EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
This coming Sunday is a big day in Japan with 3 different shows, the most notable of which is a title double header in Osaka, promoted by former Japanese star Koki Kameda.
The main event here will see a 4th Japanese Heavyweight champion being crowned as the highly touted Brandon Mitsuro Tajima (1-0, 1) faces Korean fighter Sung Min Lee (7-2-1, 2) for the vacant title. Tajima made his long awaited debut earlier this year, but it was little more than a cameo as he dismantled Sang Ho Kim in 56 seconds. He will be hoping for a chance to show more of his ability here, though unfortunately Lee isn't the most testing of opponents, and in fact Lee is coming in to this on the back of an upset loss to Ja Sung Jo. Lee has proven to be tough and have heart, but this is a huge ask for him against a man many in Japan are very, very excited about. Our preview of this clash can be read here Tajima and Lee battle to become 4th Japanese Heavyweight champion
The other title bout on this show will see OPBF Super Featherweight champion Masanori Rikiishi (11-1, 6) defending his title against aggressive and hard hitting Filipino warrior Tomjune Mangubat (15-3-1, 12). For Rikiishi the bout will serve as his first defense of the title, which he won last time out with a very impressive win against Takuya Watanaba, and he will feel he has the tools and boxing IQ to neutralise Mangubat. As for the Filipino he'll be determined to make the most of this opportunity, especially given a loss last time out to unbeaten hopeful Charly Suarez. If Mangubat can get success with his pressure this will be a very tough bout Rikiishi, but that's a big if. Our preview of this contest can be read here OPBF champion Rikiishi defends against Filipino warrior Mangubat!
Outside of the two title bouts the big talking point of the show will be the professional boxing debut of 2008 Olympic gold medal winning Judoka Satoshi Ishii (0-0), who turns his hand to professional boxing at the age of 35. The former Judo star will be looking to secure a win in boxing as he takes on 30 year old novice Shuho Takayama (1-0, 1), in a 4 round Heavyweight bout. Interestingly Ishii has had success not just in Judo, where he was a genuine star, but also MMA and Kick boxing, and he is a well experienced combat sports practitioner, but we do wonder if it's too late for the Croatian based Japanese born fighter to make any sort of impact in professional boxing.
In a must win bout we'll see two former world title challengers face off as Hiroshige Osawa (37-5-4, 21) takes on Jeo Santisima (21-4, 18). Aged 37 Osawa is coming to the end of his career, and he's only fought once since the start of 2020, scoring a technical decision over Yoshiyuki Takabayashi last September. At his best Osawa was a solid regional level fighter, but given his age and inactivity it's hard to imagine him being even a shadow of the fighter he once was. As for Santisima he fought for a world title in 2020, and is 2-1 since losing in that title fight. Early in his career he looked explosive and powerful but when he's stepped he has looked limited and despite only being 26 it does feel like he's found his ceiling and is on the slide. We suspect Santisima is getting to Osawa at the the right point here, but this is certainly a hard one to call and Osawa might have one great performance left in the tank.
One other really notable bout on this card will see former world champion Ryo Miyazaki (26-2-3, 16), compete in the third bout of his on going comeback. On paper this is a big step up for Miyazaki as he takes on Azael Villar (18-1-3, 14), from Panama. Miyazaki, at his best, was a brilliant warrior, who had under-rated power, real toughness and great work rate, but at 33 he is old for a smaller weight fighter and it's hard to know how much he has left in the tank, even if he is something of a "young" 33. Villar on the other hand is 28 and has world rankings from 3 of the world title bouts, but this is a step up fir Villar, who has been beating low level fighters so far through his career. Given the styles of the two men, this should be a very, very fun and fan friendly bout.
One other under-card bout of note will see 2020 Rookie of the Year winner Sora Fukunaga (10-0, 5) clash with 2014 Rookie of the Year winner Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11), in what should be a thrilling bout. Although Yamashita is flawed he is always worth watching with an ultra aggressive style, and we suspect he could ask questions of Fukunaga, who is looking to record arguably his most notable win to date. This should genuinely be a very, very exciting match up, albeit one without a major name involved in it.
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
A second notable show takes place in Hyogo, and will be headlined by a former world champion taking on a former multi-time world title challenger, whilst the supporting card features two solid Japan Vs Philippines bouts.
The main event is a really dangerous one for former WBO Minimumweight champion Ryuya Yamanaka (17-3, 6), who only returned to the sport earlier this year following a brain injury several years ago in his loss to Vic Saludar. The talented Yamanaka was expected to ease his way back into the sport, taking on a few easier opponents before stepping up in class. He however has taken a different approach and will take on hard hitting former 2-time world title challenger Jonathan Taconing (29-4-1, 22), of the Philippines. Given Yamanaka's previous injury this is a very, very risky bout against a flawed but aggressive and hard hitting fighter and there is a real feeling of danger here for Yamanaka. If he wins however the rewards are a potential world title fight in 2023, marking what would be one of the most impressive comebacks in the sport in recent years.
