For those who want a late Christmas present, we have one of those for you this coming Saturday as Japan put on two shows and China also put on a show. One of those Japanese shows is a mouth watering card from Tokyo, which is set to be streamed live on the A-Sign YouTube channel whilst the second, from Aichi, will be shown on delay on Boxing Raise.
Christmas might be over, but the gifts keep coming!
Sumida City Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan
The more significant of the two shows is the Tokyo one, and it's a genuinely stacked domestic card that should give us a big of everything. The main event should be a fairly technical contest, the opening bouts should be competitive under-card bouts, and we get at least one, if not two, shoot outs on a genuinely fantastic show.
The main event will see former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (26-2-1, 14) take on current OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (9-0-1, 3). Mishiro won't be risking his title here, in a 10 round bout at Lightweight, but the winner will certainly see their standing improve, and we could end up seeing the winner being just a fight or two away from a potential world title fight. Ito is, of course, the more well known fighter and the more established but he has only fought once since losing the WBO title to Jamel Herring in May 2019, and since then he has had a bout cancelled and has had surgery. Mishiro on the other hand is bit of advanced novice, who has been fast tracked to an OPBF title and already has several wins of note to his name, and other here would really boost his standing in the sport. We expect this to be a tactical early on, but will, sooner or later, descend into more of an exciting back and forth war.
Talking about wars we are really exciting about the Japanese Youth Light Welterweight title bout on this show, between Jin Sasaki (9-0, 8) and Aso Ishiwaki (8-2-1, 6), and this really should be a war. The hard hitting Sasaki has been creating a buzz with quick knockout and early wins, including a trio of success opening rounds wins, but Ishiwaki is the more proven man and a tough warrior. The 19 year old Sasaki really is a brutal boxer-puncher, and he's been swiping opponents aside with ease but has faced little in terms of competitive opposition. Ishiwaki has faced the much better competition, and has done so without much fuss, whilst creating a bit of an international following with his heart, energy, toughness and physical strength. This could be incredibly brutal war, and we do not expect it to go the scheduled 8 rounds. Our full preview of this one can be read here Sasaki and Ishiwaki clash for Youth Honours in potential Christmas Cracker!
On the subject of bouts not going the distance we don't imagine the 8 rounder between Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) and Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6) will see the final bell either. The hard hitting Kai Chiba was one looked at as a future regional champion, but a 2018 loss to Brian Lobetania, in a major upset, slowed his rise and he has only really began to rediscover his form in recent bouts, have now scored 5 straight wins. Ishikawa on the other hand is an explosive, heavy handed and wild fighter who comes into the ring with a war monger attitude and may well be too aggressive for Chiba to cope with. Interestingly this bout was delayed from earlier in the year following a positive Covid19 test for Ishikawa.
Former 2-time world title challenger Ryo Akaho (35-2-2, 23) looks to extend his current winning streak as he takes on youngster Yuto Nakamura (11-5-1, 8). The 34 year old Akaho has won his last 9 in a row though it does seem unlikely that he will land a third shot at a world title, following losses to Yota Sato and Pungluang Sor Singyu. At just 23 years old this is a great chance to Nakamura to show what he can do at a higher level following a short reign as the JBC Youth Super Flyweight champion. Sadly however it's hard to Imagine Nakamura coping with the power and strength of Akaho at Super Bantamweight.
One other bout worthy of attention is the second bout in Japan of "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (24-11-2, 13), who made his name in Mexico and the US. The exciting and rugged Sakai will be up against Takeru Kobata (8-4-1, 3). This really should serve as little more than a showcase for Sakai who should be too good, too strong and too powerful. Despite being the under-dog Kobata has some momentum coming into this, on the back of a solid win over Change Hamashima back in February. Even with that in mind it would still be a huge ask for him to be competitive with Sakai here.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
The other show, the one from Aichi, is easier to over-look but does promise a very exciting main event between one of the biggest punchers at 108lbs and, strangely, just a single supporting bout.
