We're focusing on Tokyo again this coming Monday for a small card at Korakuen Hall. It's not one which will get pulses racing but does feature a very interesting main event, and a few domestic names on the under-card.
The main event will see former OPBF title challenger Dai Iwai (23-5-1, 7) take on the under-rated Daisuke Watanabe (8-4-1, 5), in a very interesting bout. Iwai has the edge in experience, and has shared the ring with the likes of Masayuki Ito and Taiki Minamoto, but on the whole he has been rather softly matched. On the other hand Watanabe has been matched ridiculously hard, and has picked up some solid wins against the likes of Gakuya Furuhashi and Yosuke Fujihara. Although it doesn't look an even match up on paper we're expecting this to be very hotly contested.
Another bout that doesn't look like it will be competitive, though we're expecting it will be, sees former Japanese title challenger Tatsuya Takahashi (30-9-5, 21) take on Junnosuke Nagayasu (14-14-3, 4). The bout looks like a straight forward win for Takahashi on paper, but his record is mostly padded with wins against limited opposition and he is 3-4 in his last 7, dating back just over 2 years. With 44 bouts to his name, and some very damaging wars along the way, it's hard to know what Takahashi's body has left in it, and he has certainly not looked great in recent years. The 36 year old Nagayasu has gone 1-4-1 in his last 6, but that record doesn't show how close his losses have been and he is certainly no push over.
On paper a much better bout will see the limited but hard hitting Renji Ichimura (7-4, 6) take on Shingo Kusano (11-7-1, 4) in a support bout. This one could steal the show Ichimura is a stop or be stopped type of guy, and has only seen the final bell in 3 of his 11 bouts. Coming in to this he has been out of the ring for close to 3 years, but that rest could well have done him the world of good, and he's still only 25. Kusano, the last man to beat Reiya Abe, has lost his last 3 but a win over Abe holds a lot of weight and he ran Ryohei Takahashi really close last time out, showing that there is talent there. Although neither man is a world beater, this should be a really solid match up.
This coming Tuesday fight fans in Tokyo get a card at the Korakuen Hall thanks to Hideki Todaka, who will be putting on several pretty interesting looking match ups.
The main event of this card will see Japanese ranked Featherweights facing off with Dai Iwai (21-5-1, 7) taking on Yosuke Kawano (12-6-2, 6), in a bit of a title eliminator. Coming in to this Iwai, a former OPBF title challenger, will be looking to bounce back from a loss to Taiki Minamoto, a loss that cost Iwai a shot at Japanese Featherweight Takenori Ohashi. Iwai will be fully aware that he hasn't looked good in his last two, and will need a good performance here if he's to get a domestic title bout. As for Kawano he has bounced back well from two losses in 2016, and looked really good in stopping Masashi Noguchi last time out. Although no world beater Kawano is is solid and should push Iwai all the way.
Another bout putting Japanese ranked fighters against each other, as Kazuma Sanpei (14-4, 5) takes on Kei Iwahara (8-4, 4), with both men having top 15 rankings at Super Featherweight with the JBC. Coming in to this Sanpei is on a 2 fight winning run, having twice beaten Ryuki Ishii last year, and looks to be turning his career around after a struggle that saw him go 1-4 between October 2014 and October 2016. As for Iwahara he comes into this on a career best win over Yuji Awata, which shoot give him a huge boost of confidence coming in to this bout.
Another fight of note on this card will see veteran Cobra Suwa (19-13-2, 11) take on a Thai foe. Little is known about the visitor but Suwa needs a win, given that he has gone 1-2 in his last 3, including stoppage to Nobuyuki Shindo last November and a decision loss to Ratchasi Sithsaithong in late 2016. Given that we're not expecting the Thai visitor to be particularly good it's hard to imagine Suwa losing, but the local will need to do more than just pick up a win,instead he will have to impress.
