Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
The biggest card of the week sees attention turn to Australia, for a major Lightweight title rematch between Devin Haney and George Kambosos. The main event doesn't involve an Asian fighter, but one of the main support bouts does, and it's an incredible notable one.
The bout in question will see two world ranked contenders face off as popular Australian Jason Moloney (24-2, 19) takes on highly experienced Thai fighter Nawaphon Kaikanha (56-1-1, 46), in what is a WBC world title eliminator, setting the winner up for a potential WBC Bantamweight title fight next year. The highly skilled Moloney will go in as the favourite, as he looks to secure a second world title shot following a loss to Naoya Inoue back in 2020. Since that loss he has reeled off 3 wins, included notable ones against Joshua Greer Jr and Aston Palicte. As for Nawaphon the Thai is looking to land his own second shot at a world title, having lost in a WBC Flyweight title bout back in 2017 against Juan Hernandez Navarrete. Since that loss Nawaphon has reeled off 20 wins, including wins over former world champions Amnat Ruenroeng, Sonny Boy Jaro and Kompayak Porpramook, though all 3 were very much faded forces by the time he faced them.
Art Center, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
As well as action in Australia, we're also set for a trio of shows from Japan. The most notable of those is from Kobe.
One of the main bouts here will see Hiroyuki Takahara (9-4, 6) look to bounce back from a recent loss as he takes on Kyohei Tonomoto (12-3-1, 5) in what should be a hotly contested bout. Takahara, from Kobe himself, has really turned his career around in recent years, winning 5 of his last 6, and he'll be desperate to get back to winning ways here. As for Tonomoto he showed that he was a decent fighter when he challenged OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu in 2020, since then he has reeled off 3 wins, and although he's the away fighter here he will know this is a great chance to continue building some career momentum.
The chief support bout will see Kazunori Yorimasa (6-7-4, 2) take on JBC #3 ranked Flyweight contender Shun Kosaka (17-8, 4). Kosaka, who has challenged for the OPBF and Japanese Flyweight titles, is really struggling to keep his career alive and has lost 5 of his last 7. Thankfully for him a win in May, against Sho Omote, has kept his career alive but another loss will see him losing his ranking and any chance of getting another big fight in the near future. As for Yorimasa he will come into this as a major under-dog, however he did score a win last time out, when he beat Kenta Taguchi, and he is 3-1-2 in his last 6, giving him more momentum than we'd expect given his career record.
A third bout of note will see Seira Kishida (6-1-2, 2) risking his Japanese Super Featherweight ranking as he battles Morihisa Iju (11-5, 9). Kishida suffered an early career loss, but has gone 5-0-2 since then, including a win over Seika Fukuda last time out. He's no world beater but the 24 year old is heading in the right direction and it wouldn't be any surprise at all to see him competing for a Japanese title in the future. Iju on the other hand is better than his record suggests, but unfortunately he's not fought in almost 3 years and has lost 3 of his last 4, so we do wonder what his hunger and desire is like coming in to this bout. At his best Iju could ask questions of Kishida, but we're not sure we'll see Iju even close to 100%.
Shiroyama Sky Dome, Ashikita-gun, Kumamoto, Japan
A second Japanese card, this time in Kumamoto, features something of a Japan Vs Taiwan show, with the two feature bouts both featuring locals taking on the visitors.
The nominal main event of the show will see professional novice Kazuhiro Imamura (2-1-1, 1) take on Yu Che Li (6-3-2, 4) in a 6 rounder. Imamura was last seen being stopped inside a round by the destructive Yoshiki Takei, towards the end of last year, and is now without a win since October 2019, going 0-1-1 since then. Although he had promise he was derailed by the pandemic and is now 30 years old and needs to make up for lost time after this bout. As for Li, the Taiwanese 29 year old debuted in 2016 but has lost his last 2 bouts, and like Imamura needs a win to get his career going again. Sadly for him this is a big on Japanese soil and he'd likely need a career best performance to take home a win.
The other Japan Vs Taiwan bout will see the once beaten Misaki Hirano (6-1, 2) take on Chuan Hsun Hong (3-2, 2). Hirano suffered his sole loss back in October 2020, and since then has reeled off 5 wins and won the All Japan Rookie of the Year, which he did back in February. He certainly has momentum on his side coming into this bout but this will be his first bout against a non-Japanese fighter. As for Hong, he has never faced a man with a loss, and won the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Featherweight title last time out. Notably though he has lost 2 of his last 3, and has only scored 1 win since the start of 2019.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
On a third show in Japan, this time in Aichi, we'll see the highly experienced Takahiro Murai (16-10-2, 5) take on Tom Hamaguchi (6-4-2) in an 8 rounder. Neither of thee two are JBC ranked, or heading towards a title bout, but they are well matched and they should make for a decent contest. Although both men are relatively limited, and both have bad looking records, it should be noted that both are better than the numbers indicate, with Murai having had a number of very close decisions go against him and with that in mind he should be favoured here.
