This coming Monday in Kanagawa sees us having the final big show before Christmas, with 4 bouts worthy of real attention, including 3 world title bouts.
The one non-title bout which is worthy real of attention will be the ring return of Nicaraguan great Roman Gonzalez (47-2, 39), who fights for the first time in a year. The 4-weight world champion will be fighting his first bout in Japan in almost 5 years, and takes on Filipino foe Diomel Diocos (14-5-3, 4). On paper this looks like an easy win for Gonzalez, but with wear and tear and inactivity there are question marks about what he has left in the tank. Diocos is no world beater but has only been blown away once in 5 losses, and that was to Daigo Higa way back in 2017.
The first of the 3 world title bouts isn't expected to be shown on Fuji TV, but does look like it could be the best of the bouts on the show, with IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (38-2, 25) defending his title against Japanese legend Akira Yaegashi (28-6, 16). This will be Mthalane's third defense and despite being the wrong side of 35 he did look very good in his last 2 bouts, and seems almost ageless. As for Yaegashi this is a chance to become a 4-time world champion, but he's looked very much like a fighter who has had a career that is taking it's toll on his body, and his 2017 loss to Milan Melindo certainly remains in our mind. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Yaegashi challenges IBF king Mthalane in battle of veterans!
The first of the two televised world title fights will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (16-0, 9) defending his belt against late replacement Randy Petalcorin (31-3-1, 23). Originally Teraji was to face Felix Alvarado in a WBC/IBF unification bout, before Alvarado fell ill in the build up to the bout. Thankfully the promoters managed to secure a fantastic replacement in Petalcorin, who is looking to make the most of his second world title bout. We expect this to be very high speed, with tactical elements and some power from both. Both men are fantastic and this, even as a late replacement bout, still promises a lot. The excellent George Delis previews this bout here Kenshiro Teraji goes up against Randy Petalcorin in next defense
The main event of the show will see WBA Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (15-2, 12) looking to make his first defense of his second reign as he takes on Canadian challenger Steven Butler (28-1-1, 24), who fights at world level for the first time. This is a really interesting bout on paper, with both being very heavy handed fighters, but both being very flawed fighters. Murata is the more proven, and the Olympic gold medal winner looks like the stronger basic fighter, but Butler looks like a very rangy fighter and appears to have the edge in speed. One notable thing to consider here is the pressure is all on Murata who knows that if he loses his dreams of a super fight end instantly, whilst a win swings the door open to some monster bouts in 2020. A preview of this bout can be read here Murata defends against big punching Canadian Butler
One other bout we want to mention features friend of the the site Caliente Koyasu (3-1, 1) battling against unbeaten puncher Daiki Sakamoto (2-0-1, 2). The 29 year old Koyasu will be looking to score his second win of the year, following a loss in May to Ryugo Yanagibori. Sakamoto on the other hand will be looking to extend his unbeaten record here, and has looked very destructive so far into his career.
The first Ohashi card of 2019 takes place this coming Monday when we see a card headlined by a 3-weight world champion, and features a number of excellent rising hopefuls.
The main event will see former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (27-6, 15) fight in a tick over, as he takes on limited Thai Sahaphap Bunop (4-2, 3), who has been stopped in both of his previous bouts in Japan. Yaegashi is trying to secure a world title fight at Super Flyweight later in the year, and this bout is being sold as a prelude for such a bout. It really should be little more than a stay busy for the popular Yaegashi.
In a much more compelling match up Andy Hiraoka (13-0, 9) will take on the unbeaten Atchariya Wirojanasunobol (12-0, 5) in a fantastic fight between unbeaten men. Of the two Hiraoka looks like the man with the bigger potential and upside, but he will certainly be asked questions here from the Thai, who is slippery, smart and a good boxer overall. This is likely to be the best bout on the card, by some margin. A full preview of this bout can be read here Hiraoka and Atchariya risk unbeaten records!
In an all-Japanese fight fans will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (22-6-1, 13) take on domestic foe Nakagawa Kanehiro (6-6, 4), in what should be a straight forward win for Okada. The veteran has won his last 4, but does turn 37 just days before this fight. Kanehiro on the other hand is just 23, but is 2-4 in his last 6.
