Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday we get a very notable and deep card at Korakuen Hall thanks to Ohashi Gym who put on a card that is headline by a rather poor Japanese title fight but is stacked with young talented and exciting hopefuls underneath that title bout.
The title bout in question will see Japanese 154lb champion Makoto Kawasaki (13-8-1, 2) make his first defense, as he takes on former title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (18-7-1, 13). The 38 year old champion won the title this past April, but given that performance, and his age, it's hard to imagine him winning the belt long term. As for Maruki, this will be his 4th shot at the Japanese title, and another loss here will be very, very hard for him to bounce back from, especially given he is now 31 years old himself. Whilst the Japanese title at 154lbs has had some great fights for it over the years, and some excellent champions, it's genuinely quite hard to care about this underwhelming title bout. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Japanese champion Kawasaki takes on Maruki in first title defense
Thankfully we do expect some real excitement on the under-card. Part of that excitement will be seen when the hard hitting Kazuki Nakajima (11-1-1, 9) takes on former Naoya Inoue opponent Karoon Jarupianlerd (48-11, 22), aka Petchbarngborn Kokietgym. The Thai visitor lasted 10 rounds with Inoue in 2016, and has only been stopped in one other bout, a 2nd round KO to Sho Ishida. For Nakajima the target will be a KO here, though in fairness the Thai has proven to be tough, and should give Nakajima some decent rounds before, eventually, folding.
A second bout between an Ohashi Gym hopeful and a Thai will see Katsuya Yasuda (8-1, 5) take on Krai Setthaphon (29-8, 19), aka Kaewfah Tor Buamas. The talented, and often over-looked, Yasuda will be desperate to bounce back from a February loss to Shuma Nakazato, and we're expecting to see him shining here with a slightly tweaked, more aggressive style than we've seen from him in the past. Krai on the other hand was once a solid regional level fighter, but he has lost his last 4 bouts and is without a win since August 2019, when he beat the very poor Leon Maratas. This is a great chance for Yasuda to shine, and hopefully he makes the most of that opportunity.
The least notable Japan Vs Thailand bout on this show will see talented Flyweight hopeful Taku Kuwahara (9-1, 5) battle against the unbeaten Parinya Khaikanha (4-0, 4). The talented Kuwahara is looking to secure his second win since being stopped in 10 rounds by Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui and will be strongly favoured here, however he shouldn't over-looked his unbeaten foe. Parinya hasn't set the world on fire as a professional, but is the younger brother of former world champion Suriyan and former world title challenger Nawaphon. If the talent runs in the family then Parinya could be a real handful for Kuwahara here.
Another of the highly touted new generation of Ohashi Gym fighters on this card is Ryutaro Nakagaki (2-0-1, 2), who looks to bounce back from a disappointing draw in a Japanese Youth title bout last year. The talented Nakagaki will be up against the much more experienced Toma Kondo (8-7-1, 1) in a bout that seems more about finding out how Nakagaki is improving and tuning his style under the guidance of Akira Yaegashi, than really testing him. Kondo is no world beater, but will look to make this into a fight and should serve as a good foil for Nakagaki's skills. movement and sharp punching. We see this as being a good bit of match making from Ohashi, who are protecting their man, but also getting him some worth while rounds.
Lower down the card is the debut for notable amateur Yuya Tanaka (0-0), who went 36-17 in the unpaid ranks. He will be ho against the under-rated Fuya Tomita (7-4, 2), in what is a clash of 23 year olds. Tomita is a handful, despite his underwhelming record, and stood at just under 6' he really is a stylistic nightmare for fellow Bantamweights and Super Bantamweights. As for Tanaka he'll be giving up height here, but will feel his amateur boxing background should be the difference maker in a very good looking 6 rounder.
