This coming Saturday is a big day for fight fans in Hachioji, as they get two shows at the Fujimori Gym. One of the shows an East Japan Rookie of the Year card, whilst the other is headlined by a mouth watering Youth title fight, with serious implications for later in the year.
Fujimori Gym, Hachioji, Tokyo, Japan
The first of the two cards, set to begin at 11AM, is an East Japan Rookie of the Year show featuring 7 bouts across a variety of weights. As with all these Rookie of the Year shows the fighters involved are all novices.
On paper the most interesting match up, at least in our eyes, is the Super Bantamweight bout between Ryusei Sasanoike (1-0) and Mizuki Isozaki (0-0). The 18 year old Sasanoike made his debut last December and will be looking to build on a victory in that bout. Isozaki on the other hand is a 29 year old debutant looking to kick off his career by avoiding a loss to a teenager.
One other bout that looks oddly compelling is a Lightweight clash between Keigo Nagata (3-3-1, 1) and Tsuyoshi Kato (2-2). Unlike most on this show both men have suffered losses, but together they should make for an interesting bout. Kato has won his last 2, and is unbeaten since running into Jin Sasaki in 2019 whilst the 39 year old Nagata will be returning to the ring after 13 years out of action. This is certainly an interesting bout, without being one that will get much attention.
Fujimori Gym, Hachioji, Tokyo, Japan
The second show is a much more notable one, featuring three bouts of genuine interest and will be streamed worldwide on YouTube, thanks to A-Sign boxing.
The main event will see the hard hitting Jin Sasaki (10-0, 9) battle against Kaiki Yuba (7-0-2, 5) in a bout between unbeaten men, who are fighting for the JBC Youth Light Welterweight title and a shot at the JBC senior title, against Andy Hiraoka later in the year. Although 2020 was a bad year for most fighters it saw Sasaki putting himself on the map with a string of solid performances, including a beat down of Aso Ishiwaki, and he has all the momentum coming into this bout. He's heavy handed, dangerous and has that "star" appeal about him. Yuba on the other hand is the JBC Youth champion at 135lbs, moving up in weight for this bout, and is a second generation fighter looking to following in his father's, Tadashi Yuba, footsteps. Sadly Yuba has little momentum coming into this bout, and hasn't fought in almost 18 months, something that could be a problem against a fast starter like Sasaki. The only thing that seems undeniable here is that this should be a slugfest, for as long as it lasts! Our full preview of this bout can be read here Sasaki and Yuba face off in clash of Youth Champions
One of the main undercard bouts here will see 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hyoga Taniguchi (4-2-2, 1) take on the unbeaten Hiro Ichimichi (4-0-1, 3) in a 6 rounder at 130lbs. This isn't a huge bout, but it is good to see the technically skilled Taniguchi back in the ring after almost a year of inactive. Saying that it's worth noting that Ichimichi has also been out of the ring for close to a year and at 36 he can't afford to have a slip up here if he intends to have a bout of note in the future.
Another under-card bout will see the usually fun to watch Ryugo Ushijima (4-2-2, 2) battle against Reiji Murata (4-3-1, 2). The 20 year old Ushijima is not a star in the making, but he's a good, TV friendly fighter who right now needs a win after going 1-2-2- in his last 5. He was easily outboxed last time out and really needs a good performance here. Aged 25 Murata is someone we've not seen much of, but he'll know this is a great opportunity to show what he can do on a show that's set to be streamed worldwide.
KO Addiction Boxing & Fitness Center, Plant City, Florida, USA
As well as the action in Japan we're also expecting to see unbeaten Chinese fighter Fanlong Meng (16-0, 10) to return to the ring for the first time in almost 2 years as he takes on Victor Fonseca Calderas (18-10-1, 14). Meng was supposed to get a world title fight in 2020, against Artur Beterbiev, but Covid and travel issues prevented that from happening, and instead saw him waste more than a year of his career. With that in mind we won't complain too much about him shaking some ring rust here, but his next fight needs to be a meaningful one!
For the second time this month we head to the Korakuen Hall for a tournament final, and this time around we also have a lot of title action on the show, with the "God's Left" Bantamweight final coming on a show that also features 3 title fights, including a female world title fight!
The tournament final will see unbeaten Ohashi gym hopeful Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) take on Kadoebi gym hopeful Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) in a very, very, explosive looking God's Left Bantamweight tournament final. Tsutsumi, who was the only seed in the tournament, has gotten through to the final with out fighting in a single bout, getting a bye in the quarter final stage then a walk over in his semi-final. Nakajima on the other hand has blitzed Kenichi Watanabe and Jin Minamide to reach the final, beating both men inside a round. Both of these fighters can bang, and we expect this to be fireworks almost from the off.
The female world title bout will see Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6) take on Etsuko Tada (19-3-2, 6) for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title. For Miyao this bout will see her moving up in weight, abandoning the Atomweight division that she has been such a major force in over the years, whilst Tada will be looking to become a 4-time world champion. Given the styles of the two women involved in this one we expect fireworks, as both like to let their hands go. Tada is certainly the bigger, stronger fighter but she's also the older slower fighter, whilst Miyao is faster and more energetic. A very, very interesting match up. Our preview of this can be read here Veterans Tada and Miyao face off for WBO title!
Another title fight on this show will see second generation fighter Kaiki Yuba (6-0-2, 4) take on Kanta Takenaka (7-4-1, 2) for the vacant JBC Youth Lightweight title. For the unbeaten Yuba this is a second shot at the title, following a technical draw when he fought Izuki Tomioka for the belt almost 2 years ago, whilst Takenaka will be looking to build on his win over Kazuaki Miyamoto from last April. This bout has an in depth preview here Yuba and Takenaka clash for Japanese youth title!
The other title bout on this card is actually a rematch, as Kanako Taniyama (2-0-1, 1) and Tomoko Okuda (5-2-2, 1) battle for the vacant JBC female Bantamweight title. These two women fought to a draw last September, in what was a genuinely entertaining bout, though it felt like Taniyama deserved the win but didn't get it in Okuda's home city. We can't help but think Taniyama will take the win here, in another entertaining battle. Our preview of this bout is here Taniyama and Okuda face off again for Japanese female title!
Over in Canada unbeaten Uzbek Hurshidbek Normatov (9-0, 3) is scheduled to be in action in a 6 round bout, though his opponent has yet to be named. This will be the unbeaten Uzbek's first professional bout outside of the US, and will see him look to build on what has been a pretty slow build career thus far.