Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday attention turns to Korakuen Hall for the next card from Ichiriki Promotions. The card is certainly not the deepest or the biggest, but it is an interesting one, with a potentially explosive main event, and a really solid chief support bout.
The main event will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (16-6-1, 14) taking on the once touted Kai Chiba (13-3, 8), in a bout that promises a lot of action, but also features two men who really need a win. Kurihara is 1-1-1 in his last 3, and whilst that does include a notable win over Kazuki Nakajima for the title he was lucky to escape with a technical draw against Yukinori Oguni in May, albeit in a non-title fight, and he has lost a lot of momentum since the start of the pandemic. As for Chiba he was tipped highly early in his career but has lost 2 of his last 3, and another loss here will see him being pushed a long, long from another notable fight. Both of these guys can fight, but of the two it feels like this is the champion's fight to lose, rather than Chiba's to win. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here OPBF king Kurihara clashes with Chiba
In the co-feature veteran tough guy Akihiro Kondo (34-10-2, 19) will face off with the under-rated, and usually fun to watch, Tatsuya Yanagi (18-7-2, 7). The 37 year old Kondo, who is best known for his 2017 bout with Sergey Lipinets, has had mixed fortune since 2018, though notably won the OPBF title at 140lbs back in June with a surprise win over Koichi Aso. He won't be defending his title here, but will be looking to build on that title win and score his third straight win, which would make this his longest winning run since the bout with Lipinets. As for Yanagi he is 2-2-1 in his last 5 but does make for fun bouts with an aggressive style and gave Kondo a solid clash in 2019, with this rematch likely being viewed as a chance for him to avenge that loss. Aged 32 Yanagi isn't "old" as such, but has had a tough career and has taken punishment over his 27 bouts, suggesting his career might also be coming to an end, and this could be the only window for the rematch with Kondo.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday fight fans at Korakuen Hall get an interesting card, with two solid title bouts and two interesting bouts featuring prospects.
The main event of the card will see hard hitting Lightweight champion Shu Utsuki (10-0, 8) take on the highly skilled Izuki Tomioka (7-5-1, 2), in what will be Utsuki's first defense. Utsuki won the title earlier this year, when he stopped Masahiro Suzuki in 9 rounds, and rather than taking on an easy opponent with a style that could make him look amazing he's taking on an awkward, quick boxer who has a style that could well make him look limited. As for Tomioka this is a third shot at a title, and whilst he's come up short in his previous two he has been very competitive, before being stopped, with Shuichiro Yoshino and Masayoshi Nakatani, suggesting he could be a nightmare for Utsuki as well. Our in depth preview of this bout Utsuki seeks first defense of Japanese title as he takes on Tomioka
The other title bout will see OPBF Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso (25-9-1, 16) defending his belt against fellow veteran Akihiro Kondo (33-10-2, 18), in what could be a genuinely thrilling war. Both of these men are heading towards retirement, both have slowed and are edging towards 40 years old. However their styles, even at an advanced age, should gel with Aso being an aggressive pressure fighter letting shots go and using physicality whilst Kondo is a slower, more intelligent fighter who relied on timing and ring craft. The slowing feet of both men, and their styles should lead to something of an intense and thrilling action bout. Our preview of this bout can be read here OPBF king Aso takes on tough veteran Kondo!
In a notably supporting bout the once touted Go Hosaka (5-1, 3) looks to bounce back from his October loss to Ryo Nakai as he takes on the experienced Kazuma Sanpei (20-7, 9). When he turned professional, in the Philippines, Hosaka was tipped for big things and he looked like one to keep an eye on straight from his 2018 debut. Sadly however the closure of the ALA Gym and the pandemic really slowed his ascent and he hasn't looked good in either of bouts in Japan, a narrow win over Kanta Fukui and the loss to Sakai. As for Sanpei he's got a good looking record, but has lost his most notable bouts and is 1-2 in his last 3 with his last notable win coming back in 2019. He needs a win to remain genuinely relevant, but it's fair to say that he's been selected as the opponent here to give Hosaka's career the boost it needs. A loss for Hosaka really would be the destroy the expectation for him as a prospect.
