To end 2019 we get a bumper card from Watanabe Gym who give us 6 titles on a single show in Tokyo. For those at the venue this is set to be a monster show, one of the best of the year, whilst those at home will only be able to see 2, or 3, of the bouts from the show.
The show at the venue is set to open with one of the best opening bouts on a show this year, as fast rising prospect Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3) defends his WBO Asia Pacific title against former world title challenger Rey Loreto (25-14, 17). Fans who aren't aware of Loreto might see this as a mismatch but the Filipino, who started his career 0-4, is a legitimate danger man and this is a very legitimate test for Shigeoka. A win for the 20 year old local is expected to be followed by a world title fight next year, but again a win here is not a given against the tough and heavy handed Loreto. Our preview of this bout is available to read here Rising star Shigeoka defends regional crown against former world title challenger!
Another regional title bout on this show will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-3-1, 13) take on Filipino Jhunriel Ramonal (16-8-6, 9), in a bout for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title. Coming in to this Kuga has had a great year, reclaiming the Japanese title with a win against Ryoichi Tamura and then defending it with a blow out against Yosuke Fujihara. He will be the favourite. However Ramonal is unbeaten since mounting a comeback in 2018, and was last seen blasting out Shingo Wake in October, and he will be full of confidence coming in to this bout. Our preview of this bout can be read here Kuga and Ramonal clash for WBO Asia Pacific crown!
The first of three world title bouts, and one that is available to a Japanese only audience through Paravi, will see Miyo Yoshida (13-1) defending her WBO female Super Flyweight title against Chinese challenger Li Ping Shi (5-2, 2). This will be Yoshida's first defense of the title she won earlier this year, when she beat Casey Morton, and she, and her team sound confident that she has really come on and developed since winning the title. For Shi this is a huge step up in class, but she comes in with self belief and confidence. We go into a lot more detail of this bout here Yoshida defends WBO crown against Shi!
The second world title fight on this card will see fast rising Japanese star Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8) defending his WBO Flyweight title, for the third time, as he takes on Chinese challenger Wulan Tuolehazi (13-3-1, 6). The talented Tanaka looked poor last time out, needing to pull victory from the jaws of defeat against Jonathan Gonzalez, but put that down to being sick in the build up. We expect to see a better performance here, but Wulan is no pusher over and comes into this bout full of confidence, in what looks like a potential banana skin of a defense. This bout has been previewed in a lot of depth here Tanaka takes on Wulan in year ending WBO Flyweight title bout!
The main event of the card will see Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14) defending his WBO Super Flyweight title against mandatory challenger Jeyvier Cintron (11-0, 5), in what will be the final world title bout of the decade. Ioka won the title earlier this year, when he stopped Aston Palicte, and will be looking to go into the new decade as one of the top faces of the lower weight classes. Cintron on the other hand is looking to claim a world title in his first world title fight, and build on a very successful amateur career. This is a actually a really good way to close out the year, and the winner will enter 2020 as a man with potentially huge fights out there for the new year, including a show down with Roman Gonzalez. A full scale preview of this bout can be read here Ioka and Cintron to clash in final world title bout of the decade!
The other title bout, which is actually pencilled in as a swing bout, will see Marina Sayama (4-1-1, 2) and Yume Hirayama (4-0) battle for the vacant Japanese female Flyweight title. This will be the second bout between the two fighters, who fought in 2017 with Hirayama winning, and looks likely to be a competitive bout, but one only those in the arena will get the chance to see. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hirayama and Sayama battle for Japanese title!
