Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Attention turns toi Korakuen Hall this coming Tuesday for a notable card under the Diamond Glove banner.
The main event of the show will see us left with a single Japanese Welterweight champion, as regular champion Keita Obara (25-4-1, 22) returns from injury to take on interim champion Takeru Kobata (12-5-1, 5). On paper this looks to be little more than a mismatch in favour of the well known and heavy handed Obara, however with time ticking down on his career and injuries racking up it's hard to know how close to 100% Obara is. At his best he was dominant at this level, but we're not sure if he's even close to 100% and this bout really should be a chance to see how much he has slipped. As for Kobata he's improving, a lot, and has strung together good domestic wins including recent victories over Rikuto Adachi and Yuki Nagano, however this is a huge step up in class for him. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Obara and Kobata battle for unified Japanese crown
The chief support bout is a Japanese title eliminator at Lightweight, as the hard hitting Shuma Nakazato (11-2-3, 7) takes on the destructive Ken Koibuchi (8-5-1, 7). The 26 year old Nakazato is regularly proving himself as one to watch, with his bouts being exciting, fun and action packed, as we saw notably in his draw against Yoshimitsu Kimura, but he also proved he had plenty of skills last time out when he out pointed Kasuya Yasuda. As for Koibuchi, his record looks bad on paper, however he has lost just 1 of his last 6, and holds a very notable domestic win over Taison Mukaiyama, which has helped him secure this eliminator. We expect this one to turn into something of an explosive shoot out as both men look to secure a shot at the Japanese title in the new year.
Although the Japanese title and Japanese title eliminator bouts should both be good they do look like mismatches. On bout that doesn't look like an uncompetitive contest is the all-prospect show down between the highly skilled Josuke Nagata (3-0) and the explosive Yuki Nakajima (5-1-2, 5). Since making his debut June 2021 Nagata has looked like a real talent. He has incredible potential and brilliant skills, though does look something of a feather fisted fighter and does lack the pop needed, at the moment, to make a mark at world level, however the 24 year old South is still maybe a year or two from fully maturing. As for Nakajima the 27 year old has always looked a brutish puncher, but does struggle when his power can't turn a bout his way, and he may find Nagata's skills to be a real nightmare. We expect this one to be a case of Nakajima looking for a bomb and Nagata looking to use his skills in a bout full of tension.
Another touted prospect on this card is 23 year old Mikyo Watarai (1-0, 1), who made his debut in in April when he stopped Takafumi Shibata in 4 rounds. He will be taking on 22 year old Filipino visitor Romer Pinili (5-1-1, 4). Watarai is very, very highly regarded and many of those in Japan are tipping him as a top prospect who could rise to the top very quickly, and it'll be very interesting to see how he develops over the coming years. Pinili on the other hand debuted in 2019, and went unbeaten in his first 6 fights before a razor thin loss last time out Chan Ho Song in Vietnam. It's going to be really interesting to see how he bounced back from that loss, and whether the experience fo fighting away from home will prepare him for this bout.
Another professional novice on this card tipped form big things is Jinya Yamaguchi (1-0, 1), who takes on 21 year old Filipino Argelo Samson (4-1, 4). The talented Yamaguchi looked fantastic on debut, stopping Shunpei Kubo in 5 rounds back in June, and there are big plans for him going forward. As for Samson this is the first time he will face a non-Filipino fighter, and it's also a big step up. Samson has been destructive in recent bouts, stopping his last 4, but he was stopped inside a round on debut, and it will eb interesting to see if he can hand the power of Yamaguchi.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday we get the next show from the Diamond Glove series of events. The card was, on paper, is one of the stronger Diamond Glove shows we'll get this year, but sadly saw it's main event being cancelled in the build up.
The planned main event would have seen Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (25-4-1, 22) defending his title against Yuki Nagano (19-3, 15), the man he beat for the title back in 2020. Sadly this was cancelled in March when Obara suffered a leg injury.
As a result the main of the card will now see former Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (11-2, 6) takes on former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (15-2, 10) in a scheduled 8 rounder. For Sagawa this is his second bout since losing the Japanese title last year, when he was stopped in 7 rounds by the sensationally talented Hinata Maruta. The talented Sagawa was last seen in the ring in October when he avenged his first loss, against Retsu Kosaka. As for Kubo, it's now more than 4 years since he lost the WBA world title, and since then he has gone 3-1, with his most recent bout being a 3 round win over Ruito Saeki more than a year ago
The card also has a notable female bout on it, as professional novice Mizuki Hiruta (1-0) battles former world title challenger Terumi Nuki (12-4, 8), in a huge step up for Hiruta. As an amateur Hiruta was very solid, winning 29 bouts and racking up more than 40 bouts in the unpaid ranks. She looked excellent on debut last year, and seems set to be moved incredibly quickly through the ranks. Nuki on the other hand is battle tested, and has been in with the likes of Mariana Juarez and Debora Anahi Dionicius, and is a very capable fighter, despite not being competitive at world level. This should be a great chance to see if Hiruta is as good as her team believe her to be.
