Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Over the last few weeks the Japanese boxing scene has been frozen over almost due the State of Emergency ordered in certain areas of the country, which saw a number of shows in Tokyo and Osaka being postponed. This coming Wednesday we finally see the first of those postponed shows, taking place around 2 weeks after it's originally planned date. Despite the delay it's a show that is still anticipated and should have some genuine drama and excitement.
A lot of the drama and excitement will come in the main event as Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 11) battles mandatory challenger Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2), at long last. This bout had multiple dates set for it last year, before the pandemic and injuries forced it to be delayed over, and over, and was then delayed earlier this year. Due to the delays Takesako will have been out of the ring for 16 months, following an excellent win over Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa but he's likely to be very fresh having had time to recover after 3 successive tough bouts. As for Kunimoto we expect him to be very rusty, and it's more than 2 years since his last fight, with the pandemic really slowing his career down massively. Despite being inactive for 2 years Kunimoto is still only 23 and the long delay may actually help him, giving him time to mature into a young man. Either way this promises to be Takesako's power and strength against Kunimoto's speed and youth and should be a really intriguing match up. Our full in depth preview of this bout can be read here Power punching Takesako takes on unbeaten challenger Kunimoto in over-due fight!
The main support bout will be a bit of a strange one as Japanese ranked Bantamweight Yoshihiro Utsumi (16-9-4, 10) drops down in weight to Super Flyweight to take on Japanese ranked Flyweight Kento Yabusaki (8-4-1, 5). The 37 year old Utsumi has had some mixed results through his career, but can clearly fight, having beaten Hibiki Jogo in 2018 and going the distance with Hiroaki Teshigawara. Sadly though his best days are well behind him. Yabusaki on the other hand is 23 and looking to build on a major upset win over Shin Ono that he scored in 2020. This is two men in different divisions, going in different directions, meeting in a bit of crossroads fight.
Other bouts on this card include a toss up between Yuki Uchida (7-8, 1) and Yoshimitsu Kushibe (7-8-2, 1) in what should be a very competitive 8 round bout, and a battle of teenagers, as Sho Nagasato (2-0, 1) takes on the debuting Kanamu Sakama (0-0).
This coming Friday is a busy day for Asian boxing, and there's a nice mix of fights across the globe. The most notable, for us, is in Thailand however as WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) looks to make his next, facing off with unbeaten Filipino ArAr Andales (10-0, 2). The talented Knockout, who has now scored 4 straight decision wins, will be fighting for the first time since November 2018, and will be hoping not to carry much ring rust into this bout. Andales on the other hand is a 19 year old who has already had a huge 2019, thanks to a massive win last time out against Cris Ganoza. This is a really interesting match up and one where the visitor can't be written, though will be the clear under-dog. We've previewed this bout here Unbeaten Andales looks to upset WBA champion Knockout
The second most compelling match up for the day comes from the US and will see us re-run the match up between Koki Eto (24-4-1-1, 19) and Jeyvier Cintron (10-0-0-1, 5), who had an opening round No Contest earlier in the year. Their first bout promised a lot, with Cintron using his speed and movement and Eto trying to use his power and, but ended in weird fashion following an accident headclash that left the touted Cintron stumbling around the ring. Whilst Cintron certainly looked the better boxer it's going to be very interesting to see how this rematch plays out. Our preview of this bout can be read here Eto and Cintron battle in rematch following No Contest
It's not just the bout in Florida that will see an Asian looking to pick up a win in the US but also Uzbek fighter Ravshan Hudaynazarov (17-1, 13), who will be looking to bounce back from a stoppage loss Ronald Cruz. The 35 year old Hudaynazarov isn't in easy here easy, and will be taking on fellow once beaten fighter John Vera (18-1, 11), Vera, like Hudaynazarov, is coming in to this on the back of a loss but the American "Phenom" lost at fringe wold level to the excellent Michel Soro. On paper a very, very interesting match up, but one where we feel the younger Vera will come out on top.
Back in Asia we get a small, but pretty interesting card in Japan.
The main event of the card will see Japanese ranked fighters clashing with Lightweight hopeful Kei Iwahara (10-6, 5) taking on former Light Welterweight title challenger Vladimir Baez (24-5-2, 22). On paper this looks like a straight forward win for Baez, other wise known as Destino Japan, given his better record and natural size but Baez has has lost his last two and is without a win in well over a year. At 35 Baez may well be a shot fighter. The 28 year old Iwahara is a long way from a world beater, and is 4-3 in his last 7, but has piclked up good domestic wins over Daiki Ichikawa and Mao Kawanishi.
