Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
To end February attention turns to Korakuen Hall for an excellent looking Phoenix Battle show, from the Ohashi Gym. The card is a double title, double header which not only has two excellent looking title bouts, but also two bouts featuring very promising prospects who look to continue their rise towards title fights of their own.
The main event sees double champion Andy Hiraoka (18-0, 13) looking to defend his WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Light Welterweight titles against the exciting and fun to watch Cristiano Aoqui (16-8-2, 11). For Hiraoka this will be his first defense, following an excellent win over Jin Sasaki late last year to win his title, and he'll know that if he wins here he takes a huge step towards a potential world title fight in a few years time. Given how we all expect the 140lb division to look when Josh Taylor inevitably moves up in weight he'll know that his wait for a world title fight might not be too long. For Aoqui on the other hand this will be his second title fight, and at 33 years old it really is now or never for him. Our preview of this bout can be read here Double champion Hiraoka takes on Aoqui in first defense
The other title fight will see the unbeaten Masayoshi Hashizume (18-0-2, 11) take on the under-rated and over-looked Akio Furutani (9-4, 3) in a bout for the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight titles. For Hashizume this will be his second title fight, after previously fighting to a draw in a Japanese title fight, whilst Furutani will be having his first bout for a title, though has beaten former title holders in his last two bouts. This is a really well matched bout, despite what the records suggest, and it will be an interesting chess match, pitching Hashizume's smoothness and speed against the awkwardness and accurate counters of Furutani. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Hashizume and Furutani face off for unified regional titles!
Whilst the two title bouts are great the under-card also promises a lot, especially with the bout between the unbeaten Katsuya Yasuda (8-0, 5), who will be looking to secure himself a title fight later this year, and Shuma Nakazato (10-2-3, 7), who is looking to bounce back from a loss in a Japanese title fight last August. Of the two men Nakazato is the more proven, but Yasuda has long been hailed as a real talent, and this bout should see him finally being forced to sink or swim. We don't expect this to be the most exciting bout of the show, but it is arguably just as compelling as the two title bouts.
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 Wednesday Kadoebi put on their next show under the "Slugfest" banner at Korakuen Hall and although it's not a huge card, it is an interesting one with 3 bouts worthy of note on a 5 fight card. The event these include a real 50-50 match up at Lightweight, an excellent domestic clash at 140lbs and a regional title bout at Flyweight.
The bout we're most looking forward to is the Lightweight bout, which will put former Rookie of the Year winner Yuichiro Kasuya (13-2-2, 4) against the very talented Masanori Rikiishi (7-1, 4), in a bout that will be pitting two JBC and OPBF ranked fighters against each other. Of the two Kasuya is probably the more technically well schooled, but his lack of power has held him back and he can be a very frustrating fighter to watch at times. Rikiishi is a more entertaining fighter and a heavier handed fighter, but this is a tough ask against a man with an excellent jab. The winner of this could well end up finding themselves in a title fight next year so this is a very notable and significant contest.
In a Light Welterweight bout the fun to watch Cristiano Aoqui (14-8-2, 10) will be up against Fumisuke Kimura (9-5-1, 6) in what could turn out to be a real humdinger. The 31 year old Aoqui, a Japanese Brazilian, is a really exciting fighter who has his limitations but is very exciting when he lets his hands go and is not an easy man to beat. Kimura on the other hand has got under-rated power, and is an upset minded fighter, as we saw with his wins over Yusuke Yamanouchi, Hayto Ono and Giraffe Kirin Kanda. Both of these guys can bang, and both will know that a good win could move them onto a Japanese title fight next year.
The main event will see world ranked Flyweight hopeful Ryota Yamauchi (6-1, 5) take on Satoru Todaka (10-3-4, 4) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title. The talented Yamauchi is back on the fast track up the rankings following a 2019 loss to Wulan Tuolehazi and a win here would see him win his first title. Notably Yamauchi missed out on a Japanese title eliminator last year when he suffered a cut that hadn't healed in time for his eliminator and he'll be looking to make up for lost time here. As for Todaka the bout will be his second title fight, following a loss last year in a Japanese title fight against Kenichi Horikawa. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Yamauchi goes for gold as he takes on Todaka
Kadoebi return to Korakuen Hall this coming Monday for a card that has a few good domestic fights, and an almost farcical Heavyweight rematch.
