This coming Wednesday we see the field at the East Japan Rookie of the Year get slimmed down significantly as we get the semi-final bouts of the tournament, spread over 2 different shows at Korakuen Hall.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The first of the two shows will feature bouts from Minimumweight to Super Bantamweight. It was supposed to have 12 bouts in total, but one of the Flyweight bouts has been cancelled, leaving us with 11 scheduled contests.
One of the bouts that deserves a bit of extra attention is a Light Flyweight bout, as Daichi Akahori (1-0) takes on Komi Kato (1-0, 1). Aged 22 Akahori made his debut in July and will be looking to build on that win, a unanimous decision over Hayato Soita. As for Kato, who's just 20, the bout will see him looking to impress after a an opening round TKO win over Takumi Shimada.
Another of the interesting bouts on the card is a Flyweight bout between Rei Atsuchi (2-0, 1) and Kei Fujita (5-1, 4). The 21 year old Atsuchi made his debut in July and recorded his second win back in September. Fujita on the other hand debuted way back in 2019, and has shown himself to be heavy handed, but has got some question marks over his own chin. We're expecting to see Fujita's power being a major factor, but if Atsuchi can take it he has a real chance here.
Another bout between unbeaten men takes place at Super Bantamweight, as Yoshiaki Sakamoto (4-0-1) takes on the hard hitting Retsu Takahashi (2-0, 2). The 26 year old Sakamoto made his debut in 2019, fighting to a draw, but has bounced back with 4 wins and has got some momentum coming in to this, whilst also coming into his physical prime. Stood at 5'10" Takahashi is a huge fighter at the weight and comes in the back of two stoppages already this year. He's a promising fighter with some clear physical advantages, but this is a step up in class for him.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The second show will feature 9 bouts in total, and will be the semi finals from Featherweight to Middleweight, sadly 3 bouts originally schedule for this show have been cancelled.
The stand out bout on this show, by some margin, is a Featherweight bout between Kai Watanabe (4-0, 1) and Kiyoharu Nunozaki (5-0, 4), which risk their unbeaten records in a mouth watering match up. The 19 year old Watanabe only made his debut in April, but has raced out to 4-0, and will know that a win here takes him one fight closer to making a name for himself on the Japanese domestic scene. Nunozaki on the other hand is 32, and debuted in 2018, but has had a stop start career. Despite not fighting at all in 2020 Nunozaki is dangerous and 4 of his wins have come in the first 2 rounds.
In a potentially very, very explosive Middleweight bout we'll see Roy Tsukamoto (1-0, 1) take on Minori Okamura (1-0, 1). Tsukamoto made his debut in March, but sadly the 23 year old has been out of the ring since then and it's a shame he's not been able to stay busy and build on that win. As for Okamura he debuted in September, with an opening round win over second generation fighter Eigoro Akai, and will feel confident of showing what he can do here. We expect this one to start fast, and be brutal, for as long as it lasts.
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
The main show this coming Tuesday is in Thailand where we'll see a world title fight, and a former world champion.
The world title fight will see WBC Minimumweight champion Panya Pradabsri (36-1, 20) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on fellow Thai Danai Ngiabphukhiaw (9-2, 5). For Panya this will be his second fight since winning the title, almost a year ago, but his first defense and sadly it's a thoroughly under-whelming one as he takes on someone who can only be described as professional novice. Danai has got some promise, but that's all it is, some promise. He's not anywhere close to world level, and we'd be very surprised if he was able to win even a minute of bout, before being stopped in the middle rounds. Our in depth preview of this one can be read here WBC king Panya set for first defense, faces fellow Thai!
Also reportedly set for this card is Wanheng Menayothin (54-1, 18), who is expected to fight in a bit of a tune up bout before a potential rematch with Panya in the new year. His opponent has sadly not been announced for this show, but we're hoping for someone sturdy enough to give the former WBC world champion a few rounds and let him shake some ring rust.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the action in Thailand there will also be a small card in Japan, as Dangan put on one of their fun 4 round shows.
Whilst none of the bouts are big news, we are exciting to see Michiaki Eguchi (0-0) and Kenta Kawakami (0-0) clash in an all debutant bout at 105lbs. Eguchi is a 23 year old whilst Kawakami is 19, and given their youth, plus the fact this is a bout between debutants, we are expecting a wild and exciting tear up here.