The main event will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Masamichi Yabuki (11-3, 11) making his first defense of the belt as he takes on veteran Toshimasa Ouchi (22-9-3, 8). The hard hitting Yabuki moved down to Light Flyweight last year, stopping Rikito Shiba in 4 rounds and then blasting out Tsuyoshi Sato inside a round this past July to claim the title. Originally he had made his mark at Flyweight, losing in the 2016 Rookie of the Year final to Junto Nakatani, but looks much more suited to the 108lb limit and could find himself fighting for a world title in 2021. Ouchi on the other hand is a 35 year old, potentially getting his last notable fight. Although no world beater Ouchi has shared the ring with some notable names, including going 12 rounds with Kenshiro Teraji in 2016, and facing Kenichi Horikawa, shin Ono and Ryoichi Taguchi earlier in his career. Ouchi is tough, but we do wonder what his 35 year old body will do when it's caught by the power of Yabuki. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Japanese champion Yabuki faces first challenger as he takes on Ouchi
The only under-card bout scheduled for this show will see Teru Nobita (5-3-1, 2) face John Yano (5-6, 2). Nobita went through a run where he won 1 in 5, going 1-3-1, but did win last time out and will look to build on the momentum that December 2019 win over Kenshin Megumi. Yano on the other hand is a Japanese based Filipino who has stopped 2 of his last 3 and will be looking to show that power against Nobita. Potentially a much better bout than it looks on paper.
TSSG Center, Qingdao, China
As well as the action in Japan we also get a show from China, which is set to be one of their best of 2020.
In a bout at 154lbs we'll see Tonghui Li (12-2, 6) take on Dacong Wang (7-1-1, 1) in a bout for the interim WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental title. This will be Li's third bout since a loss to Jung Kyoung Lee, and at 30 years old it really is now or never for him to move his career forward. For Wang this is a massive step up in weight, but he has momentum on his side and is riding an 8 fight unbeaten run, and a 6 fight winning run. On paper this looks interesting, though we suspect Li's power and higher level experience will prove to be the difference.
The second bout of note will be an IBO International Lightweight title bout, pitting the unbeaten Ju Wu (9-0-2) against Xiao Tao Su (11-1, 6), with Wu looking to defend his minor IBO title for the first time. The talented Wu is the more skilled man and the naturally bigger fighter, but we do wonder how he will cope with Su's power, which has seen him score stoppages in his last 3.
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
This coming Saturday our attention turns to Kobe for a Japanese card that features two title bouts, and a couple of well matched lower level bouts.
The main event of this show will be the rescheduled bout between Japanese veteran Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13) and promising youngster Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5), who battle for the vacant OPBF Light Flyweight title. Originally this bout was supposed to take place in March before the boxing calendar got shaken up by the lengthy hiatus caused by the on going global situation. Thankfully this bout, which looked good back in February when we were waiting for it, looks just as good now, and we are anticipating a really well contested battle between two men at very different stages of their careers. Our preview of this bout can be read here Tomita clashes with veteran Horikawa for OPBF title!
In a Japanese Atomweight title bout we'll see Kaori Nagai (4-2-3, 2) and Momoko Kanda (10-12-2, 4) clash, in what will be the second bout between the two women. The title, which was vacated by Eri Matsuda, isn't a well established one with a long history, but the winner here will likely see themselves taking a huge step towards a potential world title fight. Of the two Nagai probably has the advantage, given she won the first bout, but the experience Kanda could be the difference here, with this likely to be her last big opportunity if she loses. Our preview of this fight can be read here Nagai and Kanda battle for Japanese national crown!
In a supporting bout we'll see Japanese ranked Bantamweight Koichi Wakita (7-2-2, 2) take on Kaito Takeshima (6-3, 1) in what looks like it could be a competitive bout. Sadly despite being in good form, having gone 5-0-2 in his last 7, Wakita is now 30 years old and it's hard to imagine him going through the rankings and getting a title fight. On the other hand Takeshima, who's only 21, is needing to rebuild following a recent upset loss to Takuya Fujioka and we expect to see him give his all here.