Others on this card include former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (21-3, 19) and the once touted Sho Nakazawa (11-3, 5), who both need to rebuild after disappointing 2018's, and the very highly regarded Taku Kuwahara (3-0, 2). All 3 of these men will be facing off with Indonesian visitors who won't be expected to put up much of a challenge.
Our attention turns to Tokyo this coming Friday as Ohashi gym put on a notable card at the Korakuen Hall, in what is being sold as a double main event card.
One of the main event bouts will see Satoshi Shimizu (6-0, 6) defending the OPBF Featherweight title against Shingo Kawamura (16-3-1, 8). The heavy handed champion will be making his third defense of the title that he won last October, when he stopped Sa Myung Noh. The Olympic bronze medal winner has looked destructive but clumsy so far though is unlikely to be made to pay for his clumsiness here. The 28 year old challenger will be having his second title shot, following a loss to Mike Tawatchai in an IBF Pan Pacific Super Bantamweight title fight. Kawamura comes into this on the back of a 6 fight winning streak, including a win over Tae Il Atsumi, but this is certainly a big step up from that level of competition.
The co-main event will see former 3 weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (26-6, 14) take on former world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (16-5-3, 6) in an interesting must win bout for both men. Yaegashi is hunting a Super Flyweight world title and although that is a huge task for the popular warrior he does seem to believe in himself and will know that a win over Mukai will open doors. As for Mukai the bout will see him looking to continue a 3 fight stoppage run, but this is his first step up in class since a 2017 loss to Rex Tso. The loser of this will have to seriously consider their future, whilst the winner will move towards one more notable bout.
The best of the under-card bouts will see the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda (17-3-2, 15) take on Japanese based Korean Tae Il Atsumi (14-2, 7) in what should be a genuinely fantastic match up. The destructive Tameda, has stopped his last 4 opponents, and is unbeaten since a 2016 loss to Reiya Abe. He'll be looking to continue that form and move towards a potential Japanese or OPBF title fight in the future. As for Atsumi this bout will see him looking to rebuild from his aforementioned loss to Kawamura, who beat him just 2 fights ago. At his best Atsumi is a talented and hard hitting fighter, who holds notable wins over Sho Nakazawa, Dennis Tubieron, Burning Ishii and Neil John Tabanao. This should be a very exciting bout for the fans in the venue, even if it's unlikely to be televised.
Interestingly former Atsumi victim Sho Nakazawa (10-2, 4) is also on this card, as he fights in a straight forward match up against Ahmad Lahizab (3-5-1, 1) of Indonesia. It's hard to see anything but a win for Nakazawa, though he hasn't actually scored a win since April 2017 and has fallen a long way short of the promise he had shown as an amateur.
On the subject of people who showed promise as an amateur the fans will also see former amateur stand out Kazuki Nakajima (4-0, 3) take on the tough but light hitting Takuya Fujioka (8-8-1, 1). The talented Nakajima is tipped for big things thought he will need to get past the under-rated Fujioka here if he's to reach the heights expected of him. It's worth noting that Fujioka is a real potential banana skin and scored a big upset win in February when he defeated Futa Akizuki.
There's more Japanese action in the US as popular tough brawler Yoshihiro Kamegai (27-4-2, 24) takes on American foe Greg Vendetti (19-2-1, 12) in California. For Kamegai this will be his first bout in almost a year, with the iron chinned warrior not having fought since his August 2017 loss to Miguel Cotto in a world title fight. Part of the long break for Kamegai was due to a shoulder injury earlier this year, but with that now healed he's looking to get back to winning ways. As for Vendetti he's looking for his 4th win of 2018, but this is a big step up for "The Villain's who has won his last 15 bouts against limited opposition.
This coming Monday attention turns to Japan as Ohashi put on their next notable show, headlined by an OPBF title fight and featuring several fighters of note on the supporting card.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (5-0, 5) defending his title, for the second time, against Korean challenger Kyung Min Kwon (6-3, 3). The 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner has been fast tracked like few before him, even for the often fast tracked Japanese, and won the OPBF title after just 13 months as a professional. He made his first defense back in December and will be looking to score his third win in less than 6 months as he takes on Kwon. The Korean challenger is a bit of an unknown, though his record doesn't suggest he'll be much of a threat for the heavy handed Japanese fighter, who is expected to get a world title fight by the end of 2018.