There's also a female bout on this card as Kagishippo Sachi (0-0) takes on Natsuki Tamagawa (0-0). This is another 4 rounder, but it's interesting to see two women facing off, especially given that neither is a youngster. Sachi is 34 coming in to this bout, and will need to be moved quickly if she's going to fight in bouts of any significance in the future, whilst Tamagawa is 27, and no spring chicken herself.
This coming Saturday is a busy day for Asian fight fans with several shows in Asia and some Asian fighters fighting in the US.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The best looking Asian card of the day, by some margin, comes from Tokyo, though is sadly set to be on behind a paywall. The card features just 4 bouts, but all 4 of those are very interesting match ups, including a Japanese title eliminator.
The Japanese title eliminator will be at Lightweight as former Japanese 140lb champion Masahiro Suzuki (6-0, 4) takes on Seiryu Toshikawa (14-5, 8), in a very interesting match up. Suzuki looked sensational in his title win at 140lbs when he stopped Daishi Nagata but he knew it wasn't his best weight and he decided to begin a pursuit of the Japanese title at 135lsb. In his way is the under-rated Toshikawa, who has won his last 4 and is 8-1 since the start of 2017. Toshikawa hasn't been beating top, top domestic names, but he's been in good form, beating solid domestic fighters and could be a very solid test for the very good Suzuki.
Whilst the title eliminator is a great bout we're even more excited about a clash between Kai Chiba (13-2, 8) and Suzumi Takayama (4-0, 4). The talented Chiba will be looking to bounce back from a loss to Kazuki Nakajima in an OPBF title bout back in May, and he'll know another loss here puts him a very, very long way from another title shot, of any kind. As for Takayama, a former Japanese Youth champion, he's been highly impressive to begin his career, and a win here against Chiba would be a huge announcement, and a massive chance for him to put his hat into the mix for a title fight. Although he's only had a combined 13 rounds as a professional, Takayama does look like an incredible prospect with power, skills and heart, and this is a great chance for him to show exactly what he can do.
In an interesting match up we'll see the teak tough Takuya Watanabe (37-10-1, 21) look to bounce back from a brutal and punish loss to Kosuke Saka in a Japanese Super Featherweight title fight. He's in an easier bout here ad he takes on the limited Kazuma Sanpei (20-6, 9), who is who has won 5 of his last 6, but has been fighting at a lower level than Watanabe, who has mixed at title level numerous times. Sanpei will feel confident of continuing his good run, and may feel he's getting Watanabe at the right time, but he will still be regarded as the under-dog here.
The other bout on this card will see the hard hitting, and incredibly fun to watch, Yasutaka Fujita (7-1, 6) take on the light punching, but very skilled, Izuki Tomioka (7-4-1, 2). Of the two men Fujita is the naturally bigger, heavier, hard hitting, but the man with questionable stamina and the much less skilled and accomplished boxer. Tomioka is light punching, but very skilled, tricky, and is battle tested at Japanese and OPBF level. On paper this is an easy bout to over-look but should prove to be a genuinely compelling 8 rounder.
Talisay City, Cebu, Philippines
In the Philippines ARQ Promotions will be putting on a small card, with a brilliant main event, as one of the brightest young prospects in the country takes a massive leap up in class. Sadly outside of that bout there isn't too much to be excited about.
That bout will see the unbeaten April Jay Abne (6-0, 3) battle for the OPBF "Silver" Flyweight title as he takes on the once beaten Bienvenido Ligas (13-1-2, 9), in a truly mouth watering clash. The talented, though inexperienced, Abne, is one of the best natural talents in the country, and seems like the type of fighter who has the technical abilities to go a long way, though does need to find his man strength. Ligas is the bigger puncher and the more naturally forceful fighter, but does leave holes and can be out boxed at times. Despite having holes Ligas is very solid, and he was very impressive Alphoe Dagayloan back in February, in a career best win. This is a genuinely excellent match up.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
There is also Asian action in Thailand, with a show being broadcast under the "The Fighter" banner, thanks to TL Promotions. Sadly whilst it does feature two very notable Thai hopefuls, neither man is in with someone expected to test them.
