This coming Saturday is a really interesting day for fans of Asian fighters with 3 different world title bouts featuring Asian fighters taking place on 3 continents. Not only do we have 3 world title bouts but we also get a bout featuring a former world champion and a fighter returning after more than 6 years out of the ring.
BT Sport Studio, Stratford, London, United Kingdom
The most interesting of the world title bouts comes from London, England, where Downua Ruawaiking (16-0, 13), aka Apinun Khongsong, will challenger IBF and WBA Light Welterweight champion Josh Taylor (16-0, 12). The Thai enters as the IBF mandatory title challenger, having earned that shot last year, but he will be regarded as a huge under-dog against the very talent Scottish world champion. For the Thai the bout is a massive step up in class, and despite stopping Akihiro Kondo last year there is still a lot of questions for him to answer. As for Taylor he is regarded by many as the #1 in the division and comes into this on the back of his victory over Regis Prograis in the WBSS final last October. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Unbeaten Thai takes on unified champion Taylor!
Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA
The second most notable world title fight will see WBO Bantamweight champion Johnriel Casimero (29-4, 20) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Duke Micah (24-0, 19) in the US. Originally the plan had been for Casimero to take on Naoya Inoue, to unify the WBO, IBF and WBA titles, but due to the on going situation the two men have gone in different directions. That opened the door for this bout with Casimero taking on the relatively unknown Micah. For Casimero this is a chance to build on his 2019 upset win over Zolani Tete, when he stopped the South African in the UK to claim his title, whilst Micah will be looking to make his mark on the highest level and adding some quality to quite a weak record. Although Casimero will be the favourite he is inconsistent and the last few months have been very frustrating ones for him, so this could end up being more interesting than many predict. Our full preview of this can be read here Casimero defends against the unbeaten Micah
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
In Hyogo we get a card from Shinsei who don't just have a world title bout on the card, but also two interesting support bouts. For those wanting to watch this show it will be streamed on BOXING REAL.
The main event of the card will see former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) take on Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5). This will be Kubo's first since being stopped by Can Xu last year and it's fair to say that he can't afford any more losses if he's to get another world title fight. Thankfully for him this is actually a very winnable contest, where he should be favoured. Although Igarashi has a similar looking record to Kubo he was beaten last time out by Toshiya Yokogawa, who had more losses than wins, and that bout was almost 2 years ago. Igarashi has been in active and hasn't scored a single win of any real note.
The world title bout here is actually the co-feature and will see WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) defending her title against fellow Japanese fighter Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1). Iwakawa won the title in July 2018, when she beat Nao Ikeyama, but sadly hasn't defended it, due to a lack of challengers. Now, more than 2 years on, the 37 year old looks to extend her reign and finally get a defense under her belt. For Suzuki this is a shot that she should feel fortunate to get given that just 18 months ago she did lose to the then 2-0 Eri Matsuda. Thankfully for the challenger she has picked up a couple of wins since then and has done enough to earn a shot at a champion who really needed a challenger. At the age of 28 this could be a case of right time, right place for Suzuki. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Iwakawa defends WBO title against Suzuki.
One other bout on this card worthy of a mention will be the ring return of Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14), more than 6 years after his last bout. The former Japanese Bantamweight champion will be up against 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3) in a 6 rounder. At his best Oba, dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya" would be very strongly favoured, but having bout of the ring for so long we really do wonder what he has left in the tank here. Sadly for Minato since winning Rookie of the Year he has gone 0-2 and and he is the naturally smaller man, being a natural Flyweight. This is really a case of "what does Oba have left?" If he's 80% of the fighter he once was he should take a win, but 6 years out is a very, very long time.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
As well as the Japanese we also get an interesting bout in Thailand where Atchariya Wirojanasunobol (12-0, 5) will take on veteran Kaewfah Tor Buamas (29-6, 10) in a rematch between the two men who fought in 2018. Originally Atchariya was supposed to face teenage sensation Phoobadin Yoohanngoh (9-0, 5), but sadly Phoobadin was injured and has been replaced by Kaewfah. Whilst this bout does give Kaewfah a chance to avenge his 2018 loss it should be noted that Atchariya has got a point to make, following a wrongful arrest in 2019, and could be out there to make statement and get something off his chest.
