Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Action returns to Korakuen Hall this coming Monday for a Watanabe and Dangan co-promoted card. This is a small card, with just 3 bouts on it in total, but it is also a very notable card, with all 3 bouts being title contests. As well as the 3 bouts, fans will also get an exhibition featuring one of the biggest stars in Japanese boxing, who makes a long awaited return to Korakuen Hall.
Also it's worth noting all of these bouts were originally scheduled to take place in May, but were delayed due to the Sumida City Gymnasium being closed during the recent State of Emergency in various Japanese regions.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Minimuwmeight champion Masataka Taniguchi (13-3, 8) making his first defense, as he takes on the once beaten Tatsuro Nakashima (11-1-1, 7). Taniguchi won the Japanese title late last year, winning the belt in his second shot at it, and he could end up having a very strong reign if he and his team are happy with him developing on the Japanese scene for the next few years. The talented champion will have hopes of winning a world title one day, but for now he's best off developing, getting some experience and fighting at this level. As for Nakashima he's a decent fighter, but it does feel like he's ill prepared for a bout with Taniguchi. He lost in 2018 to Kai Ishizawa and narrowly got past Ariston Aton in 2019. Nakashima has the potential to win a Japanese title, but we suspect he's getting this shot too soon in his career, and before he's really ready. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Taniguchi hunts first defense as he takes on Nakashima
In another of the title bouts we'll see former world champion Yuko Kuroki (17-6-2, 8) battle against the unbeaten Mizuki Chimoto (2-0, 1) for the vacant OPBF female Minimumweight title. For Kuroki this really is a must win bout, she's more than 3 years removed from her last win, she's 1-2-1 in her last 4, and was last seen fighting to a draw with veteran Nao Ikeyama. The now 30 year old Kuroki went from looking like a woman on the verge of stardom to a woman who boxing has seemingly forgot. Another loss here and it'll be really hard for her to bounce back. As for the 27 year old Chimoto, she was a good amateur who has been on the fast track since making her debut in late 2018 and it's great to see her fighting for a title, against a former world champion, this early in her career. Our preview for this bout can be read here Chimoto steps up to take on former world champion Kuroki in third pro bout!
The third title bout will see Kanako Taniyama (3-1-1, 1) and Yuko Henzan (8-10-4, 2) clash for the vacant Japanese female Bantamweight title. Both of these women are 34 years old and neither can really afford another set at this point. Taniyama turned professional with plenty of attention but has struggled to make a mark in pro boxing, something she was expected to do very easily. Henzan on the other hand has lost her last 3, and is limited, but has the clear edge in experience and will know that this is almost certainly going to be her final shot at a title. This could end up being a bit of a messy fight, with desperation setting in from both women, but with only 6 rounds it could also be a frantic and exciting one. Our in depth preview for this one is here Taniyama and Henzan battle for Japanese female title!
As well as the three bouts the card will also feature an exhibition bout, with WBA "super" Light Flyweight champion Hitoro Kyguchi (15-0, 10) showcasing his skills before the main event. Sadly at the time of writing his "opponent" hasn't been named.
This coming Saturday is set to be a great day for fight fans, some major bouts taking place around the globe, some with and some without Asian fighters involved. For fight fans who have been starved of big fights this month, things really do step up a gear this weekend.
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas, USA
The biggest show of the day, by far, is from Texas where we see the long awaited rematch between Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada as well as the massive female rematch between Jessica McCaskill and Cecilia Braekhus.
The show will also feature the US debut of Japanese star Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9), as he looked to defend his Ring Magazine and WBA "super" Light Flyweight titles against Mexican youngster Axel Aragon Vega (14-3-1, 8).