One of the promising Thai fighters on this show is the once beaten Tanes Ongjunta (8-1, 4), who looks notch a 5th straight win, as he takes on the limited Lerdchai Chaiyawed (6-5, 2). Ongjunta, looking to defend his WBA Asia Flyweight title, should be too good, too skilled, and too smart for his foe, though to credit where it's due, Chaiyawed does tend to offer plenty of resistance, even in his losses, and won't be there to just make up the numbers. We expect Chaiyawed to come to win, but simply not be good enough.
The other notable bout on this card will see the once beaten Arnon Yupang (7-1, 3) take on Filipino novice Fritz Biagtan (1-0, 1). Yupang was once a Thai amateur standout who has a lot of potential, and was last seen beating Amnat Ruenroeng for the WBA Asia South Featherweight title. He won't be defending that title here, but will be expecting to pick up a win. As for Biagtan, he made his debut in 2018, but has sadly been out of the ring for well over 40 months and is the naturally smaller man. Sadly we do not expect this one to be a particularly competitive match up.
Madison Square Garden Theater, New York, New York, USA
Former world title challenger Jonas Sultan (17-5, 11) looks to keep himself in the world title mix as he takes on the hard hitting, and unbeaten, Carlos Caraballo (14-0, 14), in a brilliant match up. The technically well schooled Sultan, who holds a very good win over John Riel Casimero, is often under-rated but has shown what he can do in the ring and should be regarded as a leading contender in the Super Flyweight division. Sadly however he is stepping up in weight here, to take on the very exciting Caraballo. The unbeaten Caraballo has stopped everyone so far, including former world title challenger Christian Esquivel, and is a very dangerous fighter. Although technically gifted this is a very tough ask for Caraballo.
Hilton Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Also in the US we'll see the limited Jeronil Borres (11-5-1, 6), another Filipino fighter, take on unbeaten American Dylan Price (14-0, 10). The 26 year old Borres is now world beater, but he was very competitive against Matthew Griego last time out, also in the US, and will be looking to show what he can do against Price here. The 23 year old Price is a genuine prospect, and he has scored 3 wins already this year, with a 4th expected here. Although not a world beater Borres is better than a TKO1 loss to Junto Nakatani suggests, and he could ask questions of Price here, but we don't expect him to run the unbeaten man too close.
This coming Friday isn't a huge day for fans of Asian fighters, but there is plenty to get excited about, with several notable names, promising hopefuls and former world title challengers being involved.
York Hall, Bethnal Green, London, United Kingdom
One of the most interesting bouts sees touted Kazakh hopeful Tursynbay Kulakhmet (4-0, 3) defending his WBC International title against Juan Carlos Abreu (23-6-1, 21), in a mouth watering match up. There is not doubting Kulakhmet's potential, and he has looked fantastic at times, though is very much a developing fight and nothing close to the complete product, and we are really glad to see his team putting him in interesting match ups like this so early in his career. The 27 year old has the potential to fight at the top level and him being moved quickly is great to see. Abreu is no world beater, but he's heavy handed and has only been stopped once, by the then 25-0 Jaron Ennis, and a stoppage here would see Kulakhmet's reputation blossom rapidly.
Silver Spurs Arena, Kissimmee, Florida, USA
Whilst Kulakhmet is being moved quickly the same can't be said of Chinese Light Heavyweight Fanlong Meng (16-0, 10), who was set for a world title fight in 2020, and has now been out of the ring for 2 years! Sadly his return isn't against someone who will prepare him for a world title contest, but instead he'll face Panama's Israel Duffus (20-6, 17) in what should be little more than a rust shaking, stay busy bout for the Chinese fighter.
Also on this card will be Japan prospects Mikito Nakano (5-0, 4) and Kenji Fujita (1-0, 1), who will be making their US debuts, against yet to be named opponents. Nakano looks like he could be in the mix for a domestic title in the very near future, and looks to be a genuinely special talent. Fujita, who debuted earlier this year, has the tools to be put on the fast track, and it's going to be very exciting to see what he does to impress an American audience.
Sanman Gym, General Santos City, Philippines
Over in he Philippines we get an Asian show featuring several former world title challengers, in bouts that should end up being rather predictable and straight forward wins.
One of the former world title challengers on this show is Aston Palicte (27-4-1, 23), who will be up against Roland Jay Biendima (15-9-1, 8). Palicte, best known for his bouts with Donnie Nietes and Kazuto Ioka, should be too big, too strong and too powerful for Biendima, who has now lost 4 in a row. Palicte has won his last two, both at domestic level, and we suspect that the plan is to get some rounds here before stepping up in the new year and begin moving towards a third world title fight.
