Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
On Monday fight fans in Tokyo will be getting the latest show from Dangan Aoki. The card isn't the biggest, or best, but it is a show that has a number of notable domestic fighters on it, and has several bouts which should be exciting and entertaining.
The main event of the card will see former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) fight in his first bout for more than 2 years, as he takes on talented youngster Ryu Horikawa (3-1-1, 1). The now 33 year old Kimura is the more well known fighter, and the more accomplished, but also someone who has been inactive, with just 3 fights since his 2018 loss to Kosei Tanaka in their instant class, and was last seen in a ring last year, being dropped on his head in a bizarre exhibition event in China. At his best Kimura would be favoured, but we don't know what he has left in the tank. As for Horikawa he's looking to bounce back from a TKO loss to Yudai Shigeoka last year, and the 22 year old really shouldn't be written off after that loss. He's talented, quick and over 8 rounds does have a chance here to score a win that would put his career on the fast track.
In a potentially very fan friendly bout former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura (14-6-1, 7) will take on the light punching Kaito Takeshima (6-4-1, 1). Tamura is the much more proven fighter, but the 34 year old he is slowing, and he has been in a host of wars, which do look to be taking their toll on him in recent performances. As for Takeshima, he's 23 and will be looking to use his youth and energy to leave Tamura chasing shadows. Given Tamura has long been a must watch fighter his bouts are always worth tuning in to, but sadly it does feel like this could be his final bout, win or lose.
In another supporting bout Japanese ranked Super Flyweight Ayato Hiromoto (4-1, 2) will be up against Wataru Ikegami (9-6-1, 5), in what should be a really, really good bout. Hiromoto will be looking to bounce back from a 2021 loss to current Japanese national champion Kenta Nakagawa, and will know that a win here moves him a step towards a rematch with Nakagawa. Although no world beater he is a talent and will be looking to impress here. As for Ikegami, he has one of the most misleading records in Japan, and is a wonderful fighter to watch, as we've seen in his wins over the likes of Hibiki Jogo and Shion Tamada. This should be a bout where skills are on show, and could turn out to be a high paced chess match.
Talking about high paced we also want to mention the scheduled 8 rounder between Seigo Hanamori (7-4, 5) and Hiroshi Takaki (6-9-1, 2). Hanamori was last seen in august 2021 when he lost a 3 round war with Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Gakuya Furuhashi, in what was one of the best 3 round bouts in recent years. His style is genuinely must watch, and he'll be looking to show what he can do here against Takaki. We don't expect this one to be competitive, but we do want to see a lot more of Hanamori over the coming years. As for Takaki, the 36 year old has gone 1-5-1 in his last 7, though does tend to play his part in fun action bouts.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
After a very quiet start to the boxing year, something we're used to by now, we're set to get the first Japanese show of 2022 this coming Tuesday, and it's one that has a brilliant main event, as well as number of good supporting under-card bouts. It's not a big domestic show, not by any stretch, but it's a solid show to begin a new year.
The excellent main event will see the hard hitting Kai Ishizawa (9-1, 8) take on the hugely skilled, but light punching, Katsuki Mori (9-0, 2) in a bout for the vacant Japanese Minimumweight title. The title was vacated late last year by Masataka Taniguchi, who went on to win the WBO title in December, and it's fair to say that the winner of this bout will likely have eyes on Taniguchi for the future, especially Ishizawa given his only loss came to Taniguchi. The 25 year old Ishizawa has been on the radar for a while now and is a genuinely exciting Minimumweight, with brutal power, naturally heavy hands and some brilliant body shots. Unlike most at 105lbs he is a pure pressure fighter who hurts people, and breaks them. Mori on the other hand is a wonderful pure boxer, who won Rookie of the Year in 2019 and looks like a genuine prospect, but at 21 he also looks like he's not yet a fully matured fighter and it might be a few years before we see the best from him. Regardless, it's great to see Mori and his team take a dangerous fight like this and the bout should deliver a lot of great action, in what is, of course, the first Japanese title fight of the year. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Ishizawa and Mori clash in first Japanese title fight of 2022!
In one of the numerous solid supporting bouts we'll see unbeaten prospect Narumi Yukawa (3-0, 2) take on Kanta Fukui (8-4-1, 6) in a Lightweight bout. Yukawa looks the part, with an energetic, aggressive, pressure style, and he's determined to put some questionable past activities behind him as he pursues professional success in the ring. Fukui is a good opponent for Yukawa at this point in time, with Fukui having the power, skills and toughness to keep Yukawa honest, and we wouldn't be surprised if the unbeaten prospect really needs to work for his win here.
Another unbeaten hopeful on this card is the under-rated Tentaro Kimura (7-0-2), the cousin of the very highly regarded Rentaro Kimura, who takes a credible step up in class to face off with Kaito Takeshima (6-3-1, 1) in what should be a very good technical bout. Kimura is a naturally gifted boxer, but he lacks stopping power, and his team will know that, and that likely explains why he's not being rushed into taking on punchers. In Takeshima we have another talented fighter, but another man who lacks power, and someone who has had some set backs in recent years. Interestingly both of these men are 23 and we really wouldn't be surprised by seeing them collide again down the line.
One other bout that needs a mention is a stay busy bout for JBC ranked Light Middleweight Makoto Kawasaki (11-8-1, 2) as he takes on Fumisuke Kimura (9-8-1, 6). The 37 year old Kawasaki will likely be looking to land a Japanese title fight later in the year, before heading off in to the sunset, but he's not fought since the pandemic and will have some ring rust to shake here, with Kimura serving as something of a tough and dangerous test. Although Kimura is without a win in his last 5 he is dangerous and cannot be over-looked by Kawasaki here.