Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
It's fair to say that February is set to be a very, very quiet month with less action scheduled for the month than there was in January, also a super quiet month. Thankfully however this coming Thursday there is a notable show taking place at Korakuen Hall, and it's a genuinely exciting card with a Japanese Youth title fight and Japanese title fight both set for the show. Better than that, is the fact both of the title fights look very, very even and very interesting on paper..
The show only has 4 bouts on it in total. The most interesting of those will see Shinnosuke Kimoto (6-4, 2) take on Shota Ogasawara (5-3, 3) in a 6 round Super Bantamweight bout. Incidentally this is their second bout, but more about that in a moment. Coming in to this Kimoto is looking to rebound from a majority decision loss to talented youngster Tom Mizokoshi, a loss than ended a 2-fight winning run for him. As for Ogasawa he'll be fighting for the first time in over a year, following his loss in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year. Although he lost last time out in a notable bout Ogasawara is better for a different loss, his thrilling 2019 loss to Ryugo Ushijima. As mentioned these two have fought before, with Ogasawara beating Kimoto back in 2017, in what was Kimoto's debut. Fair to say Kimoto will want revenge here!
The first of the two title fights on the show will see Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1) clash with Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) in a sensational looking Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title fight, for the vacant title. The 20 year old Horikawa impressed in his 2019 debut and impressed even more in his second professional bout, when he beat Yuki Nakajima, though was unlucky in his third bout when he was controversially held to a draw in China against Xiang Li. Horikawa is a very skilled and quick boxer-mover and will be looking to make the most of his slick footwork here. On the other hand Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, looked promising on debut and sensational in his second bout, as he calmly outboxed OPBF Lito Dante over 6 rounds. Shigeoka looks the more imposing fighter, the physically stronger and more polished, but also the man with the slower footwork. This should be a genuinely fantastic match up, and a really high level bout between two sensational youngsters. Our preview of this bout can be read here Horikawa and Shigeoka battle for Youth crown in Tokyo!
In the main event we'll see Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (10-1, 5) defend his belt against mandatory challenger Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8), in a bout that was originally scheduled for 2020 but was delayed due to Covid19. For Sagawa this will be his third defense since beating Reiya Abe for the vacant title in 2019 and he looks to continue an excellent 9 fight winning run which has seen him defeat Junki Sasaki, Ryo Matsumoto, Al Toyogon and the aforementioned Abe. The champion has looked fantastic in recent bouts, but there are question marks about his chin and durability. On the other hand Maruta, who turned professional with a lot of buzz, has failed to meet the expectations put on his young shoulders, however a win here would see that buzz return. Aged just 23 Maruta has the tools to go a very, very long way, but a 2017 loss to Hidenori Otake slowed his rise and a controversial draw against Ben Mananquil also slowed him down. Coming in this the challenger has won his last 3, and has shown a more aggressive side to his boxing than earlier in his career. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Sagawa and Maruta clash at last, in Japanese title bout!
Yoyogi First Gym, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the show at Korakuen Hall there will also be a special event at the Yoyogi 1st Gym in Tokyo. This however isn't one you'll find on Boxrec and is instead a charity event where we'll get 7 exhibition bouts, and nothing that will go down on a fighters record. Despite that it's something that is worth being aware of, in part due to the fighters featured on it, including several world champions, amateur standouts and genuine Japanese stars.
One of those will be an potential dream bout as WBA "Super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) shares the ring with the now retired Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16), who himself held the IBF Light Flyweight title along with titles at Minimumweight and Flyweight. It's a shame the careers of these two didn't over-lap as this is a brilliant match up.
Another retired former world champion on this show will be former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) who will be in the ring with current Japanese national Super Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18). Although Uchiyama would be strongly favoured to win, had the two men clashed for real, this could be an interesting exhibition, especially given that Uchiyama is in fantastic condition.
A third former world champion included in the event is former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) who will be battling with former K-1 fighter Yoshiki Takei (0-0), who makes his professional boxing debut in March. Whilst not the greatest match up it will be a chance to see what Takei brings as a boxer, and we always love seeing Sho Kimura in the ring.
Former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (17-1-1, 10) will be taking on amateur standout Yuito Moriwaki in one of several bouts between professional fighters and amateurs. Another of these will see 140lb hopeful Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) share the ring with Japanese Olympian Daisuke Narimatsu and the a third will see Japanese Youth champion Jin Sasaki (10-0, 9) [佐々木尽] face off with the very highly regarded Seon Okazawa.
