This coming Saturday is a big day for Asian fighters, with two being involved in world title bouts, several notable rematches, and some notable hopefuls from Japan, Philippines and Tajikstan in action.
City Gym, Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
For us the most notable card of the day takes place in Kyoto as we see a major rematch at world level, and two pretty interesting, though easy to over-look, domestic level bouts.
The main event of the card will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Masamichi Yabuki (13-3, 12) make his first defense, as he takes on former champion Kenshiro Teraji (18-1, 10), who is looking to avenge his sole and reclaim the title that he lost last year. The hard hitting Yabuki stopped Kenshiro last year, but did so following a controversial headclash, which lead Kenshiro's team to petition for a rematch, that the WBC decided to order. For Yabuki this is a huge chance to prove that his first win wasn't a fluke, and the headbutt ultimately didn't matter, whilst Kenshiro will be determined to reclaim the title, and prove that he wasn't his usual self during that loss. This is a great bout and one that every fan of the lower weights should be very interested in, especially due to the involvement of DAZN in the lower weights. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Yabuki Vs Kenshiro - The Rematch
In a notable supporting bout Japanese youth Flyweight champion Yuga Inoue (12-2-1, 2) will be facing off with Shota Asami (9-9, 4). On paper this looks likely to be an easy win for Inoue, however he has struggled several times in recent years, and whilst Asami is no world beater. Inoue is a talented fighter, but lacks power, and can be dragged into close and hotly contested bout against fighters over 8 rounds. As for Asami he is better than his record indicates, and can be very much a banana skin for decent domestic fighters, as we've seen in his wins over Sho Omote and Shun Kosaka.
An other support bout is a must win for both men involved as recent Japanese title contender Rikito Shiba (5-2, 3) takes on the once touted Shisui Kawabata (2-3, 2) in a bout that really neither man can afford to lose. Shiba turned professional following a strong amateur background and quickly won the Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title, before losses to Masamichi Yabuki and Shokichi Iwata left his career hanging by a thread. Kawabata on the other hand was regarded as a major prospect when he turned professional in 2019 but has suffered 3 successive losses. Notably not only is this a must win for both men, but also a rematch of a 2019 bout between then, that saw Shiba give Kawabata his first loss, a loss he will be looking to avenge. We don't think this will out-shine the main event, but it will be a very compelling contest in it's own right.
Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The other major show for the day takes place in Dubai, where we get another world title fight, and a very interesting support bout.
The world title bout with see English slickster Sunny Edwards (17-0, 4) hunt his second defense of the IBF Flyweight title as he takes on Pakistani challenger Muhammad Waseem (12-1, 8), who gets his second shot at a world title. The slippery and talented Edwards impressed in his title win last year, dethroning Moruti Mthalane, and has been talking very confidently as if he felt he's the man to beat in the division. Hoepfully he'll get the chance to back up his talk later in the year against a fellow champion. As for Waseem, he was a fantastic fighter as an amateur, and a very capable professional, but at the age of 34 it's hard to see him being competitive with the fleet footed champion, though it Waseem will know it's now or never for his career. Or preview of this bout can be read here Waseem takes on IBF champion Edwards
In one of the main support bouts unbeaten Tajik fighter Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (18-0, 10) will take on in form American O'Shaquie Foster (18-2, 11), in a bout at Super Featherweight. Yaqubov has been making a name for himself in Russia, where he has scored decent wins over the likes of Tomas Rojas, Emanuel Lopez and Mark Urvanov, but has lacked a major win so far and needs a break out win. As for Foster he appears to be on a good run with recent wins over Jon Fernandez, Alberto Mercado and Miguel Roman, though has only fought once since the start of 2020, and is more than a year removed form his last fight, so this might be the ideal time to face him.
Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines
It's not just Japan that will be having rematch, with a notable one in the Philippines between Garen Diagan (8-1, 4) and April Jay Abne (7-1, 3). These two clashed last year with Diagan scoring a notable upset against the wonderfully talented Abne, who was stopped inside a round. For Diagan that's his biggest win so far, and the "Hellboy" will be looking to show he didn't just catch Abne cold, but is the better fighter. As for Abne that was a very embarrassing loss, and one he'll be wanting to avenge and put behind him.
Sadly other details relating to this card are few and far between though we do know the unbeaten 20 year old Bryan James Wild (6-0, 5) will be seeking his next win. Sadly his opponent for this show hasn't been announced yet, and we're not expecting anyone too testing, but it's going to be great to follow his exciting career over the coming years.
Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, Albert Park, Victoria, Australia
At the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre we'll see unbeaten Australian hopeful Kayne Clarke (11-0, 8) looking for his 12th straight win as he takes on Indonesian visitor Agus Kustiawan (18-9-2, 8), who has never won a bout outside of Indonesia and is 0-2 in Australia. Kustiawan is unlikely to pose much of a test for Clarke, but Clarke will likely be wanting to better the 2016 result of Ibrahim Balla, when he stopped the Indonesian in 5 rounds.
The Melbourne Pavilion, Flemington, Victoria, Australia
Staying in Melbourne, there's going to be a pair of bouts of some Asian interest at the Melbourne Pavilion, sadly though both bouts look like easy wins for locals over poor Thai's.
One of the bouts will see Tom Fitzgerald (1-0) seek his second win, as he takes on Thatthakan Samanthong (0-2), in what is a reasonable second bout for the Australian hopeful. The other will be the debut Kha Lu (0-0), who faces win-less 40 year old Prakob Nuankaew (0-2). Hard to complain about bouts like this over 4 rounds, but also very hard to say much more than the obvious, the locals should win, with out too many problems.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
In Malaysia we're expecting to see a bout that was scheduled for back in January, as the unbeaten Adli Hafidz (9-0, 5) takes on Thai veteran Komsan Polsan (40-12-1-1, 26), aka Patomsuk Pathompothong in a bout for the UBO Middleweight title. The 33 year old Hafidz is one of the very, very few noteworthy fighters from Malaysia, and whilst he is a notable local face it's hard to imagine him stepping up to making a mark on the wider regional scene. As for Komsan, he is very under-sized at Middleweight and despite his solid looking record his is 10-10-0-1 in his last 21 bouts, dating back 7 years, including 6 losses by stoppage. It would be a huge surprise to see the 38 year old Thai take home a win here.
The final two days of 2018 are set to be huge for Asian combat sports, with several major shows. For us it's the boxing that is key and this coming Sunday we'll see a triple header being shown on Fuji TV.
Technically the main event of the show will see WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12) make his first defense, as he takes on unbeaten mandatory challenger Evgeny Chuprakov (20-0, 10). The talented Ito won the title earlier this year in the USA, defeating the touted Christopher Diaz, and now looks to build on that win. The unbeaten Chuprakov didn't look great last time out, being pushed very hard by Ernie Sanchez, but is a good fighter and should make for an interesting first defense by the popular Japanese fighter. This is a really good bout on paper, but one where we suspect the champion has to be favoured. Our full in depth preview of this bout can be read here - Masayuki Ito faces mandatory Evgeny Chuprakov
The second champion defending their title on this show is WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (14-0, 8), who will be looking to make his 5th defense of the title. The talented champion will be up against Mexican foe Saul Juarez (24-8-2, 13). On paper this isn't an awful bout, especially given that Juarez is proven at world level, but is 1-4-1 in his last 6 bouts, dating back more than 2 years. Kenshiro has been one of Japanese's boxing big success stories of the last few years, and looked sensational in beating Milan Melindo earlier this year. If Kenshiro can put on a similar performance here to the one he put on against Melindo he has to be in the running for the Asian Fighter of the Year. A preview of this bout can be read here Kenshiro seeks 5th defense, takes on Baby Juarez
The third bout of note on this card will see unbeaten fighters collide, as Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3) battles Petch Sor Chitpattana (48-0, 33), who is also known as Petch CP Freshmart and Tasana Salapat, for the WBC "Interim" Bantamweight title. Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue, is well know in Asian boxing circles and has a number of good wins, beating the likes of Tatsuya Fukuhara, Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, Rene Dacquel, Froilan Saludar, Hiroyuki Kudaka and Mark John Yap already in his short career. Petch on the other hand has one of the longest unbeaten records in the sport, but totally lacks in terms of quality, with his best wins coming against Jestoni Autida and Jeson Umbal. A preview of this bout can be read here - Petch Sor Chitpattana and Takuma Inoue clash for WBC interim title!
This coming Sunday is set to be a massive day for fight fans in Asia, specifically those in Yokohama who get an excellent triple header on Fuji TV, as part of the World Boxing Super Series.
The main bout will see WBA “regular” Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14) kick off his WBSS campaign as he takes on former world champion Juan Carlos Payano (20-1, 9). The Japanese fighter is the betting favourite to win the competition and will be looking to put down his mark as he takes on Payano, who is being given little to no chance to pick up a win here. Inoue claimed the WBA title earlier this year, when he blew out Jamie McDonnell, but should be expecting a much stiffer test here. Payano has only lost to once, a close decision to Rau-shee Warren, and is a former 2-time Olympian, but is expected to be little more than a snack for the Monster. A full preview of this bout is here - The Monster begins WBSS campaign, faces Payano!
