Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
The main action in a surprisingly busy Tuesday, comes from the Kokugikan in Tokyo as we get a world title double header, and in fact the last world title bouts to take place in Japan this year following numerous post-Christmas bouts being cancelled.
The first world title bout from the double header will see WBO Minmumweight champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6) defending his title against mandatory challenger Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9), in what could be a very interesting bout. This will be Mendez's third defense of the title, which he took from Vic Saludar in 2019, but he comes into the bout after almost 2 years of inactivity, and for his first bout in Asia. "Bimbito" is certainly a talented fighter, but he style may not have the success on the road as it has at home, and he can look very negative at times. Taniguchi has come up short at world level before, but he does seem incredibly focused on this bout, and has bounced back well from his last loss, to Vic Saludar, to score 3 notable domestic wins. His style could end up working against him at times, as Mendez is the much quicker man, but his physicality and power could be a major difference maker, especially with Mendez's recent inactivity. Our preview for this world title fight can be read here Taniguchi gets second WBO title shot as he takes on Mendez
The other title bout on this show, and the main event of the day, will see Japanese star Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) return to a Japanese ring for the first time in over 2 years to defend his WBA and IBF Bantamweight titles against hard hitting Thai challenger Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11). Inoue and his team have made it clear they wanted a bigger name than Dipaen for this bout, but were turned down by a number of more well known names, and that can be dangerous if they are over looking the Thai and looking towards unification bouts in the new year. Dipaen isn't so much a threat to Inoue here, but Inoue could be a threat to himself if he's over-looking the challenger. As for Dipaen no one is giving him a chance, but he will know he has nothing to lose and he will be in there looking to put in the performance his career. We don't see this one lasting long, but it could be a genuine test of Inoue's focus given such a frustrating end to the year. Our preview of this bour can be read here The monster returns to Japan to defend against Dipaen!
As well as the two main bouts this card has several notable prospects on it, with youngster Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) taking on the much very experienced Takahiro Araki (12-10, 4), former Kickboxer Yoshiki Takei (2-0, 2) taking on Kazuhiro Imamura (2-0-1, 1), in what looks set to be his toughest bout to date, and the very exciting Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) taking on Takuya Fujioka (10-10-1, 1), in what looks to be a stay busy fight before bigger things in 2022.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The show at the Kokugikan isn't the only one in Tokyo, with Koakuen Hall playing host to an OPBF title double header. The bouts here aren't huge, but both the title bouts do promise a lot of exciting action, and there is also a solid under-card match up as well.
One of those OPBF title bouts will see Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (23-2, 8) take on Japanese veteran Koichi Aso (24-9-1, 15). Naito has looked like something of a suspect champion since winning the title a few years ago, and was pushed hard in a number of defense, but there's no doubting his skills and ability with the main questions being about his power and stamina. As for Aso, the veteran is a former Japanese national champion, but is very much a fighter coming to the end of his career, and he no longer has the energy and aggression he did in his prime. This should be straight forward win for Naito on the cards, but Aso will make him for it. Our preview of this regional title bout can be read here OPBF champion Naito takes on Aso at Korakuen Hall
The other title fight promises violence as the hard hitting Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18) takes on the under-rated Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2-1, 7) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Super Featherweight title. Saka has looked a brute in recent bouts, smashing up both Masaru Sueyoshi and Takuya Watanabe, in two very impressive back to back performances, though it's fair to say that he can be beaten and there are always question marks about his chin and his mental application in the ring. As for Kimura this will be his second shot at the title, having previously coming up just short against Hironori Mishiro, and he really has shown he belongs at this level. He will go in as the man with no momentum, but he has the skills and tools to spring the upset, in what should be a genuinely spectacular bout for those at Korakuen Hall. Expect a lot of heavy leather here, and some thrilling exchanges. Our preview of this bout can be read here Saka and Kimura battle for OPBF Super Featherweight title!
In one under-card bout worthy of some attention, we'll see boxing police officer Daisuke Sugita (6-2, 3) look to bounce back from a June loss to Ryo Akaho as he takes on youngster Ryuto Owan (7-1, 5). Sugita is a fun guy to watch, but he has been matched rather hand and losses to Akaho and Reiya Abe were both very one sided and showed he didn't belong in that company. Despite that he's a solid fighter and he has the tools to be a solid competitor on the Japanese domestic scene, albeit below domestic title level. Owan on the other hand is a promising and talented young fighter who seemed destined for big things until a loss in 2018 slowed his momentum, and a 2 year break from the ring followed. Since returning to action in October 2020 he has looked really impressive and he'll be looking to shine again here and move towards a potential title fight in 2022.
Outside of Japan there is also a very notable card in Thailand, headlined by WBA Minmumweight "Super" champion Knockout CP Freshmart (22-0, 8), who will be up against once beaten Filipino challenger Robert Paradero (18-1, 12). The talented Knockout is seeking his second defense of the year, after a long break from the ring following his 2020 win over Norihito Tanaka, and he'll be looking to end the year with an impressive performance here before moving onto a potential unification bout in 2022. As for Paradero he's looking to bounce back from his sole professional loss, which came earlier this year to Vic Saludar. The challenger showed plenty to like in that loss, but a lack of experience was an issue, and he'll be wanting to prove he has learned from that set back. It's always hard to bet against a Thai in Thailand, but it is worth noting that Filipino do historically have more success as challengers in the Land of Smiles than almost any other country and Paradero will not be there to make up the numbers. Or in deoth preview of this bout can be read here WBA champion Knockout takes on Filipino Challenger Paradero
This coming Satudays promised a lot, but sadly due to Covid19 and the extended state of emergency in Osaka two shows set for the date have been postponed, whilst a Thai show, seemingly, vanished with out a trace. As a result we went from having a good day to look forward to, to having a rather small, limited and quiet day with just a single show. Albeit a fair interesting one from Tokyo.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The show in question will come from Korakuen Hall, with G+ airing the show live across Japan. It's not a massive show, but it's certainly a notable one, with a solid main event, a very good chief support bout and one other bout worthy of some attention.
