Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday attention turns to Korakuen Hall for the next card from Ichiriki Promotions. The card is certainly not the deepest or the biggest, but it is an interesting one, with a potentially explosive main event, and a really solid chief support bout.
The main event will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (16-6-1, 14) taking on the once touted Kai Chiba (13-3, 8), in a bout that promises a lot of action, but also features two men who really need a win. Kurihara is 1-1-1 in his last 3, and whilst that does include a notable win over Kazuki Nakajima for the title he was lucky to escape with a technical draw against Yukinori Oguni in May, albeit in a non-title fight, and he has lost a lot of momentum since the start of the pandemic. As for Chiba he was tipped highly early in his career but has lost 2 of his last 3, and another loss here will see him being pushed a long, long from another notable fight. Both of these guys can fight, but of the two it feels like this is the champion's fight to lose, rather than Chiba's to win. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here OPBF king Kurihara clashes with Chiba
In the co-feature veteran tough guy Akihiro Kondo (34-10-2, 19) will face off with the under-rated, and usually fun to watch, Tatsuya Yanagi (18-7-2, 7). The 37 year old Kondo, who is best known for his 2017 bout with Sergey Lipinets, has had mixed fortune since 2018, though notably won the OPBF title at 140lbs back in June with a surprise win over Koichi Aso. He won't be defending his title here, but will be looking to build on that title win and score his third straight win, which would make this his longest winning run since the bout with Lipinets. As for Yanagi he is 2-2-1 in his last 5 but does make for fun bouts with an aggressive style and gave Kondo a solid clash in 2019, with this rematch likely being viewed as a chance for him to avenge that loss. Aged 32 Yanagi isn't "old" as such, but has had a tough career and has taken punishment over his 27 bouts, suggesting his career might also be coming to an end, and this could be the only window for the rematch with Kondo.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
In Tokyo this coming Friday we're set for a really good card under the A-Sign Bee banner. The card isn't the most stacked, but has an excellent main event, and 3 well matched and interesting looking supporting bouts.
The main event of the card will see former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (21-2-1, 8) take on the hard hitting Keita Kurihara (16-6, 14) in a mouth watering bout that pits skills against power. The 34 year old Oguni is best known for his 2016 win over Jonathan Guzman, but sadly since then he has been fairly inactive, suffered numerous injuries, retired, and really not managed to have any momentum since then. In fact the last time he fought was 3 years ago, and it's really hard to know what he has left to offer the sport. There's no doubting that he was a good fighter, but we really don't know what a 2022 version of him will be like. As for Kurihara the 29 year old has been wanting to score a break out win for a while, and announce himself as one to watch, with wins over Yuki Strong Kobayashi, Warlito Parrenas and Kazuki Nakajima not quite being enough. Sadly for him he did suffer a wide technical decision loss last year, albeit to Takuma Inoue, but has bounced with his win over Nakajima to become a 2-time OPBF champion and it's clear he wants to move towards a huge fight in the next year or two. A win over a former world champion would certainly help him secure such a big fight.
In a really interesting supporting bout former world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi (19-5-1, 8) takes on the unbeaten Tentaro Kimura (8-0-2). The 32 year old Takahashi is best known for his 2019 bout with TJ Doheny for the IBF Super Bantamweight title, and since then he has looked poor, squeaking past Kiyohei Endo and losing in a major shock loss to Hyuma Fujioka last time out. He needs a win if he's to remain even semi-relevant on the Japanese scene. As for Kimura, the cousin of Rentaro Kimura, he's starting to make a name for himself and has broken into the WBO Asia Pacific and JBC rankings. He'll know a win here will help him push his career towards a title fight, and in fairness to him, he has the speed and skills to beat Takahashi here. Although we're not expecting a thriller here, this could be a genuinely compelling bout between a fading contender, and an emerging hopeful.
