Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
To kick off a new month we have one of, if not the, best all female of the year with a show at Korakuen Hall featuring 5 title bouts, all of which are female title bouts and all of which look interesting in their own way.
One of those bouts will see the touted Sumire Yamanaka (5-0, 1) take on Honoka Kano (4-0-2, 2) in a bout for the vacant Japanese Atomweight title. Of the two the more well known is Yamanaka, the younger sister of former world champion Ryuya Yamanaka, who was ear marked as one to keep an eye on when she first turned professional. As for Kano she gone under-the radar, but will see this as her chance to make a mark and leap out of the shadows. For both women this is the most notable bout of their careers so far, and the first title bout for either woman. Our preview of this bout can be read here Yamanaka and Kano battle for Japanese title
A second Japanese title fight will again see unbeaten fighters clash as former amateur standouts Mizuki Hiruta (2-0) and Hinami Yanai (2-0, 1) face off for the Japanese female Flyweight title. Of the two the more proven is Hiruta, who scored a big win last time out against Terumi Nuki, however she can't afford to over-look Hanai, who's style is likely to give Hiruta real problems. Hiruta is a wonderfully talented pure boxer, but Yanai is smart, aggressive and strong, and could well have the tools to grind down Hiruta in what is a very, very well matched bout and proof that novice do not need to be protected, especially not when they are solid amateurs wanting to be fast tracked to professional success. We've previewed this bout here Hiruta and Yanai battle for Japanese title
The only regional title bout on this card will see OPBF Atomweight champion Eri Matsuda (4-1-1, 1), one of the most technically schooled female boxers in the lower weights, take on the fast but technically limited Kaori Nagai (6-4-3, 2). Given the abilities of the two fighters it's hard to see Nagai really testing Matsuda, however it is worth noting that Matsuda is without a win since 2019 and this could be the perfect time for Nagai to face her. A win for Matsuda will likely secure her a third world title fight in 2023, whilst a loss will be very, very, very hard for her to come back to. As for Nagai a win here could land her a potential world title fight, though it would be a massive upset for her to beat Matsuda. Our preview of this bout can be read here OPBF champion Matsuda takes on Nagai
In one of two world title bouts on this card we'll see veterans collide as Ayaka Miyao (25-9-2, 6) makes her first defense of the IBF Atomweight title, which she won earlier this year with a close decision win over Eri Matsuda. The aggressive and high tempo Miyao will be up against the technically sound, but aging, Mika Iwakawa (10-6-1, 3), herself a former WBO world champion. This is stylistically a very interesting bout, and one that leaves the winner on the verge of a unification bout, and the loser potentially looking at retirement. We've previewed this world title bout here IBF queen Miyao battles Iwakawa
The other title bout on this show will see WBO Atomweight champion Nanae Suzuki (11-4-1, 1), who dethroned Iwakawa, defending her title against former WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (19-7-2, 9), who is essentially fighting for her career right now. The all action Suzuki isn't someone with much power, but is a very physical fighter, who sets a high work rate, applies intense pressure and forces her opponents into a gruelling, exhausting and draining bout. As for Kuroki she's a great all round, but we suspect she will be dragged into the wrong sort of fight here, which should make this a very, very fan friendly war. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here WBO champion Suzuki battles Kuroki
Sumida City Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Sunday we'll be getting a genuine treat from the Sumida Ward Gymnasium, as Dangan put on one of the most notable Japanese domestic cards of the year, with 3 very good looking title match ups.
The main bout from the card will see Japanese Featherweight champion Hinata Maruta (12-1-1, 9) take on Reiya Abe (22-3-1, 10), in a bout not just for the Japanese title but also the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title. The talented Maruta won the Japanese title last year, stopping Ryo Sagawa in a sensational performance, and since then has defended it once, beating Ryo Hino. The talented Maruta has long been tipped as a future world champion, and over the last 3 years has started to show that potential, but will need to show more here, and from what we understand he will come into this bout looking to not just win, but also make a huge statement. As for Abe, the "Genius" boxer is one of the best technical fighters in Japan, with a really high level boxing brain, though unfortunately for him he has stumbled in his two biggest bouts to date, fighting to a draw with Taiki Minamoto and suffering a close decision loss to Ryo Sagawa. For Abe this will be his third shot at the Japanese title, and if he suffered another set back at this level it will be hard to imagine him ever living up to the "Genius" tag that those in Japan have given him. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Japanese champion Maruta faces Abe in mouth watering clash!
