Ishikawa Multipurpose Dome, Uruma, Okinawa, Japan
This coming Sunday the Ishikawa Multipurpose Dome in Okinawa will be hosting two shows. In many ways the more important of the two is the battle to decide who will compete in the next stages of the Rookie of the Year. With that in mind we'll see the best of the Western Japan Rookies take on the best of the Central Japan Rookies, to decide who returns to face the West Japan winners in November.
On paper the best looking match up is at Flyweight, where we see unbeaten men clash as Yutaro Hamamura (1-0, 1) takes on Ryo Sakai (1-0). The 23 year old Hamamura debuted earlier this year, when he stopped Shota Takamatsu in just 103 seconds, and it'll be interesting to see if he can replicate such a destructive performance here. As for Sakai, the 19 year old scored a hard fought decision over Yuki Morikwa, and he'll know that experience will serve him well here.
At Super Flyweight we'll see teenagers clash as Kota Mishima (1-1, 1) and Ayumu Sano (2-0-1) face off. With both men being just 19 years old it's hard to know how either of these men will work out, but it's going to be interesting to see if the occasion gets to either men. Mishima was beaten on debut, but scored a win last time out, whilst Sano picked up a draw in his debut before winning his last two bouts
We get another battle of teenagers at Super Flyweight, where 18 year old southpaw Issa Sakata (1-0) battles against 19 year old Rento Miyazawa (3-1, 1). Sakata debuted in March, with a decision win, whilst Miyazawa debuted in July 2021, losing his second bout but comes into this on the back of two close wins. This should be a good test of two talented youngsters.
Ishikawa Multipurpose Dome, Uruma, Okinawa, Japan
The other show at the Ishikawa Multipurpose Dome is promoted by the Hiranaka Boxing School, and is a small but interesting card.
In the main event of this show we'll see Nigerian fighter Ridwan Oyekola (9-1-1, 5) take on local fighter Hikaru Fukunaga (9-3, 6). Oyekola, who is a former Nigerian champion at 130lbs, made his Japanese debut in September with an upset win over Daisuke Watanabe, and will be looking to score his second win in just under a month. As for Fukunaga he's lost 2 of his last 3, including a TKO loss last time out to Toshiya Ishii, and will be looking to get his career back on track. If Oyekola wins here we expect to see him continuing his career in Japan, but Fukunaga is certainly no push over, despite his recent losses.
In a good support bout we'll see former amateur Ryusuke Sunagawa (0-0) make his debut, as he takes on Takahiro Hamazaki (3-9-3, 1) in a scheduled 6 rounder. Although Sunagawa was never a stand out amateur, he is someone with a style that should work well in the professional ranks and we expect to see that promise shining here as he takes on the limited, light punching Hamazaki.
As well as the Japanese action we're also set for a card in Kazakhstan, with some notable Heavyweight action.
The most notable name on this card isn't an Asian fighter, but instead the hugely controversial American Heavyweight - (25-0-1, 21), who takes on Ebenezer Tetteh (20-1, 17), from Ghana. The unbeaten Miller, now aged 34, was once seen as a world title challenger and a great hope for American boxing, but repeated drug violations has killed all that hope. Despite his career essentially being over as a legitimate contender, or as someone a major promoter will work with, he is still a heavy handed fighter and he shouldn't struggle with Tetteh, he was stopped 2 fights back by Daniel Dubois, inside a round.
Another Heavyweight on this show is Azeri fighter Mahammadrasul Majidov (3-1, 3), who looks to bounce back from his horror injury against Andrey Fedosov back in 2021. Sadly for him he's now 36 and it seems almost impossible for him to make the huge mark on the professional ranks that his talent, power, and amateur pedigree deserve. The injury against Fedosov was nasty and it's a real shame we won't ever see what he could have done in the professional ranks. Sadly his opponent for this show hasn't yet been announced.
Super Arena, Saitama, Saitama, Japan
This coming Tuesday is one of the most anticipated days of the boxing calendar this year with a huge rematch taking place in Saitama, along with two other title bouts and notable bouts for two other prospects in what is a genuinely mouth watering Japanese show.
