The big focus this coming Thursday is on Korakuen Hall, where we get a very interesting Diamond Glove card featuring a rising a second generation hopeful, a former world champion and a Japanese title fight.
The main event is the Japanese title fight, which will see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) defending his title against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) as part of the Champion Carnival. Yoshino, who holds the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles, will only be defending his national title, but a loss would seriously hamper his chance to advance to world level in 2020. As for Tomioka he's getting his second fight at the type of level, having previously lost to Masayoshi Nakatani in an OPBF title. On paper the stronger, heavier handed, and more powerful Yoshino should be favoured, but Tomioka certainly has the size and speed, both hand and feet, to make life very tricky for the champion. This bout has been previewed here Yoshino defends against mandatory Tomioka!
The former world champion on this show is former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) who returns to the ring for the first time since his 2018 loss to Cristofer Rosales. The talented and aggressive Higa was given an indefinite suspension by the JBC following the Rosales loss, for his failure to make weight, with that suspension only being lifted late last year. On his return he's being matched with Filipino visitor Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3), in what could turn out to be a rather solid test. Although Buenaobra is no world beater he has gone the schedule with Carl Jammes Martin, the only man to have heard the bell against the "Wonder Boy" and could prove to be a very durable test for the returning Higa. We really are looking forward to this one. Our preview of this bout can be read here Higa returns, but can he over-come the rugged Buenaobra?
Another bout of some note on this card is a contest between Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kazuma Sanpei (18-5, 7) and Soreike Taichi (7-2, 5), who will know that a win here boosts their chance to get a Japanese title fight later this year. Coming in the 25 year old Sanpei is the more well established fighter and despite his record being blotted with losses he is 6-1 (3) in his last 7 and did show real promise early in his career, winning Rookie of the Year back in 2013. Taichi is less well known but has won his last 4, including good wins over Yusaku Sekishima and Masaki Saito. Interestingly Taichi's last loss was in 2014, when he was stopped in a round bye Reiya Abe.
The second generation fighter mentioned above is Shinba Yamaguchi (1-0, 1), the son of former world champion Keiji Yamaguchi, who takes a significant step up from his debut. The 19 year old Yamaguchi who won his debut in just 40 seconds last October, will be up against Filipino Luis Borje (5-1-1, 2) in what should be a very credible test. It's hard to say much about Yamaguchi's professional career so far but it is worth noting that both of Borje's set backs have come to John Mark Tihuk, who should be seen as one to watch going forward. A very tough test this early in Yamaguchi's career.
Las Vegas, USA
As well as the Japanese action there is also a bout of interest in the US, where we'll see an Uzbek fighter in action. The Uzbek on this show is 35 year old Ravshan Hudaynazarov (17-3, 13), who looks to end a 3 fight losing streak. The US based Uzbek began his career 17-0 before seemingly ending his career in 2014. He returned to the ring in 2018 and since then has gone 0-3, and been stopped in 2 of those 3 losses. On paper we would expect Hudaynazarov to turn things around here in what looks like an easy bout against Cameron Krael (16-15-3, 4), however Krael has a very misleading record and the kid can fight. We wouldn't be surprised at all by an upset here.
This same show will also feature Kyrgyzstan born American based hopeful Andrei Odintsev (4-0, 4) take on Britton Norwood (9-4-1, 7) in a 4 round Light Heavyweight contest.
From where we're sat the main show this coming Saturday is in Tokyo, where we get 4 Japanese title eliminators on what is a mouth watering card. The winners will all get Japanese title shots at the 2020 Champion Carnival meaning these 4 bouts are very significant.
The lowest weight covered by these eliminators is Bantamweight, where the once touted Kazuki Tanaka (11-2, 8) takes on the often under-rated Kyosuke Sawada (13-2-1, 6), in what could turn out to be a masterful lesson of boxing by Sawada or an all out brawl. This really does depend on just how desperate the two men get, and whether Tanaka's power will be too much for Sawada to handle with his skills. This could be a very, very good fight. A full preview of this bout can be found here Sawada and Tanaka look to book a place at the Champion Carnival
At Featherweight we'll see the very highly regarded Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) take on former Japanese Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11). We suspect that Murata will have the speed, size and skills to deal with Ohashi, but the experienced man can genuinely bang and his KO earlier this year over Shun Wakabayashi showed just how heavy his hands are. This should be a win for Murata, but he really cannot get sloppy given the lights out power of his opponent. A full preview of this bout can be read here Maruta and Ohashi clash in Japanese eliminator
On paper we could end up with a bit of a boxing classic as Kazuki Saito (7-1, 5) and Izuki Tomioka (6-2-1, 2) meet in Japanese Lightweight title eliminator. Saito is a fantastic offensive boxer, but has real issues taking a shot, and that does actually make his fights even more fun to watch, and he is quite honest a bit of a glass cannon. Tomioka on the other hand is a very light punching boxer-mover and he managed to give Masayoshi Nakatani fits in an OPBF title fight. We expect skills to be on here. Our preview of this bout can be read here Saito and Tomioka clash in Lightweight eliminator!
The heaviest weight covered on this show is the Welterweight division, where former world title challenger Keita Obara (21-4-1, 19) will take on Toshiro Tarumi (12-3-3, 6). On paper this doesn't look a great bout, with Obara having the edges in experience, power, and level of competition. It is worth noting however that Tarumi has momentum coming in to this, thanks to wins over Noriaki Sato and Shusaku Fujinaka during a 7 fight winning run. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hard hitting Obara takes on little known Tarumi in Japanese eliminator
As well as the fantastic action in Japan we're actually being treat to a huge amount of fights spread across Asia, including a card from Kazakhstan.