Another really interesting supporting bout will see Mikyo Watarai (0-0) make his professional debut against Takafumi Shibata (2-0), in a battle between two former Japanese amateur standouts. As an amateur Shibata came in the top 3 in several major domestic competitions and had a style more suited to the pro ranks. Since making his debut in 2021 he has proven to be exciting, fun to watch and busy in the ring, though he does lack power and it does seem like he's still very much a work in progress. As for Watari he ran up an excellent 77-15 (19) record in the unpaid ranks and impressed in several national tournaments. As an amateur Watari was aggressive, exciting and and very composed, with a style that should translate over to the professional ranks very nicely.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Let's be honest April started like a month on fire with a lot of action in the first few days of the month, and it's been nice to have a few days to catch our breath. But we're back on April 8th with the next show from Korakuen Hall and it's one that we're really excited about. It features a Japanese title bout, the Japanese debut of a highly regarded prospect and the next bout in the career of a very exciting puncher!
The exciting puncher in question is Yasutaka Fujita (6-1, 6), who came runner up in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year. Since his Rookie run he has fought just 19 seconds, blowing Kensuke Nakamura out last September. Here he will be up against the decent Shun Akaiwa (5-2-1, 3) in a scheduled 6 rounder. Akaiwa started 2020 with a career best win, stopping Kenta Endo, but ended the year having been blitzed in 45 seconds by the destructive Jin Sasaki. We suspect Fujita will try to replicate Sasaki, and this could mean we get a very, very explosive match up. If you're in the venue for this one don't blink!
The prospect making his Japanese debut is Go Hosaka (4-0, 3), who fought his first 4 bouts in the Philippines under the guidance of the now defunct ALA Promotions. Since ALA folded, in 2020, he has signed with Misako in Japan and will be looking to show what he can do as he takes on Kanta Fukui (7-3-1, 5). So far in his career Hosaka has looked like a fantastic prospect, with lovely technical skills, sharp punching and good movement, though he hasn't really had to answer too many questions in his 4 fights so far. Fukui has proven to be a decent fighter on his day, had success in the 2018 Rookie of the Year, pushed Shuma Nakazato close and held Yoji Saito to a draw. He is however 2-2-1 in his last 5 and lacks the technical tools that Hosaka has. For a first fight in Japan this is a genuine test for Hosaka, but one he should pass, albeit one he'll have to work for.
The main event will see Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (23-4-1, 21) make his first defense, following his title win in February 2020, as he takes on the tough Shoki Sakai (25-11-2, 12). The 34 year old champion had sadly been out of the ring for well over a year now and his hopes of securing another big international fight, like his 2016 world title bout with Eduard Troyanovsky, appear to be over. As for Sakai he only made his Japanese debut last August and this will be his third fight on Japanese soil. Aged 30 Sakai is the younger man, but certainly has more miles on the clock and is very much a fighter who has taken significant punishment during his career. The styles here should gel well, with Sakai being a pressure fighter, marching forward and Obara being a rangy boxer, and we expect some genuinely exciting action here. The winner of this likely gets a defense towards the end of the year but for the loser, it's really hard to see where to go, and we suspect retirement may loom if either man gets stopped. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Obara faces Sakai in first Japanese title defense!
February 1st-Title bouts in Japan, world title fight in Mexico and the Uzbek rising continues!
This coming Saturday is an exciting and busy day with multiple shows featuring Asian fighters, in bouts of varying significance.
For us the main card of the day will be in Japan as Teiken put on a Dynamic Glove at Korakuen Hall. This G+ televised card will feature two title bouts and a number of interesting hopefuls.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) defending his title against mandatory challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) in the first of the 2020 Champion Carnival bouts. This should be a really explosive bout and both men can hurt, and be hurt. Coming in Nagano will be seeking his second defense of the title and has scored 7 stoppages in his last 8 bouts. For Obara the bout is a chance to claim a second Japanese title, and a chance to give his career a shot in the arm after some recent set backs. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Champion Nagano faces Obara in Japanese title defense
The second title fight on this card will be a Japanese Youth Super Featherweight bout between Ryusei Ishii (8-5-1, 5) and Yamato Hata (9-1, 9), who face off for the vacant title. Of the two Ishii is the more experienced man, and has faced the better competition, but Hata is a rising puncher, and will enter this bout with momentum on his side, with 6 straight TKO wins. Ishii on the other hand has struggled with just 1 win in his last 4. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hard hitting Hata takes on Ishii for Japanese Youth title
In an interesting match up between Japanese ranked fighter's we'll see JBC ranked Welterweight Junpei Tsujimoto (6-1-3, 4) move up to 154lbs to face ranked Middleweight Nath Nwachukwu (5-0-2, 2), who drops down 6 lbs. This is interesting to see both men changing weight for the bout, which will be scheduled for 6 rounds. Interestingly both of these men won the Rookie of the Year in 2018, and each have picked up 2 wins since then. Maybe not a big bout but an interesting one.
