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
This coming Tuesday we get the next show from Hideyuki Ohashi, as the former world champion and current promoter of Naoya Inoue, gets the chance to show case some of the bright young talent coming through the Japanese ranks, including several fighters desperate to bounce back from recent losses.
One of those fighters looking to bounce back from a recent loss is former OPBF Bantamweight champion Kazuki Nakajima (10-1-1, 8), who was last seen being stopped by Keita Kurihara. He'll be hoping to get back to winning ways here as he takes on the pout of form Shohei Kawashima (18-6-2, 4), who has lost 4 of his last 5 and been stopped in his last 3. Although we'd understand Nakajima being low on confidence his team really couldn't have matched him with a made "made to order" opponent, given the recent form, and questionable durability, of Kawashima. A smart bit of match making from the Ohashi team, and a good to get their hard hitting fighter his 11th win.
Another notable Ohashi Gym fighter looking to get to winning ways is Taku Kuwahara (8-1, 4), who lost last year in a Japanese Flyweight title bout against Seigo Yuri Akui. The talented Kuwahara gave Akui a really good fight last year, and is getting a chance to rebuild as he takes on the limited Takashi Hisano (6-5-1, 3), in what is a massive step up for Hisano. This, much like the Nakajima fight, is about getting the talented Ohashi man back to winning ways, before bigger and better fights in the near future.
The most noteworthy bout on the card is, oddly, somewhat buried in the middle and that's a bout which will see Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Haruki Ishikawa (9-3, 7) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Ryuya Tsugawa (8-1, 4) in a very good looking bout. Although no world beater Ishikawa is an exciting fighter, with nasty power, and a really fun, aggressive style and will be looking to take out Tsugawa. Tsugawa on the other hand has gone on a really run recently, winning 4 in a row, 3 by TKO, and will feel this is his chance to shine. Our in depth preview of thius bout can be read here Ishikawa takes on Tsugawa in first title defense
Interestingly both of the men from the fight above have lost to Yusie Fujikawa, in fact Fujikawa beat them in back to back fights in 2018, before seemingly vanishing from the sport afterwards leaving us wondering what could have been for him, and his career.
One final bout worth talking about is a bout between the touted Rikuto Adachi (15-3, 11) and Middleweight veteran Toshihiro Kai (6-13-3, 2). Adachi was once regarded as a genuine hopeful, but with stoppage losses in 2019, to Kudura Kaneko, and in 2021, to Takeru Kobata, there is a real worry about his future and it's going to take time for him to mature physically and develop his boxing. A bout like this has clearly been put together for Adachi to not only get a win, but also get some rounds against a naturally bigger man who's also a southpaw. As with the Nakajima and Kuwahara bouts this is smart matchmaking, but not the type of bout that will make for anything too competitive.
This card was also supposed to feature a bout featuring the very highly regarded prospect Ryutaro Nakagaki (2-0-1, 2), who was supposed to take on the experienced but light punching Toma Kondo (8-7-1, 1), but this one was sadly cancelled back in mid February.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday attention turns to Japan, as Korakuen Hall hosts a show featuring two title bouts and the debut of an excellent youngster.
The more notable of the two title bouts will see unbeaten youngsters collide as Andy Hiraoka (17-0, 12) takes on the hard hitting Jin Sasaki (11-0, 10) in a bout for the Japanese and WBP Asia Pacific Light Welterweight titles. We suspect plenty of international fans will be aware of Hiraoka, who has featured on several US cards due to a co-promotional deal with Top Rank, and of the two men he is the more polished and the experienced, however he has shown that he can be caught and he's only had 3 bouts in the last 27 months and we wonder if he will have some ring rust. Sasaki on the other hand is known by those who follow the Japanese scene, and will have seen him break out last year. He is a raw, crude, puncher, but he really does have dynamite in his hands, stopping his last 5 opponents in a combined 8 rounds, with 4 of those wins coming since the start of 2020. This one should be fire works, with both having very solid power, and having enough flaws for the other man to target. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hiraoka and Sasaki risk unbeaten records in double title fight!
On the subject of fire works we're also expecting them in the other title fight, as OPBF Bantamweight champion Kazuki Nakajima (10-0-1, 8) takes on former champion Keita Kurihara (15-6, 13). Both of these men are very flawed in their own way, with Nakajima being very upright and stiff and Kurihara being slow of foot and open, but both men can seriously bang and throw almost all of their shots with nasty intent. The bout is less likely to be a boxing contest, and more of a fire fight, with one a single power shot needed to light the touch paper. Of the two men Nakajima is the more technically polished and "correct" fighter, but Kurihara is the more proven and battle hardened. This really could be an explosive, and short, encounter between two men looking to move onwards and upwards towards a potential world title fight. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Fireworks expected as Nakajima defends against Kurihara!
