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.