In a Bantamweight bout we'll see OPBF and JBC ranked contender Kai Chiba (13-3, 8) take on Koji Tsurumi (6-4-1, 3). Coming in to this Chiba has lost his last two, and desperately needs a win which is why he's being matched relatively softly here. Chiba is a solid boxer-puncher, but it does feel like he has lost a lot of momentum since a 2019 win over Matcha Nakagawa and he really needs to string together some good results over the next few years. As for Tsurumi he's bounced back well since a loss to the then debuting Josuke Nagata, last June, but will be taking on his toughest and most notable opponent so far. Hard to see anything but a Chiba win, but the real thing to pay attention to is how he scores that win.
One other interesting looking match up will see Kazuki Kyohara (5-1-2, 3) clash with Koki Tyson (14-4-3, 12) in a really interesting Middleweight bout. On paper this looks like a young novice being matched hard, and it is. But it's one that has more too it than that. Tyson is the clear favourite, and the former OPBF Middleweight will go in to the bout feeling that his power and experience will be the difference maker. He is however, someone who hasn't had a fight since October 2019, and has only had a single win since the start of 2018. His confidence and sharpness is unlikely to be there. As for Kyohara, he's proven to be a decent and aggressive fighter, who will likely look to get close and take the reach and height from Tyson, which could mean we end up getting a really good fight here.
Whitesands Events Center, Plant City, Florida, USA
As well as the interesting card in Japan we also get a show with Asian interest in Florida.
That's due to Chinese fighter unbeaten Fanlong Meng (17-0, 10), who faces his most notable opponent to date, as he clashes with former world champion Jean Pascal (35-6-1-1, 20). The 34 year old Meng was set to fight for a world title before Covid19 got in the way, and since then he has been frustratingly wasting time, with just a single fight in the last 2 years, and that was against Israel Duffus last October. Given his age, Meng looks like he's going to age himself out of contention and will likely suffer a loss before getting a world title fight now. Jean Pascal on the other hand is someone who has been there, seen that and got the T-shirt whilst fighting a genuine who's who, of who over the last 15 years. Sadly Pascal is now 39, and his career is coming to an end, but there is no doubting that he has had a remarkable and thrilling career which has seen him never turn down tough competition. Even now he is dangerous enough at this sub-world level to spring upsets and although the under-dog here, we wouldn't be surprised at all by a Pascal win over the unbeaten Chinese fighter.
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 first Japanese show of 2021 comes to us this coming Thursday thanks to Hideyuki Ohashi who puts on the next show under the Phoenix Battle series. This is a card that has a brilliant main event, but really the key part of the card are the bouts below it, which are all intriguing bouts for touted prospects.
We'll start with the main event, which will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) defending his belt against former WBC "interim" Bantamweight champion Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3), in what is a puncher Vs Boxer bout. For the heavy handed Kurihara this will serve as his second defense, following his title win in late 2018 against Yuki Strong Kobayashi and a win here would likely see him taking huge strides towards a world title fight. As for Inoue this will be his first bout since losing to Nordine Oubaali in 2019. For Inoue a loss would be very hard to come back from, and he'll be incredibly focused here making for what should be an excellent match up. Our full, in depth, preview of this one can be read here Keita Kurihara Vs Takuma Inoue - The first big Japanese fight of 2021!
In an excellent looking 8 rounder we'll see the fast rising Katsuki Mori (7-0, 1) take on Sora Takeda (6-1, 1) in a battle between two Rookie of the Year winners. In 2018 Takeda won Rookie of the Year at 105lbs and since then has added two more wins to record, giving him a 6 fight winning streak since a loss on his 2017 debut. Mori won the Rookie of the Year in 2019, and has only fought once since then. Of the two men Mori seems to be the more promising man, who has shown more so far in his career, but this is certainly not a gimme either way.
One of two highly regarded novice prospects on this card is former Japanese amateur stand out Ryutaro Nakagaki (1-0, 1), who takes a huge step up in class from his debut to take on fellow southpaw Yuji Okinori (10-5-2, 3). The 21 year old Nakagaki is tipped as a future champion and was a stellar amateur on the Japanese scene before making his professional debut last year. When he turned professional the worry was about his power, but he showed he had plenty of pop on his debut. In Okinori we have we have a 27 year old who asks questions, and comes in with a bit of momentum following back to back TKO wins. We strongly favour Nakagaki, but this is a legitimate test.