The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Over in the Philippines fight fans will get the chance to see the once beaten Arvin Magramo (14-1-1, 9) take on veteran Jonathan Refugio (22-8-5, 8), in what looks like a good step up for Magramo. At one point Refugio was considered a very solid regional level fighter, and he has been in with something of a regional who's who including Melvin Jerusalem, Hiroto Kyoguchi, Taku Kuwahara, Knockout CP Freshmart, Merlito Sabillo and Wanheng Menayothin. Sadly though he has only notched a single win since the start of the pandemic and it's hard to imagine him having what's needed to over-come the fresher, hungrier Magramo.
Whilst the biggest name from the Ohashi gym is set to fight in early November, with Naoya Inoue of course facing Nonito Donaire in the WBSS Bantamweight final early in the month, the rest of the gym isn't just sitting still. This coming Tuesday we see a number of notable Ohashi gym fighters in action on their next domestic card.
The main event here will see the highly touted Taku Kuwahara (5-0, 4) take a huge step up in class for face Filipino veteran Jonathan Refugio (21-6-5, 7) in a 8 rounder. The talented Kuwahara is stepping up massively, but has shown touches of brilliance since making his professional debut and has already been compared to Kazuto Ioka, among others. He's shown sensational body punching and is a really exciting youngster who will likely make a huge mark in 2020 if he gets past Refugio here. The Filipino has been around the block a few times, but has built a reputation as a tough, determined fighter capable of pushing fighters hard. Despite numerous losses Refugio has faced the likes of Knockout CP Freshmart, Hiroto Kyoguchi, Wanheng Menayothin and Merlito Sabillo. This should be a genuine acid test for Kuwahara. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Kuwahara takes big step up to face off with Refugio!
In the chief support bout, from the running order at least, we'll see Toru Kiyota (9-3, 7) take on Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kazuma Sanpei (17-5, 7) in another bout scheduled for 8 rounds. Kiyota is limited but heavy handed, with his last 4 wins coming inside the distance. Kiyota's power could be a real problem given that Sanpei has been stopped in 4 of his 5 losses, though Sanpei will be the favourite.
In a clash of former Hinata Maruta opponents we'll see the exciting, and thunderously hard hitting, Tsuyoshi Tameda (20-4-2, 18) take on skilled Filipino Joe Tejones (13-6, 7). Tameda has his flaws, and there is a lot of them, but his power is brutal and he is a nightmare for anyone just a step or two below regional title level. On the other hand Tejones has been really unlucky, and his record perhaps should have a few more wins on it than it currently does. This should be a really interesting fight, if Tejones can take the power of Tameda, which is certainly not a given.
Kuwahara isn't the only unbeaten prospect on this card, with Katsuya Yasuda (4-0, 2) looking to record his 5th win as he takes on Jack Dolu (4-4, 4). Yasuda hasn't really shown the type of potential that Kuwahara has, but was a notable amateur on the Japanese scene and should make this look easy against a very limited Indonesian foe.
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.
The first show of 2017 in Japan takes place in Okinawa, and is an interesting one with 3 bouts of real note.
The most significant of those is the show's main event, which will see Seita Ogido (11-2-1, 3) battle with Filipino Jonathan Refugio (16-5-4, 4) for the WBC Youth Light Flyweight title, a title that was last held by Ken Shiro. For Ogido this is a second successive fight against a notable Filipino, following his August win over Jeffrey Galero, and will see him fighting over the 10 round distance for the first time. For Refugio the bout is a chance to claim a second WBC minor title, having won the WBC International Light Flyweight title last year, when he upset Richard Claveras. This is a really well matched bout and a great test for the two young men.
In the chief support bout we'll see Japanese veteran Go Onaga (27-3-2, 18) take on Filipino youngster Jake Bornea (11-2, 5). Both men are coming into this on the back of a loss, but they are bother at very different points of their careers. Onaga was last seen in August losing in an OPBF title fight against Rene Dacquel and it seems likely that his career will come to an end in the next year or two. For the 21 year old Bornea the bout sees him returning to the ring following a November loss in the UK to Andrew Selby. The Filipino will know that a win here will potentially get him in to the mix for an OPBF title fight whilst a loss for Onaga will speed up his retirement.
The third bout of note is also another Japan Vs Philippines bout and will see Masatoshi Kotani (19-2, 13) battle against Rey Laspinas (21-14-6, 12). Coming in to this bout Kotani is riding a 9 fight winning run and is slowly moving towards a title bout of his own, potentially later this year. Laspinas will be fighting in Japan for the 4th time, though is still looking for his first win in the country. It's hard to see a n upset here, but Kotani has been stopped by a Filipino under-dog before and will be looking to avoid that happening against here