Another supporting bout will see former Japanese amateur sensation Ryusei Baba (1-0) fight in his second professional bout, as he takes on the hard hitting Shugo Namura (5-1, 5). Baba, who really was a stand out amateur winning an All Japan crown and competing internationally, is expected to be moved quickly through the ranks with big bouts expected sooner rather than later. As for Namura, the hard hitting 27 year old has scored all 5 of his wins in the first 2 rounds, but has come up short against his only notable opponent, with Akira Hoshuyama beating him in the the East Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2020. If Baba can see out the opening two rounds, he should get the chance to shine here and take a controlled victory to move his career forward.
Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan
Over the last decade or so it has become tradition for Japan to host the last major boxing event of the year, with at least one big show on New Year's Eve. That's the case again this year, as we get a 4 fight card in Tokyo to close out 2021, and move us into what should, hopefully, be a much, much, much better year. The show isn't headlined by the bout we wanted, or even expected just a month ago, but as has been the case form much of the year, those in charge of the event have done the best with what they have to not just put on a show, but also give action that we want and that should, fingers crossed, end the year with some excitement.
The four fight card is a very top heavy one, and whilst the main event is clearly the highlight, there is one under-card bout want to put some attention on before discussing the main bout.
That under-card contest is an 8 rounder at a contracted 64.5Kg's, or 142.2lbs, between struggling veteran Akihiro Kondo (32-10-2, 18) and 22 year old Aso Ishiwaki (9-4-1, 7), who needs a win to build on his September victory over Yuichiro Kasuya. Kondo, best known for his IBF world title bout with Sergey Lipinets, is now 36 and has gone 1-3-1 in his last 5, but he has fought at a decent level, and fought to a draw in a Japanese title fight a year ago. Ishiwaki, one of the most fun to watch Japanese guys in and around 140lbs, on the other hand last back to back fights before his win over Kasuya and knows a win here will help re-establish him on the domestic scene. This might not be a huge bout internationally, but it should make for a thrilling domestic clash for the fans in attendance.
As for the main event that will see Kazuto Ioka (27-2, 15) defending his WBO Super Flyweight title against Ryoji Fukunaga (15-4, 14), who was a very late replacement for IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas. We were supposed to see a world title unification bout here, but that got scrapped after the Omicron variant emerged, and led to Japan closing it's borders, preventing Ancajas to travel to Japan. As a result Fukunaga got the call for the biggest fight of his career and, understandably, said yes. Although Fukunaga is a huge downgrade from Ancajas, the challenger is a former triple crown winner, having won the WBO Asia Pacific, OPBF and Japanese titles at 115lbs, and is heavy handed. Sadly though he is stepping up in class, massively to take on of the divisional elite. Ioka will have to fight off disappointment, seeing his unification with Ancajas fall apart, and if he does that he should dominate Fukunaga here, but there is, a chance, he could over-look Fukunaga, and if he does that this could be a very dangerous bout for him. Our in depth preview of this bout is available to watch here Ioka faces Fukunaga to end 2021
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Action is back at Korakuen Hall this coming Monday for a small card from Ichiriki Promotions. Sadly the card has lost it's main event, which we'll mention in the moment, but it still has some relatively well matched domestic level bouts on it.
The planned main event was a bout at 140lbs between Vladimir Baez (26-6-2, 24) and former world title contender Akihiro Kondo (32-10-2, 18), in what had the potential to be an 8 round action bout. Baez's aggression and power against Kondo's toughness and desire could have made for a very nice bout, but Baez was forced to pull out of the bout well in advance of the show.
As a result of Baez pulling out the 8 rounder between Tatsuya Yanagi (17-7-2, 7) and Tsuyoshi Ozawa (15-4-1, 2) has become the new main event, and although not an amazing match up, it should be a very interesting one. The 32 year old Yanagi comes in to the bout with JBC and OPBF rankings but was stopped last time out and is 2-2-1 in his last 5 bouts, dating back more than 3 years. Ozawa, now aged 36, took a long break from the ring between 2012 and 2021, but did look solid in his return bout in July and will know that this is a huge opportunity for him to move towards a title fight. At his best Ozawa was a nightmare, and he'll know he could pick up a ranking here.