For a second day running Japanese fans get the chance to see a trio of domestically ranked fighter in action. This time around however we feel the over-all show is better with 4 noteworthy bouts on a show that actually only features 6 bouts in total.
The first of the bouts of note sees Bantamweight hopeful Ryotaro Kawabata (10-2-1, 4) battle against Ryuta Wakamatsu (10-11, 7). On paper this does look like a bit of a mismatch however we're really unsure on how good Kawabata is and his best win to date hasn't come at a very notable level. In all honesty Kawabata's most notable bout was his 4th as he was clearly out pointed by the then 2-0 Shohei Omori, and we now know how good Omori is. As for Wakamatsu he has solid enough power to hurt fighters like Kawabata but unfortunately he has 7 stoppage losses against his name and seemingly can't take it as well as he hands it out. On paper a mismatch in reality however this could be a great test for Kawabata.
The second of the notable bouts is the first to feature a ranked contender as Japanese ranked 140lb fighter Shohei Okuda (11-1, 4) attempts to bounce back form a 3rd round TKO loss to Ryusei Yoshida. Up against Okuda here will be the experienced Kosuke Iwashita (14-17-2, 8). Although experienced Iwashita has won just once in his last 8 bouts, and that win came against a very poor Thai import. This should be easy for Okuda though we of course need to see how he bounces back from his first loss.
One the most recognisable fighters on this card is ranked Light Flyweight Tetsuya Hisada (21-8-2, 11) who looks to put back-to-back draws behind him as he battles the light punching Kenta Sugimoto (8-7-1, 1), who incidentally comes into this bout with a 2-fight winning streak. We have to favour Yamada though again this bout could tell us a lot about his psyche given his poor form recently.
In the main event fans will get the chance to see former Japanese Lightweight title challenger Yuhei Suzuki (15-4, 11) battle against Junki Oura (6-5, 2) in what should be a mismatch. Suzuki, who is stilled ranked in the top 10 at Lightweight by the JBC, will be seeking his second win since being stopped by Yoshitaka Kato last April. For Oura this bout will see him trying to secure a 3rd straight win, however a win here would be the best result of his career, by far.
As well as the 4 bouts there will also be a public sparring session between former Japanese Bantamweight champion Kohei Oba, who will be taking part in his retirement ceremony, and former 2-weight world champion Hozumi Hasegawa, who will be in the ring in public for the first time since he was stopped by Kiko Martinez last year.
Notably this show will also feature music from Korean pop group LPG who look set to do a live performance at the show.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Whilst fans in the west will be talking about the action from the rematch between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Marcos Maidana there will actually be some pretty interesting and notable bouts taking place out East with two Japanese shows.
The most interesting of the two Japanese cards is at the Bodymaker Colosseum and features a trio of Japanese fighters all looking to put a recent loss behind them and move towards bouts of redemption.
The most well known of those 3 fighters is Light Middleweight-come-Heavyweight Nobuhiro Ishida (25-10-2, 10) who continues his Heavyweight campaign with a bout against Frenchman David Radeff (5-7-2, 2). For Ishida this will be his first bout since his controversial loss to Japanese Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto earlier this year. When Ishida first announced plans of campaigning at Heavyweight many thought he was crazy though it seems that he has the intentions of winning the national title come hell or high water. A win here will set him up for a title bout likely to be on New Years Eve.
Whilst Ishida's loss was controversial and competitive the same cannot be said of the loss suffered last time out by former Japanese Bantamweight champion Kohei Oba (35-3-1, 14), who was dominated and then stopped by American-Nicaraguan Randy Caballero in an IBF Bantamweight title eliminator. Oba's return to the ring will see him matched easily as he takes on domestic foe Keigo Soma (6-10-1, 3) in what appears to be a confidence building bout following the stoppage loss to Caballero. As for Soma he has lost 4 of his last 5 and this is likely to be little more than another clear defeat on his record.
The third man returning to the ring following a loss is Yu Kawaguchi (20-6, 9) who suffered his loss in a technical decision defeat to Kentaro Masuda for the then vacant Japanese Bantamweight title. Although Kawaguchi was a clear loser on the cards his team haven't wrapped him in cotton wool here and instead of taking on a no hoper he'll be up against Seizo Kono (14-6-1, 9). Kono is no world beater though he's certainly a capable fighter on the domestic scene and could give Kawaguchi a solid work out here.