We've saved the best until last, and that's a bout between WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) and former WBC Flyweight kingpin Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) [比嘉 大吾], in what should be a sensational exhibition bout over 3 rounds and something worthy of paying the hefty admission fee for. This is two big names, both in their primes, facing off in a bit of a dream fight, even if it is just an exhibition.
Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan
To end 2020 boxing gives the latest in the customary big Japanese show on December 31st thanks to Japanese broadcaster TBS. This year isn't one of the massive end of year shows like we have had some years but it's still a very solid show and feature a sensational main event and a potentially thrilling supporting bout, giving us a fun double header to close out the year.
The main event of the show, and the final main bout of 2020, will see WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) look to make his second defense as he takes on Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9). This will be the first time Ioka has faced a Japanese fighter since his historical 2012 win over Akira Yaegashi, to unify the WBA and WBC Minimumweight titles, and it's by far his most interesting challenger in years, possibly going back to his rematch Juan Carlos Reveco. Having won world titles at 4 weights Ioka is one of the big stars in Japan but a loss here would be a hard one to come back from. For Tanaka the bout will see him looking to become a 4-weight world champion in just 16 bouts, and build on his reputation as one of the best young fighters in the sport. Unlike Ioka he has been willing to face Japanese foes and 2 of his last 4 bouts have been against fellow Japanese, including his 2018 war with Sho Kimura. This is the perfect bout to put 2020 behind us and is set to be a genuine treat for fight fans. Our in depth preview of this one can be read here The end of year clash - Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka
The main support bout will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-8, 9) defending his title, for the second time, as he takes on former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1-1, 16). For Kobayashi this is an amazing opportunity to get some exposure and make his name in front of a larger audience, with this bout being televised in the Kanto region of Japan. His 2019 title win against Ben Mananquil is a very under-rated one and his 2018 barn burner with Keita Kurihara is a sensation 12 round battle. As for Higa he's not yet looked settled since moving to Bantamweight, and he was certainly lucky last time out to only have a draw against his name when he went 10 rounds with Seiya Tsutsumi. This could be a genuinely fascinating match up, and a very fan friendly one. Our preview of this one can be read here WBO Asia Pacific champion Kobayashi takes on Higa as the year comes to an end!
One other bout worth talking about, though is unlikely to be televised even in highlights, will see Yuki Nakajima (4-1, 4) take on Toma Kondo (8-6, 1) in an 8 round bout. The 25 year old Nakajima is looking to score his third straight win since losing in 2018 to Ryu Horikawa and build on his thrilling victory over Shisui Kawabata. The youngster, who's older brother Kazuki Nakajima is regarded as a top prospect at the Ohashi Gym, has looked impressive but is, on paper, taking a step up in class here. Kondo on the other hand is coming into this with just 1 win in his last 5, though does tend to lost hotly contested bouts and could prove to be a very good test for Nakajima after a frustrating year.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Monday action returns to Korakuen Hall for a an interesting card featuring a former world champion, an unbeaten hopeful and a once touted youngster looking to bounce back from their first defeat.
The main event of the show will see former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1, 16) take on the unbeaten Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-1, 4) in what is a really interesting Bantamweight bout. On paper Higa will be the clear betting favourite, despite the fact this is at Bantamweight, but Tsutsumi twice beat Higa in the amateurs, he's unbeaten and is very much an under-rated fighter. For Higa this will be his second bout since returning to the ring earlier this year, following a long suspension, and we suspect he has a point to prove. As for Tsutsumi this will be his first bout since a very controversial draw with Kazuki Nakajima, and we get the feeling he too will be in there with a point to prove. This could end up being an excellent fight, despite how easy it is to favour the more well known Higa.
In the chief supper bout we'll see Higa's "AMBITION Gym" stablemate Ryuto Owan (5-1, 3) take on Tomoya Kishine (6-3-1, 2) in an 8 rounder. Owan really impressed us in his first few bouts, and went 5-0 to begin his career before suffering a decision in Octoner 2018 to Tetsu Araki, in a bout for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title. Sadly after that loss he was inactive and now, more than 2 years, we see him back in the ring for his first bout since that loss. For Kishine this will be his Korakuen Hall debut and he'll be looking to shine, though he has had mixed form, going 3-2-1 in his last 6. Kishine is no push over, but will certainly be regarded as the under-dog against the once touted Owan.