Another ranked fighter on this card is Kosuke Ando (9-3, 4), who will be risking his WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight ranking as he takes on Yuta Nakayama (8-4-1, 5). The 29 year old Ando is coming in on the back of a solid win over Shuri Hasebe and will know that he's only a couple of wins away from a potential title fight. As for Nakayama he'll be fighting for the first time since losing in a WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title bout, against Ryota Yamauchi. Interestingly Nakayama has been stopped in 3 of his last 5, and hasn't heard the final bell in his last 6 bouts.
A third fight of note on this show will see JBC ranked 140lb fighter Hokuto Matsumoto (7-4, 1) take on former Japanese title challenger Ryuji Ikeda (14-7-4, 9). Coming in to the bout Matsumoto is ranked #6 by the JBC and will feel he's within touching distance of a Japanese title shot, helped by his recent win over Shinnosuke Saito. Ikeda on the other hand is without a win in his last 4 bouts, and was stopped in two of those, by Koki Inoue and Aso Ishiwaki. Ikeda seems to be on the way out, but a win here could revive his career.
This coming Friday is a small but notable day in Asia, with a potentially very exciting, but easy to over-look show in Tokyo and an Uzbek hopeful getting a chance to show what they can do.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The card in Tokyo is small one but a pretty notable one.
The main event here will see former world title challenger Akihiro Kondo (32-9-2, 18) take on Japanese Brazilian Cristiano Aoqui (15-8-2, 11) in what should be a really exciting and action packed bout. The tough and aggressive Kondo is certainly a rough around the edges fighter but is rugged, comes to fight, and can be a nightmare for much better fighters, as we saw against Sergey Lipinets. As for Aoqui he's not the best fighter out there, but he's explosive, exciting and hard hitting. Aoqui is, like Kondo, quite rough around the edges, but his style should gel with Kondo's to give us something brilliant to watch. This will be Kondo's pressure and toughness against Aoqui's explosive aggression.
In the chief support bout the once beaten Takuya Uehara (16-1,10) will be looking to bounce back from a 2018 loss to Satoshi Shimizu. Uehara has sadly been out of the ring for well over 2 years but will be looking to prove a point here and get his career back on track. In the opposite corner to Uehars will be Ryusei Ishii (8-6-1, 5), who has been very out of sortes in recent bouts and is 2-4-1 in his last 7.
Reed Arena, College Station, Texas, USA
As well as the action in Japan we're also expecting to see some action in the US of interest as once beaten Uzbek fighter Jamshidbek Najmitdinov (16-1, 13) makes his US debut. Although not a well known fighter Najmitdinov is a very dangerous fighter, and is well over-due a chance to show what he can do on a big stage. The now 31 year old is not among the top amateurs from Uzbekistan, but he is someone who should be more well known and was legitimately robbed in 2017 when he faced Viktor Postol in Ukraine. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent for this bout hasn't been confirmed, though hopefully it will be someone capable of asking him questions, as he can ill afford to waste more time with mismatches.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday fight fans in Tokyo will get the next Diamond Glove show and it's an interesting one, with a Japanese title fight in the main event and two solid prospects in supporting bouts. It's not a massive card, and features just 4 bouts in total, but it is one worthy of attention.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Daishi Nagata (15-2-1, 6) make his first defense, as he takes on veteran Akihiro Kondo (32-9-1, 18). The talented Nagata won the title in July when he scored a major upset victory over Koki Inoue, stopping Inoue who then retire from boxing. That was the highlight of a career that had promise a lot but had seen Nagata suffer from some misfortune, including a draw with Takeshi Inoue and a razor thin loss to Rikki Naito. At 30 years old we are hoping to see Nagata kick on, and have a solid reign with this title, and potentially a rematch Naito. Kondo on the other hand is a 35 year old who has shown his age recently. Losses to Downua Ruawaiking and Andy Hiraoka in 2019 have left his career hanging by a thread, and another loss here likely sends him into retirement in 2021. Although we do strongly favour a Nagata here it needs to be said that Kondo is tough, a veteran, knows how to handle himself in the ring and can make for exciting match ups due to his style and toughness. Our in depth preview of this one can be read here Nagata seeks first defense as he goes up against tough guy Kondo
In the chief support bout we'll see fast rising prospect Rentaro Kimura (2-0, 2) return for his third bout of the year as he takes on Thunder Teruya (7-7-1, 4) at Korakuen Hall. Kimura, who debuted in an empty Korakuen Hall a few months ago, has looked really impressive, and looks like a man capable of being fast tracked to titles next year. In many ways we had hoped he was going up against a better fighter than Teruya here, but in reality this should be regarded as a showcase for fans who haven't yet seen him. He's a real natural with amazing balance, footwork, timing and every punch in the book. Despite being the very, very, clear under-dog Teruya comes into this bout on the back of 3 straight wins and 5 wins in his last 6. He has got some momentum going for him and is the naturally bigger fighter, but he is going to be in with a sensational fighter.