Kyoguchi turned professional in 2016 and raced away to his first world title, the IBF Minimumweight title, before moving up in weight in 2018, and winning the WBA Light Flyweight title in Macau, by stopping Hekkie Budler. Since winning the title he has defended the belt twice, and had planned to defend the title in 2020, before he had one bout cancelled due to Covid19 in May and then had to cancel a second bout when he himself tested positive. For the 20 year old Vega, who also debuted in 2016, this will be his second shot at a title, following a 2019 loss to WBO Minimumweight champion Wilfredo Mendez. Despite putting in a good performance against Mendez, and running him close, it's assumed this will be too much, too soon, for the Mexican youngster as he takes on one of the best Light Flyweights out there. Our in depth preview of this world title fight can be read here Kyoguchi makes his US debut, takes on Vega!
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Before the Texas card DAZN we get the chance to see an interesting Thai card, featuring a man who holds a win over both Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada, and two very promising Thai prospects.
The man who has beaten both Estrada and Gonzalez is, of course, former 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvidai (49-5-1, 42), who looks to kick his 2021 campaign off with a tune up bout. In the opposite corner to the destructive southpaw will be former world WBA Minimumweight world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng (50-7-1, 27). The hard hitting Srisaket is expected to face the winner of the Gonzalez Vs Estrada rematch later in the year, and is the WBC mandatory challenger for the winner. Rather than risking that title shot he'll be up against someone who has been stopped in 4 of his last 7, and scored his last major win more than a decade ago. Thankfully NKL and Work Point, in Thailand, are not dressing this up as a serious match up, and neither will we. This should be a regarded as a tune up for Srisaket before a big fight later in the year, and nothing else.
In a really good supporting bout WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Flyweight champion Phongsaphon Panyakum (11-1, 6) will be defending his title against former Naoya Inoue opponent Karoon Jarupianlerd (44-10, 20), also known as Petchbarngborn Kokietgym. The once beaten Phongsaphon has reeled off 11 straight wins since a loss, on debut, to Kai Ishizawa, and has looked like a genuinely promising young prospect in recent bouts. Despite now having 10 losses to his name Karoon is certainly no push over, and he gave talented youngster Nattapong Jankaew genuine fits last November, and could end up being a very game challenger here. Aged 35 now Karoon has seen better days but mixing with the likes of Inoue, Akira Yaegashi, Kohei Kono and Sho Ishida has seen him pick up some tricks and he's a good domestic gatekeeper for the Thai scene.
In another good supporting bout the unbeaten Chainoi Worawut (13-0-1, 12) will be defending his WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on former 2-time WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-9, 36). The hard hitting Chainoi has been really exciting and destructive since beginning his professional career back in 2018, and despite an early draw he has looked like one of the most promising young Thai's in the sport. Despite looking promising he has been matched relatively softly and this is a genuine step up in class for him. Pungluang is very much a faded force from what he once was, but he's still a handful and his pressure and work rate should guarantee a really fun fight here. He might be past his best but Pungluang doesn't really understand how to take a step backwards and even got a fun and exciting fight out of Amnat Ruenroeng. We expect this to be a bit of a sleeper hit.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
It's fair to say that February is set to be a very, very quiet month with less action scheduled for the month than there was in January, also a super quiet month. Thankfully however this coming Thursday there is a notable show taking place at Korakuen Hall, and it's a genuinely exciting card with a Japanese Youth title fight and Japanese title fight both set for the show. Better than that, is the fact both of the title fights look very, very even and very interesting on paper..
The show only has 4 bouts on it in total. The most interesting of those will see Shinnosuke Kimoto (6-4, 2) take on Shota Ogasawara (5-3, 3) in a 6 round Super Bantamweight bout. Incidentally this is their second bout, but more about that in a moment. Coming in to this Kimoto is looking to rebound from a majority decision loss to talented youngster Tom Mizokoshi, a loss than ended a 2-fight winning run for him. As for Ogasawa he'll be fighting for the first time in over a year, following his loss in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year. Although he lost last time out in a notable bout Ogasawara is better for a different loss, his thrilling 2019 loss to Ryugo Ushijima. As mentioned these two have fought before, with Ogasawara beating Kimoto back in 2017, in what was Kimoto's debut. Fair to say Kimoto will want revenge here!