A very notable 8 rounder on this card will see the unbeaten Kazuki Anaguchi (2-0, 2) step up in class to face his first international opponent, as he battles Filipino Ranelio Quizo (10-2, 3). Since making his debut, just over a year ago, Anaguchi has looked like the sort of fighter who will be fast tracked, and despite only having 6 professional rounds to his name he looks a potential title holder, at least on the regional or domestic level. As for Quizo he comes into this bout on 3 straight wins, including a 7th round TKO win over Philip Luis Cuerdo last time out, a bout that was longer than Anaguchi's entire career. Quizo has the tools to ask questions of Anaguchi, but we do feel the local fighter will take this opportunity to shine.
A third bout of note on this card will see bombs being thrown as visiting Filipino Jun Blazo (16-6-3, 12) takes on charismatic Japanese switch hitter Takahiro Tai (3-1, 3). The heavy handed Blazo has been a professional since 2014 and has proven to be a very dangerous fighter, even on his travels, famously dropping Koki Eto in 2016. Sadly for Blazo he enters this bout 0-5 in bouts in Japan, but he will perhaps feel this is a chance to score his first win on Japanese soil. As for Tai he's aggressive but flawed and whilst he certainly not a polished fighter, he is very entertaining, takes risks and tries to behead opponents. Expect this one to be a brutal and explosive war.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
As well as the notable shows in Osaka and Hyogo we are also have the Central Japan Rookie of the Year finals. Sadly Central is over an over-looked region of Japan and with the show coming on the same day as two other notable cards it's even easier to over-look this card.
One of the more notable bouts on this card will be at Super Bantamweight, as the once beaten Junya Kawai (3-1, 1) takes on the unbeaten Ken Shioda (4-0, 2). Aged 31, Kawai has won his last two bouts and bounced back well from a 2021 loss to Shunsuke Bunno, however there are question marks regarding his long term future in the sport, given he's now 31 and actually debuted all the way back in 2015. As for Shioda he debuted in May 2021 and has been active, with 4 wins in around 15 months, and he will feel his activity and age, given he's only 28, will play a role here in what should be a great fight.
Another bout worthy of some attention is a clash between young Minimumweights, as 19 year old Rento Miyazawa (2-1, 1) faces 18 year old Seiya Imai (2-0) in a rematch of a bout we had last November. The older man debuted in July 2021 and won his debut before losing his second bout, to the then debuting Imai. Coming in this Miyazawa will be looking to avenge that loss, whilst Imai will bee looking to repeat his win over his fellow youngster.
The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
The most notable Asian card this coming Saturday comes from Paranaque City and is a rather interesting one, with a mix of emerging names, and established names, though sadly it does lack in terms of really good match ups.
One of the most notable of the emerging hopefuls on the show is 23 year old Aljum Pelesio (10-1, 5), who we hope to see stepping up in class next year. Here is expected to get a confidence building win, as he takes on the very limited Bonjun Loperez (12-15-1, 6). Given that Pelesio lost in 2019, and has only fought once since that loss, it's hard to complain too much about a bout like this, which is clearly there for him to build his self belief and get some rounds, but we do hope we don't see too many bouts like this for the youngster.
Another once beaten hopeful on this show is 22 year old Gary Tamayo (6-1, 3), who takes on 33 year old Danny Tampipi (9-15-2, 5). The bout is a good chance for Tamayo to get some rounds with a southpaw, who he should beat, and at this stage experience against difference will serve him well. Fingers crossed however 2023 will be the year when he steps up and takes on tougher tests.
Arguably the most well matched of the youngsters on the show is 24 year old Bryan Tamayo (7-2-2, 2), who takes on former world title challenger Jetro Pabustan (30-9-6, 9). Although no world beater himself Tamayo showed he was certainly not a poor fighter last year, when he gave Arthur Villanueva a good work out, and he should be able to beat Pabustan here, and hopefully kick on with more fights against higher level domestic foes in the coming year or two.
When it comes to more notable and well known fighters, this card will see Roland Jay Biendima (15-11-1, 8) in action against Powell Balaba (9-32-1, 5), in what should be an easy win of Biendima, and the always tricky Richard Pumicpic (22-12-3, 7), who takes on Edison Berwela (18-44-8, 6). These are both horrific mismatches, and are done as little more than to get Biendima a win, after 6 straight losses, and keep Pumicpic busy.
There is also a second Filipino card scheduled, this time in Cavite. This is a smaller show than the other Filipino show, though does feature a number of promising young hopefuls.
The most notable of the hopefuls here is the once beaten John Mark Tihuk (6-1-2, 2), who looks to score his latest win as he takes on the limited Margarito Moya (9-11, 3). The 23 year old Tihuk has won his last 4, following a 2019 loss to Aljum Pelesio, and although still very much a young novice, is someone worth keeping an eye on. Sadly Moya has lost his last 9, all by stoppage, and it's hard to imagine him lasting 8 rounds with Tihuk here, despite the fact Tihuk isn't much of a puncher.
Other prospects on this card include Kenneth Llover (4-0, 4), who faces Miller Alapormina (5-2-1, 3) in a pretty interesting test, and John Vincent Pangga (4-0, 2), who takes on Joel Taduran (8-11-2, 2). Neither of these are big bouts, but are a chance for the unbeaten man to tick along and continue their development with out too much fuss and attention.
176BOX, Toyonaka, Osaka, Japan
We're also set to see notable prospects in action in Japan, as Osaka plays host to a card with two promising and unbeaten Japanese fighters.