The main event will see former 2-time world title challenger Ryo Akaho (36-2-2, 24) take on boxing policeman Daisuke Sugita (6-1, 3). On paper this looks like a mismatch in favour of the much more experienced Akaho, but in reality it will likely be a lot, lot more competitive than it looks. Whilst Akaho is more proven as a professional Sugita was a good amateur, and is the naturally bigger man. Akaho is a former Super Flyweight who has grown into a Super Bantamweight, Sugita on the other hand is a Featherweight-come-Super Bantamweight. Akaho will, rightly, be favoured, but Sugita is certainly no push over and his sole loss has come to the excellent, if sometimes frustrating, Reiya Abe. We expect this one to be a very compelling contest.
Talking about compelling contests the chief support bout will see unbeaten prospect Shokichi Iwata (5-0, 4) take on tough veteran Toshimasa Ouchi (22-10-3, 8), in a major step up for Iwata. Iwata made his debut in December 2018, in the US, surrounding by a lot of excitement, but has yet to kick on. He's a real talent, but now needs to prove it. Ouchi on the other hand is a true grizzled veteran who has been a pro since 2003, and has take the likes of Shin Ono, Kenichi Horikawa, Kenshiro Teraji and Masamichi Yabuki the distance. This should be the first, real, test we see for Iwata, and a win should open see him finally securing his first title bout.
A third bout of note here will see JBC #1 ranked Lightweight Seiryu Toshikawa (13-5, 8) take on the #15 ranked Masaki Saito (15-15-6, 5). On paper Toshikawa's record is underwhelming, with the 5 losses, but he was very competitive in a number of those and is 7-1 in his last 8, having turned a 6-4 start to his career around really well. Saito on the other hand is very much a win some, lost some, type of fighter, but sadly he is picking a lot more losses than wins in recent years, going 2-5-1 in his last 8. Despite poor recent form Saito always comes to win, and this should be a very entertaining bout, even if the winner does seem pretty obvious.
This coming Saturday is a crazy one for fight fans following Asian fighters with bouts all over the globe!
West Midlands, United Kingdom
The highest profile bout takes place in the UK as South African Zolani Tete (28-3, 21) takes on Filipino fighter John Riel Casimero (28-4, 19) to unify the WBA and WBO interim Bantamweight titles. For Tete the bout will see him back in action for the first time since a messy bout in October 2018 with Mikhail Aloyan whilst Casimero will be looking to score a 5th straight T/KO. Both men have a point to prove and both will know that a win here helps take them one step closer to a divisional super fight with WBA/IBF champion Naoya Inoue. A full preview of this bout is available to read here Casimero takes on Tete for WBO title!
Monte Carlo, Monaco
We get a bit of a strange one in Monaco, where unbeaten Chinese southpaw Zhilei Zhang (20-0, 16) takes on Ukraine's Andriy Rudenko (32-4, 20) in a clash of Heavyweight hopefuls. For Zhang this will be his first bout in over a year, as he looks to make up for lost time, and to try and get things back on track after previous issues with a visa. As for Rudenko, he has taken this bout as a late replacement for Sergey Kuzmin, and it's unclear how prepared he will be for this. This is a must win for both men, who are now both in their 30's, and it will be very, very hard to see the loser making any sort of a mark on the sport going forward.
In the US fans will be able to see unbeaten Japanese hopeful Andy Hiraoka (14-0, 9) make his American debut, as he takes on American foe Rogelio Casarez (13-8, 5). The talented Hiraoka, who has trained in the US in the past, will be going into this with a lot of confidence following a career best win over Akihiro Kondo in July but Casarez is a tough guy and will be expecting to take Hiraoka the scheduled 8 rounds here.
Top Rank continue their toe-dipping in China with another show alongside SECA, and this one features quite a lot of notable Chinese prospects.
One of those Chinese prospects will be Lei Wang (4-0, 2), who takes on Filipino foe Marlon Paniamogan (10-1-1, 5) in a bout for the WBO Great China Light Welterweight title. For Wang this will be his third bout this year, and he'll be looking to build momentum as we head into the new year. For Paniamogan this will be his second bout since losing to Kuntae Lee in July. On paper this is a really interesting match up and one we're looking forward to.
Another interesting match up on this show will see the unbeaten Yongqiang Yang (12-0, 9) take on JR Magboo (18-3-2, 9). The 27 year old Yang is one of Chinese boxing brightest hopes, and wins over Takuya Watanabe, Harmonito Dea Torre and Ernie Sanchez have really shown he can hang with good fighters. Sadly he spent more than a year away from action, which slowed his rise, but he is certainly someone who deserves some real attention. At his best Magboo was an decent hopeful, but with 3 losses in his last 5 bouts it's hard to see him putting up much of a test for Yang, who has the tools to go a very long way.
