Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday attention turns to Korakuen Hall for the next card from Ichiriki Promotions. The card is certainly not the deepest or the biggest, but it is an interesting one, with a potentially explosive main event, and a really solid chief support bout.
The main event will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (16-6-1, 14) taking on the once touted Kai Chiba (13-3, 8), in a bout that promises a lot of action, but also features two men who really need a win. Kurihara is 1-1-1 in his last 3, and whilst that does include a notable win over Kazuki Nakajima for the title he was lucky to escape with a technical draw against Yukinori Oguni in May, albeit in a non-title fight, and he has lost a lot of momentum since the start of the pandemic. As for Chiba he was tipped highly early in his career but has lost 2 of his last 3, and another loss here will see him being pushed a long, long from another notable fight. Both of these guys can fight, but of the two it feels like this is the champion's fight to lose, rather than Chiba's to win. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here OPBF king Kurihara clashes with Chiba
In the co-feature veteran tough guy Akihiro Kondo (34-10-2, 19) will face off with the under-rated, and usually fun to watch, Tatsuya Yanagi (18-7-2, 7). The 37 year old Kondo, who is best known for his 2017 bout with Sergey Lipinets, has had mixed fortune since 2018, though notably won the OPBF title at 140lbs back in June with a surprise win over Koichi Aso. He won't be defending his title here, but will be looking to build on that title win and score his third straight win, which would make this his longest winning run since the bout with Lipinets. As for Yanagi he is 2-2-1 in his last 5 but does make for fun bouts with an aggressive style and gave Kondo a solid clash in 2019, with this rematch likely being viewed as a chance for him to avenge that loss. Aged 32 Yanagi isn't "old" as such, but has had a tough career and has taken punishment over his 27 bouts, suggesting his career might also be coming to an end, and this could be the only window for the rematch with Kondo.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
In Tokyo this coming Friday we're set for a really good card under the A-Sign Bee banner. The card isn't the most stacked, but has an excellent main event, and 3 well matched and interesting looking supporting bouts.
The main event of the card will see former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (21-2-1, 8) take on the hard hitting Keita Kurihara (16-6, 14) in a mouth watering bout that pits skills against power. The 34 year old Oguni is best known for his 2016 win over Jonathan Guzman, but sadly since then he has been fairly inactive, suffered numerous injuries, retired, and really not managed to have any momentum since then. In fact the last time he fought was 3 years ago, and it's really hard to know what he has left to offer the sport. There's no doubting that he was a good fighter, but we really don't know what a 2022 version of him will be like. As for Kurihara the 29 year old has been wanting to score a break out win for a while, and announce himself as one to watch, with wins over Yuki Strong Kobayashi, Warlito Parrenas and Kazuki Nakajima not quite being enough. Sadly for him he did suffer a wide technical decision loss last year, albeit to Takuma Inoue, but has bounced with his win over Nakajima to become a 2-time OPBF champion and it's clear he wants to move towards a huge fight in the next year or two. A win over a former world champion would certainly help him secure such a big fight.
In a really interesting supporting bout former world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi (19-5-1, 8) takes on the unbeaten Tentaro Kimura (8-0-2). The 32 year old Takahashi is best known for his 2019 bout with TJ Doheny for the IBF Super Bantamweight title, and since then he has looked poor, squeaking past Kiyohei Endo and losing in a major shock loss to Hyuma Fujioka last time out. He needs a win if he's to remain even semi-relevant on the Japanese scene. As for Kimura, the cousin of Rentaro Kimura, he's starting to make a name for himself and has broken into the WBO Asia Pacific and JBC rankings. He'll know a win here will help him push his career towards a title fight, and in fairness to him, he has the speed and skills to beat Takahashi here. Although we're not expecting a thriller here, this could be a genuinely compelling bout between a fading contender, and an emerging hopeful.
In a Bantamweight bout we'll see OPBF and JBC ranked contender Kai Chiba (13-3, 8) take on Koji Tsurumi (6-4-1, 3). Coming in to this Chiba has lost his last two, and desperately needs a win which is why he's being matched relatively softly here. Chiba is a solid boxer-puncher, but it does feel like he has lost a lot of momentum since a 2019 win over Matcha Nakagawa and he really needs to string together some good results over the next few years. As for Tsurumi he's bounced back well since a loss to the then debuting Josuke Nagata, last June, but will be taking on his toughest and most notable opponent so far. Hard to see anything but a Chiba win, but the real thing to pay attention to is how he scores that win.
One other interesting looking match up will see Kazuki Kyohara (5-1-2, 3) clash with Koki Tyson (14-4-3, 12) in a really interesting Middleweight bout. On paper this looks like a young novice being matched hard, and it is. But it's one that has more too it than that. Tyson is the clear favourite, and the former OPBF Middleweight will go in to the bout feeling that his power and experience will be the difference maker. He is however, someone who hasn't had a fight since October 2019, and has only had a single win since the start of 2018. His confidence and sharpness is unlikely to be there. As for Kyohara, he's proven to be a decent and aggressive fighter, who will likely look to get close and take the reach and height from Tyson, which could mean we end up getting a really good fight here.