The main event is rematch between Yusuke Sakashita (18-8-3, 19) and Naoki Mochizuki (16-4, 8), with Sakashita looking to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title. The champion was actually the clear loser when these two men fought a few years ago, however since that first bout the career trajectory of both fights has gone in opposite directions with Sakashita's career trending upwards and Mochizuki's trending downwards. This will be a chance for Sakashita to avenge his loss, whilst a win for Mochizuki would be a huge boost to his career just when he needs it. Our preview of this bout can be read here Sakashita looks to defend title and gain revenge in Mochizuki rematch!
In a Japanese title eliminator at 140lbs we'll see Japanese-Brazilian puncher Cristiano Aoqui (14-7-2, 10) take on the solid, if relatively unspectacular, Daishi Nagata (13-2-1, 5). On paper this might not look hugely competitive, but in reality we wouldn't be surprised if this was an instant classic. Aoqui is an exciting fighter, who lets his hands go, and Nagata applies a lot of intelligent pressure, so we could see some frighteningly fun exchanges when these two go to work. The winner of this will be expected to challenger for the Japanese title at Champion Carnival next year. In theory the winner would get a showdown with Koki Inoue next year, though it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see Inoue vacate if he picks up a win in December for the WBO Asia Pacific title. A full preview of this bout can be read here Thriller expected when Aoqui and Nagata clash!
Another interesting fight here will see Riku Nagahama (10-2-1, 4) look to score his third successive win, following a 2018 loss to Yuki Nagano, as takes on Fumisuke Kimura (9-4-1, 6). On paper this doesn't look interesting, but looking below the numbers we do have a good fight here. Nagahama has been stopped in both of his losses, and whilst he's a pretty talented fighter he is 3-2 in his last 5, and has question marks over his durability and his confidence. Kimura is unbeaten in his last 3, and has scored notable upsets against Hayato Ono and Giraffe Kirin Kanda this year, he'll be the under dog but he can punch, and this could be another upset win for him this year.
And after those 3 bouts we come to what is really a bout that we don't like. At all. This bout will see Japanese Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto (20-1, 12) take on Thai foe Suthat Kalalek (13-10, 12), in their second meeting. Whilst we understand there aren't many Oriental Heavyweights worth putting Kyotaro in with this is a second bout with Suthat, Kajornsak Saikaew Boxing Camp, and the two men fought just over a year ago with Kyotaro taking a 6th round TKO win. Given potential bouts with foes from China, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan this seems like a waste for Kyotaro, who is world ranked. His career is losing all momentum and it's a real shame that he's not being tested in bouts.
Attention turns to Tokyo this coming Saturday as we get a really interesting Kadoebi card at the Korakuen Hall, headlined by a Japanese title fight but also featuring numerous other notable fighters.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) defending his title against unbeaten mandatory challenger Koki Inoue (12-0, 10), the third member of the Inoue clan. For the 37 year old Hosokawa this will be his third defense of the belt, which he won in 2017 against Koichi Aso. As for Inoue this will be his first title fight, and comes after a relatively disappointing performance against Marcus Smith, though a performance that did see Inoue battling with injuries. A full preview of this bout can be read here Another Inoue goes for gold, as Koki takes on Valentine Hosokawa.
In the chief support bout we'll see former OPBF Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (13-3-2, 11) take on durable Thai Chaiwat Mueanphong (4-3, 2). For Tyson this will be his first bout since signing with the Kadoebi Gym and his first bout since losing the OPBF title to Yasuyuki Akiyama in December 2017. Chaiwat on the other hand comes into this bout on the back of 3 straight losses, but has proven to be tough and almost went 7 complete rounds with Kazuto Takesako last year. Tyson should win, but will have to work for it.
An excellent supporting bout will see Japanese-Brazilian Cristiano Aoqui (13-7-2, 9) battle against Anthony Marcial (24-3-1, 22) of the Philippines.The talented Aoqui isn't a world beater, but is an exciting and fun yo watch fighter who has a notable fan base. Marcial on the other hand has an impressive looking record, but has mostly been a can crusher on the Filipino domestic scene. This could be a much, much better bout than it looks on paper, though we're expecting Aoqui to be too good for the visitor.
Another supporting bout will see Tsuyoshi Sato (8-1-1, 4) take on Tetsuya Tomioka (5-3, 5) in a Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title tournament semi final bout. The exciting Sato is aggressive, all action and very fan friendly, whilst Tomioka is a big puncher, with questionable durability. This might end up being the bout of the show, and both are very fun to watch. It's worth noting that this bout will be a semi-final bout of a 4 man tournament to crown a new Japanese Light Flyweight youth champion, with the other semi-final taking place on April 11th.