The main event of the card is a sensational match up as WBA "Super" IBF and Ring Magazine Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19) takes on WBC champion Nonito Donaire (42-6, 28) in a highly anticipated rematch. The two men had an instant classic in 2019, when Inoue dropped Donaire en route to a unanimous decision, in the WBSS Bantamweight final. That bout was however Inoue's toughest and the Monster suffered a number of serious injuries in the bout despite his win. Since then both men have looked destructive, with Inoue going 3-0 (3) and Donaire going 2-0 (2) and they come into this bout unifying 3 of the 4 major world titles. This is a bout that should have skills, fireworks and genuine excitement. Our in depth preview of this bout is available here The Drama In Saitama II - Inoue Vs Donaire "The Rematch"
In the chief support bout Andy Hiraoka (19-0, 14) will be defending his Japanese 140lb title against the hard hitting Shun Akaiwa (7-3-1, 5), in what is expected to be bit of a break out bout for Hiraoka. The talented, and world ranked, Hiraoka is expected to move towards major international bouts in the next year or two and a win over Akaiwa on a bit platform like this show is key to helping him build his profile. Although Hiraoka will be the favourite it is worth noting that Akaiwa is no push-over and he will be there looking to over-come Hiraoka and claim a career best win. Akaiwa will be dangerous, can hurt fighters, but we suspect his lack of overall polish will be the difference maker here. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hiraoka defends Japanese title against Akaiwa
Another major supporting bout will see former world title challenger Takuma Inoue (15-1, 3) face off with Gakuya Furuhashi (28-8-2, 16) in a bout to unify the WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Super Bantamweight titles. Coming in to this Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya, will be the favourite, and is expected to have the skills, speed and energy to take home the win, however Furuhashi has been on a roll in recent years and comes into this looking to make a war and keep his career alive. The bout should be a brilliant clash of styles with a boxer against a swarmer, and it could, genuinely, be a brilliant tease for the main event, even if international fans aren't too familiar with Furuhashi, who is a genuine warrior. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese titles to be unified as Inoue faces Furuhashi
In a notable, and mouth watering, non-title bout we'll see the highly touted Toshiya Ishii (5-1, 3) take on Hikaru Fukunaga (9-2, 6) in what is a brilliant teaser for the three title bouts. Ishii is widely regarded within Japan as a special talent, and his sole loss was a very controversial one to Sho Ishida in Osaka, one that we felt he was very harshly treat by the judges. Since then he has scored two solid domestic wins and will know that another win here will put him well in the mix for a Japanese title fight. As for Fukunaga, who won Rookie of the Year in 2020, the bout comes on the back of a good TKO win over Dominique Kenshin, and he also proved his quality last year in a loss to the much touted Rentaro Kimura. This won't steal the show, but is an excellent 8 rounder between two young, talented, promising fighters willing to take on tough tests.
Another of the notable prospects on this card is the unbeaten 19 year old hopeful Kanamu Sakama (5-0, 4), who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year back in February, as he takes on Fuki Ishigaki (4-4, 2). The bout will be Sakama's first contest since he won the Rookie of the Year and see him coming in with plenty of momentum and a lot of expectation on his hard hitting shoulders. As for Ishigaki the bout will be his first since losing in December against Daisuke Sumita, who stopped him in 4 rounders. Sakama should be too good, and too big, but we do expect to see him being made to work for his win here.
Ishikawa Multipurpose Dome, Uruma, Okinawa, Japan
The main show this coming Sunday comes from Okinawa as former world champion Akinobu Hiranaka promotes a show in his local area. Sadly the show isn't a huge one, but it's still got some recognisable names on it, and should prove to be a decent show overall.
The main event will be a 6 rounder between Hiranaka promoted Hiroki Kinjo (5-2, 4) and the experienced Ryuji Ikehara (13-4-1, 7). Aged 22 Kinjo is a promising youngster, a local fighter from Okinawa, sadly however he's a man who needs a win after losing his last two bouts, including one to the then debut Kyotaro Yoshida. He hits hard, he's exciting but he is limited and lacks experience. Ikehara on the other hand has 18 bouts to his name, though he has fought only once in the last 4 years, and it's hard to know what ambition the 36 year old still has for the fight game.