In a supporting bout we'll see Japanese ranked Super Featherweight's clash as Katsunori Endo (7-3-1, 4) takes on veteran Ribo Takahata (16-9-1, 6). Aged Takahata is coming to the end of his career, and we wouldn't be surprised if he bowed out after this fight, win or lose. Whilst never a major star in Japan he has been a very good servant to Japanese boxing and his career really does get over-looked, as he has managed to perform at a good level at an age where most fighters retire. Aged 30 Endo is the much younger fighter, but also the man with a point to prove after a very disappointing draw last time out to Ken Koibuchi. This should be a solid fight, maybe not the most exciting, but certainly a competitive one.
One other bout worthy of some attention is the debut of Kaiyu Toyoshima (0-0), who went 60-20 (15) in the amateurs, captained his University team and looked like a star in the making. He'll be up against Shohei Horii (3-6-2, 2), who was last seen losing to Toyoshima's Ohashi Gym stablemate Ryutaro Nakagaki last year. It's hard to imagine anything but a Toyoshima win, but this is a great chance for the youngster to settle into the pro ranks before bigger and better things down the line.
Dhalpur Ground, India
As well as the excellent show in Tokyo we also have a small card in India. The card really is a very, very limited one with the main event being a bout between Suraj (2-2, 1) and the win-less Nawid Mohammadi (0-1), who battle over 6 rounds. It's hard to complain about bouts like this headlining in places like India, where professional boxing is in it's infancy, but it's also hard to care too much about such low quality cards. Hopefully, in the coming years, shows will be headlines by meaningful bouts between established local talent, but that seems a very, very, very long way off.
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.
For the second time this month we head to the Korakuen Hall for a tournament final, and this time around we also have a lot of title action on the show, with the "God's Left" Bantamweight final coming on a show that also features 3 title fights, including a female world title fight!
The tournament final will see unbeaten Ohashi gym hopeful Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) take on Kadoebi gym hopeful Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) in a very, very, explosive looking God's Left Bantamweight tournament final. Tsutsumi, who was the only seed in the tournament, has gotten through to the final with out fighting in a single bout, getting a bye in the quarter final stage then a walk over in his semi-final. Nakajima on the other hand has blitzed Kenichi Watanabe and Jin Minamide to reach the final, beating both men inside a round. Both of these fighters can bang, and we expect this to be fireworks almost from the off.
The female world title bout will see Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6) take on Etsuko Tada (19-3-2, 6) for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title. For Miyao this bout will see her moving up in weight, abandoning the Atomweight division that she has been such a major force in over the years, whilst Tada will be looking to become a 4-time world champion. Given the styles of the two women involved in this one we expect fireworks, as both like to let their hands go. Tada is certainly the bigger, stronger fighter but she's also the older slower fighter, whilst Miyao is faster and more energetic. A very, very interesting match up. Our preview of this can be read here Veterans Tada and Miyao face off for WBO title!
Another title fight on this show will see second generation fighter Kaiki Yuba (6-0-2, 4) take on Kanta Takenaka (7-4-1, 2) for the vacant JBC Youth Lightweight title. For the unbeaten Yuba this is a second shot at the title, following a technical draw when he fought Izuki Tomioka for the belt almost 2 years ago, whilst Takenaka will be looking to build on his win over Kazuaki Miyamoto from last April. This bout has an in depth preview here Yuba and Takenaka clash for Japanese youth title!
The other title bout on this card is actually a rematch, as Kanako Taniyama (2-0-1, 1) and Tomoko Okuda (5-2-2, 1) battle for the vacant JBC female Bantamweight title. These two women fought to a draw last September, in what was a genuinely entertaining bout, though it felt like Taniyama deserved the win but didn't get it in Okuda's home city. We can't help but think Taniyama will take the win here, in another entertaining battle. Our preview of this bout is here Taniyama and Okuda face off again for Japanese female title!
Over in Canada unbeaten Uzbek Hurshidbek Normatov (9-0, 3) is scheduled to be in action in a 6 round bout, though his opponent has yet to be named. This will be the unbeaten Uzbek's first professional bout outside of the US, and will see him look to build on what has been a pretty slow build career thus far.
This coming Saturday is a really exciting day in Asian boxing thanks to a brilliant card in Tokyo. The support bouts across the Asian scene aren't the best, but we do have good main events in Ibaragi and New South Wales, Australia, as well.