The other highly regarded professional novice is Keisuke Matsumoto (1-0, 1), the son of former world title challenger Koji Matusmoto, who looks for his second win as he takes on Bejita Ishikawa (3-12-2, 1). Matsumoto was given a test on debut, and had to pull himself off the canvas to secure victory, though showed great composure and the mentality that should take him far in the sport. Ishikawa on the other hand is well known for his gimmick, of dressing up like Dragon Ball Z character Vegeta, hence his ring name of Bejita. Ishikawa is unlikely to provide much of a test, but it's going to be good to see Matsumoto back in the ring, as he is tipped as something special, despite the issues on his debut.
The big show this coming Friday comes from Japan, where the Korakuen Hall plays host to an interest, but low key, card which will be put online through the A Sign boxing youtube channel.
The main event is a a really interesting match up between hard hitting Japanese fighter Keita Kurihara (14-5, 12) and world ranked Thai foe Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (24-10, 16). Kurihara is 11-1 since his unremarkable 3-4 start to the pros, and claimed the OPBF Bantamweight title last year, a belt that he has defended once. Although this isn't a title defense for Kurihgara it is a significant bout. Sukkasem is no world beater but can be a handful and is world ranked by the IBF, so have a real reason to bit down on his gum shield and go for this, knowing that a win will take him one step closer to a world title shot. We expect this one to be a very, very interesting match up.
After back to back losses Akihiro Kondo (31-9-1, 18) will be hoping to rebuild his confidence as he goes up against Tatsuya Yanagi (16-5-2, 6). This year has been a bad one for Kondo, who was stopped by Downua Ruawaiking in February before being out pointed by Andy Hiraoka in July. Yanagi on the other hand is on a 6 fight unbeaten run, going 5-0-1 (2), including an excellent recent win over Koichi Aso. This is really a must win for the 34 year old Kondo, and another loss here is likely to send him into retirement.
The potential hidden gem on this card will see recent Japanese Light Welterweight title challenger Ryuji Ikeda (14-6-3, 9) going up against aggressive youngster Aso Ishiwaki (7-2-1, 5). Although Ikeda has fought at a higher level than Ishiwaki he hasn't shined in recent contests, going 3-4-2 in his last 9 bouts. On the other hand Ishiwaki looks like a really promising youngster, who appears to be the crown in Nobuhiro Ishida's stable of fighters. Ishiwaki is tough, heavy handed, aggressive and we see him as being a force for the future, and a win here would be huge for his career.
Mindoro Occidental, Philippines
As well as the card in Tokyo, there is also a show in the Philippines. The details for this are lacking at the time of writing, but the main event is a genuinely mouth watering match up between a former world title challenger and another notable Filipino fighter.
That main event will see recent WBA Minimumweight title challenger ArAr Andales (10-1, 2) look to rebuild from his recent loss to Knockout CP Freshmart as he takes on the tough, but out of form, Joel Lino (10-3-1, 3) in a bout for the GAB Minimumweight title. The now 20 year old Andales began his career 10-0 before losing a technical decision to Knokcout CP Freshmart this past August, in a bout that was very hotly contest. We suspect he'll be the big favourite here. On the other hand the 24 year old Lino has lost his last 3, with losses to Masataka Taniguchi in 2019 and defeats to Ginjiro Shigeoka and Toto Landero this year. Those 3 losses have seen Lino fall from 10-0-1 but he will feel like this is his chance to get back to winning ways. This is certainly a very interesting all-Filipino bout.
In Tokyo this coming Friday we get a wonderful card with a couple of title fighters and several very interesting under-card bouts. If you're a fan of the Japanese, or Asian scene in general, this card deserves your attention, even if it's not a particularly huge one in terms of names. It's one that has quality match ups, rather than big name fighters.
