Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Over the last few weeks the Japanese boxing scene has been frozen over almost due the State of Emergency ordered in certain areas of the country, which saw a number of shows in Tokyo and Osaka being postponed. This coming Wednesday we finally see the first of those postponed shows, taking place around 2 weeks after it's originally planned date. Despite the delay it's a show that is still anticipated and should have some genuine drama and excitement.
A lot of the drama and excitement will come in the main event as Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 11) battles mandatory challenger Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2), at long last. This bout had multiple dates set for it last year, before the pandemic and injuries forced it to be delayed over, and over, and was then delayed earlier this year. Due to the delays Takesako will have been out of the ring for 16 months, following an excellent win over Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa but he's likely to be very fresh having had time to recover after 3 successive tough bouts. As for Kunimoto we expect him to be very rusty, and it's more than 2 years since his last fight, with the pandemic really slowing his career down massively. Despite being inactive for 2 years Kunimoto is still only 23 and the long delay may actually help him, giving him time to mature into a young man. Either way this promises to be Takesako's power and strength against Kunimoto's speed and youth and should be a really intriguing match up. Our full in depth preview of this bout can be read here Power punching Takesako takes on unbeaten challenger Kunimoto in over-due fight!
The main support bout will be a bit of a strange one as Japanese ranked Bantamweight Yoshihiro Utsumi (16-9-4, 10) drops down in weight to Super Flyweight to take on Japanese ranked Flyweight Kento Yabusaki (8-4-1, 5). The 37 year old Utsumi has had some mixed results through his career, but can clearly fight, having beaten Hibiki Jogo in 2018 and going the distance with Hiroaki Teshigawara. Sadly though his best days are well behind him. Yabusaki on the other hand is 23 and looking to build on a major upset win over Shin Ono that he scored in 2020. This is two men in different divisions, going in different directions, meeting in a bit of crossroads fight.
Other bouts on this card include a toss up between Yuki Uchida (7-8, 1) and Yoshimitsu Kushibe (7-8-2, 1) in what should be a very competitive 8 round bout, and a battle of teenagers, as Sho Nagasato (2-0, 1) takes on the debuting Kanamu Sakama (0-0).
This coming Saturday is set to be a great day for Asian boxing, with notable action in Thailand, Japan, Russia and the US.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
For once we'll start in Thailand as WP Boxing give us one of their most interesting shows of 2020, and do so free on their YouTube and Facebook pages. The card isn't a monster card, but it does have two very interesting main bouts on it.
The highest profile bout on the card will see former world champions colliding for a regional title. In one corner will be former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-8, 36), who showed there was still something left in the tank with a recent upset win over Campee Phayom, whilst the other corner will host Amnat Ruenroeng (20-4, 6), himself a former IBF Flyweight champion. On paper it seems easy to favour the hard hitting, and naturally bigger, Pungluang, however Amnat showed he still have plenty to offer when he ran Srisaket Sor Rungvisai close a few months ago. This is a really intriguing match up and will be for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Featherweight title.
A second WBC Asian Boxing Council title fight on this card will be at Flyweight, with rising youngster Thananchai Charunphak (10-1, 8) defending his title over battle worn veteran Pigmy Kokietgym (61-13-2, 25). We are huge fans of the 20 year old Thananchai, who has been very impressive in recent bouts and will be looking to secure a third notable win here. Sadly Pigmy Kokietgym is about 10 years beyond his prime, and about 7lbs north of his best weight. We suspect Pigmy will give it a go early on, before being broken down and stopped by Thananchai. Although a mismatch we can't recommend fans following Thananchai enough, this youngster is one of the best prospects in Thailand.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
As well as as the action in Thailand we also get a pretty notable show at Korakuen Hall, sadly however this show won't be getting live TV coverage and instead will be televised a few days after the event takes place.
Originally the main event here was supposed to see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 11) make a mandatory defense of his title as he takes on unbeaten youngster Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2), as part of the Champion Carnival. Sadly the bout was cancelled just over a week before the show due to Takesako suffering a training injury.
Due to the main event bout being cancelled the headline bout here will see former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (16-1-1, 10) fight in what is supposed to be a tune up contest against the unbeaten Nath Nwachukwu (6-0-2, 3), who will likely see himself as a live under-dog. Inoue, best known for his 2019 bout with Jaime Munguia, will be seeking a 4th straight win and will be hoping to move into a second world level bout next year. Notably he won't be defending his WBO Asia Pacific title here, which he did defend back in January. The 23 year old Nwachukwu won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Middleweight in 2018 and has picked up 3 wins since then. Although he's the under-dog Nwachukwu will know a win here would genuinely change his career.
Another bout of note on this card will see flawed puncher Takuma Takahashi (5-0, 5) take on Kodai Kiyota (9-6-2, 9), in what could be a very explosive contest. Takahashi has looked very, very heavy handed, but he also showed some real vulnerability last time out, getting dropped and cut against Leonardo Doronio, and there are worries about his punch resistance. Kiyota is no world beater, and hasn't fought in over a decade, but he is heavy handed and could well have the power needed to take out Takahashi, if he lands clean.
Also on this card will be recent Japanese title challenger Koki Koshikawa (9-2, 6), who takes on Yuichi Ideta (13-15-1, 7), with Koshikawa looking to bounce back from a loss to Hironobu Matsunaga.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
The WP Boxing event isn't the only one we'll be getting for free on YouTube as RCC will also be giving us a show, this time from Russia, with several Central Asian fighters on it.
One of the bouts on this show will see once beaten Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov (10-1, 7) take on really talented Ukrainian Zoravor Petrosian (9-0, 4), in a bout that was originally for September. Umurzakov was upset back in January by Esneiker Correa, in a genuine surprise, and has been out of the ring since then. Petrosian on the other hand is a 22 year old who turned professional in 2018 and has scored 3 wins this year, whilst looking very highly skilled. This should be a very, very interesting match up.