A second former world title challenger on this card is Richie Mepranum (35-8-1, 10), who will be up against the very limited Nicardo Calamba (9-32-5, 6). At his best Mepranum was a very solid boxer, but he's now been pout of the ring for close to two years and we can't help but feel his career is coming to a close. Despite that he should have way, way too much for Calamba here, and could end up retiring sooner rather than later.
A third world title challenger on this card is the incredibly talented Mark Anthony Barriga (10-1, 2), who is set to pick up an easy win here against the very, very limited Ramil Antaran (4-14-2). Barriga has the potential to win a world title, somewhere down the line, and should win this one very, very easily, but it's a real shame that he's fighting at such a low level. His talent deserves to much more, and hopefully in 2022 we see him facing off with one off the bigger names at either Minimumweight or Light Flyweight
Other mismatch with a notable fighter on this card will see the often under-rated Joey Canoy (16-5-1-1, 9) take on Michael Camelion (11-13-3, 9), in what again looks like a horrible mismatch. Canoy might not be a world beater, but he's not too far off world class and should be far, far, far too good for Camelion.
Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, Almaty, Kazakhstan
This coming Tuesday in Kazakhstan fight fans will be able to see an array of promising talent in action, though for the most part their opponents are nothing to be excited about and will not be regarded as hugely testing.
One of the promising youngsters is the unbeaten Nurdos Tolebay (6-0, 4), who has looked impressive so far though does need to step up sooner rather than later. He'll be in one of the main bouts on this show as he faces off with novice opponent Nauryzgali Nurmukhametov (1-0, 1), who debuted in September against a fellow debutant in a bout that lasted just a round. Tolebay has shown a lot to like, and the 20 year old clearly has the potential to go a long way, but we really ned to see him being tested sooner rather than later, and to us this doesn't seem likely to be much of a test.
Another brilliant youngster on this show is Talgat Shayken (5-0, 3), who will be expected to pick up a 6th straight win as he takes on limited 42 year old Omar Marabayev (1-9). This should be a very, very easy win for Shayken, who looks like a star in the making at the age of 21, but we wouldn't be surprised to see this one go a few rounds as Marabayev is not known for falling over, and has only been stopped by Magomed Kurbanov and Teerachai Kratingdenggym. This should be a one sided bout, but a chance to a chance to see Shayken staying busy, in what will be his third fight of the year.
Sadly Shayken's bout isn't the worst mismatch on the card, instead that honour seems to have fallen to a contest between Ray Seitzhanov (7-0, 4) and Umurbek Beknazarov (1-3). Beknazarov has been stopped 3 times this year, and yet to see round two in any of his 4 bouts. It'd be a surprise to see that change here, and we're expecting an early win for Seitzhanov.
Yet another talented youngster taking on a novice is Aidos Medet (7-0, 5), who faces off with the debuting Amirzhon Asozoda (0-0). As with the other bouts it seems a waste of time, and whilst we are glad to see Medet back in the ring it's time for him to step up, rather than wasting time on fights like this.
Yuto Sogo Gym, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan
After a busy Saturday in Asia things really cool down on Sunday with very, very little taking place during the day. The one exception to that is a small card in Hamamatsu.
In total the card is set to feature 7 bouts, but sadly 6 of those are scheduled for 4 rounds. The one exception to that is an 8 rounder between Katsuya Murakami (10-2-1, 3) and Shunji Nagata (12-19-2, 4). On paper this is a mismatch in favour of Murakami, who has a winning record and has some momentum behind him following his TKO victory, which came earlier this year against Daisuke Sudo. It is however not the foregone conclusion that it looks on paper, and the 36 year old Nagata is very much a live under-dog despite a number of recent losses. Nagata is experience, he knows how to handle himself in the ring and is the naturally bigger, heavier and stronger man. He'll look to rely on his experience and could well be a banana skin for Murakami here.
Wadong Gymnasium, Ansan, South Korea
The main card this coming Saturday comes from South Korea where we get an excellent card featuring a female world title fight, two minor regional title fights and several promising prospects.