On of the unbeaten fighters is former All Japan Rookie of the Year Sora Fukunaga (10-0, 5), who puts his unbeaten record on the line as he takes on all action warrior Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11). The talented 24 year old Fukunaga struggled to build on his Rookie of the Year triumph, which came in February 2021, though a win here would seriously help move his career forward and boost his standing in the Japanese boxing world. The reason for that is the fact the 25 year old Yamashita, yes some how he's only 25, has long been a popular and exciting warrior who makes for good fights and does have a name that means something, despite numerous set backs in recent years. At one point Yamashita seemed like one to watch, with his youth, heavy hands, and aggression. This should be a genuinely exciting bout, but the size of Fukunaga should be the difference.
The other prospect of note on the show is Kaito Yamasaki (2-0, 1), who takes a big step up to take on Koshin Takeshima (4-2-1, 3). The 23 year old Yamasaki made his name in the amateur ranks and is widely expected to move through the ranks and make a big name for himself in the future, with his combination of skills, power and amateur experience. Takeshima was tipped for big things himself, and won his first 4 bouts, but has now gone 0-2-1 in his last 3, and will know another loss here will leave him in a big hole if he ever intends to become a domestic title contender. This should be a bout with impressive skills on show, and over 8 rounds could be a hard one to call.
Dawrpui Multipurpose Hall, Aizawl, India
We also have a small show in India. Sadly more than half of this card are bouts between debutants, but there two men with some recorded bouts to their name.
One of the men with some experience on this show is HC Lalramfela (2-0, 1), who scored two wins last year and will be looking to record his third one here, as he takes on Akoijam Naoton Meitei (0-0). The other fighter with some experience is C Lalhruaitluanga (2-0, 1), who seeks his third win as he takes on Laishram Ronalson Khuman (0-0). Sadly this is a step back for Lalhruaitluanga, who seemed to be moving his career forward.
Although this show is hard to get excited about, it is a sign that Indian boxing is slowly putting down the foundations for it to build off, and that is certainly not a bad things, just a very slow process.
Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
The most notable fighter competing in a bout outside of Asia here is Chinese Heavyweight Junlong Zhang (18-0, 18), with the infamous "Dragon King" making his international debut, and battling against Mexican fighter Guillermo Casas (10-2-1, 6). For years Zhang was a bit of a mystery man, with those mysteries becoming even more telling when bouts of his were reported exhibitions bouts, and then he seemed to vanish. He's now not had a recorded bout in almost 5 years, and it really is hard to know what the 40 year old has left in the tank, or whether he ever really had anything in the tank. As for Casas the 27 year old Mexican has been a regular at the popular Big Punch Arena in Tijuana, and will be making his international debut here. It's hard to read much into his record, but his competition has, so far, been poor, as one expected om the Mexican Heavyweight scene.
The Bomb Factory, Dallas, Texas, USA
In the US we'll see Uzbekistani fighter Jamshidbek Najmitdinov (18-2, 14) look to bounce back from his 2021 loss to Will Madera, as he takes on Charles Hatley (30-2-1, 21) for the WBC United States Welterweight title. The talented Najmitdinov looked like he could be something special when he was robbed back in 2017 against Viktor Postol, but sadly he then ended up treading water before making his US debut last year, and losing to Madero after suffering an injury. As loss here against Hatley will likely be the end of Najmitdinov as any kind of hopeful. As for Hatley, he's a former world title challenger, who challenged Jermell Charlo back in 2017, and has gone unbeaten since losing to Charlo. Hatley will be the clear favourite, though he really can't afford to over the Uzbekistani, as we know Najmitdinov is better than his loss to Madera suggests.
This coming Saturday is a really exciting day in Asian boxing thanks to a brilliant card in Tokyo. The support bouts across the Asian scene aren't the best, but we do have good main events in Ibaragi and New South Wales, Australia, as well.
As mentioned the best card of the day is in Tokyo, and is Dangan card with 4 bouts worthy of attention.
On paper the most significant bout is a Japanese Super Featherweight eliminator. This bout will see former Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto (16-5-1, 13) battle perennial regional contender Takuya Watanabe (36-9-1, 21). On paper Minamoto is the one to back here, he's the more polished boxer and the bigger puncher, with higher level of wins. However Watanabe is no puch over, and he's as rugged as they come, with under-rated skills and will be the naturally bigger guys. We're expecting this to come down to Minamoto's power and skills against Watanabe's toughness and will to win. We are thinking this could be something special between two men who should have styles that gel really well here. A full preview of this bout can be read here Hard hitting Minamoto takes on teak tough Watanabe
In a God's Left Bantamweight tournament semi-final we'll see a very exciting match up between the unbeaten Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) and the always entertaining Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11). On paper it's hard to see what Yamashita has in his locker to over-come Tsutsumi, but he's never been one to just take a loss with putting up a fight. We really expect this to be an all out war between men who are very similar in their styles and mentality and this could be the hidden gem of the month.
Another potential gem for the month comes in the other God's Left Bantamweight tournament semi-final, as unbeaten fighter Jin Minamide (4-0, 3) and Kuzuki Nakajima (7-0, 6) face off for a place in the final. Both men have been very exciting and shown real power and aggression since their debuts. Both men are in their mid 20's and whilst the loser will see the bout as a notable set back they will likely be able to pursue a rematch down the line. This is a fantastic match up and another that we are expecting to be a war.
