Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The first Japanese show in August is a small one, but one worthy of some attention with two title bouts on it, and both of those do promise a lot of action, even if they are both, on paper, mismatches.
The first of the two will be for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title and will see Shunsuke Isa (8-3-1, 1) clash with Yuni Takada (8-7-2, 3), for the vacant title. Of the two men it's fair to say that Isa has the better looking record, and in many ways he will be regarded as the favourite. His overall record is more impressive and he's won two of his last 3. However Takada is no push over and in recent bouts he has held Hizuko Saso to a draw and gave both Norihito Tanaka and Kai Ishizawa genuine tests. Isa will have the tools to come out with a win, but if he over looks Takada he could be in a lot of trouble here thanks to Takada's solid jab and work rate. Our preview of this bout can be read here Isa and Takada face off for Japanese Youth title!
The second title fight will see Gakuya Furuhashi (27-8-1, 15) defending the Japanese Super Bantamweight title for the first time, as he takes on youngster Seigo Hanamori (7-3, 5). The all action Furuhashi won the title earlier this year, when he stopped Yusaku Kuga in a 2021 Fight of the Year contender, but he's hard a long, punishing and hard career, with a style that will take a toll on any fighter. As for Hanamoori, he's stepping up massively in terms of class, but has got some momentum of his own, with stoppage wins in his last 4 bouts. Sadly for Hanamori he's not a natural Super Bantamweight, he's very much untested at this level, and he is leaping up to face one of the best 122lb fighters in Japan. We really can't see this being anything but painful for the challenger who will do well to see the final rounds. Our full preview of this one can be read here Furuhashi returns to make first defense of Japanese title!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
For hardcore of the Japanese scene we get a live card from Boxing Raise and Dangan Aoki this coming Friday, and it’s the one card that genuinely standsout for the month of January. It’s a small card, with just 4 bouts on it, but all 4 of those bouts are meaningful ones, including two brilliant looking Japanese title fights, and it’s a show that looks like it will be worth watching every second of.
The show will begin with a B Class Tournament final at Super Bantamweight as the once beaten Koki Mioya (8-1-2, 2) takes on the unbeaten Tentaro Kimura (5-0-2), the cousin of the highly regarded Rentaro Kimura. The 23 year old Mioya has gone unbeaten in 7 bouts, including a draw in the 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, and has looked like an improving fighter in recent years, but is still very much a work in progress. Kimura, who will be overshadowed by his brother, is a relatively crude fighter, but a fun one to watch and his September battle with Wataru Yokoyama was certainly a treat from Suruga Boys. We don’t expect highly quality boxing here, but we do expect a really fun 5 round war here between two men with a will to win, and relatively little power.
In another 5 rounder we’ll see an A-Class tournament final as heavy handed Lightweight hopeful Shu Utsuki (7-0, 6) takes on the experienced Masashi Wakita (10-10-2, 5). Since turning professional Utsuki has been highly impressive, showcasing solid boxing skills, very heavy hands, and a fun aggressive style. He’s still a work in progress but the 26 year old is looking like a future star for the Watanabe gym. In the other corner is Wakita, a 24 year old who is very much a “win some, lose some” fighter, but generally makes for fun battles, and he could, if he can see out the first round or two, make for a fun war with Utsuki. Sadly however there’s a very real chance that Utsuki could make this look very, very easy.
The first of two title fights will see the heavy handed Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) defending the Japanese Super Featherweight title against the teak tough Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21), in what may well be an early contender for FOTY. Saka is a crude but aggressive and heavy handed fighter who, on his day, can be a nightmare for anyone on the regional and domestic scene. He looked fantastic in his title, though it should be noted he’s not fought since December 2019 and he has been inconsistent in his biggest bouts. Watanabe on the other hand is a true warrior, who appears to be made out of something they should be using to make tanks. His bouts are almost always action packed bouts and despite often relying on his toughness he is a solid boxer-fighter. He earned this show with his November 2019 win over Taiki Minamoto and despite being inactive for a year the break may well have done him a favour after a lot of very tough and punishing fights. Our in depth preview of this one can be found here Brutality awaits Saka and Watanabe in overdue Japanese title fight!
The other title fight on this show will see JBC Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) defending his belt against Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14). Kuga, as with Saka, is a crude fighter but a monstrous puncher who can box a bit and bang a lot. Sadly for Kuga he will enter this bout after a lengthy break from the ring, and was last seen suffering a KO1 loss to Jhunriel Ramonal in December 2019. That loss will still be on his mind given he wasn’t able to get a confidence building win in 2020. Furuhashi will be getting his third shot at a Japanese title, having previously come up short against Yukinori Oguni and Yasutaka Ishimoto. At 33 years old Furuhashi is very much a veteran and he will know this could be his final shot at a Japanese title. As with the other title bout this could end up being a legitimately thrilling war, with Furuhashi setting a high tempo and Kuga looking to land bombs. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Warriors Kuga and Furuhashi battle for Japanese throne!