The main event will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (13-5, 11) make his first defense, following his controversial title win in December against Yuki Strong Kobayashi. The hard hitting, and incredibly fun to watch, Kurihara will take on former world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (26-9-1, 23). For those who haven't seen Kurihara he's aggressive, very heavy handed and always worth watching. Parrenas, in his prime, was very similar, though the now Japanese based Filipino has aged significantly from his pomp and is certainly heading towards last chance saloon. If Parrenas can roll back the clock we could have a FOTY contender on our hands here. A full preview of this bout is available here Kurihara and Parrenas meet in OPBF title bout!
The other title fight on this card will see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) defending his title against mandatory challenger Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8), in what is Shindo's second defense of the title. Shindo won the title in 2018 though suffered an injury in that win, leading to an interim title being created and Shindo then facing Akinori Watanabe in a thriller in December. Matsunaga on the other hand has earned his title shot thanks to a win over Koshinmaru Saito, in what was his 8th straight victory. Shindo is a tall, rangy boxer whilst Matsunaga is much shorter, and how that dynamic comes into play will be really interesting here. A preview of this bout is available here Shindo takes on mandatory challenger Matsunaga
This isn't just a top heavy card, but also one with good supporting bouts. On paper the best of those is Bantamweight bout between Matcha Nakagawa (13-1-1, 5) and Kai Chiba (10-1, 7). Both of these men are in their mid-twenties and both will know a win here pushes them to verge of a title fight. With both having just a single loss it's clear that both men will be looking to pick up a win here, and given their contrasting styles we're expecting a really compelling fight.
Another intriguing under-card fight will see the popular Joe Tanooka (15-6-4, 1) battle against Naoto Mizutani (5-6-1, 2). Tanooka is the clear favourite, but has lost 3 of his last 4 and desperately needs a win to remain relevant. He's not been matched softly, but too many losses and he will lose some of the fans that have been with him since his 2013 Rookie of the year campaign, where he reached the All Japan final. It's worth noting that Mizutani has also lost 3 of his last 4, but gave a very good test to Fumiya Fuse in February. Mizutani will be coming in to this lookign for an upset, like the one he got in September against Mirai Imagawa.
One more meaningful match up will see former title challengers collide. In one corner is former Japanese Lightweight title challenger Masaki Saito (15-13-6, 5) whilst the other will feature former OPBF Featherweight title challenger Ryuto Araya (12-7-1, 4. The men are meeting at a catch weight, around 133lbs, and both will know that a loss here could finish their hopes of getting another shot at a belt.
One other fighter pencilled in to fight on Friday is Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Ivan Dychko (7-0, 7), who takes on 48 year old American Ray Austin (29-9-4, 18) in Miami. This will be Dychko's first bout since beating Maurice Harris back in July 2018 and if we're being honest it's a truly disappointing bout for his return. The Kazakh should be much, much further along with his career by now, but his team really have dropped the ball massively with him and this bout is further proof of that.
Christmas is creeping up on us and on December 24th we have a really intriguing card from Osaka, which features an OPBF title fight and two hotly tipped Japanese prospects.
The title bout promises to deliver explosive action, as the heavy handed Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) take on the limited but hard hitting Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-7, 8) for the OPBF Bantamweight title, which was vacated by Mark John Yap earlier this year. On paper the bout doesn't look like anything special, but given the styles of the two fighters we're expecting a very exciting brawl. Coming in Kurihara has scored 3 straight wins of note, stopping Ryan Lumacad, Tetsuya Watanabe and Kazuki Tanaka, all since a 5th round TKO loss to Hiroaki Teshigawara. As for Kobayashi he is himself riding a 4 fight winning run, including a win last time out against Vincent Astrolabio on the Manny Pacquiao Vs Lucas Matthysse under-card. Both of these guys are defensively flawed, but both can bang and that should make this fight very exciting. A preview of this bout is available here Kurihara and Kobayashi battle for OPBF title in Christmas Eve treat!
One of the prospects on this card is Rio Kuwabata (1-0, 1), who takes a notable step up in class to face off with Yosuke Taniguchi (7-5-1, 2). The 22 year old Kuwabata made his debut back in China, in a 4 rounder, and this is a notable step up for a man who is tipped to be a success. As for Taniguchi he has gone on a 5 fight unbeaten run, including a win over Shachihoko Dragons Keita last time out. Although this is expected to be another win for Kuwabata it's fair to say he's in with a live opponent here and should consider this a serious test.