Also on this card is the ring return of former OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (14-1, 9), who will be fighting for the first time since being upset by Lito Dante earlier this year. Given how badly Koura lost to Dante, suffering a beating and being stopped in round 12, we can't complain too much about him facing a very limited foe, and that's what he's doing against Indonesian foe Silem Serang (15-20-2, 2). This is little more than a confidence rebuilder for Koura, and that's very understandable.
In Ibaragi we get another Japanese card. This one is much lower profile than the Tokyo show, but does appear to have an excellent main event.
That main event will see the flawed but entertaining Tatsuya Takahashi (30-9-6, 21) take on Filipino foe Ben Mananquil (17-2-3, 4), in a really good looking 50/50 style bout. The Japanese local is a rather unpolished fighter, but he has great energy and toughness and it always worth watching for his aggression and pressure. On the other other hand Mannaquil is typically a tricky, skilled boxer-mover who has picked up good results on the road, though was stopped last time out by Yuki Strong Kobayashi. This will be a very interesting test and it's a hard one to call either way
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a show in the Philippines. This is a much lower level card, with a main event between John Magagmoc (6-2-1) and Gary Tamayo (3-1, 2). Given the quality of action in Japan this is a very poor bout, but it is a clash between teenagers and we do like those, and do expecting an interesting out, even if it's not at the highest of levels.
New South Wales, Australia
Surprisingly it appears we could be in for a shoot out down under as the unbeaten pairing of Luke Boyd (7-0, 7) and Jon Jon Jet (10-0, 8) face off for the interim WBA Oceania Super Bantamweight title. Boyd, a 32 year old Australian, has been crushing low level opponents in double quick time, with only 1 of his 7 bouts going beyond the second round, with his most notable opponent being Inthanon Sithchamuang. At 25 years old Jet is one of the more promising Indonesian fighters, but his competition has been awful and it's hard to get a read on how good Jet may, or may not, be. This should be explosive, though is hard to know how good either man is given their competition to date.
In the US we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Madiyar Ashkeyev (13-0, 6) take on American veteran Walter Wright (17-8, 8). The 31 year old Ashkeyev has been a professional for close to 4 years and really needs to get a move on before he gets too old to make a mark. Whilst 2019 has been a better year for him he really does need to step it up again next year, in a big way. Given that Wright is a late replace, for a late replacement, this is unlikely to be a test for the Kazakh but Wright has only been stopped once, and that was way back on his debut in 2003.
This coming Tuesday in Tokyo we see the highly anticipated God's Left Bantamweight tournament kick off, with the quarter final bouts all taking place on the card, along with one other notable and interesting domestic match up.
On paper the best of the 3 quarter final bouts will see the unbeaten Jin Minamide (3-0, 3) taking on the once beaten Tetsu Araki (14-1-1, 2). Araki was is a former Japanese Youth champion and also fared pretty well in the 2015 Rookie of the Year. Although not a man with stellar amateur pedigree he has proven himself in the pros, with notable wins against the likes of Yuto Nakamura and Ryuto Owan. Minamide on the other hand was a top amateur, with over 40 amateur wins, and has been put on the fast track as a professional, with some quick wins including a very impressive one against Marjun Pantilgan. This is a really interesting match up, and one we're really looking forward to.
The winner of the Minamide Vs Araki bout will face off with either Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5) or Kenichi Watanabe (8-4-1, 4), who battle in the same half of the tournament. Nakajima, like Minamide, is a highly regarded prospect following a very good stint as an amateur, and will be regarded as one of the tournaments favourites. Watanabe on the other hand is a live under-dog though will looking for a career best win. Although Watanabe is the under-dog he has shared the ring with the likes of Hiroaki Teshigawara and Koki Eto, so has mixed with good company.
The remaining quarter final bout will see Gaku Aikawa (9-7-1, 3) battle against the all action Kenya Yamashita (13-5, 10). On paper this is the "lesser" quarter final, but in reality it's one of the more even bouts with both being flawed fighters who can upset better foes. On paper Yamashita is the favourite, but the aggressive youngster has taken a lot of punishment through his career and it's unclear what he has left to offer. Aikawa on the other hand has picked up losses recently but has shown an upset minded mentality and could well pick up an another upset win here. The winner of this bout will face Seiya Tsutsumi in the next round, with Tsutsumi getting a bye to the semi-finals.
One other bout of interest will see Shogo Yamaguchi (11-4-3, 6) take on the highly regarded Masanori Rikiishi (5-1, 3). Yamaguchi is a "win some, lose some" fighter but on his day he's a solid fighter who has scored a draw with Genki Maeda, went 8 pretty competitive rounds with Akihiro Kondo, and is far from a pushover. Rikiishi on the other hand is a highly regarded prospect solid wins over the likes of Genki Maeda and Kei Iwahara and will be strongly favoured here.
Quintana Roo, Mexico
In theory the most meaningful bout, as it's a world title fight, this coming Saturday will take place in Mexico, as WBC Female Light Flyweight champion Yesenia Gomez (14-5-3, 6) defends her title against Japan's Erika Hanawa (10-3, 4). For Gomez this will be her first defense, following a big win over veteran Esmeralda Moreno in September, and a good test for what's going to she's going to be able to do as a champion. Hanawa, who is fighting in her second world title bout, is talented but has got a reputation as someone who comes up short in her biggest bouts. Fighting outside of Asia for the first time won't do Hanawa any favours, but she does seem like she's really up for this fight. Our preview of this bout is here Hanawa gets world title shot at Gomez!
