Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesdays Ohashi Gym put on their next card, and it's one that's very much focused on the emerging youth of Japanese boxing, with a Japanese Youth title fight along with 3 supporting bouts featuring genuine prospects.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Youth Minimumweight champion Shunsuke Isa (9-3-1, 1) take on former Japanese title challenger Katsuki Mori (9-1, 2), in an excellent match up, and one that feel Mori's team should have searched for before his recent loss to Kai Ishizawa. The 24 year old Isa won the title last August, when he narrowly over-came Yuni Takada, and although he did win that bout, he really seemed to get some good luck, and there is question marks about how he's developing, and how high his ceiling will be. As for Mori he looked like a top prospect in the making before being thrown in to a Japanese title fight with Kai Ishizawa this past January, a fight that he seemed to be getting too early. If that loss hasn't damaged him too much, he should be able to bounce back, and could end up living up to the expectations we have for him going forward. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Japanese youth champion Isa takes on Mori!
The chief support bout will see the hugely entertaining, and hard hitting, Narumi Yukawa (4-0, 3) will be seeking his 5th professional win as he takes on 34 year old veteran Takaki Sakurai (8-8-1, 3). The exciting Yukawa was one of the more notable prospects last year, with his debut coming in March and by the end of the year he had notched 3 wins and seemed well on the way to bigger and better fights. He also added a good win in January, stopping Kanta Fukui, and looks likely to be in the domestic title mix in the next year or two. Before then however he does need rounds, bouts and experience and fighters like Sakurai are ideal for him. Sakurai is generally regarded as tough and is naturally bigger, so should be able to last a few rounds and give Yukawa something new to think about
In another 8 rounder we'll see young battling older, as 24 year old hopeful Ryo Nakai (3-1-1, 1) faces off with 42 year old veteran Ribo Takahata (17-9-1, 7). Of the two men Takahata, who is ranked by the JBC at 130lbs, is the more well known and is a very well respected veteran, with a tricky style built around his jab, size and experience, and he has proven to be an awkward and tough fighter. As for Nakai, he's looking to climb into the Japanese rankings, and score a career best win. Although not too well known, he is a genuine talent, and pushed current Japanese Lightweight champion Shu Utsuki all the way, and holds recent wins over Mirai Naito and Go Hosoka. For Takahata this is a must win if he's to continue his career, whilst Nakai will know a win moves his career forward, massively.
In a battle of youngsters the 21 year old debutant Kotoji Irita (0-0) will face off with once touted 19 year old Kosuke Tomioka (4-2, 3), in a scheduled 6 rounder at Super Flyweight. Tomioka looked really impressive in his early days as a professional, with an exciting style and a lot of swag, but has lost his last 2, and shown some fragility with his chin. As for Irita he was a solid amateur, going 36-11, and is tipped for pretty big things in the professional ranks. This is certainly an interesting under-card bout, and one where we'll see two talented youngsters face off.
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.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This main show for us this coming Thursday comes from Korakun Hall as the Ohashi Gym put on a solid show with an excellent Youth title bout, and some compelling under-card bouts.
The main event on this card is one of the very best contests on the boxing calendar right now and will see former amateur standout Ryutaro Nakagaki (2-0, 2) take on hard hitting youngster Ayumu Hanada (6-0, 4) in a bout for the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title. As an amateur Nakagaki was among the very best in Japan and when he turned professional the expectations were high for him, though there was worries about his style and power. In just 2 fights he has gone a long way to answering those worries. Hanada on the other hand is an explosive fighter who cut his teeth in Mexico as a teenager before returning to Japan and impressing back at home. On paper this is a hard one to call, and if Hanada lands clean he can certainly hurt Nakagaki, though we suspect the amateur background of Nakagaki could prove to be the difference maker here. Our full, in depth, preview of this contest can be read here Unbeaten Youngsters Nakagaki and Hanada face off for Youth title!
The chief support bout is likely to be a genuine shoot out as the flawed but heavy handed Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-6-2, 19) takes on Soreike Taichi (7-4, 5). The hard hitting Tameda has lost his last two, both by stoppage, and is 2 years removed from his last win. However with his power he is always dangerous. Taichi, who has also lost his last two by TKO, is the naturally bigger man and will likely feel his size will be key. This won't be the highest level of boxing, but it will, almost certainly, see bombs traded and will not see the final bell. We are expecting a real shoot out here.
