Sumiyoshi Ward Center, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The main show this coming Sunday comes from Osaka where we see one of the brightest hopefuls in Japan defending a regional title.
The aforementioned hopeful is WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Nishida (5-0, 1), who looks to make his second defense as he takes on Filipino fighter Aljum Pelesio (11-1, 6). Nishida, who famously dethroned Daigo Higa, will be expected to win here and move on to bigger and better things in the new year. This is technically a step from his biggest bouts, wins over Higa and Shohei Omori, but the bout will serve a purpose and that's to keep him focused, even in bouts where he is the very, very clear favourite. As for Pelesio this is a massive step up, it's his first bout over 10 rounds and his first bout outside of the Philippines. Pelesio will know he has nothing to lose, and few are giving him a chance, but he will need a career best performance to even be semi competitive with the highly skilled Nishida. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here WBO Asia Pacific champion Nishida takes on Filipino challenger Pelesio
In the chief support fight former amateur stand out Kaito Yamasaki (3-0, 1) looks to move to 4-0 as he takes on visiting Thai Adirek Meesrida (2-0, 2). The talented Yamasaki stepped up big time in May, when he beat Koshin Takeshima, and will be expected to pick up an easy win here. As for Meesrida the Thai debuted in July, scored his second win in August and is now looking for a third win in less than 4 months. Sadly for the visitor this is a massive step up in class, and also his first bout outside of Thailand. Meesrida's record suggests that he can punch a bit, and could chin check Yamasaki, but it would be a huge surprise to see him really testing Yamasaki.
One other bout of note on this card will be the debut of former amateur stand out Takeru Inoue (0-0), who takes on Thai novice Piya Chaichot (1-0, 1). Inoue, no relation to the Ohashi promoted brothers, was a genuinely brilliant amateur on the Japanese scene and he went 56-14 in the unpaid ranks whilst also winning two domestic titles. There are a lot of expectations on the 24 year old and he is expected to shine here. As for Chaichot, who is just 18, he debuted in August with an opening round win, but this is a huge step up class for him here and it's hard to imagine him having the tools to cope with Inoue.
Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
As well as the show in Japan there is also a card in the Philippines, with a fantastic main event, and a promising prospect competing on the under-card.
The main event will see two notable Filipino Light Flyweights face off as Vince Paras (17-2-1, 15) meets Robert Paradero (18-2-1, 12), in what will be the second bout between the men who fought to a split decision draw in April. Paras is the more well known fighter, having fought for the IBF Minimumweight title in 2018, losing to Hiroto Kyoguchi. Sadly since that world title bout Paras has gone 4-1-1 and lacks a notable win, with a loss to Jonathan Taconing and the draw with Paradero. Aged just 23 he does have time on his side, but he does need to start notching notable wins, and a win over Paradero would certainly count there. As for Paradero he fought for the WBA "Regular" Minimumweight title, losing to Vic Saludar, and the "Super" title, losing to Knockout CP Freshmart, both in 2021. Those losses, and the draw with Paras, have been his last 3 bouts and he is now without a win in over 3 years. He desperately needs a victory, and whilst he is only 26 year he can ill afford another setback given his recent form. We expect this to be explosive, a little bit wild, and wouldn't be surprised to see this one ending early, despite the fact their first bout went 10 rounds just a few months ago.
The under-card will see unbeaten hopeful Kenneth Llover (6-0, 4) look for his 7th win as he takes on domestic journeyman Jonathan Francisco (10-17-1, 4). It's hard to imagine anything but a win for Llover, with the real question not being who will win, but how long Francisco can last with the promising Llover.
The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
The most notable Asian card this coming Saturday comes from Paranaque City and is a rather interesting one, with a mix of emerging names, and established names, though sadly it does lack in terms of really good match ups.
One of the most notable of the emerging hopefuls on the show is 23 year old Aljum Pelesio (10-1, 5), who we hope to see stepping up in class next year. Here is expected to get a confidence building win, as he takes on the very limited Bonjun Loperez (12-15-1, 6). Given that Pelesio lost in 2019, and has only fought once since that loss, it's hard to complain too much about a bout like this, which is clearly there for him to build his self belief and get some rounds, but we do hope we don't see too many bouts like this for the youngster.