The main event of the show will see WBO female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) defending her title, for the first time, against mandatory challenger Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (4-0, 1) of Vietnam. This champion won the title in spectacular fashion, knocking out Ayaka Miyao, but has at 40 years old and with just 3 fights since the start of 2019 it's hard to know what she has left, especially given how hard her career has been and how many wars she has been involved in. At her best Tada was one of the elite female fighters in the lower weights, but those years are well past her by now. Nguyen made her debut in 2015, but only really started taking the sport seriously as a professional in 2019, scoring 3 wins before the pandemic pretty much paused her career in early 2020. She has been lined up for a world title fight for well over a year, but due to the pandemic was unable to face Ayaka Miyao or Tada for the belt, and has had to wait until now for this opportunity. That has left her out of the ring for over 18 months. A full preview of this bout can be read here Tada travels to defend against Nguyen
The more notable of two WBO Oriental title bouts will see the world ranked Olimjon Nazarov (25-5, 14) defending his regional title against once beaten Filipino challenger Michael Mendoza (11-1-2, 4). The 35 year old champion is knocking on the door of a WBO world title fight, however he is ancient for a Flyweight, at 35, and he lacks the profile which would help him get a shot at the top. Notably he has aged well and is currently riding a 12 fight winning run coming into this bout. Mendoza is a relative unknown outside of Asia, but he has shown plenty to like and looked very impressive in his 2019 win over Kento Yabusaki, which is the only other time he's fought outside of the Philippines. He will go in to this as the under-dog, but is the much younger man, and knows that he has nothing to lose and everything to win. Expect to see Mendoza using his speed and movement, and Nazarov looking to use power and experience.
A second WBO Oriental title fight will be held at Minimumweight and see Vietnam's Minh Phat Sam (7-3, 5) take on former world title challenger ArAr Andales (12-2, 4), from the Philippines. Of the two men Andales is the more well known, having given Knockout CP Freshmart a tough test in 2019, but he has struggled since than win and is only 2-1 since losing to Knockout more than 3 years ago. He's certainly a talent but his career has lost all momentum in recent years. Phat on the other hand is is a man who struggled early on in his career, but is 7-1 in his last 8, albeit against very low level competition. This bout is a chance for Phat to make a name for himself, but he will be a a very clear under-dog.
In other bouts on this card we'll see once beaten Uzbekistani prospect Abdurasul Ismoilov (8-1, 5) clash with Korean fighter Moo Hyun Kim (8-1, 4), in what looks like a fantastic 50-50 style bout whilst unbeaten Uzbekistani puncher Abdulazizbek Najmiddinov (7-0, 6) takes on Sung Hun Kim (1-4), in what should be an easy win for Najmiddinov
The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
As well as the show in South Korea we also have an interesting card in the Philippines, headlined by an excellent regional title bout, and also featuring a strong of notable names on the under-cards.
The main event will see former world title challenger Giemel Magramo (24-2, 20) look to bounce back from his 2020 loss to Junto Nakatani as he takes on Jayr Raquinel (12-1-1, 9), in a bout for the vacant OPBF Flyweight title. The talented and heavy handed Magramo was made to look third rate against Nakatani and will be looking to avoid another loss here, though with a lot of inactivity and his confidence likely to be at a low point following that loss it's hard to know just what he'll be like here. Raquinel, a former OPBF Flyweight champion, is a man who has been easy to over-look, but is a very live fighter with solid power and no fear of fighting as the under-dog. Sadly Raquinel has fought just twice since the start of 2019, and is horribly inactive, but the 24 year old southpaw will know a win gets his career back on track. This could be a very, very exciting bout and is one of the best all-Filipino match ups of 2021. Our in depth preview of this one can be read here Magramo and Raquinel battle for OPBF honours!
The chief support bout will be another bout as another member of the Magramo clan, this time Arvin Magramo (12-1-1, 8), takes on the once beaten Jerry Francisco (9-1, 2) for the lightly regarded WBO Oriental Light Flyweight title. The talented Magramo has bounced back well since suffering a split decision loss to Garen Diagan back in 2018, winning 4 bouts in a row to get his career back in track. Incidentally Francisco's only loss has also come to Diagan, losing a technical decision to Diagan in 2019. Since that loss Francisco has bounced back with two wins, but they have come at a very low level and he should, really enter this bout as the under-dog
Another man who came up short in a world title bout is Juan Miguel Elorde (28-2, 15) , who is best known for losing to Emanuel Navarrete in 2019. The once touted Elorde, who is Flash Elorde's grandson, will be fighting for the first time since losing to Navarrete and should be picking up a very, very easy win as he takes on Aroel Romasasa (11-9, 5). Although not world class, or even close to it, Elorde is a solid and decent fighter whilst Romasasa is man who has lost his last 8, hasn't win since 2010 and hasn't fought since 2016, and that's not likely to change here.