The headline bout of this show will see the unbeaten Kanat Islam (26-0, 21) take on recent world title challenger Walter Kautondokwa (18-1,17), in what looks likely to be a very, very explosive bout. The unbeaten Kazakh will be fighting for the second time since returning from an injury that kept him out of the ring for close to 2 years. We say fighting for the but it's hard to call his 14 second demolition of Julio De Jesus a fight, more an assault. The 34 year old Kautondokwa, from Namibia, has only been beaten once and that in a WBO Middleweight world title fight against Demetrius Andrade, so he is tough, but it's a big ask for him to get a result in Kazakhstan.
Novice Kazakh prospect Nursultan Amanzholov (1-0) will look to build on his first professional win as he takes on 38 year old Polish foe Michal Banbula (13-31-4). At his very best Banbula was a criminally under-rated fighter who scored a win over Tony Oakey and a draw with Tony Jeffries. Sadly though Banbula has lost 5 of his last 6 and should pose little threat to someone like Amanzholov, who is a fully blown Heavyweight.
The pick of the bouts outside of Japan looks to be an excellent contest in China where we see two older fighters in action to keep their careers alive.
The bout in questions sees the once beaten local Wenfeng Ge (11-1, 6) take on former world champion Kompayak Porpramook (60-7, 41) for the WBO Global Flyweight title. The tough Ge is looking to bounce back from a TKO loss to Giemel Magramo earlier in the year, and that was a painful beating so we'll see what effect it has on his psyche and will to win. As for the Thai he has lost 2 of his last 3, but the former WBC Light Flyweight champion is still a nightmare for fighters willing to have a war with hi, and he should be viewed as a legitimate live under-dog here.
The chief support bout is a contest for the WBC Asian Boxing Silver Super Bantamweight title China's Chunlei Lin (9-3, 2) will battle against Indonesian Galih Susanto (17-9-1, 4). The 25 year old local, dubbed the "Black Dragon", has not proven a great deal yet and has lost to his 2 most notable opponents thus far, including a loss at home to Japan's Shun Wakabayashi. On the other hand Susanto is no world beater but is a bit better than his record suggests and may well expose Lin a little bit, before losing, likely on the cards.
A second Chinese card will see the unbeaten Xiang Li (5-0, 4) take on Japan's Takuya Ota (8-2-1, 6). The technically limited but hard hitting Li scored a solid win in January, or Arvin Young, and scored another in August over Do Jin Lee. So it's good to see him being active after a very slow start to his professional career, sadly though his competition doesn't appear to be improving through the year. Ota is nothing of a step up from the last couple of bouts for Li, but is still a capable fighter and he reached the Rookie of the Year final last year. We suspect this will be another win for Li, but another one where his flaws are made evident by the successes of his opponent.
A third show in China will be headlined by Mongolian Tsendbaatar Erdenebat (1-0), though sadly his opponent hasn't yet been announced for a bout in Shenzhen. Whilst no opponent is known at the time of writing for the Mongolian this is set to be a 10 rounder, which is very ambitious for the 2016 Olympian.
Yet another Chinese card will take place, with this one being headlined by unbeaten local Zhong Liu (14-0, 5) taking on Filipino John Kenan Villaflor (8-5-4, 2) in what looks like an interesting 8 rounder. The unbeaten local comes into this on the back of a big win over Jess Rhey Waminal and Villaflor will be in the ring looking to get revenge for his countryman.
A second bout of interest will see Chinese youngster Wuzhati Nuerlang (12-3, 10) look score his second win of 2019 as he takes on veteran Said Mbelwa (47-29-5, 31). This could be a good chance for the 23 year old Chinese fighter to shine against a very shop worn foe who has got over 80 career bouts and 12 career stoppage losses.
La Union, Philippines
On a lesser level we have a Filipino show in La Union, this show certainly doesn't have much in terms of names, but does have a couple of bouts that could end up being much better than they look on paper.
The heavy hitting 25 year old Arnel Baconaje (11-3, 9) will be up against fellow Filipino Jestoni Autida (12-11, 6). On paper this looks like a mismatch, especially given that Baconaje has gone 5-1 in his last 6, however Autida is a tough and capable fighter who has give Ryoichi Tamua, Ernesto Saulong and Jason Canoy very tough bouts in recent years. Baconaje is the favourite, but Autida a clear live under-dog.
Another potentially interesting match up will see Jules Victoriano (9-2, 6) take on Virgil Puton (17-13-2, 8), though this could also be a stinker. The 22 year old Victoriano was on a 9 fight winning before losing in Japan to Yoshimitsu Kimura in June, and we suspect he'll be confident of getting back to winning ways here. The 30 year old Puton was once a very, very capable opponent, but he is now 0-5-2 in his last 7 and has been stopped in 4 of those 7 bouts, and seems very much like he's a "shot" fighter. If Puton has anything left in the tank he could make this competitive, but the worry is that he's only a shell of the fighter he once was.
One other bout on this card will see IBF Bantamweight mandatory challenger Michael Dasmarinas (29-2-1, 19) fight in a stay busy bout against Artid Bamrungauea (25-27, 23). The talented Filipino is the mandatory for the winner of the upcoming WBSS winner Bantamweight finish and this really is just a tick over against a heavy handed but very limited Thai foe. It's worth noting that in recent weeks Dasmarinas has been sparring with Takuma Inoue, and although this is only a low key fight he'll likely be wanting to impress.
In Bangkok fans are set for some low quality action.