Opening the card is and debutant, this time teenager Kenta Yamakawa (0-0), who looks to build on a notable amateur career that saw him winning National High School championship last year and running up a 14-5 record. The talented youngster will looking to make an impact on his professional debut, as he takes on the wonderfully named Zapp Morimoto (1-1, 1). This bout, the only 4 rounder on the show, should give us a good chance to see what Yamakawa has to offer the sport, however aged just 18 we expect him to be a long term project for the Ohashi Gym, who should be looking to develop him carefully over the next 5 or 6 years
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
To end February attention turns to Korakuen Hall for an excellent looking Phoenix Battle show, from the Ohashi Gym. The card is a double title, double header which not only has two excellent looking title bouts, but also two bouts featuring very promising prospects who look to continue their rise towards title fights of their own.
The main event sees double champion Andy Hiraoka (18-0, 13) looking to defend his WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Light Welterweight titles against the exciting and fun to watch Cristiano Aoqui (16-8-2, 11). For Hiraoka this will be his first defense, following an excellent win over Jin Sasaki late last year to win his title, and he'll know that if he wins here he takes a huge step towards a potential world title fight in a few years time. Given how we all expect the 140lb division to look when Josh Taylor inevitably moves up in weight he'll know that his wait for a world title fight might not be too long. For Aoqui on the other hand this will be his second title fight, and at 33 years old it really is now or never for him. Our preview of this bout can be read here Double champion Hiraoka takes on Aoqui in first defense
The other title fight will see the unbeaten Masayoshi Hashizume (18-0-2, 11) take on the under-rated and over-looked Akio Furutani (9-4, 3) in a bout for the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight titles. For Hashizume this will be his second title fight, after previously fighting to a draw in a Japanese title fight, whilst Furutani will be having his first bout for a title, though has beaten former title holders in his last two bouts. This is a really well matched bout, despite what the records suggest, and it will be an interesting chess match, pitching Hashizume's smoothness and speed against the awkwardness and accurate counters of Furutani. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Hashizume and Furutani face off for unified regional titles!
Whilst the two title bouts are great the under-card also promises a lot, especially with the bout between the unbeaten Katsuya Yasuda (8-0, 5), who will be looking to secure himself a title fight later this year, and Shuma Nakazato (10-2-3, 7), who is looking to bounce back from a loss in a Japanese title fight last August. Of the two men Nakazato is the more proven, but Yasuda has long been hailed as a real talent, and this bout should see him finally being forced to sink or swim. We don't expect this to be the most exciting bout of the show, but it is arguably just as compelling as the two title bouts.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The next week or so set to be a good one in Tokyo, with three shows in 3 days at Korakuen Hall. The third of those is an Ohashi promoted event that is headlined by a fantastic main event, and has some very notable supporting bouts.
The fantastic main event will see WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) take on OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (9-1, 9) in a massive regional unification bout. The talented Mori has been on a great run recently, with recent wins against Richard Pumicpic, Takuya Mizuno and Tsuyoshi Tameda, but he is now set for his most dangerous bout. Shimizu on the other hand is a very dangerous fighter, but has continually looked crude, easy to hit and defensively flawed. Give the styles of the two men this should be a thrilling bout, and a real test of Mori's chin and patience, as well as a test to see whether Shimizu can adjust against a speedy smart fighter.
A second title bout on this show will see the unbeaten Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) take on the under-rated Kai Chiba (13-1, 8) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title, which was given up by Takuma Inoue. Although not as interesting as the main event, this has the potential to be a fight that breaks into a war. Neither of these men are too well polished, though with Nakajima being a very puncher and Chiba being a boxer-puncher it has the potential to erupt into a war at any moment. We expect this to be slow at times, but once the touch paper is lit expect this to give us serious fireworks until one of the fighters forces a stoppage, and claim the title.
Third generation fighter Keisuke Matsumoto (2-0, 2) looks to build on his early development as he takes on Hiromu Murota (6-4-2, 4). The 21 year old Matsumoto has looked a mixed bag so far. He's clearly talented, but we do have questions about his defense and his durability, and it seems he's a work in progress. Despite that he's being matched tough here against Murota, who recently held former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seichi Okada to a draw and is unbeaten in his last 5. Matsumoto should win, but we expect to see Murota asking genuine questions of him here.