The big focus this coming Thursday is on Korakuen Hall, where we get a very interesting Diamond Glove card featuring a rising a second generation hopeful, a former world champion and a Japanese title fight.
The main event is the Japanese title fight, which will see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) defending his title against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) as part of the Champion Carnival. Yoshino, who holds the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles, will only be defending his national title, but a loss would seriously hamper his chance to advance to world level in 2020. As for Tomioka he's getting his second fight at the type of level, having previously lost to Masayoshi Nakatani in an OPBF title. On paper the stronger, heavier handed, and more powerful Yoshino should be favoured, but Tomioka certainly has the size and speed, both hand and feet, to make life very tricky for the champion. This bout has been previewed here Yoshino defends against mandatory Tomioka!
The former world champion on this show is former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) who returns to the ring for the first time since his 2018 loss to Cristofer Rosales. The talented and aggressive Higa was given an indefinite suspension by the JBC following the Rosales loss, for his failure to make weight, with that suspension only being lifted late last year. On his return he's being matched with Filipino visitor Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3), in what could turn out to be a rather solid test. Although Buenaobra is no world beater he has gone the schedule with Carl Jammes Martin, the only man to have heard the bell against the "Wonder Boy" and could prove to be a very durable test for the returning Higa. We really are looking forward to this one. Our preview of this bout can be read here Higa returns, but can he over-come the rugged Buenaobra?
Another bout of some note on this card is a contest between Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kazuma Sanpei (18-5, 7) and Soreike Taichi (7-2, 5), who will know that a win here boosts their chance to get a Japanese title fight later this year. Coming in the 25 year old Sanpei is the more well established fighter and despite his record being blotted with losses he is 6-1 (3) in his last 7 and did show real promise early in his career, winning Rookie of the Year back in 2013. Taichi is less well known but has won his last 4, including good wins over Yusaku Sekishima and Masaki Saito. Interestingly Taichi's last loss was in 2014, when he was stopped in a round bye Reiya Abe.
The second generation fighter mentioned above is Shinba Yamaguchi (1-0, 1), the son of former world champion Keiji Yamaguchi, who takes a significant step up from his debut. The 19 year old Yamaguchi who won his debut in just 40 seconds last October, will be up against Filipino Luis Borje (5-1-1, 2) in what should be a very credible test. It's hard to say much about Yamaguchi's professional career so far but it is worth noting that both of Borje's set backs have come to John Mark Tihuk, who should be seen as one to watch going forward. A very tough test this early in Yamaguchi's career.
Las Vegas, USA
As well as the Japanese action there is also a bout of interest in the US, where we'll see an Uzbek fighter in action. The Uzbek on this show is 35 year old Ravshan Hudaynazarov (17-3, 13), who looks to end a 3 fight losing streak. The US based Uzbek began his career 17-0 before seemingly ending his career in 2014. He returned to the ring in 2018 and since then has gone 0-3, and been stopped in 2 of those 3 losses. On paper we would expect Hudaynazarov to turn things around here in what looks like an easy bout against Cameron Krael (16-15-3, 4), however Krael has a very misleading record and the kid can fight. We wouldn't be surprised at all by an upset here.
This same show will also feature Kyrgyzstan born American based hopeful Andrei Odintsev (4-0, 4) take on Britton Norwood (9-4-1, 7) in a 4 round Light Heavyweight contest.
The main chunk of action this coming Sunday is from Kanagawa as Fuji TV put on a world title double header, with a couple of notable prospects packing out the under-card.
The headline bout of this show will see WBA Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (13-1, 10) make his first defense, as he battles Italian veteran Emanuele Felice Blandamura (27-2, 5), who is getting his first world title fight at the age of 38. Murata won the title last year, when he stopped Hassan N'Dam in their second meeting, and looked sensational doing it, literally picking and breaking N'Dam down through 7 rounds. The Japanese fighter has already been linked to a summer defense against Esquiva Falcao but will be aware that Blandamura is no push over. The Italian is a former European champion who has only lost to world class fighters, in Billy Joe Saunders and Michel Soro, and should give Murata some real questions. Blandamura has solid speed, timing and skills and should force Murata into showing something new here, but the challenger hasn't shown the best chin and that will likely be his down fall here, because Murata can certainly punch.