The other prospect of note on this show is Riku Kunimoto (2-0), who has shown touches of genius, but really appears to be lacking just one or two things at the moment. Aged 21 Kunimoto is a Japanese Middleweight worth making a mental note of, though it could be a few years before we see him really being tested. Saying that however he's not being matched softly and his third bout will see him in with the experienced Toshihiro Kai (6-10-2, 2), who has gone 2-4 in his last 6 bouts but has scored a notable win over Yutaka Oishi.
One other bout of note on this card will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-2, 11) take on Japanese based Filipino Jayar Estremos (11-14, 4). This is Kudaka's first bout since losing the Japanese title to Takayuki Okumoto in August and we do wonder what the highly experienced 4-time world title challenger has left in his 33 year old body, after what has been a relatively exciting yet over-looked career. Estremos on the other hand has won just 1 of his last 10 bouts, but he has been matched hard with bouts against notable foes in Thailand. If Estremos has found his desire to fight he could make for a tough opponent for Kudaka, but the reality is that Kudaka should be strongly favoured here, and should be able to come out on top of an exciting contest.
A second card will also take place in Osaka, albeit a much less notable card.
The main event of the card will see Tomoko Okuda (4-2-1) taking on Thai visitor Anchalee Mankong (2-3), in what looks like a very weak main event contest. It's hard to imagine Okuda losing, despite her limitations, but regardless it's not a main event that will draw much interest.
Despite not being the main event, the best match up, on paper at least, will see Hirokazu Okajima (8-6-2, 4) battle against the hard hitting Kazuaki Miyamoto (6-2, 5). The 33 year old Okajima has been out of the ring for over a year, following a 5th round KO loss to Masashi Wakita, and is more than 6 years removed form his last win, against Akira Shono in 2012. Miyamoto is limited himself, and both of his losses have been by stoppage, including one early this year to a very faded Seiichi Okada. This is one where we expect both men to have the power to stop the other in what could an entertaining lower level scrap.
Distrito Federal, Mexico
Arguably the biggest bout in Asia this weekend will come from Mexico as WBC female Bantamweight champion Mariana Juarez (49-9-4, 18) rematches Japanese challenger Terumi Nuki (10-3, 7). These two fought in 2017, with Juarez taking a clear win, and since then Nuki has gone 1-1, losing a wide decision to Debora Anahi Dionicius. This is likely to be Nuki's final shot at a world title for a while if she comes up short, so we're expecting a very fiery effort here from the challenger. At the age of 38 Juarrez is an old fighter, especially given she's had 62 bouts and fought in 455 rounds. Despite her age she is on a 6 fight unbeaten run and will not be handing over her title over without someone ripping it from her hands.
The biggest Asian show comes from the City Sogo Gym in Osaka, as we get a Japanese title fight, a hotly tipped female fighter and a mouth watering domestic clash.
The main event will see Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (16-4, 3) make his first defense as he takes on Kazuyasu Okamoto (14-5, 4). The hard hitting Yada claimed the title back in April, when he stopped fellow puncher Toshio Arikawa in 8 rounds, in what was a brutal and hard hitting bout. The win over Arikawa was the 4th straight victory for Yada who has bounced back very well from his 2016 loss to Jayar Inson. The challenger will be in his first title fight, though unfortunate for Okumoto he was stopped last time out by Vladimir Baez and hasn't notched up a win since April 2017. The challenger really would need a career defining performance here to even test Yada.
The chief support bout actually looks likely to be the bout of the show as the once beaten former amateur stand out Kazuki Tanaka (9-1, 6) takes on the inform and very hard hitting Keita Kurihara (11-5, 10). Coming in to this bout Tanaka has a #3 ranking with the JBC and is looking to build on good wins over Hikaru Marguame and Seizo Kono. On the other hand Kurihara, who is ranked by the OPBF, JBC and WBO Asia Pacific, is looking to build on devastating wins over Ryan Lumacad and Tetsuya Watanabe. We're expecting this to a brutal clash and could go either way.
