This coming Sunday attention turns to Wakayama for a small card, featuring some young talent. On paper this is a very easy show to over-look but there are certainly some fighters on it worthy of some attention.
The most notable fighter involved on this show is 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Yuri Takemoto (6-1-1, 3), who seeks his second win of 2019 as he takes on Indonesian foe Kiki Marciano (1-3). Coming in to this Takemoto has won his last 5, including taking the Featherweight Rookie of the Year crown last December Hikari Mineta, and will be flying high with confidence. The 34 year old Marciano was in Japan last year, when he was stopped in 2 rounds by Koshin Takeshima, and we wouldn't be surprised by him being stopped again here.
Another Rookie king on this show is 2015 Super Featherweight Rookie of the Year Retsu Kosaka (9-4, 3), who takes on Indonesian foe Anshori Anhar Pitulay (9-17-2, 6). Kosaka won his first 7 bouts in a row but has since gone 2-4 and looks like his ceiling is less high than many expected. Saying that however it is worth noting that 1 of those 2 wins came over the very fast rising Ryo Sagawa. The 33 year old Pitulay has suffered 15 stoppage losses so far through his career and we're expecting his 16th stoppage to come here, especially given that he has been stopped in 5 of his last 6 bouts.
A third bout on this card worthy of some note will see Taichi Sugimori (7-5, 2) battle against Wataru Ikegami (6-4-1, 3) in what looks like a competitive match up. Neither of these men are likely to make a big name for themselves but this match up, by it's self, is a solid and competitive one. Between them both have been beaten by their better opposition, though it is worth noting that Sugimori does hold a very good win over Dynamic Kenji from back in 2017, in what is the best either man has so far.
In Russia we'll see a rematch between Kazakh Firuza Sharipova (10-1, 5) and Russian Yuliya Kutsenko (7-1-1, 3), with Sharipova looking to score her second win over Kutsenko. Shripova gets a lot of attention in the Kazakh press, though much of it is to do with her looks rather than her boxing skill, but she doesn't seem to have the desire to really make the mark that her media suggest. It's hard to see anything but a win for Sharipova, but it's really time she started to take her boxing career seriously and take on serious challengers, rather people she has already beaten and second rate foes.
As with the last few years this year is set to end with a spate of Japanese action. The first of two big shows to end 2017 is in Yokohama, where Ohashi and Fuji TV put on an interesting looking show.
The main event of this year closer will be the end in the latest chapter of Naoya Inoue's (14-0, 12) career, as he makes his 7th, and likely final, defense of the WBO Super Flyweight title. The talented Japanese fighter had been ruining out of willing opponents and will close 2017 with a bout against the inform Frenchman Yoan Boyeaux (41-4, 26). On paper it looks good but the reality is that this is a huge step up in class and likely serves as a dummy run for the “Monster” before he moves up to Bantamweight in pursuit of a third divisional world title.
A second world title bout on this show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (11-0, 5) make his second defense, as he goes up against confident Panamanian visitor Gilberto Pedroza (18-3-2, 8), who fights in his first world title bout. The talented Ken Shiro has had a career defining year with wins over Ganigan Lopez and Pedro Guevara and closing out the year with a third win would, in fairness, put him on the fringes of the Fighter of the Year shortlist. As for Pedroza this is a huge opportunity to claim a world title and make a name for himself ahead of the near year.
A third title bout on this card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (4-0, 4) make his first defense as he looks to move towards a world title fight. The talented Japanese fighter, who came to international attention in 2012 when he claimed a Bronze medal at the London Olympics, will be up against Filipino challenger Eduardo Mancito (15-7-2, 9). The champion won the title in impressive fashion earlier this year, when he stopped Korean Sa Myung Noh and is expected to make an easy first defense here. Although limited Mancito is tough and is expected to get some rounds out Shimizu, who can prove whether his power is legitimate or not here.
In one of the leading support bouts Takuma Inoue (9-0, 2) will take on 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (27-8, 15), in what looks likely to be a mismatch. The talented Takuma was supposed to fight for a world title a year ago, but an injury ruled him out and he now seems to be trying to get back to fully fitness and shake off any ring rust before moving back into the world title picture. Masuda is an exciting fighter, but with recent stoppage losses to Shohei Omori and Mark John Yap his limitations have been shown, and he's a fun but crude fighter who should be easily out boxed by Inoue.
A third Inoue on this card is the fast rising Koki Inoue (9-0, 8), who takes on Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (8-1-2, 3). The Korean enters the bout as the Korean Light Welterweight champion and an OPBF ranked fighter and it's clear that Inoue is chasing titles, with this bout potentially opening the door for an OPBF title fight in 2018. Inoue has been very impressive, very exciting and very aggressive since his debut however the Korean has never been stopped, looks to be tough and durable and will not have travelled to just roll over to Inoue.
Also on this card as Ohashi novices Katsuya Yasuda (1-0, 1) and Kazuki Nakajima (2-0, 2), who will both be in 6 rounders and will be looking to have big 2018's.
A second Asian show will take place in Kazakhstan where we get a number of interesting, though lower key bouts.
One of the key bouts from the show will see once beaten Kazakh hopeful Firuza Sharipova (7-1, 4) battle against Belgian fighter Djemilla Gontaruk (13-4-1, 2) in a bout for the WBC silver Female Super Featherweight title. The bout looks like a good one on paper, but coming in to this the Kazakh has won 7 in a row whilst Gonturak has lost against every notable opponent she has faced, including a loss last time out to Ramon Kuehne and her wins have been against very limited foes.
Another title bout on this card will see Aidyn Yelzhanov (4-0, 3) take on Sergey Dudinsky (4-1, 3) for a WBC regional title at Super Bantamweight. The 24 year old Yelzhanov has impressed so far,but has been fighting at a very liw level and will have to show something new to over-come the hungry Dudinsky, who has won his last two.
One other bout of note will be the home coming, of sorts, for Light Heavyweight prospect Ali Akhmedov (10-0, 7), who takes on Ismat Eynullayev (12-2, 8). Akhmedov has fought 5 of his last 6 outside of Kazakhstan, where he is incidentally 5-0 (5), and will be looking to put on a show here. Eynullayev, from Azerbaijan, has won his last 3 but will not be expected to put up much of a challenge against the home town hero.
In the Russian capital fan will be able to see Russian Uzbek Ulugbek Khakberdiev (4-0, 2) look to build on his solid 2017 as he takes on Ugandan puncher Med Sebyala (17-10-1, 14). The unbeaten Kazakh has gone under the radar this year, despite stopping Dmitry Sukhotsky in September and looks to end his year with a 5th straight win. The 37 year old Sebyala has lost 2 of his last 3, but does appear to be a legitimate puncher and could chin check the powerful Kazakh.