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
This coming Tuesday sees action return to the Korakuen Hall for what is a genuinely intriguing title double header, featuring two really nice looking bouts.
Technically the main event of the card is a Japanese Light Middleweight title fight, as Koshinmaru Saito (23-8-2, 13) takes on Takeshi Inoue (9-0-1, 4) for the currently vacant title. Originally Saito was supposed to fight Yuki Nonaka for the title, but Nonaka vacated and as a result this bout was made, which in fairness is a much more even looking bout. Saito is a genuine veteran of the sport, aged 38 and with almost 17 years of experience under his belt. Despite being a veteran Saito has never win “a big one” and will likely know that this will be his final title shot. For the exciting Inoue this is a big step up, but could well see him becoming a champion less than 3 years after his debut.
Talking about being fast tracked the other title bout will see Hiroto Kyoguchi (6-0, 6) make the first defense of his OPBF Minimumweight title, as he takes on Jonathan Refugio (16-5-5,4). The ultra-fast rising Kyoguchi has been a professional for just over a year but has had a meteoric rise since debuting in April 2016 and has already claimed his first title, with others expected to follow before the end of 2017. Although Refugio is 23 years old he's already a bit of a veteran and has shared the ring with a string of notable names and should serve as a very legitimate first challenger for Kyoguchi.
On the under-card we'll see Noriyuki Ueno (18-14-5, 5) battle against a Thai visitor and veteran Ribo Takahata (12-7-1, 4) battle against recent Japanese Lightweight title challenger Yusuke Tsukada (8-6, 3), in what should be a very interesting card.
To end February Dangan give us a nice looking card with a title double header and several fighters of note on the under-card.
One of the title bouts will see Yuta Matsuo (12-2-1, 6) and Masayuki Kuroda (25-7-3, 15) battle for the “interim” Japanese Flyweight title. The two men, who are facing off whilst Flyweight champion Takuiya Kogawa recovers from an ear injury, will be guaranteed a shot at the full title later in the year if they win here. Of the two men Kuroda is the more well known, he's a former Japanese Light Flyweight champion and has fought for a WBA Flyweight world title in the past, he is however a fighter who has struggled recently, with a 4-4-3 record in his last 11 dating back 5 years. Matsuo on the other hand is getting his first title fight, though has beaten solid fighters like Yota Hori and Ryuto Oho so far in his career, and fought to a very narrow loss against Ardin Diale. This should be a very competitive and fun to watch contest.
The other title bout sees Watanabe's fast rising Hiroto Kyoguchi (5-0, 5) take on Filipino veteran Armando dela Cruz (25-14-3, 11) in a bout for the OPBF Minimumweight title, recently vacated by Ryuya Yamanaka. The bout seems to suggest that Watanabe are going to be pushing hard for Kyoguchi to get a world title fight this year, and although this fight was put together on about a month's notice it's hard to see the unbeaten youngster coming up short against the veteran.
The main under-card bout looks like a genuine treat as the under-rated Reiya Abe (13-2, 7) takes on the once beaten Joe Noynay (12-1-1, 4). Although relatively unknown outside of Japan Abe has been impressing fans in Tokyo recently with notable wins over Ryo Hino, Hikaru Marugame, Shingo Kusano and Tsuyoshi Tameda, showing poise, skills and power. Noynay, also known as Joe Misako, will be looking to score his first win outside of the Philippines and although he has got a good looking record this is a big step up for him here.
Another of the under-card bouts will feature the debuting Kaiki Yuba (0-0) making his debut, as he takes on Thai visitor Petchmahalert Eminent Air (0-4). Yuba is the son of the popular Tadashi Yuba, a 5-weight Japanese national champion and is expected to have a strong career going forward. His interest hasn't recieved massive attention but it is clear that those in Japan are hoping that he can have a similar level of popularity to his father.
The final day of 2016 is one of the most notable on the boxing calendar as Japanese TV promoters, and TV channels put on a number of shows. This year we get three shows, each with multi-ple title bouts and notable prospects.
The most notable of the three shows takes place in Kyoto and will be aired on TBS as part of their huge end of year celebrations.
The headline bout here will see the WBA regular and interim titles at Flyweight being unified. The bout sees regular champion Kazuto Ioka (20-1, 12) battle with unbeaten interim champion Stamp Kiatniwat (15-0, 6) from Thailand. The bout is an interesting match up with Stamp's team showing confidence in their man, who seemed to believe he was travelling to Japan to stop the champion. The experience Ioka will be looking to show that experience is key here and will likely be looking to prove he's the best Flyweight on the planet in 2017, after getting this mandatory defense out of the way.
A second world title fight on this card will see IBF Super Bantamweight chamion Jonathan Guzman (22-0-0-1, 22) defending his title for the first time. The heavy handed Dominican will be up against once beaten Japanese challenger Yukinori Oguni (18-1-1, 7), who is looking to add a world title to his collection which already includes a Japanese and OPBF title. Guzman, who won the title in Japan with a stoppage win over Shingo Wake, has looked relaxed but some have felt that he is over-looking Oguni who has started to find his own power in recent bouts.
Sadly an IBF Bantamweight title bout between Lee Haskins (34-3, 14) and Shohei Omori (17-1, 12) was cancelled in the weeks leading up to the bout, as Haskins suffered an injury that forced him out. Omori's team, who are promoting the show, managed to find their man a solid late replacement in the former of multi-time world title challenger Rocky Fuentes (32-8-2, 20). The bout isn't a bad one given the short notice but it should be noted that Fuentes is best known for his run at Flyweight and will be dwarfed by Omori who is around 5” taller than the Filipino.