This coming Friday is a really notable one, with a lot of exciting action, even with the biggest bout of the weekend, for us, being cancelled.
New York, USA
The bout that was cancelled, would have seen the unified Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman (27-2-1, 10) defending his WBA "super" and IBF titles against fast rising Uzbek amateur standout Murodjon Akhmadaliev (6-0, 5). Sadly this was called off due to an injury to Roman, however the plan seems to be to reschedule the bout for when Roman is 100%.
Despite the main bout being called off the card will still feature 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov (7-0, 3), who has promised a lot but is yet to truly shine as a professional. The unbeaten Kazakh will be up against unbeaten American Reshard Hicks (12-0-1, 6). On paper this looks a good test for the Kazakh but in reality he shouldn't struggle with Hicks, if he's as good as many hoped he'd be.
Due to the world title fight being called off in the US, the best card appears to be in Japan where we see a former world champion, a Japanese title fight, a Japanese youth title fight and a Japanese title eliminator.
The main event will see former WBO Super Featherweight world champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) fight for the first time since losing his belt to Jamel Herring. The talented Ito will be up against Indonesian foe Ruben Manakane (25-18-1, 14), who despite only being 26 will be fighting in his 45th pro bout. This is expected to be an easy win for Ito, who is flirting with the Lightweight division, but it's clear there is a lot to work on given before he returns to facing world class opposition, at least based on his performance against Herring. Despite this being a pretty obvious mismatch Manakane does enter as the Indonesian champion and is 7-1 in his last 8.
Despite the main event being a mismatch the supporting card is solid with the best of the bouts being a Japanese Featherweight title bout, with Reiya Abe (19-1-2, 9) and Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) battling for the title that Taiki Minamoto vacated earlier in the year. This has the hall marks of a very, very special bout with both fighters being very highly skilled but having different styles and mentalities. Abe is the more pure counter puncher, a sharp shooting, back foot fighter, whilst Sagawa is a more offensively minded boxer-puncher. These style really should gel and the two fighters will both be looking for their most significant win to date. This could be one of the most thrilling bouts of the month. Our preview of this bout is available to read here Abe and Sagawa battle to crown new Japanese Featherweight champion!
In what looks likely to be an exciting brawl we'll see Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) and Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) battle in a JBC Super Bantamweight eliminator. The experienced Furuhashi is trying to secure a third Japanese title fight but will be the under-dog here against Tamura, who held the title earlier this year. Furuhashi is a solid national contender but he has been in tough bouts through his career and it's hard to know what he has left in the tank. On the other hand Tamura's last 2 bouts have been really hard wars, with his last bout being a brutal war with Yusaku Kuga, and they may well have added a lot of miles to his clock. A preview of this bout can be read here Tamura and Furuhashi to battle in eliminator!
A second title fight will see fast rising youngsters Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) and Shisui Kawabata (2-0, 2) battle for the JBC Youth Light Flyweight title. Both of these youngsters are tipped for big things, and in fact Shiba is pencilled in for a Japanese title eliminator later in the year, so to see them clash at this point is rather surprising, despite the Youth title. So far Shiba has looked the better fighter, and he really does look the goods, however Kawabata has sparred with Naoya Inoue among others and is very highly regarded. This could be another thriller. Our preview of this contest is here Shiba and Kawabata face off for Japanese youth title!
The rest of the card is full of small but still interesting bouts. These include a battle between Japanese ranked fighters, as Kanehiro Nakagawa (7-6, 4) looks to build on a career best win against Seiichi Okada as he takes on Ryuto Araya (13-7-1, 4). Other smaller bouts on this card include Satoru Goto (4-4-2) taking on the unbeaten Ryugo Ushijima (3-0-1, 2) and the debuting Taison Morishita (0-0) battling Kojiro Nishikawa (5-1, 2) in a tough 6 round debut.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Another notable fighter pencilled in for the day is former world title challenger Muhammad Waseem (8-1, 6), who will be in action in Dubai. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent hasn't yet been announced.
The most notable card this coming Sunday comes from Kobe where we get a world title fight, a Japanese title fight, a once beaten hopeful and an unbeaten prospect.