Another prospect on this card is the once beaten Tsubasa Murachi (5-1, 3), who is in a very good looking bout here against Isao Aoyama (12-7-1, 3), in a bout which sees both men entering as Japanese ranked fighters. Of the two men the 23 year old Murachi is the one regarded as the bigger hope and the brighter talent, despite a brutal 2019 TKO loss to Froilan Saludar in a regional title fight. Since his sole loss he has bounced back with a single win, over Ryotaro Kawabata, and looked very good in that bout. The 31 year old Aoyama has had mixed success, going 4-4 in his last 8, but has shown enough to suggest that he should be able to ask questions of Murachi. He'll be a clear under-dog, but will certainly be there to win and will feel he has the experience to deal with Murachi.
The other bout on this card will be a female bout between Nanako Suzuki (4-2, 1) and Megumi Hosoda (3-1), in what should be an entertaining 6 round female war between two JBC ranked fighters.
The big show this coming Friday comes from Japan, where the Korakuen Hall plays host to an interest, but low key, card which will be put online through the A Sign boxing youtube channel.
The main event is a a really interesting match up between hard hitting Japanese fighter Keita Kurihara (14-5, 12) and world ranked Thai foe Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (24-10, 16). Kurihara is 11-1 since his unremarkable 3-4 start to the pros, and claimed the OPBF Bantamweight title last year, a belt that he has defended once. Although this isn't a title defense for Kurihgara it is a significant bout. Sukkasem is no world beater but can be a handful and is world ranked by the IBF, so have a real reason to bit down on his gum shield and go for this, knowing that a win will take him one step closer to a world title shot. We expect this one to be a very, very interesting match up.
After back to back losses Akihiro Kondo (31-9-1, 18) will be hoping to rebuild his confidence as he goes up against Tatsuya Yanagi (16-5-2, 6). This year has been a bad one for Kondo, who was stopped by Downua Ruawaiking in February before being out pointed by Andy Hiraoka in July. Yanagi on the other hand is on a 6 fight unbeaten run, going 5-0-1 (2), including an excellent recent win over Koichi Aso. This is really a must win for the 34 year old Kondo, and another loss here is likely to send him into retirement.
The potential hidden gem on this card will see recent Japanese Light Welterweight title challenger Ryuji Ikeda (14-6-3, 9) going up against aggressive youngster Aso Ishiwaki (7-2-1, 5). Although Ikeda has fought at a higher level than Ishiwaki he hasn't shined in recent contests, going 3-4-2 in his last 9 bouts. On the other hand Ishiwaki looks like a really promising youngster, who appears to be the crown in Nobuhiro Ishida's stable of fighters. Ishiwaki is tough, heavy handed, aggressive and we see him as being a force for the future, and a win here would be huge for his career.
Mindoro Occidental, Philippines
As well as the card in Tokyo, there is also a show in the Philippines. The details for this are lacking at the time of writing, but the main event is a genuinely mouth watering match up between a former world title challenger and another notable Filipino fighter.
That main event will see recent WBA Minimumweight title challenger ArAr Andales (10-1, 2) look to rebuild from his recent loss to Knockout CP Freshmart as he takes on the tough, but out of form, Joel Lino (10-3-1, 3) in a bout for the GAB Minimumweight title. The now 20 year old Andales began his career 10-0 before losing a technical decision to Knokcout CP Freshmart this past August, in a bout that was very hotly contest. We suspect he'll be the big favourite here. On the other hand the 24 year old Lino has lost his last 3, with losses to Masataka Taniguchi in 2019 and defeats to Ginjiro Shigeoka and Toto Landero this year. Those 3 losses have seen Lino fall from 10-0-1 but he will feel like this is his chance to get back to winning ways. This is certainly a very interesting all-Filipino bout.