In the Super Featherweight division we'll see the once beaten Masanori Rikiishi (10-1, 6) battle against veteran Takuya Watanabe (38-10-1, 22) for the OPBF title. The 27 year old Rikiishi has been in great form since suffering an early career loss to Kosuke Saka, and has won his last 10 in a row, including wins over the likes of Freddy Fonseca, Yuichiro Kasuya and Soreiki Taichi. Despite being in good form this will be his first title fight, and is very much a step up in class for him, though it does seem be coming at the right time for him. As for Watanabe, the teak tough veteran is a former WBO Asia Pacific champion who is looking to add to his title collection. He's very much a battled hardened fighter, with a technical style who has faced a who's who of the Asian scene over the years. Last year he was stopped by Kosuke Saka, in a brutal loss, but since then he has bounced back, and didn't appear to be showing any signs of that loss in October, when he stopped Kazuma Sanpei in 2 rounds. This should be a good be a good technical back and forth with the potential for fireworks in the later rounds. Our preview of this one can be read here Watanabe and Rikiishi battle for OPBF honours!
The third title bout on this show will see OPBF female Minimumweight champion Mizuki Chimoto (3-0, 1) defending her title against Kaori Nagai (6-3-3, 2), in a bout that was first scheduled to take place in early March before being postponed. Of the two fighters the champion should be regarded as the favourite, especially given how she has looked since turning professional, however Nagai is a true battler and is not one to over-look. Notably Nagai will be risking her WBA and IBF world rankings here, and a potential world title fight, whilst Chimoto will be risking her title in what should be a very interesting 8 rounder. Our preview of this bout is available here Chimoto takes on Nagai in OPBF title bout
The first Japanese show of the new month takes place this coming Wednesday and is an interesting one in Tokyo, featuring a very good step up for a promising professional novice.
The first bout of note on the show will see touted Bantamweight hopeful Kyotaro Yoshida (1-0) look to build on his 2021 debut win, over Hiroki Kinjo, as he takes on Kanta Sakai (4-4-1, 1). On paper this isn't a step up, more of a lateral step, but a good chance for Yoshida to another good 6 rounds under his belt as he looks to move onwards and upwards. He is an excellent talented, and we suspect it will only be a matter of time before he finds himself stepping up towards Japanese ranked opponents. Sakai has been stopped in 3 of his 4 losses, but if 4-1 in his last 5 and seems to have bounced back well from 3 stoppage losses in his first 4 bouts.
In the main event the hard hitting Daiju Hamaguchi (6-5, 4) will be going up against Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight fighter Naoto Mizutani (8-7-2, 3). Hamaguchi is limited, but very dangerous early on and his last 3 wins have all come in the opening round, which could make this interesting given that Mizutani has been stopped in 5 of his 7 losses. Despite having a reputation as being fragile Mizutani can box and wins over the likes of Joe Tanooka and Naoya Okamoto have shown that and he'll be looking to neutralise Hamaguchi and do what he needs to to take a decision.
Notably there was a planned OPBF female Minimumweight title fight, which was supposed to see defending champion Mizuki Chimoto (3-0, 1) taking on on Kaori Nagai (6-3-3, 2), the Japanese Atomweight champion. Sadly however this bout was cancelled back in February.
For a second successive day we get notable action featuring Asian fighters, including a world title fight, a Japanese female title fight and a card from Korea.
Sakai City Industrial Promotion Center, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
Both of the Japanese cards come from the same venue in Sakai, with the first being a pretty notable one, as it will only feature female fighters, and will be streamed live on the Boxing Real YouTube channel.