In a supporting bout baby faced Kazakh fighter Yerzhan Zalilov (11-2-1, 5) take on Russian fighter Evgenii Liashkov (6-1, 1). At one point Zalilov looks like a fighter with the potential to go places, but sadly 2 losses in is last 3 bouts have pretty much ended his hopes of reaching the top of the mountain. Liashkov is a light puncher who lost on but has reeled off 6 wins and comes into this with real momentum.
One more bout on this show will see Uzbek born Russian Dmitry Yun (4-0, 1) taking on Sherzodjon Abdurazzokov (1-0). Yun is a really skilled boxer-mover, who looks like a brilliant talented, with lovely speed, movement and accuracy. Sadly however his lack of power, and questionable durability, seem likely to hold him back, despite how fantastic he is to see in full flow. Aged 20 Abdurazzokov is an Uzbek youngster who made his debut in 2019, and will go into this as the under-dog.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
We will also Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (21-0, 16) in action, as he begins his relationship with Matchroom Sports. The 37 year Chinese fighter, who has been spoken about as a future opponent for Anthony Joshua, will be up against 38 year old American Devin Vargas (22-6, 9). Sadly for a man that Eddie Hearn wants to talk about big fights for, time is rapidly running out for Zhang, and it seems highly unlikely that he will ever manage to reach the heights some expected of him.
Action really begins to pick up this coming weekend with a host of fights taking place that are worthy of attention. We get the first televised Japanese card of the year, the first televised Korean card of the year and the first world title fight involving an Asian of the year.
The Japanese card, which will be aired live on G+ as part of their Dynamic Glove series, is an interesting card with a fantastic main event and two notable fighters in supporting bouts.
Tha main event looks set to be a genuine shoot out as Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) defends his Japanese Middleweight title against Japanese national champion Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11). Whilst Takesako's title isn't on the line we still see this as being a very special and explosive bout between two hard hitters each out to make a statement. We do not expect this one to go the distance, and instead we expect bombs to be fired off until one man ends up being saved by the referee. It might be a short bout, it might be a long one, but with the power of the two men combined this is going to be a brutal for as long as it lasts. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hosokawa and Takesako battle in clash of champions
In the chief support bout we'll see former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (15-1-1, 9) make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title, as he takes on Chinese challenger Cheng Su (14-2-1, 8). Although this looks interesting on paper, with both men having similar looking records, we really can't see it being anything more than an easy defense for Inoue. Footage of Su shows him to be a slow, open and clumsy fighter and Inoue's pressure should grind him down in the middle rounds. Anything other than a stoppage for the champion should be seen as disappointing for a man who will be hoping to get a second world title fight in the near future. Our preview of this fight can be read here Takeshi Inoue takes on Cheng Su in WBO Asia Pacific title defense
Also on this card will be unbeaten prospect Takuma Takahashi (4-0, 4), who looks for his 5th straight win as he takes on Filipino journeyman Leonardo Doronio (17-17-3, 11). The talented Takahashi is likely to be looking at title fights by the end of 2020, and already holds a win over recent OPBF title challenger Sitthidet Banti, and this seems an easy first bout of the year. Doronio was once a capable Lightweight, and scored good wins against Al Rivera and Burning Ishii among others, but has gone 3-8-1 (2) in his last 12 and shouldn't be competing at Welterweight, a weight that really doesn't suit him.
We get more title action in Mexico, as WBC "interim" female Light Flyweight champion Kenia Enriquez (22-1, 9) defends her title against Japanese challenger Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5). For Minowa this is a must win after coming up short in 2 previous world title bouts, and given her amateur reputation if Minowa does fail to claim some version of a world title it would be regarded as a huge achievement. Sadly for Minowa we've been very impressed by what we've seen of the technically sound Enriquez, who will be expecting to notch her 4th defense of the WBC interim title. We've previewed this bout here Chaoz Minowa returns to Mexico to face WBC interim queen Kenia Enqiruez!
Jeonju, South Korea
Back in Asia we also get an interesting card in South Korea, featuring 5 title bouts! These are 3 WBA Asia title bouts and 2 KBM title bouts.
One of those WBA Asia title bouts will see the heavy handed Yang Hyun Min (8-3, 7) take on Italian born Australian Danilo Creati (4-0, 1) for the WBA Asia Middleweight title. For Min this is a second regional title fight, after he gave Yuki Nonaka a surprisingly tough test last September in a WBO Asia Pacific title bout. Min is no world beater, but he hits hard, takes a short and is aggressive. As for Creati this will be a notable step up in class for the unbeaten Australian and will be his first bout in Asia. This could be a very interesting clash of styles.
In a WBA Asia Super Bantamweight title fight the unbeaten Min Jang (9-0-2, 2) will take on limited Chinese foe Junhui Zhao (4-5-2 1). Jang is a former Korean Super Flyweight champion but is said to have out grown the 115lb weight class and the 19 year old is expected to make a splash, at least domestically, at Super Bantamweight. Zhao will be a clear under-dog here, but should make for a good foil for the local hopeful.
The most interesting of the WBA Asia title bouts comes at Super Flyweight where former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-5-2, 5) take on once beaten Korean Woo Hyun Kim (8-1, 1). The local, a former "interim" PABA Bantamweight champion, has fought just once in the last 3 years, but that was a win against the previously mentioned Junhui Zhao, and he'll feel confident of picking up a career best win here. Nakayama on the other hand is 1-3-1 in his last 5 and has not looked good recent performances. Nakayama needs a win to keep his career alive, but we wouldn't be surprised at all if this was a third straight defeat for him.
The KBM title bout which has caught our attention sees all action Han Bin Suh (5-0-3, 4) defending his KBM Super Middleweight title against former amateur standout Dong Myung Shin (2-0). Suh really caught our attention last year, with the 19 year old going 2-0-2 for the year and being involved in some sensational bouts. Although not the most polished of fighters he did give us the vibe of being an old school Korean fighter. Shin is a talented fighter, and was a very experienced amateur turning professional, but with his 32nd birthday coming in March his best years are likely behind him. Interestingly when this bout was first announced Korean sources stated that if Suh won he would be chasing an OPBF title fight with Hiroaki Teshigawara later in the year, in what would be a massive step up in class.