Another once beaten hopeful on this show is 22 year old Gary Tamayo (6-1, 3), who takes on 33 year old Danny Tampipi (9-15-2, 5). The bout is a good chance for Tamayo to get some rounds with a southpaw, who he should beat, and at this stage experience against difference will serve him well. Fingers crossed however 2023 will be the year when he steps up and takes on tougher tests.
Arguably the most well matched of the youngsters on the show is 24 year old Bryan Tamayo (7-2-2, 2), who takes on former world title challenger Jetro Pabustan (30-9-6, 9). Although no world beater himself Tamayo showed he was certainly not a poor fighter last year, when he gave Arthur Villanueva a good work out, and he should be able to beat Pabustan here, and hopefully kick on with more fights against higher level domestic foes in the coming year or two.
When it comes to more notable and well known fighters, this card will see Roland Jay Biendima (15-11-1, 8) in action against Powell Balaba (9-32-1, 5), in what should be an easy win of Biendima, and the always tricky Richard Pumicpic (22-12-3, 7), who takes on Edison Berwela (18-44-8, 6). These are both horrific mismatches, and are done as little more than to get Biendima a win, after 6 straight losses, and keep Pumicpic busy.
There is also a second Filipino card scheduled, this time in Cavite. This is a smaller show than the other Filipino show, though does feature a number of promising young hopefuls.
The most notable of the hopefuls here is the once beaten John Mark Tihuk (6-1-2, 2), who looks to score his latest win as he takes on the limited Margarito Moya (9-11, 3). The 23 year old Tihuk has won his last 4, following a 2019 loss to Aljum Pelesio, and although still very much a young novice, is someone worth keeping an eye on. Sadly Moya has lost his last 9, all by stoppage, and it's hard to imagine him lasting 8 rounds with Tihuk here, despite the fact Tihuk isn't much of a puncher.
Other prospects on this card include Kenneth Llover (4-0, 4), who faces Miller Alapormina (5-2-1, 3) in a pretty interesting test, and John Vincent Pangga (4-0, 2), who takes on Joel Taduran (8-11-2, 2). Neither of these are big bouts, but are a chance for the unbeaten man to tick along and continue their development with out too much fuss and attention.
176BOX, Toyonaka, Osaka, Japan
We're also set to see notable prospects in action in Japan, as Osaka plays host to a card with two promising and unbeaten Japanese fighters.
On of the unbeaten fighters is former All Japan Rookie of the Year Sora Fukunaga (10-0, 5), who puts his unbeaten record on the line as he takes on all action warrior Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11). The talented 24 year old Fukunaga struggled to build on his Rookie of the Year triumph, which came in February 2021, though a win here would seriously help move his career forward and boost his standing in the Japanese boxing world. The reason for that is the fact the 25 year old Yamashita, yes some how he's only 25, has long been a popular and exciting warrior who makes for good fights and does have a name that means something, despite numerous set backs in recent years. At one point Yamashita seemed like one to watch, with his youth, heavy hands, and aggression. This should be a genuinely exciting bout, but the size of Fukunaga should be the difference.
The other prospect of note on the show is Kaito Yamasaki (2-0, 1), who takes a big step up to take on Koshin Takeshima (4-2-1, 3). The 23 year old Yamasaki made his name in the amateur ranks and is widely expected to move through the ranks and make a big name for himself in the future, with his combination of skills, power and amateur experience. Takeshima was tipped for big things himself, and won his first 4 bouts, but has now gone 0-2-1 in his last 3, and will know another loss here will leave him in a big hole if he ever intends to become a domestic title contender. This should be a bout with impressive skills on show, and over 8 rounds could be a hard one to call.
Dawrpui Multipurpose Hall, Aizawl, India
We also have a small show in India. Sadly more than half of this card are bouts between debutants, but there two men with some recorded bouts to their name.
One of the men with some experience on this show is HC Lalramfela (2-0, 1), who scored two wins last year and will be looking to record his third one here, as he takes on Akoijam Naoton Meitei (0-0). The other fighter with some experience is C Lalhruaitluanga (2-0, 1), who seeks his third win as he takes on Laishram Ronalson Khuman (0-0). Sadly this is a step back for Lalhruaitluanga, who seemed to be moving his career forward.