There will also be a show in Taiwan, featuring a pair of notable Japanese fighters.
In one of the main bouts former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-5-1, 6) will be up against Indonesian foe Moensaku Yor (6-5-1, 4). The hard hitting Tamura has had a very mixed year, with a career defining win in January over Mugicha Nakagawa being followed by back to back losses to Yusaku Kuga and Gakuya Furuhashi. Despite the losses Tamura will be strongly favoured here against Yor, who has been stopped in 3 of his last 4 bouts.
The other notable name on this show is boxing-policeman Daisuke Sugita (5-1, 3), who looks to defend his WBA Asia Super Bantamweight title against Filipino journeyman Edison Berwela (18-42-8, 6). This will be Sugita's first defense of the title he won in August when he beat Crison Omayao, and he'll be strongly favoured here against Berwela. Despite being the big under-dog Berwela will be expected to take Sugita rounds, and the Filipino has only been stopped in 7 of his 42 losses with the most recent stoppage coming more than 3 years ago against Michael Dasmarinas.
Ulsan, South Korea
Another Asian show will be taking place in South Korea. Like many Korean cards this is a pretty low key show, but the main event deserves some attention as unbeaten local Sung Jae Jo (10-0, 8) takes on Indian visitor Deepak Tanwar (4-0, 2). This will be Jo's 4th bout of the year, and he's moving forward with his career. Tanwar however has been inactive for almost 3 years and it's hard to imagine him putting up much of a fight here.
We also have a bout of interest in Australia as the rugged but limited John Ruba (19-6-1, 10), from Indonesia, takes on unbeaten Australian Ben Mahoney (8-0, 4) for the IBO Asian Pacific title at Light Middleweight. Ruba is no world beater but he has gone the distance with Sadriddin Akhmedov and Mahoney will be expected to earn his win here.
The biggest card this coming Saturday is from Tokyo, and is the latest Dynamic Glove card set to be shown on tape delay. The card features a nice mixture of title fights and novices in what could be one a card of real interest.
The main event of the show is a rematch between Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) and Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6). These two fought earlier in the year, battling to a draw in a brilliant bout where the heavy handed Takesako had to dig deep to earn a draw against a determined and smart challenger. Kato will probably have felt like he let the win slip between his fingers in their first bout whilst Takesako may have over-looked his man and we should be assured another cracking bout here between men who are very well matched but have very contrasting styles. A full preview of this bout is available here Takesako and Kato go again for Japanese Middleweight crown!
The chief support bout sees former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (13-1-1, 7) back in the ring following his loss to Jaime Munguia in January. The tough and exciting Inoue proved he could go to war against Munguia and will be expected to easily over-come Thai visitor Patomsuk Pathompothong (38-10-1 24) on a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title. Inoue actually held this title back in late 2017 and will be looking to become a 2-time champion. On the other hand the 35 year old Thai has been stopped in his last 2 bouts in Japan, both at 140lbs, and it's hard to see him putting up any sort of a fight against the rough and ready Japanese warrior. We've previewed this bout here Inoue returns to Japan to battle for regional title!
An interesting support bout will see the once beaten Kenshin Oshima (5-1-1, 3) take on Filipino Wilbert Berondo (14-3-2, 6). Oshima didn't look great last time out, taking a win over youngster Ikuro Sadatsune in a very good bout in January, and will be hoping to shine here against Berondo. The Filipino on the other hand will be returning to Japan for the first time since he was stopped by Hinata Maruta back in 2016 in a WBC Youth title fight.
Another promising youngster on this card is the hard hitting Takuma Takahashi (3-0, 3), who battles against Sitthidet Banti (11-4, 5). With just 5 rounds to his name Takahashi is still very much a professional novice, but it's clear he can bang, even if his technique needs some work before he starts to hunt titles. Takahashi was a successful amateur but still needs to polish his style in the next year or two and this should be a good chance for him to do some polishing against a tough Thai foe. Banti, also known as Denchana Sakkreerin, is no world beater but he's yet to be stopped and comes in to this bout on the back of 2 wins, including a victory over Saddam Kietyongyuth. Our "Introducing" feature on Takahashi from earlier in the year can be read here Introducing... Takuma Takahashi
Also on this card will be the debut of Celes Kobayashi's latest signing Issei Ochiai (0-0). The talented youngster will be debuting against Thai foe Lerdchai Chaiyawed (1-2), who holds a notable 2018 win over Wittawas Basapean though was beaten last time out, in Japan, by Seita Ogido. There are big hopes for Ochiai and we expect to see whether those hopes are well founded or not here. Our "Introducing" feature on Ochiai can be read here Introducing... Issei Ochiai
Metro Manila, Philippines
The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex in Paranaque City is set to host a title double header which features some really interesting match ups, mixing domestic talent with some international talent.
The best of the all-Filipino fights on this card will see Allan Vallespin (12-4, 9) take on Glenn Enterina (14-5-1, 9) in an excellent match up for the GAB Super Featherweight title. The under-rated Vallespin is coming in to this on the back of just 1 win in his last 3, though he has been matched hard against the likes of Denys Brinchyk, Musashi Mori and Yoshimitsu Kimura, but is 12-0 in his homeland. Similarly Enterina has suffered all of his losses on the road, and is 14-1-1 (9) at home, showing just how good he is on the domestic scene. Given how these men have fared on the Filipino scene this should be a very competitive contest.
