi has lost 3 of his last 4 but two of those were razor thin decisions and he's certainly better than his record suggests. Yamaguchi on the other hand is a very likable loser, and the recent A-Sign documentary on him is brilliant, insightful and opens a door into the life of someone who has charmed us in recent years. We suspect Koibuchi will have too much for the 34 year old Yamaguchi.
In a Rookie of the Year bout we'll see the unbeaten and charismatic Kosuke Tomioka (2-0, 2) in action against Shota Hara (2-2-1). Although he's still only a boxing baby Tomioka has been receiving a lot of attention for his exciting style and unique in ring flair, which we hope to see more of here. Hara is the older man, but is very much coming into this bout as the under-dog and we suspect he will struggle, despite having an under-rated counter punchers game.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
This coming Saturday we get minor title action as WBA Asia South Featherweight champion Arnon Yupang (5-0, 2) defends his title against the debuting Nonthasith Petchnamthong (0-0). On paper this looks like a poor match up, an unbeaten prospect defending a regional title against a debutant, but in reality this is two novices clashing for a minor regional title. Although he had 5 bouts to his name Yupang has only been a professional since late last year, winning 4 bouts against fellow novices in TL Promotions excellent little tournament "The Fighter". Those 4 bouts count as 4 of the 5 bouts that Yupang has had, with the other coming against the very under-sized Inthanon Sithchamuang. Interestingly Nanthasith is ranked #15 by the WBA Asia, though we do believe this is his debut.
Thai sources report that two men have apparently known each other for a while and were reportedly on the same team and are close, though we wouldn't be surprised to see them put their friendship to the side and really go at each other here.
Sadly no other bouts for this show have been confirmed at the time of writing.
This coming Friday we see the return of boxing onto Channel 7 in Thailand, but sadly we won't see Bektemir Melikuziev in action.
Rangsit International Stadium, Thailand
We see action continue to get back to normal in Thailand as we get, we believe, the first televised outdoor card since boxing returned to the country. The event will be on Channel 7 and like many Thai cards features names in total squash matches.
In the main event Petch Sor Chitpattana (55-1, 40) will defend his regional WBC title against Tongthep Taeyawong (5-2-1, 4). This really should be little more than a work out for the talented Petch, who needs much, much tougher opponents for us to really see what he's made of. Competition like this will not help him develop the skills he needs to become a champion, as we saw when he suffered his sole defeat to Takuma Inoue.
In the the chief support bout Petchmanee Kokietgym (32-1, 21), also known as Panya Pradabsri, will be in action against a Brazilian opponent, that we're lead to believe is Dionatha Santos Tobias (0-2). On paper this should be little more than a work out for the talented Thai who should, really, be facing tougher opposition to help prepare for a second world title bout. The Thai based Brazilian has faced stiff competition so far, but has come up short in both of his bouts since turning professional.
Another likely mismatch on this card will see Kittithat Ungsrivongs (15-1, 8) take on Omar El Ouers (0-1). Kittithat, also known as Wanchana Menayothin, is only 21, but he has been a professional since 2016 and he's still fighting at the same level as he was back then. We feel he needs to step it up and get developmental fights, rather than padding his record in bouts like this. He's had 6 confidence building wins since his 2018 loss to Que Xu and doesn't need any more.
Also originally scheduled for this show was Noknoi Sitthiprasert (72-5, 44) but the 33 year old was pulled from the event earlier this month.
On the subject of things being pulled, a scheduled event on DAZN, which was was supposed to feature Bektemir Melikuziev (5-0, 4) taking on Alan Campa (17-5, 11), was cancelled. Sadly that whole show was pulled just over a week before the event, after the promoters failed to secure a replacement opponent for Javier Fortuna, after Jorge Linares was forced to pull out of the event.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
A day after a number of Kazakh prospects make their debut we'll also see two touted Japanese prospects begin their professional careers, albeit in much lower profile action. As well as the prospects this card will also feature a former world title challenger in a very good looking domestic match up as boxing slowly begins to resume normality in Japan.
One of those debutants is Ryutaro Nakagaki (0-0), who picked up 8 national titles in the amateurs. Regarded as a brilliant technical Nakagaki views himself as someone who can be fast tracked based on his amateur pedigree. The one thing he needs to work on, according to those in Japan, is sitting on his punches and developing more power as he heads to the pros. We'll see whether he's done that here as he takes on the limited Shohei Horii (3-5-2, 2), who has been stopped in 4 of his 5 defeats. This should be an easy win for Nakagaki, but it'll be interesting to see how he wins.