The world title bout will see the once beaten Reiya Konishi (17-1, 7) challenge huge punching IBF Light Flyweight champion Felix Alvarado (34-2, 30), in what looks like a really tough test for the Japanese hopeful. Konishi is a former Japanese Minimumweight champion who is best known for losing a competitive bout to Carlos Canizales last year, in a really good but now forgotten bout, and this will be his second shot at a world title. Alvarado on the other hand is looking to make his first defense of a title he won last year, when he battered Randy Petalcorin into submission. Alvarado is one of the true danger men at 108lbs and we suspect he will be too powerful for Konishi, though few can question Konishi's heart and desire, which could make this very, very fan friendly. A full preview of this bout can be read here Konishi challenges heavy handed champion Alvarado!
The second title fight on this card will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (39-15-1, 13) make his first defense, as he goes up against Masashi Tada (13-5-3, 8). Horikawa is a true veteran of the Japanese scene, and is enjoying his second reign at the age of 39. Although an old man Horikawa has great energy and desire and is riding an excellent 7 fight winning run into this bout, having gone unbeaten since a 2017 loss to Tetsuya Hisada. As for Tada this will be his second Japanese title fight, following a loss in 2014 to Go Odaira in a bout for the Japanese Minimumweight title. The loss to Odaira saw Tada take a lengthy break from the ring before returning in 2017 and going 0-1-2 in his first 3 bouts, though he has now scored back to back wins to get this shot at Horikawa. At 29 Tada has youth on his side, but this is a massive step up for him. Our preview of this bout is available here Veteran Horikawa battles Tada!
Also on this card are Ryo Suwa (10-1, 1) and Tetsuro Ohashi (6-0-1, 1), neither of whom have had their opponents named at the time of writing. Suwa has scored 3 straight wins since losing in 2017 to Ikuro Sadatsune, and is a very talented fighter, even if he lacks power. Ohashi, also a feather fisted fighter, impressed last year when he won the Rookie of the Year and we're really excited to see where the 20 year old Super Flyweight can go following that success.
A second Japanese card comes from Shizuoka, where we get the next Suruga Boys card. Although a much smaller card than the Kobe one, it is an interesting one with several good looking match ups, and the next appearance of a very promising young prospect.
The main event will see former Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (14-6-1, 9) take on the heavy handed but limited Daiki Ichikawa (11-5, 9). Coming in to this Sugita has gone 4-4, alternating wins and losses in his last 8, and using that record he should be on track to pick up a win here. Ichikawa has lost 3 of his last 5 and whilst he's not the most skilled fight he does have heavy hands, and if he lands cleanly on the crafty Sugita he could pick up a shock stoppage.
The chief support bout will see Japanese ranked Super Bantamweights clashing, with Yuta Horiike (15-6-3, 3) taking on Gakuya Furuhashi (24-8-1, 13). Of the two men it's Furuhashi who is better known, thanks to 2 domestic title fights, but the 31 year old from Kanagawa has had a very tough career and is stepping up after 6 relatively straight forward wins. At 34 Horiike is the older man, and whilst he hasn't got the in-ring miles that Furuhashi has he isn't as technically good as his foe. The loser of this really will have no where to go.
Arguably the best bout on this card is actually a huge step up for a touted prospect. That prospect is Tsubasa Murachi (3-0, 3), who leaps up in class to take on Filipino Raymond Tabugon (21-9-1, 11) in a mouth watering clash. Although little known outside of Japan Murachi is a fantastic talent who had real questions to answer last time out, against Chinese fighter Sheng Peng, and we're expecting him to need to answer more questions here. Tabugon is a 28 year old who has lost 2 of his last 3, but has mixed with a who's who, including Luis Nery, Juan Francisco Estrada, Andrew Moloney and has previously scored upsets in the past, including wins over Lito Dante and Jake Bornea. This could be a very, very tough test for Murachi.
This coming Sunday is a hectic day with 4 Japanese shows, a Filipino show, a Korean show and a Vietnamese show. Not only is there lots of shows but those shows feature notable names and we get a host of title bouts, in what is a genuinely crazy day.
The biggest action for the day is from Osaka, where we get 8 bouts of note, spread over 2 shows at the EDION Arena Osaka. The first of those shows is a Green Tsuda triple title show.
The main event of this triple title show will see hard hitting Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (17-4, 14) defending his belt against the limited but exciting Shusaku Fujinaka (16-9-2, 11). For the champion this will be a second defense of the title, and he will be looking to really make a statement in the new year, with a number of interesting challengers now vying for a shot at his belt. For Fujinaka this one more chance to win a belt, but the reality is that he's a clear under-dog. Our preview of this bout can be read here Fujinaka challenges Japanese champion Yada!
