We really are closing in on Christmas, and even though we're a few days away we are set for one of the annual treats boxing calendar, the All Japan Rookie of the Year final. As well as the Rookie of the Year's there's a lot of other stuff going on, with a title bout, an eliminator and a host of prospects in action. This Sunday is big for Asian boxing!
Our attention is obvious focused on the All Japan Rookie of the Year final from Korakuen Hall, with G+ airing the show live, and in full. For fans who want to know what makes Japanese boxing special at the lower end this is it. This is the culmination of a tournament that covers the whole country and takes the better part of a year. To get to the final you need to have won your regional final, and you don't get this far by chance. You get here on merit alone, and as a result we get some amazing match ups.
We won't be going through all 12 bouts, but we have picked out favourite match ups from the line.
It's always great to see all-unbeaten fights in the final and at Minimumweight we have one such bout, as Katsuki Mori (5-0, 1) takes on Takumi Chono (5-0, 3). This is a brilliant fight, with both men being young, having very similar records and both proving themselves to get this far. Mori is a sensational pure boxer from the Ohashi gym and will be looking to show case his skills, but Chono is not a push over, and has looked strong and powerful through out. The winner of this will really be one to watch in 2020.
At Featherweight we expect to see fire-works as Kyonosuke Kameda (5-1-1, 4) and Jinki Maeda (3-0, 2) face off. It's been an emotional year for Kameda, the cousin of Koki, Daiki and Tomoki, and only 2 weeks ago there was a a real chance he'd miss out on this bout due to the politics at the Kyoei gym. Now here the hard hitting 21 year old will be wanting to make the most of his opportunity. Maeda has quietly made his way to the final, blowing out his first two professional opponents before shutting out the then 4-0 Hikaru Fukunaga. We expect this one to be the standout bout of the day.
More fireworks are expected up at 140lbs where Kodai Honda (4-1, 3) and Yasutaka Fujita (5-0, 5) will face off. The 20 year old Honda lost on debut, more than a year ago, but has reeled off 4 wins since then, and he has stopped each of his last 3 opponents. Fujita on the other hand has been blitzing opponents and his 5 bouts have lasted just 10 rounds. Expect bombs to be thrown, and to be thrown early here!
Whilst the Rookie of the Year show is the biggest it's certainly not the only show of note, and at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center the Muto Gym will be show casing some of their brightest young talents, as well as a regional champion.
The main event of the show will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi (15-8, 9) defending his title against Korean challenger Ki Chang Go (8-3, 4). This will be Kobayashi's first defense since winning the title in May with a minor upset against Ben Mananquil, and he'll be looking to go into the new year with some real momentum behind following a bizarre decision loss to Keita Kurihara at the end of 2018. It's really hard to see what Go offers here, and it was only last year that Go was stopped by career Flyweight Masahiro Sakamoto, a stablemate of Kobayashi's at the time. Our full and in depth previous of this regional title bout can be read here Kobayashi defends against Go in Osaka!
In supporting bouts we'll see a trio of Muto gym prospects taking on Filipino foes. The most notable of the trio is Yusuke Mine (2-0, 1), who takes a huge step up to take on veteran Ardin Diale (35-15-4, 17). This is a brilliant bit of match making from the Muto team, who know that Diale is on the slide, but still very live and has been in there with a who's who of the lower weights. A risky match up for their star prospect, but a win here will instantly launch him into the mix for regional titles. High risk and high reward for Mine here.
Another stellar prospect is Tulio Kuwabata (3-0, 2), who will be fighting as Deka-narudo Torio, who takes on hard hitting Pinoy Ken Jordan (8-1-2, 7). The 23 year old Kuwabata is tipped very highly by those in Japan and has been matched aggressively so far, with this being a pretty logical looking step. Jordan is unbeaten in over 2 years and recently claimed an ABF title, back in August. This is a bout between two youngsters each coming to win, and it should give us some very competitive action over 8 rounds.
The third prospect of note is Ryosuke Nishida (1-0, 1), who made his debut in Thailand back in October. Unlike his fellow hopefuls he won't be in an 8 rounder, but instead he'll be scheduled for 6 rounds against the tough Pablito Canada (7-17-4, 1), and will likely be taken the distance by Canada who has only been stopped twice in his 28 bout career.
A second Osaka, card, this time from the EDION Arena, will also be worthy of some attention.
The main event here is a Japanese Super Flyweight title eliminator, the final of the eliminators to take place this year, and will see former world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-3, 11) clash with Yuta Matsuo (15-4-1, 8) for the chance to fight Kenta Nakagawa in the new year. At 34 years old a loss will likely send Kudaka into retirement, ending an incredibly interesting and often exciting career, so we expect to see him being fired up for this. Matsuo is no world beater, but he is better than his record suggests and is hoping to secure a second Japanese Super Flyweight title fight, following a loss to Takayuki Okumoto earlier this year. Our in depth preview of this eliminator is available to read here Kudaka and Matsuo to clash in final Japanese eliminator of 2019!
