Whilst big cards, with multiple noteworthy bouts, aren't rare in Japan it's rare to get a full card of notable and notable bouts. There is however one such card on December 30th when Ohashi put on a genuine super show with two world title bouts, two Olympic medal winners, several prospects and just one of those rare cards where everything looks to have significance...and that's despite the fact one of the key announced bouts for the show was actually cancelled due to an injury!
The main event of the card will see WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9) taking on former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (32-9-1, 13). This will be Inoue's most notable bout in 2 years, since he beat Omar Andres Narvaez to claim the title, and will see him hunting his 4th defense and most notable so far. For Kono this is a chance to prove he's still a world class Super Flyweight and potentially a chance to become a 3-time world champion.
In the chief main event of the show we see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (24-5, 12) defending his title against Thailand's Samartlek Kokietgym (35-5, 12), who is best known for being stopped by the aforementioned Naoya Inoue in 2014. Yaegashi will be seeking his second defense of the title and will know that a win will lead him to about with interim champion Milan Melindo in 2017. A win for the challenger would be a shock and it would genuinely shake up the 108lbs division.
The chief support bout behind the double main event will see 2012 Olympic gold medal winner Ryota Murata (11-0, 8) fight against the once beaten Bruno Sandoval (19-1-1, 15). For Murata this bout is the next step forward as his team continue to pursue a 2017 fight with WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, of the UK. Whilst Sandoval is a live opponent he hasn't really proven his worth and could well be an easy target for Murata, who has shown real improvement in recent bouts and with his heavy hands there is genuine potential.
Another major under-card bout will see the once beaten Ryo Matsumoto (17-1, 15) face off with his sole conqueror Victor Uriel Lopez (10-5-1, 4). This rematch was announced earlier in the year but cancelled as Matsumoto required surgery for a serious medical issue, the same issue that reared it's head in the first bout with Lopez. Now, supposedly healed, Matsumoto is looking for revenge whilst Lopez is looking to prove that Matsumoto's medical woes weren't the only reason for the result in the first bout.
In a relatively interesting bout we'll see former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (20-2, 12) battle with Hiroya Yamamoto (10-4, 4). Hara is looking to get his career back ion the right track after a 2-2 record in is last 4, and should be too good for Yamamoto however the under-dog is a 2-time Japanese title challenger, having come up short to Go Odaira and Takuya Fukuhara, and is certainly a live under-dog here.
Naoya isn't the only fighter from the Inoue clan on this card, as his cousin Koki Inoue (5-0, 4) takes on his biggest test to date, Futoshi Usami (14-2-1, 11). Inoue is touted as another world champion in the making but this is a credible test for the Kanagawa man, especially given that Usami fought for the OPBF Lightweight title in 2014, and went the 12 round distance with the world ranked Masayoshi Nakatani.
Another unbeaten prospect on this card is 20 year old hopeful Andy Hiraoka (7-0, 4), who fights for the second time as an Ohashi fighter. The talented youngster will be up against Indonesian journeyman Naty Yongraksa (0-0), in what should be a straight forward win for the local star. The visitor is 1-5-1 in his last 7 and it's hard to see what he has to really Hiraoka.
The second Olympian on the show is 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (1-0, 1), who takes a huge step up in class to take on Filipino Carlo Demecillo (6-3, 1). Whilst this is a big step up for Shimzu from his debut it should be noted that Demecillo struggled to win a round recently when he took in Hisashi Amagasa, back in October. Demecillo should give Shimizu some resistance, but the bout should be a win for the Japanese local
The action seemed to go quiet for a while but picks up suddenly this weekend. Saturday was big but in many ways Sunday is busier with 3 Japanese shows and a Singaporean show, featuring a streamed card, courtesy of asign, and an OPBF title bout.
The OPBF title bout from an intriguing card in Okinawa where we get several bouts between Japanese locals and Filipino visitors.
The most notable of those international bouts will see OPBF Super Flyweight champion Rene Dacquel (17-6-1, 6) take on veteran challenger Go Onaga (27-2-2, 18) in a bout that both men will see as a must win bout. For the 36 year old Onaga a loss here will likely thwart any dreams of fighting for a world title, his one major dream. A loss for Dacquel however would probably see his own dreams shattered, and many would likely suggest that he won't ever progress beyond continental level.