In the most notable bout the UK's 48 year old Denise Castle (2-2, 2) will go up against Thailand's Sutthinee Bamrungpao (4-6) in a bout for the vacant WIBA Minmumweight title. The Thai fighter is the younger of the two but has suffered 6 stoppage losses in her 10 bout career and has never beaten a fighter with a winning record. Castle is well beyond her best years, which were spent outside of boxing, but we wouldn't be surprised if she did enough to take the win here. It's worth noting that both of Castles' losses have come in world title bouts, with the first coming to Momo Koseki, but she's done very little to derseve this fight with her last win being more than 5 years ago.
Also on this card we'll see rather odd WBC interim Asian Boxing Council silver Featherweight title bout between the limited Thai based Filipino Joel Kwong (4-9, 4) and the limited Waldo Sabu (13-14, 3), from Indonesia. We assumed the idea of the Silver titles was to get rid of the need for an interim belt, but an interim silver regional title fight between two guys with losing records is very, very hard to defend.
Staying in Asia we also have a small card in Singapore.
One of the main bouts will see unbeaten Malaysian fighter Adli Hafidz (7-0, 3) take on 40 year old Indonesian fighter Ramadhan Weriuw (18-11-1, 16) in a bout for the WBA Asia South Super Middleweight title. This really should be a very straight forward win for Hafidz, who is no world title challenger in the making but still a very capable fighter. It's worth noting that in 2016 Weriuw fought as a Welterweight and has no reason to be fighting as an out of shape, old Cruiserweight.
Local favourite Muhamad Ridhwan (13-2, 9) will also be on this show as he takes on Thai visitor Taweechai Juntarasuk (10-13, 6), who is 0-8 in fights outside of Thailand. This looks a mismatch on paper, and we suspect it will also be a mismatch in the ring, with Ridhwan looking to score a third straight win since back to back losses.
In the US we get a very even looking match up as 28 year old American Andy Vences (22-1-1, 12) takes on 25 year old Filipino Mark Bernaldez (19-2, 13). Vences began his career 20-0 but has struggled in recent bouts, going 2-1-1 in his last 4, and now needs to get his career back on track following his first professional loss, back in June to Albert Bell. Bernaldez on the other hand has lost 2 of his last 6, but is unbeaten the US, where his last 2 bouts have been held and does have a little big of momentum. We suspect the naturally bigger Vences will take the win, but this it the perfect time for Bernaldez to face him.
This coming Friday features 2 notable shows, one of which will end a saga that has dragged on for over 2 months with some frustrating moments and the other being a lesser notable, though perhaps more interesting, card.
After months of rescheduling we finally see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) face off with former WBO champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-6-6, 7) in what will be their second bout. This was originally scheduled for early March, then late March then April and finally the end of May. It's a bout that we're looking forward to, given that Fukuhara gave Wanheng fits in their first bout, but are thoroughly annoyed by, due to all the scheduling changes. Wanheng, although still unbeaten, has looked more and more beatable in recent years but has found a way to maintain his winning run and title. Fukuhara on the other hand will likely know that he won't be getting too many more shots in the near future, and really needs to make the most of this. A full preview of this bout is available to read here Wanheng and Fukuhara battle again for WBC crown
As well as the world title show in Thailand we also have a compelling lesser card in Japan, where we get a number of faltering youngsters in action.
One of the most talented fighters on this card is the skilled but light punching Izuki Tomioka (5-2-1, 1), who gave Masayoshi Nakatani fits in an OPBF title bout. The talented Tomioka will be up against Filipino journeyman Marbon Bodiongan (15-8-2, 11), in what should be a straight forward win for Tomioka, who desperately needs a victory after going winless in his last 3. The Filipino does usually come to fight, but will struggle with the movement of Tomioka.
On the subject of someone who desperately needs a victory Kiyohei Endo (2-2, 2), a former talented amateur, cannot possibly have another defeat at this stage of his career, but he's in hard against Daiki Maniwa (7-3-1, 4). Endo was touted when he turned professional but was shocking stopped by Piyanut Sintao, in what could be classed as a fluke, and he hasn't lived up to his talent since. Whilst Endo needs a win, he may not get it here, and Maniwa, who has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, will be looking to save his own career in what is a must win for both men.
On paper the best of the bouts will see Jin Miura (10-3-1, 1) battle against the talented, and exciting, Mugicha Nakagawa (24-6-1, 14), who is looking to bounce back from a decision loss to Ryoichi Tamura in a Japanese title fight. It's hard to see anything but a Nakagawa win, but this should be a fairly entertaining contest, as most Nakagawa bouts are.
One other bout of some note will see the light punching Ryo Narizuka (9-8-1) battle against Seiya Fujikita (12-4, 5), in what should be an interesting bout though one that isn't likely to be particularly explosive.
Attention turns to the Korakuen Hall once again this coming Saturday for a stacked Dangan card, with 4 very good bouts on it.
The main event of the show will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai (30-7, 21) take on Mexican youngster Victor Emanuel Olivo (15-2-1, 7) in an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator, with the winner moving towards a world tittle fight against Jerwin Ancajas. Funai has been on a good run since losing in a Japanese title fight to Sho Ishida way back in 2016. He claimed the Japanese title last year and the WBO Asia Pacific belt earlier this year, and he's actually 6-0 (5) since the loss to Ishida. When it comes to assessing Olivo's career things aren't that impressive, with his most notable result being a narrow loss to Milan Melindo back in 2015. Aged 22 Olivo is a fighter who is developing but he was beaten just 2 fights back by Jose Briegel Quirino, in what looks to have been a home town decision. Olivo is probably better than his record indicates, but this is still a big step up in class for the Mexican. We've a full preview of this bout here Funai and Olivo battle in world title eliminator!
