This coming Saturday is a hectic day for Asian fight fans with a lot of action all crammed into a single day, and taking place all over the place. It might not be Christmas yet, but this weekend is set to feature a lot of gifts for us fight fans.
On paper the most significant bout of the weekend, at least in terms of Asian boxing, will see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) take on Chilean challenger Miguel Gonzalez (31-2, 8), in Mexico. This bout has been arranged in a haste after a previously scheduled bout for Ancajas fell though, and although it looks good on paper we don't see this being anything other than a straight forward win for Ancajas. The Filipino has been frustrating at times, but he is a world class fighter and Gonzalez on the other hand has been easily beaten by the two world level guys he's faced. We're expecting a stoppage from Ancajas here, even if Gonzalez does end up being an awkward assignment. A full preview of this can be read here IBF king Ancajas faces Chilean challenger
New York, USA
Another bout with meaning at world level will see former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (33-2, 16) take on former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa (26-3, 16) in a bout for the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title. The interim title has been created due to injuries suffered by Danny Roman, and despite interim titles not being great for boxing this bout is a brilliant one, and we're looking forward to this. Both fighters are world class, both can bang and they should be well matched, with styles that we're expecting will gel well. This should be very exciting, and we'd be shocked if we get through 12 rounds here.
In Japan we have a lot of action, with the most notable of the Japanese action coming from Tokyo, where we'll get a title double header, featuring two Super Featherweight title bouts. For fans wanting to watch this the show will be broadcast live on G+.
The most notable of the title fights will see WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight champion Joe Noynay (18-2-1, 7) defending his title against Kenichi Ogawa (24-1, 18). This year has been a huge one for Noynay, who has already travelled to Japan and stopped Kosuke Saka and Satoshi Shimizu, and a win here against Ogawa will put him well and truly in the world title mix. For Ogawa a win here would put him on the verge of a second world title fight. We expect bombs to be thrown, we wouldn't be surprised if both men were badly hurt at some point, and this is an ideal headliner for a televised card. Our preview of this fantastic match up can be read here Noynay looks to extend "Japanese Killer" run as he takes on Ogawa
The other title bout on this show will see Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (19-1-1, 11) defending his title against former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (19-5, 16). For Sueyoshi this bout will be his 5th defense, and if he wins we wouldn't be massively surprised to see him vacating the title in the new year to pursue regional, if not world, honours. For Saka this is a chance to put a very mixed 24 months, in which he has gone 3-2 (2), behind him and would end the year on the high following a loss to Noynay back in April. Saka has the power to hurt Sueyoshi, but Sueyoshi has the skills to outfox and out think Saka, in what is a compelling match up. Our preview of this bout can be read here Sueyoshi takes on Saka in next Japanese title defense
Also on this card will be Teiken trio Hikari Mineta (7-1, 4), Daiki Funayama (10-3-1, 3) and Koki Mioya (6-1-2, 1) who will all be taking on limited Thai opposition in what look like stay busy fights to close out the year.
A second Japanese show takes place in Kanagawa, and although much lower profile it features another title bout.
That title bout will see Japanese female Featherweight champion Kimika Miyoshi (14-12-1, 5) defending her belt against unbeaten novice Aira Midorikawa (5-0, 1), in what will be Mioyoshi's first defense of her second reign. Miyoshi claimed the belt in September, when she took a split decision win over Miki Mitsuda, ending a 4 fight losing in a bit of an upset. Although Mitsuda was no world beater we hadn't seen Miyoshi win a fight in over 3 years! Midorikawa is taking a huge step up, and although she's unbeaten she is very untested ahead of this bout, her first title bout. It'll be a huge ask for Midorikawa, but Miyoshi is certainly not unbeatable. An in depth of preview of this bout can be read here Veteran Miyoshi takes on Midorikawa in Featherweight title bout
Despite the title bout on this show the main event is technically a rematch between Yui Oikawa (7-5, 4) and Seiryu Toshikawa (11-5, 7). Coming in Oikawa has been stopped in his last 2, and desperately needs a win. He'll be driven on not only by the need of a win, but by a chance of getting to avenge a 2016 loss to Toshikawa, who beat him with a 4 round split decision. On paper Toshikawa might not look great but he's much better than his record suggests and he'll be looking to score his second win since suffering a razor thin loss in a Japanese Youth title fight to Shawn Oda in 2018.
A third Japanese show takes place in Hyogo, where fans get a card with several noteworthy names on it.