Another bout pitting a Japanese fighter against a Thai will see the unbeaten, and world ranked, Sho Ishida (22-0, 11) up against the hapless Petchnamnung Sor Thiebkhun (0-10). The Thai has been stopped 8 times in his 10 defeats and will be unlikely to test Ishida who has made it clear that he's wanting world title fights in 2017. A bout like this won't prepare him for world class opposition but serves the task of keeping him busy and ticking him over whilst looking for a big fight.
Another Ioka gym hopeful on this under card is the unbeaten, and exciting, Super Flyweight Masayoshi Hashizume (11-0, 8). Hashizume won the Rookie of the Year in 2014 and although we had hoped to see him in notable fights since he actually this year facing unknown Thai Chatpetch Saithonggym (0-0). Hopefully 2017 will be a better year for the Osaka man who hasn't progressed like some had hoped.
Another notable multi-title show will come from Tokyo and be promoted by Watanabe promotions, who continue their association with TV Tokyo.
The headline bout of this is the “revenge or repeat” bout between Panama's tricky Jezreel Corrales (20-1-1, 8) and Takashi Uchiyama (24-1-1, 20). Earlier this year Corrales blitzed Uchiyama in 2 rounds to give “KO Dynamite” his first professional defeat and to claim the WBA Super Featherweight “super” title and shocked the boxing world. Now the champion will be looking to repeat the feat as he returns to a Japanese ring whilst Uchiyama will be looking to prove the result was an anomaly. At 37 years old however the view is that Uchiyama is several years removed from his prime and will likely be over-whelmed by the speed and movement of Corrales once again.
The second of the world title bouts on this card will see WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (25-2-1, 11) defending his belt against unbeaten Venezuelan puncher Carlos Canizales (16-0, 13). On paper this looks like a good defense for Taguchi but in fairness Canizales hasn't yet fought anyone of any name recognition and it's hard to know how good he really is. He could be the next gem of a talent from Venezuela or he could be a crude domestic fighter, as the footage suggests, either way we'll see questions answered about him, even if we don't learn anythign new about Taguchi.
Arguably the most interesting bout of the whole day is an OPBF / WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title unification bout as the once beaten Masayuki Ito (19-1-1, 9), the current OPBF champion, takes on the teak tough and criminally under-rated Takuya Watanabe (30-6-1, 16), the current WBO Asia Pacific title holder. This bout is one for the hardcore but is something we expect to actually leave the fans the happiest with. Both men are incredibly talented, have under-rated power and skills and the winner really does deserve some other major bouts in 2017. We think Ito is the more proven but Watanabe is always a handful and appears to be getting better with every fight.
One of the hottest young talents in Japanese boxing will be looking to secure his 5th straight stoppage win. That is the wonderfully aggressive Hiroto Kyoguchi (4-0, 4), who will be up against Filipino visitor Junuel Lacar (7-3-3, 5). The bout should be a test for Kyoguchi but the reality is that he has made supposed tests, like Kenichi Miyazaki and Michael Camelion, look poor courtesy of his speed and power. A win here could see Kyoguchi begin to fight for titles in 2017.
Another fast rising prospect on this card is the really exciting Masataka Taniguchi (5-0, 4), who is looking to build on his recent win over Dexter Alimento as he takes on Vicent Bautista (5-5-3, 1) in what looks like a straight forward bout for the much fancied Taniguchi. It's thought that 2017 will see Taniguchi battle for titles and this could be his final bout before he gets to wear his first strap.
For those interested in final 3 bouts mentioned here they will be features on tape delay as part of the Boxingraise service.
A third show, in fact the first of the three, takes place in Gifu where Hatanaka will be promoting a card. The main event of this will have a legal stream broadcast world wide for fans interested.
The main event of this card will see former WBO Minimumweight champions collide as Kosei Tanaka (7-0, 4) takes on Moises Fuentes (24-2-1, 13) for the vacant WBO Light Flyweight. For Tanaka this is a huge chance to match Naoya Inoue's Japanese record of becoming a 2-weight world champion in 8 bouts however it's a tough bout against a very talented Mexican who many feel should should have scored a win a win over Donnie Nietes in his first bout with the talented Filipino. On paper this is probably the most interesting of the bouts from the day, at least at world title level.
At Japanese title level we'll see Shota Hayashi (28-5-1, 17), making his first defense of the Japanese Featherweight title, taking on former world champion Akifumi Shimoda (31-5-2, 14). For Hayashi, who won the title back in September, a win here would legitimise his reign and prove him to be a worthy champion. For Shimoda this is a second shot at this title following a narrow loss to Satoshi Hosono last year.
In a supporting bout we'll see former Japanese Bantamweight title contender Yushi Tanaka (18-1-3, 12) face off with Takuya Taniguchi (6-9-2, 1). For Tanaka this is a chance to record a third straight win following his March loss to Kentaro Masuda for the Japanese title. The little known Taniguchi will be looking to score his biggest win, though he has gone just 1-3 in his last 4 bouts dating back more than a year.
Another supporting bout will see Kento Hatanaka (1-0, 1), the son of former former world champion Kiyohi Hatanaka, battle against Yukihiro Asahara (2-4, 1). The 18 year old Hatanaka will be seeking to score his second win in the space of just 5 weeks! On his debut Hatanaka score a quick blow out over an over-matched foe and will be looking to do the same again here.