In a potentially competitive bout at Welterweight we'll see Takeru Kobata (9-5-1, 4) take on Tetsuya Kondo (6-2, 4). Neither of these two youngsters are expected to make a mark at the top of the domestic scene, but they should make for an exciting match up. Kobata is highly ranked by the JBC, and will be coming in to this bout on the back of an excellent win over Rikuto Adachi, but is a limited fighter who doesn't look like a Japanese champion in the making. Kondo on the other hand is a solid fighter, but was blown out in 2019 by Jin Sasaki, inside a round, and Kondo will also go in to this feeling like he can stop Kondo.
Despite being quite a bit down the show arguably the best supporting bout is a clash between Katsuki Mori (8-0, 1) and Ren Kojima (6-1-2), who fight at just over the Minimumweight limit. The 21 year old Mori has been consistently impressive since starting his career and since winning Rookie of the Year in 2019 he has become a fighter who belongs on the radar of every fan who follows the lower weight classes. Ren Kojima on the other hand won the Rookie of the Year in February and is looking to build on that triumph. Neither man has much power, and this will be expected to go the distance, but both are skilled, and both are busy in the ring. Expect this one to be a very, very compelling contest.
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the Korakuen Hall show there is also an East Japan Rookie of the Year card from the Shinjuku FACE. This isn't a particularly great Rookie of the Year event, with just 4 bouts actually taking place on the card, after two contests set for the show got cancelled.
Of the 4 bouts on the card the two we're expecting to be the most interesting are the two all debutant clashes. One of those will see Masato Shinoda (0-0) clash with Juki Kitabayashi (0-0) in a Super Flyweight bout. The Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year is always among the very best, due to the depth of talent, and this is an all debutant bout between two southpaws, which can get very wild. Whilst certainly not close to the quality of bouts on the Ohashi show we suspect this could be a great bout for fans in the venue.
The other all debutant bout comes in another strong division for the Rookie of the Year, with Masaki Banjo (0-0) and Koki Yamase (0-0) facing off in a Super Featherweight bout. Both of these men are teenagers and it could well be that one, if not both, of these youngsters go on to make a mark at a higher level over the next decade or so. The Super Featherweight division has long been one of the most interesting in Japan and top Rookies have regularly made a mark at higher levels in the sport, so this could well be the starting chapter of two very interesting stories.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The first Japanese show of 2021 comes to us this coming Thursday thanks to Hideyuki Ohashi who puts on the next show under the Phoenix Battle series. This is a card that has a brilliant main event, but really the key part of the card are the bouts below it, which are all intriguing bouts for touted prospects.
We'll start with the main event, which will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) defending his belt against former WBC "interim" Bantamweight champion Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3), in what is a puncher Vs Boxer bout. For the heavy handed Kurihara this will serve as his second defense, following his title win in late 2018 against Yuki Strong Kobayashi and a win here would likely see him taking huge strides towards a world title fight. As for Inoue this will be his first bout since losing to Nordine Oubaali in 2019. For Inoue a loss would be very hard to come back from, and he'll be incredibly focused here making for what should be an excellent match up. Our full, in depth, preview of this one can be read here Keita Kurihara Vs Takuma Inoue - The first big Japanese fight of 2021!
In an excellent looking 8 rounder we'll see the fast rising Katsuki Mori (7-0, 1) take on Sora Takeda (6-1, 1) in a battle between two Rookie of the Year winners. In 2018 Takeda won Rookie of the Year at 105lbs and since then has added two more wins to record, giving him a 6 fight winning streak since a loss on his 2017 debut. Mori won the Rookie of the Year in 2019, and has only fought once since then. Of the two men Mori seems to be the more promising man, who has shown more so far in his career, but this is certainly not a gimme either way.
One of two highly regarded novice prospects on this card is former Japanese amateur stand out Ryutaro Nakagaki (1-0, 1), who takes a huge step up in class from his debut to take on fellow southpaw Yuji Okinori (10-5-2, 3). The 21 year old Nakagaki is tipped as a future champion and was a stellar amateur on the Japanese scene before making his professional debut last year. When he turned professional the worry was about his power, but he showed he had plenty of pop on his debut. In Okinori we have we have a 27 year old who asks questions, and comes in with a bit of momentum following back to back TKO wins. We strongly favour Nakagaki, but this is a legitimate test.
