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