At 14olbs we see another Japanese ranked fighter, with the hard hitting Kenta Endo (5-0-1, 4), who also won the 2018 Rookie of the Year, taking on Shun Akaiwa (4-1-1, 2). Aged 35 Endo's potentially to is limited by his age, but he's a fun, exciting and hard hitting fighter. Someone who can make very TV friendly bouts. Akaiwa on the other hand is not someone we can recall watching but he's yet to be stopped and should make for an interesting opponent for Endo.
Further down the card we see two notable Japanese prospects taking on Indonesian novices. One of those prospects is Kenshi Noda (1-0, 1), who is expected to pick up a quick win against Thomas Tope Hurek (2-4-1, 1) in a Light Flyweight bout, whilst the other is Super Flyweight Hiroto Yahsiro (1-0, 1), who takes takes on Abdul Rauf (1-2). Expect these to be little more than showcase wins for the local prospects.
Nuevo León, Mexico
Whilst the biggest show is the one in Japan the biggest single bout is actually in Mexico where IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11) defends his belt against talented Mexican challenger Daniel Valladares (22-1, 13). Taduran won his title in a brilliant little war with Samuel Salva last September and at 23 is still just getting stronger. It is however always a big ask to pick up a win on the road in Mexico. Valladares on the other hand had an under-rated 2019 where he scored 4 wins including stoppages over Filipino fighters Melito Sabillo and Christian Araneta. This could be a very, very exciting match up! Our preview of this bout is available here Taduran defends IBF title against Valladares in Mexico!
Metro Manila, Philippines
Back in Asia we get an interesting double header in Metro Manbila, where we see two Filipino title fights.
One of those will see Roldan Aldea (14-8-1, 8) defending his title as he takes on veteran Monico Laurente (30-16, 7) in a Lightweight clash. Although not a star Aldea has proven to be a rugged and durable fighter who is better than his record suggests, and his upset KO win last year over Mikhail Alexeev shows he can bang, when he lands clean. At 34 years old Laurente is certainly coming to the end of his career, and he will be the under-dog here, but will be a live under-dog. We expect this to be an interesting match up, even if it's the less intriguing of the two title bouts on the show.
The other title bout on this card will be a Flyweight bout as the under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-5, 5) takes on Carlo Caesar Penalosa (14-2, 7). Although not well known outside of Asia Dagayloan has built a reputation for himself as a horror to face off with, he's aggressive, tough, strong and not an easy man to look good against. Penalosa on the other hand is a third generation fighter from the Penalosa family and is looking to bounce back from a loss last time out to Maximino Flores. This could be the hidden gem of the weekend.
There is also a card in India, where we get some low key action on a card in Mumbai.
One of the more notable bouts here will see Rahul Kumar (6-3-1, 4) take on novice Rakesh Bawa (0-1), in a bout scheduled for 8 rounds. It's hard to see Bawa winning, but the reality is that Kumar is no world beater himself and has lost 3 of his last 6 coming into this.
An even bugger mismatch will see the once beaten Sagar Narwat (9-1-1, 3) take on Harish Harish (0-0) in a 4 round bout. Narwat was beaten back in October, by Troy O'Meley, but this should be an easy comeback win for the 25 year old from Faridabad
In Uzbekistan we'll see a number of promising novices in action, in what will be a card where fighters will get a chance to show case their skills. At the moment none of the promising fighters on the card have had their opponents name, but we're expecting to see Dostonbek Turdiev (7-0, 3), Abdulazizbek Najmiddinov (4-0, 4), Jasurbek Latipov (0-0) and Obidjon Tokhirov (0-0) all in action. From those involved it's Latipov, who was a brilliant amateur, that stands out as the most interesting of those on the card and the one with the biggest upside.
There are more Uzbeks in action in Russia where a trio of Uzbeks will be looking to make their mark.
Thge most notable bout here will see Rustam Tulaganov (2-0, 1) take on the much more experienced Norbert Dabrowski (23-8-2, 10). The talented Tulaganov is expected to have a huge 2020 after having had a stop-start career so far, and a win here would be a massive statement for him. The 31 year old Dabrowski, from Poland, is talented, experienced and a big step up for Tulaganov, however the Uzbek will be regarded as the favourite here.
Another of the Uzbek's on this show is Odiljon Aslonov (1-0, 1) who will be up against South African foe Snamiso Ntuli (4-3, 2) in a 6 round bout whilst the third is the debuting Ulugbek Mubinov (0-0), who takes on the 30 year old Srdan Govedarica (7-8, 6). These bouts are less interesting than Tulaganov's but we're expecting dominant and impressive wins for the Uzbek pair.
From where we're sat the main show this coming Saturday is in Tokyo, where we get 4 Japanese title eliminators on what is a mouth watering card. The winners will all get Japanese title shots at the 2020 Champion Carnival meaning these 4 bouts are very significant.