The chief support bout will see former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (25-6, 13) take on Indonesian foe Frans Damur Palue (15-18-2, 10) in a bout at Super Flyweight, as Yaegashi chases a 4th world title. For the popular Yaegashi this will be his first bout since he lost the IBF Light Flyweight title inside a round to Milan Melindo last May. He's moving up 7lbs from that loss, though the general feeling is that he's pretty much a spent force as a fighter, after having had a career of wars. Palue is expected to lose, and to be stopped, but given how much damage Yaegashi has taken through his career, this could be his chance to score a career defining victory, and retire the very exciting Yaegashi. The visitor is the naturally bigger fighter, the younger man, and although the far less skilled he has a chance to define his career here.
Shimizu isn't the only fast rising unbeaten fighter on this card, as OPBF and JBC ranked Light Welterweight Koki Inoue (10-0, 9) is also on the card. Sadly the talented, destructive, Inoue isn't yet getting his first title bout, but will instead be fighting in a stay busy bout against a Thai visitor. The plan seems to be based around keeping Inoue busy as he prepares for a Japanese title fight, likely later this year. Koki is the cousin of Naoya Inoue and Takuma Inoue, and like those two he is an excellent talent who really doesn't need any more easy bouts after this one, though in fairness he has already scored 3 very solid domestic level wins and is just staying busy here.
Another unbeaten prospect on this card will be former amateur standout Kazuki Nakajima (3-0, 2), who takes part in his first 8 round bout. The talented Japanese hopeful failed to shine last time out, narrowly over-coming Taiga Higashi, and will be up against a Thai novice here in what should be little more than a show case for Nakajima, who has a lot of talent, but can't be rushed in the way Shimizu was. Instead he's maybe 2 or 3 years away from a title fight.
For a second day running Japanese fans in Tokyo get a huge show at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo.
The main event here sees Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue (12-0, 10) defending his WBO Super Flyweight title against Mexican born American based challenger Ricardo Rodriguez (16-3, 5. The bout will be Inoue's 5th defense of the title and it's likely to be his last with his team talking about vacating the title later in the year, ahead of his US debut. The pressure is on the youngster to shine here but Rodriguez is tough and has never been stopped, and will be looking to score a career defining victory here.
The other world title fight here will see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (25-5, 15) battle against interim champion Milan Melindo (35-2, 12). The bout is, on paper at the very least, the most interesting of the 6 world title fights taking place this coming weekend and it looks like a genuine 50-50 match up. Of the two fighters Yaegashi is the more proven and the more well known, but he's also the older man and the man with a lot more miles on the clock. Melindo, the less proven fighter, is probably the more technically sound fighter, but a win here would be the biggest of his career by some margin.
The biggest mismatch on this card will see the once beaten Ryo Matsumoto (19-1, 17) battle against Hendrik Barongsay (29-25-3, 18) in what is little more than a stay busy fight for Matsumoto. The talented Japanese youngster looked better than ever last time out, blowing out Hideo Sakamoto in less than 2 minutes, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Barongsay last a similar amount og time here.
One of the biggest names on the under-card is former multi-time world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (32-3-1, 21), who will take on Masashi Noguchi (12-6-1, 6) in an 8 rounder. This will be Hosono's first bout since losing in October to Jonathan Victor Barros in an IBF world title eliminator. Aged 33 this will probably be the start of Hosono's last run, and he really can't afford another set back. Noguchi is a former Japanese title challenger, who lost in December to Shuhei Tsuchiya, and is the naturally bigger man, but a win here would be his best to date.
In another notable under-card bout we'll see 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (2-0, 2) take on his first domestic opponent, Takuya Yamamoto (8-6, 4). The bout should be a straight forward win for Shimizu, though it's probably fair to say that his eyes are on the future and it's hard to imagine him not fighting for a domestic title before the end of 2017, especially given that he's now 31 and doesn't have much time to waste.