In an interesting supporting bout we'll see Naoki Minagawa (0-0) make his debut against the experienced, but limited Toshihiro Kai (6-12-3, 2), in a 6 rounder. As an amateur Minagawa went an incredible 70-17 (36) and is touted as being a very special fighter for Okinawa, who doesn't have a lot of great talent fighting in the local area. If he's as good in the professional game as he was in the amateurs they may well have a star on their hands. Kai on the other hand is steady hand and should ask some questions of the newbie, but isn't expected to be an actual test for Minagawa.
In a potentially mouth watering supporting bout Hikaru Fukunaga (8-2, 5) will take on Dominique Kenshin (6-2, 2). For Fukunaga this will be his first bout since losing to Rentaro Kimura back in June, and he'll be looking to get back to winning ways against someone he should feel confident against. Kenshin on the other hand on the other hand comes in to this following a decent domestic win over Shogo Sakai and will feel like he has the confidence too build on that victory. We're not expecting a show stealer here, but this is likely to be very over-looked as a match up and could easily over-deliver.
On the subject of a bout that could steal the show, the 6 rounder between Ryuku Nagamine (5-2, 5) and Mammoth Kazunori (6-4-1, 6) could well be the bout that leaves fans talking. Neither of these two youngsters are world beaters, or even close. Both have lost their last two. But both throw bombs, both come to fight, and both have the potential to score terrifying KO's. We expect this one to be a serious shoot out. If you're in attendance do not go to the bathroom during this one, or there is real chance you'll miss something very special. Of the two men Kazunori should be seen as the favourite, but Nagamine is dangerous and will be throwing bombs of his own.
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the show in Okinawa there will also be one in Tokyo, with this one being held under the Fighting Spirit banner, and being promoted by the Hachioji Nakaya Boxing gym.
The card isn't a big one, but is an interesting one with a very well matched main event between two JBC ranked fighters. The bout in question will see JBC ranked Super Flyweight Musashi Yoshino (10-6, 4) taking on ranked Bantamweight Wataru Ikegami (9-5-1, 5). On paper neither of these men are outstanding, but in fairness to both men, they are much better than their records suggest. Yoshino comes into this bout on the back of a solid win over Shunpei Kubo back in July, and he's 4-2 since the start of 2010, with his only clear loss in that time coming to the excellent Ryusei Kawaura. Ikegami on the other hand is a joy to watch, and could easily have an 11-3-1 record, had luck gone his way. Interestingly Ikegami has scored stoppages in 3 of his last 4 wins and appears to be developing belief in his power.
Another, potentially, exciting clash will see the flawed but fun to watch Ryugo Ushijima (5-2-2, 3) take on Taison Mukaiyama (5-2, 3) in the chief support bout. The hard hitting Ushijima is an awkward, gangly fighter, who looks uncoordinated at times, but makes for fun fights due to his flaws. Mukaiyama on the other hand has shown himself to be something of a glass cannon, with 4 of his bouts ending in the first round. Interestingly these two fought back in November 2019, with Mukaiyama giving Ushijima his first loss, and it's fair to say the 20 year old will be wanting to avenge that loss here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday the Korakuen Hall plays host to the next show in the Diamond Glove series of events televised, on tape delay, by Fuji TV. Although not a massive card it does have a Japanese title bout, along with some very interesting supporting bouts, with some of the stars of the latest Rookie of the Year looking to shine.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Daishi Nagata (15-2-2, 6) look to make his second defense of the title, which he took from Koki Inoue in 2020, as he takes on the unbeaten Masahiro Suzuki (5-0, 3). The tough and rugged Nagata will come in to this as a huge favourite and will try to use his physicality and pressure to break down the smaller, less experienced Suzuki, however that might not be as easy to do as Nagata might think. Suzuki, although inexperienced as a professional was a very good amateur and has impressed since kicking off his professional career with an excellent win against Antonio Siesmundo. This will be pressure against movement, and those bouts do tend to make for some very good stylistic clashes. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Nagata defends against unbeaten Suzuki!