Whitesands Events Center, Plant City, Florida, USA
As well as the interesting card in Japan we also get a show with Asian interest in Florida.
That's due to Chinese fighter unbeaten Fanlong Meng (17-0, 10), who faces his most notable opponent to date, as he clashes with former world champion Jean Pascal (35-6-1-1, 20). The 34 year old Meng was set to fight for a world title before Covid19 got in the way, and since then he has been frustratingly wasting time, with just a single fight in the last 2 years, and that was against Israel Duffus last October. Given his age, Meng looks like he's going to age himself out of contention and will likely suffer a loss before getting a world title fight now. Jean Pascal on the other hand is someone who has been there, seen that and got the T-shirt whilst fighting a genuine who's who, of who over the last 15 years. Sadly Pascal is now 39, and his career is coming to an end, but there is no doubting that he has had a remarkable and thrilling career which has seen him never turn down tough competition. Even now he is dangerous enough at this sub-world level to spring upsets and although the under-dog here, we wouldn't be surprised at all by a Pascal win over the unbeaten Chinese fighter.
This coming Saturday is a busy day for Asian fight fans with several shows in Asia and some Asian fighters fighting in the US.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The best looking Asian card of the day, by some margin, comes from Tokyo, though is sadly set to be on behind a paywall. The card features just 4 bouts, but all 4 of those are very interesting match ups, including a Japanese title eliminator.
The Japanese title eliminator will be at Lightweight as former Japanese 140lb champion Masahiro Suzuki (6-0, 4) takes on Seiryu Toshikawa (14-5, 8), in a very interesting match up. Suzuki looked sensational in his title win at 140lbs when he stopped Daishi Nagata but he knew it wasn't his best weight and he decided to begin a pursuit of the Japanese title at 135lsb. In his way is the under-rated Toshikawa, who has won his last 4 and is 8-1 since the start of 2017. Toshikawa hasn't been beating top, top domestic names, but he's been in good form, beating solid domestic fighters and could be a very solid test for the very good Suzuki.
Whilst the title eliminator is a great bout we're even more excited about a clash between Kai Chiba (13-2, 8) and Suzumi Takayama (4-0, 4). The talented Chiba will be looking to bounce back from a loss to Kazuki Nakajima in an OPBF title bout back in May, and he'll know another loss here puts him a very, very long way from another title shot, of any kind. As for Takayama, a former Japanese Youth champion, he's been highly impressive to begin his career, and a win here against Chiba would be a huge announcement, and a massive chance for him to put his hat into the mix for a title fight. Although he's only had a combined 13 rounds as a professional, Takayama does look like an incredible prospect with power, skills and heart, and this is a great chance for him to show exactly what he can do.
In an interesting match up we'll see the teak tough Takuya Watanabe (37-10-1, 21) look to bounce back from a brutal and punish loss to Kosuke Saka in a Japanese Super Featherweight title fight. He's in an easier bout here ad he takes on the limited Kazuma Sanpei (20-6, 9), who is who has won 5 of his last 6, but has been fighting at a lower level than Watanabe, who has mixed at title level numerous times. Sanpei will feel confident of continuing his good run, and may feel he's getting Watanabe at the right time, but he will still be regarded as the under-dog here.
The other bout on this card will see the hard hitting, and incredibly fun to watch, Yasutaka Fujita (7-1, 6) take on the light punching, but very skilled, Izuki Tomioka (7-4-1, 2). Of the two men Fujita is the naturally bigger, heavier, hard hitting, but the man with questionable stamina and the much less skilled and accomplished boxer. Tomioka is light punching, but very skilled, tricky, and is battle tested at Japanese and OPBF level. On paper this is an easy bout to over-look but should prove to be a genuinely compelling 8 rounder.
Talisay City, Cebu, Philippines
In the Philippines ARQ Promotions will be putting on a small card, with a brilliant main event, as one of the brightest young prospects in the country takes a massive leap up in class. Sadly outside of that bout there isn't too much to be excited about.
That bout will see the unbeaten April Jay Abne (6-0, 3) battle for the OPBF "Silver" Flyweight title as he takes on the once beaten Bienvenido Ligas (13-1-2, 9), in a truly mouth watering clash. The talented, though inexperienced, Abne, is one of the best natural talents in the country, and seems like the type of fighter who has the technical abilities to go a long way, though does need to find his man strength. Ligas is the bigger puncher and the more naturally forceful fighter, but does leave holes and can be out boxed at times. Despite having holes Ligas is very solid, and he was very impressive Alphoe Dagayloan back in February, in a career best win. This is a genuinely excellent match up.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
There is also Asian action in Thailand, with a show being broadcast under the "The Fighter" banner, thanks to TL Promotions. Sadly whilst it does feature two very notable Thai hopefuls, neither man is in with someone expected to test them.