Although this show is hard to get excited about, it is a sign that Indian boxing is slowly putting down the foundations for it to build off, and that is certainly not a bad things, just a very slow process.
Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
The most notable fighter competing in a bout outside of Asia here is Chinese Heavyweight Junlong Zhang (18-0, 18), with the infamous "Dragon King" making his international debut, and battling against Mexican fighter Guillermo Casas (10-2-1, 6). For years Zhang was a bit of a mystery man, with those mysteries becoming even more telling when bouts of his were reported exhibitions bouts, and then he seemed to vanish. He's now not had a recorded bout in almost 5 years, and it really is hard to know what the 40 year old has left in the tank, or whether he ever really had anything in the tank. As for Casas the 27 year old Mexican has been a regular at the popular Big Punch Arena in Tijuana, and will be making his international debut here. It's hard to read much into his record, but his competition has, so far, been poor, as one expected om the Mexican Heavyweight scene.
The Bomb Factory, Dallas, Texas, USA
In the US we'll see Uzbekistani fighter Jamshidbek Najmitdinov (18-2, 14) look to bounce back from his 2021 loss to Will Madera, as he takes on Charles Hatley (30-2-1, 21) for the WBC United States Welterweight title. The talented Najmitdinov looked like he could be something special when he was robbed back in 2017 against Viktor Postol, but sadly he then ended up treading water before making his US debut last year, and losing to Madero after suffering an injury. As loss here against Hatley will likely be the end of Najmitdinov as any kind of hopeful. As for Hatley, he's a former world title challenger, who challenged Jermell Charlo back in 2017, and has gone unbeaten since losing to Charlo. Hatley will be the clear favourite, though he really can't afford to over the Uzbekistani, as we know Najmitdinov is better than his loss to Madera suggests.
This coming Sunday is a big day in Japan, with 4 different shows, including a title bout in Osaka, several bouts with prospects and the East Japan Rookie of the Year final.
Sumiyoshi Ward Center, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The show with the most important single bout takes place in Osaka, where we see several rising stars of Japanese boxing in action.
The main bout of the show will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Nishida (4-0, 1) defending the title he won from Daigo Higa earlier this year. The talented, and really promising, Nishida will be up against fellow Japanese fighter Tetsuro Ohashi (8-2-1, 2), who is best known as a solid and promising young Super Flyweight. Ohashi is a very solid fighter, but this is a big step up for him, and he is very much like a smaller, less polished version of Nishida. As for the champion this is a solid first defense, even if it is a step down from his last two bouts, which saw him beating Shohei Omori and Daigo Higa. Unlike those bouts this will see Nishida up against a fellow boxer, as opposed to a fighter or puncher, and we could see him needing to answer some different questions here. Our preview of this one can be read here Nishida takes on Ohashi in first WBO Asia Pacific title defense
In a major supporting bout we'll see former Japanese title challenger Riku Kunimoto (4-1, 2) look to bounce back from his loss to Kazuto Takesako as he takes on the unbeaten Kazuki Kyohara (5-0-2, 3). On paper this looks a really even match up but in reality Kunimoto is the more proven and the more polished, and a very solid former amateur. Kyohara will know a win opens the door for a title fight of his in 2022, but he's meant to be little more than a game "opponent" here.
On the subject of good former amateurs we'll also see Kaito Yamasaki (1-0) fight in his second professional bout, as he takes on the experienced Takahiro Hamazaki (3-7-2, 1). Yamasaki was a very talented amateur and he looked like he could go a long, long way on his debut, but does have some questions to answer, including some about how he'll adapt to the professional ranks, and how his power will hold up. Hamazaki on the other hand is there to play the role of a veteran, and we suspect the 35 year old will ask some questions on route to a wide decision loss.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Over in Tokyo we get two shows, the most notable of which is set to take place at Korakuen Hall. The reason is so notable is because it's the East Japan Rookie of the Year Final, and is a platform for future stars. In total there is 12 bouts set for this card, with bouts taking place from 105lbs all the way up to Middleweight, with the exception of 154lbs which isn't competed in as part of the Rookie of the Year.