Sadly with it being a female only card it's not a particularly deep or stacked card, but is does have a couple of bouts of note on it. The first of those noteworthy bouts will see Sumire Yamanaka (1-0) take on the debuting Natsuki Yamada (0-0). Whilst neither of these fighters are big names, by any stretch, there is plenty of quiet expectation on the shoulders of the 19 year old Yamanaka. She is the younger sister of former world champion Ryuya Yamanaka and some suggest she could follow in her brother's footsteps and become a world champion in the future. We don't know much about Yamada but we do know she's a naturally taller and older fighter than Yamanaka, and should be able to at least ask some questions of the teenager.
The main event of this card will see Japanese Atomweight champion Kaori Nagai (5-2-3, 2) defending her belt for the first time and taking on Natsuki Tarui (4-6-2). The 31 year old champion won the belt last July, when she defeated veteran Momoko Kanda for the second time, and is riding an impressive 8 bout unbeaten run, following back to back losses at the start of her career. She's not the most talented fighter out there, but she's got under rated skills, sets a good tempo and has got the tools to be successful at Japanese and OPBF level. Tarui on the other hand is 29 years old and seems to be coming in to her own after 4 straight losses to begin her career. She's not oozing world class potential, but she's worked hard, earned a shot at the Japanese title, and is a very live challenger. This could end up being a very, very good fight over 6 competitive rounds. Our preview of this one can be read here Nagai takes on Tarui in first Japanese title defense!
Sakai City Industrial Promotion Center, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
The second card from the Sakai City Industrial Promotion Center is also set to get a live stream courtesy of the Boxing Real YouTube channel and is a more interesting card, at least on paper, than the all female show.
One of the interesting bouts here will see Aoba Mori (6-2-1) and Keisuke Iwasaki (5-2-1, 1) clash for the second time. These two fought last July, fighting to a 6 round draw, and proved to be incredibly well matched. Given their first bout this is one to look forward if you can make it to the venue. The two men are unlikely to mix it at domestic title level, but they will make for some entertaining bouts at the lower levels of the domestic scene, in fact their first was solid. Since their first bout Mori has been inactive whilst Iwasaki scored a notable win over the hard hitting Mammoth Kazunori, giving him a bit of momentum coming in to this one.
Another noteworthy under-card bout on this show will see Daiki Tomita (15-2, 5) take on Shota Asami (8-7, 4). The talented 23 year old Tomita has promised a lot, but lost his two most notable bouts, losing to Tsubasa Koura in 2018 and Kenichi Horikawa last year. He has a lot of potential, but we suspect needs to be given time to mature physically. In Asami we have someone who has struggled for form, in fact Asamai has lost 2 of his last 3 and 5 of his last 9, but he's someone who can dig in and score upsets, as he did last year against Sho Omote. This looks like a mismatch on paper, but Asami is very much a live under-dog, and the naturally bigger guy.
The main event of this show will see WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami (27-12-1, 16) looking to defend her title against fellow Japanese fighter Shione Ogata (11-6-1, 3). Tsunami won this title back in March 2018 and has defended it twice so far, whilst also dipping her toes into the Flyweight division. The 36 year old champion is a stalwart for Japanese boxing and has proven herself as a tough, hard working and criminally under-rated fighter, though sooner or later father time will catch up with her, especially given the tough bouts she's had over the years. Ogata on the other hand is an easy to over-look challenger who lost 5 of her first 6 before going 10-1-1 and winning the WBA Asia, WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF titles. She is a very, very live challenger and has developed so much in recent years under the guidance of Nobuhiro Ishida. The champion should be the favourite, but Ogata is a genuinely solid contender, despite her record. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Ogata challenges WBO queen Tsunami
The Won Boxing Stadium, Seoul, South Korea
Over in South Korea we'll be getting a low profile card from the Won Promotion. This show really isn't a big one at all, but the main event is a very evenly matched bout between Dong Ho Geum (5-3-2, 3) and In Soo Jang (5-3-1), who battle for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Bantamweight title. The 27 year old Geum is riding a 3 fight winning streak into this, and is actually 5-1 in his last 6 bouts, after a bizarre 0-2-2 start to his career. Jang on the other hand started his career will, going unbeaten in his first 3 bouts, but since then has gone 3-3, and lost his last 2 bouts. He needs a win, but has no momentum coming in to this and is more than 2 years removed from his last win. We're expecting a really fun fight here but one that, in the grand scheme of things, won't really matter despite the WBC regional title.