Belfast, United Kingdom
In regards to Asian fighters the biggest single fight is a Bantamweight unification contest, as Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-1, 18) takes on Ryan Burnett (17-0, 9) in Belfast. Coming in to that bout the heavy handed Zhakiyanov will be looking to defend the WBA title, however the Kazakh will be up against a real boxing talent in the form of the excellent Burnett. For both men this will not only be a unification world title bout, but also their first defense, making this a very tricky assignment for two men who only won their title's earlier this year. The Kazakh upset Rau'shee Warren for his title earlier this year, out hustling the American in a very competitive bout, whilst Burnett completely schooled fellow Brit Lee Haskins, despite one judge some how confusing the two fighters. This should be a really good bout,and could well crown the heir apparent for the Bantamweight division.
Whilst the biggest single fight, from an Asian perspective, takes place in Northern Ireland it's hard not to feel like a card from Tokyo is actually the more interesting show. Not only does it have a Japanese title fight, but it also has 4 Japanese title eliminators, and really does promise a fantastic value show.
The main event sees fast rising prospect Shuichiro Yoshino (5-0, 3) battle against veteran Spicy Matsushita (17-9-1, 2) for the Japanese Lightweight title, with both men competing for their first national titles. The unbeaten Yoshino has been touted since his debut, and really has looked like a champion in the making thanks to wins over Chaiyong Sithsaithong, Yoshitaka Kato and Kenta Onjo, and a win here is likely to see him begin a notable reign as a national champion, with not many domestic fighters looking up to the task of beating him. As for Matsushita the bout really is a must win, and he does come into the contest on the back of a huge win over a then unbeaten Yuichiro Kasuya. Sadly for Matsushita form has been an issue and his recent wins have all been razor thin decisions, which won't bode well against the talented Yoshino.
At Featherweight we see an elimination bout as Dai Iwai (21-4-1, 7) and Taiki Minamoto (13-5, 11) battle for the right to challenger for the national title next year. Of the two men Iwai is the more experienced and the more technically gifted fighter, but Minamoto certainly has the edge in power, and acquitted himself well in a 2015 loss to the then Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni. Coming into this Iwai will be the favourite, we suspect hat the bout will be incredibly competitive.
In a potential thriller at Welterweight we'll see the tough and hard working Moon Hyun Yun (18-4-3, 4) take on the big punching Ryota Yada (14-4,12), in possibly the best bout of the card. Yun is coming in to this after a Japanese FOTY contender against Shusaku Fujinaka and he's unbeaten in 6, including a draw with former champion Nobuyuki Shindo. The heavy handed Yada has blown out his last 2 opponents, but has a lot of question marks lingering over him following last years stoppage loss to Jayar Inson, who moved up in weight and bullied him. We're expecting this one to be a little bit special, and can't see anything but an action bout.
Another potential action bout will be at Bantamweight and see veteran Eita Kikuchi (21-4-4, 8) take on the exciting Yusuke Suzuki (8-3, 5). The 31 year old Kikuchi lost 2 of his first 11, before rebuilding his career and has subsequently only been beaten by Shingo Wake, in an OPBF title fight, and the aforementioned Minamoto, with both of those losses coming at Super Bantamweight. On paper Suuki's record is less than great, but to date his losses have all come to very good fighters, with the first coming to Yusaku Kuga back in 2013, the second to Ryoichi Tamura in 2015 and the third coming to Jeffrey Francisco in the Philippines last year. All 3 of those losses were close and were losses which will aid the development of the 28 year southpaw.
Another eliminator will take place Flyweight, and sees the always fun to watch Katsunori Nagamine (14-1, 10) battle against the in-form and very under-rated Akinori Hoshino (14-7-1, 9). The heavy handed Nagamine began his career 10-0 before being beaten by the excellent Ken Shiro in 2015. Since that loss Nagamine has bounced back with 4 stoppages, including thrilling wins over Kenya Yamashita, Mako Matsuyama and Tetsuya Tomioka, which have all been all out wars. Around a year agoHoshino was 11-7-1 (8) and it looked like his career was going no where. Since then however he has moved down in weight and reeled off 3 big wins, including a stoppage of Kenya Yamashita and a decision over Shun Kosaka. We're expecting another good one here, though it's hard to see a win for Hoshino.