The other KBM title fight takes place at Super Featherweight and will see unbeaten Korean based Kyrgyzstan fighter Urmat Amankulov (4-0-2, 3) battle against Seung Yoon Shin (4-3-3, 2) for the vacant title. Shin has scored 1 win in his last 3 and it would be a genuine surprise if he was competitive with Amankulov.
Camarines Sur, Philippines
One more Asian show of note will come from the Philippines, where we get some low level action.
In one of the most noteworthy bouts on this card the once beaten 21 year old local Michael Mendoza (10-1-2, 3) will battle Indonesian journeyman Stevanus Nana Bau (10-12-2, 2), with the two men trading blows for the lightly regarded WBF International Flyweight title. Coming in to this Mendoza has won 5 in a row since his soul defeat, to Arvin Magramo, almost 2 years ago and appears to be building some genuine momentum. Bau on the other hand has lost 4 of his last 6 and is win-less outside of Indonesia, with an 0-8 record on the road. Fair to say we're not expecting much of Bau here.
The only other bout of note here will see the once touted Al Sabaupan (25-3-1, 20) end a lengthy break from the ring to take on Benny Tamaela (4-9-1, 1) in an 8 rounder. Although Sabaupan hasn't fought since November 2016, when he was stopped by Jheritz Chavez, he'll be strongly favoured here. Tamaela is a 36 year old who has 1 win since the start of 2016 and is 2-9-1 in his last 12. An easy comeback for Sabaupan.
The biggest card this coming Saturday is from Tokyo, and is the latest Dynamic Glove card set to be shown on tape delay. The card features a nice mixture of title fights and novices in what could be one a card of real interest.
The main event of the show is a rematch between Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) and Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6). These two fought earlier in the year, battling to a draw in a brilliant bout where the heavy handed Takesako had to dig deep to earn a draw against a determined and smart challenger. Kato will probably have felt like he let the win slip between his fingers in their first bout whilst Takesako may have over-looked his man and we should be assured another cracking bout here between men who are very well matched but have very contrasting styles. A full preview of this bout is available here Takesako and Kato go again for Japanese Middleweight crown!
The chief support bout sees former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (13-1-1, 7) back in the ring following his loss to Jaime Munguia in January. The tough and exciting Inoue proved he could go to war against Munguia and will be expected to easily over-come Thai visitor Patomsuk Pathompothong (38-10-1 24) on a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title. Inoue actually held this title back in late 2017 and will be looking to become a 2-time champion. On the other hand the 35 year old Thai has been stopped in his last 2 bouts in Japan, both at 140lbs, and it's hard to see him putting up any sort of a fight against the rough and ready Japanese warrior. We've previewed this bout here Inoue returns to Japan to battle for regional title!
An interesting support bout will see the once beaten Kenshin Oshima (5-1-1, 3) take on Filipino Wilbert Berondo (14-3-2, 6). Oshima didn't look great last time out, taking a win over youngster Ikuro Sadatsune in a very good bout in January, and will be hoping to shine here against Berondo. The Filipino on the other hand will be returning to Japan for the first time since he was stopped by Hinata Maruta back in 2016 in a WBC Youth title fight.
Another promising youngster on this card is the hard hitting Takuma Takahashi (3-0, 3), who battles against Sitthidet Banti (11-4, 5). With just 5 rounds to his name Takahashi is still very much a professional novice, but it's clear he can bang, even if his technique needs some work before he starts to hunt titles. Takahashi was a successful amateur but still needs to polish his style in the next year or two and this should be a good chance for him to do some polishing against a tough Thai foe. Banti, also known as Denchana Sakkreerin, is no world beater but he's yet to be stopped and comes in to this bout on the back of 2 wins, including a victory over Saddam Kietyongyuth. Our "Introducing" feature on Takahashi from earlier in the year can be read here Introducing... Takuma Takahashi
Also on this card will be the debut of Celes Kobayashi's latest signing Issei Ochiai (0-0). The talented youngster will be debuting against Thai foe Lerdchai Chaiyawed (1-2), who holds a notable 2018 win over Wittawas Basapean though was beaten last time out, in Japan, by Seita Ogido. There are big hopes for Ochiai and we expect to see whether those hopes are well founded or not here. Our "Introducing" feature on Ochiai can be read here Introducing... Issei Ochiai
Metro Manila, Philippines
The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex in Paranaque City is set to host a title double header which features some really interesting match ups, mixing domestic talent with some international talent.
The best of the all-Filipino fights on this card will see Allan Vallespin (12-4, 9) take on Glenn Enterina (14-5-1, 9) in an excellent match up for the GAB Super Featherweight title. The under-rated Vallespin is coming in to this on the back of just 1 win in his last 3, though he has been matched hard against the likes of Denys Brinchyk, Musashi Mori and Yoshimitsu Kimura, but is 12-0 in his homeland. Similarly Enterina has suffered all of his losses on the road, and is 14-1-1 (9) at home, showing just how good he is on the domestic scene. Given how these men have fared on the Filipino scene this should be a very competitive contest.
The second title fight will see Filipino puncher Alvin Medura (8-4, 7) take on Japanese visitor Mugicha Nakagawa (24-6-2, 14) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Super Bantamweight title. Medura has suffered his last 3 loses to Japanese foes, all on the road, but will feel confident that his power, which has netted him 5 wins int he first 2 rounds, will play a major factor against Nakagawa. Nakagawa on the other hand will be trying to put a few bad months behind him. He lost in a Japanese title fight back in January, to Ryoichi Tamura, and then fought to a draw last time out with Jin Miura. At his best Nakagawa is a tough, hard working fighter, but we do question his confidence coming into this one. If Nakagawa is half the fighter he was 12 months ago he takes a clear win here.