In a Light Welterweight WBSS bout we'll see WBA champion Kiryl Relikh (22-2, 19) take on the heavy handed Eduard Troyanovsky (27-1, 24). For the Belorussian fighter this will be his first defense, and the reality is that he really should be unbeaten, with the judging in both of his defeats being highly questionable. Troyanovsky is a a basic fighter, who at 38 is past his best, but is a brutish puncher, as we saw when he beat Keita Obara. This could be a lot of fun and we do not see it going 12 rounds. A preview of this bout is here - Relikh and Troyanovsky kick off WBSS
A third world title bout on this show will see the unbeaten Kenshiro (13-0, 7) defending his WBC Light Flyweight title against former IBF champion Milan Melindo (37-3, 13). On paper this is the standout bout from the card and the hardest one to call. The champion has been on a great run at world level, with a couple of wins against Ganigan Lopez, a great win over Pedro Guevara and a showcase performance against Gilberto Pedroza. Melindo on the other hand was beaten last time out but has scored notable recent wins against Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, Akira Yaegashi and Hekkie Budler,whilst suffering a loss in a unification bout at the end of last year. This has the potential to be amazing. A preview of this bout is here - WBC belt on the line as Kenshiro and Melindo battle on Sunday!
A second Japanese show on Sunday will come from Oita and is a much less interesting card.
The main event of this show is an 8 round contest that will feature Atsushi Takada (6-0-2, 3) facing off with Hironori Miyake (9-6-1, 1). The unbeaten Takada impressed last time out, when he stopped Jump Ikeo, but it's hard to read too much into his record given his competition so far. Miyake has a more marked up record but has only lost one of his last 6 bouts, and that was hardly a shameful defeat as he came up short against the very talented Kyosuke Sawada. Sadly this bout aside there isn't anything else on the card worthy of note.
Seoul, South Korea
As well as the action outside of Japan there are two cards in Korea. One of those is a Boxing M Rookie card, with 22 bouts on it. All the contests on this card are 4 rounders and feature novice with 5 or fewer bouts. This could give us close to 90 professional rounds if all the bouts go the distance and will certainly give fans value for their money.
Ulsan, South Korea
A second Korean card is taking place in Ulsan. Again this is mostly novices though the main event is an 8 rounder between between Sang Kil Park (6-1, 2) and Tae Young Suh (3-0-1), in what could be a very interesting match up. The more experienced fighter is 35 years old but has got the edge in experience and power. Suh on the other hand is just 22 and only made his debut this past January. We're expecting action here even if the bout isn't at the highest level.
This coming Friday is a big day for Asian boxing, as we get a couple of world title fight a couple of prospects and a hotly tipped debutant.
The main bout of the card will see Englishman Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1, 13) defending his WBA Bantamweight title against 2-weight world champion Naoya Inoue (15-0, 13), who looks to become a 3-weight champion in just 16 bouts. The defending champion will boast significant size advantage over Inoue, but has been struggling to make 118lbs over the last few years and Inoue's trademark body attack may well take advantage of that issue. As for McDonnell he is unbeaten in over a decade and holds several notable wins, including a couple against Tomoki Kameda, one against Julio Ceja and one against Liborio Solis. The challenger is one of the biggest names in Japanese boxing and will know that another win here will help increase his profile around the boxing world, and move him towards becoming a global star.
Interesting Inoue and McDonnell may not only be fighting for the WBA Bantamweight title but also, potentially, a place in the upcoming World Boxing Super Series at Bantamweight.
The other title bout on this card will see WBC Light Flyweight Ken Shiro (12-0, 6) defending his belt against Ganigan Lopez (34-7, 19), the man he beat for the title last year. Since winning the belt Ken Shiro has made two defenses and gone from being a fighter only the hardcore fans know about to being a man who has featured on Japanese main stream TV and has really built his profile magnificently. Lopez will be looking to avenge his 2017 loss to the Japanese fighter, but at the age of 36 it could be that Lopez's career is naturally coming to an end, and this bout will bee the one that makes him realise he's not the fighter he once was.
The leading support bout will see Naoya's younger brother Takuma Inoue (10-0, 2) take on Indonesian visitor Waldo Sabu (12-11, 2). This bout really should be little more than a show case bout for the talented Inoue, who should be getting a world title fight this year, but on the other hand it's good to see him tick over. Despite only being 22 it does feel like Inoue, who debuted in December 2013, should be up against better opposition and has been ready for a world title fight for a while, so hopefully this will be his final tune up bout. As for Sabu Sabu is yet to win a bout outside of Indonesia, having suffered notable losses to Shingo Wake in Japan as well as Nop Kratingdaenggym, Norasing Kokietgym and Petchbarngborn Kokietgym in Thailand.
The hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda (16-3-2, 14) looks for his 4th straight win, following a 2016 loss to Reiya Abe, as he takes on Indonesian veteran Rivo Rengkung (36-24-6, 14). Although still a bit unknown outside of Japan Tameda is one of the countries more unheralded prospects. The hard hitting Tameda suffered a couple of losses in 2016, to Simpiwe Vetyeka and Reiya Abe, but has bounced back well with 3 stoppage wins, including one for the Japanese Youth Featherweight title, and is now being stepped up slight take on the Indonesian visitor here. Rengkung is a pretty limited fighter but should be able to take Tameda a few rounds here, before being stopped..
Also on this card will be touted debutant Taku Kuwabara (0-0), who makes his debut against Indonesian foe Mochamad Sholimin (3-6, 3). The Japanese fighter was a notable on the Japanese scene and looks likely to be yet another top fighter at the Ohashi Gym. He will clearly be looking to make a statement here, but may struggle to really wow the fans in Tokyo as he takes on a man who took Daiki Tomita 8 rounds last August. We suspect Kuwabara will win without many problems, but if he can stop Sholimin that will be a solid statement from the debutant.
As with the last few years this year is set to end with a spate of Japanese action. The first of two big shows to end 2017 is in Yokohama, where Ohashi and Fuji TV put on an interesting looking show.
The main event of this year closer will be the end in the latest chapter of Naoya Inoue's (14-0, 12) career, as he makes his 7th, and likely final, defense of the WBO Super Flyweight title. The talented Japanese fighter had been ruining out of willing opponents and will close 2017 with a bout against the inform Frenchman Yoan Boyeaux (41-4, 26). On paper it looks good but the reality is that this is a huge step up in class and likely serves as a dummy run for the “Monster” before he moves up to Bantamweight in pursuit of a third divisional world title.
A second world title bout on this show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (11-0, 5) make his second defense, as he goes up against confident Panamanian visitor Gilberto Pedroza (18-3-2, 8), who fights in his first world title bout. The talented Ken Shiro has had a career defining year with wins over Ganigan Lopez and Pedro Guevara and closing out the year with a third win would, in fairness, put him on the fringes of the Fighter of the Year shortlist. As for Pedroza this is a huge opportunity to claim a world title and make a name for himself ahead of the near year.
A third title bout on this card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (4-0, 4) make his first defense as he looks to move towards a world title fight. The talented Japanese fighter, who came to international attention in 2012 when he claimed a Bronze medal at the London Olympics, will be up against Filipino challenger Eduardo Mancito (15-7-2, 9). The champion won the title in impressive fashion earlier this year, when he stopped Korean Sa Myung Noh and is expected to make an easy first defense here. Although limited Mancito is tough and is expected to get some rounds out Shimizu, who can prove whether his power is legitimate or not here.
In one of the leading support bouts Takuma Inoue (9-0, 2) will take on 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (27-8, 15), in what looks likely to be a mismatch. The talented Takuma was supposed to fight for a world title a year ago, but an injury ruled him out and he now seems to be trying to get back to fully fitness and shake off any ring rust before moving back into the world title picture. Masuda is an exciting fighter, but with recent stoppage losses to Shohei Omori and Mark John Yap his limitations have been shown, and he's a fun but crude fighter who should be easily out boxed by Inoue.
A third Inoue on this card is the fast rising Koki Inoue (9-0, 8), who takes on Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (8-1-2, 3). The Korean enters the bout as the Korean Light Welterweight champion and an OPBF ranked fighter and it's clear that Inoue is chasing titles, with this bout potentially opening the door for an OPBF title fight in 2018. Inoue has been very impressive, very exciting and very aggressive since his debut however the Korean has never been stopped, looks to be tough and durable and will not have travelled to just roll over to Inoue.
Also on this card as Ohashi novices Katsuya Yasuda (1-0, 1) and Kazuki Nakajima (2-0, 2), who will both be in 6 rounders and will be looking to have big 2018's.
A second Asian show will take place in Kazakhstan where we get a number of interesting, though lower key bouts.
One of the key bouts from the show will see once beaten Kazakh hopeful Firuza Sharipova (7-1, 4) battle against Belgian fighter Djemilla Gontaruk (13-4-1, 2) in a bout for the WBC silver Female Super Featherweight title. The bout looks like a good one on paper, but coming in to this the Kazakh has won 7 in a row whilst Gonturak has lost against every notable opponent she has faced, including a loss last time out to Ramon Kuehne and her wins have been against very limited foes.
Another title bout on this card will see Aidyn Yelzhanov (4-0, 3) take on Sergey Dudinsky (4-1, 3) for a WBC regional title at Super Bantamweight. The 24 year old Yelzhanov has impressed so far,but has been fighting at a very liw level and will have to show something new to over-come the hungry Dudinsky, who has won his last two.