One of the promising Thai fighters on this show is the once beaten Tanes Ongjunta (8-1, 4), who looks notch a 5th straight win, as he takes on the limited Lerdchai Chaiyawed (6-5, 2). Ongjunta, looking to defend his WBA Asia Flyweight title, should be too good, too skilled, and too smart for his foe, though to credit where it's due, Chaiyawed does tend to offer plenty of resistance, even in his losses, and won't be there to just make up the numbers. We expect Chaiyawed to come to win, but simply not be good enough.
The other notable bout on this card will see the once beaten Arnon Yupang (7-1, 3) take on Filipino novice Fritz Biagtan (1-0, 1). Yupang was once a Thai amateur standout who has a lot of potential, and was last seen beating Amnat Ruenroeng for the WBA Asia South Featherweight title. He won't be defending that title here, but will be expecting to pick up a win. As for Biagtan, he made his debut in 2018, but has sadly been out of the ring for well over 40 months and is the naturally smaller man. Sadly we do not expect this one to be a particularly competitive match up.
Madison Square Garden Theater, New York, New York, USA
Former world title challenger Jonas Sultan (17-5, 11) looks to keep himself in the world title mix as he takes on the hard hitting, and unbeaten, Carlos Caraballo (14-0, 14), in a brilliant match up. The technically well schooled Sultan, who holds a very good win over John Riel Casimero, is often under-rated but has shown what he can do in the ring and should be regarded as a leading contender in the Super Flyweight division. Sadly however he is stepping up in weight here, to take on the very exciting Caraballo. The unbeaten Caraballo has stopped everyone so far, including former world title challenger Christian Esquivel, and is a very dangerous fighter. Although technically gifted this is a very tough ask for Caraballo.
Hilton Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Also in the US we'll see the limited Jeronil Borres (11-5-1, 6), another Filipino fighter, take on unbeaten American Dylan Price (14-0, 10). The 26 year old Borres is now world beater, but he was very competitive against Matthew Griego last time out, also in the US, and will be looking to show what he can do against Price here. The 23 year old Price is a genuine prospect, and he has scored 3 wins already this year, with a 4th expected here. Although not a world beater Borres is better than a TKO1 loss to Junto Nakatani suggests, and he could ask questions of Price here, but we don't expect him to run the unbeaten man too close.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The next week or so set to be a good one in Tokyo, with three shows in 3 days at Korakuen Hall. The third of those is an Ohashi promoted event that is headlined by a fantastic main event, and has some very notable supporting bouts.
The fantastic main event will see WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) take on OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (9-1, 9) in a massive regional unification bout. The talented Mori has been on a great run recently, with recent wins against Richard Pumicpic, Takuya Mizuno and Tsuyoshi Tameda, but he is now set for his most dangerous bout. Shimizu on the other hand is a very dangerous fighter, but has continually looked crude, easy to hit and defensively flawed. Give the styles of the two men this should be a thrilling bout, and a real test of Mori's chin and patience, as well as a test to see whether Shimizu can adjust against a speedy smart fighter.
A second title bout on this show will see the unbeaten Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) take on the under-rated Kai Chiba (13-1, 8) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title, which was given up by Takuma Inoue. Although not as interesting as the main event, this has the potential to be a fight that breaks into a war. Neither of these men are too well polished, though with Nakajima being a very puncher and Chiba being a boxer-puncher it has the potential to erupt into a war at any moment. We expect this to be slow at times, but once the touch paper is lit expect this to give us serious fireworks until one of the fighters forces a stoppage, and claim the title.
Third generation fighter Keisuke Matsumoto (2-0, 2) looks to build on his early development as he takes on Hiromu Murota (6-4-2, 4). The 21 year old Matsumoto has looked a mixed bag so far. He's clearly talented, but we do have questions about his defense and his durability, and it seems he's a work in progress. Despite that he's being matched tough here against Murota, who recently held former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seichi Okada to a draw and is unbeaten in his last 5. Matsumoto should win, but we expect to see Murota asking genuine questions of him here.
One other bout on this card worthy of some attention will see rising Lightweight hopeful Katsuya Yasuda (7-0, 4) battle against Tomoki Takada (8-5-2, 5), in a battle between two JBC ranked Lightweights. The 29 year old Yasuda is a legitimat talent, with under-dated defense and an excellent boxing brain, but he is also someone who has yet to be given the chances to shine, and is sadly getting older without having made much of an impact on the sport. Here against Takada we see Yasuda getting a chance to move towards a national title fight. As for Takada he is showing power recently and has scored 3 opening round in his last 5 bouts. We expect to see Takada's power going up against Yasuda's defense and counter punching here.