Once beaten Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Toshiki Shimomachi (8-1-1, 5) will be in action against Filipino fighter Renan Portes (10-6, 6). Shimomachi has rebuilt well following a 2-1-1 start to his career and claimed the Super Bantamweight Rookie of the Year crown last year. Despite his ranking this is a slight step up in class the Japanese fighter. As for Portes he has been picking up loses on the road for the last 2 years, including a stoppage loss to Hayate Kaji last year and Mike Tawatchai earlier this year.
Also on this card will be former female stand out Kasumi Saeki (1-0) who steps up to 8 round bouts as she takes on a Thai visitor in what is likely to be her final bout before a title shot.
A second show in Osaka will be held at the Sumyoshi Ward Center and will be a relatively low key card with only 4 bouts worthy of any mention.
The main event will see WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight champion Masahiro Sakamoto (12-1, 8) fighting in a non-title bout against South Korean Super Flyweight champion Ki Chang Go (6-2, 2). On paper this doesn't look the best of match ups, but with Sakamoto moving up in weight for this contest he could be pushed hard by the Korean visitor, who has won his last 6 after a 0-2 start to his professional career.
In the chief support bout fans will see OPBF ranked Super Bantamweight Shachihoko Dragons Keita (8-5-4, 1) face off with Yosuke Taniguchi (6-5-1, 1), in what should be a very safe bout for Keita, who has gone 3-0-3 in his last 6 bouts. Although we wouldn't fancy Keita to claim an OPBF title he should manage to pick up a win here.
Another ranked fighter on this card is Kota Fujimoto (8-2-1, 2), who risks his JBC and OPBF rankings against Tatsuya Terada (6-3-1, 1). Coming in to this Fujimoto is riding a 3 fight unbeaten run, including a draw with the touted Masayoshi Hashizume from last December. As for Terada he was beaten last time out and his wins have, for the most part, come against very limited opponents.
Also on this card is the debuting Riku Kunimoto (0-0), who makes his debut against a Korean opponent. Kunimoto is tipped to have a big future but it will be interesting to see how he kicks off his career, and how he looks as a professional fighter.
As well as the action in Osaka there is also an interesting card set to take place in Laguna, featuring an OPBF champion defending his title, and a couple of unbeaten prospects.
The OPBF champion is the inform Light Flyweight contender Edward Heno (12-0-5, 5), who defends his title against the fringe world class Jesse Espinas (19-2, 11) in what looks like an amazing match up. This will be Heno's second defense, following a excellent win over Merlito Sabillo this past February, and another win here will push him well up the world rankings towards a world title fight. Espinas comes into this bout riding an 8 fight winning run, with notable wins over Joey Canoy, Paipharob Kokietgym and Elias Joaquino. This is set to be a very special bout and should see the winner announce themselves as a leading contender in one of the deepest divisions in the sport.
On the under-card fans will see Enrique Magsalin (4-0-2, 1) risk his unbeaten record against the once beaten Adrian Lerasan (6-1, 1) whilst Prince Andrew Laurio (9-0-1, 6) will take on Jopher Marayan (7-11-2, 3). We expect to see the unbeaten men continue to keep their “0” in tact, but Magasalin looks like he has a genuine test on his hands.
This coming Friday fight fans in Tokyo get the chance to see the next show in the Asign Bee series of shows, and it looks like a genuinely great show on paper, littered with notable domestic fighters and a number of good match ups.
The main event is the pick of the bouts and will see the hard hitting Keita Kurihara (10-5, 9) take on the unbeaten Tetsuya Watanabe (3-0, 2). The 25 year old Kurihara lost 4 of his first 7 but has since gone 7-1 (6) with his only loss during that run coming against the very talented Hiroaki Teshigawara. Since that loss to Teshigawara we've only seen Kurihara once, but that was an impressive stoppage win over Ryan Lumacad. Watanabe debuted last year and despite winning his first 3 bouts in a combined 9 rounds this is a huge step up in class for him, with his opposition so far doing little to really show how good he actually is. A win for Watanabe would put him in the title mix, but this is a huge ask for the unbeaten man.