One other bout of note will be the home coming, of sorts, for Light Heavyweight prospect Ali Akhmedov (10-0, 7), who takes on Ismat Eynullayev (12-2, 8). Akhmedov has fought 5 of his last 6 outside of Kazakhstan, where he is incidentally 5-0 (5), and will be looking to put on a show here. Eynullayev, from Azerbaijan, has won his last 3 but will not be expected to put up much of a challenge against the home town hero.
In the Russian capital fan will be able to see Russian Uzbek Ulugbek Khakberdiev (4-0, 2) look to build on his solid 2017 as he takes on Ugandan puncher Med Sebyala (17-10-1, 14). The unbeaten Kazakh has gone under the radar this year, despite stopping Dmitry Sukhotsky in September and looks to end his year with a 5th straight win. The 37 year old Sebyala has lost 2 of his last 3, but does appear to be a legitimate puncher and could chin check the powerful Kazakh.
This coming Sunday attention turns to Tokyo, with a world title triple header from the Kokugikan.
The biggest of the bouts is a rematch between Ryota Murata (12-1, 9) and Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam (36-2, 21), with the Japanese fighter seeking to avenge his sole defeat and claim the WBA Middleweight title. These two fought back in May, with N'Dam winning a very controversial split decision over Murata, in a bout that many felt the Japanese fighter had clearly won, especially given that he dropped the Frenchman and had him rocked a number of times.
In another interesting match up we'll see WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (13-0, 13) defending his title for the first time as he takes on French challenger Thomas Masson (17-3-1, 5). The champion won the title back in May when he stopped Juan Hernandez in very impressive fashion to continue his perfect stoppage run. Masson on the other hand is fighting above European level for the first tine, having twice been a European champion. The challenger will be the taller, and longer man, and will be looking to fight at range, but this is a huge step up for him.
The third title bout on the show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (10-0, 5) defending his belt against mandatory challenger Pedro Guevara (30-2-1, 17), himself a former champion. The champion won the title back in May when he narrowly out pointed Ganigan Lopez and will seeking to continue his rise here against a very talented former champion. As for Guevara the bout will see him return to Japan to try and reclaim the title that he lost to Yu Kimura, also in Japan.
A fourth bout of note on this show will see Ryuto Owan (2-0, 2) take on fellow puncher Alvin Medura (5-1, 5) in a bout which should be an explosive encounter. Both guys can bang and both will be in there looking to secure their biggest win to date. Owan, has stopped his first 2 foes in a combined 3 rounds and will be stepping up in a big way here, whilst Medura has had 15 combined career rounds, with his 5 wins coming in just 9 combined rounds.
A much smaller Japanese show will be held in Tottori, where there is only really two fights of any note.
One of those is the main event, which will see former Japanese Lightweight champion Kazuhiro Nishitani (17-4-1, 9) take on a Thai foe, in his first bout since vacant the Japanese title, which he only won in March. Nishitani's opponent shouldn't be much of a threat, though we will admit we would have preferred to have seen him in with a domestic foe rather than a limited visitor.
The other will see former world title challenger Mika Iwakawa (6-5-1, 2) fight for the first time since coming up short against Yunoka Furukawa in a bout for the WBA Atomweight title. Like Nishitani she will be up against a Thai foe, and will be expected to pick up an easy win en route to bigger and better things.
Another small Japanese card will take place in Okayama and will be head lined by a low key match up between Kota Fujimoto (6-2, 2) and Kenta Sugimoto (11-10-2, 1). On paper this looks like a probable win for the 19 year old Fujimoto, but he has lost his last 2 bouts and his early career momentum has come to a screeching halt. Although his record might not show it Sugimoto is a real potential banana skin and he holds notable wins over Tetsuya Hisada and Shunji Nagata, showing that there is a good fighter there, and he shouldn't be over-looked against Fujimoto.
New South Wales, Australia
We'll see another notable Japanese fighter in title action in Australia, as the Ryuji Hachimitsu Ikeda (12-3-2, 8) takes on Darragh Foley (12-2, 8) in a bout for the WBA Oceania, WBC “interim” Asian Boxing Council and WBO Oriental Light Welterweight titles. The bout looks a really good one on paper and should see two well matched fighters going up against each other in a potentially explosive bout, with both men having enough bang to hurt the other.
Also on this card fans will see Thai Pakdee Tor Buamas (11-7-1, 7) take on the once beaten Ben Savva (7-1, 2), in a bout for the lightly regarded vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Welterweight Title. Interestingly the Thai is unbeaten in his last 4, albeit at a very low level, and does have some momentum coming in to this one. He is however up against a man who has won his last 6 and has shown some promise, even if he's not looking like a future world champion in the making.