Gümligen bei Bern, Switzerland
There's yet more notable action featuring a Japanese fighter as Aniya Seki (31-3-2, 5) takes on Hungarian Kleopatra Tolnai (13-12-1, 4) in Seki's adopted homeland of Switzerland. The bout will see Seki defending her WBC Silver female Bantamweight title, for the second time, and in all fairness this be a simple defense against an opponent who has won just 1 of her last 5.
This coming Friday is an interesting day in Japan where we get several shows of note, with arguably the best of them taking place in Tokyo.
In the main event we'll see the unbeaten Daishi Nagata (8-0-1, 4) risking his 0 against the more experienced Vladimir Baez (21-3-2, 19), a Japanese based Dominican fighter. So far Nagata has impressed, and has been matched relatively tough, though this is a step up in class for him and he will almost certainly have to show more than he has so far into his career. As for Baez, also known as “Destino Japan”, the bout will see him seeking to return to winning ways following a stoppage loss to Teerachai Kratingdaenggym last July. A must win for Baez, and a potential career booster for Nagata.
In the chief support bout we'll see unbeaten youngster Izuki Tomioka (2-0) battle against Shun Shimazaki (8-8-1, 3) in a really good looking 8 rounder. Tomioka will be fighting over the 8 round distance for the first time and has impressed since his debut back in December, but this is a clear step up in class. Although no world beater Shimazaki is a solid fighter who was competitive with Takuya Watanabe just a few fights ago and should be a solid test here for the youngster.
Another notable supporting bout will see former OPBF title contender Dai Iwai (20-4-1, 7) battle against the upset minded Masaki Saito (13-11-6, 4). On paper this looks a mismatch but Saito, on his day, can be a banana skin and and holds a win over Seiichi Okads as well as draws with Yuichiro Kasuya and Tsuyoshi Tojo. Coming in to this Iwai has won his last 3 bouts, and will be favoured here, but it's not a given win for the Misako man.
As well as the show in Tokyo there will also be a notable card in Osaka, headlined by the biggest Japanese bout of the day.
That big bout will be the third meeting between Tetsuya Hisada (27-9-2, 17) and Kenichi Horikawa (32-14-1, 7), who battle for the vacant Japanese Light Flyweight. Hisada was supposed to face Ken Shiro earlier in the year, but that bout was cancelled on late notice when Ken Shiro was set to fight for a world title, and ended up having this bout made on short notice instead. Coming in to this bout Horikawa is 2-0 against Hisada, and a former Japanese title holder, but is he is now 37 and well beyond his physical prime.
In an under-card bout we'll see the once beaten Yuki Takahashi (7-1, 3) battle against Sam Puadi (7-7, 5) in what looks likely to be a one-sided contest, and in another under-card bout we'll see Takeru Kamikubo (12-2, 8) battle against Masashi Odaira (6-7-2, 2). These bouts aren't the most interesting on paper but should allow fight fans to see two promising prospects in action.
There will also be an Asian show in the Philippines.
In arguably the most interesting bout of the show we'll see the under-rated pairing of Ernesto Saulong (19-2-1, 8) and Jestoni Autida (9-6, 4) face off in what looks like a mismatch but should be an interesting fight. On paper Saulong will be strongly favoured, he has lost just twice in his career and has got some good wins including a 2015 victory over Alie Laurel. Although Saulong has the better record Autida is no push over and has scored upsets before, and been competitive in many of his losses. This is a really intriguing match up.
In another notable bout on this card we'll see Benezer Alolod (17-8-5, 5) face off with Renz Rosia (12-5, 6) in a really well matched bout. Both of these men are good domestic level fighters, who can impress away from home, and should make for a fantastic match up against each other.
One other card will take place in China, with the most interesting looking bout being a contest between the unbeaten pairing of Venson Delopere (5-0-3, 2) and Alimu Wushouer (9-0, 7). Filipino fighter Delopere will be fighting outside of his homeland for the first time, but is being matched hard here against the very talented Wushouer.
Another unbeaten on this card will be Yongqiang Yang (6-0, 5) who risks his unbeaten record against Indonesian visitor Geisler AP (9-9, 6), who won't be expected to take the power of the Chinese hopeful
The final Asian show for the month comes from the Korakuen Hall and features 3 bouts of note, one of which features an always fun to watch Japanese Lightweight, who attempts to become a triple crown winner.
