This coming Sunday is set to be a rather interesting, but low key, day for Asian boxing with two small shows in Japan, one in Hyogo and one in Mie.
Art Center, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
The Hyogo show is the much more notable of the two but is, sadly, a pretty weak show overall.
The main event here will see Hiroki Tokuyama (9-3-1, 2) take on Japanese ranked Super Flyweight Shunji Nagata (12-18-2, 4), who will be risking his #20 JBC ranking. The 29 year old Tokuyama is best known for reaching the final of the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, losing to Fumiya Fuse in the final. Since then he has gone 4-2, and hasn't really looked particularly impressive since his Rookie of the Year campaign. Nagata on the other hand is a 36 year old veteran who's record is under-whelming but he is much better than the numbers suggest and he can cause upsets. Whilst neither of these two are going to reach the top of the sport, they should make for a very competitive and well matched bout.
Another ranked fighter on this card is Noboru Osato (12-8-4, 3), who is risking his JBC and WBO Asia Pacific rankings against Retsu Kosaka (10-5, 4). Osato is a "win some, lose some" fighter who manages to lose bouts he's expected to win, and then upset fighters that are regarded as better than he is, such as in 2019 when he defeated Ryo Suwa. He's a bit unpredictable, but when he's on song he is a legitimate banana skin. As for Kosaka he now needs a win after going 3-5 in his last 8, after starting his career 7-0. Interestingly Kosaka has got a very notable win, stopping Ryo Sagawa in 2017, but has gone 2-3 since then and it seemed to be more a case of Sagawa being inexperience than Kosaka being the better fighter.
The under-rated Hiroyuki Takahara (8-3, 6) will feature in an 6 round bout as he takes on Tamaki Miwa (6-6-1, 1), and looked to keep his winning run going. Takahara has won his last 4, including a massive win in August 2020 against Tom Mizokoshi, and will not be wanting that run to end here. Especially not as he's heading towards a Japanese ranking, and a potential title fight. Miwa on the other hand will be there to give a legitimate effort, but has lost his last 2 and lacks the power suspect he'd need to get Takahara's respect.
One other bout of note will see the limited Takuya Fujioka (9-10-1, 1) battle against Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Shingo Kawamura (16-6-4, 8). The light punching Fujioka was last seen losing a competitive decision in 2019 to Juiki Tatsuyoshi and although no world beater he has shown himself to be a legit competitor who comes to win and put in a fair and honest effort every time. Kawamura on the other hand has really struggled since losing in an OPBF title fight to Satoshi Shimizu in 2018. Since that loss he has gone 0-2-3 and he desperately needs a win. Kawamura should be favoured, but it's hard to know just how badly damaged his confidence is having failed to win any of his last 6.
Messe Mie, Tsu, Mie, Japan
The show in Mie features a total of 6 bouts, with 5 of those being 4 rounders and one being an 8 rounder.
The most notable of the 4 rounders will see Ryumei Nakamura (3-1-1, 1) take on the amazingly named Turtle Nishida (6-10-2, 1). Nakamura is a 20 year old hopeful who sadly hasn't fought since late 2019 and hopefully his activity does pick up when Japan manages to get back on top of the Covid19 situation. He looked promising early in his career, but there is certainly a lot of work left for him to do. As for Nishida he's looking to bounce back from successive stoppage losses, but really is a very limited 33 year old who shouldn't pose too much of a test to Nakamura.
The main event of this show will be an a very good looking 8 rounder between Shuma Sugawara (6-2, 4) and Arashi Iimi (7-3, 7). For Sugawara this will be his first bout in over 2 years, following a 2019 loss to Roli Gasca, and despite his lay off the 25 year old was once highly regarded as a prospect and fingers crossed we can see him show some of that potential here. Iimi on the other hand impressed in 2017, losing in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, but has struggled since then and is 3-2 since then. Iimi is a big puncher, and is dangerous, but is also vulnerable and desperately needs a big performance after losing his last two inside the distance.
For those wanting to watch this card live, it will be streamed live on Youtube thanks to sakana 1976 who continues to be a massive asset for Japanese boxing and one of the biggest helps for fans wanting see what Japanese boxing in regions like Aichi and Mie is like.
Tokiwa Arena, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
Action returns to Hyogo this coming Friday for a show promoted by Senrima Kobe. It's not a big card, by any stretch, but there are 4 bouts worthy of note from a show with 7 scheduled contests.