Another former world title challenger on this card is Jonathan Taconing (28-4-1, 22), who fights for the first time since being stopped in 2019 by Kenshiro Teraji. The hard hitting 34 year old south paw is now likely past his best, but should still have far, far too much for 38 year old journeyman Albert Alcoy (15-28-8, 5), who is 1-14-3 in his last 18 bouts! Taconing is unlikely to get another world title fight, but he should get a win here.
Ghani Sports Football Club, Karachi, Pakistan
We're set to get a show from Pakistan, albeit at a much, much lower level, as Pakistani boxing continues its slow and gradual domestic development.
The proof of how lacking the Pakistani domestic scene currently is can be seen in the fact the card is set to feature a bout between Shahir Afridi (2-0-1) and Haroon Khan (1-3, 1), who clash for the national Middleweight title. Afridi, struggled to a win last time out and has never beaten anyone with a win to their name, whilst Khan's last fight was a loss at Welterweight. Fingers crossed the domestic scene improves as this sort of a "title fight" does little to help the Pakistani scene.
Also on the card will be the unbeaten Taimoor Khan (3-0, 2), a very rare Pakistani Heavyweight hopeful who is looking to step up into an 8 rounder for the first time and battle for the Pakistan national Heavyweight title. Sadly however no opponent has been named at the time of writing, suggesting that his opponent will not be a notable one, or a testing one. Again not a great way to crown a national champion.
IPI Compound, Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines
This coming Friday attention turns to Mandaue City in Cebu for a Filipino card featuring some really promising and fun to watch fighters. Sadly the bouts aren't all great match ups, but in some cases it's a case of a guy getting a run out before bigger and better things down the line.
The biggest name on this card is fringe world title contender Christian Araneta (20-2, 16), who will be up against Arnold Garde (10-10-3, 4) in what should be little more than a confidence building, stay busy bout for Araneta. The talented Pinoy puncher was unlucky in April, when he lost a razor thin decision against Sivenathi Nontshinga, and this will be his second bout since that loss as he continues to tick over. Garde on the other hand was, once, a serviceable fighter but has started to pick loss after loss and is 1-6-1 in his last 8, with 4 of those losses coming inside the distance.
In a much better looking bout we'll see the exciting Tomjune Mangubat (14-2-1, 11) take on the once beaten Allan Villanueva (11-1, 8) in what looks like a genuinely excellent match up. The talented Mangubat is an exciting fighter to watch, has solid power and is in good form, having won his last 3 since a thrilling loss to Jong Seon Kang in 2019. Villanueva on the other hand will see this as a chance to give his career a huge shot in the arm, something he likely feels he needs following a loss last time out to Carlo Bacaro, this past March. He had won his first 11, but then took a lengthy break from the ring, and the loss on his return to Bacaro will hopefully fire him up coming in to this one.
Lower down the card we'll see the once beaten Franco Serafica (6-1, 3) take on John Kenan Villaflor (8-7-4, 2), who is much better than his record suggests, and the unbeaten Benny Canete (3-0, 2) taking on Mark Jequinto (4-7-1).
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Wednesday we get more action from Korakuen all as the Kaneko Gym put on a small show, but a fairly notable one, headlined by a Japanese Youth title fight and featuring some very promising Japanese prospects.
The main event will see the flawed but hugely entertaining Takahiro Tai (3-0, 3) take on the talented, but light punching, Fumiya Fuse (10-1, 1) in a bout for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title. The men fight very, very differently to each other, with Fuse relying on speed, combinations and accurate shots whilst Tai likes to entertain, with switch hitting, showboating and throwing very little other than bombs looking to leave an impression, but their style should gel really well here and deliver something resembling an action war. Our preview of this bout can be read here Fuse and Tai battle for Youth title
In the chief support bout the promising Yuya Oku (1-0, 1) will look to build on his impressive debut, which lasted just 50 seconds, as he takes on Yuya Azuma (5-6-1, 1). Azuma tends to be a durable and tough foe, but a technically limited one, and we suspect Oku will go for an early finish, realise Azuma is not going to fold and end up cruising to a wide decision win. Oku is certainly a talent and we should see what he's all about here.