The first of the two title fights on the show will see Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1) clash with Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) in a sensational looking Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title fight, for the vacant title. The 20 year old Horikawa impressed in his 2019 debut and impressed even more in his second professional bout, when he beat Yuki Nakajima, though was unlucky in his third bout when he was controversially held to a draw in China against Xiang Li. Horikawa is a very skilled and quick boxer-mover and will be looking to make the most of his slick footwork here. On the other hand Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, looked promising on debut and sensational in his second bout, as he calmly outboxed OPBF Lito Dante over 6 rounds. Shigeoka looks the more imposing fighter, the physically stronger and more polished, but also the man with the slower footwork. This should be a genuinely fantastic match up, and a really high level bout between two sensational youngsters. Our preview of this bout can be read here Horikawa and Shigeoka battle for Youth crown in Tokyo!
In the main event we'll see Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (10-1, 5) defend his belt against mandatory challenger Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8), in a bout that was originally scheduled for 2020 but was delayed due to Covid19. For Sagawa this will be his third defense since beating Reiya Abe for the vacant title in 2019 and he looks to continue an excellent 9 fight winning run which has seen him defeat Junki Sasaki, Ryo Matsumoto, Al Toyogon and the aforementioned Abe. The champion has looked fantastic in recent bouts, but there are question marks about his chin and durability. On the other hand Maruta, who turned professional with a lot of buzz, has failed to meet the expectations put on his young shoulders, however a win here would see that buzz return. Aged just 23 Maruta has the tools to go a very, very long way, but a 2017 loss to Hidenori Otake slowed his rise and a controversial draw against Ben Mananquil also slowed him down. Coming in this the challenger has won his last 3, and has shown a more aggressive side to his boxing than earlier in his career. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Sagawa and Maruta clash at last, in Japanese title bout!
Yoyogi First Gym, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the show at Korakuen Hall there will also be a special event at the Yoyogi 1st Gym in Tokyo. This however isn't one you'll find on Boxrec and is instead a charity event where we'll get 7 exhibition bouts, and nothing that will go down on a fighters record. Despite that it's something that is worth being aware of, in part due to the fighters featured on it, including several world champions, amateur standouts and genuine Japanese stars.
One of those will be an potential dream bout as WBA "Super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) shares the ring with the now retired Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16), who himself held the IBF Light Flyweight title along with titles at Minimumweight and Flyweight. It's a shame the careers of these two didn't over-lap as this is a brilliant match up.
Another retired former world champion on this show will be former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) who will be in the ring with current Japanese national Super Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18). Although Uchiyama would be strongly favoured to win, had the two men clashed for real, this could be an interesting exhibition, especially given that Uchiyama is in fantastic condition.
A third former world champion included in the event is former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) who will be battling with former K-1 fighter Yoshiki Takei (0-0), who makes his professional boxing debut in March. Whilst not the greatest match up it will be a chance to see what Takei brings as a boxer, and we always love seeing Sho Kimura in the ring.
Former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (17-1-1, 10) will be taking on amateur standout Yuito Moriwaki in one of several bouts between professional fighters and amateurs. Another of these will see 140lb hopeful Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) share the ring with Japanese Olympian Daisuke Narimatsu and the a third will see Japanese Youth champion Jin Sasaki (10-0, 9) [佐々木尽] face off with the very highly regarded Seon Okazawa.
We've saved the best until last, and that's a bout between WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) and former WBC Flyweight kingpin Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) [比嘉 大吾], in what should be a sensational exhibition bout over 3 rounds and something worthy of paying the hefty admission fee for. This is two big names, both in their primes, facing off in a bit of a dream fight, even if it is just an exhibition.
This coming Tuesday is a very interesting day in Japan with a world title show in Osaka and a Rookie of the Year show in Tokyo. It might not be the biggest day of the year, but it really does having boxing at the two opposite ends of the spectrum.
Intex Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
We'll start with the show in Osaka which is the much, much bigger show and will have the main event streamed live on Hiroto Kyoguchi's own YouTube channel.