The lowest weight covered by these eliminators is Bantamweight, where the once touted Kazuki Tanaka (11-2, 8) takes on the often under-rated Kyosuke Sawada (13-2-1, 6), in what could turn out to be a masterful lesson of boxing by Sawada or an all out brawl. This really does depend on just how desperate the two men get, and whether Tanaka's power will be too much for Sawada to handle with his skills. This could be a very, very good fight. A full preview of this bout can be found here Sawada and Tanaka look to book a place at the Champion Carnival
At Featherweight we'll see the very highly regarded Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) take on former Japanese Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11). We suspect that Murata will have the speed, size and skills to deal with Ohashi, but the experienced man can genuinely bang and his KO earlier this year over Shun Wakabayashi showed just how heavy his hands are. This should be a win for Murata, but he really cannot get sloppy given the lights out power of his opponent. A full preview of this bout can be read here Maruta and Ohashi clash in Japanese eliminator
On paper we could end up with a bit of a boxing classic as Kazuki Saito (7-1, 5) and Izuki Tomioka (6-2-1, 2) meet in Japanese Lightweight title eliminator. Saito is a fantastic offensive boxer, but has real issues taking a shot, and that does actually make his fights even more fun to watch, and he is quite honest a bit of a glass cannon. Tomioka on the other hand is a very light punching boxer-mover and he managed to give Masayoshi Nakatani fits in an OPBF title fight. We expect skills to be on here. Our preview of this bout can be read here Saito and Tomioka clash in Lightweight eliminator!
The heaviest weight covered on this show is the Welterweight division, where former world title challenger Keita Obara (21-4-1, 19) will take on Toshiro Tarumi (12-3-3, 6). On paper this doesn't look a great bout, with Obara having the edges in experience, power, and level of competition. It is worth noting however that Tarumi has momentum coming in to this, thanks to wins over Noriaki Sato and Shusaku Fujinaka during a 7 fight winning run. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hard hitting Obara takes on little known Tarumi in Japanese eliminator
As well as the fantastic action in Japan we're actually being treat to a huge amount of fights spread across Asia, including a card from Kazakhstan.
The headline bout of this show will see the unbeaten Kanat Islam (26-0, 21) take on recent world title challenger Walter Kautondokwa (18-1,17), in what looks likely to be a very, very explosive bout. The unbeaten Kazakh will be fighting for the second time since returning from an injury that kept him out of the ring for close to 2 years. We say fighting for the but it's hard to call his 14 second demolition of Julio De Jesus a fight, more an assault. The 34 year old Kautondokwa, from Namibia, has only been beaten once and that in a WBO Middleweight world title fight against Demetrius Andrade, so he is tough, but it's a big ask for him to get a result in Kazakhstan.
Novice Kazakh prospect Nursultan Amanzholov (1-0) will look to build on his first professional win as he takes on 38 year old Polish foe Michal Banbula (13-31-4). At his very best Banbula was a criminally under-rated fighter who scored a win over Tony Oakey and a draw with Tony Jeffries. Sadly though Banbula has lost 5 of his last 6 and should pose little threat to someone like Amanzholov, who is a fully blown Heavyweight.
The pick of the bouts outside of Japan looks to be an excellent contest in China where we see two older fighters in action to keep their careers alive.
The bout in questions sees the once beaten local Wenfeng Ge (11-1, 6) take on former world champion Kompayak Porpramook (60-7, 41) for the WBO Global Flyweight title. The tough Ge is looking to bounce back from a TKO loss to Giemel Magramo earlier in the year, and that was a painful beating so we'll see what effect it has on his psyche and will to win. As for the Thai he has lost 2 of his last 3, but the former WBC Light Flyweight champion is still a nightmare for fighters willing to have a war with hi, and he should be viewed as a legitimate live under-dog here.
The chief support bout is a contest for the WBC Asian Boxing Silver Super Bantamweight title China's Chunlei Lin (9-3, 2) will battle against Indonesian Galih Susanto (17-9-1, 4). The 25 year old local, dubbed the "Black Dragon", has not proven a great deal yet and has lost to his 2 most notable opponents thus far, including a loss at home to Japan's Shun Wakabayashi. On the other hand Susanto is no world beater but is a bit better than his record suggests and may well expose Lin a little bit, before losing, likely on the cards.
A second Chinese card will see the unbeaten Xiang Li (5-0, 4) take on Japan's Takuya Ota (8-2-1, 6). The technically limited but hard hitting Li scored a solid win in January, or Arvin Young, and scored another in August over Do Jin Lee. So it's good to see him being active after a very slow start to his professional career, sadly though his competition doesn't appear to be improving through the year. Ota is nothing of a step up from the last couple of bouts for Li, but is still a capable fighter and he reached the Rookie of the Year final last year. We suspect this will be another win for Li, but another one where his flaws are made evident by the successes of his opponent.
A third show in China will be headlined by Mongolian Tsendbaatar Erdenebat (1-0), though sadly his opponent hasn't yet been announced for a bout in Shenzhen. Whilst no opponent is known at the time of writing for the Mongolian this is set to be a 10 rounder, which is very ambitious for the 2016 Olympian.
Yet another Chinese card will take place, with this one being headlined by unbeaten local Zhong Liu (14-0, 5) taking on Filipino John Kenan Villaflor (8-5-4, 2) in what looks like an interesting 8 rounder. The unbeaten local comes into this on the back of a big win over Jess Rhey Waminal and Villaflor will be in the ring looking to get revenge for his countryman.