One other bout on this card worthy of some attention will see rising Lightweight hopeful Katsuya Yasuda (7-0, 4) battle against Tomoki Takada (8-5-2, 5), in a battle between two JBC ranked Lightweights. The 29 year old Yasuda is a legitimat talent, with under-dated defense and an excellent boxing brain, but he is also someone who has yet to be given the chances to shine, and is sadly getting older without having made much of an impact on the sport. Here against Takada we see Yasuda getting a chance to move towards a national title fight. As for Takada he is showing power recently and has scored 3 opening round in his last 5 bouts. We expect to see Takada's power going up against Yasuda's defense and counter punching here.
International Convention Centre, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa
As well as the action in Japan there is also action in South Africa where Filipino fighter Joey Canoy (16-4-1-1, 9) takes on Nhlanhla Tyirha (4-1, 2), in a bout for the WBA Inter Continental Light Flyweight title. Although not too well known internationally Canoy is very much an under-rated fighter with wins against Toto Landero and Melvin Jerusalem, but it's fair to say that Filipino fighters rarely have any luck in South Africa and that's unlikely to change here. Tyirha isn't a big name but he did give Nkosinathi Joyi a close run bout in 2019 and he's certainly someone with the potential to be a contender in the lower weights in the coming years.
Bryan Glazer Family JCC Auditorium, Tampa, Florida, USA
Over in Florida we're expecting to see a trio of Japanese hopefuls in action as Teiken and All Star promotions look to develop some of the best talented in Tokyo.
The most established of the trio is Mikito Nakano (5-0, 4), who has looked brilliant on the Japanese scene and is coming through the deep Featherweight and Super Featherweight ranks at home. Although not a complete fighter yet, he is developing well and this should be a good chance to see what he can do on foreign soil, though his opponent has yet to be named
Another man on this card is Kenji Fujita (1-0, 1), who looked fantastic on debut earlier this year and looks like the type of fighter of who can be moved incredibly quickly. There is clearly a lot of work for him to do with Fujita, but he's a very advanced fighter for a 1-0 boxer, and he seems to have the potential to go a very, very long way. He's skilled, has a high level boxing IQ and fighting over in the US will do him the world of good, especially this earlier in his career. Sadly however he also hasn't had his opponent named fro this event.
The third Japanese fighter on this show is the debuting Subara Murata (0-0), a former amateur stand out who is tipped to go to the top very quickly. Murata turned professional last year, but was unable to kick things off due to the Covid19 pandemic. It's a shame he's had to wait so long to make his debut, but given his style and amateur pedigree is seems almost certain that he's set to be a major success in the pros. As with his two countrymen he has not had his opponent named for this bout, but it's still great to see him making his debut, at long last!
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.
December 2nd - Koki Inoue and Jheritz Chavez battle for title, Kuwahara and Matsumoto in supporting bouts
This coming Monday Ohashi will be putting on their next show, and whilst it's not a massive one it is a good one with 4 bouts of real not on it, including a Japanese champion, a former world title challenger and two unbeaten prospects.
The Japanese champion Koki Inoue (14-0, 11), the cousin of Naoya Inoue and Takuma Inoue, and despite being the Japanese champion he won't be defending his title here. Instead he goes up against hard hitting Filipino foe Jheritz Chavez (9-3-2, 7) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title, with Inoue looking to become a double champion and Chavez looking to take a career best win. Inoue has looked hit and miss at times, though is an incredibly talented fighter with a lot of potential and a win here should open up some big doors for him going forward. As for Chavez he was unlucky in 2018 when he challenged OPBF champion Rikki Naito and had him almost out of there late on. This should be a very exciting fight, with both men expected to try and make a statement as we close out 2019. Our preview of this bout can be read here Koki Inoue takes on Jhertiz Chavez for regional title!
The chief support bout will see the fast rising Taku Kuwahara (6-0, 4) hunt his 4th win of the year. "Ioka II", as he's been dubbed in Japan, is looking to build on a career best win over Jonathan Refugio as he takes on Ricardo Sueno (10-3-4, 3). Sadly this looks like a massive step backwards for Kuwahara, and one he only really gets away with thanks to his activity, with this actually being his 5th bout in the space of 365 days. Sueno was stopped in a round by Thanongsak Simsri the last time he fought in Japan, and whilst we expect him to last longer here, we suspect he'll suffer another stoppage loss here.
