Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
The big bout to feature an Asian fighter this coming Saturday comes from Wales as IBF Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa (26-1-1-1, 18) defends his title against unbeaten Welsh challenger Joe Cordina (14-0, 8), in what will be Ogawa's first defense since winning the belt late last year. The hard hitting Ogawa is regarded by many as a weak champion at 130lbs, but his win over Azinga Fuzile last year showed his class and his power, and he'll be looking to replicate that form here and become the first ever Japanese fighter to successfully defend a world title in Europe. As for Cordina, a former British amateur stand out, this bout has a feel of now or never for him, and it's hard to imagine him getting another world title shot if he comes up short here. As for the bout it will be Ogawa's power against the speed and skills of Cordina, which should make for a very interesting match up. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Ogawa takes on Cordina in first defense!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ogawa isn't the only Japanese fighter in action, and in fact over in Tokyo we get the next show under the Dynamic Glove banner. The card isn't the biggest or best, but there are two notable bouts on the show.
The main event of the card will see former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (17-2-1, 10) take on Nath Nwachukwu (7-2-2, 3), in what is the second bout between the two men. These two clashed in 2020, with Inoue taking a wide decision win, but since then both men have been some what inactive, with Inoue losing to Tim Tszyu last year, and Nwachukwu beating Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa and losing to Wade Ryan. Despite the inactivity of the two men their styles should gel and we should have a pretty fan friendly bout, as both look to secure something bigger and better later in the year.
In a really promising chief support bout we'll see former notable amateurs clash as Jun Ikegawa (2-0-1) and Issei Ochiai (3-0, 2) put their unbeaten records on the line in a mouth watering 8 rounder. Ikegawa debuted last year and immediately looked like a genuine talent, but someone with a style that needed major changes if he was to become a star in the professional ranks. We suspect we'll see the best of him here in what is his most dangerous bout to date. As for Ochiai, he made his debut in 2019 as a highly touted teenager and although he filed to really shine in his debut, he has impressed since and there is big hope for the unbeaten 21 year old. This promises a lot, and the winner will almost certainly be fast tracked to some sort of title fight in the next 12 to 18 months.
Daegu, South Korea
Staying in Asia, though moving over to South Korea, we're set for a lower level card headlined by a minor title fight.
That minor title fight will see Korean veteran Hee Jung Yuh (24-3, 12) battle against limited Thai foe Phannaluk Kongsang (8-8-1, 5), with Yuh defending her WBC International Female Super Flyweight title. The 42 year old Yuh has long been one of the more notable Korean fighters out there, but aside from her 2015 loss to Naoko Fujioka she hasn't really been willing to test herself against the better fighters out there, and that's the case again here as Kongsang really shouldn't be in the ring with her. The Thai challenger has won her last 3, but she has struggled when she's fought outside of Thailand, and we suspect she'll struggle again here, despite being the much, much younger fighter.
Expo Five Dome, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Another fighter who's scheduled to fight, though knowing how his career has gone so far will likely see his bout fall through, is Ivan Dychko (11-0, 11). The unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful has promised much since turning professional in 2016, following a brilliant amateur career, though has sadly done very little as a professional fighting against awful competition and proving next to nothing in the professional ranks since his September 2017 debut. Now aged 31 it really is time for Dychko and his team to get serious and start moving him forward with his career, before he ages his way out of possible contention, before even even getting there. Sadly for this scheduled bout, his opponent hasn't been named at the time of writing.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Action returns to Korakuen Hall this coming Friday for an interesting card from the MT Promotions, the gym that is behind the rise of current world champion Junto Nakatani.
The main event of the show will be a Japanese Minimumweight title eliminator as the hard hitting Kai Ishizawa (8-1, 7) takes on the much more experienced Naoya Haruguchi (18-11, 7), with the winner set to fight for the national title next year. Of the two men it's the 24 year old Ishizawa who is more highly regarded and more exciting, with his heavy handed pressure style being a fun one to watch, and he is someone who has long been tipped as one to watch on the Japanese scene. Sadly however he was underwhelming last time out, taking a decision over Yuni Takada, and there are question marks over what happens when his power doesn't hurt fighters. Haruguchi on the other hand is a 32 year old veteran who has proven to be tough, and is a much better fighter than his record suggests. On paper Haruguchi looks like a push over but his only stoppage loss was back in 2013, and since then he has faced a who's who including Reiya Konishi, Riku Kano, Tatsuya Fukuhara, Lito Dante, Norihito Tanaka and Shin Tomita. He's skilled, he's too, he's a big guy at 105lbs and he is a potential banana skin for Ishizawa. This might not look like a competitive match up, but it is a legitimate test for the exciting youngster.