The other highly regarded professional novice is Keisuke Matsumoto (1-0, 1), the son of former world title challenger Koji Matusmoto, who looks for his second win as he takes on Bejita Ishikawa (3-12-2, 1). Matsumoto was given a test on debut, and had to pull himself off the canvas to secure victory, though showed great composure and the mentality that should take him far in the sport. Ishikawa on the other hand is well known for his gimmick, of dressing up like Dragon Ball Z character Vegeta, hence his ring name of Bejita. Ishikawa is unlikely to provide much of a test, but it's going to be good to see Matsumoto back in the ring, as he is tipped as something special, despite the issues on his debut.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Wednesday we get the latest show from Ohashi, who put on their third card since boxing returned to Japan in July. This card lacks a "big name" has go some real talent on it, including a Rookie of the Year winner. From what we gather this card is very much a developmental card, but we won't complain given the inexperience of the prospects involved.
The most notable of the prospects on this card is the hard hitting Kazuki Nakajima (8-0-1, 7), who looks to build on his win in the God's Left Bantamweight tournament back in January. The unbeaten Nakajima will be up against 23 year old Kenta Nomura (7-3, 3), in an 8 round Super Bantamweight bout. We'll admit we felt Nakajima was very lucky to get a draw against Seiya Tsutsumi in January, and was announced the tournament winner on the tie breaker rules, but we have been impressed by Nakajima in the past and suspect he'll show what he can do here. He's basic, but very heavy handed, and very exciting. Nomura is the naturally bigger man, but with 3 losses in his last 6, and 2 by stoppage, it's hard to imagine him surviving 8 rounds with Nakajima here.
Another 8 rounder will see the unbeaten Katsuya Yasuda (6-0, 4) face off with Japanese based Venezuelan Omrri Bolivar (8-3, 3). The talented Yasuda turned professional with some pretty high expectations on his shoulders, but a lack of activity has seen the 28 year old have a career that feels like it has stalled, several times. He turned professional in 2017 and fought twice that year before only fighting once in 2018, then taking 10 months before returning to the ring. He's talented, but needs to get his career back on track quickly, and win here would be a great starting place for that. Bolivar once showed some promised but with stoppage losses in his last 2, and 3 of his last 6, it's hard to see him holding his own with the talented Yasuda.
Arguably the diamond among the rough on this show is 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner at Minimumweight, Katsuki Mori (6-0, 1). The talented, smooth, highly skilled and gorgeous to watch Mori will be fighting for the first time since his Rookie triumph as he takes on the much more experienced Yuki Uchida (7-7, 1) in a 6 rounder. We were really impressed by Mori last year and the 20 year old has the potential to be a genuine contender in the coming years. He is one of the most gifted young fighters we've seen compete in Rookie of the Year in recent years. In Uchida we'll see Mori in with a 27 year old who has shared the with a number of notable fighters, such as Tsuyoshi Sato and Shin Tomita. Uchida will be there to win, and will be there to fight, however we do feel that Mori's advanced skills, and boxing brain, will be the difference here.
We really are closing in on Christmas, and even though we're a few days away we are set for one of the annual treats boxing calendar, the All Japan Rookie of the Year final. As well as the Rookie of the Year's there's a lot of other stuff going on, with a title bout, an eliminator and a host of prospects in action. This Sunday is big for Asian boxing!
Our attention is obvious focused on the All Japan Rookie of the Year final from Korakuen Hall, with G+ airing the show live, and in full. For fans who want to know what makes Japanese boxing special at the lower end this is it. This is the culmination of a tournament that covers the whole country and takes the better part of a year. To get to the final you need to have won your regional final, and you don't get this far by chance. You get here on merit alone, and as a result we get some amazing match ups.
We won't be going through all 12 bouts, but we have picked out favourite match ups from the line.
It's always great to see all-unbeaten fights in the final and at Minimumweight we have one such bout, as Katsuki Mori (5-0, 1) takes on Takumi Chono (5-0, 3). This is a brilliant fight, with both men being young, having very similar records and both proving themselves to get this far. Mori is a sensational pure boxer from the Ohashi gym and will be looking to show case his skills, but Chono is not a push over, and has looked strong and powerful through out. The winner of this will really be one to watch in 2020.
At Featherweight we expect to see fire-works as Kyonosuke Kameda (5-1-1, 4) and Jinki Maeda (3-0, 2) face off. It's been an emotional year for Kameda, the cousin of Koki, Daiki and Tomoki, and only 2 weeks ago there was a a real chance he'd miss out on this bout due to the politics at the Kyoei gym. Now here the hard hitting 21 year old will be wanting to make the most of his opportunity. Maeda has quietly made his way to the final, blowing out his first two professional opponents before shutting out the then 4-0 Hikaru Fukunaga. We expect this one to be the standout bout of the day.