International Convention Centre, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa
As well as the action in Japan there is also action in South Africa where Filipino fighter Joey Canoy (16-4-1-1, 9) takes on Nhlanhla Tyirha (4-1, 2), in a bout for the WBA Inter Continental Light Flyweight title. Although not too well known internationally Canoy is very much an under-rated fighter with wins against Toto Landero and Melvin Jerusalem, but it's fair to say that Filipino fighters rarely have any luck in South Africa and that's unlikely to change here. Tyirha isn't a big name but he did give Nkosinathi Joyi a close run bout in 2019 and he's certainly someone with the potential to be a contender in the lower weights in the coming years.
Bryan Glazer Family JCC Auditorium, Tampa, Florida, USA
Over in Florida we're expecting to see a trio of Japanese hopefuls in action as Teiken and All Star promotions look to develop some of the best talented in Tokyo.
The most established of the trio is Mikito Nakano (5-0, 4), who has looked brilliant on the Japanese scene and is coming through the deep Featherweight and Super Featherweight ranks at home. Although not a complete fighter yet, he is developing well and this should be a good chance to see what he can do on foreign soil, though his opponent has yet to be named
Another man on this card is Kenji Fujita (1-0, 1), who looked fantastic on debut earlier this year and looks like the type of fighter of who can be moved incredibly quickly. There is clearly a lot of work for him to do with Fujita, but he's a very advanced fighter for a 1-0 boxer, and he seems to have the potential to go a very, very long way. He's skilled, has a high level boxing IQ and fighting over in the US will do him the world of good, especially this earlier in his career. Sadly however he also hasn't had his opponent named fro this event.
The third Japanese fighter on this show is the debuting Subara Murata (0-0), a former amateur stand out who is tipped to go to the top very quickly. Murata turned professional last year, but was unable to kick things off due to the Covid19 pandemic. It's a shame he's had to wait so long to make his debut, but given his style and amateur pedigree is seems almost certain that he's set to be a major success in the pros. As with his two countrymen he has not had his opponent named for this bout, but it's still great to see him making his debut, at long last!
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.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday Yokohama Hikari are back with another show under the A-Sign Boxing banner, and as with other A-Sign cards it is a surprisingly deep and stacked card, and is expected to be streamed live on YouTube. The show has 6 bouts in total, from which 4 are worth genuine attention, with at least on JBC, OPBF or WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter involved.
The first of the 4 bouts worthy of attention is a bout between Kai Ishizawa (6-1, 6) and Masashi Tada (13-7-3, 8). The bout will see the all action, heavy handed and aggressive Ishizawa look for one of his biggest wins as he takes on the rugged former Japanese title challenger. The 23 year old Ishizawa lost last time out, losing a competitive decision to Masataka Taniguchi, but will know a win here will help put him right back in to the domestic title mix. At 31 years old Tada is coming to the end of his career, which began back in 2009, and has twice seen him fighting for domestic honours. Gone gone 2-4-2 in his last 8 Tada needs a win to remain relevant, but will be up against it as he takes on an excellent youngster. This has the potential to be the fight of the show.
On the subject of potential "fight of the show" it's hard to over-look the showdown between Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) and Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6), which promises fireworks. Both of these men are hard hitting, but have defensive flaws and both have been stopped. On paper Chiba is the more proven and he's also the more rounded, but Ishikawa is out there with a point to prove following a loss last year to Toshiya Ishii. We really are expecting big things from this one, and it has two guys whose style's should gel brilliantly!
Another supporting bout on the card will see the Japanese ranked Ryuto Araya (13-8-1, 4) risk his Super Featherweight ranking as he takes on Katsunori Endo (6-3, 3). The 32 year old Araya is a former OPBF title challenger who has had mixed successes in recently years. In the last 4 years he has gone 2-4 and really needs a big win soon if hg's to get a second shot at a title. As for Endo he's 29 and comes into the bout on the back of successive early wins. Expect to see Endo starting fast and then having questions asked of him as Araya's experience begins to show it's self.
The main event will see the highly skilled, though often frustrating, Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) take on the unbeaten Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6) in a bout that promises very high level boxing, but potentially frustrating action. The brilliant Abe had a forgettable 2019, with a draw against Taiki Minamoto and a loss to Ryo Sagawa standing out, but his resume is a deep one on the domestic stage and he will come into this bout as a very clear favourite. Sasaki on the other hand is clearly stepping up in class, though comes in as an unbeaten man, who knows a win will put him in the title mix. We suspect the skills of Abe will be too much for Sasaki, however Sasaki seems the more willing to let his hands go, and he could, potentially, take this on work rate. Either way this is going to be a high level match up, though it could be a very, very frustrating one.
This coming Saturday is an incredibly busy day for Asian boxing, with a two notable shows in Japan and very high profile bouts in the US.
The most notable of the bouts takes place in California, and is world title fight, with a supporting that also features an Asian fighter.