One other Filipino Vs Japan bout will see Crison Omayao (24-19-5, 8) face Daisuke Sugita (4-1, 3), in what looks like an abhorrent mis-match. The 26 year old Omayao has fought much of his career as a Minimumweight, and was actually the debut of opponent of Naoya Inoue back in 2012, so we really need to query why he's fighting at Super Bantamweight here against the technically limited but hard hitting Daisuke Sugita. For Sugita this looks like a really straight forward way to get back to winning ways following a very clear loss back in January to Reiya Abe. We'd be very shocked if this one went more than a few rounds and didn't end up with Omayao suffering his 10th stoppage loss
Metro Manila, Philippines
A second card from the Philippines is a much smaller one, but will feature two more title bouts.
One of those title bouts will feature the limited but hard hitting Prabhjot Singh (7-4-1, 7) taking on Edsil Jungco (3-12-7), with the two fighters battling for the PBF Middleweight title. Singh has lost his last 4, dating back over 2 years, and it's really hard to know what he has left to offer. Jungco on the other hand, the expect of the draw with 7 of them from 22 bouts, has notched 2 wins in his last 4 and will have some confidence coming into this bout after 1 win in his first 18.
The other title bout on this card is between Alie Laurel (15-4-1,10) and Lloyd Jardeliza (8-9-4, 6), who battle for the LuzProBA Featherweight title. The 27 year old Laurel is very much an under-rated fighter, but sadly had his career put on ice for almost 3 years following a draw with Joe Noynay in 2016, a draw that now looks incredibly good. This will be his second bout since that bout with Noynay. JArdeliza on the other hand is best known for being stopped in 5 rounds by Shun Kubo in an OPBF title bout, back in 2015, and since then he has struggled to make any impact in the sport, going 1-6-1 since then. Jardeliza needs a win here, but is very unlikely to get it against the talented Laurel.
Once beaten former world title challenger Jessebelle Pagaduan (11-1-1, 5) will be seeking her 5th straight win as she takes on limited domestic foe Charimae Salvador (4-2, 1). The talented Pagaduan has suffered both of her career set backs in Japan in world title bouts but will be looking to secure a third world title bout in the coming years. Interesting both of Salvador's set backs have also come in Japan but at a much lower level, including a loss to novice teenager Eruka Hiromoto last November. There's a gulf in class between these two, and it's hard to imagine anything but a clear win for Pagaduan.
Staying in Asia there will also be a card that will be headlined by Campee Phayom (16-4-1, 10) taking on China's Lunjun Zhao (6-1) in a contest for a WBO Youth title at Super Featherweight. This is the least significant of the Asian cards for the day, but is still a chance to see two youngsters in action for a minor title.
As well as all the action in Asia we'll also see Japanese veteran Hirotsugu Yamamoto (20-14-3, 4) make his US debut, as he takes on the unbeaten Michael Norato (7-0, 2). The Japanese fighter, who will be fighting in his 38th pro bout, will be fighting for the first time in a little over 2 years, with his last bout being a TKO2 loss Kenichi Ogawa. Although now aged 35 Yamamoto is looking to continue his career Stateside, though will be a big under-dog against the 26 year old Norato. The unbeaten American is technically set for his toughest fight, but this merely looks like a natural step up for him, and Norato should pick up a straight forward win.
Action returns to the Korakuen Hall this coming Satuday for the next Dynamic Glove card, though sadly it won't be aired live on G+ as we typically see, instead being delayed for broadcast on Monday.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) defending his belt for the second time, and taking on mandatory challenger Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6), a former Rookie of the Year winner. Takesako has looked brutal so far through his career, but has struggled to get suitable opponents on the domestic scene, and likely needs to look beyond domestic title challengers, if he gets past Kato. For the challenger this is a huge step up in class, a very, very tough match up, but a huge chance for him to make a big name for himself. Our preview for this bout is available here Japanese king Takesako faces mandatory challenger!
The main event is mouth watering and it's strange that the under-card appears to be focused on showcasing a trio of notable Japanese prospects. One of those is Celes Kobayashi protege Jin Minamide (2-0, 2). The unbeaten Minamide, a former standout amateur, has taken out good looking opponents very easily so far, but will be taking a huge step up in class here, as he goes up against Filipino Marjun Pantilgan (18-7, 14), in what could be a very tough outing for the unbeaten hopeful.
On paper Takuma Takahashi (2-0, 2) is also taking a step up as he goes up against 21 year Filipino Jonel Dapidran (10-3, 6). On paper this is a credible step in the right direction for Takahashi, though we wouldn't be surprised to see him score another early win. Dapidran fought in Japan late last year and was stopped by Rikuto Adachi, retiring after 3 rounds, and that will almost certainly be a marker for Takahashi to try and beat.
Interestingly Masahiro Suzuki (1-0, 1) is the only prospect on the card not taking a clear step forward, and in fact is taking a slight step backwards. His debut came against the big punching Antonio Siesmundo, and he was forced to dig deep to win, so it seems sensible to ease things a bit, as he takes on Kelvin Tenorio (4-4, 2). It's hard to imagine anything but a win for Suzuki, who is one of the best prospects in Japan, but here we'll be looking to read more from the performance, rather than the result.
There is one really competitive looking bout on this card, as Japanese ranked Kenji Ono (11-2-2, 6) takes on the returning Hayato Yamaguchi (14-7-1, 2). Both of these guys can be in entertaining scraps, and despite their records they are really well matched. Ono is more active in recent years, but is winless in 3, whilst Yamaguchi hasn't fought since October 2016, when he lost to Tetsuya Hisada. Don't be surprised if this one steals the show.
The best single bout to feature an Asian fighter comes from Glasgow, where legendary Filipino Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24) takes on WBA Bantamweight “super” champion Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9) in the final WBSS Bantamweight quarter final. This has the potential to be Donaire's last bout, if he loses, given he turns 36 on November 16th, but a win secures him a semi-final bout against Zolani Tete. For the unbeaten Burnett the bout is a chance to score a big win over a huge name in the lower weights, as well as setting himself up for a bout with Tete. This is real must win for both men, but sadly has the potential to be a bit of a stinker with Burnett likely to be too quick, too smart and too elusive for the Filipino veteran. A full preview of this bout can be read here Burnett and Donaire face off for final semi-final place!