Other supporting bouts will see Hironori Shigeta (5-1-1, 3) take on Mitsumasa Takahashi (9-5-1, 3) and Aso Ishiwaki (5-2, 3) battle Yoji Saito (1-1, 1). On paper neither of these bouts look amazing, but both promise a lot. Shigeta is a Japanese ranked Welterweight, and the 2017 Rookie of the year, whilst Takahashi is a very solid domestic level guy. Ishiwaki is the 2018 Lightweight Rookie of the Year whilst Saito is a former amateur standout, and despite having a loss on his record is very much a prospect to make a note of.
As well as the great show in Japan there is also a low key card in the Philippines. The headline bout here will see Eduardo Mancito (16-10-2, 9) battling against Nathan Bolcio (14-15-3, 4). On paper this is a pretty good domestic bout, it's nothing amazing, but should be pretty competitive and that's always a good thing!
Action is back at the Korakuen Hall this coming Monday for a notable Kadoebi show featuring a number of notable fighters.
The main event of the card will see the retiring Daisuke Sakamoto (14-9-3, 8) take on the once touted Koki Koshikawa (6-1, 4). The 36 year old Sakamoto is a former Japanese “interim” Welterweight champion, who came up short when taking on the then regular champion Toshio Arikawa last November. Since the loss to Arikawa we've not seen Sakamoto in action and he has publicly that this will be his final bout. Koshikawa was once tipped for big things, and after some early promise his career has stagnated, and he has never really bounced back from a loss to Koshinmaru Saito in 2015. This is a big opportunity for Koshikawa, but an emotional moment for Sakamoto.
Heavy handed Japanese Middleweight contender Shoma Fukumoto (12-2, 10) will be looking to continue rebuilding his confidence as he takes on unbeaten Australian Mark Lucas (9-0, 3). The hard punching Fukumoto was stopped inside a round last December by Kazuto Takesako in a Japanese title eliminator and since then has only fought once, beating a very over-matched Indonesian foe. This should be a step up in class for Fukumoto, a tough one on paper given that Lucas is unbeaten, will be hungry and actually holds a win over Arnel Tinampay, who stopped Fukumoto back in 2013. Saying that however Lucas has been inactive for a year, and that may show in his performance here.
Popular Japanese-Brazilian Cristiano Aoqui (12-7-2, 8) will be looking to build on his quick blow out win over Duang Hongin as he takes on Filipino visitor Joffrey Garcia (6-8-4, 5). The talented and exciting to watch Aoqui had a nightmare 13 months, from July 2016 to August 2017, suffering 3 defeats but has since bounced back with a win and will be looking for a second one here. As for Garcia he has been stopped in both of his bouts outside of the Philippines, and we suspect that form will continue against Aoqui.
Another man of note on this card is the very promising Kazuki Saito (5-0, 5), who is tipped to be a star following a very strong amateur career. The unbeaten 25 year old will be facing off with Thai foe Pharanpetch Tor Buamas (22-3, 18), a recent OPBF Super Featherweight title challenger. The touted Saito hasn't had things all his own way, having been dropped earlier in his career, but does look like a real talent and will be looking to shine against the experienced Thai. As for Pharanpetch he has lost in all 3 of his fights outside of Thailand, and it would take a career best performnce to avoid another loss on the road.
Kadoebi will be putting on a pretty stacked card at the Korakuen Hall, headlined by a Japanese title fight and littered with notable names from the Kadoebi stable.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi (15-4-2, 10) make his first defense of the title, as he battles fellow puncher Taiki Minamoto (14-5, 11) in a Champion Carnival bout. Ohashi won the title last year in bizarre fashion as he stopped Kosuke Saka as Saka misheard the end of round clacker, and this will be his first defense since that win. Prior to the stoppage Ohashi had looked a monster against Saka, but with 3 stoppages against his name it's clear he's not the toughest. Minamoto is himself a bit of a glass cannon, with 2 stoppages against his name, but he did show good skills last October when he defeated Dai Iwai to earn this shot. This could well be a shoot out, and could be something very exciting.
The chief support bout is a mouth watering ,match up between Akinori Watanabe (35-7, 30) and Ratchasi Sithsaithong (10-4, 7). Watanabe has lost 3 of his last 5, including an 8th round TKO loss last time out to Magomed Kurbanov, but is still a really dangerous puncher and will know that a win here will see him back in the OPBF title mix. For Ratchasi this will be his first bout in Japan since losing the OPBF Light Middleweight title to Takeshi Inoue last October, and prior to that he had been on a role with wins against Cobra Suwa, Yutaka Oishi and Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine. We're expecting this to be two men each fighting to remain relevant, and could be very special.