The chief supporting bout will match once beaten fighters, as Shuya Masaki (10-1, 5) takes on recent OPBF title challenger Izuki Tomioka (5-1-1, 1). The talented Masaki was tipped for big things, but his rise through the ranks was slowed this past January, when he was out pointed by Hironori Mishiro. Masaki has bounced back since his loss, with a decision win over Korean Hyun Je Shin, but this is a big step back up since that loss. On the other hand the 21 year old Tomioka surprised the Japanese scene this year when he pushed OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani very close in July, losing an 11th round TKO in a very competitive bout. Tomioka's biggest issue is his lack of power, but we wouldn't be surprised by him relying on his skills and picking up a career best win here.
Another mouth watering support bout will see Seiryu Toshikawa (10-4, 6) face off with the unbeaten Shawn Oda (9-0, 8) for the Japanese Youth Lightweight title. The more experienced man is 22 years old and debuted back in August 2014. He suffered a few early career set backs, losing 3 of his first 6, but has since gone 7-1 with a very notable win last time out against Ryuji Ikeda. On the hand Oda is a 20 year old with insane upside, as he showed when taking the 2016 Rookie of the Year crown at the age of 18. Oda hasn't been the busiest since his Rookie win, but has impressed, with 3 solid wins this year including a stoppage against Masashi Wakita in August. Oda is the more naturally gifted man, but this is likely to be his stiffest test to date. A preview of this bout is here Oda and Toshikawa battle for Lightweight youth crown!
A fourth major bout on this card will see 2017 Rookie of the Year Yuga Inoue (7-0-1, 1) take on the hard hitting Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) for the vacant Japanese youth Minimumweight title fight. The 19 year old Inoue, no relation to Naoya Inoue, really impressed last year before taking the Rookie crown in December against Retsu Akabane. Since that Rookie win Inoue has scored his only stoppage win, taking out Daisuke Sudo in 5 rounds this past May. As for the 21 year old Ishizawa he made his debut in June 2017 and has impressed ever since, scoring a huge win over Tatsuro Nakashima back in April. It should be noted that Ishizawa was supposed to fight for this title earlier in the year, against Daiki Tomita, but the bout was cancelled when Ishizawa suffered an injury, which he has now recovered from. Our in depth preview of this bout is here Ishizawa and Inoue battle for Japanese youth title!
As well as the stacked show in Japan there's also a notable card in the Philippines, headlined by former world title challengers facing off, and featuring several prospects in supporting bouts.
The main event will see Melvin Jerusalem (13-2, 8) battle against Toto Landero (10-3-2, 2). Both of these men have fought for world titles in recent years, with Jerusalem giving Wanehng Menayothin arguably the toughest bout of his career, in 2017, and Landero recently losing to Knockout CP Freshmart. The loser will have some serious rebuilding to do, but given that both men are still young that won't be a huge issue with the right mind set. The winner however will have taken a huge step towards getting a second shot at a world title. Our preview of this bout is here Jerusalem and Landero battle in brilliant all Filipino clash!
In one of the supporting bouts fans will see unbeaten 20 year old Esneth Domingo (10-0, 6) risk his unbeaten record against Reymark Taday (9-6-1, 4), in what could be a good test for the 20 year old Domingo. Another of the supporting bouts will see will see the unbeaten Christian Bacolod (9-0, 7) taking on fellow unbeaten Christoval Furog (5-0, 2) in what should be a compelling bout, though we do feel that Bacolod's power and extra experience will be the difference.
Lancashire, United Kingdom
The Funai bout isn't the only world title eliminator taking place as the UK plays host to a Lightweight world title eliminator between Indonesian warrior Daud Yordan (38-3-0-1, 26) and popular Englishman Anthony Crolla (33-6-3, 13), who will be hoping to take a step towards a WBA title shot. Yordan has been one of the few Indonesian fighters in recent years to make a mark internationally and his win earlier this year against Pavel Malikov was one of the best bouts of 2018. He is however up against here, with Crolla being a former WBA world champion and one of the best contenders in the division, with great stamina and under-rated skills. With a big reward for the winner we're expecting this to be a very exciting and action packed contest, with a lot of leather being thrown. We've previewed that bout here Yordan and Crolla set for a thriller...
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia we're set for a bit of a mismatch, with the all action Joel Brunker (33-3, 19) battling Indonesian journeyman Rivo Rengkung (37-27-6, 14). The 32 year old Brunker isn't going to reach the heights many had hopes for, but Rengkung shouldn't pose any sort of a threat at all, and will instead be expected to pick up his 28th career defeat.
In Russia we'll see former Uzbek amateur stand out Makhmud Gaipov (0-0) make his professional debut. Sadly at the time of writing no opponent has been named for Gaipov, but we're expecting him to be moved quickly and in 2019 we'll expect to see him fighting in 6 or even 8 rounders.
This coming Sunday is set to be a hectic day for fight fans in Japan with 5 different shows across the country. They include 4 different title fights, ranging from Japanese youth to female world title fights, and a number of other notable fighters in action in what is genuinely a crazy day.
The most notable show in Japan is in Osaka, where we get an OPBF title fight along with two bouts featuring former world title challengers and several prospects.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani (16-0, 10) seek his next defence, as he faces off with Japanese Youth champion Izuki Tomioka (5-0-1, 1). The challenger has shown a lot of skill, but his lack of power has been a problem, and he has struggled to get the respect of fighters so far, notably Yuichiro Kasuya and Kaiki Yuba. Nakatani on the other hand has been the OPBF champion for more than 4 years, and has already recorded 9 defenses, though sadly the quality of those defenses has gone down hill and there is clearly frustration with Nakatani who has long looked like he is ready for a world title fight, before he out grows the division.
