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.
We return to Tokyo this coming Wednesday for a small, yet very noteworthy, Japanese card. It's not a card stacked with big bouts, but it is one featuring a number of touted prospects, and a former OPBF champion.
The main event of the card will see the hard hitting Shu Utsuki (5-0, 4) look to extend his perfect record with what should, on paper, be a very easy win over Thai visitor Somphot Seesa (4-2, 4). The talented Utsuki is likely to be in the hunt for titles in 2020 and this appears to be little more than a tick over fight for the talented 25 year old, who has already found himself into the JBC and OPBF rankings. Seesa has been stopped in 2 other visits to Japan and it'd be a shock to see him survive here.
In a major supporting bout former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-4-2, 5) takes on Akio Furutani (7-4, 3). Since winning the OPBF title in June 2017, with a split decision win against Richard Claveras, we've seen Nakayama go 1-2-1 Nakayama and he really needs a confidence building win here. Furutani has scored 3 wins in a row, since losing in the 2018 Rookie of the Year tournament bout to Yoshiki Minato, but this is a big step up for him.
The most notable of the debutants on this card is Yudai Shigeoka (0-0), the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka. The elder of the Shigeoka brothers is tipped for major success, though begins his career in a pretty unspectacular match up as he takes on Thai foe Manop Audomphanawari (3-2, 3). As an amateur Shigeoka was tipped as being a potential Olympian before the 2020 Olympics had their male weight classes cut, and we suspect he will be fast tracked in the pros. Manop, who has been stopped twice already, is not likely to see the final bell here.
Another debutant on this card is female fighter Sayo Segawa (0-0), who makes her debut against Watcharin Khodam (1-2, 1). The 22 year old Segawa is highly regarded and should pick up an easy win here, but is then likely to be raced to bigger and better fights over the coming year or two.
As well as the action in Tokyo there are also a number of Asian fighters in action in Moscow, Russia.
One of those is 33 year old Kazakh Ibragim Iskandarov (6-0, 6), who hasn't yet has his opponent named. Iskandarov is scheduled for his first 10 rounder so it's a real disappointment to not have his his opponent known about with a few days notice. This is his first bout since last December and if we're being honest his career so far has often been a frustrating and weird one.
The 21 year old Kazakh Galim Shagatay (4-0, 4) will take on unbeaten Georgian Pele Sadoyan (7-0-2, 3).The Kazakh youngster only turned professional in February this year but has taken out his first 4 foes in a combined 9 rounds. On the other hand Sadoyan, also aged 21, has been a professional since January 2017, and despite 3 draws in his first 5 is coming into this with 4 straight wins,
One other fighter of note in action here is Russian based Korean He Su Khan (6-4-1, 1), who takes on the unbeaten Vyacheslav Letovaltsev (4-0), a a 19 year old Russian. This should be a much more competitive bout than it looks on paper, and Khan is a lot better than his record suggests.
This coming Thursday we'll get another brilliant Japanese card, under the Diamond Glove Banner, with a number of fantastic bouts.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hiroaki Teshigawara (18-2-2, 11) make his first defense, as he takes on the under-rated Yuki Iriguchi (10-2-1, 4). The exciting Teshigawara won the title last year , when he moved up to the weight and stopped Glenn Suminguit. His title win completed a fantastic year, which has also seen him defeat Jason Canoy and Teiru Kinoshita. Although relatively unknown in the west Iriguchi has scored notable wins against Ryohei Takahashi and Takafumi Nakajima, though his 2018 was a frustrating one after he missed for a bout and only actually fought once all year. Our preview of this bout can be read here Teshigawara looks to defend OPBF crown against Iriguchi!
A second bout will see a new Japanese champion being crowned at Light Flyweight, as Kenichi Horikawa (38-15-1, 12) takes on the little known Satoru Todaka (9-2-4, 3), to fill the vacancy left by Tetsuya Hisada. The 38 year old Horikawa is looking to become a 2-time national champion here, but is certainly up against not just Todaka but also father time and may well himself getting old over-night, though he did look good in October when he faced Koji Itagaki. Little known Todaka is a 29 year old getting his first title fight. Todaka has shown nice speed and movement, but this is a huge up for him and if father time doesn't over-come Horikawa we believe that Todaka will really struggle. Our preview of this bout can be read here Horikawa and Todaka battle for vacant Japanese crown!
Former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-3-2, 5) will be up against former Japanese title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (16-8-3, 11), in a must win for both men. Both have suffered recent setbacks and will need to show that they still have enough in the tank if they are to move back into title fights. At 30 Nakayama is likely on the back end of his career, whilst Sakashita is just 27 but has had a hard career and has been stopped 3 times in his 27 bouts.