Former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (22-3, 20) continues to rebuild following back to back losses in 2018, to Daniel Roman and Ryo Sagawa. The once very highly touted Matsumoto is understandably rebuilding his confidence and will be up against fellow Japanese fighter Jinya Ito (8-5-1, 3) here. Although 2018 was a nightmare year for Matsumoto it's hard to deny his talent, and at just 25 years old he does have plenty of time to rebuild and challenge again for a world title. The truth here is that Ito should provide very little in terms of a challenge for Matsumoto, unless Matsumoto is mentally done with the sport, and we don't believe he is!
Another prospect on this card is unbeaten 27 year old Ohashi gym hopeful Katsuya Yasuda (5-0, 3), who takes on Indonesian journeyman Rengga Rengga (8-4, 2). The talented Yasuda has failed to kick on with his career as we'd hoped, and 2018 was almost a write off for him, but this is his 3rd bout in a little over 5 months, and hopefully he'll use that activity as a launchpad in the new year. Renga has lost his last 2 by stoppage, and is 0-4 outside of Indonesia, with all all 4 losses coming in the first 2 rounds. We can't see this being anything other than a blow out win for Yasuda.
Whilst the biggest name from the Ohashi gym is set to fight in early November, with Naoya Inoue of course facing Nonito Donaire in the WBSS Bantamweight final early in the month, the rest of the gym isn't just sitting still. This coming Tuesday we see a number of notable Ohashi gym fighters in action on their next domestic card.
The main event here will see the highly touted Taku Kuwahara (5-0, 4) take a huge step up in class for face Filipino veteran Jonathan Refugio (21-6-5, 7) in a 8 rounder. The talented Kuwahara is stepping up massively, but has shown touches of brilliance since making his professional debut and has already been compared to Kazuto Ioka, among others. He's shown sensational body punching and is a really exciting youngster who will likely make a huge mark in 2020 if he gets past Refugio here. The Filipino has been around the block a few times, but has built a reputation as a tough, determined fighter capable of pushing fighters hard. Despite numerous losses Refugio has faced the likes of Knockout CP Freshmart, Hiroto Kyoguchi, Wanheng Menayothin and Merlito Sabillo. This should be a genuine acid test for Kuwahara. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Kuwahara takes big step up to face off with Refugio!
In the chief support bout, from the running order at least, we'll see Toru Kiyota (9-3, 7) take on Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kazuma Sanpei (17-5, 7) in another bout scheduled for 8 rounds. Kiyota is limited but heavy handed, with his last 4 wins coming inside the distance. Kiyota's power could be a real problem given that Sanpei has been stopped in 4 of his 5 losses, though Sanpei will be the favourite.
In a clash of former Hinata Maruta opponents we'll see the exciting, and thunderously hard hitting, Tsuyoshi Tameda (20-4-2, 18) take on skilled Filipino Joe Tejones (13-6, 7). Tameda has his flaws, and there is a lot of them, but his power is brutal and he is a nightmare for anyone just a step or two below regional title level. On the other hand Tejones has been really unlucky, and his record perhaps should have a few more wins on it than it currently does. This should be a really interesting fight, if Tejones can take the power of Tameda, which is certainly not a given.
Kuwahara isn't the only unbeaten prospect on this card, with Katsuya Yasuda (4-0, 2) looking to record his 5th win as he takes on Jack Dolu (4-4, 4). Yasuda hasn't really shown the type of potential that Kuwahara has, but was a notable amateur on the Japanese scene and should make this look easy against a very limited Indonesian foe.
After a rather quiet June we see action really pick up in July, and to begin with we get a stacked Ohashi card with a wonderful mix of notable names, novice prospects interesting match ups.