One of the former world title challengers on this show is Shohei Omori (18-2, 13), who will be fighting for the first time since April 2017, when he was stopped in 11 rounds by Marlon Tapales. The once touted Omori was supposed to return earlier this year, but saw that bout being cancelled when his opponent for it failed to make weight. Omori will be up against recent OPBF title challenger Brian Lobetania (13-5-3, 11) in what is a really tough match up. The heavy handed Filipino announced himself to Japanese fans when he stopped Kai Chiba in January but came up short in March against Hidenori Otake. Chiba is limited but is a serious puncher and could give Omori real issues if he can land.
Another bout actually pits two former world title challengers against each other, as former Super Flyweight title challenger Sho Ishida (25-1, 14) faces former Light Flyweight title challenger Richard Claveras (18-4-2, 15). For Ishida this will be his second bout since a 2017 loss to Kal Yafai in the UK, in what was a genuinely forgettable contest. As for Claveras ,who was stopped by Pedro Guevara back in 2015, this bout comes after his loss to Andrew Moloney back in May. This should be a good match up, but it's hard to imagine Calaveras being big enough or strong enough to stop Ishida.
Also on this card are two pretty lower level fights. One of those will see the once touted Tatsuya Ikemizu (18-2, 7) take on once beaten Filipino Conrado Tanamor (10-1, 4), who was stopped last time out. The other will see the unbeaten Masayoshi Hashizume (15-0-1, 10) risk his unbeaten record against Marjun Pantilgan (18-4, 14), who was beaten last time out, losing an 8 round decision to Ryusei Kawaura.
The Japanese youth fight will be held in Aichi and see Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Takuya Mizuno (14-1-1, 12) defending his title against fellow youngster Jinya Ito (7-3-1, 2). The hard hitting Mizuno will be seeking his third defense of the title and looking to build on recent wins over Ryota Ishida, Yuki Iriguchi and Daiki Maniwa. This will be a huge step up in class for Ito, but he has won his last 3 and does have a little bit of momentum coming into this, it should however be noted that he had lost his 3 previous bouts and does lack of win of note.
Also on this card is the debut of Koshin Takeshima (0-0), who went 82-19 in the amateurs and shined in the unpaid ranks. He'll be battling against Indonesian Yohanis Tatul (3-1, 2), who appears to have been a relatively late replacement for Jundullah M Fauzan (5-1, 2). Given the expectation on Takeshima's shoulders anything barring a dominant win would be considered a disappointment for the new Matsuda gym fighter.
One of those female world title bouts comes from Kyoto, where WBO Atomwieght champion Nao Ikeyama (18-3-3, 5) defends he belt in a rematch against Mika Iwakawa (7-5-1, 3). The 48 year old champion has made 6 defenses already, and has really shone since defeating Iwakawa way back in December 2013. Despite the good run for the champion there is always a question as to how much longer she can continue at the highest level. As for Iwakawa her form has been pretty poor, going 4-3 in her last 7, though she did run Yunoka Furukawa incredibly close in a WBA title fight back in 2016.
In Kumamoto fans will see former WBO Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (20-6-6, 7) taking on domestic foe Naoya Haruguchi (15-8, 6). Originally this bout was announced as a world title prelude for Fukuhara, who is looking to have another reign as a world champion, but it's unclear which champion he is looking to fight. Coming in to this it's also worth noting that Fukuhara has lost 2 of his last 3, losing the WBO title to Ryuya Yamanaka and losing in a WBC world title fight to Wanheng Menayothin. As for Haruguchi he will be seen as a straight forward for for Fukuhara but Haruguchi has shown he can upset fighters, as he did against Norihito Tanaka and Jeffrey Galero. This could be much better than the records suggest.
Also on this card, in much lesser bouts, will be Ryotaro Motohashi (7-1, 2) and Tamao Ozawa (13-5, 5), who both take on limited foreign visitors.
The other female world title fight will see WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami (25-12, 14), who makes her first defense as she takes on Filipino challenger Gretchen Abaniel (18-9, 6). The talented Tsunami won the belt earlier this year, when she wore down Chaoz Minowa, but will be up against a very different challenge here. Unlike Minowa, who is an aggressive and wild fighter, Abaniel is a skilled and experience boxer who will look to keep Tsunami at range and out manoeuvre her in what could be a very interesting stylistic clash.
The only other bout of any interest on this card will see OPBF #1 ranked female Flyweight Yumemi Ikemoto (5-1) take on the #4 ranked Carleans Rivas (6-5-3) in what should be a much better fighter than it looks on paper.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
In the Philippines there will also be a pretty notable card, featuring two fast rising Uzbek stars, some unbeaten Filipino prospects and a former world title challenger.
One of the Uzbek prospects is Jasur Akhmadjonov (5-0, 3) who will be looking to secure his 5th win of 2018 as he takes on Filipino foe Rodel Wenceslao (12-16-1, 5). The Uzbek has impressed so far and looks to be having a very busy 2018. As for the Filipino he's very limited and with 7 stoppage losses it's hard to imagine him lasting the 10 round distance here.
The other Uzbek is teenager Ulugbek Sobirov (5-0, 3), who faced 34 year old Dennis Padua (11-14-2, 6). The 19 year old Sobirov debuted in January and looks like a real prospect to keep an eye on. Sadly however this bout won't really help Sobirov build his reputation, though should help him secure his 6th win as a professional. As for Padua he has been stopped in 11 of his 27 professional bouts, and we expect to see him being stopped again here.
In terms of local prospects the card will feature Jade Bornea (11-0, 7), Jerven Mama (5-0-1, 3) and Jerry Francisco (4-0, 1). Sadly from those 3 only Mama is the only one set to face a notable foe, as he takes on Rey Tagulaylay (6-1, 2).