Another notable novice on this card is Yuri Kanaya (0-0), who makes his debut against JBC ranked foe Sora Takeda (6-2, 1). The 25 year old Kanaya went 35-17 (10) in the unpaid ranks and will be looking to impress now he's turned professional, and a win over a JBC ranked opponent on debut would be an impressive way to kick things off. Takeda on the other hand is looking to bounce back from a January loss to Katsuki Mori, in what was a genuinely fantastic 8 rounder. Although Kanaya was a good amateur this is a very tough debut and Takeda has the tools to be a banana skin here in what could be a bit of a hidden gem of a bout.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday attention turns to Japan, as Korakuen Hall hosts a show featuring two title bouts and the debut of an excellent youngster.
The more notable of the two title bouts will see unbeaten youngsters collide as Andy Hiraoka (17-0, 12) takes on the hard hitting Jin Sasaki (11-0, 10) in a bout for the Japanese and WBP Asia Pacific Light Welterweight titles. We suspect plenty of international fans will be aware of Hiraoka, who has featured on several US cards due to a co-promotional deal with Top Rank, and of the two men he is the more polished and the experienced, however he has shown that he can be caught and he's only had 3 bouts in the last 27 months and we wonder if he will have some ring rust. Sasaki on the other hand is known by those who follow the Japanese scene, and will have seen him break out last year. He is a raw, crude, puncher, but he really does have dynamite in his hands, stopping his last 5 opponents in a combined 8 rounds, with 4 of those wins coming since the start of 2020. This one should be fire works, with both having very solid power, and having enough flaws for the other man to target. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hiraoka and Sasaki risk unbeaten records in double title fight!
On the subject of fire works we're also expecting them in the other title fight, as OPBF Bantamweight champion Kazuki Nakajima (10-0-1, 8) takes on former champion Keita Kurihara (15-6, 13). Both of these men are very flawed in their own way, with Nakajima being very upright and stiff and Kurihara being slow of foot and open, but both men can seriously bang and throw almost all of their shots with nasty intent. The bout is less likely to be a boxing contest, and more of a fire fight, with one a single power shot needed to light the touch paper. Of the two men Nakajima is the more technically polished and "correct" fighter, but Kurihara is the more proven and battle hardened. This really could be an explosive, and short, encounter between two men looking to move onwards and upwards towards a potential world title fight. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Fireworks expected as Nakajima defends against Kurihara!
In a supporting bout we'll see Japanese ranked Super Featherweight's clash as Katsunori Endo (7-3-1, 4) takes on veteran Ribo Takahata (16-9-1, 6). Aged Takahata is coming to the end of his career, and we wouldn't be surprised if he bowed out after this fight, win or lose. Whilst never a major star in Japan he has been a very good servant to Japanese boxing and his career really does get over-looked, as he has managed to perform at a good level at an age where most fighters retire. Aged 30 Endo is the much younger fighter, but also the man with a point to prove after a very disappointing draw last time out to Ken Koibuchi. This should be a solid fight, maybe not the most exciting, but certainly a competitive one.
One other bout worthy of some attention is the debut of Kaiyu Toyoshima (0-0), who went 60-20 (15) in the amateurs, captained his University team and looked like a star in the making. He'll be up against Shohei Horii (3-6-2, 2), who was last seen losing to Toyoshima's Ohashi Gym stablemate Ryutaro Nakagaki last year. It's hard to imagine anything but a Toyoshima win, but this is a great chance for the youngster to settle into the pro ranks before bigger and better things down the line.
Dhalpur Ground, India
As well as the excellent show in Tokyo we also have a small card in India. The card really is a very, very limited one with the main event being a bout between Suraj (2-2, 1) and the win-less Nawid Mohammadi (0-1), who battle over 6 rounds. It's hard to complain about bouts like this headlining in places like India, where professional boxing is in it's infancy, but it's also hard to care too much about such low quality cards. Hopefully, in the coming years, shows will be headlines by meaningful bouts between established local talent, but that seems a very, very, very long way off.