Fast rising Kadoebi prospect Kazuki Saito (4-0, 4) will be continuing his development as he faces off with Marbon Bodiongan (14-6-2, 11). Despite only having 4 bouts to his name Saito is already ranked by the JBC and OPBF and looks to be racing towards a title fight thanks to good wins over Jimmy Borbon and Alvin Lagumbay. This is, on paper, a slight step up in class for Saito as he takes on his most experienced opponent. Bodiongan is 0-3 on his travels, but has has mixed with the likes of Nihito Arakawa and Masaru Sueyoshi, and should give Saito a chance to compare himself to those two men. They both stopped Bodiongan though if Saito can stop him in 4 rounds he would have bettered both men's win over the Filipino visitor.
Last November we saw Shoma Fukumoto (11-2, 9) being stopped in a 90 second war with Kazuto Takesako, who has since gone on to win the Japanese Middleweight title. Fukumoto makes his return on this show as he goes up against Indonesian foe Maxi Nahak (7-14-3, 3), who has been stopped in his 3 previous visits to Japan.
Another man looking to get some momentum into his career is Cristiano Aoqui (11-7-2, 7), who has lost his last 3 bouts, and 4 of his last 5. The Japanese-Brazilian will be expected to pick up an easy win here as he takes on a poor Thai visitor.
The under-card also has a really interesting match up on it as the 21 year old Tsuyoshi Sato (5-1-1, 2). who was the 2017 Light Flyweight Rookie of the Year, takes on the unbeaten Yuma Wada (4-0-1, 1), also 21. Sato had a big year in 2017 going 4-0-1 with an opening round win over Yusei Nagai in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, to put himself in the JBC rankings. He will be risking that rankings here against Wada, who looks a very capable young fighter himself.
As well as the action in Tokyo there will also be a pretty notable Asian show in Cebu.
The main event of this card will see Joe Noynay (13-2-1, 4) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Youth Super Featherweight title against Mexican Hector Garcia (12-6-2-1, 7).We're really unsure how Garcia qualifies for this title, given that he's not from the Asia Pacific region, but he is battle tested and will be a very tough test for Noynay. The Mexican has never been stopped and gave decent tests to Devin Haney and Juan Carlos Burgos last year. Noynay is a genuine talent, and gave Reiya Abe real problems last year, so should be able to come out on top here, but he should get well tested by the Mexican visitor.
One of the main bouts will see Cris Alfante (13-6-1, 5) hunt a third straight win as he takes on Renoel Pael (21-8-1, 11) in a 10 rounder. Coming in to this one Alfante has got a big of momentum with back to back wins, though he has suffered 2 losses in his last 5 bouts, including a 4th round KO defeat to Daigo Higa. Pael once looked like he could be a diamond in the rough, but with 4 straigth losses his career is floundering now and there is a risk that he has resigned himself to being little more than a regional gatekeeper, which would be a shame given his competitive bouts with Ardin Diale and Suguru Muranaka.
Other undercard bouts on this card will see Cris Paulino (16-3, 6) take on Jason Tinampay (8-8-1, 7), in what could be much better than it looks, and Ronel Sumalpong (4-0, 4) risk his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Justin Darap (2-0, 2).
In Canada fans will be able to see former world title challenger Michael Farenas (42-5-4, 34) take on Guadalupe Rosales (34-14, 18). Filipino banger Farenas has had a pretty stop-start career in recent times, with a couple of low key bouts in 2015, none in 2016 and one last year. Aged 33 there is still life in Farenas' career, but he will need a big and busy 2018, with this bout being a perfect chance to shake some ring rust. Rosales on the other hand is a relatively low risk opponent for someone like Farenas and despite being tough, shouldn't have the legs to avoid Farenas.
This coming Wednesday in Japan fight fans have an interesting Ohashi card to look forward to. We'll be honest and not pretend that it's full of 50-50 bouts, but it keeps the gym's fighters busy, whilst a number them begin to move towards bigger and better bouts.
The main event of the card is the best looking contest on paper and sees Takuma Inoue (8-0, 2) return to the ring following almost a year out, to take on 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-16-1, 11) in a solid test for the youngster. Inoue was supposed to fight for a world title at the end of 2016, but an injury forced that bout to be cancelled and now he's in need of a warm up bout before looking at bigger and better things. For Kudaka, previously known as Hiroyuki Hisataka, the bout is a chance to score a career defining win after some recent struggles in the ring, including losing 7 of his last 11. Kudaka's record isn't great but he's a tough out for most and should ask questions of rInoue.