The main event will see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) battle against Mexican challenger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1, 15). For Ancajas this will be his 8th defense, though it's not the type of defense which will really improve his profile. Ancajas is incredibly talented, but seems to have been kept away from most of the other top Super Flyweights, which is incredibly disappointing and frustrating. For Rodriguez this bout is a big step up, and despite a win over Felipe Orucuta last time out there's very, very little quality on his record. Our full preview of this bout can be read here IBF king Ancajas takes on Rodriguez
On the same show we'll see Japan's Hiroki Okada (19-1, 13) attempt to bounce back from his first loss, as he takes on 2008 Olympian Javier Molina (20-2, 8) in a very interesting looking bout. Okada was stopped last time out, by Raymundo Beltran in a very entertaining bout, and is not being given an easy comeback bout here. Molina isn't a big puncher, but is skilled and has won 3 in a row since his most recent loss, a 2016 decision loss to Jamal James.
Las Vegas, USA
A second US show of note will see two very interesting looking match ups.
The most interesting of those will see the once beaten Romero Duno (21-1, 16) take on unbeaten American Ryan Garcia (18-0, 15). The talented Duno has won 12 in a row since suffering his sole defeat, a 2016 loss in Russia to Mikhail Alexeev. During his winning run he has scored some solid wins but a win here would put him on the map in a big way. On the other hand Garcia is a hotly tipped prospect, and is a hugely popular fighter who will be expected to get a real test here. Garcia has been able to build his record with noteworthy wins over the likes of Jayson Velez and Jose Lopez, but has yet to fight a young prime fighter. This is a big step up for both men and the winner will be ear marked to go a very long way.
The second bout featuring an Asian fighter will see Kazakh fighter Meiirim Nursultanov (12-0, 8) take on tough Mexican fighter Cristian Olivas (16-5, 13). The talented Kazakh has looked good coming through the ranks but this is set to be a genuine test against a flawed but tough and heavy handed for. A very interesting match and a great test, on paper, for Nursultanov.
The most significant show in Asia for the day is at the Korakuen Hall and will be shown on G+ in Japan. The card has 6 bouts scheduled for it, but 2 of those really stand out.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (15-1, 9) defending his belt against Koki Koshikawa (9-1, 6). The talented and exciting Matsunaga will be looking to make his first defense of the belt, following his title win over Nobuyuki Shindo earlier this year, and is riding a real hot streak with 9 straight wins. For Koshikawa, who was once tipped as a future star following a strong amateur background, this will be a big step up and marks his first title fight. A very interesting match up, and a very hard one to call. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Matsunaga seeks first defense as he goes up against talented Koshikawa
The chief support bout on this show will be a Japanese Light Middleweight title eliminator, as former champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-5-2, 8) takes on Yuto Shimizu (13-4-2, 5). This a match that will decide who challenges for the title in next year's Champion Carnival and is another hard one to call. Shindo is the more accomplished fighter but Shimizu has impressed in recent fights and will be there to build on a recent win over Charles Bellamy. Our preview of this eliminator can be read here Shindo and Shimizu battle in eliminator
As well as the two main bouts there will supporting bouts featuring former world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi (17-4-1, 7) and the once beaten Kai Chiba (11-1, 7).
A second show at Korakuen Hall on Saturday, though the one which will actually take place first, is a Teiken show featuring 6 of their brightest hopefuls all in 8 round bouts.
One of those hopefuls is Shuya Masaki (13-1, 5) who looks to be heading towards a title fight in the near future. He will be up against Filipino foe Roman Canto (14-13-3, 8) in what should be a relatively easy bout for Masaki. The Japanese fighter is only a bout or two from a title of some kind, though is likely to head for an OPBF or WBO Asia Pacific title fight in 2020. Canto has lost in 5 previous visits to Japan and it's hard to imagine him getting a win here.
Another bout pitting a Japanese hopeful against a Filipino will see unbeaten Japanese puncher Hayate Kaji (13-0, 9) take on Diomel Diocos (14-4-3, 4). Early in his career Kaji looked like a star in the making, he looked like he had all the tools to go to the top, combining skills, power, speed and ambition. Sadly he's not really progressed as we'd hoped and his career seems to faltered, and he's had disappointing performances in his last two bouts. The Filipino has lost 2 of his last 3 and was stopped in 4 rounds last time he fought in Japan, being stopped in 2017 by Daigo Higa.
Former amateur stand out Kuntae Lee (2-0, 1) takes his next step up as he takes on unbeaten Indonesian hopeful Rivo Kundimang (9-0-1, 5). As an amateur Lee really was a stand out, and he is hotly tipped to be a a future star in Japan. Despite only being a novice Lee he has already taken one unbeaten record, beating Marlon Paniamogan back in July. Kundimang will be fighting outside of Indonesia for the first time, and has win his last 9 bouts in a row, following a draw on his debut back in September 2017.