The main event will see the aforementioned Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) defending his Ring Magazine and WBA "super" Light Flyweight titles against unbeaten Thai youngster Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12). For Kyoguchi the bout will be his third defense of the title and will see him trying to put a frustrating 2020 behind him, with the fighting missing out on a scheduled summer title defense. He'll enter as the big favourite, and will be looking to end the year on a high. As for Simsri this is a massive step up for the heavy handed Thai, though given he's still a boxing baby we wouldn't write him off if he lose here. Simsri has been impressive, but is still very much a prospect. Given the power of the two men, and the aggressive styles both have we expect this to be an action packed bout, but it should be man against boy. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Kyoguchi and Simsri battle for WBA title!
In a great supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten, and very talented, Jinki Maeda (5-0, 3) look to build on his 2019 Rookie of the Year triumph as he takes on the once beaten Kaito Okubo (5-1, 2). We've been really impressed by Maeda, and he shone last time out, taking out Arashi Iimi in 2 rounds, and we have to favour him here, but it's not a gimmie. Okubo has noticed back to back wins since his sole defeat and is the naturally bigger, taller man. Okubo will be the under-dog, but is an awkward proposition for Maeda and should ask some testing questions of the unbeaten hopeful.
Another supporting bout will see the light punching Sonin Nihei (9-5-2, 1) battle veteran Shunji Nagata (12-18-2, 4). The 26 year old Nihei has lost 4 of his last 5 and is very much in need of a win if he's every going to manage to do anything of note with his career. At the age of 35 Nagata has seen better days, but is much better than his record suggests and has been competitive with much younger fighters. We see this one being a bout that is easy to over-look but it should be very entertaining, even if neither man has much pop on their shots.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Over in Tokyo we see bouts as part of the East Japan Rookie of the Year. We won't go through all of the bouts on this show, given there's 12 of them, but we have picked 3 interesting ones off the show.
In a Featherweight bout we'll see unbeaten men colliding with Ryo Yoshida (2-0, 1) taking on Yuya Hirose (3-0-1, 2). Both of these men won back on September 25th, though did so in very different fashion. Yoshida went through a war with Ricky Hasegawa, in what was a sensational bout, whilst Hirose beat the controversial Leon Yamaguchi with a very wide decision. We expect this one to be really fun given how both men looked last time pout
At Super Featherweight 20 year old banger Tsubasa Narai (4-0, 3) will be looking to secure his 5th straight as he battles the experienced Hiromichi Komatsu (4-5-2, 4). We've been impressed by Narai and despite Komatsu's record he can certainly punch so this one is expected to be explosive. Don't blink, this one could be over very early, and could see a lot of dynamite thrown, very early.
On the subject of don't blink it's worth noting that Aito Abe (2-0, 2) will be in action here against Shunpei Kubo (5-1, 3), in a Super Flyweight bout. Abe's last bout was a 17 second blitz against Kentaro Omori in early September and he's yet to see the end of the first round. Kubo has got rounds under his belt but his only loss was a stoppage and we suspect Abe will be looking to set a high pace and close the show quickly here. Another one where blink is not advised!
Attention turns to Osaka this coming Tuesday for the first notable show of October, which features a world title fight, a bout featuring a #1 contender and a fight with a promising prospect.
The world title bout is an all-Japanese contest that pits Hiroto Kyoguchi (13-0, 9) against Tetsuya Hisada (34-9-2, 20). The bout will see Kyoguchi looking to make his second defense of the WBA "super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight titles as he takes on the very experienced Hisada, who's biggest success has been at the Japanese domestic level. The talented and aggressive Kyoguchi is strongly favoured here, and is expected to move on to world title unification bouts in the near future. At 34, and soon to be 35, it's now or never for Hisada and this is likely to be his only shot at a world title. Interestingly this bout is an all Osakan affair, with both men being from Osaka Prefecture. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kyoguchi takes on Hisada in Osakan showdown!