The other world title fight will see WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-0, 15) defending his title against Nicaraguan challenger Cristofer Rosales (26-3, 17. For Higa this bout not only serves as his 3rd defense but will also see him, potentially, set a Japanese record for the most successive stoppages, a record that he tied earlier this year when he stopped Moises Fuentes. The youngster from Okinawa has been a destructive force since his 2014 debut and and another win here will likely see him begin the hunt towards a Super Flyweight title. As for Rosales, the Nicaraguan has never been stopped and has only been beaten by Keyvin Lara, Khalid Yafai and Andrew Selby, with all 3 men having some problems with the Nicaraguan. Coming in to the Rosales has won his last 3, since the loss to Seby, including a win over the tricky Martin Tecuapetla and a big win in Italy against Mohammed Obbadi. This looks likely to be Higa's hardest fight so far, but a win will really legitimise him as a world class talent.
A notable prospect on this card is Junto Nakatani (14-0, 11), the Japanese Youth Flyweight champion. The unbeaten 20 year old, who went 4-0 (3) last year will be going up against WBC world ranked Mario Andrade (13-6-5, 3). On paper this is a huge step up in class for Nakatani, but he has looked sensational for the most part, with only Masamichi Yabuki and Yuma Kudo even testing the youngster so far. Andrade has a rather weird looking record, though much of that weirdness has come from a bizarre 3-5-4 start to his professional career. Since that odd started he has gone 10-1-1 with a win against Masayuki Kuroda, a draw against Oswaldo Novoa and a loss to Jesus Silvestre. This should be a really good test for Nakatani and win will put him on the fast track to a title fight.
Another prospect on this card is 2016 Rookie of the Year Shawn Oda (7-0, 7), who takes on Filipino foe Roldan Aldea (12-4-1, 6). The talented Oda is one of Japan's most promising Lightweights and at just 19 years old he looks to be well on his way to mixing at title level in the near future. So far his 7 fight career has lasted just 17 combined rounds and he is a pure natural puncher. Aldea on the other hand has been stopped in 3 of his 4 losses, and was taken out in December 2016 by Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov. Despite lacking toughness Aldea has stopped his last 2 and will have some momentum coming into this one.
There inst much action of note in Yamaguchi, but fans will see the exciting and heavy handed Teiru Atsumi (13-2, 6) return to the ring for his first bout since his 2017 loss to Shingo Kawamura. The loss to Kawamura ended Kawamura's 7 fight winning run, which featured 5 stoppages including wins over Sho Nakazawa and Burning Ishii, and we expected to see the Japanese based Korean out to make a statement as he faces Katsuhiko Kanno (10-10-7, 4). Kanno has a lot of losses but he's only been stopped once in 27 bouts and should prove to be the tough foil that Atsumi needs to make a statement against.
In the main of a card in Mie fans will see Yuto Nakamura (7-4, 6) challenge OPBF ranked Bantamweight Tetsu Araki (10-1-1, 2) in what could be one of the unheralded bouts of the day. The 21 year old Nakamura is a gutsy youngster who gave the under-rated Matcha Nakagawa a good test last year, and has only close decisions other than that loss. Araki on the other hand is riding a 6 fight winning run, but does lack any real quality in terms of his wins and could be given a surprisingly tough test here.
Another potentially good bout on this show will see the once beaten Shuma Sugawara (4-1, 3) take on Yudai Imada (6-2-3, 3) in a solid and competitive 6 rounder. Both men have some power, and both have ambition so this should make for a very hotly contested contest.
For a second day running Asian fight fans have a world title fight to get excited about, as WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (14-0, 14) looks to kick off his 2018 with a homecoming defense in Okinawa. The destructive champion will be facing off with former WBO Minimumweight champion Moises Fuentes (25-4-1, 14). The aggressive and powerful Higa will be seeking his second defense, following an impressive win over Thomas Masson in October, and with 2018 being a potentially huge year for Higa there is few who would want to deny him a homecoming bout in Okinawa. For Fuentes, who looked terrible in his 2016 loss to Kosei Tanaka, this is likely to be one final shot at becoming a 2-weight champion. At his best Fuentes was a nightmare to fight, though his best days are well behind him and were down at Minimumweight, where he could use his size effectively. At Flyweight the Mexican is going to find life very difficult against the younger, stronger, bigger, fresher Higa.
