Whilst March has been packed with interesting bouts through the month one of the best takes place this coming Wednesday when Dangan put on their next show at the Korakuen Hall. It isn't a huge card, but it does have a brilliant main event, a pretty notable support bout and one of the most exciting Japanese prospects.
That really good main event will see Hironori Mishiro (6-0-1, 2) defending the OPBF Super Featherweight title against OPBF "silver" champion Takuya Watanabe (35-8-1, 20), in what could be an excellent show case of boxing skills. Mishiro is one of the many rising hopefuls from the Watanabe gym and won the OPBF title in just his 6th fight, before fighting to a draw with Japanese national champion Masaru Sueyoshi in a unification bout. He's talented smooth in the ring, but lacks real fight changing power. Watanabe, from the Aoki gym, on the other hand is a true veteran, despite only being 30 years old, and is much, much better than his record suggests. This should be a brilliant match up and the winner will almost certainly be lined up for something big later this year. A full preview of this bout can be read here Mishiro and Watanabe to battle for OPBF crown!
The chief support bout sees Japanese ranked fighters clash, with Kyosuke Sawada (12-2-1, 6) and Keita Nakano (15-13-6, 5) facing off against each other. Obviously Sawada, who has won his last 8 and gone 12-0-1 after losing his first 2 bouts, is on the verge of a title fight and will know that a win here takes him one step closer to a shot at national gold. Nakano is better than his record suggests, but is 2-4-3 in his last 9 and has 1-3 in his last 4. Interestingly these two have fought before, fighting to a draw in 2016, but Sawada's career really has taken off since then, with his 8 straight wins.
Also on this card will be the very highly regarded Hayate Kaji (11-0, 9), who will be up against Filipino visitor Arnold Garde (10-6-3, 4). This looks like an interesting test for Kaji, but if he's on song he could make the bout look very easy, with Garde having been stopped several times already during his career, whilst fighting at a lower weight than Kaji's natural Super Flyweight.
In Tokyo fans will get the chance to see a number of notable fighters in action, though in fairness it's not like those notable fighters are really likely to bes tested given the level of competition theyt are facing.
The most notable of the bouts on the card will see the limited but teak tough Tatsuya Takahashi (27-7-5, 20) take on countryman Keita Nakano (14-12-6, 4). The bout has the potential to be a very fun contest, but Takahashi has an unwelcome ability to make his life harder than it needs to be and this bout will likely be another case of him getting into a bit of an unnecessary war. Nakano's lack of power won't help him in that war, but he could be surprisingly competitive here in what could be a very fun match up at the fringes of the Japanese title scene.
Another notable fighter on this show is the heavy handed Yuki Beppu (16-0-1, 16), who will be looking to keep his unbeaten record alive as he takes on a Thai opponent in the show's final bout. Little is known about the Thai but Beppu has feasted on a series of limited opponents since claiming the Japanese Rookie of the Year back in 2014, with the one exception being the drawn fight against Charles Bellamy. It's unfortunately time that Beppu started facing more notable opponents and really began to do more than run up KO's against over-matched foes.
A third fighter of note on this card is 2014 Super Featherweight Rookie of the Year Yuichiro Kasuya (9-2-1, 1). Like Beppu we'll see him in with a Thai foe, though this is more understandable given that Kasuya is almost 2 years removed from his last win, and has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3, albeit in very competitive bouts. The 21 year old does look like a fighter who needs to build belief in his power and an easy blow out against an over-matched Thai foe may be the perfect way to build that confidence.
New York, USA
In the US fight fans wil get the chance to see two exciting American based fighters from central Asia.
One of those fighters is Uzbek destroyer Shohjahon Ergashev (10-0, 10), who takes a huge step up in class to face fellow unbeaten fighter Sonny Fredrickson (18-0, 12). The hard hitting Uzbek went 4-0 (4) in 2017 fighting just 5 combined rounds, and has only gone beyond 2 rounds once, showing just what power he has early on. If he can take out Fredrickson then he'll be on his way to making a real statement in 2018. The 23 year old Fredrickson was a former amateur standout and will be looking to extend a 3 fight stoppage run, as he takes on his second successive unbeaten foe.