A really interesting supporting bout will see Japan's Seita Ogido (10-2-1, 3) battle former world title challenger Jeffrey Galero (14-1, 7), who managed to ask some questions of Wanheng Menayothin last year. Since suffering his sole loss Galero has picked up 3 wins and will be looking to continue that winning run here. Ogido is stepping up in a huge way however he will be looking to be buoyed on by the local fans with Ogido being a local fighter to Okinawa.
On paper the biggest mismatch between the Japanese and Filipino fighters will see Masatoshi Kotani (18-2, 13) battle against journeyman Jovill Marayan (9-22-3, 4). Kotani is on an 8 fight winning run, albeit against limited opposition and should extend that here against a man who has gone 1-10 in his last 11 bouts.
The asign show, which will be streamed on a PPV basis, is a Yokohama Hikari card and although it's not the best card of the weekend all the bouts will be streams and several of those are worth noting.
The biggest bout on the card is the main event which will see former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko (23-5-3, 15) continue to try and rebuild his career after losses to Jomthong Chuwatanab and Masao Nakamura. The former Japanese champion will be up against Japanese ranked fighter Yusuke Nakagawa (10-4-1, 6) in what looks to be an easy win for the experienced man, at least on paper. Nakagawa however is an under-rated fighter and will be a stiffer tests than his record suggests.
Another bout of some interest here will see recent OPBF title challenger Futoshi Usami (13-2-1, 10) face off with the heavy handed Tatsuya Miyazaki (8-8-1, 8). Usami challenged Masayoshi Nakatani for the OPBF title in 2014 but has only fought 6 rounds since then and Miyazaki might see this as his chance to take advantage of his opponents inactivity and end a 4-fight losing streak.
A third Japanese show will come from Hyogo, sadly however the card is less than great despite featuring a former world title contender.
That former world title contender is the light hitting Teiru Kinoshita (24-1-1, 7) who will be facing a Thai visitor as Kinoshita looks for a 6th successive win. Kinoshita, who lost to Zolani Tete in an IBF title fight, has stated in the past that he would like another world title bout, will need to start facing better opponents that Thai novices if he's to be full prepared for a world level bout.
Another local taking on a Thai foe will be Kazuhiro Nishitani (15-4-1, 7), and as with the Kinoshita bout we're unsure on the name of the Thai. Nishitani has gone 1-2-1 in his last 4, including a loss in a Japanese title fight to Kota Tokunaga, but should come away with a win here.
In an all Japanse bout Kazuya Murata (12-5, 5) will face Makoto Kawasaki (7-4-1, 1). Coming in to this Murata holds a #2 ranking with the JBC at Lightweight and know that he could move towards securing a Japanese title fight with a win here. For Kawasaki, who is 3-3 in his last 6, this is a great opportunity to move towards a ranking place.
Another man looking to secure a ranking place with an upset will be Satoshi Momota (10-11-1, 4) who faces ranked Light Welterweight Kazuyasu Okamoto (11-4, 3). Despite being the “promoter's boy” Momota will be the clear under-dog coming into this one.
Fight fans in Singapore will also get some action, albeit low level action.
In the main event former amateur stand out Muhamad Ridhwan (3-0, 2) will be up against Filipino Jonel Borbon (2-19-2, 2). Ridhwan was given some attention on debut following his amateur success but appears unlikely to become a star that Singaporean fight fans would have been hoping for.
Staying with local talent Nurshahidah Roslie (3-0, 1) will be up against the debuting Krisna Limbaga (0-0). Roslie claimed the UBO Inter-Continental title last time out but will not be defending her title here.
Japanese fans have two shows this coming Sunday, one in Gifu and one in Kanagawa.
The headline bout in Gifu sees local prospect Genki Hanai (5-0, 4) battle against Il Che (7-10-5, 1). This is a good test for Hanai, who is ranked by the JBC and OPBF, and should act as a warm up bout ahead of a title fighter later in the year for the youngster, who is highly regarded following a successful career in the amateur ranks. Che is better than his record suggests, but shouldn't derail Hanai's rise through the ranks.
