This coming Monday in Kanagawa sees us having the final big show before Christmas, with 4 bouts worthy of real attention, including 3 world title bouts.
The one non-title bout which is worthy real of attention will be the ring return of Nicaraguan great Roman Gonzalez (47-2, 39), who fights for the first time in a year. The 4-weight world champion will be fighting his first bout in Japan in almost 5 years, and takes on Filipino foe Diomel Diocos (14-5-3, 4). On paper this looks like an easy win for Gonzalez, but with wear and tear and inactivity there are question marks about what he has left in the tank. Diocos is no world beater but has only been blown away once in 5 losses, and that was to Daigo Higa way back in 2017.
The first of the 3 world title bouts isn't expected to be shown on Fuji TV, but does look like it could be the best of the bouts on the show, with IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (38-2, 25) defending his title against Japanese legend Akira Yaegashi (28-6, 16). This will be Mthalane's third defense and despite being the wrong side of 35 he did look very good in his last 2 bouts, and seems almost ageless. As for Yaegashi this is a chance to become a 4-time world champion, but he's looked very much like a fighter who has had a career that is taking it's toll on his body, and his 2017 loss to Milan Melindo certainly remains in our mind. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Yaegashi challenges IBF king Mthalane in battle of veterans!
The first of the two televised world title fights will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (16-0, 9) defending his belt against late replacement Randy Petalcorin (31-3-1, 23). Originally Teraji was to face Felix Alvarado in a WBC/IBF unification bout, before Alvarado fell ill in the build up to the bout. Thankfully the promoters managed to secure a fantastic replacement in Petalcorin, who is looking to make the most of his second world title bout. We expect this to be very high speed, with tactical elements and some power from both. Both men are fantastic and this, even as a late replacement bout, still promises a lot. The excellent George Delis previews this bout here Kenshiro Teraji goes up against Randy Petalcorin in next defense
The main event of the show will see WBA Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (15-2, 12) looking to make his first defense of his second reign as he takes on Canadian challenger Steven Butler (28-1-1, 24), who fights at world level for the first time. This is a really interesting bout on paper, with both being very heavy handed fighters, but both being very flawed fighters. Murata is the more proven, and the Olympic gold medal winner looks like the stronger basic fighter, but Butler looks like a very rangy fighter and appears to have the edge in speed. One notable thing to consider here is the pressure is all on Murata who knows that if he loses his dreams of a super fight end instantly, whilst a win swings the door open to some monster bouts in 2020. A preview of this bout can be read here Murata defends against big punching Canadian Butler
One other bout we want to mention features friend of the the site Caliente Koyasu (3-1, 1) battling against unbeaten puncher Daiki Sakamoto (2-0-1, 2). The 29 year old Koyasu will be looking to score his second win of the year, following a loss in May to Ryugo Yanagibori. Sakamoto on the other hand will be looking to extend his unbeaten record here, and has looked very destructive so far into his career.
The big show of the day this coming Friday is Osaka where Teiken put in a title triple header, featuring two world title bouts.
The main event of this card is the rematch between American Rob Brant (25-1, 17) and Japanese star Ryota Murata (14-2, 11), with Brant looking to make his second defense of the WBA Regular Middleweight title, a title he took from Murata last year. This is a really tough bout for Murata, who will know another loss to Brant likely ends his career, whilst a win could open up a huge opportunity for a bout in a Japanese dome at the end of the year. For Murata this is a must win, whilst for Brant it's a bout he is expected to win, especially given how easily he beat Murata the first time around. A full preview of this bout is available here Brant and Murata go again, but will the outcome be any different?
The other world title bout on the card will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (15-0, 8) defending his title against mandatory challenger Jonathan Taconing (28-33-1, 11). The unbeaten champion will be seeking his 6th defense and a chance to take a huge step towards a potential unification bout with Hiroto Kyoguchi at the end of the year, a bout both men have spoken about. Although Kenshiro is in great form we expect Taconing to ask questions of the champion we've never seen Kenshiro answer, and Taconing poses a real threat as a hard hitting and teak tough southpaw. Taconing can be out boxed, but he is a very dangerous threat to Kenshiro. Our preview of this show down is here Kenshiro takes on hard hitting Filipino challenger Taconing!
The third title bout on this card will see Filipino visitor Joe Noynay (17-2-1, 6) look to record his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title, as he takes on 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (8-0, 8). The bout sees Noynay return to Japan following his impressive title win over Kosuke Saka whilst Shimizu moves up in weight and tests the water at Super Featherweight. A full in depth preview of this bout can be read here Noynay takes on hard hitting Shimizu in regional title defense!