We are set for a mouth watering title triple header on July 27th. Originally the card was a quadruple header, though one of the bouts was cancelled, but more about that in a few moments.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (7-0-1, 2) seek his third defense, as he goes up against former OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (18-5-1, 11). The talented and highly skilled Mishiro has been moved quickly since his 2017 debut, and already has wins against the likes of Shuya Masaki, Carlo Magali and Takuya Watanabe. Another win here would move him close to a potential world title fight. On the other hand Takenaka, 34, is now in last chance saloon , following a loss in March to Heorhii Lashko and it's hard to see how he can bounce back from another defeat. Our preview of this bout can be read here Mishiro takes on Takenaka in latest OPBF title defense
A second title fight will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Yuta Saito (12-9-3, 9) defending his title against mandatory challenger Yusuke Suzuki (10-3, 7), in what should be an excellent match up between two skilled and heavy handed fighters. For Saito the bout will be his second defense, and despite his poor looking record he has looked sensational in his last 2 bouts with heavy handed, intense pressure and a lot of aggression. Suzuki has long been due a title fight, but due to injuries and issues with opponents his opportunity has been pushed back, and back until now. Suzuki has shown more variety to his boxing than Saito, though he's been pretty inactive recently, due to his injuries. This is likely to be the show stealer, based on the styles of the two men involved. Our preview of this bout is here Saito and Suzuki battle for Japanese crown
The third title bout will see super prospect Ginjiro Shigeoka (3-0, 2) facing Filipino foe Clyde Azarcon (15-2-1, 5) in a bout for the in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title. For the extremely highly touted Shigeoka this will be his first title fight, and a win here would see him match the Japanese male record for fewest fights to win a title, of any kind. Shigeoka was a very high touted amateur before turning professional last year and has raced to this shot. The Filipino on the other hand will be fighting out of the Philippines for the first time, but will be competing in his third title bout, after claiming the PBF title last year and fighting to a close loss in a WBO Oriental title fight. This has the potential to be the coronation of a future star, or a case of another fighter coming up short when being pushed too far too fast. Our preview of this sensational match up is available here Shigeoka goes for regional title against Azarcon!
Sadly a scheduled bout between Tsuyoshi Sato (9-1-1, 5) and Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2), which would have been for the Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title, had to be cancelled earlier in the month. The bout was called off after Sato suffered an injury in training, but the hope does seem like the two sides will try to rearrange the contest for later in the year.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
As well as the Japanese action there will also be some more Filipino interest in the day as young Filipino Joseph Ambo (9-1-1, 6) takes on once beaten South African Yanga Sigqibo (12-1-1, 3) in a bout for the WBO Inter-Continental Super Flyweight title. Ambo sufffered his only loss so far when he fought outside of the Philippines last year, losing a decision to the capable Sukkasem Kietyongyuth in Hua Hin, Thailand. Sigqibo on the other hand is on a good run and has recently scored good wins over Rene Dacquel and Keyvin Lara, and will clearly be expected to pick up another win here.
This coming Sunday is an incredibly hectic day in Japan with 4 different shows across the country, and when we talk about them being across the country we do mean that with hundreds of miles separating some of the shows.
The most notable card, in many ways, is in Kumamoto in the South West of Japan, where Yakushiji Promotions will be putting on a very significant card.
The main event of this show will be a rematch between Musashi Mori (8-0, 5) and Richard Pumicpic (21-9-2, 6). These two fought last November, when Mori took a technical decision over Pumicpic to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title, and he will be looking to make his first defense of that national title here. Pumicpic, a real under-rated Filipino warrior, will be hungry to avenge his loss. This is set to be a very, very tough bout and will be shown live on local TV channel TKU. Sadly for those outside of Kunamoto this appears to be a bout we won't be getting. A full preview of this bout can be read here Mori and Pumicpic battle again!
Whilst the main event is brilliant it's not the only bout of note and the show features a number of notable prospects. Among those is the very highly regarded Ginjiro Shigeoka (2-0, 2) who steps into his first 8 round bout, and takes on once beaten Filipino Joel Lino (10-1-1, 3). Lino's only loss came to Shigeoka's stablemate, and recent world title challenger, Masataka Taniguchi. This is a very serious test for Shigeoka, but also a bit that gives him a chance to gain immediate comparisons to Taniguchi, whilst Lino gets the chance to perform in front of a notable Japanese crowd.