Also on this show will be former world title challenger Richie Mepranum (32-7-1, 9), who faces Jetly Purisima (21-2-4, 6) in what will be a rematch of a 2015 clash between the two men.
Seoul, South Korea
There is also a triple title show in Seoul.
The most notable bout on the card will see WBA Asia Welterweight champion Ma Roo Jung (8-4-1, 2) defending his title against the unbeaten Heuk San Lee (6-0-1, 3). Of the two fighters it's Lee who has the more interesting story, having been a refugee from Cameroon who has since gone on to claim the Boxing M Light Middleweight title. Although Lee has impressed this looks set to be his toughest fight so far. Jung impressed us last time out, in what was his title winning effort, as he out pointed the very capable Moon Hyun Yun. We're expecting this to be a genuinely exciting bout for the fans in Korea.
At Super Middleweight fans will be able to see Joon Yong Lee (6-4-4, 3) take on Tae San Kil (4-0, 2) for the vacant Boxing M title. Lee is best known for his 2016 draw against Koki Tyson and showed there was something about him in that loss. Kil on the other hand is another Cameroon born fighter based in Korea. His competition so far has been very unremarkable but this should be a good step up and we should be in for a very decent bout here.
The remaining title bout on this card will see O Gon Kwon (6-2-2, 4) battle against Tae Seung Kim (7-3-1, 5) for the Boxing M Lightweight title. Kwon is unbeaten in his last 3, but was stopped back in March 2017 by Beom Kyu Lee. Kim has been stopped in all 3 of his losses, and is now 43, but has got power. We're not expecting this one to go the distance but we are expecting this to be very fun.
This coming Monday fight fans in Japan get the chance to see a really intriguing domestic level card combining competitive match ups, youth and and fighters looking to prove themselves.
The main event of the show should be something very special as the always fun to watch Kenya Yamashita (12-3, 9) takes on the experienced Hayato Kimura (26-10, 17). It's hard to think of a dull fight featuring Yamashita, who is an ultra-aggressive fighter always looking for the KO and in Kimura he should find someone able to take his power early on and have a war. Coming into this Yamashita is ranked #5 by the JBC at 115lbs whilst Kimura is ranked #6 and both men will know that a win here will move them close to a shot at the national title.
Talking about titles there will be a JBC Youth Lightweight title fight on the card, as Izuki Tomioka (5-0, 1) takes on Kaiki Yuba (3-0, 2). The talented Tomioka will be seeking his 2nd defense of the title, and although a genuine talent there is a feeling that he lacks the power needed, at the moment, to move on to the next level. If, or when, Tomioka adds that power then there is a huge ceiling for him to aim for. As for Yuba he looks like a man with that power already there and will be looking to prove that he really is the future in this bout. Aged 19 Yuba has the potential to go much further than his father, a 5-weight Japanese national champion, but this is certainly a step up for him.
A really interesting match up will see recent Japanese Bantamweight title challenger Yuta Saito (10-8-3, 7) take on Naoya Okamoto (12-6-1, 6). Saito came up short last time out, suffering a 9th round TKO loss to Ryo Akaho, but was competitive prior to the stoppage, and is certainly better than his record suggests. Okamoto is also better than his record suggests, and comes in to this bout on the back of wins against Gaku Aikawa and Daisuke Watanabe, two of his very best. This should be a very intriguing and exciting match, despite their records suggesting otherwise.
Another interesting bout on this show will see Kenichi Watanabe (7-3-1, 4) end an almost 2 year break from action as he takes on the light punching Joe Tanooka (14-4-4, 1). Watanabe was stopped in 2 of his last 3, with Akinori Hoshino and Hiroaki Teshigawara both stopping him, but with some time out of the ring there is a chance we will see him revitalised here. Tanooka was stopped inside a round last time out, by Yamashita, and will be looking to get his career back on track here in what should be a very competitive contest.
Title action continues in Tokyo for a second day running, with a trio of title bouts at the Korakuen Hall, including an OPBF title defense, a Japanese youth title defense and a bout for a vacant Japanese youth title, as well as a Japanese title eliminator. It's fair to say fans are in store for a packed card!
The most notable of the title bouts will see the fast rising Tsubasa Koura (11-0, 8) defending his OPBF Mnimumweight title against former amateur stand out Masataka Taniguchi (8-1, 6). The champion will be making his first defense of the title, a title that he won this past July, and he will be looking to continue his impressive stoppage run, which currently stands at 5 stoppages including wins over Jeffrey Galero and Jaysever Abcede. As for Taniguchi this will be his second title bout, having come up short in a bout against Reiya Konishi for the Japanese title.
At Lightweight we'll see Japanese Youth champion Izuki Tomioka (4-0, 1) defending his title for the first time, and facing off with with 21 year old puncher Taiju Shiratori (8-2, 5). The talented Tomioka won the title in August, defeating Yuichito Kasyua, and has had a stellar 2017 with with with wins over Joon Woo Park and Shun Shimazaki. As for Shiratori he's stopped his last 3 foes but this is a step up in class for him and going to be a test of how he can cope with a very skilled fighter.
The other Japanese Youth title fight will see the highly regarded Andy Hiraoka (10-0, 7) taking on Takahiko Kobayashi (7-2, 5) for the JBC Youth Light Welterweight title. These two both fought in the Semi-Final of the Japanese Youth tournament on August 23rd with Hiraoka blowing out Ukyo Yoshigai in 3 rounds whilst Kobayashi struggled to over-come Hayato Ono, avenging one of his two losses. Of the two it's Hiraoka who has impressed more, but at 6'0” Kobayashi will be one of the very few fighters taller than Hiraoka and could pose some questions based on size alone.
