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.