The most notable card for us this coming Saturday comes from the Korakuen Hall where we get a Japanese Middleweight title bout and bouts featuring several notable Japanese prospects.
The Japanese title bout will see Japanese Middleweight king Kazuto Takesako (9-0, 9) make his first defense, as he faces off with former champion Sanosuke Sasaki (12-6, 6). The unbeaten champion won the title earlier this year, decimating Hikaru Nishida in 92 seconds, and since then has fought only a stay busy bout against tough Thai visitor Chaiwat Mueanphong. Former champion Sasaki had a 4 month reign from last 2012 to early 2013 but is 1-5 coming into this bout and looks to be a very under-whelming challenger for the heavy handed champion. It's nice to see Takesako defend the title, but it's a shame that he's not in there with a man anyone is giving much of a chance to. A preview of this title fight can be read here Takesako's first defense sees him takes on former champion!
In a supporting bout Masaya Tamayama (11-1, 6) will battle against Daijiro Yuki (8-4-1, 4). Coming in to this the 25 year old Tamayama is riding a 7 fight winning streak, and has broken into the JBC rankings at Welterweight. Yuki, also 25, is unbeaten his last 2 bouts but is 3-4-1 in his last 8, and has been stopped twice. We can't see anything but a win for Tamayama, but we do expect him to have to earn it.
Another supporting bout will see Daiki Funayama (7-3-1, 2) take a part in his first 8 rounder, as he takes on once beaten puncher Kenta Yamada (5-1-1, 4). Funayama has won his last 4, though has had to go the distance in those wins, and seems to lack power, even at the low end of the domestic level. Yamada on the other hand will be fighting for the first time in over 2 years. Although no world beater Yamada does hold a notable win over Kazuki Sanpei and will be looking to get himself back on the domestic map here.
One of the notable prospects is Jin Minamide (1-0, 1), who will take a notable step up in class to face Filipino Conrado Tanamor (10-2, 4). On paper this looks like a great match up for the young prospects, though digging beneath the surface we do wonder what Tanamor really brings to the ring following back to back stoppage losses, and a 0-2 record in fights outside of the Philippines. Despite Tanamor not being a great opponent we are looking forward to seeing how Minamide goes about his business here
Another of the prospects on this show is the debuting Masahiro Suzuki (0-0), who is scheduled to take on Antonio Sismundo (6-1, 6). Suzuki is a touted fighter who is a notable Japanese amateur with a lot of expectation on his shoulders, and he's been matched aggressively here against a man who clearly has power. Sismundo has stopped 6 men inside the first 3 rounds, but was stopped himself in his sole defeat back in September 2017.
Staying in Asia we also get a title double header in the Philippines, though neither match looks particularly competitive.
One of them will see Eranio Semillano (16-9-3, 5) and Edison Berwela (16-39-8, 5) battle for the PBF Bantamweight title. It's hard to imagine Semillano losing here, but Berwela is a live under-dog and did shock the Asian scene earlier this year when he stopped Saenganan Sithsaithong way back in January. It should be noted that since that upset win Berwela has lost his last 2 bouts.
The other bout will be for the PBF Super Flyweight bout and will see Cris Alfante (14-7-1, 6) take on Zoren Pama (8-14-3, 5). Alfante has mixed with great competition, such as Knockout CP Freshmart, Andrew Moloney and Daigo Higa, and we suspect that he will have far too much for Pama, who lacks a win of any note, though did surprisingly go 7 rounds before losing a technical decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2014.
There will also be a couple of bouts of note in Texas where two Kazakh prospects will be in action.
One of those prospects will be the very highly touted Janibek Alimkhanuly (3-0, 1), who faces off against Vaughn Alexander (12-1, 8) in what looks like an excellent test for the unbeaten man. The 25 year old Kazakh southpaw failed to really shine in his US debut, back in September, but he is a genuine talent and the expectation is that he will adapt to the professional ranks quickly. The once beaten Alexander is looking to bounce back from an August loss to Dennis Doughlin, and will not be coming in to this bout to lose. This should be an excellent test for Alimkhanuly.
The other prospect is less hyped Sagadat Rakhmankul (3-0, 1), who hunts his fourth win as he takes on the once beaten Nicklaus Flaz (5-1, 4). The unbeaten Rakhmankul has been impressive so far, following a debut this past February, and will be looking to close out the year with arguably his best win so far, as the 25 year old looks to move to the next level. Flaz is a 22 year old Puerto Rican who was beaten last time out by Hurshidbek Normatov and will be looking to get back to winning ways, though sadly hasn't fought since that Normatov bout back in December 2017.
The first Japanese show of June takes place at the Korakuen Hall and features a number of notable fighters, including a couple of touted debutants and a Japanese champion.
The main event will see hard hitting Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (8-0, 8) defending his title against a Thai foe. Originally Takesako was supposed to battle Filipino journeyman Joel Dela Cruz (20-26-3, 8), though Dela Cruz has been replaced just days before the fight. The destructive Takesako won his Japanese title in 92 seconds back on March 3rd, destroying Hikaru Nishida, and was unable to find a suitable challenger in time for this date so will instead be staying busy with this bout. Whilst it doesn't make a lot to fight a mismatch just to stay busy Takesako has fought just 3 minutes and 2 seconds in the last 12 months and returning to the ring as soon as he could was probably in his best interest.
One of the debutants here is Jin Minamide (0-0), who takes on Indonesian Anthony Holt (5-3-1, 3) in what should be a show case for Minamide. The other debutant is Takuma Takahashi (0-0), who will be facing a Thai in another bout that is expected to be a show case. These two Japanese debutants are both B class fighters and both former amateur standouts who are expected to go on to have success going forward, so are well worth making a note of their names.