Another relatively attractive bout will see Koki Inoue (8-0, 7), Takuma's cousin, step up to take on former Japanese title challenger Cristiano Aoqui (11-6-2, 7) in what is essentially a Japanese title eliminator. Inoue enters the bout ranked #3 and Aoqui is #8, with the winner almost certainly looking to get a crack before the end of the year. For Inoue the bout is a slight step up, but it's a logical step as he continues to impress and leave a wake of battered and beaten fighters in his wake. For Aoqui the bout serves as a chance to get back in to the mix after 3 losses in his last 4.
When it comes to fighters who are looking at bigger and better things, it's fair to say that Ryo Matsumoto (20-1, 18) is on the verge of a world title fight. As a result he's having a stay busy contest on this show against Indonesian foe Jason Butar Butar (25-22-1, 16), in what should be another straight forward win for the likeable Matsumoto, who is looking to put health issues well and truly behind him.
Another fighter looking for bigger things is Go Onaga (27-3-3, 18),who also faces an Indonesian journeyman as he takes on John Bajawa (13-14, 7). Onaga is looking to get himself a Japanese title fight in the near future, and the veteran cannot afford another set back. This should be a straight forward win for the Ohashi man, but he is now 37 and 18 months removed from his last victory.
Rounding out the notable fights on this show are two Ohashi novices tipped for big things. One of those is Kazuki Nakajima (1-0, 1), who looks for his second professional win as he takes on Resnu Sundava (2-1, 2) whilst the other is debutant Katsuya Yasuda (0-0), who faces Reno Arizona (1-2). Neither Ohashi man should worry here about winning, but both will want to impress Mr Ohashi, who we suspect wants to fast track both men following their impressive amateur careers.
This coming Sunday is set to be a very busy day in Japanese boxing circles
The most interesting card of the day comes from the EDION Arena Osaka where Green Tsuda put on what looks like a really interesting show.
The main event of the card will see Japanese and OPBF ranked Takayuki Okumoto (18-7-2, 8) battle against Filipino visitor Eranio Semillano (13-7-2, 4), with the Filipino himself holding a top 10 OPBF ranking. Both fighters will be entering this bout with the knowledge that a good performance could move them to an OPBF title fight, and both will also know that their opponent can be beaten, and can be stopped. Interestingly this is an southpaw bout with both men being 25 years old, but it's the visitor who will be the taller man.
In the chief support bout we'll see the hotly tipped Kazuki Tanaka (6-0, 5) take on world ranked Thai Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (16-6, 11). Although inexperienced Tanaka is tipped for the top and is a former stand out amateur who has long been viewed as a future world champion in the making. On paper this could be a step up, given that Sukkasem has a #15 ranking with the IBF, but the Thai has lost every time he's faced a notable fighter, and was stopped in 5 rounds last year by Japanese champion Yusaku Kuga, with that likely being the marker that Tanaka will be looking to beat.
Another Japan Vs Philippines bout will see exciting local Ryuto Kyoguchi (14-1-1, 10) takes on former world title challenger Silvester Lopez (27-12-2, 9). For Kyoguchi this is a real gut check with the youngster, the older brother of Hiroto Kyoguchi, having only had 1 round of in ring action in almost 2 years. At his best Kyoguchi is a real talent, but this is a genuinely tough test. Lopez, who fought for the WBC Super Flyweight title in Japan back in 2012, has picked up a lot of losses recently but is still a test at this level and did drop Sho Nakazawa back in 2015. Sylvester has power and could well be a banana skin if Kyoguchi over-looks him.
Also on this card will be former OPBF champion Yu Kawaguchi (25-8, 12) and rising female star Fuka Komura (2-0, 1), who will both be up against low key Thai foes.
Staying at the EDION Arena in Osaka there will also be a Dangan card. Originally it was set to be headlined by Ken Shiro defending the Japanese Light Flyweight title against Tetsuya Hisada but Ken Shiro chose to vacate the title, with a rumoured WBC title fight set to be announced, forcing that bout to be cancelled. Despite that the show will still go ahead and Hisada will get a shot at the Japanese title on April 21st.