Also on the under-card is the re-re-scheduled meeting between talented youngster Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) and Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5), who were originally meant to meet in the 2014 Rookie of the Year. The two were also meant to fight earlier this year. Sadly Hiraoka was forced to pull out of both the previous dates but will be looking to prove a point here. As for Yamaguchi he's going to be wanting to take his frustrations out on the younger man in what could be an under-card classic.
There will also be title action in Okinawa, albeit at a lower level as fans get an OPBF title fight.
That that OPBF title fight will see Japan's Seita Ogido (11-2-2, 3) battle unbeaten Filipino Edward Heno (10-0-4, 4) for the vacant Oriental Light Flyweight title. The title was vacated earlier this, by Ken Shiro ahead of his WBC world title fight with Ganigan Lopez, and the bout to crown a new champion does look like an interesting one. Ogido is seen as a promising youngster in Japan, and fought to a draw with the under-rated Jonathan Refugio earlier this year, suggesting there is talent there. Heno on the other hand is a bit of an unknown quantity, despite being unbeaten in 14 bouts, though he did impress last time out as he claimed the PBF title. This bout really could answer questions about both men.
The chief supporting bout here will see Masatoshi Kotani (20-2, 13) hunt an 11th straight win as he takes on Indonesian visitor Musa Letding (12-6-4, 6) in an 8 rounder. Kotani has been unbeaten since a 9th round stoppage loss to Filipino Cirilo Espino in 2012 and looks to have improved significantly since then. As for Letding he's 0-4 out side of Indonesia and will be looking for his first win on the road.
In another under-card bout we'll see the heavy handed Morihisa Iju (10-2, 8) battle against Masaya Kohama (6-5-1, 3). This bout will be Iju's third of the year, but will see him returning to the ring following a March loss to Ryo Kosaka and it's clear he'll be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats. Despite losing last time time out Iju should be favoured given that Kohama has been stopped in his last 3, with the most recent of those coming last July to Yohei Tobe.
There will also be a small card in the Philippines. The card here is very poor overall but the main event does look interesting as Pedro Taduran (10-1, 7) and Philip Luis Cuerdo (9-3-1, 4) battle for the PBF Minimumweight title in a good looking 10 rounder. Coming in the once beaten Taduran has won his last 4 and has rebuilt well following his first loss however Cuerdo was stopped last time out, whilst leading on the score cards.
Whilst big cards, with multiple noteworthy bouts, aren't rare in Japan it's rare to get a full card of notable and notable bouts. There is however one such card on December 30th when Ohashi put on a genuine super show with two world title bouts, two Olympic medal winners, several prospects and just one of those rare cards where everything looks to have significance...and that's despite the fact one of the key announced bouts for the show was actually cancelled due to an injury!
The main event of the card will see WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9) taking on former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (32-9-1, 13). This will be Inoue's most notable bout in 2 years, since he beat Omar Andres Narvaez to claim the title, and will see him hunting his 4th defense and most notable so far. For Kono this is a chance to prove he's still a world class Super Flyweight and potentially a chance to become a 3-time world champion.
In the chief main event of the show we see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (24-5, 12) defending his title against Thailand's Samartlek Kokietgym (35-5, 12), who is best known for being stopped by the aforementioned Naoya Inoue in 2014. Yaegashi will be seeking his second defense of the title and will know that a win will lead him to about with interim champion Milan Melindo in 2017. A win for the challenger would be a shock and it would genuinely shake up the 108lbs division.
The chief support bout behind the double main event will see 2012 Olympic gold medal winner Ryota Murata (11-0, 8) fight against the once beaten Bruno Sandoval (19-1-1, 15). For Murata this bout is the next step forward as his team continue to pursue a 2017 fight with WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, of the UK. Whilst Sandoval is a live opponent he hasn't really proven his worth and could well be an easy target for Murata, who has shown real improvement in recent bouts and with his heavy hands there is genuine potential.
Another major under-card bout will see the once beaten Ryo Matsumoto (17-1, 15) face off with his sole conqueror Victor Uriel Lopez (10-5-1, 4). This rematch was announced earlier in the year but cancelled as Matsumoto required surgery for a serious medical issue, the same issue that reared it's head in the first bout with Lopez. Now, supposedly healed, Matsumoto is looking for revenge whilst Lopez is looking to prove that Matsumoto's medical woes weren't the only reason for the result in the first bout.