A second really interesting bout on this card will be an 8 rounder between two talented professional novices, but two men who put winning ahead of entertaining. The bout in question will see Shigetoshi Kotari (2-1, 1) take on Jun Ikegawa (2-0). The talented Kotari made his debut in 2019, but has had a very stop start career, taking a year between his first two bouts and 7 months between his second and third bout. Kotari is a real technically smart fighter, but comes in on the back of a controversial loss in May to Junya Shimada, and we do wonder if he can bounce back from that disappointment. Ikegawa on the other hand debuted earlier this year, and will be looking for his 3rd bout in under 9 months. Ikegawa looks like a talent, but like Kotari he is a technical but boring fighter, and we do wonder if he has that extra gear to move into when he needs to. For fans expecting a war, this isn't going to fill their lust for blood, but it should be a bout a very interesting technical chess match.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
We're back at Korakuen Hall this coming Thursday for a Kadoebi promoted event featuring a standout talent defending a regional title in the main event, and a couple of decent on the under-card. It's not a stacked by any stretch, with just 5 bouts on the card, but there really is a feeling that this could be a surprisingly good show.
We regard the main event here as a bit of a mismatch as the talented Ryota Yamauchi (7-1, 6) defends his WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title against Yuta Nakayama (8-3-1, 5) , in what should be little more than a stay busy defense for the champion. Yamauchi, who is world ranked by the WBA, WBO and IBF, is one of the more over-looked Flyweights in Japan and looks to be one of the most exciting, with an aggressive style, nasty power and a flawed defense. He can be hit, but he has the power to take opponents out. Nakayama on he other hand has lost his most meaningful bouts, by stoppage, and looks almost made to order for the pressure and power of Yamauchi. Don't expect this one to be competitive, but it's a clear sign that Kadoebi want him to have a few more bouts before an eventual world title shot. Our full, in depth, preview of this bout can be read here Yamauchi looks to make first defense of WBO AP title as he takes on Nakayama!
One of the notable prospects on this card is JBC ranked Super Flyweight Ayato Hiromoto (3-0, 1), who takes on the more experienced Hiroki Yajima (9-9-3, 4). Hiromoto has impressed since debuting in 2019 and looked really good against Ryosuke Nasu, despite the very poor scorecard of Takaki Handa, and it seems clear that Kadoebi can move him very quickly, with title bouts likely in 2022 or 2023. Yajima on the other hand is limited, but tough and we should see Hiromoto being forced to go 8 rounds, at a decent pace, against a very game foe. Given Yajima went 8 rounds with Hayate Kaji recently this is the perfect sort of test for Hiromoto at this early stage of his career.
Another excellent prospect on this show is the technically solid Jun Ikegawa (1-0), who turned professional after a strong amateur career and showed some very good technical ability in his debut. Although technically solid we didn't see Ikegawa get out of first gear in his debut, and we'd like to see a lot more from him. Thankfully we expect to see Ryuya Nihei (5-1-1, 1) try to push him a bit and beat him here, showing a mix of his experience, his own desire and his own skills. Ikegawa should still be too good, but Nihei will certainly not be there to roll over, especially given that he lost last time out, to Yuki Yazan in the East Japan Rookie of the Year final.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
We get the first live televised Japanese card of the year this coming Saturday, though it's a relatively small show from Kadoebi with the focus more on debutants than established names, with one very clear exception.
The one exception on the card will see OPBF Welterweight champion Riku Nagahama (12-2-1, 4) make his first defense of the title he won back in February 2020, as he takes on Ryota Toyoshima (12-2-1, 8) in a very interesting looking match up. The talented Nagahama has bounced back well from stoppage losses to Takeshi Inoue and Yuki Nagano, and is currently riding a 4 fight winning streak, including his title winning bout against Kudura Kaneko last year. Despite that run he still has question marks over his toughness and his chin. Toyoshima on the other hand is unbeaten since a 2017 loss to Masaharu Kaito, who also gave him his first loss way back in 2015. The challenger has won his last 5 and certainly enters the bout as the puncher, but a win here would be his most meaningful by far. Our preview of this bout can be read here Potential thriller as OPBF champion Nagahama takes on Toyoshima!
In the middle of the card is another bout between two men with some experience as Japanese ranked Super Flyweights Chikato Sumida (9-3, 1) and Ken Achiwa (12-15-5, 4) clash in an 8 rounder at Bantamweight. Coming into this the 27 year old Shumida has won 5 of his last 6, and will know another win will continue to move him towards a title bout. On the other hand the 34 year old Achiwa has only scored a single win in his last 6, though he is much better than his record suggests and should give Sumida a bit of a test here.
