Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Attention turns toi Korakuen Hall this coming Tuesday for a notable card under the Diamond Glove banner.
The main event of the show will see us left with a single Japanese Welterweight champion, as regular champion Keita Obara (25-4-1, 22) returns from injury to take on interim champion Takeru Kobata (12-5-1, 5). On paper this looks to be little more than a mismatch in favour of the well known and heavy handed Obara, however with time ticking down on his career and injuries racking up it's hard to know how close to 100% Obara is. At his best he was dominant at this level, but we're not sure if he's even close to 100% and this bout really should be a chance to see how much he has slipped. As for Kobata he's improving, a lot, and has strung together good domestic wins including recent victories over Rikuto Adachi and Yuki Nagano, however this is a huge step up in class for him. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Obara and Kobata battle for unified Japanese crown
The chief support bout is a Japanese title eliminator at Lightweight, as the hard hitting Shuma Nakazato (11-2-3, 7) takes on the destructive Ken Koibuchi (8-5-1, 7). The 26 year old Nakazato is regularly proving himself as one to watch, with his bouts being exciting, fun and action packed, as we saw notably in his draw against Yoshimitsu Kimura, but he also proved he had plenty of skills last time out when he out pointed Kasuya Yasuda. As for Koibuchi, his record looks bad on paper, however he has lost just 1 of his last 6, and holds a very notable domestic win over Taison Mukaiyama, which has helped him secure this eliminator. We expect this one to turn into something of an explosive shoot out as both men look to secure a shot at the Japanese title in the new year.
Although the Japanese title and Japanese title eliminator bouts should both be good they do look like mismatches. On bout that doesn't look like an uncompetitive contest is the all-prospect show down between the highly skilled Josuke Nagata (3-0) and the explosive Yuki Nakajima (5-1-2, 5). Since making his debut June 2021 Nagata has looked like a real talent. He has incredible potential and brilliant skills, though does look something of a feather fisted fighter and does lack the pop needed, at the moment, to make a mark at world level, however the 24 year old South is still maybe a year or two from fully maturing. As for Nakajima the 27 year old has always looked a brutish puncher, but does struggle when his power can't turn a bout his way, and he may find Nagata's skills to be a real nightmare. We expect this one to be a case of Nakajima looking for a bomb and Nagata looking to use his skills in a bout full of tension.
Another touted prospect on this card is 23 year old Mikyo Watarai (1-0, 1), who made his debut in in April when he stopped Takafumi Shibata in 4 rounds. He will be taking on 22 year old Filipino visitor Romer Pinili (5-1-1, 4). Watarai is very, very highly regarded and many of those in Japan are tipping him as a top prospect who could rise to the top very quickly, and it'll be very interesting to see how he develops over the coming years. Pinili on the other hand debuted in 2019, and went unbeaten in his first 6 fights before a razor thin loss last time out Chan Ho Song in Vietnam. It's going to be really interesting to see how he bounced back from that loss, and whether the experience fo fighting away from home will prepare him for this bout.
Another professional novice on this card tipped form big things is Jinya Yamaguchi (1-0, 1), who takes on 21 year old Filipino Argelo Samson (4-1, 4). The talented Yamaguchi looked fantastic on debut, stopping Shunpei Kubo in 5 rounds back in June, and there are big plans for him going forward. As for Samson this is the first time he will face a non-Filipino fighter, and it's also a big step up. Samson has been destructive in recent bouts, stopping his last 4, but he was stopped inside a round on debut, and it will eb interesting to see if he can hand the power of Yamaguchi.