In a leading support bout we get the chance to see another young puncher in action, as teenager Shawn Oda (6-0, 6) take on Filipino visitor Warren Mambuanag (11-8-2, 3). Oda came to our attention in 2016, when he claimed the All Japan Lightweight Rookie of the year, less than 7 months after his debut, and he has looked extremely promising and destructive. Despite the perfect start from Oda this is a step up and Mambuanag is no push over, having been the GAB Super Featherweight champion and a solid domestic level fighter on the Filipino scene.
Another teenager on this show will be former amateur stand out Ryuto Owan (3-0, 2), who goes in for a serious test as he battles big punching Filipino Jun Blazo (7-4-3, 6). Aged 19 Owan has a lot of potential, and his team really do have a lot of belief in him, putting him against someone as dangerous and heavy handed as Blazo, especially given that Blazo dropped Owan's stablemate Koki Eto back in 2016. Coming in to this Blazo has suffered back to back losses, but is a real dangerman for Owan and a monstrous step up in class.
There is also a small card in the Philippines this coming.
The main event will see Michael Escobia (12-16-1, 3) take on Jestoni Autida (10-7,5), in what should be a highly entertaining domestic level clash. Escobia is 2-13 in his last 15 bouts, but has mixed at a decent level and took a big upset win last September against Jelbirt Gomera. Interestingly Autida is also best known for his upsets, wins over Jeffrey Francisco and Ratchasaki Kokietgym, and he did manage to be competitive with Jason Canoy and Ernesto Saulong. Both of these men are better than their records suggest, and we expect that to be shown here in what is likely to be a very good fight.
Sadly the rest of the card is pretty forgettable and unlikely to be too exciting.
This coming Sunday attention turns to Tokyo, with a world title triple header from the Kokugikan.
The biggest of the bouts is a rematch between Ryota Murata (12-1, 9) and Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam (36-2, 21), with the Japanese fighter seeking to avenge his sole defeat and claim the WBA Middleweight title. These two fought back in May, with N'Dam winning a very controversial split decision over Murata, in a bout that many felt the Japanese fighter had clearly won, especially given that he dropped the Frenchman and had him rocked a number of times.
In another interesting match up we'll see WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (13-0, 13) defending his title for the first time as he takes on French challenger Thomas Masson (17-3-1, 5). The champion won the title back in May when he stopped Juan Hernandez in very impressive fashion to continue his perfect stoppage run. Masson on the other hand is fighting above European level for the first tine, having twice been a European champion. The challenger will be the taller, and longer man, and will be looking to fight at range, but this is a huge step up for him.
The third title bout on the show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (10-0, 5) defending his belt against mandatory challenger Pedro Guevara (30-2-1, 17), himself a former champion. The champion won the title back in May when he narrowly out pointed Ganigan Lopez and will seeking to continue his rise here against a very talented former champion. As for Guevara the bout will see him return to Japan to try and reclaim the title that he lost to Yu Kimura, also in Japan.
A fourth bout of note on this show will see Ryuto Owan (2-0, 2) take on fellow puncher Alvin Medura (5-1, 5) in a bout which should be an explosive encounter. Both guys can bang and both will be in there looking to secure their biggest win to date. Owan, has stopped his first 2 foes in a combined 3 rounds and will be stepping up in a big way here, whilst Medura has had 15 combined career rounds, with his 5 wins coming in just 9 combined rounds.
A much smaller Japanese show will be held in Tottori, where there is only really two fights of any note.
One of those is the main event, which will see former Japanese Lightweight champion Kazuhiro Nishitani (17-4-1, 9) take on a Thai foe, in his first bout since vacant the Japanese title, which he only won in March. Nishitani's opponent shouldn't be much of a threat, though we will admit we would have preferred to have seen him in with a domestic foe rather than a limited visitor.
The other will see former world title challenger Mika Iwakawa (6-5-1, 2) fight for the first time since coming up short against Yunoka Furukawa in a bout for the WBA Atomweight title. Like Nishitani she will be up against a Thai foe, and will be expected to pick up an easy win en route to bigger and better things.
Another small Japanese card will take place in Okayama and will be head lined by a low key match up between Kota Fujimoto (6-2, 2) and Kenta Sugimoto (11-10-2, 1). On paper this looks like a probable win for the 19 year old Fujimoto, but he has lost his last 2 bouts and his early career momentum has come to a screeching halt. Although his record might not show it Sugimoto is a real potential banana skin and he holds notable wins over Tetsuya Hisada and Shunji Nagata, showing that there is a good fighter there, and he shouldn't be over-looked against Fujimoto.