In the chief support bout the WBA #1 ranked Featherweight Hiroshige Osawa (35-5-4, 21) will fight in a stay busy bout against Indonesian Jason Butar Butar (30-26-1, 19). The Japanese fighter is hoping to land a second world title fight, potentially against Can Xu in 2020, so can ill afford a slip up here and can't look past Butar Butar. Saying that however the Indonesian has lost both of his previous fights in Japan and isn't regarded as much of a threat given his struggles against weak domestic opponents so far.
In another supporting bout we'll see second generation fighter Kaiki Yuba (5-0-2, 3), the son of former 5-weight Japanese national champion Tadashi Yuba, take on 22 year old Mikado Konishi (6-2, 4). Yuba has had some misfortune recently, resulting in 2 of his last 4 bouts ending in technical decisions. The unbeaten southpaw will be doing all he can to avoid that here. Konishi is less proven, and touted, than Yuba, but he is a threat here with his power and toughness and could be a genuine test for Yuba in this 6 rounder.
This coming Wednesday attention turns to Chiba for a world title triple header. The show not only has a trio of world title bout but also features a couple of promising Japanese prospects, both taking a step up in class.
The main event of the show will see Japanese 3-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka (23-2, 13) have his second shot at the WBO Super Flyweight title, as he takes on Filipino puncher Aston Palicte (25-2-1, 21), who also gets his second shot at the title. These two both fought Donnie Nietes for the vacant title late year, with Palicte earning a draw and Ioka suffering a narrow loss, and with Nietes vacating the title to pursue a legacy defining fight, the two men get the chance to face off with each looking to make the most of their second chance. This should be a high skilled battle between two very talented fighters, with very different strengths. We're not expecting a FOTY style war, but we are expecting a very, very good bout. Our preview on this bout is available here Ioka and Palicte vie for vacant WBO crown!
Another fantastic looking world title fight will see unbeaten men collide, with WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9) defending his title against unbeaten Thai challenger Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-0, 5) , aka Tanawat Nakoon. For Kyoguchi this will be his first defense, following his title at the end of 2018 against Hekkie Budler. The Japanese star will be strongly favoured here but it should be noted that the Thai challenger is a former Muay Thai stand out and should not be regarded as a push over. This should be very interesting and a real chance to see if the Thai is a legitimate threat in the world of professional boxing. Our preview of this bout is available here Kyoguchi takes on unbeaten Thai challenger Satanmuanglek
The third of the world title fights will see a second WBO Super Flyweight world champion being crowned, this time the female champion as in form Japanese fighter Miyo Yoshida (12-1) takes on Casey Morton (8-1-3, 1). Yoshida has managed to win Japanese and OPBF female titles on her climb up to this bout, but this is a bet test on paper, an her first 10 round bout. It should noted that whilst this should be Yoshida's toughest bout to date Morton did not impress in her her last bout at Super Flyweight, when she was clearly beaten by Thai foe Jutamas Jitpong and it could be that she just isn't suited to the 115lb weight class. Our preview of this bout is available here Yoshida and Morton battle for vacant WBO world title!
The more notable of the prospects on this card is the talented Shu Utsuki (4-0, 3), who looks to build on his stoppage win over Jerry Castroverde as he takes on Japanese based Venezuelan Omrri Bolivar (8-1, 3). Utsuki seems on his way to getting a title fight in the next 12 months or so and this is a really good step up in class, against a talented and often over-looked foe. The 28 year old Bolivar is no world beater but he's solid on the fringes of domestic level and should give Utsuki some tough rounds.
The other prospect on this card is former amateur stand out Shisui Kawabata (1-0, 1), who made his debut earlier this year. The 23 year old Japanese fighter had been touted as one to watch before his debut, back in March, but was surprisingly dropped in his first pro bout. He'll be hoping for a better performance here as he takes on Thai visitor Mongkol Kamsommat (5-4, 4). It should be noted the Thai is 0-2 in Japan, but did go 7 rounds last year with Kenichi Horikawa and is certainly better than his record suggests. This could be a real test for Kawabata.
To end 2018 we turn to Macau for a monstrous show featuring 3 world title fights, as well as bouts featuring prospects from Hong Kong and Macau.