The second title fight will see Filipino puncher Alvin Medura (8-4, 7) take on Japanese visitor Mugicha Nakagawa (24-6-2, 14) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Super Bantamweight title. Medura has suffered his last 3 loses to Japanese foes, all on the road, but will feel confident that his power, which has netted him 5 wins int he first 2 rounds, will play a major factor against Nakagawa. Nakagawa on the other hand will be trying to put a few bad months behind him. He lost in a Japanese title fight back in January, to Ryoichi Tamura, and then fought to a draw last time out with Jin Miura. At his best Nakagawa is a tough, hard working fighter, but we do question his confidence coming into this one. If Nakagawa is half the fighter he was 12 months ago he takes a clear win here.
One other Filipino Vs Japan bout will see Crison Omayao (24-19-5, 8) face Daisuke Sugita (4-1, 3), in what looks like an abhorrent mis-match. The 26 year old Omayao has fought much of his career as a Minimumweight, and was actually the debut of opponent of Naoya Inoue back in 2012, so we really need to query why he's fighting at Super Bantamweight here against the technically limited but hard hitting Daisuke Sugita. For Sugita this looks like a really straight forward way to get back to winning ways following a very clear loss back in January to Reiya Abe. We'd be very shocked if this one went more than a few rounds and didn't end up with Omayao suffering his 10th stoppage loss
Metro Manila, Philippines
A second card from the Philippines is a much smaller one, but will feature two more title bouts.
One of those title bouts will feature the limited but hard hitting Prabhjot Singh (7-4-1, 7) taking on Edsil Jungco (3-12-7), with the two fighters battling for the PBF Middleweight title. Singh has lost his last 4, dating back over 2 years, and it's really hard to know what he has left to offer. Jungco on the other hand, the expect of the draw with 7 of them from 22 bouts, has notched 2 wins in his last 4 and will have some confidence coming into this bout after 1 win in his first 18.
The other title bout on this card is between Alie Laurel (15-4-1,10) and Lloyd Jardeliza (8-9-4, 6), who battle for the LuzProBA Featherweight title. The 27 year old Laurel is very much an under-rated fighter, but sadly had his career put on ice for almost 3 years following a draw with Joe Noynay in 2016, a draw that now looks incredibly good. This will be his second bout since that bout with Noynay. JArdeliza on the other hand is best known for being stopped in 5 rounds by Shun Kubo in an OPBF title bout, back in 2015, and since then he has struggled to make any impact in the sport, going 1-6-1 since then. Jardeliza needs a win here, but is very unlikely to get it against the talented Laurel.
Once beaten former world title challenger Jessebelle Pagaduan (11-1-1, 5) will be seeking her 5th straight win as she takes on limited domestic foe Charimae Salvador (4-2, 1). The talented Pagaduan has suffered both of her career set backs in Japan in world title bouts but will be looking to secure a third world title bout in the coming years. Interesting both of Salvador's set backs have also come in Japan but at a much lower level, including a loss to novice teenager Eruka Hiromoto last November. There's a gulf in class between these two, and it's hard to imagine anything but a clear win for Pagaduan.
Staying in Asia there will also be a card that will be headlined by Campee Phayom (16-4-1, 10) taking on China's Lunjun Zhao (6-1) in a contest for a WBO Youth title at Super Featherweight. This is the least significant of the Asian cards for the day, but is still a chance to see two youngsters in action for a minor title.
As well as all the action in Asia we'll also see Japanese veteran Hirotsugu Yamamoto (20-14-3, 4) make his US debut, as he takes on the unbeaten Michael Norato (7-0, 2). The Japanese fighter, who will be fighting in his 38th pro bout, will be fighting for the first time in a little over 2 years, with his last bout being a TKO2 loss Kenichi Ogawa. Although now aged 35 Yamamoto is looking to continue his career Stateside, though will be a big under-dog against the 26 year old Norato. The unbeaten American is technically set for his toughest fight, but this merely looks like a natural step up for him, and Norato should pick up a straight forward win.
Attention turns to Nevada this coming Saturday for the biggest card of the weekend, and one featuring several Filipino fighters.
The headline bout, and one of the biggest bouts of the month, will see Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) defending the WBA Welterweight title against controversial American Adrien Broner (33-3-1-1, 24). This will be Pacquiao's first defense of the title he took last July, when he beat Lucas Matthysse, and could potentially help set up another big bout later in the year, if he can over-come Broner. For the American, who was once tipped as the future of boxer, this is a must win bout and another loss, especially to a 40 year old Pacquiao, will be hard to bounce back from. This isn't the bout it could have been a few years ago, but should still be a very interesting must win bout. Our preview of this bout is available here Pacquiao and Broner battle for WBA Crown
Another title fight on this show will see WBA "interim" Featherweight champion Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17) defending his title against Mexican challenger Hugo Ruiz (38-4, 33). The unbeaten fighter, from the Philippines, took the title last year in Malaysia and has shown to be a brutally heavy handed fighter, who is lacking in terms of speed and crispness, but is very hard hitting and very dangerous. Ruiz on the other hand made name at Bantamweight, where he was a WBA interim champion, and Super Bantamweight, where he held the WBC title, but has been relatively inactive recently and has shown shaky whiskers. We're expecting this to be very explosive and very exciting, with both having very good power. Our preview of this bout is here Tepora looks to make first defense of "interim" crown, takes on hard hitting Ruiz
Interestingly both Jayar Inson (18-1, 12) and Genisis Libranza (17-1, 10) were scheduled to be on this card, though it now appears that neither man will actually feature. Sadly. Libranza was lined up to face former world title challenger Carlos Buitrago (30-4-1-1, 17) though only Libranza is actually listed for the show now and Libranza has been removed.