A second bout of interest will see Chinese youngster Wuzhati Nuerlang (12-3, 10) look score his second win of 2019 as he takes on veteran Said Mbelwa (47-29-5, 31). This could be a good chance for the 23 year old Chinese fighter to shine against a very shop worn foe who has got over 80 career bouts and 12 career stoppage losses.
La Union, Philippines
On a lesser level we have a Filipino show in La Union, this show certainly doesn't have much in terms of names, but does have a couple of bouts that could end up being much better than they look on paper.
The heavy hitting 25 year old Arnel Baconaje (11-3, 9) will be up against fellow Filipino Jestoni Autida (12-11, 6). On paper this looks like a mismatch, especially given that Baconaje has gone 5-1 in his last 6, however Autida is a tough and capable fighter who has give Ryoichi Tamua, Ernesto Saulong and Jason Canoy very tough bouts in recent years. Baconaje is the favourite, but Autida a clear live under-dog.
Another potentially interesting match up will see Jules Victoriano (9-2, 6) take on Virgil Puton (17-13-2, 8), though this could also be a stinker. The 22 year old Victoriano was on a 9 fight winning before losing in Japan to Yoshimitsu Kimura in June, and we suspect he'll be confident of getting back to winning ways here. The 30 year old Puton was once a very, very capable opponent, but he is now 0-5-2 in his last 7 and has been stopped in 4 of those 7 bouts, and seems very much like he's a "shot" fighter. If Puton has anything left in the tank he could make this competitive, but the worry is that he's only a shell of the fighter he once was.
One other bout on this card will see IBF Bantamweight mandatory challenger Michael Dasmarinas (29-2-1, 19) fight in a stay busy bout against Artid Bamrungauea (25-27, 23). The talented Filipino is the mandatory for the winner of the upcoming WBSS winner Bantamweight finish and this really is just a tick over against a heavy handed but very limited Thai foe. It's worth noting that in recent weeks Dasmarinas has been sparring with Takuma Inoue, and although this is only a low key fight he'll likely be wanting to impress.
In Bangkok fans are set for some low quality action.
In the most notable bout the UK's 48 year old Denise Castle (2-2, 2) will go up against Thailand's Sutthinee Bamrungpao (4-6) in a bout for the vacant WIBA Minmumweight title. The Thai fighter is the younger of the two but has suffered 6 stoppage losses in her 10 bout career and has never beaten a fighter with a winning record. Castle is well beyond her best years, which were spent outside of boxing, but we wouldn't be surprised if she did enough to take the win here. It's worth noting that both of Castles' losses have come in world title bouts, with the first coming to Momo Koseki, but she's done very little to derseve this fight with her last win being more than 5 years ago.
Also on this card we'll see rather odd WBC interim Asian Boxing Council silver Featherweight title bout between the limited Thai based Filipino Joel Kwong (4-9, 4) and the limited Waldo Sabu (13-14, 3), from Indonesia. We assumed the idea of the Silver titles was to get rid of the need for an interim belt, but an interim silver regional title fight between two guys with losing records is very, very hard to defend.
Staying in Asia we also have a small card in Singapore.
One of the main bouts will see unbeaten Malaysian fighter Adli Hafidz (7-0, 3) take on 40 year old Indonesian fighter Ramadhan Weriuw (18-11-1, 16) in a bout for the WBA Asia South Super Middleweight title. This really should be a very straight forward win for Hafidz, who is no world title challenger in the making but still a very capable fighter. It's worth noting that in 2016 Weriuw fought as a Welterweight and has no reason to be fighting as an out of shape, old Cruiserweight.
Local favourite Muhamad Ridhwan (13-2, 9) will also be on this show as he takes on Thai visitor Taweechai Juntarasuk (10-13, 6), who is 0-8 in fights outside of Thailand. This looks a mismatch on paper, and we suspect it will also be a mismatch in the ring, with Ridhwan looking to score a third straight win since back to back losses.
In the US we get a very even looking match up as 28 year old American Andy Vences (22-1-1, 12) takes on 25 year old Filipino Mark Bernaldez (19-2, 13). Vences began his career 20-0 but has struggled in recent bouts, going 2-1-1 in his last 4, and now needs to get his career back on track following his first professional loss, back in June to Albert Bell. Bernaldez on the other hand has lost 2 of his last 6, but is unbeaten the US, where his last 2 bouts have been held and does have a little big of momentum. We suspect the naturally bigger Vences will take the win, but this it the perfect time for Bernaldez to face him.
The key show this coming Thursday comes from Korakuen Hall and whilst it's not a huge show it is with a former world title challenger, a national title fight and a couple of prospects.
The main event of this card will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (20-4-1, 18) take on Indonesian foe Yosmar Kefi (9-10, 8), in what should be little more than a confidence builder for Obara. Given that Obara has lost 2 of his last 3, including a loss last time out to Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, he does need an easy win and it's hard to imagine anything but an easy one here. Kefi is 0-4 in Japan, having been stopped 4 times in the Land of the Rising Sun, and we suspect there will be another stoppage loss for him here.