The big show of the day this coming Friday is Osaka where Teiken put in a title triple header, featuring two world title bouts.
The main event of this card is the rematch between American Rob Brant (25-1, 17) and Japanese star Ryota Murata (14-2, 11), with Brant looking to make his second defense of the WBA Regular Middleweight title, a title he took from Murata last year. This is a really tough bout for Murata, who will know another loss to Brant likely ends his career, whilst a win could open up a huge opportunity for a bout in a Japanese dome at the end of the year. For Murata this is a must win, whilst for Brant it's a bout he is expected to win, especially given how easily he beat Murata the first time around. A full preview of this bout is available here Brant and Murata go again, but will the outcome be any different?
The other world title bout on the card will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (15-0, 8) defending his title against mandatory challenger Jonathan Taconing (28-33-1, 11). The unbeaten champion will be seeking his 6th defense and a chance to take a huge step towards a potential unification bout with Hiroto Kyoguchi at the end of the year, a bout both men have spoken about. Although Kenshiro is in great form we expect Taconing to ask questions of the champion we've never seen Kenshiro answer, and Taconing poses a real threat as a hard hitting and teak tough southpaw. Taconing can be out boxed, but he is a very dangerous threat to Kenshiro. Our preview of this show down is here Kenshiro takes on hard hitting Filipino challenger Taconing!
The third title bout on this card will see Filipino visitor Joe Noynay (17-2-1, 6) look to record his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title, as he takes on 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (8-0, 8). The bout sees Noynay return to Japan following his impressive title win over Kosuke Saka whilst Shimizu moves up in weight and tests the water at Super Featherweight. A full in depth preview of this bout can be read here Noynay takes on hard hitting Shimizu in regional title defense!
Also on this card is touted prospect Shokichi Iwata (2-0, 1) who looks to extend his perfect start as he battles 23 year old Filipino Paolo Sy (6-3-1, 3). Iwata was a fabulous amateur, scoring wins against the likes of Kosei Tanaka and Takuma Inoue among others, and has shown a lot of promise already, but this looks like his stiffest test so far. Sy is no world beater in the making but should ask some questions of Iwata.
As well as the show in Osaka there is also a good one in Tokyo as we get a female world title fight and an interesting cross roads fight.
The female world title fight sees the great Naoko Fujioka (18-2, 7) defending her WBA female Flyweight title against veteran Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15), who is looking to become a 3 weight champion her self. Fujioka is among the few true female legends of boxing, having won world titles from Minimumweight to Bantamweight, but she's now at an advanced age and we wonder how long she can keep putting on top performances. On the other hand Tsunami has had an incredibly hard career, and that will catch up with her sooner or later. Our preview of this female clash can be read here Fujioka and Tsunami meet in clash for WBA crown!
In a really good looking support bout we'll see veteran Akihiro Kondo (31-8-1, 18) take on youngster Andy Hiraoka (13-0, 9). The tough Kondo, a former world title challenger, was last seen being stopped by Downua Ruawaiking in an IBF world title eliminator and he will be desperate to put that loss behind him and pick up a win here. For Hiraoka this is a great opportunity to get himself a major win and move towards a major title fight, as he looks to add to the Japanese Youth title he won in 2017. Our preview for this bout can be read here Kondo looks to bounce back whilst Hiraoka looks for big win
Also on this card is Seiryu Toshikawa (10-5, 6), who is criminally under-rated. Despite not having a great record Toshikawa is a very talented 23 year old who is looking to bounce back from a split decision loss to Shawn Oda in late 2018. His opponent will be Filipino puncher Junny Salogaol (14-16-5, 13), a late replacement though a man who was training for a now cancelled fight in Japan in late June.
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
From Japan to Saudi Arabia as we see boxing join the WWE in an the attempt of becoming part of the sporting propaganda of the Saudi government. Whilst this card isn't one we'll be focusing a lot on, especially given the action in Japan, it is still a show which will get a lot of attention, especially in the West.