In a supporting bout Japanese ranked Flyweight Spicy Matsushita (17-10-1, 2) will go up against Ryusie Ishii (7-4, 4). Matsushita fought for the Japanese title last October, losing in 7 rounds to Shuichiro Yoshino and this will be his first bout since that defeat. The 21 year old Ishii has lost 3 of his last 5, but will feel like this is a great opportunity to claim a big over a Japanese ranked foe, who just turned 35 and is thought to be past his best.
The chief support bout from this card will see JBC and OPBF ranked Featherweight Junki Sasaki (19-3, 7) going up against the very hard matched Ryo Sagawa (3-1, 2). Coming in to this Sasaki is riding a 6 fight winning streak, since losing in April 2015 to Ryo Takenaka. On paper that sounds good, but the reality is that his competition haven't been great and it's hard to know just his good he really is. On paper Sagawa looks to be a big under-dog but he has been matched hard and this is certainly the sort of bout and his team will feel their man can win, and will know that if he does he will automatically find himself in the title mix. High risk and high reward from Sagawa's team here.
In Azerbaijan we get a rescheduled show that was originally supposed to take place on April 27th.
The main event will see South African Cruiserweight Kevin Lerena (20-1, 9) battle against German based Ukrainian Roman Golovashchenko (19-1-0-1, 17) for the IBO Cruiserweight title. Larena is riding a 9 fight winning streak coming into this bout with notable victories over Micki Nielsen, Youri Kayembre Kalenga and Dmytro Kucher, as well as avenging his sole loss to Johnny Muller. Golovashchenko on the other hand is unbeaten in 16, including a no-contest against Yakup Saglam, but hasn't yet beaten anyone of real note, and this should be a straight forward win for Lerena.
This coming Saturday we get a world title in the West and we'll also see two very interesting and notable Japanese cards, both taking place in the Kanto region of Japan.
New York, USA
The world title bout is one of a trio of bouts at Madison Square Garden to feature Asian fighters, in what should be a great chance for a number of fighters to shine.
The world title bout will see Kyrgyzstan born Russian based Light Heavyweight Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10) defending his title against once beaten Cuban Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14). For both men the bout is a major step forward for their career with Bivol facing his most notable opponent to date and Barrera really fighting in a must win, against his second most significant opponent to date,only behind Andre Ward who beat him 2 years ago. The bout pits two top Light Heavyweights against each other, and could well be a very special bout.
This card will also feature a pair of Kazakh hopefuls. One of those is Meiirim Nursultanov (5-0, 4), who risks his unbeaten record against Alejandro Torres (9-3-2, 4). Nulrsultanov has looked really good since his debut in late 2016 and will be looking to launch himself up towards the world rankings by the end of 2018, with Torres being his first bout of the year. As for Torres the Mexican 24 year old has proven to be tough and should serve a good test for the Kazakh, who will be hunting his 5th straight stoppage.
The other Kazakh on this show will be Madiyar Ashkeyev (8-0, 4), who faces live under-dog Jose Antonio Abreu (13-3, 8). The Kazakh isn't as touted as his aforementioned countryman but is a skilled operator who will be looking to make up for lost time after having fought just once in 2017. Abreu, from the Dominican Republic, has lost 3 of his last 4, all in the US, and will likely come up short again here, though has been matched hard in those losses and is certainly no push over.
New York, USA
On a separate US card in New York, fans will see Kazakh hopeful Shyngyskhan Tazhibay (5-0, 2) risk his unbeaten record. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced, but it's unlikely to be too much of a step up in class for the unbeaten man.
On paper the Japanese card with the best single bouts take place in Kanagawa on a Kawasaki Nitta promoted card where fans will get two Japanese title fights and another solid support bout.
The main event of the card is a Japanese Flyweight title bout between defending champion Masayuki Kuroda (28-7-3, 16) and mandatory challenger Katsunori Nagamine (14-1-1, 10), who meet in a Champion Carnival bout. The champion will be seeking his second defense of the title, and will be expecting a much tougher bout than his last defense, which saw him dominate the limited but entertaining Mako Matsuyama. Nagamine on the other hand will be getting his first title bout, and, on paper, his toughest bout since his sole loss to Ken Shiro.
The other title bout is likely to be even better and will see teak tough Japanese Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida (17-8-1, 8) take on the explosive Kazuto Takesako (7-0, 7) in another of the 2018 Champion Carnival bouts. Nishida has held the title for almost 2 years, but has only managed a single defense, due to an out of the ring accident which forced him out of the ring for a while. Despite the lack of defenses he's a tough, aggressive and exciting champion with a solid mentality and style. Takesako is a talented slugger, and should take the fight to Nishida in a potential war. We are expecting this bout to be a potential Japanese fight of the year and something very special.
Also on this card will be the always fun to watch Gakuya Furuhashi (20-8-1, 9), who faces Masashi Kamon (7-2-1, 4) in an 8 rounder. Furuhashi has long been one of the fringe contenders on the domestic scene, and is far better than his record suggests, despite 3 losses in his last 6. Kamon on the other hand began his career 1-2 but has gone on a good run, going 6-0-1 in his last 7. Despite being on a good run Kamon is taking a notable step up in class here.
The other Japanese card will be televised on G+ and despite being higher profile in it's coverage it's arguably a lesser card, despite having a number of notable fighters on it.
The main event here will see WBO #1 ranked Super Featherweight contender Masayuki Ito (22-1-1, 11) take on under-rated Filipino Vergil Puton (17-9, 8), in a bout which appears to be a world title prelude for Ito. The talented Japanese fighter, a former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific champion, will be expected to easily over-come Puton but the visitor is no push over, and has asked genuine questions to the likes of Paul Fleming, Ibraham Balla, Shuya Masaki and Ye Joon Kim. Ito should win, but this will be much tough than a public spar for the Japanese fighter.