In an 8 round supporting bout Kenta Nomura (6-3, 3) will battle Ryo Suwa (11-2, 2), in a very interesting looking contest. Nomura is looking to bounce back from an August loss to Toshiki Shimomachi, in a Japanese Youth title fight, and although he's nothing special he does tend to make for good fights. Suwa on the other hand has won 4 of his last 5 and will see this as a chance to take a huge step towards a potential youth title fight of his own.
This show will also feature the debut of former amateur standout Kantaro Juri (0-0), who fought in the Asian and World Youth Championships back in 2014, who will be in a 6 rounder at a contracted 53KG's. Sadly his opponent here hasn't been confirmed, though we have been told it will be an Indonesian opponent.
As well as the Japanese action there is also a low level Indian card in Golaghat.
This card will be headlined by Sagar Narwat (9-1-1, 3) taking on Shiva (9-3, 3) in an 8 round bout. For Narwat this is a chance to get back to winning ways following October's loss to Troy O'Meley in Australia. As for Shiva he's now wheeled off 3 straight wins after he suffered a trio of losses on the road in 2017. Sadly this bout aside the card isn't really worth getting too excited about.
This coming Sunday our attention turns to Osaka for the next Green Tsuda show, and it's a good one with two title bouts, some interesting prospects and a former national champion looking to get back to winning ways after losing his belt earlier in the year.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (22-8-4,10) defending his title against Dynamic Kenji (11-3, 7). For Okumoto the bout will serve as his third defense, following close defenses against Masayoshi Hashizume and Yuta Matsuo, and is possibly the most dangerous bout he's had since his 2017 loss to Ryuichi Funai. Kenji isn't the most talented, and he looked really poor last time out against Thai visitor Sophon Klachun, but has proven to be a dangerous puncher at 115lbs with 5 stoppages in his last 7. Neither man is a future world champion, but they should make for an excellent match up between each other. Our preview of this bout can be read here Okumoto defends Japanese title against Kenji
The chief support bout will see former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (18-5, 15) look to bounce back from his April title loss to Yuki Nagano as he take on Indonesian visitor Robert Kopa Palue (14-7-3, 4). Although a relatively limited fighter, albeit one with serious power at domestic level, Yada should have far too much for for Palue who has fought as low as Featherweight, in fact he was stopped by Hiroshige Osawa down at Featherweight more than 7 years ago. Yada should be far too big and too strong for the visitor here.
In another supporting bout former amateur standout Kazuki Tanaka (10-2, 7) looks to pick up his second win since his 2018 loss to Keita Kurihara. The talented Tanaka has failed to live up to expectations but should have far too much for Indonesian for Bobi Ronsumbre (3-0-1, 2). The visitor is unbeaten but his competition has been incredibly poor and really hasn't prepared him for someone like Tanaka.
The other title fight on this show will see the once beaten Toshiki Shimomachi (9-1-2, 5) take on Kenta Nomura (6-2, 3) for the vacant JBC Youth Super Bantamweight title. Coming in to this the 22 year old Shimomachi is more than 3 years removed from his sole defeat, and since then has won the 2017 Rookie of the Year and proven to be a pretty interesting prospect. Whilst Shimomachi did only manage a draw with Daisuke Watanabe back in December there can be no doubting his potential. Nomura on the other hand has has won his last 2, but is 2-2 in his last 4 and has only recently moved up to the Super Bantamweight division, having fought at Super Flyweight and Bantamweight earlier in his career. Our preview of this bout can be read here Shimomachi and Nomura battle for Youth title!
Also on this card is Thai teenager Thanongsak Simsri (9-0, 9), who has been dubbed "Srisaket II" by the Thai press. Simsri has signed up with the Green Tsuda gym, to help his development, and will be up against Indonesian journeyman Melianus Mirin (10-5, 6). On paper this shouldn't be a tough test for the Thai, though it is worth noting however that Mirin has never been stopped, and has gone the distance with the likes of Panya Pradabsri and Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart, so a stoppage for Simsri would be pretty impressive.
A second interesting Japanese card comes from Okinawa and the main bouts will see Japan and Chinese fighters clashing.
The main event will see the once beaten Tatsuro Nakashima (9-1-1, 6) look to continue his rise through the rank. The talent Nakashima, who's only loss has come to Kai Ishizawa, has won 2 in a row, but is taking a bit of a step up here as he battles China's Rongguo Wu (6-2-2, 2). Whilst Nakashima is in some form, with his recent wins, Wu is not and was stopped last time out by Alphoe Dagayloan, last October and he's almost a year removed from his last win.