One other bout of note on this card will see Yoshimitsu Kimura (10-1, 5) face off with Filipino Allan Vallespin (12-3, 9). Kimura bounced back well from his loss to Richard Pumicpic and will likely see a win here as his chance to take a huge step towards another regional title bout. Vallespin, who is now 0-3 outside of the Philippines, is a live under-dog and he proved his worth in a narrow loss to Musashi More last July. This should be a really interesting match up, and stylistically it should be very exciting.
This coming Tuesday is another big day for Japanese boxing. The Watanabe Gym will be putting on a card with 5 notable match ups, including a former world champion looking to make his mark on a new division, a pair of former amateur standouts and a unified regional and national champion.
The former world champion in action on this show is former IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7), who moves up to the Light Flyweight division to begin his pursuit of a second world title. The talented youngster will be facing off against fellow unbeaten Tibo Monabesa (18-0-2, 8) in what looks like a really good test for Kyoguchi at the new weight. The Japanese fighter raced through the ranks at 105lbs and has his eyes on a potential world title bout in the not so distant future. Monabesa will know that an upset win here opens the doors for huge fights, but this is a monster step up for the Indonesian fighter, who is the very clear under-dog. A full preview of this bout can be read here - Hiroto Kyoguchi kicks off Light Flyweight campaign against Tibo Monabesa!
The chief supporting bout will feature former amateur stand out Ginjiro Shigeoka (0-0) take on Sanchai Yotboon (4-0, 4) in a scheduled 6 rounder. The Japanese debutant posted a sensational 56-1 (17) record in the amateur ranks and is tipped as being something very special as he comes into the professional ranks. The Thai visitor has a good looking record, but is expected to be little more than fodder for the Japanese youngster.
The only title bout on the show with see Japanese Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto (19-1, 11) defending his OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles against Suthat Kalalek (12-9, 11), aka Kajornsak Sithsaithong. This is a really poor defense by the Japanese fighter, who has got far better regional foes out there to face. If Kyotaro is serious about getting a world title fight he really needs to start facing better fighters than this. The visitor has fought at OPBF level before, though that at Super Middleweight where he was stopped in 10 rounds by Yuzo Kiyota, and he really shouldn't be getting a Heavyweight fight at this level. A preview of this bout can be read here -Kyotaro defends unified Heavyweight crowns against Thai foe!
Also on this card will be former amateur standout Shu Utsuki (2-0, 1), who moves into 8 round bouts, and former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (10-3-2, 4), who will be facing off with a Thai foe in his first bout since losing the OPBF title to Jayr Raquinel.
This coming Tuesday fight fans in Tokyo will get the chance to see an OPBF title double header thanks to Kaneko gym and Dangan,who appear to be putting on a potentially thrilling show.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hidenori Otake (30-2-3, 13) look for his third defense as he takes on big punching Filipino Brian Lobetania (13-4-3, 11). The champion is one of the toughest fighters in the sport, as he showed in his 2014 loss to Scott Quigg,and is coming in to this bout with good form following 8 straight wins, including victories over Jelbirt Gomera, Kinshiro Usui and Hinata Maruta. As for the challenger this bout is clearly a reward for his recent TKO win over the previously unbeaten Kai Chiba, who Lobetania beat back in January. The bout will put Otake's toughness against the power of Lobetania in what should be a really exciting contest.
The other OPBF title fight will see Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (10-2-2, 4) make his second defense of the title, as he takes on unbeaten Filipino challenger Jayar Raquinel (8-0-1, 5). The champion hasn't looked the best, in either his title win or his first defense, and his title reign isn't likely to push him towards a world title fight, but he is the champion and will have the champions edge coming in to this bout. Saying that however we have been impressed by what we've seen of Raquinel and he looks like he has the potential to go a long way, the big question is whether he's quite ready for a bout at this level. If the Filipino is ready then we suspect he'll take the title, and push on with a very successful career.
One under card bout of note here will see Japanese ranked Middleweights face off, with #2 ranked Kazuyuki Fukuyama (11-8, 3) battling against Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (8-3, 7), who is #6 himself. This bout could decide the next title challenger, and should be a very well matched and interesting bout at this level.
The show of the the day, for us at least, is in Tokyo where we get a pair of OPBF title fights, both of which are well matched, and one of which could be the coming out party for one of the best natural talents in the sport today.
The headline bout sees the teak tough Hidenori Otake (29-2-3, 13) making his second defense of the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on the hotly tipped youngster Hinata Maruta (5-0, 4). Otake, best known for going 12 rounds with Scott Quigg in the UK, will be viewing this bout as his next step towards a second world title fight and a chance to prove that he's still a top fighter despite being in his mid 30's. On the other hand Maruta is a young novice who has long been tipped as one of the Japanese stars of the future. The bout might be too much too soon for Maruta, or it could be the bout that sees him announce himself as being as good as advertised, and potentially a man who has the ability to go all the way to the top. It's going to be a special bout and something that deserves real attention.