Another really meaningful contest will take place in California, as Ryosuke Iwasa (25-5, 16) clashes with Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17) in an IBF Super Bantamweight world title eliminator. Iwasa, a former world champion, will be making his US debut against a very exciting and aggressive Mexican in what could be one of the most exciting bouts at 122lbs this year. Both men are flawed, but both are exciting, and their styles should gel. Iwasa is the bigger puncher, on a single punch basis, but Juarez is tough and sets a higher pace, making this a very hard to call bout. Our preview of this fight can be read here Iwasa and Juarez meet in IBF eliminator!
Also on this card will be former WBO Bantamweight world champion Marlon Tapales (31-2, 14), though his opponent is still yet to be announced and there is a chance this bout could fall through by the time the show takes place.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines we get a televised show courtesy of ESPN5, and it's a card with a number of good looking fights on it.
The main event will be a 12 round contest between the unbeaten Dave Penalosa (14-0, 10) and Mexican visitor Marcos Cardenas (19-6-1, 15), who battle for the WBO Oriental Featherweight title. The unbeaten Penalosahas had a stop start career but two quick wins last year has seen him build some momentum to begin 2019 and a win here will give his career the big shot in the arm that it needs. Cardenas however won't be travelling to just lose however and he is riding a 3 fight winning run into this bout. Penalose will be strongly favoured, but Cardenas will have travelled to win, and has sort of proven his toughness, lasting 8 rounds with Miguel Marriaga and 5 rounds with Rey Vargas.
The main supporting bout will see former 2-time world champion John Riel Casimero (25-4, 16) take on exciting Japanese brawler Kenya Yamashita (13-4, 10). The 29 year old Casimero, who won world titles at Light Flyweight and Flyweight, hasn't looked great recently, with a loss to Jonas Sultan last time he fought on home soil, but will be under pressure to perform here. Yamashita is crude, but exciting and powerful and will be looking to shine on his international debut. Should be a huge gulf in technical ability, but also a potential gulf in desire and hunger.
A second supporting bout on this card will see teenage prospect Carl Jammes Martin (11-0, 10) take a huge step up in class to face off with Thai foe Petchchorhae Kokietgym (17-2, 8). The unbeaten Martin scored 4 wins last year, all by stoppage, and seems like one of the most promising young Filipino fighters beginning to break out. Petchchorhae on the other hand has failed to impressive despite winning some minor titles earlier in his career. The Thai was last seen being stopped in 3 rounds by Giemel Magramo, and was stopped in his other loss by Iwan Zoda, suggesting he can be taken out, something that Martin will be looking to do here.
Suwon, South Korea
There will also be a domestic card in Korean, albeit at a relatively low level.
The main bouts are 6 round contests, with one of them being a bout between Ki Hyun Park (2-2-2) and Han Bin Suh (3-0-1, 2) whilst the other will be between Jong Won Jung (5-7-1) and Dae Young Lee (2-9-1). We'll be honest and admit that it's hard to get excited about either of these bouts, of the card in general.
In Liege fans will be able to see Belgian based Kyrgyzstan born Faroukh Kourbanov (16-1, 3) battle against Ukrainian 36 year old Volodymyr Matviichuk (4-1). Kourbanov suffered his sole defeat last year, to the experienced Devis Boschiero in Italy, and will be looking to score his second win since that defeat. Matviichuk, who competed at the 2016 Olympics, only debuted as a professional in 2017 and will clearly see this bout as a chance to get into the mix at European level. Whilst Matviichuk does have a loss, it appears to be a suspect one, losing a split decision in Latvia to Ivans Levickis, in a bout that one judge scored 60-55 to the Ukrainian.
This coming Saturday is an incredibly busy day for Asian fight fans.
We get the show of the day in Tokyo, with the Korakuen Hall hosting a title double header and a really good under-card.
The main event sees a trilogy come to a close as Yuko Kuroki (18-5-1, 8) and Saemi Hanagata (14-7-4, 7) fight for the IBF female Atomweight title. So far Hanagata is winning the series, 1-0 due to a draw in their second bout. Since their bouts together both fighters have proven to be world class, with Kuroki holding the the WBC female Minimumweight title for over 3.5 years, whilst Hanagata would hold her own in 3 world title fights but never manage to get the win. Given how competitive their first two bouts were and how both have developed since 2013 we're expecting a very exciting contest with a lot of leather being thrown between two fighters who know each other very well. - A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuroki looks to settle the score with third bout against Hanagata!
The second title bout on this card promises fire works as heavy handed OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (13-0, 9) takes on talented youngster Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4). The champion will be looking to record his third defenses of the title, following very good wins over Masataka Taniguchi and Norihito Tanaka, and this promises to be another very tough test. Tomita, the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year has had a frustrating time since his Rookie win, being matched against some very poor opponents and having one fight cancelled, but he is a talent and should give Tomita a lot of questions to answer. A full preview of this bout can be read here Unbeaten men Koura and Tomita collide for OPBF honours!