One of the most interesting match ups for this show is at Bantamweight, as Hiroto Sato (3-0-1) takes on Shori Umezu (5-0, 5) in a battle of unbeaten youngsters. Sato, aged 21, only debuted in July but has managed to squeeze 4 fights in already this year, prior to this one. Sadly he did fight to a draw on debut, has shown a lack of power, which could be a major issue here. Umezu, himself only 23, made his debut in August 2020, and has taken out his first 5 opponents in a combined 8 rounds. He has never seen round 3, and has really heavy hands. He'll be looking to show what his power can do here.
Another interesting bout between two unbeaten fighters will see Ryuya Kusamura (2-0, 2) take on Minori Okamura (2-0, 1), with this bout being the Middleweight bout, and for those not aware Japanese Rookie of the Year Middleweight bouts tend to be among the most entertaining as it's usually two big, somewhat unpolished, guys landing a lot of leather on each other. Interesting both these men debuted in September, both had their second pro bout in November and will be having this bout just 3 and a half months after their debuts. Kusamura is the taller man, and the harder hitter, and has looked really fun to watch in his first two bouts. Okamura on the other hand has had attention on him, with his debut coming against Eigoro Akai, the son of a popular former fighter, and he has gone 4 rounds, which he did last time out. This should be a very, very fun 4 rounder.
Arena Tachikawa Tachihi , Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan
Staying in Tokyo, there is a small, but notable card in Tachikawa city. The card is certainly not a huge one but it does have a very solid main event, as JBC ranked Lightweight Shinnosuke Saito (8-4, 2) takes on Mirai Naito (8-3, 3). Coming in Saito is going to be the favourite, and he certainly is the more prove fighter, though Naito will be wanting to prove himself, especially with this bout coming less than a week after his brother's upset loss to Koichi Aso. Saito did lose last time out, with that loss ending a 5 fight winning run, but he'll be hungry to get back to winning ways here.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
We'll also be getting rookies in action in Kariya as we get a show featuring only 4 rounders. Sadly it's always hard to get too excited about these shows, due to the lack of name value, but the 4 rounder format does tend to deliver some amazing action as two flawed novices put it all on the line. Despite the lack of notable names, we do like the look of these shows and this should be fun.
If pushed for a bout to make a note of, it's worth noting the nominal main event of the show will be a bout between Kenta Sugawara (2-2-1, 1) and Yuya Nakazato (5-12, 5), who is the most experienced man on the card, by far.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Over in Vietnam we're going to be seeing once beaten Vietnamese fighter Van Thao Tran (13-1, 8) take on unbeaten Thai puncher Boonrueang Phayom (9-0, 9) in what looks set to be a really interesting match up. Tran was tipped for big things, following a solid amateur career, but inactivity and a loss in 2019 to Billy Dib has cost his career and he's really not reached the level that many had hoped he would. Aged 22 Boonrueang is one of the more interesting Thai prospects, and a genuine puncher, but someone who has fought at a very, very low level. For Boonrueang this is a massive step up in class, and his first fight bout outside of Thailand, but a win here would help set him up for a very interesting 2022.
This coming Sunday is a relatively busy day in Japanese boxing with 3 shows, including Rookie of the Year action, debuts of stand outs, a former champion and several notable Japanese domestic contenders.
City Sogo Gym, Hirakata, Osaka, Japan
The biggest show of the day will be in Hirakata City and be promoted by Green Tsuda, who are putting on a very solid overall card.
The main event will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (23-10-4, 11) take on Sonin Nihei (10-5-2, 2), in the second bout between the two men. Okumoto desperately needs a good performance to get his career back in track, following back to back losses including a big upset defeat to Akui Furatani last year. With that in mind it's probably no surprise to see him facing an opponent he easily beat when he last faced him, in fact in 2016 Okumoto stopped Nihei in just 2 rounds and will be looking to do the same here. Nihei, who was once regarded as a contender himself, is 2-4 in his last 6 and his career certainly seems to be going through a rough patch, meaning this is very smart match making from Okumoto's team.