In the main event we'll see Japanese and OPBF ranked Minimumweight Ryoki Hirai (12-6-1, 4) take on the limited Hirohisa Ichikawa (7-7-2, 2). We've long seen Hirai as a fighter with a lot of potential, but someone who has faltered in many of his toughest bouts. Here we expect him to shine, as he looks to build to a title fight of some kind in 2020. With just 1 win in the last 4 years it's hard to imagine Ichikawa giving Hirai much of a test, but he could give Hirai some rounds.
World ranked fighter Kazuhiro Nishitani (20-4-1, 12) looks to continue his slow build towards a meaningful fight as he takes on Filipino veteran Monico Laurente (30-15, 7). The 32 year old Nishitani has won his last 5 by stoppage, including a notable upset win against Shuhei Tsuchiya for the Japanese Lightweight title in 2017. Sadly he has failed to make anything of his career after that win and vacated the title rather than defend it, which has done his career no favours as he continues to meander in the middle of cards in meaningless bouts like this one. Laurente isn't an awful opponent, but is certainly not a step forward for Nishitani who really has lost all the momentum of his win over Laurente.
Another bout of some note on this card will see Hiroki Tokuyama (9-1-1, 2) take on Chikato Sumida (8-3, 1). This will see Tokuyama defending his JBC and OPBF rankings and score a 5th straight win. Sumida isn't terrible, but we don't see him posing much of a test for Tokuyama here.
Yet another show with an Asian fighter in action is being held in Quebec, where fast rising Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov (10-0, 9) takes on rugged Argentinian Jose Antonio Villalobos (12-5-2, 7). Akhmedov missed quite a bit of this year, whilst he recovered from injury and got married, but has still been busier than most and has began answering more and more questions, proving his stamina, his ability to box and move and that he can box on the back foot. There are still areas for him to work on, but for a 21 year old kid his incredibly impressive and a win here is seen as a formality before a potentially huge 2020. Villalobos will be there to try and ask questions of Akhmedov but we really don't see this as anything but an easy win for the talented Kazakh.
Diriyah, Saudi Arabia
On a show that features more morally objectionable content that we can remember for a boxing card, including 4 fighters who have failed drug tests and the show taking place in a country with a terrible history human rights, we'll see Azeri fighter Mahammadrasul Majidov (1-0, 1) take on Tom Little (10-7, 3).
On paper the most notable Asian show this coming Monday takes place in Osaka, where we get a pair of female Featherweight title bouts. Sadly though neither bout really screams that it deserves masses of attention, despite both featuring a world title challenger.
On paper the more significant of the two bouts will see OPBF female Featherweight champion Wakako Fujiwara (8-3-2, 3) defending her title against Yoshie Wakasa (6-1, 2), in what looks like a pretty decent match up on paper. Fujiwara won the belt last year and defended it once before challenging WBA female Super Featherweight champion Hyun Mi Choi earlier this year, and lost a clear decision to the Korean. Fujiwara is a decent fighter, and a solid OPBF level competitor, but at 38 we do need to wonder what she has left in the tank. At 31 Wakasa is the much younger challenger, but is also the naturally smaller fighter, and her last bout was a loss in a Japanese female Bantamweight title fight, so we need to wonder how she operates 8lbs heavier than she's been fighting at recently. Our preview of this bout can be read here Fujiwara to defend OPBF title against once beaten Wakasa
The other title bout is much less interesting, as the limited but solid punching Miki Mitsuda (5-5, 4) takes on veteran Kimika Miyoshi (13-12-1, 5) for the Japanese female Featherweight title. Of the two it's Miyoshi who is the more well known, a 3-weight OPBF champion and a former world title challenger, but she has lost her last 4 and is more than 3 years removed from a win. Mitsuda on the other hand is the defending champion, having won the belt last time out, and she's turned her career right around with a 4-1 (3) record in her last 5 bouts. This is very much momentum Vs experience, and should be entertaining, but shows the clear lack of depth in some divisions of female boxing, still. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Mitsuda takes on experienced veteran Miyoshi for vacant title!
A second Japanese show will be held in Fukuoka and see several notable hopefuls in action as they look to move towards bigger and better fights.
One of the notable hopefuls is Welterweight puncher Yuki Beppu (19-1-1, 18), who has had a frustrating 12 months thanks to a loss last October to Yuki Nagno and scored his first decision win this past April. The big punching Beppu is expected to score his 10th win, and his 19 stoppage, as he takes on under-sized Indonesian visitor Roy Mukhlis (31-10-4, 23). At his best Mukhlis was a world title challenger, at Super Featherweight, but that was almost a decade ago, and even that he was blasted out by Takashi Uchiyama. This should be nothing more than a showcase win for Beppu.