The leading support bout will see hard hitting Japanese Flyweight prospect Masamichi Yabuki (7-2, 7) take on Panamanian based Cuban Daniel Matellon (7-0-2, 4). The Japanese puncher has only gone beyond 2 rounds once in his career, a 4 round decision loss to Junto Nakatani, and he is naturally very heavy handed. On the other hand Matellon is a world ranked fighter with real skills, but he will be the smaller man here. This will put power against speed, and should be a very compelling contest.
Former OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (16-3-1, 9) will be returning to the ring following his title loss, in June 2017, as he takes on the always testing Vergil Puton (17-10-1, 8). The talented Takenaka was going through a solid run run when he was the OPBF champion, making 3 defenses of the title, before losing via KO to Sa Myung Noh last year. On his return he will be moving up in weight to face Puton. The Filipino visitor doesn't have a great looking record, and has failed to win in his last 3 bouts, but he's tough and has proven to be a very good opponent at this type of regional level. Takenaka should be able to win, but this is a tough return for the man from the Misako gym.
Another really notable under-card bout on this card will see the all action Kenya Yamashita (12-4, 9) take a huge step up in class to face off with former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (20-11-3, 5) in a Bantamweight bout. The exciting, but flawed, Yamashita has often been in some thrilling contests, but has shown issues with his chin and has lost 3 of his last 7 inside the distance. On the other hand Apolinario has won just twice in the last 30 months, with 5 losses in that same time period.
As well as the big show in Japan there is also a very notable card in Singapore, with two title bouts and several other bouts of note.
The main event of the card will see unbeaten local Muhamad Ridhwan (11-0, 8) take on former world champion Paulus Ambunda (26-2, 11) in a contest for the IBO Super Bantamweight title. The unbeaten Ridhwan, regarded as Singapore's biggest hope, has already noted two wins this year and his team will be seeing this as a logical step up in class. As for Ambunda this is probably his last chance saloon, and at the age of 38 it's hard to see where he would go if he lost here. Saying that however Ambunda has only lost to world class fighters, Tomoki Kameda and Moises Flores, and he could well have one final performance left in him.
Another major bout on this card will see Filipino Bantamweight contender Michael Dasmarinas (28-2, 19) face off against Ghanaian puncher Manyo Plange (17-0, 15). Coming in to this Dasmarinas has won his last 10, with 8 stoppages, including a big victory over Karim Guerfi last time out. Not much is known about Plange, however this will be his first bout outside of Ghana, and will be a massive step up in class for him.
In another title bout Malaysian fighter Muhammad Meeraj (8-2-1, 4) will take on teenager Natthawut Masamin (7-3, 5). The 28 year old Meeraj has won his last 2 bouts, including a win that saw him become the WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Heavyweight champion. He will be defeating that title here against his Thai foe. Masamin, the Thai Middleweight champion, has a very misleading record and gave Yuki Nonaka real issues earlier this year. We think Meeraj should have the size to win, but this is no gimme and could be a very tough contest to call.
In a potentially fan friendly contest fans will see Keng Fai Hui (4-0-1, 4) take on Abdelelah Karroum (3-0, 3). Both men have a reputation for being heavy handed and it seems likely that both will come out swinging here. Hui, a 23 year old from Malaysia, was held to a draw last time out, against Alexander David. Karroum on the other hand is a Singaporean based French born fighter who has stopped his first 3 opponents in a combined 4 rounds. Expected explosive action here!
History is set to be made in Taiwan as the country hosts it's most notable show in history, with a couple of title fights in Taipei.
The main event of the card will see teak tough Japanese Super Feather Takuya Watanabe (34-8-1, 19) take on Thai foe Paiboon Lorkham (19-10, 8), aka Maxsaisai Sithsaithong, fight for the OPBF Silver Super Featherweight. Although his record doesn't show it Watanabe is a very talented fighter who has mixed at a very good level, losing to the likes of Masayuki Ito, Satoshi Hosono, Jae Sung Lee and Hisashi Amagasa. Although a talented boxer Watanabe is best known for his insane toughness, which saw him fight through a crimson mask against Lee for almost the entire fight. The Thai is much less well established, despite being 39 years old. His most notable bout to date have been losses to the likes of Hisashi Amagasa, AJ Banal and Joel Brunker, and they were all several years ago. Lorkham at his best might have been an interesting test for Watanabe, but this version or Lorkham is little more than body for Watanabe to beat in the main event of the show.
The other title fight will see Chinese fighter Wensi Huang (9-3-1, 3) take on Thai foe Jutamas Jitpong (4-2, 2) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental female Super Flyweight title. The 29 year old Huang lost 3 of her first 6 bouts, including a contest against Ji Hye Woo, though has since gone unbeaten, albeit against dreadful opposition. Aged 20 the Thai is the younger fighter by far, but she has also come up short, losing to Yuko Henzan and Olga Gurova. This is a very limited match up, but does give the fans in Taipei a chance to see a female title bout, as well as the male one.