In a good step up we'll also see Mikito Nakano (3-0, 3) take on Filipino foe KJ Natuplag (8-1-2, 7), in an excellent bout. The talented Nakano has adapted well to the professional ranks and looks to be on his way to real success at Featherweight in the coming years. On paper this is a step up, but Nakano has looked very good, and last time out he really impressed against Arvin Young. Natuplag has shown real promise, and back in March he stopped Robert Udtohan, but was beaten last time out by Joe Tejones. We're expecting an excellent showing from Nakano who will likely find himself in the title mix next year.
Also on this card will be Kenshin Oshima (6-1-1, 3) and Masaya Tamayama (12-2, 6), who look to continue their rise through the ranks and move towards a title fight in the coming 18 months or so.
One of the other interesting bouts for the day will see the unbeaten Tajik fighter Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (14-0, 9) take on the once beaten Abraham Montoya (18-1-1, 13), in what will be Yaqubov's second defense of the WBC International Super Featherweight title. The talented Yaqubov has impressed recently and moved towards a world title fight thanks to wins over the likes of Mark Urvanov, Victor Alejandro Zunigaabd Emanuel Lopez, and another win here would leave him on the verge of a shot. Montoya, from Mexico, is unbeaten in 19 but this will be his first bout outside of Mexico.
Unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight Issa Akberbayev (20-0-0-1, 15) takes on his biggest test so far as he battles against 2016 Olympic champion Evgeny Tishchenko (5-0, 3), who is of course best known for his controversial Olympic win over Vasiliy Levit in the Olympic final. Despite being unbeaten the Kazakh will be the very clear under-dog and the Russian will be the favourite. Notably Akberbayev has been away from the ring for almost 2 years, and it's hard to not imagine that being a major issue here, against his most notable foe so far.
In Australia we'll see the unbeaten Chris Brackin (7-0, 3), an Australian local, take on Indian fighter Balkar Singh (3-1, 1). Singh lost last time out, when he was out pointed by the unbeaten Andrew Hunt over 4 rounds, and we suspect he will suffer another loss here to the talented Brackin.
In Tokyo this coming Friday we get a wonderful card with a couple of title fighters and several very interesting under-card bouts. If you're a fan of the Japanese, or Asian scene in general, this card deserves your attention, even if it's not a particularly huge one in terms of names. It's one that has quality match ups, rather than big name fighters.
The main event will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (13-5, 11) make his first defense, following his controversial title win in December against Yuki Strong Kobayashi. The hard hitting, and incredibly fun to watch, Kurihara will take on former world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (26-9-1, 23). For those who haven't seen Kurihara he's aggressive, very heavy handed and always worth watching. Parrenas, in his prime, was very similar, though the now Japanese based Filipino has aged significantly from his pomp and is certainly heading towards last chance saloon. If Parrenas can roll back the clock we could have a FOTY contender on our hands here. A full preview of this bout is available here Kurihara and Parrenas meet in OPBF title bout!
The other title fight on this card will see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) defending his title against mandatory challenger Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8), in what is Shindo's second defense of the title. Shindo won the title in 2018 though suffered an injury in that win, leading to an interim title being created and Shindo then facing Akinori Watanabe in a thriller in December. Matsunaga on the other hand has earned his title shot thanks to a win over Koshinmaru Saito, in what was his 8th straight victory. Shindo is a tall, rangy boxer whilst Matsunaga is much shorter, and how that dynamic comes into play will be really interesting here. A preview of this bout is available here Shindo takes on mandatory challenger Matsunaga
This isn't just a top heavy card, but also one with good supporting bouts. On paper the best of those is Bantamweight bout between Matcha Nakagawa (13-1-1, 5) and Kai Chiba (10-1, 7). Both of these men are in their mid-twenties and both will know a win here pushes them to verge of a title fight. With both having just a single loss it's clear that both men will be looking to pick up a win here, and given their contrasting styles we're expecting a really compelling fight.
Another intriguing under-card fight will see the popular Joe Tanooka (15-6-4, 1) battle against Naoto Mizutani (5-6-1, 2). Tanooka is the clear favourite, but has lost 3 of his last 4 and desperately needs a win to remain relevant. He's not been matched softly, but too many losses and he will lose some of the fans that have been with him since his 2013 Rookie of the year campaign, where he reached the All Japan final. It's worth noting that Mizutani has also lost 3 of his last 4, but gave a very good test to Fumiya Fuse in February. Mizutani will be coming in to this lookign for an upset, like the one he got in September against Mirai Imagawa.
One more meaningful match up will see former title challengers collide. In one corner is former Japanese Lightweight title challenger Masaki Saito (15-13-6, 5) whilst the other will feature former OPBF Featherweight title challenger Ryuto Araya (12-7-1, 4. The men are meeting at a catch weight, around 133lbs, and both will know that a loss here could finish their hopes of getting another shot at a belt.