The main event will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (13-0, 10) making his first defense of the title, as he takes on the limited but fun to watch Ryuji Ikeda (14-5-3, 9). Inoue, the cousin of Naoya and Takuma Inoue, won the title earlier this year, when he out pointed veteran Valentine Hosokawa and has suggested that he's wanting to put on a fun fight for fans here. Ikeda can punch, but is defensively open and we suspect he has been selected as an opponent to make Inoue look good. A full preview of this bout can be read here Inoue takes on Ikeda in Japanese title defense
An excellent supporting bout will see the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda (19-4-2, 17) take on Japanese based Korean Tae Il Atsumi (16-2, 8). Whilst the main event looks like it will be an easy one to pick the winner in this bout is the opposite, with a real 50-50 feel to the bout. Atsumi is a tough, aggressive and skilled with a lot of potential whilst Tameda is an explosive puncher, but one who hasn't looked was stopped last December, by Hinata Maruta, and didn't look his most destructive in his March win over Renerio Arizala.
The once touted Sho Nakazawa (12-3, 6) has a must must win bout as he takes on Jinya Ito (7-5-1, 2). Nakazawa was a solid Japanese amateur but with 3 losses in his last 7 bouts, including one to Tae Il Atsumi, and he looks like his potential won't be realised due to real question marks about his durability. Ito should pose no real threat, and has lost 5 of his last 8, but Nakazawa needs to do more than "just win", he needs to look good.
Touted prospect Katsuya Yasuda (3-0, 2) takes on his biggest test as he faces off with Japanese based Filipino foe Jerry Castroverde (10-6, 5). The talented Yasuda has a lot of potential, but has had issues with inactivity and at 27 years old now he needs to kick on and try to make the most of his potential, likely why Ohashi has matched him with Castroverde. The 22 year old Castroverde is a good young test for anyone at this level, and although he has lost 4 of his last 5 he should ask questions of Yasuda
Another touted prospect on this card is Taku Kuwahara (4-0, 3), who looks to continue his winning run as he takes on domestic foe Kyomu Hamagami (4-2-2, 4). The 24 year old Kuwaha really impressed us last December, when he beat Takamori Kiyama over 8 rounds, but since then his competition hasn't been the best and we're really hoping to see him stepping up again before the year is over. He's a real talent who should be pushed hard and fast. The 22 year old Hamagami is limited, but the guy can punch, and could, potentially, give Kuwahara his first chin check, though we do suspect the unbeaten man to be too sharp to really be tested by the hard hitting but technically limited younger fighter.
Interestingly one of the worst looking bouts on paper may end up being one of the most interesting. The bout in questions sees Ohashi puncher Kentaro Endo (7-9-1, 6) take on the in form Fumisuke Kimura (9-4, 6). Endo is very limited, but really can punch and will be looking to take Kimura out. Kimura on the other hand comes into this bout following big domestic wins over Hayato Ono and Giraffe Kirin Kanda, which have pushed him to the verge of a Japanese title fight. This could be very exciting and very explosive.
After June this card is an ideal way to kick off a packed July!
This coming Tuesday attention turns back to the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo as Hideyuki Ohashi puts on a really interesting and notable card with a fantastic headline bout, and several notable fighters on the under-card.
The main event will be a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator, as OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (29-12, 14) takes on the unbeaten Takuma Inoue (11-0, 3) for a shot at the currently vacant WBC Bantamweight title. Yap hasn't got a fantastic record, but comes into this bout on the back of a fantastic 10 fight winning run, including wins against the likes of Hiroyuki Kudaka, Takahiro Yamamoto, Kentaro Masuda and Takafumi Nakajima. Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue, has long been tipped for the top but an injury in 2016 slowed his rise. On paper this might look like a mismatch, due to the records, but in reality this is a fantastic 50-50 contest.
A full preview of that bout can be read here - Takuma Inoue and Mark John Yap clash in WBC Eliminator!
One of the main support bouts will see Ryo Matsumoto (21-2, 19) return to the ring for the first time since he lost to Daniel Roman in a WBA Super Bantamweight title fight earlier this year. The touted Matsumoto will be up against the in form Ryo Sagawa (4-1, 2), who has won his last 3 including a major domestic upset against Junki Sasaki. This should be a straight forward return to domestic level for Matsumoto but it'll be interesting to see what his confidence is like following the loss to Roman, where he was out boxed, out thought and out fought.