The other amateur standout on this card is "Mirai Monster" Keisuke Matsumoto (0-0), who also won numerous amateur championships before heading to the pros. As well as his amateur success Matsumoto is a third generation fighter, following in the footsteps of his father, multi-time world title challenger Koji Matsumoto, and his grandfather. He had hoped to go to the Olympics but after missing out he took the advice of Naoya Inoue and turned professional. Matsumoto will be up against Hironori Miyake (9-9-2, 1), who has proven to be a tough fight, though one who lacks power, and this should be a decent test of what Matsumoto has in the locker, despite Miyake's record looking less than great.
In the main event of this card former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (23-3, 21), no relation to Keisuke, take on Takuya Mizuno (17-2-1, 14) in a mouth watering show down. Coming in both men will be looking to make a major statement and take home a stoppage. Of the two Matsumoto is the more talented, and despite having 3 losses he is still very much a fighter with the potential to reach the top, but there is pressure on his shoulders following back to back losses in 2018. As for Mizuno he was beaten last time out by Musashi Morui and will see this as a chance to get his career back on track following that loss. Although there is no title on the line here the bout is still a brilliant match up between two talented, young, skilled, Japanese punchers who are risking a lot at this stage in their careers.
Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Also on Monday is a small card in Kazakhstan, for a second day running. This really is a small card that's hard to give too much attention to, though the main bout on the show does appear to be a minor regional title fight.
That title bout will see Mukhitdin Rajapbaev (12-7-1, 8) battle against the hard hitting Yedil Kozhamberdiyev (9-2, 9) in a 10 rounder for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Cruiserweight title. Coming in to the the 32 year old Rajapbaev, from Uzbekistan, has failed to win any of his last 6, and has been stopped 3 times in those 6 bouts. Aged 33 Kozhamberdiyev is stepping up, but has got momentum on his size having won his last 8, all within the first 3 rounds. Kozhamberdiyev has faced some god awful competition but is the naturally bigger man, and the fighter entering with form.
Please note - As we try to get all of these done well in advance we have been unable to get the full MTK Kazakhstan card which still wasn't announced a week before the event. As a result we've only been able to go on the one announced bout and some of the names announced for the card.
In Kazakhstan MTK will be putting on a card full of notable fighters, including a trio of talented debutants.
At the time of writing the only announced bout for the show will see 2-time World Amateur Championship Silver medal winner Kamshybek Kunkabayev (0-0) take on veteran Issa Akberbayev (20-1-0-1, 15). On paper this looks an extremely tough bout for the former amateur stand out but in reality Akberbayev isn't as good as his record suggests, he hasn't scored a win in close to 3 years, and was stopped last time out by Evgeny Tishchenko. This is one of those smart bits of match making where a prospect in a bout that looks tough, but really isn't, with Kunkabayev really expected to shine.
The other debutants on this card are the sensationally talented Tursynbay Kulakhmet (0-0), who looks like he could be fast tracked to the top, and the exciting but rather unpolished Talgat Shaiken (0-0). At the time of writing neither of these men have had their opponents named, but both are expected to take on solid domestic opponents.
Also scheduled for this show are Abay Tolesh (5-0, 3), Victor Kotochigov (11-0, 4), Ray Seitzhanov (2-0), Saparbay Aidarov (4-0, 2), Nurtas Azhbenov (9-0, 4), Nurdos Tolebay (2-0, 1) and Sagadat Rakhmankulov (6-1, 4). As with the debutants their bouts haven't been announced, though we suspect at least one of these fighters will take on one of the talented debutants.
Fenghuang street commercial plaza, Changsha, China
As well as the Kazakh card we also have a show in China. Sadly this is another of the new regular Chinese shows that feature nobody of note on it, and a lot of novices and debutants. In total we are expecting 6 bouts on this card, featuring a total of 6 debutants and 9 fighters with less than 3 bouts.