New South Wales, Australia
We'll see another notable Japanese fighter in title action in Australia, as the Ryuji Hachimitsu Ikeda (12-3-2, 8) takes on Darragh Foley (12-2, 8) in a bout for the WBA Oceania, WBC “interim” Asian Boxing Council and WBO Oriental Light Welterweight titles. The bout looks a really good one on paper and should see two well matched fighters going up against each other in a potentially explosive bout, with both men having enough bang to hurt the other.
Also on this card fans will see Thai Pakdee Tor Buamas (11-7-1, 7) take on the once beaten Ben Savva (7-1, 2), in a bout for the lightly regarded vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Welterweight Title. Interestingly the Thai is unbeaten in his last 4, albeit at a very low level, and does have some momentum coming in to this one. He is however up against a man who has won his last 6 and has shown some promise, even if he's not looking like a future world champion in the making.
This coming weekend sees boxing take over in Tokyo with 5 world title fights spread over 2 days thanks to Fuji TV who are set to give us one of the most memorable weekends in recent memory. It kicks off on Saturday with a trio of world title fights on a show promoted by Teiken
The most significant of the fights sees French based Middleweight Hassan N'Dam (35-2, 21) battle against Japanese gold medal winner Ryota Murata (12-0, 9) in a bout for the WBA “regular” Middleweight title. For N'dam, who is best known for losing to Peter Quillin and David Lemieux, the bout gives him a third shot to hold a “full” title, after several reigns as an interim champion, and he does seem very confident in build up to the fight. For Murata the bout is a chance to mark his name in history as the first Japanese fighter to claim and Olympic and World titles and become just the second Japanese fighter to claim a Middleweight world title. Of all the bouts this weekend this is probably the most significant and the most interesting.
Talking about interesting it's worth nothing that the card features a mouth watering Flyweight title bout as WBC champion Juan Hernandez Navarrete (34-2, 25) takes on Japanese destroyer Daigo Higa (12-0, 12). The bout will be a mandatory for the Mexican champion whilst Higa looks to claim a world title at the age of 21, and keep alive his incredible stoppage run. The bout looks set to be something a little bit special with both being very talented and having a nice mix of styles, which should lead to a thrilling war.
The other title fight on this show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ganigan Lopez (28-6, 17) defending his title against former WBC Youth, Japanese and OPBF champion Ken Shiro (9-0, 5). The champion is a true grizzled veteran and has looked great in recent wins over Yu Kimura and Jonathan Taconing, with the Kimura win coming in Japan, but at 35 he is ancient for a Light Flyweight and is significantly older than Ken Shiro who will have a real advantage in youth. The bout will be Lopez's second defense and will be Ken Shiro's first bout at world level.
Whilst much of the attention for the day will be on Tokyo it won't be the only place with a world title fight, as Aichi also hosts a world title fight. Sadly whilst the Tokyo card will receive a lot of major press across Japan and looks set to be televised in a number of major markets it
looks like this will only be shown on CBC.
The headline bout of this show, and the world title bout, will see WBO Light Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (8-0, 5) making his first defense of the title as he takes on monstrous Puerto Rican puncher Angel Acosta (16-0, 16). The bout is a mandatory defense for Tanaka and looks like a great match up on paper as the talented and speedy champion takes on a massive puncher, with both men looking not only to walk away as champion but to also keep their unbeaten records. It's hard not to feel that Tanaka's experience at world level will be the difference here. But it's clear that Acosta has power and we have seen Tanaka down before, against heavy handed Filipino Vic Saludar, and Acosta could build a gameplan on Saludar's success.
Another unbeaten man on this card is Kento Hatanaka (2-0, 2), the son of former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka. The youngster will be taking part in a 6 rounder against an unknown Thai as he looks to continue his perfect start to professional boxing. The 18 year old has needed just 3 rounds to take out two domestic foes so far and will be looking for something similarly impressive here.
Also up against a Thai visitor will be 2-time Japanese Bantamweight challenger Yushi Tanaka (19-2-3, 13), who will be in an 8 rounder. Tanaka was last seen losing to Ryo Akaho in March, though put in a credible effort and will be hoping to run off a series of wins to earn a third shot at the Japanese title. This however won't be a notable win and will instead be confidence builder for the Hatanaka man.