One other fighter pencilled in to fight on Friday is Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Ivan Dychko (7-0, 7), who takes on 48 year old American Ray Austin (29-9-4, 18) in Miami. This will be Dychko's first bout since beating Maurice Harris back in July 2018 and if we're being honest it's a truly disappointing bout for his return. The Kazakh should be much, much further along with his career by now, but his team really have dropped the ball massively with him and this bout is further proof of that.
Jeonju, South Korea
Arguably the most interesting action this coming Saturday is in Korea, where we'll see the next Korea Vs Japan card, and it features so pretty interesting fighters.
A bout where the Korean will be favoured will see Ro Joon Suh (5-0, 2) take on Japanese visitor Ken Koibuchi (4-2, 3). The 20 year old Suh will be moving up from 4 round bouts for the first time, but he has looked good since turning professional in October 2017, though he does perhaps lack a bit of power. Koibuchi on the hand has got power, but can be out boxed, and was beaten last time out, losing in the East Japan Rookie of the Year final to Yusaku Sekishima.
A bout where the Korean will be the clear under-dog will see local fighter Jong Min Jung (9-8, 3) take on Japanese puncher Kai Chiba (9-1, 7). The local is a former "interim" PABA Featherweight champion who debuted way back in 2008 and struggled early on in his career, though is 5-1 (2) in his last 6 bouts. Chiba began his career 7-0 but was stopped this January by Brian Lobetania and hasn't quite refound his form, despite scoring two wins since then. At his best Chiba is a monster boxer-puncher, but we're not sure what his confidence is like at the moment.
A pretty interesting match up on this card will see Seung Yoon Shin (3-1-3, 1) take on Japanese novice Tatsumasa Abe (1-0, 1). The Korean 21 year old will be facing his first non-Korean opponent, and it's hard to read too much into his record, which has come against fellow domestic novices. Abe on the other hand was a stellar amateur, going 71-19 in the unpaid ranks, and is tipped as one to watch. Interestingly Abe debuted in Thailand in August and this will be a second bout outside of his homeland as he embarks on an unusual start to his career.
The main bout from the card isn't part of the Korea Vs Japan event, but is instead an All Korean 10 round contest and will pit Hyun Je Shin (9-8, 2) against Chan Young Kim (3-1-2, 1), with the two fighting for the Korean Super Featherweight title, BoxingM version. Shin is a former Korean title challenger at Flyweight, Super Flyweight and Super Featherweight, who is sadly 0-3 in title bouts. Despite the poor record in title bouts he does hold wins over Kazuki Sanpei and Daniel Ferreras. Kim on the other hand is a 20 year old who comes into the bout on the back of a good win against Hwan Oh Kim.
Gyeongju, South Korea
A second Korean show, from the KBA, will take place in Gyeoingju. Sadly this card is scarcely worth a mention, with the main event being a 6 round contest between Yi Fan Liu (3-0, 3) and Jong Bin Lim (4-0, 1). That's a good main event but there's no real big name to attract fans from the much better Korea Vs Japan card.
A second major show on the Asian front at least, is in China where we'll be getting a trio of title bouts.
The most notable bout on the card will see the exciting Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (14-2-1, 6), who has suffered competitive losses to Rikki Naito and Fredrick Lawson, taking on Venezuelan veteran Ernesto Espana (26-1-1, 21) in a bout for WBC International Light Welterweight title. The Chinese fighter is an aggressive warrior, who has got limitations but is a real handful, and is better at 140lbs than at 147lbs. Espana on the other hand is a 37 year old who has mostly fought awful competition, but in 2016 held Ruben Nieto to a draw in Spain and went the distance with the talented Yves Ulysse Jr earlier this year. We suspect the Chinese local will come out on top but Espana has shown enough to suggest this will not be an easy win for Baishanbo.
Another title bout on this card will see the unbeaten ZongLi He (4-0, 1) take on Filipino Vincent Astrolabio (12-2, 8) for the vacant WBO Oriental Youth Bantamweight title. He turned professional last year, but has stepped up quickly and claimed the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Flyweight title this past May when he defeated experienced Filipino Diarh Gabutan over 10 rounds. Astrolabio looked like a promising prospect a year ago, when he was 10-0, but losses to John Mark Apolinario and Yuki Strong Kobayashi leaves him needing a big performance. This is a really interesting match up, but one where the local will be favoured.
A third title bout on this card will see Casey Morton (7-0-3, 1) take on Jutamas Jitpong (4-2, 2) for the WBO Asia Pacific Female Super Flyweight Title. The unbeaten Morton is an Hawaiian who is becoming a frequent fixture on the Asian scene, has recently fought twice in Thailand and once in China, scoring a good win this past March against Nongmuay Kokietgym in Paranque City, to claim the Flyweight version of this title. The Thai 20 year old has lost 2 of her last 4, and it's hard to really gauge how good she actually is from her competition and performances. A win for Jitpong would be her biggest win by some margin, whilst Morton has got a big win coming in to this bout.