In a really, really good looking chief support bout we'll see the very highly regarded Rentaro Kimura (3-0, 3) take on the once beaten Hikaru Fukunaga (8-1, 5) in a very solid 6 rounder. Kimura has looked fantastic since making his professional debut, late last year, and clearly has his eyes on getting title fights later this year. To do that he needs to keep winning and can't afford a slip up here against Fukunaga. As for Fukunaga he reached the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, but sadly tested posted for Covid19 before the bout and was unable to compete in his scheduled bout. With that disappointment we expect to see Fukunaga come in to this bout full of hunger and desire, and he could be a real test for Kimura in this mouth watering contest.
Another excellent match up on the under-card will see All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Ryota Karimata (6-0, 3) take on Hayato Aoki (4-0, 3) in a brilliant match up. The 25 year old Karimata is one of the potential stars from the belated Rookie of the Year tournament, and he looked solid through the tournament, despite some struggles in the final against Hyogo Kimura. He's aggressive, heavy handed, and a fun to watch fighter who lets his hands go. Aoki on the other hand is a 36 old who knows he can't afford any more set backs if he's ever going to secure a title fight. Expect to see a hot tempo set early on and bombs to be thrown by both men in this one.
Another notable standout from the latest Rookie of the Year tournament was Akira Hoshuyama (5-0, 2), who won a Flyweight. He will be looking to build on his Rookie success with a bout against former amateur standout Shisui Kawabata (2-2, 2), who has struggled since moving over to the professional ranks. Hoshuyama's Rookie of the Year final, against Yasuhiro Kanzaki, was one of the more controversial, and exciting, finals and he'll be looking to put to bed some question marks that hang over his head from that bout. Kawabata on the other hand desperately needs a win after back to back losses to Rikito Shiba and Yuki Nakajima. Kawabata might have two losses in 4, but he can fight, and if he clicks here he could end rebuilding rapidly, and becoming the fighter many expected him to become when he made his debut in early 2018.
The remaining bout on this carer will see the crude but fun to watch Shota Ogasawara (6-3, 3) take on Rookie of the Year runner up Naito Oikawa (3-1, 1) in a 6 rounder. This isn't a great bout, but it should be regarded as a must win for both men, following some disappointing performances in recent contests.
Sun Rise Park Gym, Saga, Saga, Japan
This coming Sunday we see Western Japan Rookie of the Year action with 3 bouts, all of which are finals. Sadly they do show just how weak the Western Japan Rookie of the Year is compared to the West and Central Japan tournaments.
The first of the three bouts will be at Super Flyweight, where Fuka Yamasaki (1-4, 1) takes on the unbeaten Sora Sunohara (1-0-1). The more experienced man is Yamasaki, who debuted in April 2018 and hasn't socced a win since taking an opening round victory in his second bout. His last 3 contests have all been clear losses, including a retirement loss to Ryoma Yamashira in December 2018. Sunohara on the other hand debuted with a draw in August 2019, won his second bout, 4 months later, and hasn't fought since. We'll be honest it's a little bit hard to care too much about this, and we can't imagine the winner reaching the All Japan final down the line.
The second bout is another where we can't see the winner progressing to the All-Japan final. In fact this bout will see Hirohisa Fujiwara (0-1) and Shinsaku Sato (0-4) both look for their first win Super Bantamweight final. Fujiwara is 34 years old and was stopped in his debut last year, giving us almost nothing to talk about in regards to his potential. Sato on the other hand is 31 and was stopped in his first 3 bouts, though went the distance last time out in a decision loss. Neither of these men have picked up a win, or even fought this year.
Thankfully the Featherweight final does look somewhat solid as the heavy handed Hikaru Fukunaga (5-1, 4) takes on Misaki Hirano (1-0, 1), in what should be an explosive clash. The 21 year old Fukunaga had been a professional since 2018 and he impressed us last year, before losing to Jinki Maeda in a Rookie of the Year bout. Since then he has picked up 4 rounds of experience against Kohei Suzuki and looks like one to keep an eye on. Hirano on the other hand made his debut in August this year, and needed just 42 seconds to beat Takayoshi Kurokawa. Expect this one to be explosive, and make up, somewhat, for the other two bouts.