The main event will see Amir Khan (33-5, 20) take on Billy Dib (45-5-0-2, 26) in a match that was put together on about 3 weeks notice. Originally Khan was going to Indian face Neeraj Goyat (11-3-2, 2) in a bout being sold on the Indian vs Pakistan rivalry, and was originally set to be for the WBC Pearl title. Goyat suffered an injury in a car accident weeks before the fight and Dib, a former Featherweight world champion, moved up the card to fill the position left by Goyat. Originally Dib was to face Indonesian fighter Carlos Lopez, so he has clearly landed a much better pay day here. Sadly the WBC Pearl title will no longer be on the line, and the bout will instead be for the WBC International Welterweight crown.
A more interesting bout on this card, at least terms of competitiveness, will see unbeaten and exciting Filipino Dave Penalosa (15-0, 11) take on South African foe Lerato Dlamini (12-1, 6) for the WBC Silver Featherweight title. This is a big step up for Penalosa who hasn't really scored a win of note. On the other hand the South African holds a really notable win over Simpiwe Vetyeka from 2017 and will feel that that bout will have prepared him for a bout like this against Penalosa.
Others on this card include Uzbek hopeful Shakhobidin Zoirov (2-0, 2), who has been very impressive in his professional career so far.
All the way over in Florida we'll get the chance to see a couple of unbeaten Kazakh fighters attempt to continue their run onwards and upwards.
The more notable of the two is Heavyweight hopeful Ivan Dychko (8-0, 8), who takes on Nate Heaven (9-2, 7). The talented, yet awful badly promoted Dychko, was originally pencilled in to fight Raphael Zumbano (39-16-1, 31) though Zumbano was later replaced by Heaven, who should pose of a test. Sadly for Dychko, a former amateur star, his competition has been awful and his activity has been less than great, and he's falling a long way behind some of his amateur contemporaries, such as Filip Hrgovic, Tony Yoka and Joe Joyce. If he stops Heaven, as expected, it's then a must for Dychko to step up in class.
The other Kazakh on this card is Mussa Tursyngaliyev (9-0, 6), who is pencilled in for a major step up in class as he takes on former world title challenger Ricardo Nunez (29-9, 23). On paper this looks a really tough match up for the unbeaten Tursyngaliyev however it should be noted that Nunez had his best wins down at Flyweight and Super Flyweight, and Tursyngaliyev is at Featherweight. Natural size difference will likely be the key between these two here.
Attention turns to the Korakuen Hall this coming Monday as we get an IBF world title eliminator at 140lbs as well as a must win bout for a former Japanese title challenger.
The main event is the aforementioned world title eliminator, which will see teak tough Japanese veteran Akihiro Kondo (31-7-1, 18) battle against unbeaten Thai Downua Ruawaiking (14-0, 11), with the winner getting a shot at the IBF Light Welterweight title. The Japanese fighter came to the attention of international fans in 2017, when he battled Sergey Lipinets in a surprisingly competitive contest, and since then has scored a couple low profile stoppages whilst staying busy. Downua on the other hand is a touted Thai hopeful who hasn't fought major names, but has impressed and was really sharp in December, when he stopped Sonny Katiandagho in 3 rounds to defend the IBF Pan Pacific Light Welterweight title. The Thai is a heavy handed fighter, with good speed and timing, but this is a big step up for him. We're looking forward to this one, a lot, even if neither man would be regarded as a serious test for any of the current world champions. Our preview of this bout is available here Kondo and Downua battle in IBF eliminator!
The chief support bout will see former Japanese Lightweight title challenger Masashi Noguchi (12-11-1, 6) fighting in a must win contest. Noguchi has lost his last 6, including a stoppage losses to Shuhei Tsuchiya, Satoshi Hosono and Reiya Abe, and another loss likely ends his career. In the opposite corner to Noguchi will be Tasuku Nakagawa (7-4-1, 3), who has lost 3 of his last 4 and needs a win of his own. This is a real must win for both men.
This coming Saturday sees a new month begin, and it kicks off in stylee with a strong card from the Korakuen Hall.