This coming weekend sees boxing take over in Tokyo with 5 world title fights spread over 2 days thanks to Fuji TV who are set to give us one of the most memorable weekends in recent memory. It kicks off on Saturday with a trio of world title fights on a show promoted by Teiken
The most significant of the fights sees French based Middleweight Hassan N'Dam (35-2, 21) battle against Japanese gold medal winner Ryota Murata (12-0, 9) in a bout for the WBA “regular” Middleweight title. For N'dam, who is best known for losing to Peter Quillin and David Lemieux, the bout gives him a third shot to hold a “full” title, after several reigns as an interim champion, and he does seem very confident in build up to the fight. For Murata the bout is a chance to mark his name in history as the first Japanese fighter to claim and Olympic and World titles and become just the second Japanese fighter to claim a Middleweight world title. Of all the bouts this weekend this is probably the most significant and the most interesting.
Talking about interesting it's worth nothing that the card features a mouth watering Flyweight title bout as WBC champion Juan Hernandez Navarrete (34-2, 25) takes on Japanese destroyer Daigo Higa (12-0, 12). The bout will be a mandatory for the Mexican champion whilst Higa looks to claim a world title at the age of 21, and keep alive his incredible stoppage run. The bout looks set to be something a little bit special with both being very talented and having a nice mix of styles, which should lead to a thrilling war.
The other title fight on this show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ganigan Lopez (28-6, 17) defending his title against former WBC Youth, Japanese and OPBF champion Ken Shiro (9-0, 5). The champion is a true grizzled veteran and has looked great in recent wins over Yu Kimura and Jonathan Taconing, with the Kimura win coming in Japan, but at 35 he is ancient for a Light Flyweight and is significantly older than Ken Shiro who will have a real advantage in youth. The bout will be Lopez's second defense and will be Ken Shiro's first bout at world level.
Whilst much of the attention for the day will be on Tokyo it won't be the only place with a world title fight, as Aichi also hosts a world title fight. Sadly whilst the Tokyo card will receive a lot of major press across Japan and looks set to be televised in a number of major markets it
looks like this will only be shown on CBC.
The headline bout of this show, and the world title bout, will see WBO Light Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (8-0, 5) making his first defense of the title as he takes on monstrous Puerto Rican puncher Angel Acosta (16-0, 16). The bout is a mandatory defense for Tanaka and looks like a great match up on paper as the talented and speedy champion takes on a massive puncher, with both men looking not only to walk away as champion but to also keep their unbeaten records. It's hard not to feel that Tanaka's experience at world level will be the difference here. But it's clear that Acosta has power and we have seen Tanaka down before, against heavy handed Filipino Vic Saludar, and Acosta could build a gameplan on Saludar's success.
Another unbeaten man on this card is Kento Hatanaka (2-0, 2), the son of former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka. The youngster will be taking part in a 6 rounder against an unknown Thai as he looks to continue his perfect start to professional boxing. The 18 year old has needed just 3 rounds to take out two domestic foes so far and will be looking for something similarly impressive here.
Also up against a Thai visitor will be 2-time Japanese Bantamweight challenger Yushi Tanaka (19-2-3, 13), who will be in an 8 rounder. Tanaka was last seen losing to Ryo Akaho in March, though put in a credible effort and will be hoping to run off a series of wins to earn a third shot at the Japanese title. This however won't be a notable win and will instead be confidence builder for the Hatanaka man.
There is also set to be action in Indonesia, where three of the hottest young Indonesian fighters will be in action.
One of the bouts will see the unbeaten Tibo Monabesa (15-0-1, 7) taking on Arnold Garde (8-4-2, 3) in an interesting match up for a minor WBC title at Light Flyweight. The unbeaten man, now regarded as one of the 3 Indonesian fighters to keep an out on, is going to be strongly favoured here, but Garde won't have travelled to make up the numbers and this could be a good test for the unbeaten man.
Another local fighter in action is Defry Palulu (17-2-1, 12), who will be battling the experienced Nathan Bolcio (14-12-3, 4) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Featherweight title. This looks like a mismatch but Bolcio has mixed in good company and could prove to be a stiff test for the popular local.
Another of the standout Indonesian hopefuls in action is 20 year old Iwan Zoda (13-2, 11), who will be up against domestic veteran Ical Tobida (13-23, 8). The bout will see Zoda return to action for the first time since a 7th round TKO loss to Robert Onggocan back in January and he'll clearly be fighting with intent to prove he is back to his best, following a rib injury.