The other fighter of note on this card for us is Kazakh puncher Bakhtiyar Eyubov (13-0, 11), who looks to put a less than great 2017 behind him as he takes on Maurice Chalmers (14-13-1, 8). The bout looks like a mismatch on paper, but with Eyubov fighting just 7 rounds last year we can understand why he's being given a relatively easy one here, against a man who is almost 2 years removed from his last bout.
Attention in Japan this coming Thursday focuses on a Misako promotion in Tokyo, where fans get two title bouts.
The first of those title bouts will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso (21-7-1, 14) making the first defense of his title as he takes on Yusuke Konno (11-3, 5), who comes into the bout as the #1 ranked challenger. Aso won the title earlier this year, in what was his third shot at the belt, and will be looking to keep a tight grasp on it given his long and hard career, though it's fair to say he has taken punishment during his career and it's hard to know how much he has left in the tank. This will be Konno's first title bout, and he'll come into the contest very hungry,but will be the under-dog. Interestingly the winner of this could be the next target for the really talented Koki Inoue.
The other title bout will see world ranked OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (16-3-1, 9) defending his title against Korean challenger Sa Myung Noh (10-3, 3). The under-rated Takenaka is a very talented boxer who has built from losses to good fighters, like Hisashi Amagasa, and looks to be one of the rising contenders in the packed Featherweight division, though he would be the big under-dog against any of the current world champion. Noh is a pretty good fighter, but his technical flaws should see him be easy pickings for Takenaka, who we suspect will box his way into control, before closing the show in the middle rounds.
In an interesting under-card bout we'll see the under-rated Yusuke Suzuki (7-3, 5) battle against the more experienced Keita Nakano (14-10-6, 4). On paper Suzuki might not look anything special but he's a genuine talent, and was a very good amateur before turning professional in late 2012. He has been matched hard through his career, losing to Yusaku Kuga, Ryoichi Tamura and Jeffrey Francisco, though could well have been 10-0 (5) with a bit of luck. Nakano, fighting for the 31st time as a professional has mixed at a good level and will be the under-dog here, but he is certainly a live under-dog.
In Thailand on the same day fight fans will see former world title title challenger Stamp Kiatniwat (16-1, 6) battle against Filipino foe Michael Enriquez (13-6-1, 9) in what looks like an interesting match up. The Thai youngster will be favoured, and he showed he was legitimate in his 2016 loss to Kazuto Ioka, but Enriquez will go to war with him and the bout could be very, very fan friendly, as Enriquez's bout against Rex Tso was back in 2015.
The final Asian show for the month comes from the Korakuen Hall and features 3 bouts of note, one of which features an always fun to watch Japanese Lightweight, who attempts to become a triple crown winner.
The main event is that aforementioned Lightweight, Nihito Arakawa (28-6-1, 17) who has previously won the Japanese and OPBF Lightweight titles and will now be looking to win the WBO Asia Pacific title as he takes on Filipino Anthony Sabalde (12-5-0-1, 7). Arakawa vacated the Japanese title at the end of last year as he turned his attention to the WBO regional title, which was then held by Daud Yordan. Sabalde isn't anything special and has clearly been matched with Arakawa to make the Japanese fighter look here.
In an exciting support bout we'll see former OPBF title contender Dai Iwai (19-4-1, 7) takes on Shota Yamaguchi (14-3, 8). Although neither of these men are going to set the world on fire both are well matched here. Iwai is best known for his 2015 loss to Masayuki Ito and has score two low profile wins since that defeat, this is however a step up for the Misako man. For Yamaguchi,who has suffered stoppages in 2 of his last 4 bouts, this bout us a chance to build some more momentum following a September win over Aozora Nishida. This really could be a very competitive bout where both men will be looking for a win and both will believe they could claim a very good win here.
A third bout of note on this card will see Keita Nakano (13-10-6, 4) battle against Naoya Okamoto (10-5-1, 5) in rematch of a contest from last September. When these two fought last year they ended up having a 3 round technical draw, Nakano's third successive draw. Although not a great fighter Nakano is better than his record suggests and can score upsets, as he's done in the past. Okamoto is unbeaten in his last 3, following an opening round stoppage loss in May 2015, but will know that a loss here will almost certainly end any dreams of fighting for a title in the future.