In a relatively interesting bout we'll see former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (20-2, 12) battle with Hiroya Yamamoto (10-4, 4). Hara is looking to get his career back ion the right track after a 2-2 record in is last 4, and should be too good for Yamamoto however the under-dog is a 2-time Japanese title challenger, having come up short to Go Odaira and Takuya Fukuhara, and is certainly a live under-dog here.
Naoya isn't the only fighter from the Inoue clan on this card, as his cousin Koki Inoue (5-0, 4) takes on his biggest test to date, Futoshi Usami (14-2-1, 11). Inoue is touted as another world champion in the making but this is a credible test for the Kanagawa man, especially given that Usami fought for the OPBF Lightweight title in 2014, and went the 12 round distance with the world ranked Masayoshi Nakatani.
Another unbeaten prospect on this card is 20 year old hopeful Andy Hiraoka (7-0, 4), who fights for the second time as an Ohashi fighter. The talented youngster will be up against Indonesian journeyman Naty Yongraksa (0-0), in what should be a straight forward win for the local star. The visitor is 1-5-1 in his last 7 and it's hard to see what he has to really Hiraoka.
The second Olympian on the show is 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (1-0, 1), who takes a huge step up in class to take on Filipino Carlo Demecillo (6-3, 1). Whilst this is a big step up for Shimzu from his debut it should be noted that Demecillo struggled to win a round recently when he took in Hisashi Amagasa, back in October. Demecillo should give Shimizu some resistance, but the bout should be a win for the Japanese local
It's fair to say that Japanese fight fans have been left somewhat short changed during this year's “Golden Week”, and where theirs often 2 or 3 major card there wasn't really any, with the recent Watanabe card coming just before the Golden Week and the next big card, an Ohashi one, coming on the Sunday after the Golden Week. Saying that however the wait until this Sunday is a worthy one with their being several notable shows throughout Japan.
Of those Japanese shows it goes without saying the biggest, and the best, is in Tokyo and is going to be the highly anticipated Ohashi card from the 10,000 seater Ariake Colosseum. The card, which we strongly suspect will have more than 10,000,000 viewers, will see only two bouts televised live but they are both likely to feel a little bit special.
The first of those bouts is expected to be an all out war as IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (23-5, 12) defends his title against the aggressive and very fun to watch Martin Tecuapetla (13-6-3, 10). This bout really does promise a lot of excitement, and for fans who like a war this is as sure fire a slugfest as we can think of with both men enjoying a tear up. Yaegashi will be the favourite but we wouldn't be surprised to see him taken to hell and back to retain his title.
Of course whilst Yaegashi's bout promises real 2-way fireworks it's unlikely to be the bout that gets international attention. Instead that attention will be focused on 23 year old sensation Naoya Inoue (9-0, 8), who defends his WBO Super Flyweight title against mandatory challenger David Carmona (20-2-5, 8). The bout will be Inoue's second defense of his title and is likely to be his final bout in Japan before making a highly anticipated US debut later in the year. Although the bout is anticipated, because of Inoue's incredible appeal and ability, it's a mismatch and is unlikely to be more than a cameo-like appearance from the “Monster”, who has fought just 4 rounds in the last 18 months.
The two world title bouts are of course the bouts getting the most attention but their will also be a third title bout on the show, as youngster Takuma Inoue (6-0, 1) defends the OPBF Super Flyweight title against Indonesian challenger Afrizal Tamboresi (12-4, 6). The bout really should be a mismatch in favour of Takuma, who should make the second defense of his title here, but Tamboresi knows there is nothing to lose and their will be no pressure on him coming into this bout against the much touted Inoue.
The card featured a third fighter from the Inoue clan, with the touted Koki Inoue (2-0, 2) taking on another Indonesian, in Bimo Jaguar (0-0), in what is unlikely to be anything other than an early blow out win for the biggest of the Inoue's. Koki, for those unaware, is the cousin of Naoya and Takuma and, like the brothers, is trained by their father Shingo who may well be the best young trainer in world boxing.