The main event is that aforementioned Lightweight, Nihito Arakawa (28-6-1, 17) who has previously won the Japanese and OPBF Lightweight titles and will now be looking to win the WBO Asia Pacific title as he takes on Filipino Anthony Sabalde (12-5-0-1, 7). Arakawa vacated the Japanese title at the end of last year as he turned his attention to the WBO regional title, which was then held by Daud Yordan. Sabalde isn't anything special and has clearly been matched with Arakawa to make the Japanese fighter look here.
In an exciting support bout we'll see former OPBF title contender Dai Iwai (19-4-1, 7) takes on Shota Yamaguchi (14-3, 8). Although neither of these men are going to set the world on fire both are well matched here. Iwai is best known for his 2015 loss to Masayuki Ito and has score two low profile wins since that defeat, this is however a step up for the Misako man. For Yamaguchi,who has suffered stoppages in 2 of his last 4 bouts, this bout us a chance to build some more momentum following a September win over Aozora Nishida. This really could be a very competitive bout where both men will be looking for a win and both will believe they could claim a very good win here.
A third bout of note on this card will see Keita Nakano (13-10-6, 4) battle against Naoya Okamoto (10-5-1, 5) in rematch of a contest from last September. When these two fought last year they ended up having a 3 round technical draw, Nakano's third successive draw. Although not a great fighter Nakano is better than his record suggests and can score upsets, as he's done in the past. Okamoto is unbeaten in his last 3, following an opening round stoppage loss in May 2015, but will know that a loss here will almost certainly end any dreams of fighting for a title in the future.
The wonderful Boxingraise give us their next live show this coming Tuesday with a really good looking, and deep, card from the Korakuen Hall. The show doesn't look like an outstanding one on paper, but fans who know the fighters involved will know that the card will deliver some real highlights.
The main event of the card sees Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (27-4, 13) defending his title against Yudai Arai (8-3-3. 4), in what will be Kogawa's second main event on the Boxingraise service. The veteran champion will be looking for his 4th defense of the belt and it's possible that a win here could see him getting a long awaited third world title fight in 2017. For Arai the opportunity is a rather unearned one but one that he was never going to turn down and we hope that he puts up a credible effort in what will almost certainly be a fun fight, as all Kogawa contests are.
The chief support bout will see #1 ranked Japanese Flyweight Yuta Matsuo (11-2-1, 6) take on Ryuto Oho (9-2-1, 2) in an intriguing 8 rounder, that will likely serve to build up a a potential Matsuo Vs Kogawa bout in 2017, as part of the Champion Carnival if both fighters win. Oho is unranked coming into this bout but is a real potential banana skin and has shown his ability against the likes of Jo Tanooka, Shuji Hamada and Katsunori Nagamine, and was a 2013 Rookie of the Year. Matsuo cannot over look his foe here.
In another supporting bout the highly experienced Masaki Saito (13-11-5, 4) faces the unbeaten Yuichiro Kasuya (9-0, 1) in a bout between two men with Japanese rankings. Saito is really experienced and holds notable results against the likes of Seiichi Okada, Tsuyoshi Tojo and can be a handful on his day. Kasuya on the other hand is rising prospect but this could be, potentially, his toughest bout to date, as he looks to build on a win over Kazuma Sanpei.
Talking about Kazuma Sanpei (12-3, 4) he will himself be in action as he goes up against the JBC and OPBF ranked Masaru Sueyoshi (12-1, 7) in possibly the best looking bout on the card. Sanpei has lost 3 of his last 6, including a 7th round TKO to Sueyoshi and a split decision to the aforementioned Kasuya, but he is certainly better than those results would suggests. Seuyoshi on the other hand looks like a man heading for titles and comes into this on a career best win over Shingo Eto. Good bout that sees Sanpei seek revenge and Sueyoshi look continue his solid run of 9 wins.