In the co-feature we'll see 38 year old veteran Kinshiro Usui (28-6, 12) battle against Kyosuke Sawada (10-2-1, 5) in another really good looking match up. The veteran has lost 2 of his last 3, both to former world title challengers in Hisashi Amagasa and Hidenori Otake, but showed that he was still a very good fighter over 8 rounds in both of those bouts. Usui isn't a world beater, by any stretch, but is a very good domestic level fighter who will be a nightmare to Japanese level fighters at 122lbs. Sawada turned professional with some promise, but back to back losses to Yusuke Suzuki and Hiroaki Teshigawara saw him quickly fall to 0-2. Since then however he has rebuilt brilliantly, defeating the likes of Gaku Aikawa, Kenta Okumura and Yuta Horiike. The bout is pretty much a 50-50 and a win for either man will be significant, with both risking their JBC rankings here.
A less well matched domestic bout will see Naoki Mochizuki (13-3, 8) face off with Hideyuki Watanabe (8-10-3, 6). On paper this is a bit of a mismatch, though with Mochizuki losing 3 of his 2, including his last bout, we can't really complain about him having an easier bout, especially as this will be a rematch of a razor thins 2015 bout. In their first bout Mochizuki took a raor thin win, and has since gone 5-2 (1), losing to Keisuke Nakayama and Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking in competitive bouts. Sadly for Watanabe he has gone 0-2 since losing to Mochizuki and will be looking to avoid a 5th straight loss here.
Another promising fighter looking to bounce back from a recent loss is the hard hitting Kai Chiba (7-1, 6), who was stopped last time out by Brian Lobetania. The once beaten Chiba will be up against Keisuke Tabuchi (9-4-2, 7) in what could be a potential banana skin. The 25 year old Chiba looked really promising in 2017, going 4-0 (3) for the year with notable wins over Ikuro Sadatsune and Ryo Matsubara putting nim on the map, but his loss to Lobetania has slowed his ascent and shown defensive and mental flaws. As for Tabuchi he has lost 3 of his last 4, but has been mixing at a high level with losses to Ryohei Takahashi, Hiroyuki Kudaka and Yu Kawaguchi. Interestingly Tabuchi has had a lengthy break from the ring and will likely be looking to return as a rejuvenated man here in what could be a very exciting domestic bout.
In another bout we'll see see multi-time title challenger Koshinmaru Saito (23-9-2, 13) take on a Thai foe as he attempts to earn one more shot before his career comes to an end.
The first “big” show of December will take place this Friday, kicking off one of the most insanely busy months since we started this site!
The card will be headlined by a female world title fight, as Japanese sensation Naoko Fujioka (16-2, 7) chases a 5th divisional world title and drops down to Light Flyweight to take on the unbeaten Yokasta Valle (13-0, 6), who is moving up from Atomweight. The bout could see Fujioka further solidify her place as the greatest Japanese female boxer or could, potentially, see her ending her career with a loss likely to push her into retirement, ending what has been a legendary career.
Another title fight on this card will serve as the chief support and will see the big punching Kosuke Saka (16-3, 13) defending his Japanese Featherweight title against Takenori Ohashi (14-4-2, 9), in what looks like a straight forward first defense. The champion claimed the title in impressive fashion earlier this year, stopping Shota Hayashi, and will be looking to move into 2018 as the champion, and as a man looking for bigger and better things. Although a big under-dog Ohahsi will believe he has a chance, especially if Saka has over-looked him, and the challenger will almost certainly see this as his only chance to claim a title.
In another very interesting supporting bout fans will see the heavy handed Keita Kurihara (9-5, 8) take on unbeaten Filipino Ryan Lumacad (13-0-3, 7). The Japanese fighter is certainly is no world class fighter, but he is a powerful fighter and is a real danger, especially in the early stages of a bout. For Lumacad the bout sees him returning to Japan for his first bout in the country since a very controversial draw against Go Onaga in January, and he will be hoping to keep this bout out of the hands of the judges. A really interesting support bout here.