There is also set to be action in Indonesia, where three of the hottest young Indonesian fighters will be in action.
One of the bouts will see the unbeaten Tibo Monabesa (15-0-1, 7) taking on Arnold Garde (8-4-2, 3) in an interesting match up for a minor WBC title at Light Flyweight. The unbeaten man, now regarded as one of the 3 Indonesian fighters to keep an out on, is going to be strongly favoured here, but Garde won't have travelled to make up the numbers and this could be a good test for the unbeaten man.
Another local fighter in action is Defry Palulu (17-2-1, 12), who will be battling the experienced Nathan Bolcio (14-12-3, 4) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Featherweight title. This looks like a mismatch but Bolcio has mixed in good company and could prove to be a stiff test for the popular local.
Another of the standout Indonesian hopefuls in action is 20 year old Iwan Zoda (13-2, 11), who will be up against domestic veteran Ical Tobida (13-23, 8). The bout will see Zoda return to action for the first time since a 7th round TKO loss to Robert Onggocan back in January and he'll clearly be fighting with intent to prove he is back to his best, following a rib injury.
In Korea the KBF will host a low key Rookie event, with very few details not note. We have been informed that the card will feature an 8 rounder, but other than that the details really are scarce.
In recent weeks we've seen action pick up with a series of great bouts taking place last weekend. We expect to see that trend continue this weekend with a notable show in Japan.
The main event of the card is the first of the 2017 Champion Carnival bouts and sees Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yasutaka Ishimoto (29-8, 8) defending his title against big punching Watanabe gym fighter Yusaku Kuga (13-2-1, 9), who is looking to avenge one of his defeats. These two fought back at the end of 2015 with Ishimoto just doing enough to take a decision over the younger and bigger punching Kuga, and claim the Japanese title. Kuga has since impressed and earned this rematch by stopping Jonathan Baat in 4 rounds. Ishimoto has impressed recently, and stopped Gakuya Furuhashi last time out, but at 35 one wonders how long he has left in the sport.
In the chief support bout we'll see OPBF Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (11-0, 11) fight in a non-title fight with one beaten Filipino Diomel Diocos (10-1-3, 3), who was a late replacement for journeyman Jayar Estremos (11-12, 4). Although Higa will be strongly favoured against Diocos the bout should be a good warm up for Higa ahead of a potential world title fight later this year. Whilst Higa will be expected to steam roll Diocos this should still tell us a lot about both fighters, and their potential.
Another Japan Vs Philippines bout will see Teiken promoted Super Featherweight Masaru Sueyoshi (13-1, 8) take on the unbeaten, and heavy handed, Allan Vallespin (9-0, 8). Sueyoshi comes into this bout having won his last 10 bouts, with notable wins against Yuta Nagai, Shingo Eto and Kazuma Sanpei, but will be up against an unbeaten banger here. For Vallespin, the GAB champion at 130lbs, this will be his first taste of international action and potentially a chance to make a statement. Although it seems like he's a puncher this will be the first real test of Vallespin's power and a real acid test for the 22 year old Pinoy puncher.
In a possible shoot out we'll see 20 year old Yamato Hata (3-0, 3) battle against Takuya Hashimoto (5-5, 5). To date neither of these men has heard the final bell, with Hata having never been past round 3 and Hashimoto only going into the 4th round once. Hata will be favoured, given he's unbeaten, but he's up against a fellow puncher and this could be genuinely explosive.
Gauteng, South Africa
In South Africa we'll see Filipino fighter Joey Canoy (12-2-1, 6) fighting for the IBO Light Flyweight title. The 23 year old Filipino will be in deep as he takes on former WBA Minimumweight champion Hekkie Budler (30-2, 9),who is looking to rebuild his career at 108lbs. The South African lost his Minimumweight crown last March to Byron Rojas and has since moved up in weight, scoring a big domestic win over Siyabonga Siyo, and will now be looking to become a 2-time IBO Light Flyweight champion, reclaiming a title he held from 2010-2011.
Quintana Roo, Mexico
In Mexico we'll see Japan's Hajime Nagai (14-7-2, 4) take on former unified Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr (20-4-1, 13). The bout is a massive step up in class for Nagai, but wins over Gakuya Furuhashi and Naoya Okamoto show he has got some ability. For Rodriguez the bout will be his first against a Japanese fighter since his incredible 2014 bout against Katsunari Takayama.