As mentioned the best card of the day is in Tokyo, and is Dangan card with 4 bouts worthy of attention.
On paper the most significant bout is a Japanese Super Featherweight eliminator. This bout will see former Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto (16-5-1, 13) battle perennial regional contender Takuya Watanabe (36-9-1, 21). On paper Minamoto is the one to back here, he's the more polished boxer and the bigger puncher, with higher level of wins. However Watanabe is no puch over, and he's as rugged as they come, with under-rated skills and will be the naturally bigger guys. We're expecting this to come down to Minamoto's power and skills against Watanabe's toughness and will to win. We are thinking this could be something special between two men who should have styles that gel really well here. A full preview of this bout can be read here Hard hitting Minamoto takes on teak tough Watanabe
In a God's Left Bantamweight tournament semi-final we'll see a very exciting match up between the unbeaten Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) and the always entertaining Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11). On paper it's hard to see what Yamashita has in his locker to over-come Tsutsumi, but he's never been one to just take a loss with putting up a fight. We really expect this to be an all out war between men who are very similar in their styles and mentality and this could be the hidden gem of the month.
Another potential gem for the month comes in the other God's Left Bantamweight tournament semi-final, as unbeaten fighter Jin Minamide (4-0, 3) and Kuzuki Nakajima (7-0, 6) face off for a place in the final. Both men have been very exciting and shown real power and aggression since their debuts. Both men are in their mid 20's and whilst the loser will see the bout as a notable set back they will likely be able to pursue a rematch down the line. This is a fantastic match up and another that we are expecting to be a war.
Also on this card is the ring return of former OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (14-1, 9), who will be fighting for the first time since being upset by Lito Dante earlier this year. Given how badly Koura lost to Dante, suffering a beating and being stopped in round 12, we can't complain too much about him facing a very limited foe, and that's what he's doing against Indonesian foe Silem Serang (15-20-2, 2). This is little more than a confidence rebuilder for Koura, and that's very understandable.
In Ibaragi we get another Japanese card. This one is much lower profile than the Tokyo show, but does appear to have an excellent main event.
That main event will see the flawed but entertaining Tatsuya Takahashi (30-9-6, 21) take on Filipino foe Ben Mananquil (17-2-3, 4), in a really good looking 50/50 style bout. The Japanese local is a rather unpolished fighter, but he has great energy and toughness and it always worth watching for his aggression and pressure. On the other other hand Mannaquil is typically a tricky, skilled boxer-mover who has picked up good results on the road, though was stopped last time out by Yuki Strong Kobayashi. This will be a very interesting test and it's a hard one to call either way
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a show in the Philippines. This is a much lower level card, with a main event between John Magagmoc (6-2-1) and Gary Tamayo (3-1, 2). Given the quality of action in Japan this is a very poor bout, but it is a clash between teenagers and we do like those, and do expecting an interesting out, even if it's not at the highest of levels.
New South Wales, Australia
Surprisingly it appears we could be in for a shoot out down under as the unbeaten pairing of Luke Boyd (7-0, 7) and Jon Jon Jet (10-0, 8) face off for the interim WBA Oceania Super Bantamweight title. Boyd, a 32 year old Australian, has been crushing low level opponents in double quick time, with only 1 of his 7 bouts going beyond the second round, with his most notable opponent being Inthanon Sithchamuang. At 25 years old Jet is one of the more promising Indonesian fighters, but his competition has been awful and it's hard to get a read on how good Jet may, or may not, be. This should be explosive, though is hard to know how good either man is given their competition to date.
In the US we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Madiyar Ashkeyev (13-0, 6) take on American veteran Walter Wright (17-8, 8). The 31 year old Ashkeyev has been a professional for close to 4 years and really needs to get a move on before he gets too old to make a mark. Whilst 2019 has been a better year for him he really does need to step it up again next year, in a big way. Given that Wright is a late replace, for a late replacement, this is unlikely to be a test for the Kazakh but Wright has only been stopped once, and that was way back on his debut in 2003.
This coming Tuesday in Tokyo we see the highly anticipated God's Left Bantamweight tournament kick off, with the quarter final bouts all taking place on the card, along with one other notable and interesting domestic match up.