A second Japanese title fight on this card will see domestic Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-3, 10) making his first defense, taking on unbeaten contender Masayoshi Hashizume (16-0-1, 10). The champion won the belt earlier this year, over-coming Hiroyuki Kudaka, but looks likely to be little more than a transitional champion before a top domestic fighter takes it off him. Hashizume on the other hand was once a hotly tipped prospect, but poor match making from the Ioka gym has seen his development stall and stutter, and it's hard to know how prepared he is for a fight like this. Ore preview of this bout can be read here Okumoto defends Japanese title against unbeaten Hashizume
The third title bout on this show is a Japanese Super Flyweight Youth title bout, pitting the skilful Ryosuke Nasu (9-3-3, 2) against the heavy handed Yuto Nakamura (8-5, 7) to crown a new champion. We're expecting a really interesting contest here, with Nakamura trying to land his power and Nasu trying to out box the bigger punching Nakamura. It's a hard bout to call, and should be a very good one for the fans at the venue. Our in depth look at this bout is available to read hereNasu and Nakamura battle for Japanese Youth title!
Another potentially great bout on this card will see the once beaten Toshiki Shimomachi (9-1-1, 5) look to record his 8th straight win, as he takes a huge step up and faces off with Daisuke Watanabe (7-4, 4). Coming in to this momentum is clearly with Shimomachi, who won the Super Bantamweight Rookie of the Year last year, but this is certainly a tougher test than it looks on paper. Watanabe, although "only 7-4" has been in with the likes of Reiya Abe, Sho Nakazawa and Gakuya Furuhashi, and held his own in some tough domestic bouts. This is a serious match up and a really good fight for both men, who will know that a win massively boosts their career.
After the Green Tsuda card we then get an Ioka promoted show from the EDION arena. This card only features a single title bout, but does have a great supporting card to go along with the main event.
The title match up will see OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani (17-0, 11) defending his belt against tough and hard hitting challenger Hurricane Futa (25-7-1, 15), who should put up a very interesting challenge. Nakatani will be strongly favoured, as he looks to secure his 11th defense of the title, but his career has failed to live up to early expectations and there is a real worry that he will go off the boil, if he hasn't already, and he looked less than his best last time out. Futa is a dangerous fighter, despite technical limitations he can really bang, and he's tough, with his record littered with upset wins, including KO wins over Vage Sarukhanyan and Will Tomlinson. An in depth look at this bout from regular contributor George Delis can be read here OPBF king Nakatani battles hard hitting Futa!
One of the supporting bouts will see former world title challenger Shohei Omori (19-2, 14) take on former OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (21-5, 17). This looks almost certainly like a bout that will have explosive action. Omori is the more technically skilled of the two men, and has solid power to go with his technical skills, but Yamamoto can certainly bang and is a very dangerous fighter, even if he lacks that bit of class Omori has. Both fighters have been stopped and should feel they have the power to stop the other here. A preview of this bout can be read here Omori and Yamamoto clash in "survival" bout!
Another supporting bout will see former world title challengers battle, as former WBA Super Flyweigt title challenger Sho Ishida (26-1, 15) takes on former WBO title challenger Warlito Parrenas (26-8-1, 23). At 27 years old the 5'8" Ishida has the potential to go all the way, and 2-0 (2) since his loss to Kal Yafai, in what as a close but very forgettable contest. That loss seems to have made Ishida aware that he does need to improve and we have seen a more spiteful attitude from him in the ring. Parrenas on the other hand is 35 and has been stopped in 2 of his last 4, losing to Naoya Inoue and Ryuichi Funai and this seems like a bout he must win if he intends to keep his career alive. Our preview of this clash can be read here Ishida and Parrenas clash in must win bout!
In one other bout of note we'll see Tatsuya Ikemizu (19-2, 8) hunt a 7th straight win, since being stopped by Jonas Sultan in 2016, as he takes on Sonin Nihei (8-2-3, 1). Both of these men were once tipped for success, though both have fallen very short of expectations so far. Given that both are young, both are 25, there is a chance that they could come good. It's worth noting that Nihei hasn't fought since being stopped by Keita Kurihara in December 2016, in what was a second straight stoppage loss for Nihei.
On a lesser level to the Osaka cards is a show from Okinawa, where 2017 Light Welterweight Rookie of the Year Marcus Smith (6-1-1, 6) takes on Filipino Nelson Tinampay (13-7-1, 6). This will be Smith's first bout since losing a Japanese title eliminator to Koki Inoue and should be a solid test for the Japanese-American puncher. Tinampay has been stopped in 4 of his last 6, but has mixed with good talent across the region and will give us something to compare Smith's result against.