The main support bout will see Japanese Minimumweight champion Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10) make his first defense, as he takes on Naoya Haruguchi (15-10, 6) in a rematch between the two men. Tanaka won the belt earlier this year, when he stopped Shin Ono, and will be looking to avenge a previous loss to Haruguchi. Whilst Haruguchi did win their first bout it was a controversial decision and he'll need to perform a lot better here, given he's fighting in Tokyo this time around, and not Kagoshima, where he has picked up most of his wins. A full preview of this bout can be read here Tanaka to make first defense, battles Haruguchi
In an interesting support bout we'll see once beaten men collide, with talented Japanese youngster Yoshimitsu Kimura (11-1, 6) taking on Filipino counterpart Jules Victoriano (9-1, 6). Both of these men are in their early 20's, both have suffered a solitary loss and both scored a solid win last time out, with Kimura stopping Allan Vallespin and Victoriano stopped Landy Cris Leon. This is a really interesting supporting bout and could end up being the bout of the show.
One other supporting bout on this card will see Ryu Horikawa (0-0) make his professional debut, as he battles Jun Ishimoto (5-6-1, 3). Whilst we've not been given Horikawa's full amateur record he did impress last year on the national scene and their is expectation on him to have a big future. Ishimoto is no world beater, but a good opponent for a debutant. Ishimoto has never been stopped, isn't much of a puncher and should give enough resistance to see what Horikawa is made of.
As well as the action in Tokyo, we're also interested in a card in California, as Filipino Gretchen Abaniel (18-10, 6) takes on the unbeaten Seniesa Estrada (16-0, 6) in a bout for the WBC silver female Light Flyweight title. The experienced Abaniel is a "win some lose some" fighter who has faced a relative who's who of female boxing, with bouts against the likes of Tenkai Tsunami, Cai Zong Ju, Ayaka Miyao, and Kumiko Seeser Ikehara. Sadly she is far too small for Light Flyweight, and it's a shame her career hasn't been spent fighting at Atomweight. The 26 year old Estrada is less well known than Abaniel, but is unbaten, powerful and very promising. Coming in to this Estrada has won her last 4 by stoppage, and we whouldn't be surprised to see that run continue here against the talented, but under-powered Abaniel.
For us the biggest show this Saturday is in China where we get a China Vs Japan card featuring a number of bouts between fighters from those two countries. Not only is there the China Vs Japan theme, but also the return to the ring of a popular Japanese former world champion.
The former world champion is Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10), who despite being Japanese is hugely popular in China following his title win over Zou Shiming in 2017. Kimura was dethroned of the WBO Flyweight title in September, by Kosei Tanaka, but will be strongly favoured to pick up a win here as he takes on Thai veteran Pigmy Kokietgym (60-10-2, 24) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Flyweight. Pigmy was once a solid fighter, and is a 2-time world title challenger, but is not a natural Flyweight, he's 37 and has been stopped 7 times in his career, with Kimura likely to make that 8.
One of the many China Vs Japan bouts will see China's Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (15-2-1, 6) take on Yusuke Konno (14-4, 7) in a bout for some minor WBA Light Welterweight title. Originally the title was listed as the WBA "International" title, though their is now speculation that it will be for the WBA "Asia" title. Nasiyiwula is a talented fighter, but often comes across as a man with a bad attitude, and a real arrogance. He has impressed in the past, but didn't look good last time out, when he fought Ernesto Espana. Konno on the other hand has a poor looking record, but comes into this bout on the back of 3 good domestic wins, including an excellent victory over Vladimir Baez in December and will be full of confidence.
Another China Vs Japan bout, with a title on the line, will see world ranked Chinese fighter Wulan Tuolehazi (10-3-1, 5) battle against highly regarded Japanese prospect Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4) in a bout for the WBA International Flyweight title. Tuolehazi has impressed in recent years, turning around a 0-2 start to professional boxing to have a 10-3-1 record including a big win over Jayr Raquinel last year. Yamauchi has impressed us since his professional debut, and already has a couple of solid wins on his record, but this is a big step up for him. We suspect Yamauchi has the tools needed to over-come Tuolehazi, but he will need to answer serious questions here, and prove himself more than he has at any other point in his career. A full preview of this bout can be read here Yamauchi and Tuolehazi battle in mouth watering Flyweight clash
The China Vs Japan rivalry may be set to give us a very special bout as Fangyong Zhang (11-4-1, 3) and Ryuto Maekawa (11-1-1, 7) clash in a potential war. Neither of these are world beaters, but both are happy to let their hands go and be involved in a fight. Maekawa is best known for his insane bout with Rex Tso whilst Zhang is less well known he is certainly not a bad fighter to watch and should make for the perfect partner with Maekawa for a brilliant fight.
As well as the big card in China there will also be a big one in the US, in fact the US card in Pennsylvania is the biggest of the day in terms of general boxing. The card isn't just big in a wider boxing sense but also features several Asian fighters.