One other notable name on this card is world title contender Ryo Matsumoto (17-0, 15), who risks his rankings and unbeaten record against Victor Uriel Lopez (8-5-1, 3). This seems likely to be Matsumoto's final bout before a world title fight, later in 2016. That talented Matsumoto has been treading water for a while, and this seems to be another stay busy, but he is insanely talented and is viewed as another fighter who is going to be part of a Japanese revolution over the coming years.
Talking about the next wave of Japanese fighters their will also be one of the youngest in action in Hyogo. That's 18 year old Riku Kano (9-1-1, 5), who faces former world champion Merlito Sabillo (25-2-1, 12) in a bout for the OPBF interim Minimumweight title. Kano has his eyes on setting the Japanese age record, for the youngest world champion from Japan, but knows that he will need to beat Sabillo here. For the Filipino form champion this is a must win and he knows his career will essentially be over as a top contender if he loses the 18 year old Kano.
Sadly we do need to say that although listed on boxrec, Futa Akizuki (6-0, 5) will not be making his Japanese debut on this card.
In Osaka fans will get a show at the Mierparque Hall in Osaka City.
Here the main event will see the promising 20 year old Takuya Uehara (8-0, 5), an OPBF ranked Super Featherweight contender, battling against Indonesian ranked Ramli Pasaribu (4-7, 1). Uehara is OPBF ranked already though hasn't really proven himself against anyone of actual quality. A win here won't change that, but we suspect that this could his final bout before facing a known opponent, possibly this coming summer.
In the chief support bout fans will see Japanese ranked Flyweight Shunji Nagata (10-14-2, 3) face off with former Japanese Super Flyweight title challenger Masato Morisaki (10-4-1, 6). For Morisaka this will be his second bout since he was stopped, in 5 rounds, by Sho Ishida back on December 31st 2014 and although the “more proven” fighter he has fought just 2 rounds since that Ishida bout. Nagata might not be a great fighter but he's someone who has been battle tested and should give Morisaka a very good fight.
A third bout of note on this card will see OPBF and JBC ranked 140lb fighter Ryusei Yoshida (27-8, 14) fight in what really should be a stay busy contest against Tatsunori Fukunaga (7-6, 3). If Yoshida wins, as is widely expected, he could potentially be the next Japanese title challenger later in the year, and will almost certainly call out Hiroki Okada.
A fourth Japanese show is set to take place in Aichi, with this one having 4 bouts that caught our eye.
The main event of the card will see veteran Daiki Koide (22-7-2, 9) battle against OPBF ranked Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (2-0-1), who incidentally claimed the KBF 140lb title last time out. On paper this looks like a horrible mismatch but Kim has been fast tracked and has already proven that he can go rounds, with 22 career rounds already, and he may well see Koide as just the next step on his way through the OPBF rankings.
Another Japan Vs Korea bout on this card sees former Keita Obara opponent Kazuya Maruki (19-3, 12) face off with Chan Hee Park (5-6-1) in what looks likely to be another good bout for fans, though with Park lacking power it's hard to see what he has to compete with the talented Maruki. For those who haven't seen Park before we suggest watching his fight with Kyoo Hwan Hwang from last year as it really was so fun and just a crazy battle.
Maruki's brother, Ryosuke Maruki (11-3-1, 7) will also be up against a Korean visitor, in the form of Joon Yong Lee (5-3-3, 3). On paper this is a mismatch but Lee is the Korean Middleweight champion and may well be a real handful for Maruki, in what could be a genuinely fun bout for fans at the venue. Notably Lee enters the bout as a highly ranked contender by the OPBF so will be fighting to defend that ranking.
The final bout of note is an all-Japanese bout at Heavyweight. The bout will see the unbeaten Ryu Ueda (5-0, 2) risk his perfect record against veteran fighter Kotatsu Takehara (12-11-3, 6). This is a big step up in class for Ueda however Takehara has won just 2 of his last 4, and was stopped in both of his losses. It's a good test for the 23 year old novice who knows a win could see him move towards a Japanese title fight, and perhaps even a chance to become the third ever Japanese Heavyweight champion.
Incheon, South Korea
As well as all the action in Japan there is also a card in Korea, under the KPBF banner.
The main event here is a PABA “interim” title bout that sees Korean Jong-Min Jung (6-7, 2) battle Ghana's Razak Nettey (17-4, 13) at Featherweight. Notably this Nettey is a replacement for Filipino Jason Redondo and unfortunately for the Korean it seems Nettey may not have been an easier option.