In a supporting bout we'll see the talented Tatsuro Nakashima (7-1-1, 5), who came runner up in the East Japan Rookie of the Year last year, looking to bounce back from a recent loss to Kai Ishizawa. The 24 year old Japanese fighter will be up against Thai foe Sanchai Yotboon (4-1, 4), who was last seen in the ring in September, being demolished by the debuting Ginjiro Shigeoka. We don't expect anything but a win for Nakashima, but we're interested in this bout to learn more about how good Shigeoka's performance was.
This card will also feature Former OPBF female Bantamweight champion Yuko Henzan (6-7-4, 2), who is scheduled to face off against a Thai opponent.
The least notable of the Japanese cards comes from Hyogo, where the Japanese ranked Giraffe Kirin Kanda (13-2, 7) takes on the hard hitting Takuya Matsuzaka (8-7, 7) in what should be a good test before Kanda begins a march towards titles in 2019. Kanda is riding a 7 fight winning streak into this bout whilst Matsusaka has managed to win just 3 of his last 7. Although heavy handed Matsusaka has been stopped in 6 of his 7 losses, and we'd not be surprised to see him being taken out again here.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
As well as the Japanese action there will also be a card in Vietnam, in association with a Japanese promoter, with a Japanese fighter headlining the card.
That Japanese fighter in the main event is the exciting Gakuya Furuhashi (23-8-1, 12), who faces off with limited Thai Yutthichai Wannawong (9-7, 7) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Silver Super Bantamweight title. The bout is supposed to be a special attraction as the OPBF look to build up boxing in Vietnam, and it seems clear the OPBF do have big plans for the coming years in these non-boxing countries, so fingers crossed this main event interests the fans.
A second OPBF affiliated title will be on the line as Nguyen Anh Tuan Dao (1-1, 1) faces an opponent, sadly we don't have their name, for the newly created OPBF Vietnamese National Light Welterweight title. The idea seems to be to spread these national titles across a number of countries, in what could be a very interesting experiment from the OPBF, who seem to realise that their market needs to grow outside of their strong hold markets.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In Metro Manila we'll see 3 bouts of note, even if they aren't hugely interesting match ups.
The most promising of those fighters is Joe Noynay (15-2-1, 5), who looks to secure a 4th straight win as he takes on Nathan Bolcio (14-15-3, 4), who has lost his last 3. The talented 23 year old Noynay is unbeaten since losing in February 2017 to Reiya Abe, and looks to be a genuine prospect. Bolcio on the other hand looks like a fighter who has given up trying to win and is 4-13-2 in his last 19 bouts, with 8 of those 13 losses coming by stoppage.
Another fighter who appears to be in easy is Ryan Sermona (20-9-1, 13), who takes on Junar Adante (7-10-1, 4). Sermona has mixed with good fighters, including a 2014 loss to Masayuki Ito and a 2017 loss to Masayoshi Nakatani, and is a decent fighter on the domestic Filipino scene. Adante on the other hand has been stopped in his last 4 bouts, and 8 of his last 9, suggesting Sermona shouldn't have any problems at all here.
The other bout of note on this card will see 23 year old Glenn Medura (9-4-1, 5) battle against Dado Cabintoy (15-8-2, 8), in a bout that looks competitive on paper, but isn't a hugely interesting bout. Medua is 1-3 in his last 4, with only a single win in the last 2 years, whilst Cabintoy is 0-4 coming into this bout and is more than 40 months removed from his last win!
Seoul, South Korea
The main event here is really the only bout worth talking about, and will be an 8 round Super Featherweight clash, as Dong Kwan Lee (8-2-2, 4) takes on Hwan Young Jo (5-6, 1). It's hard to see past a win for Lee, but he was stopped last time out, being taken out in 3 rounds by Jun Zhao back in September. Jo on the other hand has gone 1-3 in his last 4, and at 30 years old really looks like a fighter who won't be getting any better.
Action returns to the Korakuen Hall this coming Monday as fight fans get a small but interesting card from the Misako Gym.
The main event off the card will see Japanese ranked fighters facing off, with Naoki Mochizuki (14-3, 8) taking on Seiya Fujikita (12-3, 5) in a bout that will push the winner close to a national title fight. The 24 year old Mochizuki has lost 2 of his last 5, but those losses came to notable fighters in the form of Keisuke Nakayama and Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking, and he is certainly very capable at this level. Fujikita comes into this bout on the back of 4 stoppage wins, and all 3 of his defeats were razor close, including losses to Yuta Matsuo and Hayato Yamaguchi. We really like the look of this match up.