On paper the best of the 3 quarter final bouts will see the unbeaten Jin Minamide (3-0, 3) taking on the once beaten Tetsu Araki (14-1-1, 2). Araki was is a former Japanese Youth champion and also fared pretty well in the 2015 Rookie of the Year. Although not a man with stellar amateur pedigree he has proven himself in the pros, with notable wins against the likes of Yuto Nakamura and Ryuto Owan. Minamide on the other hand was a top amateur, with over 40 amateur wins, and has been put on the fast track as a professional, with some quick wins including a very impressive one against Marjun Pantilgan. This is a really interesting match up, and one we're really looking forward to.
The winner of the Minamide Vs Araki bout will face off with either Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5) or Kenichi Watanabe (8-4-1, 4), who battle in the same half of the tournament. Nakajima, like Minamide, is a highly regarded prospect following a very good stint as an amateur, and will be regarded as one of the tournaments favourites. Watanabe on the other hand is a live under-dog though will looking for a career best win. Although Watanabe is the under-dog he has shared the ring with the likes of Hiroaki Teshigawara and Koki Eto, so has mixed with good company.
The remaining quarter final bout will see Gaku Aikawa (9-7-1, 3) battle against the all action Kenya Yamashita (13-5, 10). On paper this is the "lesser" quarter final, but in reality it's one of the more even bouts with both being flawed fighters who can upset better foes. On paper Yamashita is the favourite, but the aggressive youngster has taken a lot of punishment through his career and it's unclear what he has left to offer. Aikawa on the other hand has picked up losses recently but has shown an upset minded mentality and could well pick up an another upset win here. The winner of this bout will face Seiya Tsutsumi in the next round, with Tsutsumi getting a bye to the semi-finals.
One other bout of interest will see Shogo Yamaguchi (11-4-3, 6) take on the highly regarded Masanori Rikiishi (5-1, 3). Yamaguchi is a "win some, lose some" fighter but on his day he's a solid fighter who has scored a draw with Genki Maeda, went 8 pretty competitive rounds with Akihiro Kondo, and is far from a pushover. Rikiishi on the other hand is a highly regarded prospect solid wins over the likes of Genki Maeda and Kei Iwahara and will be strongly favoured here.
This coming Monday Japanese fight fans get a genuinely exceptional card, headlined by an OPBF Featherweight title fight, between unbeaten fighters, and stacked with several other notable bouts, including 2 genuinely brilliant support bouts.
The main event of this card will 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (7-0, 7) take on Takuya Uehara (16-0, 10). The bout will be Shimizu's 4th defense of the OPBF Featherweight title and if he wins he's expected to be moved aggressively into a world title fight in the new year. Despite being a stand out amateur Shimizu has looked like a flawed professional, but with his unbeaten record and perfect T/KO run it's hard to double the results, even if the performances haven't been the best. The 23 year old Uehara is a former WBC Youth champion but this is a massive step up in class, and is likely to be his first bout against a genuine puncher. This could be a good test for Shimizu, but one he'll be expected to pass. A full preview of this bout can be found here - Olympic hero Shimizu takes on Uehara in next OPBF title defense!
The co-feature looks even better than the main event, and is a really well balanced match up that should give us a combination between explosive heavy handed blows and skills. The match up pits the very heavy handed Tsuyoshi Tameda (18-3-2, 16) against the incredibly highly skilled Hinata Maruta (7-1-1, 6), in a bout that will likely lead the winner to a regional title fight in 2019. Tameda is the more raw fighter, but also the hard hitting and the one with real explosive power. Maruta is the more skilled man, but has failed to deliver on the promise he has in recent bouts, and some are perhaps not doubting the Morioka man. This really could be something very, very special. A preview of this can be read here - Preview - Maruta and Tameda to fight on December 3rd!
Another interesting all prospect match up is a mouth watering 8 rounder between Taku Kuwahara (2-0, 2) and Takamori Kiyama (2-0, 2), which may well go down as the best match up between a couple of 2-0 fighters ever. As an amateur Kuwahara was a 2-time national champion and the Ohashi gym view him as a potential major player in their gym, this is however a massive step up in class from the Indonesian fighters he has faced in his first two bouts, neither of which have lasted a round. Kiyama, from the Atsumi gym, was also an amateur standout, and he's has looked fantastic since turning professional as well. This is really a risky bout for both fighters but they should both be admired, for willing to risk their "0" against a fellow prospect this early on.
Former Japanese Supe Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (21-6-1, 12) looks to record his 4th straight win, as he takes on the limited Takahiro Araki (12-7, 4). Okada is a faded force to the man who had pushed Takashi Miura hard in 2010 and had gone on to win the Japanese title the following year, running up 3 defenses before losing to Daiki Kaneko. He is however capable against the lower level domestic fighters and will see this as a good chance to score his 22nd professional win. The 31 year old Araki however is no push over and will see this an opportunity to get a win against a former national champion.