In another well matched under-card bout the 20 year old Aoba Mori (6-2) will take on 25 year old Keisuke Iwasaki (4-2, 1). The young Mori may have won 6 of his 8 bouts but he has had 5 very close decisions in his favour and it seems hard to imagine him going far unless he can start to make himself stand out in bouts. Iwasaki on the other hand was last seen in the 2019 Rookie of the Year final, losing to Seiya Meguro last December. Both men will come in to this bout hungry and both are young, so we expect a high energy bout here between two men looking to make a point.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
There is also a show in Thailand as we see the sport begin to resume in the Land of Smiles.
The main event here will see former world title challenger Nawaphon Kaikanha (48-1-1, 38) battle against Suradech Ruhasiri (6-2, 5) in a bout for the WBC Asia Banatamweight title. We expect this to be little more than a mismatch in favour of Nawaphon, who should be too good, too experienced and too big for the limited Ruhasiri.
On paper the co feature is a much better bout and will see Phongsaphon Panyakum (8-1, 3) take on Sophon Klachun (5-4-1, 1). Although a more competitive bout than the main event we don't see this as being a very high level contest.
Antai Tennis Park, Rizhao, China
As well as the Japanese and Thai shows we'll also be getting a small card in China. This card, like many of the other recent Chinese ones, is a novice show, where most of the fighters are taking one of their first steps as a professional.
Despite most of the bouts being between two novices it is worth noting that the show will have an interesting match up on it between Ju Wu (9-0-2)* and Wei Liu (1-0, 1). We've been impressed by the talented young Wu, who has shown a good boxing brain and ring craft and it's hard to see him losing to a 1-0 debutant. Saying that however over 4 rounds a quick start by Liu could see him potentially playing the role of a human banana peel, and the bout is more interesting than it looks on paper.
*It appears that Ju Wu and Lei Wang's draw from earlier in the year is no long on either man's record
The first bit of post Christmas action featuring an Asian comes in Switzerland, of all places, and will see unbeaten Chinese fighter Ju Wu (8-0-2) battle against once beaten local fighter Alain Chervet (16-1-2, 10) in a bout for the IBO International Lightweight title. The Chinese fighter is making his international debut here and although not very well known he has been impressive recently, scoring wins over Adones Aguelo and Rimar Metuda earlier this year. The 29 year old Chervet has notched 3 wins since suffering his sole loss, back in May 2017, and will be favoured here in front of his home crowd. Although Chervet will be the favourite this will be not be an easy bout for the local hopeful.
The most notable show for us this coming Friday takes place in China, and although it's not a huge show it does have some interesting local fighters on it.
One of the local hopefuls is unbeaten teenager Ju Wu (6-0-2), who takes a massive step up in class to take on Filipino veteran Adones Aguelo (31-19-2, 21) in a very tough looking 8 rounder. This is a legitimately tough bout for the unbeaten man, but a win here really would leave it's mark on the regional scene.
A local we're next expecting to be tested too much is Yu Che Li (5-1-2, 3), who should easily over-come Indonesian veteran Waldo Sabu (13-14, 3). Sabu can be a banana skin, as seen when he stopped Ernesto Saulong, but in reality those performances where he actually turns up to win are few and far between.
Baja California, Mexico
Once beaten US based Kazakh Sagadat Rakhmankul (4-1, 2) makes his Mexican debut as he takes on highly experienced Daniel Armando Valenzuela (36-36-2, 21), who is fighting for the 75th time. The 25 year old Rakhmankul bounced back from a November loss to Nicklaus Flaz by beating Brandon Adams in March and will be looking to notch another win here, a win that is expected for him. Despite having 74 bouts to his name Valanezuela is only 29. Sadly 31 of his 36 losses have been inside the distance and whilst he is at home, in Mexico, he will be expected to be stopped against.
Unbeaten Azeri born American based Elvin Gambarov (4-0, 4) takes a huge step up to face off with veteran Larry Smith (10-40-1, 7). On paper this should be an easy win for the 27 year old Gambarov, as Smith is 40 and is 1-38-1 in his last 40, but it is still a step up for the Azeri who has really only faced total novices so far.