We also get a really notable card in Tokyo, as G+ televise the first Dynamic Glove card of the new year, a card featuring 3 very attractive bouts.
The main event will see former OPBF and Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) taking on Japanese veteran Takafumi Nakajima (29-11-1, 13), in what will be the second bout between the two men. These two met way back in May 2012, with Nakajima defeating Wake via unanimous decision. Since their first bout Wake has gone on the have notable success, going 15-1 (12) and has fought for a world title. Nakajima on the other hand has gone 9-6 since beating Wake, losing in title bouts to Hidenori Otake and Mark John Yap. This is clearly a bout to give Wake revenge for his last loss at domestic level, but is still an interesting match up, and one with a bit of history behind it.
The chief support bout will see the unbeaten Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) face off with Reiya Abe (18-2, 9), in a strange yet compelling match. Sugita, who is a full time policeman outside of the ring, has impressed since making his debut and is tipped for big things, but obviously stiffer tests than he has been getting following a very impressive amateur career. This is however a massive step up in class for Sugita, who has never faced anyone like the world ranked Abe. For Abe the bout is a risky one, given his next bout has already been arranged and is a Japanese Featherweight title bout in the middle of the year. This bout see Abe losing his title fight, if he loses, but an injury or a cut could force his plans to change. We suspect Abe will have too many tools for Sugita, at this early stage, but this is still an incredibly interesting match up. Our preview of this bout is available here World ranked Abe takes on Policeman Sugita!
The third terrific match up on this card pits ranked youngsters against each other. In one corner will be Japanese ranked Teiken promoted 24 year old Kenshin Oshima (4-1-1, 3) whilst the other corner will host 21 year old southpaw Ikuro Sadatsune (9-2-3, 3), who holds Japanese WBO Asia Pacific rankings. Coming into this bout Oshima is riding a 4 fight unbeaten run, including an ugly but notable win over Joe Tanooka back in August. Sadatsune on the other hand has won his last 3, with notable wins over Ryo Suwa and Tatsuya Takahashi. We're expecting to see Oshima's power and aggression against Sadatsune's skills and movement in a very well matched and intriguing contest.
Seoul, South Korea
In South Korea we'll see the first card under the recently announced Annihilation banner, which co-promotes MMA and boxing. The main event of this card will see Korean fighter Jung Kyoung Lee (6-2-1, 2) battling against Australian based veteran Samuel Colomban (25-10-1, 11) for the vacant OPBF Light Middleweight title. The bout will be the first OPBF title fight on Korean soil in quite some time, and seems to suggest that KBF are coming out for 2019 with some new fire in their belly. It should be noted Colomban has seen much, much better days but is still a very live fighter against the inexperienced Korean. Our preview of this bout is available here Lee and Colomban battle for OPBF crown!
One other bout of note will take place in Onratio, where we see Canadian based Indian fighter Sukhdeep Singh Bhatti (3-0, 2) kicks off his 2019 with his first 6 round bout. Bhatti will take on Mitch Louis Charles (5-1-2, 2). Bhatti made his debut in March 2018and picked up 3 low key wins during the year. This is a credible step up, at least on paper, for the unbeaten man. We say on paper, because Charles hasn't fought in over 4 years and it's unclear what he'll look like given that lengthy lay off.
In Bangkok this coming Tuesday we'll see two Japanese fighters from the Watanabe gym fighting for regional titles.
One of those will be Masataka Taniguchi (10-2, 7), who will be fighting against Filipino fighter Joel Lino (10-0-1, 3) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title. There was talk about Taniguchi getting a world title fight at the end of the year, though it seems those plans are off, due to him lacking a WBO world title, but a win here will put him in to the rankings. The unbeaten Lino may feel he's being over-looked, but he's certainly a live under-dog against the under-rated Japanese fighter, who's losses have come ton Reiya Konishi and Tsubasa Koura. It should be noted that Lino hold a really notable win over recent world title challenger Pedro Taduran and will be feeling confident of picking up another huge win here.
The other title fight on this show will be an ABF Featherweight title bout between boxing-policeman Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) and Thai journeyman Worawatchai Boonjan (12-17-1, 11). Sugita is a very talented fighter and a win here is expected in what appears to be a mismatch in favour of the visitor.
This coming Friday is a major day in Japan, despite not being a day that will get much international attention. The reason for this is that in Tokyo there will be an incredible 6 Japanese title eliminator contests, with the winners booking their place in the 2019 Champions Carnival.
At Light Flyweight we get a rematch between Kenichi Horikawa (37-15-1, 11) and Koji Itagaki (18-12-3, 7). These two are both veterans who have come up short in a recent Japanese title bout to Tetsuya Hisada and both are clearly and wanting another shot at the belt. The winner will get a title fight next year, meaning the reward for a win is huge, though the loser will likely be pushed into retirement. The full preview of this bout is here Horikawa and Itagaki rematch with a title fight on the line!