Despite there being 3 title bouts on this show the main event is technically a Japanese title eliminator at Light Middleweight as former national Welterweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (18-4-1, 7) takes on veteran Cobra Suwa (19-12-2, 11). Shindo's reign at 147lbs was a short lived one, lasting just over 3 months, and he has fought only once since, getting off the canvas to defeat Sansouke Sasaki. The 37 year old Suwa had been a professional for more than 14 year and although he has challenged for both the OPBF and JBC titles he hasn't had a career defining win, but will know that a title fight in 2018 could given him one last chance.
One other bout of note here will see recent Japanese title challenger Ryoichi Tamura (8-3-1, 5) take on experienced Filipino Robert Udtohan (24-2-3, 15). Tamura recently challenged Yusaku Kuga, and gave Kuga all sorts of hell showing his power, aggression and energy. The Filipino is best known for his 2016 bout Qiu Xiao Jun, in which he was stopped in 3 rounds. It's hard to see Udtohan win here, but this should be a very entertaining contest.
New York, USA
There will also be some central Asian fighters in action in the US.
One of those fighters is hard hitting Uzbek Welterweight Shohjahon Ergashev (9-0, 9), who will be making his US debut and risking his perfect record against Marquis Hawthorne (5-7, 1). The Uzbek has taken out his first 9 foes in a combined 15 rounds and looks like a genuine monster, though with this being his first fight Stateside it really does look like he's being matched softly on paper. Hawthorne has shown little power during his career so far, but has only been stopped once and should be able to test Ergashev's power.
Also on the card is unbeaten American based Kazakh Dimash Niyazov (12-0-3, 5), though at the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced.
The most interesting show of the day, at least for us, is in the Korakuen Hall where we see the first set of Japanese Youth Tournament finals, with 4 finals, all of which are really interesting match ups, and bouts that should be really hotly contested.
The stand out bout is a rematch between Joe Tanooka (14-3-4, 1) and Kenya Yamashita (10-3, 7), who meet at Super Flyweight. Tanooka came runner up at the 2013 Rookie of the year whilst Yamashita won the Rookie of the Year the following year. In 2015 Tanooka scored a decision win over Yamashita, to give the heavy handed Yamashita his first loss, and since then both men have faltered yet remained popular. Tanooka has gone 5-1-1 since beating Yamashita, but shown a real lack of power with only a single stoppage. Yamashita is like an all action warrior and has gone 3-2 (3) since losing to Tanooka, with both losses being by stoppage. This will be a boxer vs bralwer, with history and the potential to be something really thrilling.
Another potential thriller comes at Featherweight as the talented, but out of form, Tsuyoshi Tameda (13-3-2, 11) takes on Retsu Kosaka (8-2, 3). We've seen Tameda losing his last two, suffering a decision loss to Simpiwe Vetyeka and suffering a stoppage to Reiya Abe, but has been given time to rest, heal and reignite his fire, with this being his final bout for the Yonekura gym, before joining the Ohashi Gym. As for Kosaka he has lost 2 of his last 3, but shone last time out beating the touted Ryo Sagawa in 2 rounds. This looks like a win on paper for Tameda, but it's not going to be easy against the hungry Kosaka.
Potentially the hidden gem on this show will be the Lightweight bout, as the really exciting and promising Izuki Tomioka (3-0, 1) takes on the Japanese Yuichiro Kasuya (9-1-1, 1). We were really impressed by Tomioka last time out, as he stopped Shun Shimazaki in 5 rounds, and the 20 year old from Saitama looks like a real one to watch. Kasuya, who won the Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight in 2014, has faltered in his last two, drawing with Masaki Saito and losing to Spicy Matsushita. With those recent set backs against Kasuya we suspect he'll try to up his game, but Tomioka will be too good for him.
At Super Featherweight we'll see the struggling Kazuma Sanpei (12-4, 4) battle the inconsistent Ryusei Ishii (7-3, 4) in what looks like the black sheep of the match ups. Sanpei has gone 1-4 in his last 5, with 3 stoppage losses during that run, and his 11-0 (4) start to professional boxing is a distance memory, with only a single win in the last 3 years. Ishii has gone 2-2 in his last 4, though did earn his place in this bout with a dominant win over Sho Nagata in May. Ishii has some momentum here, Sanpei has none, leading us to favour Ishii for the win.
Fight fans in Las Vegas will see American based Uzbek hopeful Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (7-0-1, 3) fight in an 8 rounder, as he looks for a 4th straight victory. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced, so we suspect it will be a less than taxing foe foe the unbeaten prospect.
In Pakistan we'll see a bizarre all-debutant 10 rounder, as Ali Dad (0-0) takes on Asmatullah (0-0). It's really odd to see a debutant in a 10 rounder, to see two of them in a 10 rounder is even weirder and it's hard to see what the plan behind this bout was, though hopefully it helps in the development of Pakistani boxing going forward, and is interesting to see how they are growing the sport there.
This coming Friday is an interesting day in Japan where we get several shows of note, with arguably the best of them taking place in Tokyo.
In the main event we'll see the unbeaten Daishi Nagata (8-0-1, 4) risking his 0 against the more experienced Vladimir Baez (21-3-2, 19), a Japanese based Dominican fighter. So far Nagata has impressed, and has been matched relatively tough, though this is a step up in class for him and he will almost certainly have to show more than he has so far into his career. As for Baez, also known as “Destino Japan”, the bout will see him seeking to return to winning ways following a stoppage loss to Teerachai Kratingdaenggym last July. A must win for Baez, and a potential career booster for Nagata.