The other title bout will see OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (10-2-1, 4) making his first defense, as he battles once touted Filipino for Jobert Alvarez (17-2-1, 7). For Nakayama the bout is a really tough first defense, but a winnable one against Alvarez, who was stopped by Miguel Cartagena inside around a few fights back. Both of these can box, though we're expecting to see a bit of a battle, with the later rounds expected to be very exciting as both men put it on the line in an attempt to come away with the title.
San Juan, Argentina
Another title bout of note comes from Argentina, as Japan's Yunoka Furukawa (9-1-2, 6) challenges IBF female Flyweight champion Leonela Paola Yudica (12-0-3). The Japanese fighter, a current champion at Atomweight, will be moving up in weight for the bout and taking part in her first bout outside of Asia. The bout is a tough ask for the Japanese battler but she can't be ruled out, and certainly has the edge in power against the technically well schooled, but some what negative Yudica.
There's also set to be a very notable card in Australia featuring a number of Asian fighters, of various abilities.
One of the most interesting of the match ups on paper will see Joel Camilleri (14-4, 7) battle against China's Yao Yi Ma (15-2, 10). The local has had a mixed career, fighting against limited foe's and although he is riding a 5 fight winning streak a win here would be a career best. For Mathe bout is a chance to bounce back from last November's loss to Dennis Hogan, in what was Ma's last outing. On paper this looks competitive and we're expecting to see something really exciting here.
Another good looking contender on paper will see recent OPBF Lightweight title challenger Kaewfah Tor Buamas (25-2, 16) take on Australian hopeful George Kambosos Jnr (12-0, 6). Of the two men it's Kaewfah who is the more experienced, and more proven, having given Masayoshi Nakatani a decent test earlier this year and holding wins over the likes of Andrew Wallace and Jason Butar Butar. Despite a relative lack of experience Kambosos has looked really good and has wins of note over fighters like Brandon Ogilvie and Qamil Balla.
In a female bout we'll see Thai Petcharas Superchamp (7-5, 1) take on the excellent Susie Ramadan (26-2, 11). This will be a huge ask for Thai, who has lost 3 of her last 4, but she will be travelling knowing that this is a chance for her to put in a good performance on foreign soil. Aged 38 Ramadan has likely started on the downslope of her career but should still have too much for the visitor.
One other bout that looks good on paper will see the once beaten Tiger Tor Buamas (19-1, 14) take on the always exciting Joel Brunker (31-2, 18). Tiger is a limited fighter, but at 31 there is some live there and he does know his way around the ring, however he has spent much of his career fighting at a very low level. As for Brunker he was once eyed as possible world title challenger, but with 2 losses in his last 6 those hopes do look a long way from reality and at 31 years old his style is potentially set to catch up on him.
We get the next Dangan card this coming Tuesday and although the card isn't a particularly stacked one, it's hard not to be very excited about the main event, which has the potentially to be a FOTY style war, and with an OPBF title bout as a co-feature bout it's hard not to give the show some real attention.
The aforementioned potential FOTY will see Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (28-4, 13) battle with interim champion Masayuki Kuroda (26-7-3, 15) in an exciting looking bout, which will also serve as a rematch. The two men fought last year, with Kogawa easily beating Kuroda, but since then the champion has suffered an ear injury and gone through a number of hard rounds. The injury opened to the door for Kuroda to claim the interim title and now we'll see the two men face off in what has the potential to be an all out war. Both men are limited, flawed but exciting and that combination tends to make for thrilling fights,as we're expecting here.
The co-feature is also at Flyweight as Filipino Richard Claveras (17-2-2, 14) takes on Japan's Keisuke Nakayama (9-2-1, 4) in a bout for the OPBF Flyweight crown. The title, vacated by Daigo Higa, has often been a stepping stone to world class and winning it would be the biggest achievement for either man. Claveras is best known for losing in a world title fight to Pedro Guevara, being stopped in a round, but has improved since then and will be favoured. Nakayama on the other hand is one of the more obscure Japanese Flyweights, and is taking a huge step up for this fight, with his most notable result so far being a very wide loss to Hiroyuki Hisataka.
In another supporting bout we'll see 21 year old Japanese fighter Taiju Shiratori (7-2, 4) take on Filipino veteran Prell Tupaz (10-31-5, 2) in an 8 rounder. Tupaz appears to have been selected to make Shiratori look good, but the youngster has been stopped twice already and it seems clear that he'll be in need of some real seasoning, which seems to be the aim here against a true veteran like Tupaz.
Also in a supporting bout we'll see second generation fighter Kaiki Yuba (1-0, 1) battle against Filipino visitor Bener Santig (5-1-1, 1). Yuba, the son of Tadashi Yuba, looked fun in his debut but is facing a much bigger test here and Santig won't have travelled to pick up a loss. Whilst the Filipino will be the under-dog he has experience in his favour and is a hungry fighter himself.