Another excellent domestic clash will see Ikuro Sadatsune (8-2-3, 2) take on Isao Aoyama (11-6-1, 2). We're fans of Sadatsune, who has been matched hard in recent bouts against the likes of Kai Chiba, Ryo Suwa and Tatsuya Takahashi and see him as a future title challenger, at least domestically. Whilst we're fans of Sadatsune we know the youngster can't over-look Aoyama who has a scratchy record but has been very competitive in 5 of his 6 losses and also held Sho Kimura to a draw. This is a very tough match up to call and should be a very tactical one.
One of the other notable bouts on this card looks to be a mismatch as the popular and experienced Gakuya Furuhashi (22-8-1, 11) faces off with the little known Taichi Ueno (6-2, 3). Furuhashi went through a bad run of results in 2015 and 2016 but is now riding a 4 fight unbeaten run. Sadly that winning run has come against fighters similar to Ueno and it would be nice to see him step up again sooner rather than later.
After a few days of rest Japanese fight fans in Tokyo will get the chance for more fights this coming Thursday, with a card from the Misako Gym.
The main event of the card will see JBC ranked Light Welterweight Daishi Nagata (10-1-1, 4) take on Filipino visitor Jimmy Borbon (7-5-4, 4). Last year Nagata suffered his first defeat, being battered into a 7th round TKO loss to Vladimir Baez, but since then he has bounced back well with two decent wins. He should be looking to continue that run here, as he takes on the naturally smaller Borbon. The Filipino has won 2 of his last 8 bouts, and we don't expect him to come out on top here against the talented Nagata.
A really good looking bout will see the always fun to watch Gakuya Furuhashi (21-8-1, 10) take on the under-rated Gaku Aikawa (9-5-1, 3). The 30 year old Furuhashi is a 2-time Japanese title challenger, who has been matched softly since suffering a 10th round TKO loss to Yasutaka Ishimoto in 2016. Despite being matched softly Furuhashi is no push over and is clear stepping up in class here, compared to his last 3 opponents. Aikawa has been pretty inconsistent, but will be coming into this on the back of a huge December win over Shohei Kawashima, and he will know that a win over Furuhashi will move him very close to a Japanese title fight.
Another excellent match up will see Daisuke Watanabe (6-4, 3) battle against Daiki Maniwa (6-2-1, 4). On paper this might not look like anything special but we really do expect an excellent bout. The 26 year old Watanabe has been matched insanely tough so far, battling the likes of Gakuya Furuhashi, Sho Nakazawa, Ryuto Araya and Reiya Abe in his first 10 bouts, and scoring wins against some of those. Maniwa on the other hand comes into the bout on the back of a loss in a Japanese Youth title fight, his most notable bout to date, but will take some confidence from that loss and come in here knowing that a win will get his career back on track. A really interesting fight between two men who will both believe they can come out on top here.
One other bout of note will see former Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (36-15-1, 10) take on Naoto Takanashi (5-12-3, 4). This will be Horikawa's 53rd career bout, his third this year, and he seems to be looking to get himself one more title fight. For Takanashi the bout is a huge ask, but a chance to take on a bit of a domestic legend.
This coming Saturday we get a world title in the West and we'll also see two very interesting and notable Japanese cards, both taking place in the Kanto region of Japan.
New York, USA
The world title bout is one of a trio of bouts at Madison Square Garden to feature Asian fighters, in what should be a great chance for a number of fighters to shine.
The world title bout will see Kyrgyzstan born Russian based Light Heavyweight Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10) defending his title against once beaten Cuban Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14). For both men the bout is a major step forward for their career with Bivol facing his most notable opponent to date and Barrera really fighting in a must win, against his second most significant opponent to date,only behind Andre Ward who beat him 2 years ago. The bout pits two top Light Heavyweights against each other, and could well be a very special bout.
This card will also feature a pair of Kazakh hopefuls. One of those is Meiirim Nursultanov (5-0, 4), who risks his unbeaten record against Alejandro Torres (9-3-2, 4). Nulrsultanov has looked really good since his debut in late 2016 and will be looking to launch himself up towards the world rankings by the end of 2018, with Torres being his first bout of the year. As for Torres the Mexican 24 year old has proven to be tough and should serve a good test for the Kazakh, who will be hunting his 5th straight stoppage.
The other Kazakh on this show will be Madiyar Ashkeyev (8-0, 4), who faces live under-dog Jose Antonio Abreu (13-3, 8). The Kazakh isn't as touted as his aforementioned countryman but is a skilled operator who will be looking to make up for lost time after having fought just once in 2017. Abreu, from the Dominican Republic, has lost 3 of his last 4, all in the US, and will likely come up short again here, though has been matched hard in those losses and is certainly no push over.