In the chief support bout we'll see unbeaten youngster Izuki Tomioka (2-0) battle against Shun Shimazaki (8-8-1, 3) in a really good looking 8 rounder. Tomioka will be fighting over the 8 round distance for the first time and has impressed since his debut back in December, but this is a clear step up in class. Although no world beater Shimazaki is a solid fighter who was competitive with Takuya Watanabe just a few fights ago and should be a solid test here for the youngster.
Another notable supporting bout will see former OPBF title contender Dai Iwai (20-4-1, 7) battle against the upset minded Masaki Saito (13-11-6, 4). On paper this looks a mismatch but Saito, on his day, can be a banana skin and and holds a win over Seiichi Okads as well as draws with Yuichiro Kasuya and Tsuyoshi Tojo. Coming in to this Iwai has won his last 3 bouts, and will be favoured here, but it's not a given win for the Misako man.
As well as the show in Tokyo there will also be a notable card in Osaka, headlined by the biggest Japanese bout of the day.
That big bout will be the third meeting between Tetsuya Hisada (27-9-2, 17) and Kenichi Horikawa (32-14-1, 7), who battle for the vacant Japanese Light Flyweight. Hisada was supposed to face Ken Shiro earlier in the year, but that bout was cancelled on late notice when Ken Shiro was set to fight for a world title, and ended up having this bout made on short notice instead. Coming in to this bout Horikawa is 2-0 against Hisada, and a former Japanese title holder, but is he is now 37 and well beyond his physical prime.
In an under-card bout we'll see the once beaten Yuki Takahashi (7-1, 3) battle against Sam Puadi (7-7, 5) in what looks likely to be a one-sided contest, and in another under-card bout we'll see Takeru Kamikubo (12-2, 8) battle against Masashi Odaira (6-7-2, 2). These bouts aren't the most interesting on paper but should allow fight fans to see two promising prospects in action.
There will also be an Asian show in the Philippines.
In arguably the most interesting bout of the show we'll see the under-rated pairing of Ernesto Saulong (19-2-1, 8) and Jestoni Autida (9-6, 4) face off in what looks like a mismatch but should be an interesting fight. On paper Saulong will be strongly favoured, he has lost just twice in his career and has got some good wins including a 2015 victory over Alie Laurel. Although Saulong has the better record Autida is no push over and has scored upsets before, and been competitive in many of his losses. This is a really intriguing match up.
In another notable bout on this card we'll see Benezer Alolod (17-8-5, 5) face off with Renz Rosia (12-5, 6) in a really well matched bout. Both of these men are good domestic level fighters, who can impress away from home, and should make for a fantastic match up against each other.
One other card will take place in China, with the most interesting looking bout being a contest between the unbeaten pairing of Venson Delopere (5-0-3, 2) and Alimu Wushouer (9-0, 7). Filipino fighter Delopere will be fighting outside of his homeland for the first time, but is being matched hard here against the very talented Wushouer.
Another unbeaten on this card will be Yongqiang Yang (6-0, 5) who risks his unbeaten record against Indonesian visitor Geisler AP (9-9, 6), who won't be expected to take the power of the Chinese hopeful
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo
Title action returns to the Korakuen Hall on February 9th as we get a title double header, as part of a Diamond Glove card.
The main event of the card sees OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (15-3-1, 8) defending his title against fellow Japanese fighter Ryuto Araya (11-4-1, 3). The champion will be seeking his third defense here and is looking to build on recent wins over the likes of Vinvin Rufino, Akira Shono and Randy Braga. Although the OPBF champion Takenaka is relatively unknown outside of Japan, though may well be looking to break out this year and move towards a potential bout of international note. Whilst Takenaka is heading places the same can't really be said of Araya, who has won his last 3 but is 6-4 in his last 10, including stoppage losses to Daisuke Watanabe and Takuya Yamaguchi. This is a big opportunity for Araya but a huge step up in class and likely another loss for the struggling 29 year old.
A potentially thrilling co-feature will see the all action Koichi Aso (20-7-1, 13) face off with the heavy handed Kazuki Matsuyama (13-7-1, 7) for the vacant Japanese Light Welterweight title, a title that was vacated by Hiroki Okada last year. The under-rated Aso has lost in two title fights at this level, losing twice to former champion Okada, but does deserve to remain in the title mix and is one of the better Japanese fighters at 140lbs. For Matsuyama this will be his first title fight and gives him a great chance to claim a title, though recent stoppage losses to Shuhei Tsuchiya and Daishi Nagata don't bode well against a fighter like Aso who will come out swinging here.
A good looking under-card bout sees the under-rated Yusuke Suzuki (6-3, 4) take on Ken Kodama (8-2-1, 3). Suzuki might not have a great record but his losses have come to good fighters in the shape of Yusaku Kuga, Ryoichi Tamura and Jeffrey Francisco and he was a talented amateur who could well bounce back from this less than stellar start. As for Kodama he probably isn't quite as good as his record suggests and a win here would be the best of his career so far.
An interesting supporting bout will see veteran Norihito Tanaka (14-5, 7) end a 5 year break from the ring, as he takes on Yuto Takahashi (6-2, 4). Although inactive Tanaka was once a good fighter, and has shared the ring with the likes of Kenichi Horikawa, Ryoichi Taguchi and Akira Yaegashi. As for Takahashi he has bounced back from back-to-back losses to Tsubasa Koura and Naoyuki Tsukada and could prove to be too young and too fresh for Tanaka.
On the under-card we'll teenage hopeful Izuki Tomioka (1-0) take on Korean visitor Joon Woo Park (4-6, 2). Tomioka looked impressive in his debut, back in December against fellow debutant Tatsuki Shinozuka, and will be looking to impress against here. Park has lost 3 of his last 4 but hasn't been stopped since his debut, more than 8 years ago, and should prove to be sturdy if nothing else.