In Korea the KBF will host a low key Rookie event, with very few details not note. We have been informed that the card will feature an 8 rounder, but other than that the details really are scarce.
This key show this weekend for Asian fight fans comes from the Korakuen Hall where we get two title bouts.
In the main event we'll see Japanese youngster Ken Shiro (8-0, 4) make his first defense of the OPBF Light Flyweight title as he takes on Filipino foe Lester Abutan (11-5-3, 5), and attempts to take another step towards a world title fight. The Japanese youngster, who has claimed the WBC Youth, Japanese and WBC Youth titles already in his career, will know that a loss will be a major set back in his climb towards a shot at a world title, but that a win will put further pressure on the divisional champions to face him. For Abutan the bout will be his Japanese debut, though he has performed well in his two bouts away from the Philippines and could be a genuine banana skin for Ken Shiro, if he's on form here.
The other title bout on this show will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (25-7, 13) face first time challenger Satoshi Ozawa (13-6-1, 2). On paper this is a big step up for Ozawa however the 29 year old challenger is on a 4 fight winning streak, including 2 solid wins over Yoshihikp Matsuo, and has been making a mark at Super Bantamweight over the last 18 month or so. For Masuda the bout will be his second defense of his second reign and could open the doors to a potential rematch with Tatsuya Takahashi next year, if he wins here and Takahashi wins in January, which we would love to see!
A really fan friendly bout will see the once beaten Katsunori Nagamine (12-1, 8) face off with the limited but gutsy Mako Matsuyama (8-10-2, 3). Nagamine was in one of the most intensely fun fights of the year, his win over Kenya Yamashita back in February. Whilst Nagamine is certainly a fun and aggressive fighter it's fair to say that Matsuyama's 2014 bout with Rex Tso, an insane war in Macau, was a better bout and with these two getting it on we're expecting to see something very special.
Another under-card bout will see Jin Miura (8-1, 1) battle against Naoaki Kumagai (7-5, 4). The light hitting Miura does look like the favourite here but has struggled in a number of his wins and could well be given a really good test here by Kumagai, who is a very under-rated fighter. Although he has lost his last 3 Kumagai has mixed in good company and could be a banana skin for Miura.
As part of the under-card we'll also see the debut of Ryo Sagawa (0-0), who takes on Korean foe Ho Ya Kim (4-4, 2). Sagawa was a former amateur standout and is tipped for big things, kicking off his career in a 6 rounder here. Kim will be fighting in Japan for the second time, following a loss to Ryuya Kaji earlier this year, and may come into this with the belief of scoring a win on Japanese soil, though will have to put in a career best performance against Sagawa to even be competitive.
In California we'll see fast rising Mongolian Tugstsogt Nyambayar (6-0, 6) take on veteran fighter German Meraz (55-39-1, 32) in what looks like a step up for Nyambayar. Merez, a real veteran with more than 90 fights under his belt, is a proven tough guy who has only lost by stoppage 7 times in his long career. Nyambayar has never been extended beyond 4 rounds and this is, potentially, set to be his toughest and longest bout to date. If the Mongolian can blow away Meraz in quick fashion it could time to put him in with the divisional wolves, rather than continue to slowly develop the Mongolian monster.
This coming Sunday is a busy day for fight fans, specifically those in Osaka who get 3 shows.
The most notable of those shows comes from the EDION Arena where the Boxingraise cameras will in attendance to stream live content, featuring some of the brightest young prospects in Japan.
The most notable of those prospects is Japanese Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (7-0, 4), who faces the much more experienced Toshimasa Ouchi (20-8-3, 6) in a bout for both the Japanese and the vacant OPBF Light Flyweight titles. Ouch is a man looking to secure his biggest win to date and will go into the bout knowing that pressure is on Ken Shiro, however the veteran may not get another title fight if he loses here. For Ken Shiro this is a brilliant chance to put himself into the window for a world title fight in December.
Whilst the attention is on the main event it's not the only really good bout on this card with another exciting match up seeing the very promising Hiroto Kyoguchi (2-0, 2) going up against Kenichi Miyazaki (10-2-1, 3) in a mouth watering clash. Miyazaki does come in to this on the back of a loss but isn't a push over whilst Kyoguchi is leaping up in class. A really good match up and a really good test for the unbeaten 22 year old.
In another bout of note we'll see 22 year old Light Flyweight hopeful Masataka Taniguchi (3-0, 3) look to extend his great start as he takes on a Thai opponent. Taniguchi is fighting for the 4th time in a little over 4 months, though that's scarcely an issue given he has wiped out his first 3 opponents in a combined 4 rounds. We're unsure who the Thai will be for this bout, but there is little to suggest that he should be favoured over Taniguchi.