Despite most of the card being scheduled for 4 rounds we do have one longer bout pencilled in for the event. That bout will see the light punching pair of Dacong Wang (5-1-1, 1) and Yajie Ding (4-4-1) face off in a bout that appears set for 10 rounds. The 22 year old Wang has gone unbeaten in 6 but has been out of the ring since April 2019, when he beat Weizhen Ni. Ding on the other hand has lost 3 of his last 4 and it's hard to know what he really offers here. His last bout was a win, but that was way back in June 2019. Although this is the main event it's certainly not a bout that has us too excited.
This coming Saturday is a busy day for fight fans wanting to follow Asian fighters, with shows in Japan, China, Russia and the US all needing to be mentioned. For us it's the Japanese show that's the most interesting, though both of the Russian shows have the potential to be very good shows, even if the Asian bouts aren't the biggest.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese show will be held at Korakuen Hall and will see Boxing Raise return for their first live stream since February. The event isn't a massive card, but is a very noteworthy one, with a tournament final, a former world title challenger and a former Japanese champion involved.
The main event will see Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6) and Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) clash in the final of the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament. Both men have had to dig deep, and notch an upset or two along the way to get here. Neither man was favoured to reach the final and both men had to battle hard knowing a tournament win would be a massive boost to their career's. Originally this bout was planned for much earlier in the year, though due to the on-going situation it has been pushed back and back. On paper Watanabe will be the favourite, but the negative style of Kusano could really give him fits in an intriguing match up.
In the main support bout we'll see former world title challenger Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18) take on the talented, but light punching, Shohei Kawashima (18-4-2, 4). On paper this is a must win bout for the 33 year old Wake, who was upset last year by Jhunriel Ramonal and desperately needs to make a statement, if he's to get a second world title shot. Kawashima is a talented fighter, but has gone 3-3 in his last 6 and was stopped last time out by Hiroaki Teshigawara. Despite being talented we don't really expect to see him holding his own with Wake here, who is fringe world class, despite the loss to Ramonal last year.
A third bout worthy of note will see former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-6, 18) face off with George Tachibana (8-4, 2). Tsuchiya is looking to pick a win following a loss in February, in what was a big upset against Shogo Yamaguchi, though it seems likely his glory days are gone and he isn't anything like the fighter he once was. As for Tachibana, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2018, the bout will be a chance for him to rebuild following a blow out loss in December to Tomoki Takada, in what was also a notable upset.
Fenghuang Streat commercial square, Changsha, China
Action continues to trickle through form China with another small card, this time in Changsha. Like many of the other recent Chinese cards this is packed with novices, including 8 debutants from the 14 bouts.
With so many debutants on the show we only actually have a single bout not featuring a debutant and that's the 6 round main event between Sheng Peng (4-6-1, 2) and Xing Xie (1-5, 1). Although it's the main event we aren't expecting anything too excited here from fighters who have little power and little in terms of form. Still there maybe a diamond in the rough on the under-card for those who are going to tune in here.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Over in Russian we'll see unbeaten Kazakh born Russian hopeful Stanislav Kalitskiy (10-0, 3) look to extend his unbeaten record as he takes on 25 year old Russian southpaw Dmitrii Khasiev (9-2-2, 3) in a 10 round. Kalitskiy has looked talented but lacked power and that may be an issue when he steps up in class, and takes on imposing fighters. Here however w edon't see it being an issue. Khasiev appears to be a solid professional, but it would be his biggest win if he was to take a victory here.
Pyramide, Kazan, Russia
On a second Russian show is the enigmatic Kazakh fighter Firuza Sharipova (10-1, 5), who takes on Tanzania's Happy Daudi (8-6-1, 4) in a contest for the IBA female Light Welterweight title. Although talented Sharipova is a frustrating fighter to follow, and seems to be more of a celebrity in Kazakhstan than a boxer now a days. This will be her first bout since April 2019, since which she has retired, had a child, and decided to return to the sport. Daudi on the other hand has never fought out of Tanzania and has never scored a win over a fighter with a win.
Whilst Sharipova should be criticised for her competition we do wonder what on earth is going on in the IBA to allow this to be for their "world" title. Disgraceful.
Bonita Springs Elks Lodge, Bonita Springs, Florida, USA
In the US Azeri born fighter Fardi Pashazade (2-0, 2) will look to score his third win. The unbeaten, but untested, Pashazade will be up against Daniel Mitchell (0-2) in what looks like a third straight meaningless bout for the Azeri. So far Pashazade has blown out his first two opponents in double quick time and Mitchell has been stopped in both of his bouts. Worse than the stoppages for Mitchell is the fact he's not fought in almost 3 years. This really is an exercise in pointlessness for the 31 year old Pashazade.
