Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
The main action in a surprisingly busy Tuesday, comes from the Kokugikan in Tokyo as we get a world title double header, and in fact the last world title bouts to take place in Japan this year following numerous post-Christmas bouts being cancelled.
The first world title bout from the double header will see WBO Minmumweight champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6) defending his title against mandatory challenger Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9), in what could be a very interesting bout. This will be Mendez's third defense of the title, which he took from Vic Saludar in 2019, but he comes into the bout after almost 2 years of inactivity, and for his first bout in Asia. "Bimbito" is certainly a talented fighter, but he style may not have the success on the road as it has at home, and he can look very negative at times. Taniguchi has come up short at world level before, but he does seem incredibly focused on this bout, and has bounced back well from his last loss, to Vic Saludar, to score 3 notable domestic wins. His style could end up working against him at times, as Mendez is the much quicker man, but his physicality and power could be a major difference maker, especially with Mendez's recent inactivity. Our preview for this world title fight can be read here Taniguchi gets second WBO title shot as he takes on Mendez
The other title bout on this show, and the main event of the day, will see Japanese star Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) return to a Japanese ring for the first time in over 2 years to defend his WBA and IBF Bantamweight titles against hard hitting Thai challenger Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11). Inoue and his team have made it clear they wanted a bigger name than Dipaen for this bout, but were turned down by a number of more well known names, and that can be dangerous if they are over looking the Thai and looking towards unification bouts in the new year. Dipaen isn't so much a threat to Inoue here, but Inoue could be a threat to himself if he's over-looking the challenger. As for Dipaen no one is giving him a chance, but he will know he has nothing to lose and he will be in there looking to put in the performance his career. We don't see this one lasting long, but it could be a genuine test of Inoue's focus given such a frustrating end to the year. Our preview of this bour can be read here The monster returns to Japan to defend against Dipaen!
As well as the two main bouts this card has several notable prospects on it, with youngster Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) taking on the much very experienced Takahiro Araki (12-10, 4), former Kickboxer Yoshiki Takei (2-0, 2) taking on Kazuhiro Imamura (2-0-1, 1), in what looks set to be his toughest bout to date, and the very exciting Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) taking on Takuya Fujioka (10-10-1, 1), in what looks to be a stay busy fight before bigger things in 2022.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The show at the Kokugikan isn't the only one in Tokyo, with Koakuen Hall playing host to an OPBF title double header. The bouts here aren't huge, but both the title bouts do promise a lot of exciting action, and there is also a solid under-card match up as well.
One of those OPBF title bouts will see Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (23-2, 8) take on Japanese veteran Koichi Aso (24-9-1, 15). Naito has looked like something of a suspect champion since winning the title a few years ago, and was pushed hard in a number of defense, but there's no doubting his skills and ability with the main questions being about his power and stamina. As for Aso, the veteran is a former Japanese national champion, but is very much a fighter coming to the end of his career, and he no longer has the energy and aggression he did in his prime. This should be straight forward win for Naito on the cards, but Aso will make him for it. Our preview of this regional title bout can be read here OPBF champion Naito takes on Aso at Korakuen Hall
The other title fight promises violence as the hard hitting Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18) takes on the under-rated Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2-1, 7) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Super Featherweight title. Saka has looked a brute in recent bouts, smashing up both Masaru Sueyoshi and Takuya Watanabe, in two very impressive back to back performances, though it's fair to say that he can be beaten and there are always question marks about his chin and his mental application in the ring. As for Kimura this will be his second shot at the title, having previously coming up just short against Hironori Mishiro, and he really has shown he belongs at this level. He will go in as the man with no momentum, but he has the skills and tools to spring the upset, in what should be a genuinely spectacular bout for those at Korakuen Hall. Expect a lot of heavy leather here, and some thrilling exchanges. Our preview of this bout can be read here Saka and Kimura battle for OPBF Super Featherweight title!
In one under-card bout worthy of some attention, we'll see boxing police officer Daisuke Sugita (6-2, 3) look to bounce back from a June loss to Ryo Akaho as he takes on youngster Ryuto Owan (7-1, 5). Sugita is a fun guy to watch, but he has been matched rather hand and losses to Akaho and Reiya Abe were both very one sided and showed he didn't belong in that company. Despite that he's a solid fighter and he has the tools to be a solid competitor on the Japanese domestic scene, albeit below domestic title level. Owan on the other hand is a promising and talented young fighter who seemed destined for big things until a loss in 2018 slowed his momentum, and a 2 year break from the ring followed. Since returning to action in October 2020 he has looked really impressive and he'll be looking to shine again here and move towards a potential title fight in 2022.