In another really interesting match up we see young southpaws collide as Japan's Kento Yabusaki (7-2-1, 5) takes on Filipino Michael Mendoza (9-1-2, 3). Both of these men are 21 year olds and although neither is a bit name both have shown some solid promise at this stage. Yabusaki reached the Rookie of the Yearfinal in 2017, losing to Joe Shiraishi in the final, and has bounced back with 3 straight wins against progressive better competition. That progress looks to continue here against Mendoza. Mendoza on the other hand has won 4 in a row, and took the PBF Flyweight last time out. It's worth noting that Mendoza has been picking up his wins at a lower level than Yabusaki but does have the small edge in experience.
Another noteworthy fight on this card is the talented, but light punching Joe Tanooka (15-6-5, 1), who faces against Naoto Mizutani (5-6-2, 2) in a rematch of a technical draw they had in May. On paper this is a huge mismatch but we expect it to be pretty competitive. The 25 year old Tanooka has picked up just a since victory in his last 5, going 1-3-1 and he's had a really tough career so far. Mizutani on the other hand can score upsets, as he did against Mirai Imagawa, and can be a good test against light punchers, as we saw in February against Fumiya Fuse. This could be far better than the records suggest.
In Australia we'll see Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (33-20-3, 18) continue his incredibly long career. The 35 year old Indonesian, who has lost his last 4 and 8 of his last 10, will be expected to come up short again here as he takes on the unbeaten Mark Schleibs (11-0, 7). It's hard to know how good Schleibs is, given the level of his competition so far, but it's hard to imagine anything but an easy win here for the unbeaten man.
The most notable show for us this coming Friday is in Tokyo, where Hideka Todaka will be promoting a card.
The main event of this show will see the talented Koki Koshikawa (8-1, 5), who is ranked #3 by the JBC at 154lbs, take on Indonesian visitor Yosmar Kefi (9-9, 8). On paper this looks like a dangerous bout for Koshikawa, given Kefi's reputation as a puncher, but in reality we don't see this as anything but a total mismatch as Koshikawa looks to move a step closer to his first title bout.
In another notable bout, fans will see Japanese ranked Featherweights clash, with Kazuma Sanpei (16-5, 7) and Tatsuya Otsubo (13-9-1, 4) facing off in a must win bout. Both men had mixed 2018's, going 2-1, losing to real talented fights by stoppage. Sanpei was stopped in July by Yoshimitsu Kimura and a month later Otsubo was stopped in a Japanese title fight by Taiki Minamoto. This could easily be the Asian bout of the weekend.
Also on this card was 2017 Rookie of the Year runner up Kento Yabusaki (6-2-1, 4), who has bounced back from his loss in the Rookie of the Year final with a couple of good wins. He'll be stepping up to his first 8 rounder here as he takes on domestic foe Yuji Okinori (8-4-2, 1), who has failed to take a win in his last 3 bouts.
As well as the Japanese card there will also be one in Singapore.
The main event of the card will see Singapore's very own Hamzah Farouk (7-0, 5) battle against Thai veteran Paiboon Lorkham (19-11, 8), in what will be Farouk's first defense of the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Super Featherweight title. It's hard to back the Thai here, despite his wealth of experience, given he's now 40, but he should be a decent test for Farouk who is looking to become the face of Singaporean boxing.
In an all unbeaten bout we'll see Singaporean based French born fighter Abdelelah Karroum (4-0, 4) take on Filipino born Singaporean foe Alexandrew David (4-0-1, 2). This bout will be for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Light Middleweight title. It's hard to read too much into what the potential winner of this bout will do, but by it's self this does look like it could be a very interesting match up.
Another bout of note here will see Filipino fighter Jeson Umbal (16-6, 11) take on Indonesian foe Tommy Seran (28-16, 16), in what should be a very straight forward win for the under-rated Umbal. It's worth noting that Umbal did lose last time out, losing a majority decision to Muhamad Ridhwan last year, but he shouldn't struggle at all against Seran, who has lost his last 4 and 7 of his last 8.
As well as the bouts in Asia there will also be a notable bout in the US, with unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Janibek Alimkhanuly (5-0, 2) battling against American based Mexican foe Cristian Olivas (16-4, 13). This looks to be another good step forward for Alimkhanuly who looked good last time out after a fell than stellar performances. We suspect the Kazakh will again show his ability here, though there are still areas to work on, and we want to start seeing some killer instinct from him, rather than just the skills we already knew he had.