Another Japan Vs Philippines bout will see the aggressive Seiya Tsutsumi (4-0, 3) take on the tough Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-13-3, 11), in what could be a really fun war. Tsutsumi has one of the most fan friendly, aggressive and exciting styles out there whilst Ponteras is a criminally under-rated veteran, who has never been stopped and can be a banana skin for better known fighters. Thhis could be a very, very exciting bout.
Another notable fighter on this card was 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Sora Takeda (4-1, 1), who will be up against Sanchai Yotboon (4-2, 4), the man the aforementioned Shigeoka made his debut against. We suspect Takeda will have the skills to over-come the Thai visitor, but this could be a good test of Takeda's metal.
Another of the more notable Japanese cards comes form Hyogo, in a female orientated card.
The biggest match up here here will see former WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (17-6-1, 8) take on former WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama (18-5-3, 5) in what is a must win bout for both fighters, who both have suffered 2 recent losses. Kuroki is the younger fighter, and certainly the one with more upside, though at 49 Ikeyama has proven that age really is just a number and she will be looking to extend her career in to her 50's with a win. This should be a very interesting bout, though Kuroki should enter as the clear favourite. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuroki and Ikeyama battle in must win bout!
As well as the Kuroki Vs Ikeyama bout, there will be two title bouts on this show. One of those bouts will see Japan's in form Shione Ogata (10-6, 2) face once beaten Filipino foe Charimae Salvador (4-1, 1) for the vacant OPBF female Light Flyweight title. Ogata has won her last 3, claiming a WBA Asia and WBO Asia Pacific title in her last 2 bouts, As for Salvador she was beaten last time out, at Atomweight, but will be fighting at her natural weight here. We're expecting Ogata to pick up another win, but this isn't going to be a walk in the park.
The other title bout on this card will be a bizarre KBM and JBC female title bout, the first since a new OPBF rule was brought into play. The bout will pit Japan's Tamao Ozawa (15-5, 6) up against Korean Hye Soo Park (5-7-1, 1). The winner will become a unified 2-nation champion, albeit temporarily, with the winner likely to immediately vacate the other nation's title. The idea to this is to create depth to thinner divisions, but leads to some odd situations like this.
At the L-Theatre in Osaka fans will see a small card with a few notable names involved.
The main event of this card will see OPBF, JBC and WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter Dynamic Kenji (10-3, 7) take on a Thai foe, who we believe will be Sophon Klachun (4-2, 1). We don't see this being much of a test for Kenji, who is edging his way towards a title fight, and will look to take the visitor out as he advances his march towards a career defining bout.
In an 8 round supporting bout fans will see Noboru Osato (10-7-4, 2) and the once beaten Ryotaro Motohashi (8-1, 2) battle in a very interesting match up. Neither of these men are big names, but they should make for a very competitive contest, much more saw the than records suggest.
Another 8 round supporting bout on this card will see Daijiro Yuki (8-5-1, 4) battle against Japanese ranked Welterweight Kazuyasu Okamoto (14-6, 4). This will be Okumoto's first bout since losing to Japanese champion Ryota Yada, and he will be looking to end a 2 fight losing run. Yuki on the other hand will be seeking a career best win.
The least notable of the Japanese cards takes place in Tsu and will be headlined by a Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title bout, with Yuto Nakamura (9-5, 7) defending his title against Toma Kondo (7-4, 1). This should be a hotly contested bout, though it's hard to doubt Nakamura and his edge in power. A full preview of this bout is available here Nakamura seeks first defense of youth crown, faces Kondo.
A notable supporting bout here will see former OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Roli Gasca (24-8-1, 8), who recently signed with Osaka Teiken, take on the once beaten Shuma Sugawara (6-1, 4). This looks like a huge step up for Sugawara, but a win puts him on the title hunt, whilst Gasca will be fighting for the first time in well over a year.
Attention turns to Tokyo this coming Tuesday for the next notable Watanabe card, headlined by a world title fight and supported by a number of really interesting prospects.