In the supporting bout on this show fans will see former OPBF title challenger Futoshi Usami (12-2-1, 9) battle against Japanese based Peruvian Juan Castillo Inami (9-3, 4). Inami's record lacks big name wins but he has faced some notable fighters, such as Akinori Kanai and Koichi Aso, and is likely to put up a great bout with Usami, who was last seen being out pointed by Masayoshi Nakatani in OPBF Lightweight title fight.
On another Japanese card fans get the chance to see an OPBF female title fight as Chika Mizutani (14-5, 7) battles Kimika Miyoshi (11-8-1, 5). This will see Mizutani defending the OPBF title for the first time, following her winning the belt way back in 2010. Aged 34 the champion has seen better years though has been competing at the world level in recent years, suffering back-to-back losses in world title bouts. For Miyoshi this is a chance to become a 2-weight OPBF champion after having had a short reign as the OPBF female Bantamweight title.
In the co-feature bout fans will see former Japanese title challenger Gakuya Furuhashi (17-6-1, 7) battle against the “better than his record” Daisuke Watanabe (2-2, 2). Furuhashi is highly ranked and will be hoping to get another title fight in the near future, however he is without a win in over a year. For Watanabe this is a chance to get back into the mix, following back to back losses, including a competitive one last time out to the highly touted Sho Nakazawa.
December 22nd-Shindo Go to defend world title, Usami v Kazuya and The 60th All Japan Rookie of the Year final
With Christmas just around the corner and New Years Eve less than a week later we may understand fans, especially in the West, forgetting about boxing for a few days. The Japanese however aren't done quite yet with a trio of cards on December 22nd as well as 2 huge shows on New Years Eve.
The December 22nd shows give us a bit of everything. We get a female world title fight, a very promising prospect and the excellent All Japan Rookie of the year show.
The most notable single fight of the day is in the "Big Wave" in Wakayama as Japan's talented Shindo Go (12-2, 8) looks to make the first defense of her WBC Flyweight title. Go, a really talented 26 year old from Wakayama, is expected to retain the title she won earlier this year as she takes on Judith Rodriguez (6-5, 4) though the bout should be a lot more competitive than the records do indicate.
Go, pictured, appears to have all the advantages though Rodriguez has been in the ring with various world level fighters including former Japanese world champion Naoko Yamaguchi and
On the same card in Wakayama we expect 6 other bouts with 2 of them being female bouts and 4 of the being male bouts. Unfortunately though none of those 6 contests look that notable with 5 of them being scheduled for 4 rounds and the sole 6 rounder also fails to look that exciting on paper. Thankfully though it's main even is worth turning up for.
As well as the show headlined by the female world title fight we also get a show at the Industrial Hall in Gifu. This show, just like that one, is a 7 fight show though this is headlined by a non-title contest as the Japanese and OPBF ranked Futoshi Usami (11-0-1, 8) takes on Kazuya Murata (7-4, 3). It's difficult here to see anything but a win for Usami but he could be given a decent if Murata gets his act together for the fight. In all honesty though we're merely expecting a stoppage for Usami.
The under-card here is again weak though it does feature 2 bouts scheduled for 6 rounds. These include a bout for the very experienced Yusuke Morishima (22-21-5, 7) who will be fighting Toshikuni Wake (6-13-3, 2) in what is unlikely to be a great bouts despite it being the chief support bout on the show.
Despite the fact we have a female title fight and several notable names in other shows across Japan it's fair to say that the biggest show of the day is in Tokyo at the Korakuen Hall as we get the 60th All Japan Rookie of the Year final.
This show, which features 12 bouts, is arguably the highlight of the day in regards to boxing. We will see bouts at every weight between Minimumweight and Middleweight, barring Light Middleweight, as the 24 fighters look to crown themselves as the Rookie of the Year. These bouts will include the unbeaten Takumi Sakae (6-0, 3) taking on Yoshinori Wakahara (6-3, 3) in the Minimumweight bout, the 17 year old Ryuto Maekawa (7-0, 4) fighting Aiki Koto (5-1-1, 3) in the Light Flyweight bout and Dai Taoka (7-0, 4) fighting Ryoji Tanaka (5-2-1, 2) in the Welterweight bout.