Most of the card here is based around introducing some Kadoebi promoted novices, who will make their debuts. One of those is Flyweight hopeful Jukiya Iimura (0-0), who went an excellent 68-13 in the amateurs. He’s being matched in a 6 rounder against 36 year old Daisuke Yamada (6-5, 1), who reached the East Japan Rookie of the Year final, back in 2016 when he was then blasted out in a round by Junto Nakatani. We suspect Iimura will have too much for Yamada, though it’s nice to see him making his debut in a 6 rounder.
Another of the debutants, this time at Super Bantamweight, will be Jun Ikegawa (0-0) who takes on Kakeru Yoshikawa (4-1-2) in a tough looking debut. As an amateur Ikegawa went 51-15 and was a very solid amateur in the Kansai League, where he made his name as a talented southpaw. The 23 year old Yoshikawa has gone unbeaten in his last 4, and is unbeaten since July 2017. Notably he enters this bout following back to back draws in 6 rounders, and may well have the stamina and experience to ask real questions of Ikegawa.
Another of the debutants is 21 year old Yugo Kon (0-0), who notched a 23-11 amateur record during his relatively short career in the unpaid ranks. He’s been matched with Koji Tsurumi (4-3-1, 1) in a 6 round bout at a contracted 54.5KG’s (just over 120lbs). Kon wasn’t the deeply experienced amateur that some of the others on this card were, but he seems to be incredibly hungry to prove a point and we suspect he could end up being moved relatively quickly over the next few years. Although his record might not show it, Tsurumi is going to be in a confident mood here, having taken the unbeaten record of Shion Yokoyama 2 bouts ago, and scoring a draw with the aforementioned Kakeru Yoshikawa.
In an all debutant bout Kadoebi fighter Yudai Murakami (0-0) will be taking on Naoki Shimizu (0-0) from the MT Gym, in a 4 rounder at Lightweight. Murakami went 29-6 in the amateurs, and does have some hype behind him as he begins his career. Reportedly Shimizu went 14-7 in the amateurs, and will be regarded as the under-dog here in what will be the opening bout of the show.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
For a second day running we get a show at Korakuen Hall, but this time it's a bit of a disappointing card as several bouts on the show were cancelled in the run up to the event due to injuries suffered in training.
The first of 3 bouts worthy of note will see veterans collide as Takuya Kogawa (30-6-1, 13) takes on Hayato Yamaguchi (15-8-1, 2). For the 35 year old Kogawa, who has been one of the very best servants to Japanese boxing, this will be his first bout since a brutal TKO loss last year against Jayr Raquinel. Sadly Kogawa has been on the slide for a few years now and retirement is beckoning him. As for Yamaguchi he's not been on Kogawa's level, however he's much fresher, less ring worn and could, very seriously, be a banana skin for Kogawa here.
In a potentially thrilling match up we'll see the crude but physically imposing Yoji Saito (1-1-2, 1) take on the Japanese ranked Masashi Wakita (10-9-2, 5). Saito turned professional in 2018 and has struggled to get going, but has been very fun to watch and his 2019 clash with Aso Ishiwaki was an absolute war. Following back to back draws Saito needs a win to give his career a shot in the arm. As for Wakita the 24 year old is a win some-lose some type who has just managed to squeeze into the JBC top 20. With 5 stoppage losses against his name Wakita's chin may not be able to survive the storm from Saito, but if it can, Wakita's experience ,may help him nick a decision. The big question mark over Saito is his stamina, and the question over Wakita is his chin. We expect this one to be a brilliant fight.
Talking about suspect chin's the main event will see Kazuki Saito (7-2, 5), who's chin has let him down before, take on veteran Tatsuya Yanagi (16-6-2, 6). The talented Saito looks the real deal when he's letting his shots go, but has been dropped several times during his career and appears to lack the size and durability to make the most of his wonderful skills. Yanagi on the other hand has an ugly looking record, but is always upset minded and has gone 5-1-1 in his last 7, including wins over Koichi Aso, Masashi Noguchi and Ryusei Nakajima. We expect this to be a very interesting match up, with both men and it's a hard one to call, especially with Saito having lot 2 of his last 4 and being low on confidence.
Interestingly this card will also feature a public exhibition between Teruya Iimura [飯村 樹輝弥] and Jun Ikegawa [池側 純], who will be hoping to make their professional debut's in the near debut. Both men passed B class tests in September and were solid amateurs on the Japanese scene, so hopefully we see them in live fights sooner rather than later.