Another fighter expecting to win a show case against an Indonesian foe is Takumi Sakae (21-3-1, 15), who takes on the very limited Stevanus Nana Bau (9-11-2, 2). Sakae was once tipped for big things, in the world rankings and a Rookie of the Year winner. In recent years his career has faltered, but he is a skilled fighter with an aggressive mentality and he should go through Bau with ease. The visitor has been stopped in 3 of his last 4, and 8 of his 11 career losses, and we can't see anything but another stoppage loss here for the visitor.
A third bout of note on this show will see the unbeaten Kazuki Kyohara (4-0-1, 3) step up for his first 6 rounder. The unbeaten youngster will be up against the much more experienced Toshihiro Kai (6-11-2, 2) who has been stopped in 4 of his last 5. On paper this is a step up for Kiyohara, but it should be a very manageable step up up for the youngster.
The biggest bout for us this Saturday is from the US as Filipino maestro Mark Anthony Barriga (9-0, 1) takes on fellow unbeaten Carlos Licona (13-0, 2) in a bout for the vacant IBF Minimumweight. The bout, on the same as Deontay Wilder's contest against Tyson Fury, will be for the title Hiroto Kyoguchi gave up, as he moved up to Light Flyweight, and promises to Barriga a notable platform to showcase his skills, which have been compared to those of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Licona is a bit of a mystery to some, but should prove a good opponent for Barriga. Sadly with neither being much of a puncher this has the potential to be a less than thrilling fight to watch, but in terms of skills on show, both are very talented, and this really could be a special one for purists. A preview of this world title fight can be read here Barriga looks to announce himself on world stage, faces Licona for IBF title
As well as the bout in the US there is also a lot of action in Japan, with 7 title bouts spread across 3 different shows.
The main event of this card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) make his second defense, as he goes up against fellow veteran Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9). The all action Hosokawa won the title late last year and made his first defense in the Champion Carnival earlier this year, stopping Vladimir Baez in May. At the age of 37 Hosokawa is likely fighting father time, but has looked very impressive recently, and a win here will set up a defense against Koki Inoue. Inagaki, fighting in his 40th professional bout, will be getting a third title shot, but will be the clear under-dog against Hosokawa. We expect this will be fun, but it's hard to see Inagaki over-coming the high octane champion. A preview of this Japanese title fight can be read here Hosokawa takes on Inagaki on December 1st!
A potentially exciting supporting bout will see ranked Light Welterweights facing off. In one corner will be Hosokawa's stablemate Yusuke Konno (13-4, 7), the #2 ranked Japanese contender, whilst the other cone will play host to recent Japanese title challenger Vladimir Baez (24-4-2, 22), the same man who was stopped by Hosokawa. Konno will know that he could get a title fight next year, but needs to over-come Baez. Baez on the other hand is ranked by the OPBF and the WBO Asia Pacific as well as the JBC. The winner here will go into the new year with their eyes on title glory, but the loser will have some serious rebuilding to do.
Another supporting nout will see former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7) return to the ring for the first since losing the world title to Ryosuke Iwasa In September 2017. The talented Oguni will be easing himself back into action here as he takes on Indonesian journeyman Arega Yunian (6-11, 1) in what should be little more than a tune up for bigger and better things in 2019.
As well as the action in Tokyo there is a busy day in Osaka, with a couple of shows there, featuring a combined 6 title bouts! One of those shows is a female card with 4 title bouts on it.
The most significant of the title contests on the female show will see Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) defending her WBO female Minimumweight title against former WBA and IBF champion Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5), in what looks like a brilliant must win bout between two veterans. This will be Ebata's second defense of the title she won in May 2017, when she finally won a world title in her fifth shot. Sadly for Ebata she is now 42 and her desire to have a long reign, after all the time she spent chasing a belt, does seem unlikely. At 37 Tada is no spring chicken, but the former 2-time champion does have the edge in youth, experience and winning mentality. We're expecting both to show their age, but that will likely lead to more exchanges and more intense action, which we won't complain about. This world title bout was previewed here Ebata looks to defend WBO crown against Tada
In the chief support bout fans will see former amateur standout Kasumi Saeki (2-0, 1) fight in her first title bout, as she takes on Thai visitor Wassana Kamdee (3-4, 2) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title. Saeki is seen as one of the top Japanese female prospects and will be expected to do a number the Thai, who has been stopped in all 4 defeats, though her performance may decide whether her team fasts tracks her to a world title fight in early 2019 or not.