At Super Flyweight we see recent Japanese title challenger Yuta Matsuo (14-3-1, 7) take on Japanese based Filipino veteran Rey Orais (20-17-2, 5), who has only fought once in the last 10 years. The talented Matsuo came up short in 2017 against Masayuki Kuroda but has notched up a couple of wins since then and looks to be hungry for a second shot. Orais on the other hand is a boxer-come-trainer-come part time boxer, who looks to be rolling the dice for one final charge at a title. An in depth fight preview for this bout can be read here Matsuo and Orais battle for shot at Super Flyweight gold!
At Super Bantamweight we may be getting a small treat at Mugicha Nakagawa (23-5-1, 14) takes on Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6). Both men are under-rated outside of Japan and both should make for a very interesting match up here. Nakagawa caught our eye in a 2017 loss to Yasutaka Ishimoto, and despite losing has since bounced back with a pair of stoppages. Okamoto on the other hand comes into the bout on the back of big wins over Daisuke Watanabe and Yuta Saito, who has since won the Japanese Bantamweight title. This could be the hidden gem on the card and technically the winner will be ordered to fight current champion Shingo Wake, though he is expected to vacate before the Champion Carnival. A fight breakdown for this contest is available here Nakagawa and Okamoto to fight in Japanese eliminator!
A second rematch on this card, this time at Super Featherweight, will see Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) and Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) face off for the second time inside a year. Interestingly these two fought last December in a Japanese title eliminator that Osato narrowly won. Sadly for Osato he would come up short in his eventual title fight, losing to Masaru Sueyoshi earlier this year. This should be a technically compelling match up, even if it fails to be one of the more exciting bouts on the card. A preview of this bout can be read here Osato and Sugita go again, in title eliminator!
Talking about exciting it's hard not to have pulses racing about the Light Welterweight bout between the unbeaten and heavy handed pairing of Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) and Marcus Smith (6-0-1, 6). Inoue, the cousin of both Naoya and Takuma Inoue, is one of the most avoided fighters on the Japanese domestic scene and with good reason, having left good good opponents battered and broken. Smith, the 2017 Rookie of the Year, is an American born Japanese fighter who has looked very destructive and heavy handed, but is taking a massive step up in class here. This is going to be something very fun and despite favouring Inoue we think this could be the bout of the show. The preview for this contest is available here Inoue and Smith clash in Japanese title eliminator!
The heaviest bout on this card will take place at Light Middleweight and will see veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-9-2, 13) battle against Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7), in what could be another very entertaining bout, and one that could see the winner join a mixed up situation in the Japanese Light Middleweight scene. The 39 year old Saito has come up short in 7 title bouts during his 35 fight career, but outside of title fights he is an impressive 24-3-1. Matsunaga comes in to this on the back of 7 straight wins, including notable wins over Sanosuke Sasaki, Je Ni Ma and Patomsuk Pathompothong. Saito will know he can't afford another set back, given that he turns 40 early next year, but Matsunaga won't be looking to lose his own career momentum. Our preview for this bout is available here Veteran Saito takes on Matsunaga for Japanese title shot!
On Wednesday we see a unified champion defending their regional titles on what is a very weak show, with one of the worst fight posters we've seen this year and one of the weakest cards, with just 3 bouts taking place on it.
The main event will OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Yasuyuki Akiyama (12-7-1, 9), making his first defense of both titles, as he faces the heavy handed Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (10-3, 9). Last year Akiyama won the belts with a massive upset win over Koki Tyson, stopping Tyson in the 5th round of a scheduled 12. At the age of 38 it's unclear what Akiyama has left in the tank though it is worth noting that he owns a 2017 win over Hosokawa. For Hosokawa this is a chance to avenge his loss to Akiyama and claim a couple of regional titles whilst extending an impressive run of results, which has seen him stopping his last 4 opponents in a combined 18 rounds. We're expecting a very explosive contest here!
The main support bout will see the fast rising Daisuke Sugita (3-0, 2) take on Thai foe Somphot Seesa (2-1, 2) in an 8 round bout. Sugita is a real talent, and had a very strong amateur career before making his debut back in April. Last time out he became the first man to stop Masaaki Serie and he'll be looking to build on that win here. The Thai was stopped last time out, by Ren Sasaki, and is clearly there to keep Sugita busy, rather than to test the prospect.
There was a supporting Heavyweight bout scheduled for the card collide as Ryu Ueda (6-1-1, 3) was supposed to take on Yamato Fujinaka (7-5, 3). This bout has been cancelled leaving the only other bout on this card a Lightweight clash between Tsubasa Matsudo (4-10-4, 1) and Nobuya Kasai (4-7-1, 3), which isn't particularly inspiring.
Genuinely one of the worst Japanese cards we've seen this year!
The biggest card this coming Friday is in Qingdao as we get two world title fights and several other minor title contests.
One of the world title bouts will see WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (16-1-2, 9) return to China, where he won the title last year against Zou Shiming, to defend the belt against Froilan Saludar (28-2-1, 19). Kimura has made just a single defense of the title, but looks like a solid champion who is strong, hungry and hard hitting, much more so than his record suggests. As for Saludar he was once tipped as a major star but has failed to reach the heights expected of him. Saying that however Saludar has seen his brother, Vic Saludar, score a massive win recently over Ryuya Yamanaka and will feel full of confidence following his brothers win. We're expecting heavy leather to be thrown here and we suspect both have the power to hurt the other.