As a result of Ken Shiro vacating the Japanese title we now see the main event as a bout between defending OPBF Super Flyweight champion Rene Dacquel (18-6-1, 6) and Japanese challenger Shota Kawaguchi (20-7-1, 8). The bout is a pretty good one on paper, but one where Dacquel will be favoured and one that feels like a disappointing main event given that Ken Shiro was supposed to be headlining.
In supporting bouts we'll see former world title challenger Atsushi Kakutani (18-5-1, 11) and unbeaten teenager Daiki Tomita (8-0, 2), both of whom will be battling against limited Thai visitors.
We also get a small card in Okinawa. The card really doesn't have much of note on it, but does feature one man who we suspect will be one to watch over the coming decade or so.
The fighter is Lightweight puncher, and 2016 Rookie of the Year, Shawn Oda (5-0, 5). The teenager really impressed last year, debuting in May and winning the Rookie of the Year in December, and will be looking to kick off 2017 with a bout against Thai visitor Tienchai Sor Kanitsorn (2-8, 1). Tienchai is a regular in Japan, fighting his 10th bout in the country, and although he's there to be beaten by Oda we suspect the local will still be looking to give the fans a show before stopping the Thai.
There will also be a low key card in Shizuoka.
In the main event of this card we get a really good match up as former Japanese title challenger Cristiano Aoqui (11-5-2, 7) takes on the under-rated Noriaki Sato (4-1-1) in a bout at Welterweight. Aoqui's best success has been at 140lbs, where he fought the then Japanese champion Hiroki Okada last year, but it looks like he's moving up to continue his career. Sato on the other hand was forced up in weight after failing to make weight for last year's Strongest Korakuen, when he was unable to make 140lbs to face Koichi Aso. The bout should be an exciting one and a real crowd pleaser.
In a supporting bout on this card the 21 year old Daiki Ichikawa (8-2, 6) will be risking his OPBF ranking against Takaki Sakurai (7-7-1, 3). Coming in Ichikawa is ranked in the top 15 by the OPBF at Lightweight and may well feel like he is just a few fights away from getting a title shot, something he is ill prepared for at the moment. As for Sakurai he's lost his last 5, but could still be a problem for the heavy handed Ishikawa, if the youngster is over-looking Sakurai.
Daejeon, South Korea
There is also set to be a very low profile card in South Korea. This card doesn't have anyone of any note on it , with the main event being a 6 rounder between Hyun Min Yang (4-1, 4) and Heuk San Lee (1-0-1).
Just 10 days after the first live Boxingraise show we get the second live card to be streamed on the service, and in fairness it looks like an intriguing one with two title bouts, several notable names on the under-card and an interesting debutant.
One of those title bouts will see unbeaten Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada (12-0, 10) defending his title for the third time this year, and the 5th time overall, as he takes on Japanese-Brazilian Cristiano Aoqui (11-4-2, 7) in what looks likely to be a really interesting match up. Okada is a wonderfully promising and heavy handed counter-puncher who has really impressed in recent bouts with his spiteful shots. Aoqui on the other hand is an aggressively minded fighter who comes to fight and will put Okada under pressure from the off. Don't be surprised if this exciting before a sudden finish.
The other title bout sees Australian fighter Jack Brubaker (10-1-1, 5) defending the OPBF Welterweight title against interim champion Suyon Takayama (24-1, 8). On paper this one is a really intriguing fight. Brubaker won the title last year and has defended it once, though his competition so far has been someone limited and there's little to suggest he's going to become a great fighter, however wins over Xing Xin Yang and Paddy Murphy have both come following numerous knock downs and he seems to be hitting harder than his record suggests. As for Takayama the long term Japanese national champion has been chasing the OPBF title for a while and will see this as his big chance at claim the belt and moving towards a potential world title fight.
In a Middleweight bout the heavy handed Shoma Fukumoto (8-1, 6) will be up against Naoki Wada (10-9-2, 2) in what looks like like a stay busy for Fukumoto, who was once being tipped as a potential Japanese Middleweight title contender. Fukumoto has notched up 6 straight wins since being shocked by Arnel Tinampay back in August 2013 but hasn't looked great in recent bouts. Wada should test Fukumoto but shouldn't push him too close.
One other fighter of note here is debutant Kazuki Saito (0-0), who takes on Kamol Jatuten (0-2). Saito begins his career in a 6 rounder as a B license fighter and there is some genuine excitement about the 23 year old from Tokyo. The Thai, also known as Lekker Bangkok 2007, was last seen in the ring in January when he was in Japan and stopped in the second round by Yuki Beppu.