Also on this card is touted prospect Shokichi Iwata (2-0, 1) who looks to extend his perfect start as he battles 23 year old Filipino Paolo Sy (6-3-1, 3). Iwata was a fabulous amateur, scoring wins against the likes of Kosei Tanaka and Takuma Inoue among others, and has shown a lot of promise already, but this looks like his stiffest test so far. Sy is no world beater in the making but should ask some questions of Iwata.
As well as the show in Osaka there is also a good one in Tokyo as we get a female world title fight and an interesting cross roads fight.
The female world title fight sees the great Naoko Fujioka (18-2, 7) defending her WBA female Flyweight title against veteran Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15), who is looking to become a 3 weight champion her self. Fujioka is among the few true female legends of boxing, having won world titles from Minimumweight to Bantamweight, but she's now at an advanced age and we wonder how long she can keep putting on top performances. On the other hand Tsunami has had an incredibly hard career, and that will catch up with her sooner or later. Our preview of this female clash can be read here Fujioka and Tsunami meet in clash for WBA crown!
In a really good looking support bout we'll see veteran Akihiro Kondo (31-8-1, 18) take on youngster Andy Hiraoka (13-0, 9). The tough Kondo, a former world title challenger, was last seen being stopped by Downua Ruawaiking in an IBF world title eliminator and he will be desperate to put that loss behind him and pick up a win here. For Hiraoka this is a great opportunity to get himself a major win and move towards a major title fight, as he looks to add to the Japanese Youth title he won in 2017. Our preview for this bout can be read here Kondo looks to bounce back whilst Hiraoka looks for big win
Also on this card is Seiryu Toshikawa (10-5, 6), who is criminally under-rated. Despite not having a great record Toshikawa is a very talented 23 year old who is looking to bounce back from a split decision loss to Shawn Oda in late 2018. His opponent will be Filipino puncher Junny Salogaol (14-16-5, 13), a late replacement though a man who was training for a now cancelled fight in Japan in late June.
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
From Japan to Saudi Arabia as we see boxing join the WWE in an the attempt of becoming part of the sporting propaganda of the Saudi government. Whilst this card isn't one we'll be focusing a lot on, especially given the action in Japan, it is still a show which will get a lot of attention, especially in the West.
The main event will see Amir Khan (33-5, 20) take on Billy Dib (45-5-0-2, 26) in a match that was put together on about 3 weeks notice. Originally Khan was going to Indian face Neeraj Goyat (11-3-2, 2) in a bout being sold on the Indian vs Pakistan rivalry, and was originally set to be for the WBC Pearl title. Goyat suffered an injury in a car accident weeks before the fight and Dib, a former Featherweight world champion, moved up the card to fill the position left by Goyat. Originally Dib was to face Indonesian fighter Carlos Lopez, so he has clearly landed a much better pay day here. Sadly the WBC Pearl title will no longer be on the line, and the bout will instead be for the WBC International Welterweight crown.
A more interesting bout on this card, at least terms of competitiveness, will see unbeaten and exciting Filipino Dave Penalosa (15-0, 11) take on South African foe Lerato Dlamini (12-1, 6) for the WBC Silver Featherweight title. This is a big step up for Penalosa who hasn't really scored a win of note. On the other hand the South African holds a really notable win over Simpiwe Vetyeka from 2017 and will feel that that bout will have prepared him for a bout like this against Penalosa.
Others on this card include Uzbek hopeful Shakhobidin Zoirov (2-0, 2), who has been very impressive in his professional career so far.
All the way over in Florida we'll get the chance to see a couple of unbeaten Kazakh fighters attempt to continue their run onwards and upwards.
The more notable of the two is Heavyweight hopeful Ivan Dychko (8-0, 8), who takes on Nate Heaven (9-2, 7). The talented, yet awful badly promoted Dychko, was originally pencilled in to fight Raphael Zumbano (39-16-1, 31) though Zumbano was later replaced by Heaven, who should pose of a test. Sadly for Dychko, a former amateur star, his competition has been awful and his activity has been less than great, and he's falling a long way behind some of his amateur contemporaries, such as Filip Hrgovic, Tony Yoka and Joe Joyce. If he stops Heaven, as expected, it's then a must for Dychko to step up in class.
The other Kazakh on this card is Mussa Tursyngaliyev (9-0, 6), who is pencilled in for a major step up in class as he takes on former world title challenger Ricardo Nunez (29-9, 23). On paper this looks a really tough match up for the unbeaten Tursyngaliyev however it should be noted that Nunez had his best wins down at Flyweight and Super Flyweight, and Tursyngaliyev is at Featherweight. Natural size difference will likely be the key between these two 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!