The other world title fight will see unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (17-0, 7) defending his title against China's very own Xiong Zhao Zhong (27-7-1, 14). This will be Knockout's first bout outside of Thailand and will see him hunting a 5th defense of the WBA regular title. Although talented Knockout does have flaws and with the Chinese crowd against him he may need to up the pace in the later rounds, something he's rarely done when he's been fighting at home. For Zhong the bout is one final chance to become a 2-time world champion, though at the age of 35 it's hard to know what he really left in the tank.
In another title bout we'll see China's Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (13-2-1, 6) take on Filipino fighter Sonny Katiandagho (12-2, 7) for a couple of regional titles. Coming in to this Nasiyiwula will be trying to bounce back from his April loss against Fredrick Lawson in the US, and will be dropping back down from Welterweight to Light Welterweight for this bout. As for Katiandagho he was stopped 2 fights ago, and has been down a few times during his career, though will feel confident here having gone 2-0 in fights in China.
Other bouts on this card include Can Xu (13-2, 1) against Jelbirt Gomera (13-4, 7) and an interim regional Flyweight title bout between Wulan Tuolehazi (7-3-1, 3) and Yokthong Kokietgym (18-4, 11).
Fight fans in Tokyo will get something a bit special as reason put on a stacked card at the Korakuen Hall.
The major attraction here is an amazing match up for the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, as defending champion Yusaku Kuga (16-2-1, 11) takes on former world title challenger Shingo Wake (24-5-2, 16) in what is essentially a world title eliminator between two world class fighters. The hard hitting Kuga has made two defenses of the title that he won in February 2017, though certainly got pushed hard in the first of those against the aggressive and hard hitting Ryoichi Tamura. Wake on the other hand is a former OPBF champion who's only loss in the last 6 years came to the hard hitting Jonathan Guzman in 2016. This is a puncher against a boxer, and we're expecting a compelling stylistic match up here.
Whilst the main event is brilliant it may end up being outshone by a supporting bout between unbeaten Minimumweight prospects, who trade blows for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title. The bout in question will see 2016 Minimumweight Rookie of the Year Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4) take on the heavy handed Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) in what is really a fantastic match up. The 20 year old Tomita had a break out 2016 with his Rookie of the Year triumph and since then has gone 4-0 (2) with a notable domestic win over Desierto Nagaike. On the other hand Ishizawa, who debuted in June 2017, has just been destructive with his April win over Tatsuro Nakashima being a huge statement. This really has the potential to be a very special bout.
Former Japanese and OPBF champion Takuya Kogawa (29-5, 13) will be returning to the ring for his first bout of the year, as he takes on former Japanese title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (16-8-2, 11). At his best Kogawa was world class, and has long been a fan favourite due to his high octane style and willingness to have a tear up against anyone. Sadly though at the age of 33 we suspect his career is catching up with him and he may not have too long left at the top. Saying that however we still suspect Kogawa will have more than enough to over-come the somewhat limited Sakashita who has gone 4-4 in his last 8, losing to the 4 notable fighters that he's shared the ring with in that time.
Another really interesting match up will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Masaaki Serie (27-9, 10) return to the ring after more than 2 years away from the ring. Unfortunately for the 35 year old Serie he will be up against the fast rising Daisuke Sugita (2-0, 1), who is tipped for big things. At his best Serie was a really solid fighter, who scored notable wins against the likes of Mikihito Seto, Shoji Kimura and Yasutaka Ishimoto. Sadly for Serie he was showing signs of his age before his break from the ring, and had gone 3-4 in his previous 7 bouts. Sugita is a former amateur stand out who debuted in April and is taking a big step up here, but one that we expect him to make with ease given just how good he was as an amateur, and how good he's been since turning professional.
A second Japanese card will be held in Osaka where we see several rising prospects and a former Japanese champion in action. Sadly however this card really lacks in terms of quality match ups.
The main event on this card will see second generation fighter Juiki Tatsuyoshi (8-0, 5), the son of the legendary Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, take on Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (32-24-2, 18). The Japanese fighter will be fighting in his first 10 rounder and taking a notable step up in class as he battles his first former world title challenger. Sadly though Manakane is a long, long way from the fighter who challenged Koki Kameda or the WBA Bantamweight title back in 2012 and the 34 year old has won just 8 of his last 21 fights.
The former champion on this card is former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (17-4, 14), who continues to rebuild his career following his shock loss to Takenori Ohashi last December. The heavy handed Saka shouldn't struggle at all with the light hitting Gusti Elnino (4-12-1, 1), who fights outside of Indonesia for the first time. Saka might not be the best fighter, or the smartest, but he should be far too strong and powerful for Elnino.
The once beaten, and heavy handed, Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto (7-1, 6) will be looking to score his 4th straight stoppage as he takes on Arega Yunian (6-10, 1). The Japanese fighter has rebuilt well since a loss in a 4 rounder to Bunta Okamoto back in 2016, and looks to be rising through the ranks, helped in part to a big win in April against Engelbert Moralde. The Indonesian fighter also fought in April, but unlike Tsutsumimoto he was himself stopped, being taken out in 3 rounds by super prospect Hintata Maruta. Given how their performances went in April it's hard to see anything but a stoppage win for Tsutsumimoto.