In the chief support bout the talented and very promising Jinki Maeda (7-0, 4) will be looking to pick up his 8th straight win as he takes on Yuya Azuma (5-5-1, 1). Although this should be a straight forward win for Maeda, who is slowly moving towards a title fight it is worth noting that Azuma is no push over and despite losing his last 2, to very talented fighters. We expect to see Maeda needing to work hard for a victory here, and get plenty of rounds under his belt here.
Also on this card are two notable debuts. One of those is Takafumi Shibata (0-0), who takes on Ryosei Niguma (5-3-1, 3), and the other is Kaito Yamasaki (0-0), who battles Kohei Hamamoto (4-2-1, 3). Both of the debutants will be expected to shine as they kick off their career's in 6 rounders. Shibata fought around 50 times in the amateurs, had about 30 wins and came third in the All Japan championships in 2018. Yamasaki on the other hand had almost 40 bouts, won 24 and shined at the National High School championships.
Ohama Gym, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
A second notable card in Osaka will be taking place in Sakai City, with Mitsuki promoting the event. It's not as big as the Hirakata city show, but there are 3 noteworthy bouts on this show.
The show's opening bout is a 6 rounder between two JBC ranked female fighters as Sarasa Ichimura (3-8-1) takes on Aoi Watanabe (3-4, 1), in the second bout between these two women. Entering this bout both are ranked in the top 10 of their respective divisions, with Ichimura being a Minimumweight and Watanabe being a Flyweight, and Watanabe will be looking to beat Ichimura for the second time this year. Their first bout wasn't particularly exciting, but with both women having JBC rankings the bout is certainly a meaningful one.
Another noteworthy bout here will see two fighters who reached the All Japan Rookie of the Year finals in February facing off. In one corner is the once beaten Seika Fukuda (5-1, 1), who lost to Tsubasa Nari at Super Featherweight, and in the opposite corner will be Eiji Togawa (6-4, 3), who was beaten by Hiromasa Urakawa at Lightweight. Whilst neither man is expected to go far in the sport, this is almost the perfect comeback fight, and should be a very fun one to watch.
The main event will see JBC #2 Flyweight ranked fighter Shun Kosaka (16-7, 4) take on Shota Asami (8-8, 4), in what should be a pretty straight forward win for Kosaka at least on paper. Coming in to this Kosaka has fought at the top level of Japanese domestic boxing and shared the ring with the likes of Takuya Kogawa, Seigo Yuri Akui and Junto Nakatani, sadly however he lost to those 3 men and is now 1-4 in his last 5. Asami is no world beater, and he's 1-3 in his last 4, but he's proven to be very competitive in those losses and is certainly better than his record suggests.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
At the Aioi Hall we'll get the Central Japan Rookie of the Year Finals, with 9 bouts set for this show, from Minimumweight up to Welterweight. There was originally 10 bouts scheduled but the final at 140lbs has been cancelled.
The first really interesting match up on the show comes at Flyweight where 18 year old Yuki Morikawa (1-0-1) risks his unbeaten record against the much more experienced Katsuki Matsuura (6-4-1, 1). Morikawa made his debut back in 2019, with a draw, but looked good in his second bout, this past May, and a win here would move his career onto bigger and better things Matsuura on the other hand is 24 and on paper looks like a handful. It worth noting however that Matsuura is 1-4-1 in his last 6, and has really no momentum at all coming into this bout.
The second bout of real interest to us here us at Bantamweight where Kenta Sugawara (2-1-1, 1) clashes with Takuto Mino (2-0). The 21 year old Mino made his debut last November, and struggled in that bout, but looked solid last time out against Yuto Oki. Mino on the other hand hasn't really had much moment with his career, and was only able to earn a draw last time out, though is more experienced and has been a professional since 2018.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see 30 year old Fumiya Abe (4-2-1, 2) look to bounce back from a 2020 TKO loss to Ren Anzai as he takes on the unbeaten Prince Fujiwara (3-0-1, 2), who impressed us in 2020 with his win against Judgement Aizu. Aged 22 there is real potential for Fujiwara, from the Suruga Danji gym, so we're looking forward to seeing how he performs here.