This coming Friday we are set to get action featuring Asian fighters from Japan, Dubai and the US
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
In Japan we get a low key, but very interesting, card from the Kaneko Gym.
The main event here will see former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-5-1, 11) taking on unheralded prospect Rei Nakajima (3-0), who is stepping up massively. At 36 years old Hosokawa has seen better days and he has struggled for form recently, going 1-2-1 in his last 4, but he is still a heavy handed, physically strong, and experienced fighter who is a real danger man on the Japanese and Oriental scene. Nakajima on the other hand is a touted prospect at 154lbs and will be taking a massive step up in class. Aged 22 Nakajima is one of the most over-looked Japanese prospects out there, but a win here would get him series attention.
In an interesting looking support bout Japanese ranked Bantamweight Yoshihiro Utsumi (16-9-3, 10) will be up against the once beaten Tulio Kuwabata (3-1, 2). The 36 year old Utsumi is very much on the back end of his career, and he has suffered losses to Hiroaki Teshigawara and Kazuki Nakajima in his last 6, but he will go into this fight with a point to prove. As for Kuwabata this is a must win following a big upset loss in December, when he was stopped by Ken Jordan. Kuwabata looks like a real talent, but the loss to Jordan was a major set back and he can't afford another one here.
Another ranked fighter on this card is Jin Miura (10-3-4, 1), who takes on the once beaten Daiki Wakamatsu (7-1, 4) in one of the better looking bouts of the day. Amazingly Miura has won just 1 of his last 5, but has some how gone 1-0-4 during that run, including draws with Shingo Kawamura and Mugicha Nakagawa. Although unranked himself Wakamatsu comes into this bout with form and has won his last 6, following an early career loss. On paper this is a bit of a toss up and should be a very interesting match up.
One other bout deserving of a mention is one pitting Japanese ranked Super Flyweight Takahiro Fujii (11-6-1, 3) against Akira Kokubo (8-9-3, 2), in a battle of 30-something's. This bout, technically the chief support bout, is an all southpaw bout that could end up a very compelling contest, though is unlikely to be hugely exciting. Fujii enters with a JBC ranking, but the 31 year old isn't expected to get a shot at the title any time soon and is 4-3 in his last 7. Although Kokubo's record looks poor he is 4-1 in his last 6 and is much better than his record suggests.
Caesars Palace Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
As well as the action in Tokyo we also get a show from Dubai where we'll see some more Asian action.
The most notable bit of action for an Asian fighter here will see unbeaten Kazakh Viktor Kotochigov (12-0, 5) defending his WBC International Lightweight title against the under-rated Maxi Hughes (21-5-2, 4) in a very interesting match up. The 27 year old Kotochigov won the title in July 2019 and will be looking for his second defense here, as he continues to climb through the rankings towards a potential world title fight. Although very talented Kotochigov has been, at times, willing to cruise through bouts and 3 of his last 4 wins have been rather forgettable decisions. In the opposite corner to the Uzbek is a British fighter coming in on the back of an upset win over Jono Carroll. Despite having 5 losses to his name Hughes is a talented, technically sound, busy, accurate fighter and a very, very live under-dog here.
Lower down the card unbeaten Indian puncher Faizan Anwar (4-0, 4) will take on Filipino journeyman JR Mendoza (11-19, 5). The 19 year old Anwar has taken just 11 rounds to blow out his first 4 opponents but may be taken rounds here. Mendoza, although sporting 11 losses, has only been stopped 3 times in his career. Saying that however he is the naturally smaller man and hasn't had a boxing contest in 5 years, and ring rust may well prove to be a major issue for him here.
The Bubble, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Also in action will be unbeaten US based Kazakh Middleweight hopeful Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (8-0, 4). He was originally pencilled in to fight a world ranked southpaw, though sadly his original opponent was injured in training and instead the Kazakh will face Gonzalo Gaston Coria (16-3, 6). Coria is a 23 year old Argentinian southpaw, who gave 2-time world title challenger Artur Akavov a test in 2018, and should be a decent marker. Sadly after a solid 2019, which saw Alimkhanuly going 4-0 (3) it's a shame to not see him in with a more notable opponent this year. Fingers crossed that in 2021 we see Top Rank giving Alimkhanuly a big bout, as he deserves to show his skills against a top notch opponent sooner rather than later.
For a third day in a row we get OPBF title action in Asia as we get a bout for the OPBF Middleweight title. That bout headlines a card that features a couple of other notable names.
That OPBF Middleweight title bout will be a rematch between Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-4-1, 10) and Koki Tyson (14-3-3, 12), who fought to a draw earlier this year. We were genuinely surprised to see the two go the distance when they first fought, though it should be noted that Tyson took the bout on relatively short notice when Yuki Nonaka vacated the belt. This time around Tyson has had a full training camp, and may well find himself fighting a more aggressive bout than last time around. Both men are former holders of this belt, both can bang, and both are exciting fighters. We would be surprised if they go the distance again here, though it's still a very hard bout to call, and could go either way. A full preview of this bout can be read here Tyson and Hosokawa set to go again for OPBF crown!
Another rematch on this show will see former world title challenger Shingo Wake (26-5-2, 18) take on Jhunriel Ramonal (15-8-6, 8), in what is expected to be Wake's final bout before getting a second world title bout. These two clashed back in 2013, when Wake was the OPBF Super Bantamweight champion, and Ramonal was stopped in 3 rounds by the sharp shooting Japanese fighter. Since the Ramonal has gone 2-2-2. Wake on the other hand has gone 11-1, fought for a world title and claimed the Japanese title. Give the difference in form and the result of their first bout it's hard to imagine anything but another early win here for Wake.
Also on this card is former Japanese Minimumweight Shin Ono (23-10-3, 6), who will be looking to bounce back from January's loss to Norihito Tanaka. The 36 year old Ono, who made his debut in 2001, will be up against fellow veteran Akira Kokubo (8-8-3, 2), who is 35 years. On paper Ono has the experience edge, and is a multi-time world title challenger, but he will be moving up in weight for this, was stopped last time out and has little Momentum. Kokubo on the other hand has momentum coming in to this, with 4 straight wins including a good one last time out over Taiyo Inoue. This bout, being fought at a contracted limited around 110.25lbs, should be a lot more interesting than it looks on paper.