Sumiyoshi Ward Center, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The big show for us this coming Sunday takes place in Osaka, where we get a Japanese title fight, along with two bouts featuring prospects who are expected to mix in title bouts down the line.
The title bout will see the once beaten Riku Kunimoto (5-1, 2) take on the unbeaten Mikio Sakai (4-0) in a bout for the Japanese Middleweight title, which was vacated by Kazuto Takesako. The 24 year old Kunimoto has been tipped for success since turning professional, and won his first 4 bouts, without really even being pushed. That 4 fight run saw him make his international debut, fighting in China, and score a notable domestic win over Shoma Fukumoto. Sadly though his rise was derailed by the pandemic, and he was then stopped inside a round in an over-due title fight against Takesako last year. Since then he has bounced back with a win, but question marks do linger with him. As for Sakai the talented 28 year old has shown a real lack of power, failing to stop any of his first 4 opponents, but has shown good skills, determination, stamina and will to win, and comes into this on the back of a career best win last time out over veteran Koshinmaru Saito. This should be a very interesting and technical match up and our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Kunimoto and Sakai battle for Japanese title!
In a really interesting supporting bout we'll see unbeaten men face off as the highly touted Yusuke Mine (5-0, 2) takes on fellow unbeaten fighter Josuke Nagata (2-0). The 25 year old Mine has been tipped for stardom since making his 2019 debut, and has notched notable wins over Ardin Diale and Dynamic Kenji. The expectation seems to be that Mine, a former amateur stand out, will land a title fight of some kind in the next 12-18 months, however he will need to get past Nagata here. As for Nagata he was himself an experienced amateur, with almost 60 bouts in the unpaid ranks, and he has an aggressive, exciting action style that could over-come the slicker, more polished skills of Mine. If he wins Nagata will find himself in the rankings, and begin moving towards major bouts of his own.
Another notable supporting bout will see Japanese ranked fighters collide as Tulio Dekanarudo (4-1-1, 2) takes on Tomoya Kishine (8-4-1, 2). Dekanarudo was tipped very highly when he turned professional, but back-to-back set backs did see his hype bubble pop. Since those set backs he has scored a career best win over Noboru Osato and will know a win here will help him move towards his first title bout. Although his record might look limited Koshino shouldn't be over-looked here, especially given recent wins over the likes of Masato Moriaki and Ryo Suwa, and whilst he will be moving up in weight for the bout, he is very much a capable fighter, looking to advance his own career. This should be competitive, and a genuine test for both men.
Sun Rise Park Gym, Saga, Saga, Japan
As well as the show in Osaka, we'll also get a Western Japan Rookie of the Year show in Saga. The card is a really small one, even by regional Rookie of the Year standards, with just 5 bouts scheduled for the show. From those 5 bouts 4 of them contain debutants, including an all debutant Lightweight bout between Kazuki Takesue (0-0) and Yuta Higuchi (0-0).
The most interesting bout on this card, at least on paper, isn't that all debutant bout but is instead the one bout that doesn't contain a debutant. That is a Super Bantamweight bout between the chinny Shinya Saito (1-3, 1) and the unbeaten Zapp Morimoto (1-0, 1). In his 4 career bouts Saito has either been stopped in the opening round, or scored a win in round 2. He is not there to go rounds and does make for short and interesting bights. As for Zapp Morimoto, how can we not love a guy called Zapp? Morimoto made his debut last November, scoring a 4th round TKO, and will be looking to score his second win here. One thing we will say for those watching this one is don't blink!
Art Center, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
The most notable of three Japanese shows this coming Sunday is in Hyogo, where we get a card from Senrima Kobe Promotions.
The main event of the card will see two Japanese ranked Super Flyweights battling against each other as Hiroki Tokuyama (10-3-1, 2) clashes with Ryosuke Nasu (12-7-3, 2), and going in the two men will know that a win will push them to within a fight or two of a Japanese title fight. It will also be an interesting bout with a bit of history given these two men fought in August 2020, with Nasu winning a clear decision. Of the two men Nasu is the more more proven, and he holds a win over Tokuyama, but he has lost his 2 bouts and was surprisingly stopped by Sonin Nihei in April. Tokuyama on the other hand has bounce back from his loss to Nasu with a win over Shunji Nagata and will be looking to build on that win. We don't expect this bee the best bout of the weekend, but it should be a compelling bout between two men each looking to move their career forward.
In another interesting match up the 30 year old Hiroyuki Takahara (9-3, 6) will be looking to over-come Ryuya Nihei (5-2-1, 1) in what could be a very hard to call 6 rounder. Takahara has the experience and has got real momentum coming in to this, having won his last 5 bouts, dating back almost 4 years, including a notable win over Tom Mizokoshi last year. Nihei on the other hand is the younger man, at 23, but also the one struggling for form, with just a single win in his last 4 bouts and losses in his last 2.