In a Welterweight clash we'll see hard hitting local Ukyo Yoshigai (6-3, 5) look to get back to winning ways after a 2019 loss to Andy Hiraoka, and 3 losses in his last 4. The hard hitting Yoshigai will be up against 31 year old Chinese visitor Yangcheng Jin (8-4-2, 4). The visitor really hasn't got much of note on his record, though worryingly has lost 3 of his last 5, including stoppages to Jayar Inson and Alexander Kotov. Given how Jin has been stopped a few times we have to suspect that Yoshigai's power will be too much.
A third Japanese card comes from Aichi, where Yakushiji promote a show. The card has a number of Rookie of the Year bouts, as the Central Japan Rookie of the Year comes to an end, though is otherwise quite a forgettable show.
The main event will see Japanese ranked Flyweight Katsuya Murakami (7-1-1, 2) take on Shin Tomita (10-6-2), in what should be a good test over 8 rounds for. These two fought earlier in the year, with Murakami taking a clear win over Tomita, and although the rematch isn't really needed it's good for Murakami to be kept busy after being inactive right through 2018. This serves as a chance for Tomita to try and avenge his loss and for Murakami to shake some more ring rust before moving on to bigger and better things.
As for the Rookie of the Year bouts the most interesting will see the unbeaten Tentaro Kimura (3-0) take on Teru Nobita (4-2-1, 2) in the Bantamweight final. This looks to be the most interesting of the Rookie bouts, and sadly it's a fine example of why the Central Japan Rookie of the Year isn't regarded as highly as the East and West tournaments.
As well as the busy day in Japan there is also a notable card in Thailand.
The main event of this card sees Indonesian fighting hero Daud Yordan (38-4-0-1, 26) battle against Thai local Patomsith Pathompothong (21-11, 10), aka Aekkawee Kaewmanee. For Yordan the bout will be his first since losing to Luke Campbell in the UK, in a WBA world title eliminator, and he will be looking to prove himself on the road again, like he did against Pavel Malikov last year and Cristian Rafael Coria in 2016. The 37 year old Patomsith has reeled off 4 straight wins since losing to Viktor Kotochigovlast September, but the level of those 4 wins have been very low and it's hard to read much into them at all. Although Yordan is a step below world class he should easily despatch the Thai here.
Also on this card is promising Malaysian fighter Murodjon Yokubov (3-0, 2), who fights in Thailand for the third time. The 25 year old debuted last year, and whilst his hasn't yet scored a bit win it's clear he's staying active his year. Sadly his competition doesn't step up here either, as he takes on the very poor Jirapat Jorajan (3-13, 2).
This coming Thursday fight fans in Tokyo get the chance to see a pretty significant Diamond Glove card, with a Japanese fight, a notable fighter in a supporting bout and two Japanese Youth title eliminators.
The main event will see unbeaten Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (9-0, 7) look for his fourth defense, as he takes on mandatory challenger Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-3, 3). Yoshino has looked fantastic since winning the title in 2017, when he stopped Spicy Matsushita, and has stopped his last 3 challengers. Sumiyoshi on the other hand is getting his second shot at gold, after having challenged for he OPBF title way back in 2015. Since losing to Masayoshi Nakatani Sumiyoshi has gone 7-0-2 and put his career back on track with a solid unbeaten run, this is however a huge step up from those last 9 bouts. A full preview of this bout can be read here Yoshino defends against mandatory Sumiyoshi!
In a supporting bout former OPBF title challenger Daishi Nagata (11-2-1, 5) looks to bounce back from an October loss to Rikki Naito, as he takes on former Japanese title challenger Yusuke Tsukada (9-7, 3). Nagata is a fun guy to watch, and whilst he's no world beater he is likely to find himself in another title fight sooner rather than later. Tsukada on the other hand has been stopped in 3 of his last 4 and we wouldn't be surprised with him being stopped again here.
The really exciting part of the under-card are the two Japanese Youth title eliminators. The more exciting of the two comes at Light Flyweight, where Hizuki Saso (10-5-1, 3) will take on the unbeaten Rikito Shiba (2-0, 1) in what could be a really amazing fight, and a proper test for the unbeaten Shiba. The other eliminator will see the hard hitting Arashi Iimi (7-1, 7) take on Kenta Nomura (5-2, 2) in a Super Bantamweight eliminator.
The eliminators here will see the winner of the Super Bantamweight bout take on Toshiki Shimomachi later in the year for the vacant title, whilst the Light Flyweight winner will take on either Tsuyoshi Sato or Tetsuya Tomioka, who will have fought on April 6th after this was written.