The main event of the card is one of the best match ups we could imagine, as Japan's Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) and Filipino Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23) battle for the vacant WBO Super Flyweight title. The winner of this bout will become a 4 weight champion, with Ioka battling to become the first Japanese man to win 4 divisional world titles and Nietes looking to become the third Filipino, and both men attempting to become just the third man to win titles in the 4 lowest divisions in the sport. Both are gifted boxers, with Ioka being the more aggressive and Nietes being the more patient, and both know that a win here could end up defining their careers. To end the year with such a massive bout really is something special. Our excellent preview of this fantastic fight can be read here Neites Vs Ioka - The pursuit of destiny!
A Flyweight title fight will see IBF champion Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24), from South Africa, make his first defense, as he takes on once beaten Japanese fighter Masahiro Sakamoto (13-1, 9). The South African champion won the title in July, when he defeated Muhammad Waseem with a close decision, and became a 2-time champion. At the age of 36 we do wonder what Mthalane has left, but against Waseem he did, for the most part, look great and should be favoured. Sakamoto is an unknown outside of Japan, and even then he's only really known in Osaka, but will know this is a huge chance to make his mark on the sport and become a notable name. It's a huge ask for Sakamoto, but he has nothing to lose. Our preview of this bout can be read here Sakamoto looks to shock the Flyweight division, faces Mthalane!
Another bout pitting South Africa against Japan will see Japanese fighter Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8) challenge WBA Light Flyweight champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10). This will be Budler's first defense of the title, which he won from Kyoguchi's stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi, and it's an incredibly tough first defense. Although a tough bout Budler is a genuinely world-class fighter, one of the sport's most underrated fighters in fact, and certainly has the experience and skills to be trouble for anyone in the division. Kyoguchi, a former IBF Minimumweight champion, will be looking to become a 2-weight champion and is one of the most exciting little men in the sport, however this is a really tough test so soon after moving up. This is a hard bout to call and a really special contest, much like the Ioka Vs Nietes one. We've previewed this bout here Kyoguchi challenges Budler in Macau!
One of the prospects on this card is Light Flyweight Raymond Poon KaiChing (6-1, 3), who is from Hong Kong and is regarded as the country's most promising professional following Rex Tso's announcement that he was going back to the amateur ranks. Another is Macau's exciting Lap Cheong Cheong (4-0, 3). Both of these fighters will be up against novices.
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.
This coming Sunday sees a number of shows taking place in Asia, though the reality is that much of the focus is on just one of those shows, as Watanabe gym put on world title double header. Despite that there is notable names on a second Japanese card and title action from Korea.
The obvious starting point for a look into the fights for the day begins with that Watanabe card, which will feature a trio of title bouts, including two at world level.
The most notable of the world title fights sees WBA “super”, IBF and Ring magazine Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-2-2, 12) defending his titles against talented South African challenger Hekkie Budler (31-3, 10). The defending champion has a really strong claim to being the best Light Flyweight on the planet, with notable wins against the likes of Alberto Rossel, Ryo Miyazaki and Milan Melindo, though will know that this will not be an easy assignment against a former WBA Minimumweight champion. At his best Taguchi is a nightmare to fight, he's tough, has great stamina, freakish size and fantastic work rate. Sadly however he is inconsistent and can look like his mind is else where. If Taguchi is anything but his best he could be very easily beaten by the “Hexecutioner”, who had a notable title reign at 105lbs and can be a genuinely awkward fighter with his speed, determinedness and high out put. Whilst Taguchi should be favoured, this is far from a foregone conclusion and should be a very enthralling 12 round war.
Whilst we're expecting the Taguchi Vs Melindo bout to go the distance the same cannot be said of the other title bout, which pits hard hitting IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (9-0, 7) against big hitting Filipino Vince Paras (13-0, 11). This bout looks less likely to be a long drawn out war of attrition and more of a shoot out, with both men believing in their power and aggression. From the footage available it does seem like Kyoguchi has got more weapons in his arsenal, and he has showed them against a higher level of competition. Although Kyoguchi will be favoured Paras can bang and looks like a dangerous fighter, so the champion will not want to take too many risks here. Given how the two men fight this has the potential to be something very special, but also potentially very short.