The most significant bout, in regards to Asian interest, will see the unbeaten Uzbek fighter Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 6) take on Japanese puncher Keita Obara (20-3-1, 18) in an IBF Welterweight world title eliminator. The talented Abdukakhorov will be making his US debut and begin a 3 fight deal with Top Rank with this fight, and will know that a win will open up major doors, though he is up against a serious puncher in Obara. For Obara, who has been stopped in all 3 of his losses, this is a must win but he has failed to win his biggest bouts and at the age of 32 he is likely on the slide. Our preview of this bout is available here Abdukakhorov and Obara battle for mandatory position
Once beaten American based Kazakh Askhat Ualikhanov (4-1, 2) will take on Puerto Rican puncher Jose Lopez (11-1, 9) in an 8 round bout. The 28 year old Ualikhanov was beaten on debut, in 2016, when he was controversially DQ'd and since then has reeled off 4 wins, to rebuild his reputation. Lopez on the other hand was stopped last time out by journeyman Carlos Winson Velasquez and is may not find this bout to be the confidence builder he needs.
New South Wales, Australia
There will also be a show in Australia, featuring a couple of Filipino fighters.
The main event of this card will see WBSS participant Jason Moloney (17-1, 14) return to the ring for the first time since losing to IBF Bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez. The talented, once beaten, Australian will be up against Filipino visitor Cris Paulino (19-3, 8) in a bout for the WBA Oceania Bantamweight title. Given that all 3 of Paulino's losses have come by stoppage it's hard to imagine him lasting with the hard hitting Moloney, who will likely get to Paulino sooner or later.
Another Filipino on this card is Rey Juntilla (23-8-5, 14), who takes on Billel Dib (22-3, 10). The 29 year old Juntilla has lacked activity in recent years, with only 1 bout in the last 2 years, and although he has a good looking record he has lost against almost every noteworthy name he's faced. Dib is no world beater, and has lost 2 of his last 3, but he should pick up an easy win here.
In a bit of an oddity we'll see German based Moroccan Bilal Messoudi (6-4-1, 2) take on Chinese fighter Shayilanbieke Kadeerbieke (2-3-2, 1). Although Messoudi has lost 4 bouts he has mixed with decent fighters and is better than the numbers suggest. As for Kadeerbieke this will be his first bout outside of China, and we'll be honest and admit that is strange he's set to fight in Germany.
This coming Thursday attention turns back to the Korakuen Hall as we get a show with two title bouts, and several other interesting match ups.
One of those title bouts will see Filipino puncher Alvin Lagumbay (10-2, 9) attempt to score his second victory over Keita Obara (19-3-1, 17), and make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. These two fought earlier this year, with Lagumbay upsetting the former world title challenger courtesy of a 2nd round KO. The bout not only saw an upset, but did so in a spectacular way, with a double knockdown that saw Lagumbay manage to beat the count whilst Obara was counted out. For Obara another loss will likely spell the end of his dreams to get a second world title fight, as for Lagumbay a loss wouldn't be the end, but a win would certainly enhance his options going forward.
A preview for the rematch between Lagumbay and Obara can be read here.
The other title bout will see Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto (15-5, 12) make his first defense, as he faces voluntary challenger Tatsuya Otsubo (12-8-1, 4). The champion impressed in his title winning performance earlier this year, when he stopped Takenori Ohashi but will now need to continue the momentum with his first defense. At his best Minamoto looks fantastic, and we're hoping the title boosts his performances going forward. For Otsubo this is a second shot at the Japanese title, following a 2015 loss to Satoshi Hosono. Since the loss to Hosono we've not really see Otsubo impress, despite going 4-1 (1) he has really been lucky in 3 of those wins, and could well have been 1-5 in his last 6 contests. Interestingly the winner of this will likely face Raiye Abe in early 2019.
On paper the best of the under-card fights will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight title challenger Ryoichi Tamura (10-3-1, 6) take on upset minded Filipino visitor Jestoni Autida (11-8, 5). The exciting Tamura gave Yusaku Kuga absolute hell last year, and proved to be one of the few fighters who could not only take Kuga's power but could also force the champion onto the back foot. Autida is 0-2 in Japan but has managed to be a nightmare for fighters like Ratchasak KKP and Petch Sor Chitpattana and could give Tamura some real questions.
Other bouts on this card will include Japanese ranked Middleweight Shuji Kato (8-1-1, 5) take on Naritsugu Nishihara (5-2-1, 1) and former Japanese title challenger Masaki Saito (14-13-6, 5) take on Takashi Sakamoto (7-10, 2). These should both see the more experienced men come out on top, but neither should be a mismatch.
This coming Wednesday fight fans in Japan will get the chance to see a title double header at the Korakuen Hall, with both bouts being for WBO Asia Pacific titles, and pitting Japanese fighters against Filipinos. As well as the two title fighters there's also a Japanese ranked fighter and a very highly touted debutant.
The first of the two title fights is the more interesting as WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Richard Pumicpic (20-8-2, 6) takes on the unbeaten Yoshimitsu Kimura (9-0, 4). The Filipino won the title last year, when he upset former world title challenger Hisashi Amagasa, and will be returning to the scene of that win. Although his record doesn't suggest he's anything great Pumicpic is a total nightmare to fight, and has given problems to fighters like Yohei Tobe, Ryosuke Iwasa and Cesar Juarez. As for Kimura this is a massive step up in class,and he's yet to fight anyone of any note. In fact the challenger is stepping up from low level domestic competition to facing one of the most tricky fighters on the regional scene. A win for Kimura would be both a huge statement, and a massive upset.