Also on the card are recent OPBF Super Bantamweight title challenger Kinshiro Usui (27-6, 11) and the experienced Akihiko Katagiri (17-9-2, 8) who are facing less experienced domestic foes. Both Usui and Katagiri suffered losses last time out and both will be wanting to get back to winnings ways here.
As well as the Japanese card there is also a notable card in the Philippines, with several notable names involved.
One of those name fighters is the under-rated Ernesto Saulong (21-2-1, 8), who faces off with fellow Filipino Renan Portes (10-5, 6) in a bout for the IBF Pan Pacific Bantamweight title. The bout won't make much noise internationally, but should see the winner move towards an IBF top 15 position. Of the two Saulong has been the more impressive, but he can't continue fighting domestic level Filipino foes for too much longer, or his career will begin to stagnate massively. For Portes this will be his second bout since Hayate Kaji stopped him in 2 rounds, and he really shouldn't pose much of a test for Saulong.
The unbeaten Jerald Daniega (11-0, 8) makes his ring return, after almost a year of inactivity, as he takes on low key foe Jerwin Mejes (4-2-3, 3). Prior to his break from the ring Daniega had began to get some real momentum and had scored 4 wins in 2016, and will be looking to ease himself back into action here, before kicking on next year. For Mejes the bout will see him looking to continue a 4 fight unbeaten run, which has seen him score 2 wins and two draws. Although not the most talented of fighters Mejes does hold a win with Lloyd Jardeliza and could prove to be a tough foe for the returning prospect.
The hotly tipped Mark Anthony Barriga (7-0, 1) will be looking to continue his development as he takes on the once beaten Glenne Calacar (3-1-6, 1). The talented Barriga, a former top amateur star in the Philippines, has had a busy 2017 with 4 wins already including a very good 10 round decision win in September against Samartlek Kokietgym, and will be expecting another one here. As for Calacar, who has a very strange looking record, he comes into this bout having drawn his last two, and will be looking to place the spoiler once again, as he has done against every unbeaten fighter he has fought. Although Calacar will be the under-dog he is, strangely, 0-0-4 against unbeaten fighters!
Another very notable fighter on this card is the debuting Pete Panitente (0-0), who was recently a sparring partner for Jerwin Ancajas prior to Ancajas's world title defense against Jamie Conlan. The debutant will be facing off with journeyman Jomar Borbon (4-29-2, 2) and should have no issues showcasing his skills on route to inflicting Borbon's 30th career defeat.
Outside of Asia we'll get the chance to see former Kazakh amateur stand out Ivan Dychko (2-0, 2) continue his professional development, as he fights for the third time in just over 9 weeks. The talented and touted Heavyweight will be fighting in his first 6 rounder as he takes on 32 year old Lamarco Ellis (2-4, 1) in what should be another straight forward win for Dychko. It's worth noting that Ellis is a big lump, weighing in over 300lbs for all of his bouts to date, and is unlikely to have anything to trouble Dychko.
Rhode Island, USA
In a really interesting match up the once touted Toka Kahn Clary (23-1-0-1, 16) will take on unbeaten Filipino prospect John Vincent Moralde (19-0, 10). To date Clary's only loss was a shock opening round defeat to Filipino journeyman Jhon Gemino, in a highly surprising 90 second blow out, and and this will be Clary's first fight with a Filipino since that loss. For Moralde the bout will serve as his US debut, and he comes into the bout on a 3 fight stoppage run, albeit against limited domestic foes. A win for Moralde will help put him on the international boxing map, and it's clear he will be fighting with that in mind.
West Midlands, United Kingdom
In the UK fans will see English based Indian born fighter Dilbag Singh (4-0, 1) in action, with Singh seeking his 5th straight win. The unbeaten man hasn't had his opponent named at the time of writing, and we're not expecting anyone too testing, but if he keeps his winning run intact for the next 12-18 months he could well find himself fighting for titles on the British scene.