In an OPBF female Featherweight title bout we'll see Wakako Fujiwara (6-2-2, 2) take on the woman she took the title from, Kimika Miyoshi (13-11-1, 5). Fujiwara's win over Miyoshi for the belt, back in July, saw her extend her unbeaten run to 6 fights, and add the Oriental title to her reign as the Japanese national champion. Sadly for Miyoshi the loss to Fujiwara is her third in a row, and she's now without a win since June 2016. Fujiwara's first win over Miyoshi was an upset, but we suspect this will be a repeat, given the form of both fighters coming into the fight.
The remaining title bout is another OPBF title bout, which will see novice professional Eri Matsuda (1-0) look to set a Japanese record by claiming an OPBF title in just her 2nd professional bout. The talented Matsuda will be up against Minayo Kei (6-3, 1) in a bout for the vacant OPBF female Atomweight title, and if Matsuda wins there's a chance she could set a Japanese record for fewest fights taken to win a world title. Matsuda was a good amateur and it's clear that she believes she can be a very good professional, but this is a genuine test.
The second show in Osaka will also be a Shinsei promoted card from the EDION Arena Osaka, this time however the fous will be men, with two WBO Asia Pacific male title bouts on the show.
One of those bouts will see WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight champion Reiya Konishi (16-1, 6) defending his title against Filipino challenger Richard Rosales (13-7-2, 7). For Konishi this will be his first defense, following a victory over Orlie Silvestre for the belt earlier in the year, and he's said to be expecting a world title fight next year, if he wins here. Rosales will play the part of a game challenger, be we suspect he will be ground down by Konishi, and his high intensity work rate and body shots. Despite strongly favouring the champion to retain we do expect this to be a very fan friendly bout. We've previewed this bout here Konishi looks to end year with defense against Rosales
The other title bout will see Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) and Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) battle for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight. Both of these men have held the OPBF version of this title, and both are talented fighters in their own right. Of the two Nakamura is the more pure fighter, and he's a damned good boxer-puncher, but also the more vulnerable. The much shorter Magali is the more defensively sound and has regularly found ways to get inside bigger fighters and breaking them down. This has the potential to be a genuine thriller, with both men capable of hurting the other. A full preview of this bout can be read here Nakamura and Magali to battle for regional crown!
Originally the card was also announced as having former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-1, 9) facing off with Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (33-25-2, 18), but this bout was cancelled back in November due to an injury suffered by Kubo. As a result Manakane will face off with 19 year old prospect Ryo Suwa (9-1, 1), who will be looking to score his third win of the year.
This coming Monday attention returns to the Korakuen Hall for a title double header courtesy of the Kawasaki Nitta gym.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Flyweight champion Masayuki Kuroda (29-7-3, 16) take on the under-rated Akinori Hoshino (13-7-2, 9). For Kuroda this bout will be his third defense of the title, which he won in June 2017 with a split decision win over Takuya Kogawa. Last time out the champion narrowly over-came Katsunori Nagamine in a thrilling 10 round war and he's currently in the form of his career as he chases a second world title bout, following on from a 2013 shot at the WBA Flyweight title. Hoshino fought in a title eliminator last year, fighting to a frustrating and sloppy draw with Nagamine, That draw ended a 3 fight winning run from Hoshino, who had upset both Kenya Yamashita and Shun Kosaka in recent contests. Hoshino is likely to be a stylistic nightmare for Kuroda, but we do suspect that the experience edge he has will help him score the victory.
The chief support bout will also be a title fight, with OPBF female Featherweight champion Kimika Miyoshi (13-10-1, 5) defending her belt against Wakako Fujiwara (5-2-2, 2). The champion has held this title since June 2016 but this will be her first defense. Since winning the belt Miyoshi has fought twice, but lost both of those contests to Shannon O'Connell and Hyun Mi Choi. Although Miyoshi has lost at the higher level she is very good at Oriental level and has won titles at 3 weights. The 37 year old Fujiwara is the Japanese Female Featherweight champion, having won the title this past March, but this is a huge step up in class for her, and one we suspect she'll come up short in.