In a really good chief support bout fans will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (12-2-1, 8) take on Hajime Nagai (15-9-2, 5), with both men risking JBC rankings. Coming into this Tobe is ranked #7 by the JBC and Nagai is ranked #10. Tobe is riding a 4 fight winning run since losing the Japanese title to Sho Ishida, in a very competitive bout back in 2014, and despite issues with activity he is still a top domestic talent. Nagai on the other hand has lost 2 of his last 3, bith technical decisions,but does have under-rated skills, as he's shown against the likes of Yuji Shimizu back in 2016. This should be Tobe's to lose, but is a very good test on paper for the Misako gym fighter.
Another support bout will see the often fun to watch Koki Eto (21-4-1, 16) take on Filipino journeyman Marzon Cabilla (16-15-1, 5). Eto is currently riding a 4 fight winning run, albeit against limited competition, since his 2015 loss to Carlos Cuadras. Despite his low level of competition the Japanese fighter is a fringe world class talent, and is well known for his thrilling bouts against the likes of Kompayak Porpramook, Yodmongol Vor Saengthep and Ardin Diale. Cabilla enters this bout in the form of his career, riding a 7 fight winning run, but is stepping back up in class here and is likely to see that run of success come to an end.
One other bout of note will see Japanese ranked Light Flyweight Kenji Ono (11-2-1, 6) take on former Japanese Minimumweight contender Masashi Tada (11-5-2, 7). Ono is best known for his up-and-down war with Jun Takigawa from 2016, and has gone 1-1-1 since that bout, suffering an opening round loss to Seigo Yuri Akui in late 2016. He needs a win if he's to move into a title bout. As for Tada he has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3, and over 4 years removed from his last win, however at the age of 28 he does still have time to rebuild his career and a win here would see him move into the JBC rankings.
This coming Saturday is a pretty stacked day of action with a pair of world title fights, a regional title fight, a pair of Japanese title eliminators and a non-title bout featuring a controversial world champion.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
The first of the world title fights will see WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (11-0, 9) defending the title he was recently handed, following Badou Jack's decision to avoid Bivol who has seen his “interim” title being upgraded. The talented Russian based Kyrgyzstan born fighter will be up against Trent Broadhurst (20-1, 12) in what looks likely to be little more than a showcase defense. The destructive Bivol looks like one of the best young fighters in the sport, with text books skills, an impressive engine, a fantastic in-ring mentality and very heavy hands. On paper Broadhurst looks like a good opponent, and has won his last 13 bouts, but is unlikely to be able to live with the work rate and power of Bivol, who will be expected to stop the challenger with few problems.
New York, USA
The other title fight will see unbeaten Kazakh born Sergey Lipinets (12-0, 10) take on Japan's Akihiro Kondo (29-6-1, 16) in a bout for the IBF Light Welterweight title, which was vacated earlier this year by Terence Crawford. Of the two men it's Lipinets who has been the more impressive, with 4 stoppages in a row including wins over Leonardo Zappavigna and Levan Ghvamichava. The Kazakh, much like the previously mentioned Bivol, is an exciting and heavy handed fighter with an aggressive mentality. As for Kondo he's a tough fighter, as most Japanese fighters are, with a good engine and good form, having won his last 8 including stoppages over Patomsuk Pathompothong, Jeffrey Arienza and Yuya Okazaki.. Given the toughness of Kondo and the aggression of Lipinets it's hard not to get excited about this bout, despite the fact that Lipinets will be the very clear betting favourite.
Whilst the biggest fighters aren't in Japan we are really excited about a Japanese card from the Korakuen Hall.
The main event will see Japanese Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto (17-1, 9) defending his OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Heavyweight titles against Randall Rayment (8-3, 3). The Japanese boxer-mover became the first Japanese fighter to unify the Japanese, WBO AP. And OPBF titles and will be determined to continue that reign as he slowly moves towards a potential world title fight, though has seen such a contest with Joseph Parker recently falling through. Rayment is a real unknown but he has won his last 6 and is coming in with a bit of momentum, though has never gone beyond 6 rounds and is stepping up massively.
In a Japanese Super Bantamweight Japanese title eliminator we'll see Yuta Nakagawa (21-4-1, 12) battle former champion Yasutaka Ishimoto (30-9, 9), with the #1and #2 facing off for a shot at the title in 2018. The 28 year old Nakagawa has gone 11-0-1 (6) since a 2012 loss to Breilor Teran back in 2012 and whilst his competition hasn't been great he does hold notable wins over Yosuke Fujihara, Monico Laurente and Yuta Saito. Ishimoto on the other hand is a real fan favourite who has engaged in some thrilling contests at the top of the domestic scene with the likes of Yukinori Oguni, Gakuya Fukuhara, Yusaku Kuga, Shingo Wake and Yota Sato, among others. Aged 36 Ishimoto has seen better days, but is certainly coming in to this one as a hungry and determined fighter wanting another title run.
An even better title eliminator takes place at Middleweight, as the once beaten Shoma Fukumoto (11-1, 9) takes on the thrilling Kazuto Takesako (6-0, 6). Fukumoto burst on to the pro scene in 2012, blowing out Dondon Lapuz in 130 seconds, but would lose his third bout to the dangerous Arnel Tinampay. Since then he has reeled off 9 straight wins to right the ship and now looks like a much improved fighter who came undone against Tinampay. As for Takesako he was a genuine amateur star before making his professional debut in 2015. As a professional he has been destructive with all 6 of his wins coming in a combined 12 rounds and he looks like the type of fighter who will enter the ring with every intent of continuing that stoppage run here.
In one of two notable under-card bouts we'll see the exciting Akinori Watanabe (34-6, 29) take on Filipino journeyman Dennis Padua (11-12-2, 6), in what should be a straight forward win for Watanabe, who is looking for a second straight win after losing two in a row. The other under-card bout of note will see former amateur stand out Kazuki Saito (3-0, 3) battle against heavy handed Filipino puncher Alvin Lagumbay (8-1, 7). The talented Saito has the skills to go a long way, but does have question marks over him, especially given that he was dropped by Jimmy Borbon last time out. Lagumbay is stepping up massively, but is clearly a puncher and will be looking to stop Saito and propel himself towards an OPBF title fight.
