This coming Friday we are set to get action featuring Asian fighters from Japan, Dubai and the US
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
In Japan we get a low key, but very interesting, card from the Kaneko Gym.
The main event here will see former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-5-1, 11) taking on unheralded prospect Rei Nakajima (3-0), who is stepping up massively. At 36 years old Hosokawa has seen better days and he has struggled for form recently, going 1-2-1 in his last 4, but he is still a heavy handed, physically strong, and experienced fighter who is a real danger man on the Japanese and Oriental scene. Nakajima on the other hand is a touted prospect at 154lbs and will be taking a massive step up in class. Aged 22 Nakajima is one of the most over-looked Japanese prospects out there, but a win here would get him series attention.
In an interesting looking support bout Japanese ranked Bantamweight Yoshihiro Utsumi (16-9-3, 10) will be up against the once beaten Tulio Kuwabata (3-1, 2). The 36 year old Utsumi is very much on the back end of his career, and he has suffered losses to Hiroaki Teshigawara and Kazuki Nakajima in his last 6, but he will go into this fight with a point to prove. As for Kuwabata this is a must win following a big upset loss in December, when he was stopped by Ken Jordan. Kuwabata looks like a real talent, but the loss to Jordan was a major set back and he can't afford another one here.
Another ranked fighter on this card is Jin Miura (10-3-4, 1), who takes on the once beaten Daiki Wakamatsu (7-1, 4) in one of the better looking bouts of the day. Amazingly Miura has won just 1 of his last 5, but has some how gone 1-0-4 during that run, including draws with Shingo Kawamura and Mugicha Nakagawa. Although unranked himself Wakamatsu comes into this bout with form and has won his last 6, following an early career loss. On paper this is a bit of a toss up and should be a very interesting match up.
One other bout deserving of a mention is one pitting Japanese ranked Super Flyweight Takahiro Fujii (11-6-1, 3) against Akira Kokubo (8-9-3, 2), in a battle of 30-something's. This bout, technically the chief support bout, is an all southpaw bout that could end up a very compelling contest, though is unlikely to be hugely exciting. Fujii enters with a JBC ranking, but the 31 year old isn't expected to get a shot at the title any time soon and is 4-3 in his last 7. Although Kokubo's record looks poor he is 4-1 in his last 6 and is much better than his record suggests.
Caesars Palace Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
As well as the action in Tokyo we also get a show from Dubai where we'll see some more Asian action.
The most notable bit of action for an Asian fighter here will see unbeaten Kazakh Viktor Kotochigov (12-0, 5) defending his WBC International Lightweight title against the under-rated Maxi Hughes (21-5-2, 4) in a very interesting match up. The 27 year old Kotochigov won the title in July 2019 and will be looking for his second defense here, as he continues to climb through the rankings towards a potential world title fight. Although very talented Kotochigov has been, at times, willing to cruise through bouts and 3 of his last 4 wins have been rather forgettable decisions. In the opposite corner to the Uzbek is a British fighter coming in on the back of an upset win over Jono Carroll. Despite having 5 losses to his name Hughes is a talented, technically sound, busy, accurate fighter and a very, very live under-dog here.
Lower down the card unbeaten Indian puncher Faizan Anwar (4-0, 4) will take on Filipino journeyman JR Mendoza (11-19, 5). The 19 year old Anwar has taken just 11 rounds to blow out his first 4 opponents but may be taken rounds here. Mendoza, although sporting 11 losses, has only been stopped 3 times in his career. Saying that however he is the naturally smaller man and hasn't had a boxing contest in 5 years, and ring rust may well prove to be a major issue for him here.
The Bubble, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Also in action will be unbeaten US based Kazakh Middleweight hopeful Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (8-0, 4). He was originally pencilled in to fight a world ranked southpaw, though sadly his original opponent was injured in training and instead the Kazakh will face Gonzalo Gaston Coria (16-3, 6). Coria is a 23 year old Argentinian southpaw, who gave 2-time world title challenger Artur Akavov a test in 2018, and should be a decent marker. Sadly after a solid 2019, which saw Alimkhanuly going 4-0 (3) it's a shame to not see him in with a more notable opponent this year. Fingers crossed that in 2021 we see Top Rank giving Alimkhanuly a big bout, as he deserves to show his skills against a top notch opponent sooner rather than later.
This coming Thursday we see the next Diamond Glove card from Korakuen Hall, in what looks like being an excellent show. The card will feature two title fights, including one of the most mouth watering OPBF title bouts we've had in a very, very long time, as well as a big step up for a promising prospect and a very interesting lower key bout.
The main event will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hiroaki Teshigawara (19-2-2, 12) defending his title against former world title challenger Shohei Omori (20-2, 15). The hard hitting Teshigawara will be seeking his second defense of the belt, and built on an 8th round TKO win over Yuki Iriguchi. Coming in to this bout he has won his last 7, with 6 wins by stoppages, and has looked super destructive since moving to 122lbs earlier this year. Interestingly Omori has moved up recently and has also on two bouts at Super Bantamweight by stoppage. Omori has looked brilliant since moving up in weight, and totally dismantled both Brian Lobetania and Takahiro Yamamoto. Of the two men Teshigawara appears to be the tougher, more rugged fighter, however Omori is the more smooth fighter and the more powerful one, so this is going to be a wonderful match to watch, and should be something very special. A full preview of this bout is available here - Teshigawara and Omori set for OPBF war!
The other title fight on this card will see veteran Kenichi Horikawa (40-15-1, 13) seek his second defense of the Japanese Light Flyweight title. In the opposite corner to the 56 fight veteran will be rising youngster Ryuto Oho (12-5-1, 4), in an interesting match up. At 39 years old Horikawa is a true veteran, who debuted more than 19 years ago and has run off 8 wins in a row since losing in a national title fight back in April 2017. The 24 year old Oho showed real promise early in his career, winning the 2013 Rookie of the Year, but since then has had some mixed success, winning the Japanese Youth title in 2018 but losing to Masamichi Yabuki earlier this year. At Light Flyweight Oho is a solid fighter, and could pose a genuine test to the highly experienced champion. Our preview of this bout can be read here Veteran champion Horikawa faces Oho in upcoming defense
In a really good supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Masahiro Suzuki (2-0, 1) continue his rapid climb up the ranks as he takes on the heavy handed Kosuke Arioka (9-3-1, 8). The 24 year old Suzuki turned professional last year, and really impressed on his debut win over Antonio Siesmundo, before adding a win over Kelvin Tenorio this past March and he does look like he is going to be a big player on both the domestic and regional scene. Arioka is no world beater, but has gone 6 bouts without a loss, going 5-0-1 (4), and is certainly a dangerous fighter as Yui Oikawa and Mirai Naito found out. Not only is Arioka dangerous but he is talented, and actually won the Rookie of the Year in 2017. This should be a real test for the highly touted Suzuki.
One other potentially exciting fighter here will see Daiki Wakamatsu (6-1, 4) taking on the heavy handed Riki Hamada (7-2, 6), who has lost his last 2 by stoppage, losing to Arashi Iimi and Xiao Tao Su. Hamada can bang, but is almost 2 years removed from his last win. Interestingly Wakamatsu hasn't fought in over 2 years, since stopping Pathon Aiemyod last time out in July 2017, so neither man has much momentum coming into this bout, but both will feel this is a great chance to pick up a win and get back in to the swing of things.