In one of the leading supporting bouts fans will see Japanese ranked Featherweight Ryo Hino (11-1-2, 6) take on Toshizane Kinoda (6-4, 2). On paper it's hard to see how the talented Hino comes up short here. Hino has impressed against the likes of Sho Nakazawa, who he out boxed last September, and Coach Hiroto, who he drew with in January. Hino, from what we've seen of him, is a technically solid fighter who uses his jab brilliantly. Kinoda is pretty limited, and has lost 3 of his last 4 bouts, but has never been stopped so will be expected to go the 8 round scheduled with Hino, albeit come up clearly short.
Another good looking bout on this card is a very evenly matched contest between Kosuke Arioka (7-3, 6) and Yui Oikawa (7-3, 4), who battle in an intriguing 8 rounder. The heavy handed Arioka won the 2017 Japanese Rookie of the Year at Lightweight, stopping Rikki Naito's younger brother Mirai Naito along the way. Although Arioka has nasty power he has been stopped in 2 of his 3 losses and can certainly be hurt. On the other hand Oikawa doesn't have a reputation as a puncher but has stopped his last 3 so seems to be developing belief in his power, and he's yet to be stopped, suggesting he could be a nightmare for Arioka.
After a few quiet days, without much in terms of action, we suddenly get a burst of activity with a host of title bouts and name fighters in action.
The most notable in Asia comes from Saitama where we get two world title bouts, along with a champion in a stay busy non-title bout and a really promising prospect.
The most notable of the bouts on this card will see IBF female Light Flyweight champion Naoko Shibata (15-3-1, 5) face off against old foe Maria Salinas (11-4-3, 4) in a mouth watering rematch. These two fought to a split decision draw last November, with Shibata recording her 4th defense of the title, but Salinas will be coming in looking for revenge. Salinas hasn't fought since the first meeting whilst Shibata scored a stay busy win earlier in the year, despite that Salinas will have stayed sharp in the gym and will be very hungry here.
In another title bout on the same show Yunoka Furukawa (7-1-2, 5) will be battling Satomi Nishimura (9-2, 1) for the currently vacant WBA Atomweight title. Coming in to this one Furukawa is on a 6 fight winning streak following a peculiar 1-1-2 start to her professional career. The best of those 6 wins was a 4th round TKO over Aiko Yamagishi. Nishimura is 3-2 in her last 5 but has mixed with very good fighters like Asemi Hanagata and Ayaka Miyao, who she challenged for this very same title back in October 2010.
Having mentioned the WBA Atomweight title it's worth noting that former champion Momo Koseki (21-2-1, 7) will be in action on the same show. Koseki gave up the title to focus on keeping her WBC title, and will be in a stay busy bout on this card against a Thai opponent.
A really good prospect on this card will be the former amateur stand out Kazuto Takesako (3-0, 3) who takes on Hiroshi Ohashi (7-9, 3) in an 8 rounder. The touted Takesako will be expected to beat Ohashi, who hasn't scored a win in over 6 years, but will perhaps need to do more than just win to be impressive. Notably Ohashi was stopped in 6 rounds by Koki Tyson in 2014 and that will likely be the target to beat for the unbeaten 25 year old.
Staying in Japan there will also be a show in Osaka, featuring an impressive 12 bouts in total.
The main event will see world ranked Atomweight Masae Akitaya (10-6-2, 3) face off against Thai visitor Sornsawan Sarakarngym (0-2) in what looks like a stay busy bout for the OPBF Atomweight champion, and mutli-time world title challenger.
Sadly whilst the card does have 12 bouts it's hard to find some that are actually worth noting, with the only 8 rounder being a bout between Kazuma Fukuyama (6-6-3, 1) and Shohei Kanemoto (9-11-1, 3). This should be an interesting 8 round but certainly nothing brilliant.
The action isn't just in Japan with several Asian's fighting in Australia.
One of those is the tough Hurricane Futa (20-6-1, 11) who will be up against Will Tomlinson (25-2-1, 13) in what looks likely to be an action packed bout for the WBA “Interim” Oceania Lightweight title. Although both men are flawed both come to fight and it should be one of those all action wars between guys who enjoy having a tear up.
Another Japan Vs Australia bout will see Japanese visitor Kimika Miyoshi (13-8-1, 5) battle against Shannon O'Connell (12-4-1, 7) for the WBC Silver female Super Bantamweight title. O'Connell will be looking to make the first defense of her title but is 1-1-1 coming in to this bout whilst Miyoshi is in the form of her career and has won two OPBF titles this year, to become a 3-weight OPBF champion. This could be another really good match up.
On the same card Thailand's Tabthong Tor Buamas (14-4, 12) will be up against the unbeaten Qamil Balla (8-0-1, 3), in a bout that we suspect Balla will be the favourite for.