Another notable supporting bout will see Japanese Light Welterweight Youth champion Andy Hiraoka (12-0, 8) defending his title against Ukyo Yoshigai (6-2, 5), in what will be the second between the two men. These two fought back in August 2017, with Hiraoki stopping Yoshigai to claim the Japanese Youth title, which he has since defended once. Yoshigai will be seeking revenge, but will be be the under-dog against one of the top young talents in Japan.
Lower down on the under-card fans will be able to see former amateur stand out Katsuya Yasuda (2-0, 1) take on experienced Indonesian Anshori Anhar Pitulay (9-16-2, 6), in what is likely to be a mismatch, whilst Taku Kuwahara (1-0, 1) faces off with Ardi Tefa (6-7-1, 4), in what suspect will be a quick blow out win for the unbeaten Japanese fighter.
As with the last few years this year is set to end with a spate of Japanese action. The first of two big shows to end 2017 is in Yokohama, where Ohashi and Fuji TV put on an interesting looking show.
The main event of this year closer will be the end in the latest chapter of Naoya Inoue's (14-0, 12) career, as he makes his 7th, and likely final, defense of the WBO Super Flyweight title. The talented Japanese fighter had been ruining out of willing opponents and will close 2017 with a bout against the inform Frenchman Yoan Boyeaux (41-4, 26). On paper it looks good but the reality is that this is a huge step up in class and likely serves as a dummy run for the “Monster” before he moves up to Bantamweight in pursuit of a third divisional world title.
A second world title bout on this show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (11-0, 5) make his second defense, as he goes up against confident Panamanian visitor Gilberto Pedroza (18-3-2, 8), who fights in his first world title bout. The talented Ken Shiro has had a career defining year with wins over Ganigan Lopez and Pedro Guevara and closing out the year with a third win would, in fairness, put him on the fringes of the Fighter of the Year shortlist. As for Pedroza this is a huge opportunity to claim a world title and make a name for himself ahead of the near year.
A third title bout on this card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (4-0, 4) make his first defense as he looks to move towards a world title fight. The talented Japanese fighter, who came to international attention in 2012 when he claimed a Bronze medal at the London Olympics, will be up against Filipino challenger Eduardo Mancito (15-7-2, 9). The champion won the title in impressive fashion earlier this year, when he stopped Korean Sa Myung Noh and is expected to make an easy first defense here. Although limited Mancito is tough and is expected to get some rounds out Shimizu, who can prove whether his power is legitimate or not here.
In one of the leading support bouts Takuma Inoue (9-0, 2) will take on 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (27-8, 15), in what looks likely to be a mismatch. The talented Takuma was supposed to fight for a world title a year ago, but an injury ruled him out and he now seems to be trying to get back to fully fitness and shake off any ring rust before moving back into the world title picture. Masuda is an exciting fighter, but with recent stoppage losses to Shohei Omori and Mark John Yap his limitations have been shown, and he's a fun but crude fighter who should be easily out boxed by Inoue.
A third Inoue on this card is the fast rising Koki Inoue (9-0, 8), who takes on Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (8-1-2, 3). The Korean enters the bout as the Korean Light Welterweight champion and an OPBF ranked fighter and it's clear that Inoue is chasing titles, with this bout potentially opening the door for an OPBF title fight in 2018. Inoue has been very impressive, very exciting and very aggressive since his debut however the Korean has never been stopped, looks to be tough and durable and will not have travelled to just roll over to Inoue.
Also on this card as Ohashi novices Katsuya Yasuda (1-0, 1) and Kazuki Nakajima (2-0, 2), who will both be in 6 rounders and will be looking to have big 2018's.
A second Asian show will take place in Kazakhstan where we get a number of interesting, though lower key bouts.