A final out of note sees former OPBF title contender Dai Iwai (18-4-1, 7) battle Takehiro Shinohara (7-4-2, 7). Iwai is looking for his second win since last year's stoppage loss to Masayuki Ito and although he'll be the favourite he is facing a real puncher in Shinohara, who stopped Daisuke Watanabe last year, but has sadly been inactive for more than a year coming in to this.
The action in Japan this week really picks up, and we have a third title fight in the space of just a few days, on a reason card that really does look like it's going to be fun.
The aforementioned title bout will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (24-7, 13) face off against old adversary Yu Kawaguchi (27-5, 12), in what will be a second bout between the two men. In their first bout, back in 2014, Masuda won a 10 round technical decision over Kawaguchi to claim the Japanese Bantamweight title for the first time. Since that win Masuda has been in some wars with his contest against Tatsuya Takahashi being a pulsating 10 round battle and his bout with Shohei Omori being a beat down for Masuda. Kawaguchi has also been in wars recently, with two action bouts against Takahiro Yamamoto almost certainly taking their toll on him. Despite the damage the two men have had recently, this should still be a genuine exciting war between two men with history and a point to prove.
In the chief support bout former OPBF title challenger Dai Iwai (17-4-1, 6) will face Chikashi Hayashizaki (7-5-1, 3) in what looks like a mismatch on paper, but will be Iwai's first bout since he was stopped by Masayuki Ito back in August 2015. The long lay off, and other issues, do sort of excuse Iwai for having an easy one here.
A really good under-card bout will see the unbeaten Daishi Nagata (6-0-1, 3) battle against Kazuki Matsuyama (13-6, 7) in what should be a fantastic test for the unbeaten 26 year old. Nagata has been matched hard through his career but will know that a win here would seriously push him to a Japanese title fight later in the year. For Matsuyama the bout will be a chance to get a second successive victory following a loss last year to Shuhei Tsuchiya.
There are a lot of Japanese shows during August but, for our money, the stand out one comes on August 10th as fans get a trio of interesting bouts as well as a show case contest for a man who is one of the hardest punchers in Asia.
The pick of the match ups is an OPBF Super Featherweight title bout between the once beaten Masayuki Ito (16-1-1, 7) and fellow contender Dai Iwai (17-3-1, 6), who will be trading blows in a bout for the vacant title. The bout doesn't promise a knockout, far from it in fact, but it does promise high quality action from two men who are both very well schooled and who are both looking for the biggest win of their career. Ito enters on the back of a controversial loss to Japanese champion Rikki Naito whilst Iwai enters on an 8 fight winning streak. This really could be a stand out bout with an emphasis on high speed chess.
Another notable bout on this card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Vinvin Rufino (37-16-3, 16), a hard nosed veteran from the Philippines, defending his title against local favourite Ryo Takenaka (12-3-1, 6). This will be Rufino's first defense and although his record is “blotchy” to say the least he is a very good fighter and will be looking to continue his reign of champion. For Takenaka this is his second bite at the OPBF apple having come very close last year against Hisashi Amagasa, when he was stopped in the final round whilst ahead on the cards. This should be a really exciting and competitive 12 round bout between two men who simply cannot afford to lose.
Another highlight on this card is youngster Ken Shiro (3-0, 2) who looks to move a step towards a Japanese title fight as he takes on Takashi Omae (13-4-5, 1). Coming in both men are ranked by the JBC but it's fair to say that this is supposed to be “one final test” for Ken Shiro who looked sensational last time out, when he stopped Katsunori Nagamine. Omae hasn't been stopped in his 22 fight career so a stoppage win for the 23 year old prospect would be a huge statement before a title fight, possibly in December.
The show case fight here sees OPBF Light Welterweight champion Keita Obara (14-1, 13) fight in a non-title bout against Thai visitor Khompetch Sithsaithong (5-5, 5) in what should be no more than an easy win for the world ranked Obara. From what we understand this bout is being fought between the Light Welterweight and Welterweight limits with the intention being for Obara to gradually make a move to 147lbs, possibly by the end of this year.
As well as the 4 bouts mentioned this card will feature 2 others making it perhaps the best “non-world title” show in Japan this year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)