New York, USA
On a separate US card in New York, fans will see Kazakh hopeful Shyngyskhan Tazhibay (5-0, 2) risk his unbeaten record. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced, but it's unlikely to be too much of a step up in class for the unbeaten man.
On paper the Japanese card with the best single bouts take place in Kanagawa on a Kawasaki Nitta promoted card where fans will get two Japanese title fights and another solid support bout.
The main event of the card is a Japanese Flyweight title bout between defending champion Masayuki Kuroda (28-7-3, 16) and mandatory challenger Katsunori Nagamine (14-1-1, 10), who meet in a Champion Carnival bout. The champion will be seeking his second defense of the title, and will be expecting a much tougher bout than his last defense, which saw him dominate the limited but entertaining Mako Matsuyama. Nagamine on the other hand will be getting his first title bout, and, on paper, his toughest bout since his sole loss to Ken Shiro.
The other title bout is likely to be even better and will see teak tough Japanese Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida (17-8-1, 8) take on the explosive Kazuto Takesako (7-0, 7) in another of the 2018 Champion Carnival bouts. Nishida has held the title for almost 2 years, but has only managed a single defense, due to an out of the ring accident which forced him out of the ring for a while. Despite the lack of defenses he's a tough, aggressive and exciting champion with a solid mentality and style. Takesako is a talented slugger, and should take the fight to Nishida in a potential war. We are expecting this bout to be a potential Japanese fight of the year and something very special.
Also on this card will be the always fun to watch Gakuya Furuhashi (20-8-1, 9), who faces Masashi Kamon (7-2-1, 4) in an 8 rounder. Furuhashi has long been one of the fringe contenders on the domestic scene, and is far better than his record suggests, despite 3 losses in his last 6. Kamon on the other hand began his career 1-2 but has gone on a good run, going 6-0-1 in his last 7. Despite being on a good run Kamon is taking a notable step up in class here.
The other Japanese card will be televised on G+ and despite being higher profile in it's coverage it's arguably a lesser card, despite having a number of notable fighters on it.
The main event here will see WBO #1 ranked Super Featherweight contender Masayuki Ito (22-1-1, 11) take on under-rated Filipino Vergil Puton (17-9, 8), in a bout which appears to be a world title prelude for Ito. The talented Japanese fighter, a former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific champion, will be expected to easily over-come Puton but the visitor is no push over, and has asked genuine questions to the likes of Paul Fleming, Ibraham Balla, Shuya Masaki and Ye Joon Kim. Ito should win, but this will be much tough than a public spar for the Japanese fighter.
In a really good chief support bout fans will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (12-2-1, 8) take on Hajime Nagai (15-9-2, 5), with both men risking JBC rankings. Coming into this Tobe is ranked #7 by the JBC and Nagai is ranked #10. Tobe is riding a 4 fight winning run since losing the Japanese title to Sho Ishida, in a very competitive bout back in 2014, and despite issues with activity he is still a top domestic talent. Nagai on the other hand has lost 2 of his last 3, bith technical decisions,but does have under-rated skills, as he's shown against the likes of Yuji Shimizu back in 2016. This should be Tobe's to lose, but is a very good test on paper for the Misako gym fighter.
Another support bout will see the often fun to watch Koki Eto (21-4-1, 16) take on Filipino journeyman Marzon Cabilla (16-15-1, 5). Eto is currently riding a 4 fight winning run, albeit against limited competition, since his 2015 loss to Carlos Cuadras. Despite his low level of competition the Japanese fighter is a fringe world class talent, and is well known for his thrilling bouts against the likes of Kompayak Porpramook, Yodmongol Vor Saengthep and Ardin Diale. Cabilla enters this bout in the form of his career, riding a 7 fight winning run, but is stepping back up in class here and is likely to see that run of success come to an end.
One other bout of note will see Japanese ranked Light Flyweight Kenji Ono (11-2-1, 6) take on former Japanese Minimumweight contender Masashi Tada (11-5-2, 7). Ono is best known for his up-and-down war with Jun Takigawa from 2016, and has gone 1-1-1 since that bout, suffering an opening round loss to Seigo Yuri Akui in late 2016. He needs a win if he's to move into a title bout. As for Tada he has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3, and over 4 years removed from his last win, however at the age of 28 he does still have time to rebuild his career and a win here would see him move into the JBC rankings.
For a second day running we get some action at the Korakuen Hall, and we again get a card featuring some notable names on the Japanese domestic scene.