The main event of the show will see WBO Minimumweight champion Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) making his first defense and taking on Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7). Saludar, who won the title last year when he beat Ryuya Yamanaka, has proven to be a difficult assign for top fighters, with Kosei Tanaka needing to pull himself off the canvas to stop him and his win over Yamanaka. Taniguchi on the other hand is taking a huge step up in class, but is a top class fighter who's only losses have been razor thin ones to Tsubasa Koura and Reiya Konishi. We're really expecting this to be something really special. Our preview of this bout can be read here Saludar returns to Japan to defend against Taniguchi!
The main under-card bout will see former amateur standout Shu Utsuki (3-0, 2) take on Japanese based Filipino Jerry Castroverde (10-5, 5), who is promoted by Nobuhiro Ishida. Utsuki has shown great promise already in his career, but this is a very clear step up in class and will be the first time he has taken on someone with real ring experience. Castroverde on the other hand has lost 3 of his last 6, but has mixed with good competition, including Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov and Tae Il Atsumi. This is a huge step up for the unbeaten man.
Another big supporting bout will see the 2017 Rookie of the year Fumiya Fuse (7-0, 1) take on Naoto Mizutani (5-5-1, 2) in a really good looking 8 round bout. We've been impressed by Fuse, who really shined last year on his international debut in Korea, and we're expecting to see huge things from him in 2019. This should be a straight forward win for the youngster, but Mizutani has mixed with so very notable foes, including Kenshin Oshima and Ryo Akaho, so may have a few tricks up his sleeve to teach Fuse.
Teenage sensation Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1) will be fighting his second professional bout on his card, as he takes on once beaten 20 year old Thai Gerttipong Kumsahwat (3-1, 3), in what should be another bout to allow Shigeoka to shine ahead of a planned 8 round bout in April.
Talking about low key Thai's it's worth noting that Suzumi Takayama (0-0) will be making his debut against a low key Thai, taking on Nirun Baonok (5-14, 4), who has stacked up losses in Japan. Typically Baonok has given rounds to good fighters and been matched really hard, but given the fact Takayama was a stand out amateur we don't see this being a competitive match up.
This coming Tuesday is another big day for Japanese boxing. The Watanabe Gym will be putting on a card with 5 notable match ups, including a former world champion looking to make his mark on a new division, a pair of former amateur standouts and a unified regional and national champion.
The former world champion in action on this show is former IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7), who moves up to the Light Flyweight division to begin his pursuit of a second world title. The talented youngster will be facing off against fellow unbeaten Tibo Monabesa (18-0-2, 8) in what looks like a really good test for Kyoguchi at the new weight. The Japanese fighter raced through the ranks at 105lbs and has his eyes on a potential world title bout in the not so distant future. Monabesa will know that an upset win here opens the doors for huge fights, but this is a monster step up for the Indonesian fighter, who is the very clear under-dog. A full preview of this bout can be read here - Hiroto Kyoguchi kicks off Light Flyweight campaign against Tibo Monabesa!
The chief supporting bout will feature former amateur stand out Ginjiro Shigeoka (0-0) take on Sanchai Yotboon (4-0, 4) in a scheduled 6 rounder. The Japanese debutant posted a sensational 56-1 (17) record in the amateur ranks and is tipped as being something very special as he comes into the professional ranks. The Thai visitor has a good looking record, but is expected to be little more than fodder for the Japanese youngster.
The only title bout on the show with see Japanese Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto (19-1, 11) defending his OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles against Suthat Kalalek (12-9, 11), aka Kajornsak Sithsaithong. This is a really poor defense by the Japanese fighter, who has got far better regional foes out there to face. If Kyotaro is serious about getting a world title fight he really needs to start facing better fighters than this. The visitor has fought at OPBF level before, though that at Super Middleweight where he was stopped in 10 rounds by Yuzo Kiyota, and he really shouldn't be getting a Heavyweight fight at this level. A preview of this bout can be read here -Kyotaro defends unified Heavyweight crowns against Thai foe!
Also on this card will be former amateur standout Shu Utsuki (2-0, 1), who moves into 8 round bouts, and former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (10-3-2, 4), who will be facing off with a Thai foe in his first bout since losing the OPBF title to Jayr Raquinel.