This card will also feature two other PABA affiliated title bouts, one at Bantamweight and one at Light Middleweight. From what we understand the Bantamweight bout will see Woo Hyun Kim (5-1, 1) battle Michael Barnor (15-7-2, 11). The Light Middleweight bout will see Youn Bae Kim (4-0, 1), the current PABA interim champion, battle Joo Hun Kim (7-1, 2), the KPBF champion.
*Note several Korean records have been provided by the KPBF.
Whilst we all know that New Year's Eve is a date to always mark down on your boxing calendar for the action from Japan we have also got a special show on December 29th as Ohashi follow up their very successful FES 2014 with FES 2015, another festival of boxing with big names and the backing of Fuji TV.
The main event of the card sees the return of the hugely popular Naoya Inoue (8-0, 7) who defends his WBO Super Flyweight title for the first time since he won it last December. Inoue, who really impressed a year ago when he blitzed Omar Andres Narvaez, has been out of the ring with a hand injury, suffered in that bout, and gets thrown straight into the deep end once again as he faces big punching Filipino fighter Warlito Parrenas (24-6-1, 21). The bout has got attention due to it beign Inoue's return however Parrenas is a serious threat and despite having 6 losses, 4 by stoppage, he has really impressed in recent bouts, including a controversial draw in Mexico with David Carmona. The pressure is on Inoue to impress, though Parrenas will know that this is a huge opportunity to make a name for himself and become a fixture on the world scene.
The Inoue Vs Parrenas bout is one of two world title bouts with the other being a really exciting looking Light Flyweight bout between former 2-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (22-5, 12) goes up against IBF champion Javier Mendoza (24-2-1, 19). For Mendoza this will be his second defense, following a controversial technical decision win against Milan Melindo earlier this year and this is a great chance for him to make a name for himself. Sadly for the Mexican he is going up against one of the most popular Japanese fighters in Yaegashi, who will have the whole venue behind him. Yaegashi is looking to become the third Japanese man to become a 3-weight world champion and will know that this is a must win if his career is going to continue at the world level.
The two world title fights are joined by both an OPBF and a Japanese title fight. The OPBF title fight sees Naoya's younger brother Takuma Inoue (5-0, 1) defending the OPBF Super Flyweight title against under-rated Filipino Rene Dacquel (15-5-1, 5). This is Takuma's first defense of the title, that he won back in July when he out pointed Mark Anthony Geraldo, and is another tough match up for the talented youngster. The speed Inoue will be up against a man who is in good form having recently beaten both Melvin Gumban and Thembelani Nxoshe. This is a really good match up, but one that will get over-looked given the two main events.
The Japanese title fight is a genuinely thrilling match up as Japanese Featherweight champion Satoshi Hosono (29-2-1, 20) takes on former world champion Akifumi Shimoda (30-4-2, 13) in as good of a domestic title bout as you could make. Hosono is hoping to secure a 4th world title fight in 2016 though will need to impress against Shimoda, whilst also recording his 5th defense of the title that he won in April 2014. For Shimoda, who is best known for suffering KO of the Year type losses to Rico Ramos and Marvin Sonsona, will know that a win here could help him get a title fight, though will be aware that another eye catching KO loss will be the end of his career.
On the under-card, in non title bouts, we have two notable fighters. The highest profile of those is former OPBF champion, and current world ranked contender, Ryo Matsumoto (16-0, 14) who faces under-rated Filipino Jestoni Autida (9-3, 4). On paper this looks like a stay busy bout for Matsumoto, who is likely eyeing a world title fight in 2016, however Autida cannot be over-looked and in 2015 he has already upset Ratchasak KKP and pushed Petch Sor Chitpattana very close, with both of those bouts taking place in Thailand. This is a genuine test for Matsumoto.
The other notable fighter is the debuting Koki Inoue (0-0), the cousin of Naoya and Takuma. Koki, a former amateur stand out himself, will be up against Indonesian fighter Arif Maud (1-2, 1) in a 6 rounder. The promising Inoue is a 23 year old southpaw who will be looking to make a name for himself at 140lbs and could potentially be a third member of the Inoue family to become a star.