The main event of card will see the Japanese Bantamweight title finally have a champion crowned, after having been vacated in January by Ryo Akaho and having seen several bouts to crown a new champion fall through. The void at the top of domestic scene will be filled by either Yuta Saito (10-9-3, 7) or Eita Kikuchi (21-5-4, 8) who will both see this as a massive opportunity to claim a national title. Saito was supposed to face Suguru Muranaka for the title earlier in the year before Muranaka pulled out due to making weight. Kikuchi on the other will be getting his first title bout since losing to Shingo Wake in an OPBF title fight way back in 2013. The winner of this will likely enter 2019 with a target on their back, but will have claimed the biggest win of their career.
The leading support bout will see former Japanese and OPBF champion Charles Bellamy (27-3-2, 18) taking on Yuto Shimizu (12-3-2, 5) in a bout between Japanese ranked fighters. The hard hitting Bellamy has struggled for activity in recent years but is devastating at this level and will know, at the age of 36, that he really only has more run left in his body. A win over Shimizu will not assure Bellamy of a title shot, but will move him much closer to one. As for Shimizu this will only be his third fight since the start of 2016, and his first of note since losing to Yuki Nonaka more than 2 years ago. At 30 years old Shimizu has got youth on his side but would need a career best performance to pick up a win here.
In another notable supporting bout we'll see the very talented Reiya Abe (17-2, 8) battle against Masashi Noguchi (12-10-1, 6). Originally the plan had been for Abe to fight in a Japanese Featherweight title eliminator but with no suitable opponents being able and free he's fighting a bit of a stay busy bout whilst awaiting for a title fight, likely in 2019. Abe is currently riding a 9 fight winning streak, which saw him avenge one of his defeats and over-come the likes of Tsuyoshi Tameda and Satoshi Hosono. Noguchi is a former Japanese title challenger, but comes into this bout on the back of 5 straight losses. Noguchi has no momentum coming into this and has been hand selected to keep Abe busy, but won't be expected to offer much competition.
Arguably the biggest single name on this card is recent world title contender Akihiro Kondo (30-7-1, 17), who will be looking to tick over with a stay busy fight of his own. The teak tough Kondo will be up against domestic journeyman Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-11-1, 9) in what should be Kondo's second victory since losing in 2017 to Sergey Lipinets in an IBF title fight. Miyazaki has been stopped in 8 of his 11 losses and we suspect to see another loss here for the 34 year old. Miyazaki has got power, but given the toughness of Kondo we don't think that will matter too much in this bout.
On paper one of the more even match ups will see the in form Ryohei Takahashi (15-3-1, 6) take on Shingo Kusano (11-6-1, 4), who is one of the two men to hold a win over the aforementioned Reiya Abe. Takahashi has rebuilt well since suffering an August 2017 defeat, and was last seen scoring an upset win in Thailand against Mike Tawatchai for a regional IBF title. Kusano on the other hand has been stopped in his last 2 bouts and is without a win since February 2016, when he defeated a Thai novice. It's hard to see past a Takahashi victory here, but he should get some good rounds in against a usually durable foe.
One other fighter of note on this show is Hayate Kaji (10-0, 8), who will be taking on a Thai foe. The talented Kaji has looked fantastic at times, but a disappointing performance last December against Jun Blazo has left some serious questions for him to answer. If Kaji can commit himself to the sport his potential is huge, but her really does just need to make sure he can focus on his training and what he needs to do in the ring. We're not expecting him to be tested here, but we are hoping to see an impressive performance from the Japanese youngster.
Pathum Thani, Thailand
In Thailand fight fans will be able to see veteran Sirimongkol Singwancha (95-4, 60) continue his journey to being a centurion as he take on Muhammad Nsubuga (0-6-1) in a bout for the vacant Thai Light Heavyweight title. The 41 year old Sirimongkol, who had world title reigns at Bantamweight and Super Featherweight more than a decade ago, is long past his prime but clear still has hunger and that shows by the fact he'll be fighting at 175lb for the first time in his career. Ugandan born Thai based Nsuubuga has been stopped in 6 of his 7 bouts and we suspect he'll be stopped again here as Sirimongkol marks his 100th professional bout!