Outside of Japan there is also a very notable card in Thailand, headlined by WBA Minmumweight "Super" champion Knockout CP Freshmart (22-0, 8), who will be up against once beaten Filipino challenger Robert Paradero (18-1, 12). The talented Knockout is seeking his second defense of the year, after a long break from the ring following his 2020 win over Norihito Tanaka, and he'll be looking to end the year with an impressive performance here before moving onto a potential unification bout in 2022. As for Paradero he's looking to bounce back from his sole professional loss, which came earlier this year to Vic Saludar. The challenger showed plenty to like in that loss, but a lack of experience was an issue, and he'll be wanting to prove he has learned from that set back. It's always hard to bet against a Thai in Thailand, but it is worth noting that Filipino do historically have more success as challengers in the Land of Smiles than almost any other country and Paradero will not be there to make up the numbers. Or in deoth preview of this bout can be read here WBA champion Knockout takes on Filipino Challenger Paradero
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
At Korakuen Hall this coming Friday we get a very interesting card thanks to Teiken, who have managed to give us a real mix of things on a very nice looking card.
The main event is a bout that has been on and offer more often this year than our socks, though we are so glad that it is is now on and sorted. The bout in question is the match up between once beaten Filipino Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20) and unbeaten Japanese fighter Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15), who vie for the vacant WBO Flyweight. The title became vacant earlier this year, when Kosei Tanaka moved up in weight, and was supposed to see a new champion crowned several times, however the on going situation, and travel issues, kept pushing it back, and back. Thankfully Magramo was able to travel to Japan in October, do his isolation, and leave us here, now, on the verge of this brilliant match up. A full, in depth, preview of this bout can be read here Old fashioned fine tuning and the quick study: Giemel Magramo versus Junto Nakatani
In a fantastic chief support bout we'll see second generation fighter Juiki Tatsuyoshi (13-0, 9) take on the fast tracked Kazuhiro Imamura (2-0, 1). Although not the fighter his father, Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, was it's fair to say that Juiki Tatsuyoshi is developing well and is actually becoming a very solid fighter in his own right. Imamura on the other hand is a relative unknown in many ways, but but has looked solid in his two previous pro bouts and will know that a win here will open the door for a Japanese title fight in the near future. This is not a big fight, by any stretch, but it is a very interesting one between two unbeaten men looking to move their career's forward.
In another supporting bout we'll see Junpei Tsujimoto (6-2-3, 4) take on the big punching Daiki Ogura (4-3-1, 4). Last time out Tsujimoto was stopped by Nath Nwachukwu in 2 rounds and will now be looking to bounce back from that set back. He will be backed heavily against the hard hitting, but very beatable, Ogura. We suspect this will really will be about rebuilding Tsujimoto's confidence, and little more.
We get the next Diamond Glove show this coming Thursday from the Korakuen Hall, which features a couple of title bouts.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (10-0, 8) take on Filipino foe Harmonito Dela Torre (20-2, 12) in a bout for both the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight titles. The unbeaten Japanese fighter has looked fantastic in recent bouts, stopping his last 6 foes and running up 4 defenses of the Japanese title. Although this is his first bout above domestic level the view is that he will be strongly favoured and is expected to become a triple champion, before moving on wards and upwards to potential world title fights down the line. Dela Torre was once a hotly tipped young Filipino prospect, but with 2 losses in his last 3 and only 1 win in the last 2 year his rise has hit a brick wall. Dela Torre has got skills but this looks like too much of a step from his last win, which was a decision over domestic journeyman Richard Betos last December, to be competitive with Yoshino here. Our full preview of this bout can be read here - Yoshino and Dela Torre battle for regional domination
A second title fight on this show will see Kenichi Horikawa (40-15-1, 13) defending his Japanese Light Flyweight title against Yuto Takahashi (10-4, 5). This is a really interesting match up between two flawed, yet determined fighters at very different stages of their career's. The 39 year old Horikawa is in the Indian summer of his career and has reeled off 8 wins since losing in 2017 to Tetsuya Hisada. Coming in to this Horikawa has already made 1 defenses this year and will know another win will guarantee him a fight at the Champion Carnival next year. On the other hand Takahashi is 26, just reaching his physical prime and comes into the bout on the back of solid performance against Tatsuya Fukuhara, Ryoki Hirai and Yuta Nakayama. Takahashi could well be getting to Horikawa at the perfect time. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Horikawa defends Japanese title against Takahashi in a battle of circumstance
Also on this card is the second bout of novice professional Kazuhiro Imamura (1-0, 1), who takes on the frustratingly fragile Kiyohei Endo (3-2, 3). Originally Endo was tipped as one to watch, following a 42-18 amateur career. Sadly however he was stopped by a journeyman on debut and has never managed to really get going, and a loss in his third bout to Toshiki Shimomachi didn't help. On the other hand Imamura debuted back in March following a 32-20 amateur career, and he'll be hoping to build on his debut win. This is an interesting fight, given given that neither can really afford a loss. Saying that however we don't think Endo will have toughened up, and if Imamura puts it on him we see Endo being stopped again here.