There will also be another show at the EDION Osaka and this one was originally set to features some notable bouts, though sadly has seen some adjustments.
Originally the main event was supposed to see Kazuki Tanaka (5-0, 4) battle, in what would have been a huge step up in class, against Hideo Sakamoto (16-2-3, 5) with the key supporting bout being set as a contest between Seizo Kono (16-8-1, 11) and Filipino Jhon Gemino (13-7-1, 5). Sadly however Tanaka has been forced out of the bout leading to a contest between Sakamoto and Kono. It's an alright bout, especially given the short notice, but the reality is that it's not the main event that had had us excited for several weeks.
As a result of the shake up at the top of the card the new main event will see Takayuki Okumoto (16-7-12, 6) face off against the once beaten Sonin Nihei (8-1-2, 1) in what is a really nice match up and a good step up for Nihei who's only loss came to Kenya Yamashita almost 2 years ago.
Another notable bout here will see young female fighter Fuka Komura (0-0) make her debut, as she takes on Kaori Nagai (0-1). Although a debutant, and one without a host of amateur titles, Komura has received a lot of press and there is serious talk about her being fast tracked to a title following a very impressive pro-test bout earlier this year.
A third show in Osaka comes form the L-Theatre.
The main event here sees OPBF and Japanese ranked Featherweight Ryota Kajiki (28-9, 19) take on Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Taiki Minamoto (11-5, 10). Kajiki is looking to move towards a second title bout, following a 2012 loss to the then Japanese Super Featherweight champion Daiki Kaneko and is currently riding a 6 fight winning streak, dating back more than 2 years, with notable wins over Shota Yamaguchi and Kota Fukuoka. As for Minamoto he's looking for a second win following last year's loss to Yukinori Oguni, in a Japanese Super Bantamweight title bout.
In the chief support bout for this show fans will see former Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (30-14-1, 7) end his retirement to take on Akiyoshi Kanazawa (13-5-4, 7). For Horikawa the bout will be his first since losing the Japanese title, back in December, to Ken Shiro. Interestingly Kanazawa is returning following a less this year to Toshimasa Ouchi, with Ken Shiro and Ouchi facing off across the city in the first show mentioned in this article!
The only other show in Japan, and the only one taking place outside of Osaka is a small one in Aichi, which is being used to as a Rookie of the Year qualifying show.
The best bout on this card is a 5 rounder between Jinya Ito (4-0-1) and the hard hitting Yuto Nakamura (4-2, 4). The card is a huge step down from the Osaka shows but should provide some thrills in well matched novice type bouts.
As well as all the action in Japan there will also be a show in China where Heavyweight puncher Zhang Junlong (13-0, 13) headlines. The Chinese puncher will be risking his perfect KO record against Brazilian puncher Julio Cesar Dos Santos (30-6, 27), who has been in with a who's who of the Cruiserweight division. It's hard to back against Junlong here, but the hope is that a big bout is only around the corner.
April is a great month for Japanese fight fans with a host of notable shows through the month. One of the most notable come on April 14th where we see a number of bouts with notable fighters.
One of those bouts is a Japanese Light Flyweight title bout between unbeaten champion Ken Shiro (6-0, 3), who looks to make his first defense, and mandatory challenger Atsushi Kakutani (17-4-1, 10). The youngster won the title late last year, when he over-came Kenichi Horikawa in a brilliant bout, and will be looking to notch a win over a world title challenger. For Kakutani however this is a long over-due shot and one that could make or break his career.
Another title bout on this card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (13-3-1, 7) defending his title against Akira Shono (9-7-2, 5). This match up is somewhat hard to get excited about, with Shono seemingly stepping up in a huge way, though it does need to be noted that Takenaka has been in active since August, when he won the title courtesy of a 5th round TKO win over Vinvin Rufino. On paper this is an easy first defence for the champion, but one that he will be hoping he'll be expected to shine.
In a very notable non-title bout fans will see Keita Obara (15-1-1, 14) in a stay busy bout against Petchdam Tor Buamas (0-1). Although a huge mismatch the aim of the bout is for Obara to shake some ring rust as he looks to build towards an IBF Light Welterweight world title fight with unbeaten Russian Eduard Troyanovsky. This will be Obara's first bout since his controversial draw against Walter Castillo and it should be a very easy show case for the heavy handed Japanese fighter.
In another under-card bout fans will see Japanese Rookie of the Year Tsubasa Koura (6-0, 3) kick off his 2016 by facing Thailand's Yai Phuket Topteam (0-0). The 21 year old Koura impressed last year with 5 wins, and won the All Japanese Rookie of the year. He'll be hoping to continue to build on his promising career this year, though should be up against better tests than Yai before the year is over.