London, United Kingdom
In the UK we see Filipino veteran Ardin Diale (32-10-4, 15) battle against fast rising Welshman Andrew Selby (7-0, 5). The bout is a huge step up for Selby, in regards to his professional competition, but his amateur credentials speak for themselves and he will be heavily favoured here. Diale, who has been in with a who's who of boxing, is only 7 months removed from his 4th round TKO loss to Daigo Higa, but has fought twice since that loss and appears to have avoided lasting damage from that loss.
The biggest card of the weekend comes from Nevada where fight fans will get 4 world title bouts, all involving Asian fighters, in fact from the 4 bouts there are 5 Asian's in action.
The highest profile of the bouts sees multi-weight world champion Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38) battle against WBO Welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10) in what will be Pacquiao's ring return after a short lived retirement. The Filipino sensation is the clear betting favourite but is close to 38 years old and will be the much smaller man in the ring. For Vargas the bout sees him facing his first legend and a win for the once beaten American will open huge doors, and legitimise his world title reign.
At Featherweight we see little known Japanese fighter Hiroshige Osawa (30-3-4, 19) take on WBO champion Oscar Valdez (20-0, 18), in what is Valdez's first defense. The Japanese fighter is a former OPBF champion but this is a massive step up in class for him and he hasn't really fought anyone of much renown in a while, with perhaps his best recent win being over prospect Kosuke Saka. Valdez is earmarked as a potential Mexican super star and with his style, power and skills he has the potential be one of the biggest things in boxing, and we think that will be shown here.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see Filipino champion Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24) defending his WBO title against the unbeaten Jessie Magdaleno (23-0, 17), in what is likely to be the best bout on the card. Donaire will be making the second defense of his title and although there are question marks over what he has left in the tank this is a massive step up for the challenger. The bout should tell us how good Magdaleno is and just how much Donaire has left.
In an all Asian bout we'll see Chinese star Zou Shiming (8-1, 2) battle Thailand's Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym (39-1-2, 24) in a second bout between the two men, with them now fighting for the WBO Flyweight title. These two have fought before, fighting in Macau where Shiming dominated Kwanpichit on route to a very wide decision, and we suspect we'll see the same again here, though he has has been relatively inactive whilst Kwanpichit has been stringing together low level stoppage wins in his homeland.
In Japan we get another live televised card courtesy of G+, who are showing a Gushiken card featuring several notable names.
In the main event of the show we'll see OPBF Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (10-0, 10) defending his title for the first time as he takes on Filipino challenger Felipe Cagubcob Jr (6-2-5, 2). The exciting Higa is one of the fastest rising prospects in world boxing today and is looking to build on quick victories over Romel Oliveros and Ardin Diale earlier this year. Cagubcob is looking to build on a career best win over Donny Mabao back in July and avenge Higa's wins over several Filipino fighters in recent years.
Originally one of the key support bout was supposed to see former OPBF and JBC title challenger Shingo Eto (17-5-1, 9) take on the fast rising Shuya Masaki (5-0, 2). Sadly Eto has been injured in the build up to the show and has been replaced by Thailand's Tienchai Yoongkaogym (2-6, 1), in what is a much less interesting bout. We are looking forward to seeing Masaki back in action but it's hard to deny that what we've been left with is a long way from what was originally announced.
There is still one Eto brother fighting on this card with former WBA “interim” Flyweight champion Koki Eto (18-4-1, 13) taking on Jun Blazo (5-1-3, 5) in the chief support bout. The bout will be Eto's second since his 2015 loss to Carlos Cuadras in a WBC Super Flyweight world title bout, and he'll be hoping for a much more fluent performance than he had in May against Michael Escobia, in a bout that was surprisingly competitive. Blazo is limited but has won his last 3 by stoppage and is the type of fighter we've see Eto over-look before.
Mox Power Promotions put on their next Chinese card with a low profile card in Zhengzhou. The show is low profile but features 5 bouts, all scheduled for 6 rounds, and all featuring at least one debutant.
On another lower profile show, this time in Australia, we'll see the win-less Maks Chylewski (0-2) take on tough Thai loser Pramool Boonpok (1-26-1),in what could potentially be an interesting bout, despite the obvious limitations of both fighters.