Baja California, Mexico
One other bout of note sees unbeaten, and controversial, WBC Bantamweight champion Luis Nery (24-0, 18) fight in a non-title bout against Filipino Arthur Villanueva (31-2, 17). The Mexican, who failed a drugs test for his bout against Shinsuke Yamanaka but appears to have seen the WBC turn a blind eye to his failed drug's test and haven't yet stripped him. The Filipino has lost in his two most notable bouts, and we can't help but feel he'll come up short again here, potentially suffering his first stoppage loss in the process.
This coming Friday is a hectic day with 5 title bouts taking place in Japan.
In Kobe we get an OPBF quadruple header, with the card looking, at least on paper, like one of the most notable Oriental cards of the month. The bouts might not be 4 brilliant match up, but they will help establish the OPBF scene as we enter 2017, and at least 2 of the bouts look like they could be very interesting match ups.
The “main event”, well the final of the 4 main events, will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (10-0, 7) defending his title, and unbeaten record, against Korean visitor Jin Wook Lim (8-4-5, 2). This was the first bout on the card to be known about and although it looks like a mismatch it could, potentially, be a good test for Kubo who will be looking for stiff competition next year. Lim, although having a sketchy record, is a former Korean champion and holds a draw with touted Korean prospect Ye Joon Kim, giving him some legitimacy as a challenger here.
In a bout at Lightweight we'll see Masayoshi Nakatani (12-0, 7) defending his title against former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Allan Tanada (14-5-3, 6). The bout will be Nakatani's 6th defense and will see him looking to build on wins against the likes of Ricky Sismundo, Accel Sumiyoshi and Tosho Makoto Aoki. For Tanada , who has actually lost 3 of his last 4, the bout sees him attempting to score his biggest win since his 2010 shock upset over Rikiya Fukuhara. Sadly for Tanada he's gone 4-5-3 since his win over Fukuhara almost 6 years ago and it's hard to imagine this being a win for the Filipino.
Arguably the most interesting bout on the card sees OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (18-4, 15) defending his title against Japanese based Filipino Mark John Yap (24-12, 10). On paper this might not look like a great bout but the reality is that the contest is brilliantly well matched and puts an exciting and hard hitting champion up against a talented and tough young veteran. For Yamamoto the bout will be his third defense, but is a huge step up from his previous 2, whilst Yap will be looking to extend a 5 fight winning run which has included a notable upset over Tatsuya Ikemizu.
Another intriguing bout will see former world champion Merlito Sabillo (25-3-1, 12) battle with rising prospect Ryuya Yamanaka (12-2, 3) in a bout for the OPBF Minimumweight title. For Sabillo the bout sees him returning to Japan for the first time since his May loss to Riku Kano, which was for the OPBF interim title, and it's fair to say that the Filipino cannot afford another set back after going 2-3-1 in his last 6 bouts. Aged 21 Yamanaka knows that a win will open doors for potential world title bouts, but this bout is by far the toughest of his career and it's clear that he will need a career best performance to defeat the Filipino veteran.
The 4 title bouts in Kobe won't be the only title action in Japan, in fact we also have a world title bout in the country, featuring the longest reigning active world champion, and the one with the most defenses of their current title.
That world champion is WBA Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (22-2-1, 8) who looks to record her 17th defense of the title. In the opposite corner to Koseki will be the little known Chie Higano (6-4, 2), who will be making her first title challenger. On paper this looks like a mismatch and it's, unfortunately, hard to see anything but a win for Koseki, possibly by stoppage in the early rounds.
In an interesting supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Takeshi Inoue (7-0-1, 3) take on Korean puncher Chan Ho Lee (5-1, 4). Inoue already has his next bout booked, a contest in January with Akinori Watanabe, has impressed and is being tipped as a potential Japanese title contender, but this is a bout against a live under-dog. Lee is unknown outside of Korea but has impressed on the domestic scene and scored a good win over Young Sub Han this past June. Although Inoue will be favoured this could be a good test for the Japanese fighter before the Watanabe bout.
In another Japan Vs Korean bout we'll see the brilliantly exciting and fast rising Kazuto Takesako (4-0, 4) battling against Kyung-Joon Ahn (6-3-1, 5). Takesako has taken out his first 4 opponents in just 7 combined rounds and will be looking to extend that run here. Ahn on the other hand is looking to bounce back from a stoppage loss to Shoma Fukumoto, from almost 3 years ago. On paper this looks like a decent test for Takesako but in reality it should be a bit of a mismatch and an early blow out for the Japanese prospect.
There is also a Japanese card in Osaka, in what is a busy day for Japanese fans. This is however this is a much smaller and less interesting card than the other two.
In the main event we'll see Middleweights clash as Ryuji Kanza (7-2, 5) takes on Japanese based American Brandon Lockhart Shane (7-5, 6) in what should be a really intriguing contest. Both guys are limited but both can bang and we'd not be shocked to see this one be a bit of a wild slugfest that lacks quality but is fun to watch.
In a supporting bout we'll see Yuki Takahashi (6-1, 2) take on Indonesian visitor Adam Alap Alap (0-1), who we've been informed is a top 15 ranked Indonesian Lightweight suggesting his record is incomplete
There's also action in China where we get the next League of Fists show.
The main event here is a brilliant match up between unbeaten men, as Zhi Quan Xie (4-0-3, 1) battles against Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (7-0-1, 1). The bout is a really intriguing one and should tell us a lot about both men, and their potential to go further in the sport.
In the US fans will be able to see hotly touted Filipino hopeful Harmonito Dela Torre (18-0, 12) fight for the second time on US soil. At the moment his opponent is an unknown but it's unlikely to be too much of a test for Dela Torre.
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia fans will see two Asian fighters fighting in New South Wales.
One of those is China's Yong Zhang (5-5-1, 1), who faces a yet to be named opponent, whilst the other will be Korean Jeong Jin Park (1-5), who faces the unbeaten Michael Hall (3-0, 3) in what looks like a mismatch against the Korean.