More fireworks are expected up at 140lbs where Kodai Honda (4-1, 3) and Yasutaka Fujita (5-0, 5) will face off. The 20 year old Honda lost on debut, more than a year ago, but has reeled off 4 wins since then, and he has stopped each of his last 3 opponents. Fujita on the other hand has been blitzing opponents and his 5 bouts have lasted just 10 rounds. Expect bombs to be thrown, and to be thrown early here!
Whilst the Rookie of the Year show is the biggest it's certainly not the only show of note, and at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center the Muto Gym will be show casing some of their brightest young talents, as well as a regional champion.
The main event of the show will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi (15-8, 9) defending his title against Korean challenger Ki Chang Go (8-3, 4). This will be Kobayashi's first defense since winning the title in May with a minor upset against Ben Mananquil, and he'll be looking to go into the new year with some real momentum behind following a bizarre decision loss to Keita Kurihara at the end of 2018. It's really hard to see what Go offers here, and it was only last year that Go was stopped by career Flyweight Masahiro Sakamoto, a stablemate of Kobayashi's at the time. Our full and in depth previous of this regional title bout can be read here Kobayashi defends against Go in Osaka!
In supporting bouts we'll see a trio of Muto gym prospects taking on Filipino foes. The most notable of the trio is Yusuke Mine (2-0, 1), who takes a huge step up to take on veteran Ardin Diale (35-15-4, 17). This is a brilliant bit of match making from the Muto team, who know that Diale is on the slide, but still very live and has been in there with a who's who of the lower weights. A risky match up for their star prospect, but a win here will instantly launch him into the mix for regional titles. High risk and high reward for Mine here.
Another stellar prospect is Tulio Kuwabata (3-0, 2), who will be fighting as Deka-narudo Torio, who takes on hard hitting Pinoy Ken Jordan (8-1-2, 7). The 23 year old Kuwabata is tipped very highly by those in Japan and has been matched aggressively so far, with this being a pretty logical looking step. Jordan is unbeaten in over 2 years and recently claimed an ABF title, back in August. This is a bout between two youngsters each coming to win, and it should give us some very competitive action over 8 rounds.
The third prospect of note is Ryosuke Nishida (1-0, 1), who made his debut in Thailand back in October. Unlike his fellow hopefuls he won't be in an 8 rounder, but instead he'll be scheduled for 6 rounds against the tough Pablito Canada (7-17-4, 1), and will likely be taken the distance by Canada who has only been stopped twice in his 28 bout career.
A second Osaka, card, this time from the EDION Arena, will also be worthy of some attention.
The main event here is a Japanese Super Flyweight title eliminator, the final of the eliminators to take place this year, and will see former world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-3, 11) clash with Yuta Matsuo (15-4-1, 8) for the chance to fight Kenta Nakagawa in the new year. At 34 years old a loss will likely send Kudaka into retirement, ending an incredibly interesting and often exciting career, so we expect to see him being fired up for this. Matsuo is no world beater, but he is better than his record suggests and is hoping to secure a second Japanese Super Flyweight title fight, following a loss to Takayuki Okumoto earlier this year. Our in depth preview of this eliminator is available to read here Kudaka and Matsuo to clash in final Japanese eliminator of 2019!
In an 8 round supporting bout Kenta Nomura (6-3, 3) will battle Ryo Suwa (11-2, 2), in a very interesting looking contest. Nomura is looking to bounce back from an August loss to Toshiki Shimomachi, in a Japanese Youth title fight, and although he's nothing special he does tend to make for good fights. Suwa on the other hand has won 4 of his last 5 and will see this as a chance to take a huge step towards a potential youth title fight of his own.
This show will also feature the debut of former amateur standout Kantaro Juri (0-0), who fought in the Asian and World Youth Championships back in 2014, who will be in a 6 rounder at a contracted 53KG's. Sadly his opponent here hasn't been confirmed, though we have been told it will be an Indonesian opponent.
As well as the Japanese action there is also a low level Indian card in Golaghat.
This card will be headlined by Sagar Narwat (9-1-1, 3) taking on Shiva (9-3, 3) in an 8 round bout. For Narwat this is a chance to get back to winning ways following October's loss to Troy O'Meley in Australia. As for Shiva he's now wheeled off 3 straight wins after he suffered a trio of losses on the road in 2017. Sadly this bout aside the card isn't really worth getting too excited about.