Over in the US we get the chance to see once beaten Filipino prospect Romero Duno (17-1, 14) look to build on his growing reputation. The 22 year old Filipino fighter will be up against Mexican foe Ezequiel Aviles (16-2-3, 6), who will be fighting outside of Mexico for the first time. It's worth noting that Aviles has only been stopped once in 21 bouts, but that loss was last time out, when Oliver Quintana stopped him in 10 rounds. It's also worth noting that Aviles has also been out of the ring for over a year following that loss
The card will also set to feature the debut of Uzbek prospect Elnur Abduraimov (0-0), though his opponent hasn't yet been announced.
New York, USA
Staying in the US fans in Brooklyn, New York, will be able to see Uzbek Heavyweight hopeful Bakhodir Jalolov (1-0, 1) continue his career. The highly touted Jalolov, a former amateur standout, will be up against Thomas Hawkins (4-3-0-1, 1) who has lost his last 3 and is without a win in over 4 years. Given how we have seen Uzbek fighters handled we're hoping this will be Jalolov's last bout at this level before he goes up against someone who can test him. He's too good to spend time against fighters like Hawkins.
This coming Monday fight fans in Japan get the chance to see a really intriguing domestic level card combining competitive match ups, youth and and fighters looking to prove themselves.
The main event of the show should be something very special as the always fun to watch Kenya Yamashita (12-3, 9) takes on the experienced Hayato Kimura (26-10, 17). It's hard to think of a dull fight featuring Yamashita, who is an ultra-aggressive fighter always looking for the KO and in Kimura he should find someone able to take his power early on and have a war. Coming into this Yamashita is ranked #5 by the JBC at 115lbs whilst Kimura is ranked #6 and both men will know that a win here will move them close to a shot at the national title.
Talking about titles there will be a JBC Youth Lightweight title fight on the card, as Izuki Tomioka (5-0, 1) takes on Kaiki Yuba (3-0, 2). The talented Tomioka will be seeking his 2nd defense of the title, and although a genuine talent there is a feeling that he lacks the power needed, at the moment, to move on to the next level. If, or when, Tomioka adds that power then there is a huge ceiling for him to aim for. As for Yuba he looks like a man with that power already there and will be looking to prove that he really is the future in this bout. Aged 19 Yuba has the potential to go much further than his father, a 5-weight Japanese national champion, but this is certainly a step up for him.
A really interesting match up will see recent Japanese Bantamweight title challenger Yuta Saito (10-8-3, 7) take on Naoya Okamoto (12-6-1, 6). Saito came up short last time out, suffering a 9th round TKO loss to Ryo Akaho, but was competitive prior to the stoppage, and is certainly better than his record suggests. Okamoto is also better than his record suggests, and comes in to this bout on the back of wins against Gaku Aikawa and Daisuke Watanabe, two of his very best. This should be a very intriguing and exciting match, despite their records suggesting otherwise.
Another interesting bout on this show will see Kenichi Watanabe (7-3-1, 4) end an almost 2 year break from action as he takes on the light punching Joe Tanooka (14-4-4, 1). Watanabe was stopped in 2 of his last 3, with Akinori Hoshino and Hiroaki Teshigawara both stopping him, but with some time out of the ring there is a chance we will see him revitalised here. Tanooka was stopped inside a round last time out, by Yamashita, and will be looking to get his career back on track here in what should be a very competitive contest.
This coming Monday sees the next Dangan card taking place, and although not a huge show it does have a number of notable fighters involved, in what should be an entertaining card, and a chance to not only see a chance to see a new champion being crowned but also a lot of fun action.
The main event of the card will see the always fun to watch Kenya Yamashita (11-3, 8) take on Filipino foe Eranio Semillano (15-7-3, 5) in what should be a genuinely thrilling contest. The all action Yamashita has won his last two bouts, following a stoppage to Akinori Hoshino last November, comes into this bout on the back of a big win over Joe Tanooka in August. Semillano suffered back-to-back defeated in 2014 in Thailand, but has since gone 5-0-3 in his last 8, and has shown real self belief in those bouts. This could be something very exciting.
The only title bout on the card is a female title bout, as Jun Yabuki (8-0, 4) and Fuka Komura (5-0, 2) face off for the JBC female Minimumweight title. The bout will crown the title's first champion and will be a really interesting match up between two unbeaten fighters looking to extend their perfect records. On paper Yabuki will be favoured, given she has more experience and heavier hands, but Komura has impressed since her original test bout and will be coming in to this as a promising 20 year old with a point to prove.
Another unbeaten fighter on this card will see Yoshimitsu Kimura (8-0, 3) risking his record against Filipino Glenn Medura (8-3-1, 5). The 21 year old Japanese fighter fighter has shown some promise, and won the 2016 Rookie of the Year crown at Featherweight, but this is very much a step up for the unbeaten youngster. As for Medura he has lost his last two, being stopped in both bouts in Japan, but he can bang and should prove to be a dangerous foe, at least early on against Kimura.
One other bout of interest here will see the heavy handed Daiki Ichikawa (9-3, 7) make his ring return, following July's opening round loss in Russia to Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov. Ichikawa will be up against Kazumasa Kobayashi (8-7-1, 5), who is now more than 6 years removed from his last win and won't be expected to change that here.
The most interesting show of the day, at least for us, is in the Korakuen Hall where we see the first set of Japanese Youth Tournament finals, with 4 finals, all of which are really interesting match ups, and bouts that should be really hotly contested.