The rest of this card will feature 5 other bouts, all scheduled for 4 rounds.
A second Osaka show will feature the Rookie of the Year West finals. This show was scheduled to see 12 bouts though we've seen 2 of the contests, bouts at Super Featherweight and Lightweight both aborted.
From the 10 bouts left on the show 4 of them have been scheduled for 5 rounds whilst the other 6 will be 4 rounders. The winners will be expected to make a name for themselves and compete, at some point, for a Japanese or OPBF title.
Whilst the bouts in Osaka are the most interesting we also have a meaningful bout in Hyogo as former world title challenger Atsushi Kakutani (14-4-1, 7) battles Thailand's Dawut Manopkanchang (0-1) in what is thought to be a warm up bout before an OPBF title challenge. On paper the bout is a mismatch though the only recorded bout for Dawut saw him battling against Kohei Kono on last New Years Eve, he lost that one by TKO in 3 but Kono is a much more imposing fighter than Kakutani and shouldn't be beaten that easily. Kakutani, best known for his fight with Adrian Hernandez, should over-come Dawut with out too many problems though he'll know that a bout with OPBF Light Flyweight champion Jonathan Taconing won't be an easy one and this may not be the best warm up for that bout.
This show will feature a further 5 bouts, the most notable of which will be an 8 rounder between Yuichi Arai (8-8-1, 2) and Thai visitor Saensak Sithvarunee (0-1). On paper this looks like a stay busy fight for Arai though it's hard to be certain and with a lot of these Thai's it's hard to really know just how correct their records are. What we do know about Saensak is that he's fought in Japan before, losing a wide decision to Ken Achiwa and probably should lose here given that result.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
April 4th-Kohei Oba meets Randy Caballero, Rookie of the Year qualifiers and Joebert Alvarez in action!
Not many Friday's are genuinely significant days in boxing but this week Friday is a really major day as we get several fights involving men on the fringes of a world title shot, both in terms of Asians and non-Asians.
The most significant show of the day is in Hyogo and is the "Real Spirits 36" card.
This card features 8 bouts in total with the main event being an IBF Bantamweight world title eliminator between Japanese champion Kohei Oba (25-2-1, 14) and unbeaten American Randy Caballero (20-0, 12). The winner of this bout should move directly into an IBF world title fight, though their is some discussion that they may need to wait a little longer with a strong rumour that champion Stuart Hall, of Britain, will try to fit in another title defense before his mandatory date.
As well as the world title eliminator the show also featured a female OPBF title bout as Kei Takenaka (6-0, 2) battles Thailand's win-less Yokkhao Loei Citygym (0-4) in a fight for the OPBF female Light Flyweight title. We do usually preview female OPBF title bouts but feel their is little need here. Yokkhao was beaten easily by Tomomi Takano in Takano's second fight last year with that in mind it's almost impossible to even imagine the upset here.
A third notable bout on this card sees Shun Kubo (3-0, 2) taking on Nongbeer Sor Bangkru (0-1). Kubo, ranked #8 by the OPBF at 118lbs is one of those fast rising Japanese prospects and comes in to this bout on the back of an outstanding victory over Monico Laurente last time out.
A second Japanese show is going to be held at the Korakuen Hall as the C Class Tournament and Rookie of the Year qualifiers continue. In total the show, Dangan 98, will have 12 bouts with our "one to watch" being 17 year old prospect Andy Hiraoka (2-0, 1) who fights in the final bout of the show against Susumu Nakata (1-4-2, 1).
In Thailand we get a televised show on Channel 7. The main event here is listed as being a bout between Chatpetch Sithmorseng (6-3, 2) and Dicky Amtiran (3-7) despite the records of both men being distinctly unimpressive we are lead to believe that the interim PABA Super Flyweight title.
Distrito Federal, Mexico
In Mexico the highly touted, and world ranked, Joebert Alvarez (13-0-1, 6) will be fighting against Mexican journeyman Julian Rivera (13-8-1, 2). Alvarez, who has been strongly linked to Juan Francisco Estrada, will be hoping to score his first victory outside of his native Phillipines though will know that this is no gimme despite Rivera's less than perfect record.
(First poster courtesy of Boxmob.jp)