One of the key bouts from the show will see once beaten Kazakh hopeful Firuza Sharipova (7-1, 4) battle against Belgian fighter Djemilla Gontaruk (13-4-1, 2) in a bout for the WBC silver Female Super Featherweight title. The bout looks like a good one on paper, but coming in to this the Kazakh has won 7 in a row whilst Gonturak has lost against every notable opponent she has faced, including a loss last time out to Ramon Kuehne and her wins have been against very limited foes.
Another title bout on this card will see Aidyn Yelzhanov (4-0, 3) take on Sergey Dudinsky (4-1, 3) for a WBC regional title at Super Bantamweight. The 24 year old Yelzhanov has impressed so far,but has been fighting at a very liw level and will have to show something new to over-come the hungry Dudinsky, who has won his last two.
One other bout of note will be the home coming, of sorts, for Light Heavyweight prospect Ali Akhmedov (10-0, 7), who takes on Ismat Eynullayev (12-2, 8). Akhmedov has fought 5 of his last 6 outside of Kazakhstan, where he is incidentally 5-0 (5), and will be looking to put on a show here. Eynullayev, from Azerbaijan, has won his last 3 but will not be expected to put up much of a challenge against the home town hero.
In the Russian capital fan will be able to see Russian Uzbek Ulugbek Khakberdiev (4-0, 2) look to build on his solid 2017 as he takes on Ugandan puncher Med Sebyala (17-10-1, 14). The unbeaten Kazakh has gone under the radar this year, despite stopping Dmitry Sukhotsky in September and looks to end his year with a 5th straight win. The 37 year old Sebyala has lost 2 of his last 3, but does appear to be a legitimate puncher and could chin check the powerful Kazakh.
This coming Wednesday in Japan fight fans have an interesting Ohashi card to look forward to. We'll be honest and not pretend that it's full of 50-50 bouts, but it keeps the gym's fighters busy, whilst a number them begin to move towards bigger and better bouts.
The main event of the card is the best looking contest on paper and sees Takuma Inoue (8-0, 2) return to the ring following almost a year out, to take on 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-16-1, 11) in a solid test for the youngster. Inoue was supposed to fight for a world title at the end of 2016, but an injury forced that bout to be cancelled and now he's in need of a warm up bout before looking at bigger and better things. For Kudaka, previously known as Hiroyuki Hisataka, the bout is a chance to score a career defining win after some recent struggles in the ring, including losing 7 of his last 11. Kudaka's record isn't great but he's a tough out for most and should ask questions of rInoue.
Another relatively attractive bout will see Koki Inoue (8-0, 7), Takuma's cousin, step up to take on former Japanese title challenger Cristiano Aoqui (11-6-2, 7) in what is essentially a Japanese title eliminator. Inoue enters the bout ranked #3 and Aoqui is #8, with the winner almost certainly looking to get a crack before the end of the year. For Inoue the bout is a slight step up, but it's a logical step as he continues to impress and leave a wake of battered and beaten fighters in his wake. For Aoqui the bout serves as a chance to get back in to the mix after 3 losses in his last 4.
When it comes to fighters who are looking at bigger and better things, it's fair to say that Ryo Matsumoto (20-1, 18) is on the verge of a world title fight. As a result he's having a stay busy contest on this show against Indonesian foe Jason Butar Butar (25-22-1, 16), in what should be another straight forward win for the likeable Matsumoto, who is looking to put health issues well and truly behind him.
Another fighter looking for bigger things is Go Onaga (27-3-3, 18),who also faces an Indonesian journeyman as he takes on John Bajawa (13-14, 7). Onaga is looking to get himself a Japanese title fight in the near future, and the veteran cannot afford another set back. This should be a straight forward win for the Ohashi man, but he is now 37 and 18 months removed from his last victory.
Rounding out the notable fights on this show are two Ohashi novices tipped for big things. One of those is Kazuki Nakajima (1-0, 1), who looks for his second professional win as he takes on Resnu Sundava (2-1, 2) whilst the other is debutant Katsuya Yasuda (0-0), who faces Reno Arizona (1-2). Neither Ohashi man should worry here about winning, but both will want to impress Mr Ohashi, who we suspect wants to fast track both men following their impressive amateur careers.