The stand out bout is a rematch between Joe Tanooka (14-3-4, 1) and Kenya Yamashita (10-3, 7), who meet at Super Flyweight. Tanooka came runner up at the 2013 Rookie of the year whilst Yamashita won the Rookie of the Year the following year. In 2015 Tanooka scored a decision win over Yamashita, to give the heavy handed Yamashita his first loss, and since then both men have faltered yet remained popular. Tanooka has gone 5-1-1 since beating Yamashita, but shown a real lack of power with only a single stoppage. Yamashita is like an all action warrior and has gone 3-2 (3) since losing to Tanooka, with both losses being by stoppage. This will be a boxer vs bralwer, with history and the potential to be something really thrilling.
Another potential thriller comes at Featherweight as the talented, but out of form, Tsuyoshi Tameda (13-3-2, 11) takes on Retsu Kosaka (8-2, 3). We've seen Tameda losing his last two, suffering a decision loss to Simpiwe Vetyeka and suffering a stoppage to Reiya Abe, but has been given time to rest, heal and reignite his fire, with this being his final bout for the Yonekura gym, before joining the Ohashi Gym. As for Kosaka he has lost 2 of his last 3, but shone last time out beating the touted Ryo Sagawa in 2 rounds. This looks like a win on paper for Tameda, but it's not going to be easy against the hungry Kosaka.
Potentially the hidden gem on this show will be the Lightweight bout, as the really exciting and promising Izuki Tomioka (3-0, 1) takes on the Japanese Yuichiro Kasuya (9-1-1, 1). We were really impressed by Tomioka last time out, as he stopped Shun Shimazaki in 5 rounds, and the 20 year old from Saitama looks like a real one to watch. Kasuya, who won the Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight in 2014, has faltered in his last two, drawing with Masaki Saito and losing to Spicy Matsushita. With those recent set backs against Kasuya we suspect he'll try to up his game, but Tomioka will be too good for him.
At Super Featherweight we'll see the struggling Kazuma Sanpei (12-4, 4) battle the inconsistent Ryusei Ishii (7-3, 4) in what looks like the black sheep of the match ups. Sanpei has gone 1-4 in his last 5, with 3 stoppage losses during that run, and his 11-0 (4) start to professional boxing is a distance memory, with only a single win in the last 3 years. Ishii has gone 2-2 in his last 4, though did earn his place in this bout with a dominant win over Sho Nagata in May. Ishii has some momentum here, Sanpei has none, leading us to favour Ishii for the win.
Fight fans in Las Vegas will see American based Uzbek hopeful Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (7-0-1, 3) fight in an 8 rounder, as he looks for a 4th straight victory. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced, so we suspect it will be a less than taxing foe foe the unbeaten prospect.
In Pakistan we'll see a bizarre all-debutant 10 rounder, as Ali Dad (0-0) takes on Asmatullah (0-0). It's really odd to see a debutant in a 10 rounder, to see two of them in a 10 rounder is even weirder and it's hard to see what the plan behind this bout was, though hopefully it helps in the development of Pakistani boxing going forward, and is interesting to see how they are growing the sport there.
One of the biggest changes to the Japanese domestic scene in 2017 is the development of the new Youth Tournament, aimed at those who have progressed beyond Rookie status but aren't yet ready for Japanese title fights. The tournament has it's semi finals this coming Tuesday in a second successive day of Dangan cards.
The lowest weight being competed at is Flyweight, and we get two really good semi-finals. One of those will see the unbeaten Seigo Yuri Akui (10-0-1, 6) battle against the light punching Ryuto Oho (9-3-1, 2). The bout looks like one where Akui will be favoured but this is a really creditable test and Oho won't be turning up to pick up a loss, especially after having lost last time out to Yuta Matsuo.
The other Semi final at Flyweight will see 2016 Rookie of the Year Junto Nakatani (11-0, 9) take on the light hitting Yuma Kudo (6-2-2, 1). On paper this looks like a mismatch in favour of the unbeaten puncher but Kudo has never been stopped and will likely be looking to break Nakatani mentality by simply not going away. This could be a very interesting test for both men.
At Super Flyweight we'll see the exciting Kenya Yamashita (9-3, 6) take on the once beaten Naoto Iwai (3-1, 1). The bout will be Yamashita's first since changing gyms earlier this year and will be Iwai's first since losing his unbeaten record, also earlier this year. This bout really has the look of being something a bit special with Yamashita being a brawler with an exciting style and Iwai being a more pure boxer type, giving a good stylistic combination, and both will be very hungry for a win.
The next division with a semi-final bout will be Featherweight, where Retsu Kosaka (7-2, 2) will take on novice Ryo Sagawa (1-0, 1). Looking at the records alone suggests that this will be a mismatch in favour of Kosaka, but he has lost his last 2 bouts and last scored a win a year ago, against a poor Thai import. Segawa on the other hand looked great on debut last December and is tipped as a real diamond in the rough, which he'll be looking to prove here.
The Super Featherweight semi final will see Sho Nagata (7-2, 2) face off with the heavy handed Ryusei Ishii (6-3, 4). Although Nagata has the better looking record he has had a few very close wins, including his last 2 bouts, and could consider himself lucky to have the record he currently has. Ishii is the bigger puncher but we have seen him being stopped. With both men having limitations it's fair to say that this may actually be the most interesting bout, despite the less than great records of the two men involved.