Also on this show will be the highly promising Ginjiro Tsutsumimoto (1-0, 1), who impressed us back in his amateur days. The talented Japanese hopeful will be up against his own Indonesian foe in the form of Iwan Sanca, who has been stopped in both of his defeats. We've got big hopes for Tsutsumimoto and really can't imagine him struggling, at all, in this bout as he moves towards bigger and better fights.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Outside of Asia the most interesting match up will see once beaten South African fighter Yanga Sigqibo (10-1-1, 3) face off against Filipino foe Rene Dacquel (20-7-1, 6) in a bout for the WBC international Super Flyweight title. The South African fighter won the national title last year and made one defense, but this is a big step up for him as he takes on a former OPBF champion. Dacquel was dominated last time out, by Andrew Moloney, but is a very capable fighter and has got a real chance of picking up a solid win on the road here.
The more notable of two Australian cards comes from Victoria where Brian Amatruda gives us a pretty interesting match up with a Thai involved, and also a bout with a notable Filipino.
The interesting bout, for us, will see the once touted Kaewfah Tor Buamas (27-4, 17) take on rising Australian hopeful Liam Paro (14-0, 10). The Thai would win his first 23 bouts but has since gone 4-4 as his career has began to go backwards and he has suffered recent defeats to Czar Amonsot, Masayoshi Nakatani, George Kambosos and Atchariya Wirojanasunobol all in the last 24 months. As for Paro this is a slight step up in class, but the 22 year old looks a class act and should have the edge in size, power, youth and skills as we go into this bout. A win from Paro is expected, but the real question will be about how he wins.
The Filipino on the other hand is Czar Amonsot (34-4-3, 22). He hasn't had his opponent for the contest announced as of yet, but isn't expected to face much of a test as he competes in a 6 rounder and looks to bounce back from an October 2017 loss to Carlos Manuel Portillo.
Western Australia, Australia
Staying in Australia there will also be a couple of mismatched featuring Indonesian fighters.
One bout will see the under-rated Brandon Ogilvie (19-2-1, 10) take on Indonesian journeyman Rusmin Kie Raha (15-15-3, 3). Although no world beater Ogilvie is certainly not a bad fighter, and his 2016 draw in Tokyo against Yoshitaka Kato was impressive, as was his stoppage win against Pharanpetch Tor Buamas. As for the Indonesian he has suffered 9 stoppage losses in his 15 defeats and has gone 3-13-1 in his last 17 bouts.
The other match up with an Indonesian visitor will see the once beaten Jackson Jon England (4-1, 3) battle against the very limited Arief Blader (23-28-2, 8). Although England was beaten last time out, losing to the then debuting Richard Lockett, he should easily pick up a win here against a very out of form Blader, who has lost his last 6 and has started to collect losses on a very regular basis.
This coming Wednesday fight fans in Japan will get the chance to see a title double header at the Korakuen Hall, with both bouts being for WBO Asia Pacific titles, and pitting Japanese fighters against Filipinos. As well as the two title fighters there's also a Japanese ranked fighter and a very highly touted debutant.
The first of the two title fights is the more interesting as WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Richard Pumicpic (20-8-2, 6) takes on the unbeaten Yoshimitsu Kimura (9-0, 4). The Filipino won the title last year, when he upset former world title challenger Hisashi Amagasa, and will be returning to the scene of that win. Although his record doesn't suggest he's anything great Pumicpic is a total nightmare to fight, and has given problems to fighters like Yohei Tobe, Ryosuke Iwasa and Cesar Juarez. As for Kimura this is a massive step up in class,and he's yet to fight anyone of any note. In fact the challenger is stepping up from low level domestic competition to facing one of the most tricky fighters on the regional scene. A win for Kimura would be both a huge statement, and a massive upset.
The other title fight will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (19-2-1, 17) take on Filipino foe Alvin Lagumbay (9-2, 8), with Obara seeking his second defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. The heavy handed Japanese fighter is looking to move towards a second world title fight, now at a more natural Welterweight, but opponents like Lagumbay aren't going to help him get fights at the top level. For those unaware Lagumbay has fought in Japan before, and was stopped by the then 3-0 Lightweight prospect Kazuki Saito, which should sum up why he's such a terrible opponent for a Welterweight like Obara here.
In a domestic Middleweight bout we'll see Japanese ranked Shuji Kato (7-1-1, 5) take on Sosuke Sakata (5-4-1, 2). Kato won the 2017 Rookie of the Year, and is riding a 5 fight winning streak, to show that he deserves some attention. However this is a clear step up in class from the fellow novices he has been fighting, despite Sakata himself being a limited fighter. As for Sakata he has been plying his trade at Welterweight though could see the move up in weight give his career a new lease of life.
The debutant of real note on this card is former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita (0-0), who went 110-31 (47) in the unpaid ranks before turning professional at the start of this year. The talented Sugita will be up against hard hitting Filipino visitor Jun Blazo (7-5-3, 6). The Filipino is 0-4 in Japan, but has fought very good competition, losing to Koki Eto, Daisuke Watanabe, Hayate Kaji and Ryuto Owan. This is a really tough debut bout for Sugita, but there is very high expectations on his shoulders and this sort of debut is a great statement of intent.
Originally there was also a Japanese Bantamweight title bout set for this card, between Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) and Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8). Sadly this bout has been cancelled, with Suzuki pulling out of the bout due to an injury suffered in training. From what we under-stand Muranaka will be fighting for the vacant title down the line, though this is understandably a cruel twist for Suzuki who already missed out on a title fight this past January when Ryo Akaho was forced to cancel a fight against him.