The third title bout will see WBOA Asia Pacific Lightweight champion Nihito Arakawa (31-6-1, 18) defending his title against Rimar Metuda (12-3, 7). It's been known that Arakawa is chasing another world title fight, and we suspect Metuda has been hand selected as an opponent to make Arakawa look good against. Metuda is tough and can bang, but with 3 losses in his last 5 he certainly come into this as the under-dog, and as the man taking a huge step up in class.
A second, much over-shadowed, Japanese card comes from Shizuoka
The main event of the card will see the fantastically promising Kento Hatanaka (5-0, 5) take on a Thai visitor over the 8 round distance in a Super Flyweight bout. The 19 year old Japanese youngster, who is already ranked by the JBC, shined last time out when he stopped Kenta Matsui and is expected to continue his rise here as he looks to move towards a title fight of some kind. Sadly little is known about the visiting Thai.
The heavy handed but some what fragile Daiki Ichikawa (10-4, 8) will be up against Indonesian Agus Kustiawan (18-7-2, 8) in the shows chief support bout. On paper this doesn't look amazing but it could prove to be a pretty interesting bout. Ichikawa has lost 2 of his last 3, and needs a win if he's to keep his once promising career alive. The visitor has never won outside of Indonesia, but could see this as a great chance to pick up a win on the road.
In a third bout of some note fans will see Yuta Horiike (13-6-3, 3) take on upset minded Filipino veteran Edison Berwela (16-37-8, 5), who looks to build on his big January win over touted Thai teenager Saenganan Sithsaithong. On paper this looks a bit like a mismatch but Berwela has shown a tendency to score the occasional shock win, beating Saenganan as well as Jetro Pabustan and Robert Udtohan, and could see this as a chance to take another unexpected scalp. Horiike will be favoured but can't make the same mistakes as others when it's come to facing Berwela.
Seoul, South Korea
In Korea fans will get a small but notable Boxing M card, headlined by a title fight and featuring a number of Rookie bouts.
The title bout will see Gi Won Shin (3-1-2) and Shin Yong Kim (3-3-1, 2) face off for the vacant Boxing M Korean Welterweight title. On paper this probably shouldn't be a title fight, given that neither has a solid record and neither has won any of their last 3 bouts, but the contest should be competitive and both will be very hungry to pick up the win.
Among the most interesting of the rookie bouts is a clash between Super Featherweights Dong Kwan Lee (5-1-2, 1) and Ro Joon Suh (5-0, 2), in what could be the bout of the show. Another bout that stands out is a Heavyweight clash between Korean based American Aaron Singleton (3-0, 1) and Sung Min Lee (3-1, 2). A third Rookie bout worthy of some attention will see Mu Soon Kwon (1-0) face off with Korean based Mongolian hopeful Batzorig Batjargal (2-0, 1) in a bout at Welterweight. All 3 of these bouts will be fought over the 6 round schedule.
The key show this coming Sunday comes from Tokyo where we get a triple title show courtesy of Watanabe gym.
The main event of this card is an IBF Minimumweight title fight as reigning world champion Jose Argumedo (20-3-1,12) defends his title against heavy handed Japanese fighter Hiroto Kyoguchi (7-0, 6). For Kyoguchi the bout could see him become the new face of the Watanabe gym, and the fastest fighter, in terms of time, to win a world title from Japan, around 15 months after his debut. For Argumedo the bout will be his 4th defense, and see him return to Japan, where he won the title at the end of 2015, when he beat Katusnari Takayama. On paper this is a really mouth watering match up, as a big and tough champion takes on a destructive ball of power punching energy, and we expect to see serious questions asked about both men. If Kyoguchi is ready for Argumedo, he's potentially ready to shake up the who division, but it's possible that Watanabe rushed just a touch too quick.