The first of the interesting bouts worthy of note will see Hiroyuki Takahara (7-3, 5) take on the once beaten Tom Mizokoshi (7-1-1, 4) in a 6 round Featherweight bout. The 28 year old Takahara is a win some, lose some type of fighter, who has reeled off 3 straight wins after back to back losses in 2017. It should be noted he's not fought since April 2019. On the other hand Mizokoshi is a highly regarded 21 year old who had won his last 5, including a win in South Korea against Ha Nok Shim last year. Interestingly Mizokoshi fought 4 times in 2019 and it'll be interesting to see what a lay off, since December, will do for him. This may only be a 6 rounder but it should serve as a good test to see what improvements and development Mizokoshi is making.
The first of three Japanese ranked fighters on this show is Japanese ranked Featherweight Chiharu Takasuka (7-6-1, 4), who takes on Yuna Hara (8-2-1, 4) in an 8 rounder. Despite being ranked Takasuka is certainly nothing incredible and he has lost 4 of his last 6. Hara on the other hand has won 4 of his last 5, and his only loss in that stretch was in the West Japan Rookie of the Year in November 2018. The momentum is all behind Hara who will be looking to gate crash the Japanese rankings here.
Another ranked fighter on this show is the once beaten Light Flyweight hopeful Yuga Inoue (9-1-1, 1), who enters ranked #8 by the JBC. Inoue will be in against Tetsuya Mimura (8-2, 1) in an 8 round Flyweight bout that really does look brilliant. Although very light punching the 21 year old Inoue is a real talent, and he won the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Minimumweight, before losing in a Japanese Youth title fight to Kai Ishizawa. Since that loss he has been trying to make a point and been facing solid domestic opponents. Mimura is a touch older, turning 24 just days before the fight, and is himself a former Rookie of the Year runner up, losing in the 2018 final. Despite that loss he has bounced back well, and was unlucky in his second loss, losing a razor thin majority decision to Riku Kano in Sanda last November. Expect this one to be high level boxing between two very skilled young boxers.
The final ranked fighter is Ryosuke Nasu (11-5-3, 2), who takes on Hiroki Tokuyama (9-2-1, 2) in the main event. The 24 year old Nasu has lost 3 of his last 6, but has been mixing in good company and wins over Tatsuya Terada and Toma Kondo in his last 3 bouts. He's not looking likely to get a Japanese title fight any time soon, but we suspect he will get one before his career is over. Although not ranked himself Tokuyama is banging on the door of a ranking having won 4 of his last 5. His most notable result was a loss to Fumiya Fuse in the 2017 Rookie of the Year final, and he bounced back with 4 straight wins, before a razor thin loss last December against Chikato Sumida. We expect this one will be close and competitive and it's a hard to pick a winner in.
Again this isn't a big card, but is a very competitive looking one, and we can't complain about getting several 50/50 type bouts on a single show!
This coming Saturday is a hectic day for Asian fight fans with a lot of action all crammed into a single day, and taking place all over the place. It might not be Christmas yet, but this weekend is set to feature a lot of gifts for us fight fans.
On paper the most significant bout of the weekend, at least in terms of Asian boxing, will see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) take on Chilean challenger Miguel Gonzalez (31-2, 8), in Mexico. This bout has been arranged in a haste after a previously scheduled bout for Ancajas fell though, and although it looks good on paper we don't see this being anything other than a straight forward win for Ancajas. The Filipino has been frustrating at times, but he is a world class fighter and Gonzalez on the other hand has been easily beaten by the two world level guys he's faced. We're expecting a stoppage from Ancajas here, even if Gonzalez does end up being an awkward assignment. A full preview of this can be read here IBF king Ancajas faces Chilean challenger
New York, USA
Another bout with meaning at world level will see former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (33-2, 16) take on former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa (26-3, 16) in a bout for the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title. The interim title has been created due to injuries suffered by Danny Roman, and despite interim titles not being great for boxing this bout is a brilliant one, and we're looking forward to this. Both fighters are world class, both can bang and they should be well matched, with styles that we're expecting will gel well. This should be very exciting, and we'd be shocked if we get through 12 rounds here.
In Japan we have a lot of action, with the most notable of the Japanese action coming from Tokyo, where we'll get a title double header, featuring two Super Featherweight title bouts. For fans wanting to watch this the show will be broadcast live on G+.