The once touted Sho Nakazawa (11-2, 5) looks to continue rebuilding his career after a 2017 loss to Ryo Hino. The former amateur standout will be looking for a second straight win as he takes on Filipino journeyman Jhon Gemino (17-11-1, 7). On paper this looks like a mismatch but Nakazawa really has failed to shine as a professional and Gemino is the sort of fighter who can be a very tricky out. We suspect Nakazawa gets the win, but Gemino won't have travelled to just roll over.
Another prospect on this card is the highly touted Kazuki Nakajima (5-0, 4), who takes a notable step up in class to fight the experienced Yoshihiro Utsumi (15-8-3, 10). So far Nakajima has only been tested one, with Taiga Higashi giving him issues last December, and has otherwise had things all his own way. Utsumi on the hand has collected losses, but has faced tough competition with losses to Yasutaka Ishimoto, Ye Joon Kim and Hiroaki Teshigawara. It's worth noting that coming into this bout Utsumi scored a huge upset win over Hibiki Jogo and is riding a 3 fight stoppage run into this contest.
Our attention turns to Tokyo this coming Friday as Ohashi gym put on a notable card at the Korakuen Hall, in what is being sold as a double main event card.
One of the main event bouts will see Satoshi Shimizu (6-0, 6) defending the OPBF Featherweight title against Shingo Kawamura (16-3-1, 8). The heavy handed champion will be making his third defense of the title that he won last October, when he stopped Sa Myung Noh. The Olympic bronze medal winner has looked destructive but clumsy so far though is unlikely to be made to pay for his clumsiness here. The 28 year old challenger will be having his second title shot, following a loss to Mike Tawatchai in an IBF Pan Pacific Super Bantamweight title fight. Kawamura comes into this on the back of a 6 fight winning streak, including a win over Tae Il Atsumi, but this is certainly a big step up from that level of competition.
The co-main event will see former 3 weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (26-6, 14) take on former world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (16-5-3, 6) in an interesting must win bout for both men. Yaegashi is hunting a Super Flyweight world title and although that is a huge task for the popular warrior he does seem to believe in himself and will know that a win over Mukai will open doors. As for Mukai the bout will see him looking to continue a 3 fight stoppage run, but this is his first step up in class since a 2017 loss to Rex Tso. The loser of this will have to seriously consider their future, whilst the winner will move towards one more notable bout.
The best of the under-card bouts will see the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda (17-3-2, 15) take on Japanese based Korean Tae Il Atsumi (14-2, 7) in what should be a genuinely fantastic match up. The destructive Tameda, has stopped his last 4 opponents, and is unbeaten since a 2016 loss to Reiya Abe. He'll be looking to continue that form and move towards a potential Japanese or OPBF title fight in the future. As for Atsumi this bout will see him looking to rebuild from his aforementioned loss to Kawamura, who beat him just 2 fights ago. At his best Atsumi is a talented and hard hitting fighter, who holds notable wins over Sho Nakazawa, Dennis Tubieron, Burning Ishii and Neil John Tabanao. This should be a very exciting bout for the fans in the venue, even if it's unlikely to be televised.
Interestingly former Atsumi victim Sho Nakazawa (10-2, 4) is also on this card, as he fights in a straight forward match up against Ahmad Lahizab (3-5-1, 1) of Indonesia. It's hard to see anything but a win for Nakazawa, though he hasn't actually scored a win since April 2017 and has fallen a long way short of the promise he had shown as an amateur.
On the subject of people who showed promise as an amateur the fans will also see former amateur stand out Kazuki Nakajima (4-0, 3) take on the tough but light hitting Takuya Fujioka (8-8-1, 1). The talented Nakajima is tipped for big things thought he will need to get past the under-rated Fujioka here if he's to reach the heights expected of him. It's worth noting that Fujioka is a real potential banana skin and scored a big upset win in February when he defeated Futa Akizuki.
There's more Japanese action in the US as popular tough brawler Yoshihiro Kamegai (27-4-2, 24) takes on American foe Greg Vendetti (19-2-1, 12) in California. For Kamegai this will be his first bout in almost a year, with the iron chinned warrior not having fought since his August 2017 loss to Miguel Cotto in a world title fight. Part of the long break for Kamegai was due to a shoulder injury earlier this year, but with that now healed he's looking to get back to winning ways. As for Vendetti he's looking for his 4th win of 2018, but this is a big step up for "The Villain's who has won his last 15 bouts against limited opposition.