A third bout of interest here will see professional novices Josuke Nagata (1-0) and Tomoki Kawasaki (1-1) clash in a 6 rounder. Nagata made his debut in June, beating Koji Tsurumi in an impressive performance and it was clear that he's certainly one to watch going forward, and someone with a decent amateur background. Though of course he's a novice who will need time to develop. Kawasaki on the other hand was a good amateur himself who lost to Jukiya Iimura on debut, in June, before bouncing back with a win in September. Whilst neither of these men have much professional experience, but are young, hungry fighters, who were good amateurs, are clearly skilled fighters and aren't scared of facing good competition from the off as they look to develop and progress quickly at the start of their careers.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
A second Japanese show will be in Aichi, where we see a couple of interesting looking 6 rounders.
The main event on this show will see Japanese ranked Welterweight Hiroya Nojima (7-1, 3) take on Kojiro Nishikawa (5-3-1, 2). The once beaten Nojima has reeled off 4 straight wins since a 2019 loss to Hoare Yasui, and won the the All Japan Rookie of the Year this past February. On paper this is a step up for him, but he comes into it with momentum and on the back of a blow out win over Shoma Okada in July. As for Nishikawa he is 1-3-1 in his last 5, and really needs a win now. Nishikawa has no momentum coming in to this, but will fight like a man who needs a victory, and could be a banana skin for the promising Nojima.
The second bout of note on this card, and the planned chief support bout, will see 30 year old veteran Takahiro Murai (15-9-2, 5) take on unbeaten 22 year old Atsuki Nakamura (5-0-1, 3). On paper this is a hard one to call, especially given that that neither man has been all that active in recent years. Murai did fight this past July, but that was his only bout since in over 3 years, and it's hard to know what he has left to offer, especially given he's 1-3 in his last 4 dating back more than 5 years. Nakamura on the other hand hasn't fought since December 2019, and we do wonder whether ring rust will be a problem for him here.
Chres Gym, Kochi, Kochi, Japan
A third Japanese show will take place in Kochi, and will be headlined by an 8 rounder between Sora Fukunaga (9-0, 4) and Shinnosuke Kimoto (6-5, 2). The unbeaten Fukunaga won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Super Bantamweight back in February, but has sadly not fought since beating Yuki Yazan in that final. Notably this will be his first 8 rounder and in fact his first bout scheduled for more than 5 rounds. As for Kimoto he's yet to achieve anything of note, though his record is very, very misleading and all 5 of his losses have been razor thin, including a notable one against Tom Mizokoshi in 2019. We suspect Fukunaga will take home his 10th win here, but he will have to work for it.
Gachibowli Indoor Stadium, Hyderabad, India
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a card in India. This show isn't a big one, but the main event is certainly worth being aware of.
That main event will see unbeaten Indian hopeful Karthik Sathish Kumar (7-0, 3) look to win the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Lightweight title as he takes on Indonesian veteran Hero Tito (29-15-2, 11), who will be having his 47th bout. Kumar will be favoured, after all he's at home, he's unbeaten and he's the younger man, though this is a massive leap up in class for him, and his competition so far has been novices and very limited fighters. Tito on the other hand is no world beater, but he can notch the odd upset, as we saw in April when he beat countryman Hebi Marapu. If Tito is hungry he could well pick up his 30th professional win here, and score 3 wins in a row for the first time since 2013!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Action returns to Korakuen Hall this coming Monday for the next show from Dangan. This isn't a particularly big show but it is one worthy of some interest with a title fight headlining the event and several interesting bouts featuring debutants.
The main event will see triple crown champion Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) defending his WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Super Flyweight titles against the unheralded Takahiro Fujii (12-6-1, 3), who is stepping up massively here. The heavy handed Fukunaga had a brilliant 2020, with wins over Froilan Saludar and Kenta Nakagawa, but both of those bouts were punishing wars and it's probably a good thing that he's being matched a little bit more lightly here than we've seen for his last two bouts. Fujii really is a very limited, domestic level fighter and shouldn't pose too much if a threat to the champion, but it's a huge opportunity for him, and likely to be his only fight at this level. We expect Fujii to be hungry, fight to win, but then be broken down by the heavy hands of the champion. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Fukunaga defends two titles as he takes on Fujii!
In a brilliant chief support bout we'll see Jukiya Iimura (1-0, 1) take on Tomoki Kawasaki (0-0), in what we believe is the third of fourth date set for this fight. Iimura really impressed in his debut, back in January and we've been desperate to see him back in action. He looked really explosive, exciting and heavy handed in that bout and oozed charisma. Kawasaki on the other hand was a very decent amateur and will come into this bout with hunger to make a statement and shine in his first pro bout. These are the type of bouts that Japan gives us regularly, and others don't. Two young, talented, good amateurs facing off early in their careers, taking a risk and knowing that they can prove how good they are without waiting years. Something w would love to see in the UK and US.
Another debutant going in rather hard here is former amateur fighter Josuke Nagata (0-0), who went 38-20 in the unpaid ranks. Whilst not a stellar record he looked the part in the unpaid ranks and we're excited to see what he's going to do in the pros. He'll be up against the relatively decent Koji Tsurumi (5-3-1, 2), who comes into this bout on the back of an excellent win over the then debut Yugo Kon in January. Although his record looks poor Tsurumi is unbeaten in his last 3 and has shown some genuine ability, with wins against Kon, Kazusa Arai and Shion Yokoyama. This might look like a gimme for Nagata, but it's not and we expect him to be given a genuine test here.