Originally the main event of the card was set to see Japanese Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida (16-8-1, 7) defending his title against Kazuyuki Fukuyama (11-8, 3), Sadly illness has forced Fukuyama out of the contest, and now Nishida will face a Thai visitor instead. The originally made bout did have a little bit of interest, though Nishida was the clear favourite. Sadly the replacement just looks like a stay busy fight for Nishida. In saying that however Nishida has had a string of notable bouts, including a war with Tomohiro Ebisu earlier this year and wins against Makoto Fuchigami, Ratchasi Sithsaithong and Akio Shibata. From what we under-stand the Thai is Vichian K Max Gym (0-1), who was stopped inside a roundby Brandon Lockhart earlier this year, and we expect something similar from Nishida.
In a really good supporting bout we'll see the always fun to watch Gakuya Furuhashi (19-8-1, 9) take on Yoshiyuki Takabayashi (9-8, 4). On paper this looks like a mismatch but Takabayashi is much better than his record indicates and Furuhashi has taken so much punishment in recent bouts it's hard to know what he really has left. We'd assume Furuhashi will come out on top but this is no foregone conclusion, with the only guarantee being that this will be action packed.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines fans will get a chance to see a card with an interesting main event between two fighters who are known better for putting up great efforts in losses, rather than their ability to win, but should put on a really good bout against each other.
That main event will see the criminally over-looked Vergil Puton (16-8, 8) battle against Eduardo Mancito (15-6-2, 9). Of the two men Puton is the better known, and has given problems to the likes of JR Magboo, Ye Joon Kim, Shuya Masaki and Ibrahim Balla, proving his ability as an “opponent”, who comes to win but just falls short. As for Mancito he has suffered losses to Thong Sithluangphophun, Jelbirt Gomera, Alberto Guevara, Tomas Rojas and Rey Vargas. This should be a really fun, competitive and exciting fight, but we suspect Puton will take home the win.
In a supporting bout on this card fans will see Malaysian prospect Aiman Abubakar (5-0, 2) face off with Nestor Junio (1-9-2), in what should be a straight forward win for the unbeaten man.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
In South Africa we'll see unbeaten Filipino prospect Jhack Tepora (20-0, 15) take on heavy handed South African Lusanda Komanisi (21-3, 18) in a really good match up on paper. The Filipino has long been tipped as one to watch, and has claimed a number of minor titles through his career but hasn't fought away from his homeland yet. As for Komanisi he's shown brutal power in stopping the likes of Mabute Sinyabi and Roli Gasca, but did need a second bout with Gasca to see him off after a very controversial split decision over him in their first bout. This is a really good match up and will see the winner enhancing their standing and taking huge strides towards a world title fight.
In the US fight fans will get the chance to see 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (2-0, 1) fighting in the paid ranks for the 3rd time. The talented Uzbek will be up against Mexican tough guy Victor Rosas (9-6, 3), who has only been stopped once in his 15 fight career. The Uzbek was dropped on debut but went on to stop his foe that night and has since added a nice 8 rounds of experience to his record, and is likely to be fast tracked. Although he will be strongly favoured to defeat the upset minded Rosas, he will likely be looking to gain the experience of the later rounds, so don't be surprised to see this one go the distance.
The month of May is set to be hectic, with notable bouts spread through the coming weeks. The action for the month actually kicks off with a big show it's self, with a Japanese title fight, the return for a popular warrior and a debut of a Vietnamese hopeful.
The aforementioned title fight will see Japanese Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida (15-8-1, 7) battle against interim champion Tomohiro Ebisu (17-4, 17) in what looks set to be a really thrilling bout. Nishida has been inactive since June last year, when he lost the OPBF title to Dwight Ritchie, due to an injury and it's hard to say whether he will still be feeling the ill effects of that injury. Ebisu on the other hand comes into this bout following a thrilling win in December over Makoto Fuchigami. On paper this should be Nishida's pressure against Ebisu's power, and could be a very special way to kick off the month.
In a supporting bout we'll see former Japanese Super Bantamweight title challenger Gakuya Furuhashi (18-8-1, 8) return to the ring following his 10th round stoppage loss to Yasutaka Ishimoto last year. The always fun to watch Furuhashi has won just 1 of his last 5 bouts, but should get back to winning ways here, as he takes on the limited and faltering Masajiro Honda (6-8, 4), who has lost his last 3 bouts. A loss here for Furuhashi will likely end his career, which would be a shame, but a win could instantly see him put just a few bouts from a third title fight.
Also on the card will be the debut of Nguyen Gok Hai (0-0) from Vietnam, continuing the working relationship between the Kawasaki Nitta gym and Vietnamese boxing. The debutant will be up against Mao Tameda (1-2-1). Although it's hard to know how good Hai is it's fair to say that he wouldn't be invited over to Japan unless Kawasaki Nitta were aware that he was worth having over. This could be a very interesting debut.