The Japan fans get a treat this coming Thursday with a good looking Ohashi Gym card headlined by a national title fight though also featuring other notable names.
The main event will see former 3-time world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (27-2-1, 20) defending his Japanese Featherweight title against under-rated challenger Tatsuya Otsubo (8-6-1, 3). On paper this is a horrible mismatch but the realist is that Otsubo is better than the numbers suggest and he's fantastic form, form that really does shows his potential. Hosono will be the favourite but we don't expect this to be as one-sided as the record suggest.
In a solid support bout fans will see former OPBF Super Flyweight champion Ryo Matsumoto (14-0, 12) battle against world ranked foe Luis May (17-8-1, 7). On paper this is the most significant bout of the card and if Matsumoto wins there is talk of him getting a potential title fight by the end of the year. That'd be a big ask for the unbeaten youngster but he was very impressive in 2014 and he does deserve a chance more than some other recent title challengers.
The third notable bout on this card features former 2-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (21-5, 11). Yaegashi will be facing Said M Said (2-2, 1), who was the 4th man scheduled to face Yaegashi. This looks like a mismatch, and should be one, though it seems that Yaegashi's team are still trying to see what he has left in the tank before putting him in another tough match up, especially considering that 2014 saw him suffer back-to-back stoppage losses.
Also in action on this card will be former Japanese and OPBF Minimumweight champion Ryuji Hara (19-1, 11) who is to take part in an exhibition bout with Kenichi Miyazaki (9-1-1, 2). Hara was supposed to fight Said though it seems he has signed a deal to fight Katsunari Takayama in September and as a result will only feature in an exhibition here. Although the Takayama bout hasn't yet been announced the rumour is that it will be announced in the ring following this exhibition.
For fans interested, a portion of this card will be aired on Fuji TV this coming weekend.
(Image courtesy of Ohashi Gym)
May looks likely to be one of the best boxing months of the and it takes absolutely no time to get under-way with exciting action almost from the off.
The Asian action for the month of May kicks off in Tokyo with a Fuji TV card from the Ota City gymnasium.
The main event here will see Japanese Middleweight star Ryota Murata (6-0, 4) battle against world ranked Brazilian foe Douglas Damiao Ataide (13-1-1, 6). This is a significant step up in class for Murata though he is still expected to take a win and continue to move towards a world title fight later in the year. From what we've seen of Ataide he does seem to have a style which could trouble Murata and this could well be a lot more competitive than many are suspecting.
Although the main event features Murata there is actually a world title fight on the card as WBC Super Featherweight champion Takashi Miura (28-2-2, 21) looks to record his 4th defense. In the opposite corner to Miura will be former IBF Featherweight champion Billy Dib (32-3, 29) who has sounded confident in the build up to the fight though appears to be a major under-dog against a very impressive and aggressive champion.
Another notable name in action on this card is former 2-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (20-5, 10) who makes his Super Flyweight debut in a bout against Songsaenglek Phosuwangym (1-11). This should be an easy win for Yaegashi though he has lost his last two bouts, suffering stoppages to Roman Gonzalez, in a Flyweight title bout, and Pedro Guevara, at Light Flyweight. Songsaenglek has previous experience of fighting in Japan, with 2 bouts in the country, though was stopped in both of those bouts.
On the under-card fans will also have the chance to see 2014 Bantamweight Rookie of the Year Ryohei Takahashi (5-1-1) in action as he faces the limited Hokuto Sakata (5-4-1, 3). This will be Takahashi's first bout since claiming the Rookie crown in December and he should be favoured here there he has shown a lack of power and has got question marks in regards to his chin.
Several hours after the action in Japan fans will get the chance to see Takahiro Ao (27-3-1, 12) attempt to add his name to an exclusive list of Japanese fighters who have claimed world titles in 3 weight classes. The Teiken fighter will be battling against Tough Mexican Raymundo Beltran (29-7-1, 17) in a bout for the vacant WBO Lightweight title with Beltran looking to claim a world title in his third attempt whilst Ao looks to become the third Japanese fighter to be a 3-weight champion. On paper this is a brilliantly matched bout between a technically capable but flawed boxer and an exciting and busy pressure fighter.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)