The most notable of the title fights will see WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight champion Joe Noynay (18-2-1, 7) defending his title against Kenichi Ogawa (24-1, 18). This year has been a huge one for Noynay, who has already travelled to Japan and stopped Kosuke Saka and Satoshi Shimizu, and a win here against Ogawa will put him well and truly in the world title mix. For Ogawa a win here would put him on the verge of a second world title fight. We expect bombs to be thrown, we wouldn't be surprised if both men were badly hurt at some point, and this is an ideal headliner for a televised card. Our preview of this fantastic match up can be read here Noynay looks to extend "Japanese Killer" run as he takes on Ogawa
The other title bout on this show will see Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (19-1-1, 11) defending his title against former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (19-5, 16). For Sueyoshi this bout will be his 5th defense, and if he wins we wouldn't be massively surprised to see him vacating the title in the new year to pursue regional, if not world, honours. For Saka this is a chance to put a very mixed 24 months, in which he has gone 3-2 (2), behind him and would end the year on the high following a loss to Noynay back in April. Saka has the power to hurt Sueyoshi, but Sueyoshi has the skills to outfox and out think Saka, in what is a compelling match up. Our preview of this bout can be read here Sueyoshi takes on Saka in next Japanese title defense
Also on this card will be Teiken trio Hikari Mineta (7-1, 4), Daiki Funayama (10-3-1, 3) and Koki Mioya (6-1-2, 1) who will all be taking on limited Thai opposition in what look like stay busy fights to close out the year.
A second Japanese show takes place in Kanagawa, and although much lower profile it features another title bout.
That title bout will see Japanese female Featherweight champion Kimika Miyoshi (14-12-1, 5) defending her belt against unbeaten novice Aira Midorikawa (5-0, 1), in what will be Mioyoshi's first defense of her second reign. Miyoshi claimed the belt in September, when she took a split decision win over Miki Mitsuda, ending a 4 fight losing in a bit of an upset. Although Mitsuda was no world beater we hadn't seen Miyoshi win a fight in over 3 years! Midorikawa is taking a huge step up, and although she's unbeaten she is very untested ahead of this bout, her first title bout. It'll be a huge ask for Midorikawa, but Miyoshi is certainly not unbeatable. An in depth of preview of this bout can be read here Veteran Miyoshi takes on Midorikawa in Featherweight title bout
Despite the title bout on this show the main event is technically a rematch between Yui Oikawa (7-5, 4) and Seiryu Toshikawa (11-5, 7). Coming in Oikawa has been stopped in his last 2, and desperately needs a win. He'll be driven on not only by the need of a win, but by a chance of getting to avenge a 2016 loss to Toshikawa, who beat him with a 4 round split decision. On paper Toshikawa might not look great but he's much better than his record suggests and he'll be looking to score his second win since suffering a razor thin loss in a Japanese Youth title fight to Shawn Oda in 2018.
A third Japanese show takes place in Hyogo, where fans get a card with several noteworthy names on it.
In the main event we'll see Japanese and OPBF ranked Minimumweight Ryoki Hirai (12-6-1, 4) take on the limited Hirohisa Ichikawa (7-7-2, 2). We've long seen Hirai as a fighter with a lot of potential, but someone who has faltered in many of his toughest bouts. Here we expect him to shine, as he looks to build to a title fight of some kind in 2020. With just 1 win in the last 4 years it's hard to imagine Ichikawa giving Hirai much of a test, but he could give Hirai some rounds.
World ranked fighter Kazuhiro Nishitani (20-4-1, 12) looks to continue his slow build towards a meaningful fight as he takes on Filipino veteran Monico Laurente (30-15, 7). The 32 year old Nishitani has won his last 5 by stoppage, including a notable upset win against Shuhei Tsuchiya for the Japanese Lightweight title in 2017. Sadly he has failed to make anything of his career after that win and vacated the title rather than defend it, which has done his career no favours as he continues to meander in the middle of cards in meaningless bouts like this one. Laurente isn't an awful opponent, but is certainly not a step forward for Nishitani who really has lost all the momentum of his win over Laurente.
Another bout of some note on this card will see Hiroki Tokuyama (9-1-1, 2) take on Chikato Sumida (8-3, 1). This will see Tokuyama defending his JBC and OPBF rankings and score a 5th straight win. Sumida isn't terrible, but we don't see him posing much of a test for Tokuyama here.
Yet another show with an Asian fighter in action is being held in Quebec, where fast rising Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov (10-0, 9) takes on rugged Argentinian Jose Antonio Villalobos (12-5-2, 7). Akhmedov missed quite a bit of this year, whilst he recovered from injury and got married, but has still been busier than most and has began answering more and more questions, proving his stamina, his ability to box and move and that he can box on the back foot. There are still areas for him to work on, but for a 21 year old kid his incredibly impressive and a win here is seen as a formality before a potentially huge 2020. Villalobos will be there to try and ask questions of Akhmedov but we really don't see this as anything but an easy win for the talented Kazakh.
Diriyah, Saudi Arabia
On a show that features more morally objectionable content that we can remember for a boxing card, including 4 fighters who have failed drug tests and the show taking place in a country with a terrible history human rights, we'll see Azeri fighter Mahammadrasul Majidov (1-0, 1) take on Tom Little (10-7, 3).