Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Monday we get live action from Boxing Raise who have their streaming service show cases the latest event from the criminally under-rated Kaoebi Promotions, who have consistently been turning out great events under their "Slugfest" banner in recent years. This show features a triple title main event, a mouth watering support bout, a potentially compelling Super Bantamweight and several notable prospects.
The main event of the card is an excellent match up, which should end up being a very explosive encounter as Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) and Kenta Nakagawa (19-3-1, 12) clash at Super Flyweight. Coming into this Nakagawa is the JBC champion and Fukunaga is the WBO Asia Pacific champion, not only are their belts on the line, but so is the vacant OPBF title, meaning the winner is essentially the champion of Asia. Of the two Fukunaga is the certainly bigger puncher, and showed that last time out, when he beat Froilan Saludar, though it's fair to say that Nakagawa is the more proven fighter, has been in with tougher competition and is a 2-time Japanese champion. For us this is a true 50-50 type bout and the only thing we're confident about is the fact it won't go 12. We're anticipating a hard hitting, technical shoot out here. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Fukunaga and Nakagawa battle for the triple at Super Flyweight!
In an amazing support bout former Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada (19-2, 13) will be up against the very talented Izuki Tomioka (7-3-1, 2), who has given Masayoshi Nakatani and Shuichiro Yoshino two of their toughest bouts. On paper Okada is the naturally bigger, stronger and more powerful fighter but with back to back stoppages losses against his name we do wonder what he has left in the tank, he has, arguably, been left with a lot of questions to answer. Tomioka isn't a puncher, but he is a quick, rangy, talented fighter and we wouldn't be surprised at all if he frustrates Okada with his jab and ends up simply out working the older man.
The first of two notable prospects on the under-card is the unbeaten Mikio Sakai (2-0), who takes on Toshihiro Kai (6-11-3, 2). The 27 year old Sakai is likely to be moved towards a Japanese title fight in the next year or two, but having been out of the ring since last December we can't begrudge him an easy one here. The 35 year old Kai is a veteran, but not a particularly sturdy one and he has been stopped in 4 of his last 6, and really never kicked off at reaching the 2014 All Japan Rookie of the Year. The focus here is on Sakai, and seeing him shake some ring rust and get the cogs whirring again before a bigger year in 2021.
On paper a really even match up in the show is a contest between Matcha Nakagawa (13-2-1, 5) and Ryo Suwa (11-3, 2), with Nakagawa looking to defend his JBC and OPBF rankings against the skilled, but light punching, Suwa. The 26 year old Nakagawa has been a professional since 2013 and did promise a good deal early in his career, winning Rookie of the Year in 2015, but losses to Ryohei Takahashi and Kai Chiba in his last 6 has seen him need a solid win. Suwa is also a man in need for a big win after losing 3 of his last 7 and his last 2. We suspect Nakagawa will be the favourite here, but Suwa certainly has the ability to cause him fits with his style and boxing brain.
The other notable prospect on this card is the OPBF and JBC ranked Masahiro Suzuki (4-0, 2), who takes on former OPBF title challenger Takahiro Oda (10-5, 8), who previously fought as Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine. The talented Suzuki really impressed us on his debut, against Antonio Siemundo, though in fairness we've become less convinced by him since and this is a genuine step up in class for him following a 13 month break from the ring. Whilst Suzuki has been out of the ring for a while his inactivity pales in comparison to the inactivity of Oda, who was last seen in the ring in July 2017, when he lost to Ratchasi Sithsaithong in an OPBF title bout. Coming into this Oda has won just 2 bouts in 6 years and it's hard to imagine him winning here, but he certainly has the power to test Suzuki's chin.
This coming Sunday Japanese fight fans in Osaka are in for a treat as they get an OPBF title triple header with supporting bouts featuring a hot prospect and a former 2-time world title challenger.
The former world title challenger is Hirofumi Mukai (13-5-3, 3), who was last seen losing a thriller with Rex Tso in Hong Kong. Although Mukai was battered by Tso he put on a brave and courageous showing and it'll be nice to see him back in action, even if he is facing a Thai who has been picked to help Mukai rebuild. The other notable fighter on the under-card is former Japanese Minimumeight title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (7-1, 5), who also faces a Thai foe. For Taniguchi the bout will be his first since suffering a narrow loss to Reiya Konishi for the Japanese title, and we suspect he will be in there with a point to prove.
The first of the three title bouts will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Ratchasi Sithsaithong (8-3, 6) defending his title against Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine (10-4, 8). For the Thai the bout will be his first defense and see him return to Japan following a massive come-from-behind victory against Yutaka Oishi back in April. For Petagine this will be his first title fight and although neither fighter is a big name the bout should be a good chance for the winner to begin making a name for themselves.
The stand out bout, on paper at least, will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (26-12, 12) defending his title against former 2-time Japanese champion Kentaro Masuda (27-7, 15). On paper this bout may not get pulses racing but fans who have followed the two fighters will know their records are misleading, and both fighters can really go. Both hit harder than their records suggest, both are in good form and both are world ranked by the WBC and IBF, essentially making this a world title eliminator as well as an Oriental title bout.
The third, and final, OPBF title bout on the card will see Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (12-2-2, 11) defending his title against Japanese based American puncher Brandon Lockhart Shane (8-5-1, 7). On paper this looks like an easy win for the defending champion, who is younger, bigger and more proven than the challenger, however the challenger can puncher, and Tyson has got a suspect chin. The champion should retain, but we wouldn't be surprised if he showed a lot of respect to the American here, and looked to use his size, rather than his power, to defend his title.