El Malecon, Torrelavega, Cantabria, Spain
Unbeaten Filipino born Norwegian based prospect Bernard Angelo Torres (11-0, 5) looks to continue his climb through the rankings as he takes on Alexander Cazares (16-11, 7). Although not a big name Torres is a very promising 24 year old southpaw who began his professional career back in 2017 and has slowly been stepping up his level of competition. This will be his second fight of the year and the hope is that he can continue his unbeaten streak and move towards a title fight, of some kind.
Although no world beater Cazares is a tough, rugged fighter who has never been stopped, despite facing some notable names. In 2017 the Mexican pushed Sofiane Takoucht close and since then he has gone the distance against the likes Oleg Malinovskyi and Kiko Martinez, so he'll be expecting to hear the final round here against the talented Torres.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Wednesday Kadoebi put on their next show under the "Slugfest" banner at Korakuen Hall and although it's not a huge card, it is an interesting one with 3 bouts worthy of note on a 5 fight card. The event these include a real 50-50 match up at Lightweight, an excellent domestic clash at 140lbs and a regional title bout at Flyweight.
The bout we're most looking forward to is the Lightweight bout, which will put former Rookie of the Year winner Yuichiro Kasuya (13-2-2, 4) against the very talented Masanori Rikiishi (7-1, 4), in a bout that will be pitting two JBC and OPBF ranked fighters against each other. Of the two Kasuya is probably the more technically well schooled, but his lack of power has held him back and he can be a very frustrating fighter to watch at times. Rikiishi is a more entertaining fighter and a heavier handed fighter, but this is a tough ask against a man with an excellent jab. The winner of this could well end up finding themselves in a title fight next year so this is a very notable and significant contest.
In a Light Welterweight bout the fun to watch Cristiano Aoqui (14-8-2, 10) will be up against Fumisuke Kimura (9-5-1, 6) in what could turn out to be a real humdinger. The 31 year old Aoqui, a Japanese Brazilian, is a really exciting fighter who has his limitations but is very exciting when he lets his hands go and is not an easy man to beat. Kimura on the other hand has got under-rated power, and is an upset minded fighter, as we saw with his wins over Yusuke Yamanouchi, Hayto Ono and Giraffe Kirin Kanda. Both of these guys can bang, and both will know that a good win could move them onto a Japanese title fight next year.
The main event will see world ranked Flyweight hopeful Ryota Yamauchi (6-1, 5) take on Satoru Todaka (10-3-4, 4) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title. The talented Yamauchi is back on the fast track up the rankings following a 2019 loss to Wulan Tuolehazi and a win here would see him win his first title. Notably Yamauchi missed out on a Japanese title eliminator last year when he suffered a cut that hadn't healed in time for his eliminator and he'll be looking to make up for lost time here. As for Todaka the bout will be his second title fight, following a loss last year in a Japanese title fight against Kenichi Horikawa. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Yamauchi goes for gold as he takes on Todaka
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday we get the next round of East Japan Rookie of the Year bouts, with a strange show featuring 7 contests all at Featherweight. The division was the most subscribed to division in the tournament, and to thin numbers there is this show, which will cut 14 fighters down to 7 for the next round.
From the 7 bouts on the card the one that looks the most interesting is an all unbeaten clash between Yuya Hirose (2-0, 2) and Hiroshi Mizuma (1-0, 1). With 5 rounds to his name Hirose, a 22 year old Southpaw, is the more experienced of the two men but has looked good so far, winning his debut last October and following up with another win this past February. Mizuma on the other hand made his debut in January, when he stopped Ryuji Morita in 3 rounds, and will be feeling confident of building on that victory here.
In another bout we'll see Yamaguchi Vs Yamaguchi, as 20 year old Leon Yamaguchi (2-1, 2) takes on 28 year old Seiya Yamamguchi (3-6-1, 2). The younger man made his debut in 2018 and through his 3 bouts he has fought only 6 rounds, with all 3 bouts ending early. The older of the two Yamaguchi's has gone 2-6 in his last 8 and has been a professional since 2016. It's hard to imagine either man going far in the tournament but it's still interesting to see two man with the same surname facing off, and we predict a win for Yamaguchi...