One other bout of note on this card is contest between Qixiu Zhang (9-5-1, 3) and Karen Margaryan (3-0-1). The Chinese local is looking to bounce back from a recent loss to Joe Noynay in the Philippines, whilst Russian based Armenian Margaryan is taking a marked step up and actually risking his unbeaten record.
We've also been informed that Ricky Sismundo (35-11-3, 17) will be in action on this show, against Chinese fighter Lei Wang (1-0, 1), who was a former WSB fighter before making his regular professional debut in September. This looks like being a really good fight, and a one that both fighters will believe they can win, though of course
In Canada we'll see Indian fighter Neeraj Goyat (10-3-2, 2), fighting for the second time in Canada, take on Bence Molnar (18-8, 10). On paper this is a fantastic step up for Goyat, who will be fighting over 8 rounds, rather than the 4 rounds he fought last time. At 27 years old he has time to develop but it's hard to see him getting too far in the sport given how few Indian's have made a mark on the pro-scene, so far. Molnar on the other hand is an Hungarian journeyman, who has fought through most of Europe, and is notable for having gone 10 rounds with hard hitting Brit Lewis Ritson in 2016. This could be a very good test for Goyat and give his team a chance to really see what he's really about.
In Russia we're expecting to see a trio of Kazakh punchers in action, with Super Middleweight Ibragim Iskandarov (5-0, 5), Uzbek born Kazakh Cruiserweight Ualikan Bissengulov (7-0, 7) and American based Kazakh Yedil Kozhamberdiyev (5-2, 5), also a Cruiserweight, expected to be in action. Sadly their opponents haven't been announced.
This coming Friday fight fans in Tokyo get the chance to see the next show in the Asign Bee series of shows, and it looks like a genuinely great show on paper, littered with notable domestic fighters and a number of good match ups.
The main event is the pick of the bouts and will see the hard hitting Keita Kurihara (10-5, 9) take on the unbeaten Tetsuya Watanabe (3-0, 2). The 25 year old Kurihara lost 4 of his first 7 but has since gone 7-1 (6) with his only loss during that run coming against the very talented Hiroaki Teshigawara. Since that loss to Teshigawara we've only seen Kurihara once, but that was an impressive stoppage win over Ryan Lumacad. Watanabe debuted last year and despite winning his first 3 bouts in a combined 9 rounds this is a huge step up in class for him, with his opposition so far doing little to really show how good he actually is. A win for Watanabe would put him in the title mix, but this is a huge ask for the unbeaten man.
In the co-feature we'll see 38 year old veteran Kinshiro Usui (28-6, 12) battle against Kyosuke Sawada (10-2-1, 5) in another really good looking match up. The veteran has lost 2 of his last 3, both to former world title challengers in Hisashi Amagasa and Hidenori Otake, but showed that he was still a very good fighter over 8 rounds in both of those bouts. Usui isn't a world beater, by any stretch, but is a very good domestic level fighter who will be a nightmare to Japanese level fighters at 122lbs. Sawada turned professional with some promise, but back to back losses to Yusuke Suzuki and Hiroaki Teshigawara saw him quickly fall to 0-2. Since then however he has rebuilt brilliantly, defeating the likes of Gaku Aikawa, Kenta Okumura and Yuta Horiike. The bout is pretty much a 50-50 and a win for either man will be significant, with both risking their JBC rankings here.
A less well matched domestic bout will see Naoki Mochizuki (13-3, 8) face off with Hideyuki Watanabe (8-10-3, 6). On paper this is a bit of a mismatch, though with Mochizuki losing 3 of his 2, including his last bout, we can't really complain about him having an easier bout, especially as this will be a rematch of a razor thins 2015 bout. In their first bout Mochizuki took a raor thin win, and has since gone 5-2 (1), losing to Keisuke Nakayama and Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking in competitive bouts. Sadly for Watanabe he has gone 0-2 since losing to Mochizuki and will be looking to avoid a 5th straight loss here.
Another promising fighter looking to bounce back from a recent loss is the hard hitting Kai Chiba (7-1, 6), who was stopped last time out by Brian Lobetania. The once beaten Chiba will be up against Keisuke Tabuchi (9-4-2, 7) in what could be a potential banana skin. The 25 year old Chiba looked really promising in 2017, going 4-0 (3) for the year with notable wins over Ikuro Sadatsune and Ryo Matsubara putting nim on the map, but his loss to Lobetania has slowed his ascent and shown defensive and mental flaws. As for Tabuchi he has lost 3 of his last 4, but has been mixing at a high level with losses to Ryohei Takahashi, Hiroyuki Kudaka and Yu Kawaguchi. Interestingly Tabuchi has had a lengthy break from the ring and will likely be looking to return as a rejuvenated man here in what could be a very exciting domestic bout.
In another bout we'll see see multi-time title challenger Koshinmaru Saito (23-9-2, 13) take on a Thai foe as he attempts to earn one more shot before his career comes to an end.