The other world title bout will see Watanabe's only current male world champion defending his title. That's Ryoichi Taguchi (25-2-2, 11) who makes a mandatory defense of his WBA Light Flyweight title against Colombian foe Robert Barrera (18-1, 12), in what could be a testing bout for the frustrating Taguchi. At his best Taguchi is a brilliant fighter, who can box at range and make the most of his physical attributes, which include a very long reach. Problem is that he's frustratingly struggled with less fighters and seems to find it hard to get up for some opponents, and struggles against supposedly easier foes. Barrera, as a mandatory, should pose a good test, but it's hard to say for sure. If the Colombian is determined and fired up he could, potentially, scupper a strongly rumoured unification bout between Taguchi and WBO champion Kosei Tanaka. It's fair to say that Taguchi should be hungry to prove a point, but whether we see that in the ring is hard to predict.
A third title bout will see Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai (27-7, 19) defending his title, for the first time. In the opposite corner to the champion will be first time challenger Takayuki Okumoto (18-7-3, 8), and it's fair to say that the champion will be the favoured fighter here. Funai won the title at the Champion Carnival, stopping good friend Kenta Nakagawa, and will be hoping to extend his reign in a voluntary defense. Okumoto was once seen as a prodigy but has become a streaky fighter and will need to record a career best win to dethrone the champion.
A name to make a note of in action on this card is touted former amateur star Hironori Mishiro (2-0, 1),who is tipped as another to follow in the footsteps of Kyoguchi and be moved quickly through the ranks following a very strong amateur grounding. He's looked good since turning professional but still needs to continue his development. He'll be up against a Thai foe, but sadly we've not been given the foes name.
Someone else up against an unknown Thai is former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (32-10-1, 13), who returns to the ring for the first time since his stoppage loss to Naoya Inoue. The bout is designed to help Kono shake off some ring rust ahead off a more meaningful bout with Rex Tso later in the year.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
In the Philippines there is a card primarily focused on prospects.
On of those prospects is the once beaten Ben Mananquil (13-1-2, 3), who we have been impressed by since his controversial draw against Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym back in 2013. Although Mananquil has got a loss, it was a razor thin one in China and we'd suggest he's one to follow going forward. With that said we clearly expect him to defeat the heavy handed but limited Kim Lindog (5-4-1, 4).
Another of the top prospects if former amateur stand out Jade Bornea (7-0, 4), who takes on the experienced, but very limited, Nicardo Calamba (7-24-4, 4). As an amateur Bornea won numerous trophies and scored a number of big wins, and huge things are expected of him. For this bout he should have way too much for Calamba, who has really struggled to pick up wins in recent years.
As well as the prospects we'll also see a veteran in action, as the highly experienced Eden Sonsona (36-7-2, 13) takes on JP Macadumpis (11-9-1, 5), and returns to the ring following a loss in Russia to unbeaten prospect Evgeny Chuprakov. On paper this should be an easy win for the 28 year old Sonsona, but there may be questions about how he looks given his stoppage loss last time out.
Also on this card will be two novice prospects looking to secure their second professional wins. One of those is Dave Apolinario (1-0, 1), who takes on the win-less Elizer Ambon (0-1), who was recently signed to a professional contract and looked on debut. The other is his stable mate Mark Antonio (1-0, 1), who signed with and debuted at the same time as Apolinario. Antonio will be up against the debuting Jeffrey Diale (0-0), and will also be looking for his second victory.
In South Africa we'll see the really promising Filipino youngster Dexter Alimento (12-1, 8) take on South African local DeeJay Kriel (11-1-1, 6) in a bout for the currently vacant WBC International Minimumweight title. Alimento came to our attention last year, when he stopped Chanachai CP Freshmart, and despite a very close loss to Masataka Taniguchi we still have huge hopes for him. Kriel is unbeaten since a points loss on his debut in 2014 but as wit many African fighters his record is a hard one to read, with no fights against opponents that we can say much about. This is a hard one to get a read on, but could tell us a lot about both mem