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
This coming Saturday our attention turns to Kobe for a Japanese card that features two title bouts, and a couple of well matched lower level bouts.
The main event of this show will be the rescheduled bout between Japanese veteran Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13) and promising youngster Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5), who battle for the vacant OPBF Light Flyweight title. Originally this bout was supposed to take place in March before the boxing calendar got shaken up by the lengthy hiatus caused by the on going global situation. Thankfully this bout, which looked good back in February when we were waiting for it, looks just as good now, and we are anticipating a really well contested battle between two men at very different stages of their careers. Our preview of this bout can be read here Tomita clashes with veteran Horikawa for OPBF title!
In a Japanese Atomweight title bout we'll see Kaori Nagai (4-2-3, 2) and Momoko Kanda (10-12-2, 4) clash, in what will be the second bout between the two women. The title, which was vacated by Eri Matsuda, isn't a well established one with a long history, but the winner here will likely see themselves taking a huge step towards a potential world title fight. Of the two Nagai probably has the advantage, given she won the first bout, but the experience Kanda could be the difference here, with this likely to be her last big opportunity if she loses. Our preview of this fight can be read here Nagai and Kanda battle for Japanese national crown!
In a supporting bout we'll see Japanese ranked Bantamweight Koichi Wakita (7-2-2, 2) take on Kaito Takeshima (6-3, 1) in what looks like it could be a competitive bout. Sadly despite being in good form, having gone 5-0-2 in his last 7, Wakita is now 30 years old and it's hard to imagine him going through the rankings and getting a title fight. On the other hand Takeshima, who's only 21, is needing to rebuild following a recent upset loss to Takuya Fujioka and we expect to see him give his all here.
In another well matched under-card bout the 20 year old Aoba Mori (6-2) will take on 25 year old Keisuke Iwasaki (4-2, 1). The young Mori may have won 6 of his 8 bouts but he has had 5 very close decisions in his favour and it seems hard to imagine him going far unless he can start to make himself stand out in bouts. Iwasaki on the other hand was last seen in the 2019 Rookie of the Year final, losing to Seiya Meguro last December. Both men will come in to this bout hungry and both are young, so we expect a high energy bout here between two men looking to make a point.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
There is also a show in Thailand as we see the sport begin to resume in the Land of Smiles.
The main event here will see former world title challenger Nawaphon Kaikanha (48-1-1, 38) battle against Suradech Ruhasiri (6-2, 5) in a bout for the WBC Asia Banatamweight title. We expect this to be little more than a mismatch in favour of Nawaphon, who should be too good, too experienced and too big for the limited Ruhasiri.
On paper the co feature is a much better bout and will see Phongsaphon Panyakum (8-1, 3) take on Sophon Klachun (5-4-1, 1). Although a more competitive bout than the main event we don't see this as being a very high level contest.
Antai Tennis Park, Rizhao, China
As well as the Japanese and Thai shows we'll also be getting a small card in China. This card, like many of the other recent Chinese ones, is a novice show, where most of the fighters are taking one of their first steps as a professional.
Despite most of the bouts being between two novices it is worth noting that the show will have an interesting match up on it between Ju Wu (9-0-2)* and Wei Liu (1-0, 1). We've been impressed by the talented young Wu, who has shown a good boxing brain and ring craft and it's hard to see him losing to a 1-0 debutant. Saying that however over 4 rounds a quick start by Liu could see him potentially playing the role of a human banana peel, and the bout is more interesting than it looks on paper.
*It appears that Ju Wu and Lei Wang's draw from earlier in the year is no long on either man's record