The other title fight will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (19-2-1, 17) take on Filipino foe Alvin Lagumbay (9-2, 8), with Obara seeking his second defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. The heavy handed Japanese fighter is looking to move towards a second world title fight, now at a more natural Welterweight, but opponents like Lagumbay aren't going to help him get fights at the top level. For those unaware Lagumbay has fought in Japan before, and was stopped by the then 3-0 Lightweight prospect Kazuki Saito, which should sum up why he's such a terrible opponent for a Welterweight like Obara here.
In a domestic Middleweight bout we'll see Japanese ranked Shuji Kato (7-1-1, 5) take on Sosuke Sakata (5-4-1, 2). Kato won the 2017 Rookie of the Year, and is riding a 5 fight winning streak, to show that he deserves some attention. However this is a clear step up in class from the fellow novices he has been fighting, despite Sakata himself being a limited fighter. As for Sakata he has been plying his trade at Welterweight though could see the move up in weight give his career a new lease of life.
The debutant of real note on this card is former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita (0-0), who went 110-31 (47) in the unpaid ranks before turning professional at the start of this year. The talented Sugita will be up against hard hitting Filipino visitor Jun Blazo (7-5-3, 6). The Filipino is 0-4 in Japan, but has fought very good competition, losing to Koki Eto, Daisuke Watanabe, Hayate Kaji and Ryuto Owan. This is a really tough debut bout for Sugita, but there is very high expectations on his shoulders and this sort of debut is a great statement of intent.
Originally there was also a Japanese Bantamweight title bout set for this card, between Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) and Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8). Sadly this bout has been cancelled, with Suzuki pulling out of the bout due to an injury suffered in training. From what we under-stand Muranaka will be fighting for the vacant title down the line, though this is understandably a cruel twist for Suzuki who already missed out on a title fight this past January when Ryo Akaho was forced to cancel a fight against him.
The biggest card, at least for us, this coming Thursday is a doubler header at the Korakuen Hall, with a WBO Asia Pacific title fight and a Japanese domestic title fight, along with a supporting bout involving a former Japanese champion.
The main event will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (18-2-1, 16) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title against the exciting Shusaku Fujinaka (16-7-2, 11). The bout will be Obara's first defense of the title, which he won earlier this year when he stopped Saddam Kietyongyuth, and should be a relatively straight forward one, against a limited but aggressive Fujinaka. The challenger is best known for a his 2015 loss to Randall Bailey and has shown a questionable chin, with 3 stoppage losses. Saying that however he's an exciting warrior and his recent bout with Moon Hyun Yun is one of the best Japanese fights of 2017. We expect action and excitement, but a clear win for Obara here.
The other title fight will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso (22-7-1, 15) taking on exciting challenger Valentine Hosokawa (21-6-3, 9). The bout is set to be one between two men who simply like to fight. They have styles that should gel, they have mentalities that should be made for each other, and it's hard to see how this bout will fail to be anything but thrilling. Aso, defending the title for the second time, is a high octane pressure fighter whilst Hosokawa is a bit more of a swarmer and the bout should be a balls to the wall war.
One other bout on this card worthy of note will see former Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (33-15-1, 7) fight for the 50th time! The 37 year old veteran will be up against a limited Thai foe, and will be expected to pick up a win to mark his half century of bouts.
In Canada we'll see a couple of talented fighters from Central Asia.
One of those will be heavy handed Canadian based Kazakh Ablaikhan Khussainov (6-0, 5), who faces off with Mexican Jesus Silveira (8-4-2, 3). The talented Kazakh has quietly gone about business and looks like a real talent but does still need some seasoning and it looks like that's the purpose of this bout. Silveira's record might suggest that he's a very limited fighter but but he's mixed with quality fighters, like Jose Zepeda, and no one has managed to stop him yet, suggesting he'll be a durable foe for Khussainov.
A second Canadian based Kazakh on this card will be Nurzat Sabirov (3-0, 3), who will be looking to record his 4th win in just over 6 months. The talented 23 year old has just needed 6 rounds to dispose of his first 3 opponents and if he keeps ripping through low tier foes it won't be long until they push him into bigger and better bouts against stiffer competition.
New York, USA
There will also be some central Asian interest in the US, courtesy of American based Uzbek fighter Hurshidbek Normatov (4-0, 2), who risks his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Nicklaus Flaz (5-0, 4). So far through his short career Normatov has impressed, not losing any of his 13 professional rounds, and looks like a potential one to watch. However the 25 year old born in Andijan hasn't really faced a notable test and this bout with Flaz should serve as a test of sorts. Puerto Rican puncher Flaz is a 22 year old with genuine bang, having stopped his first 4 opponents in a combined 5rounds, but was taken the distance last time out by Elie Augustama and may be biting off more than he can chew here.