Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesdays Ohashi Gym put on their next card, and it's one that's very much focused on the emerging youth of Japanese boxing, with a Japanese Youth title fight along with 3 supporting bouts featuring genuine prospects.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Youth Minimumweight champion Shunsuke Isa (9-3-1, 1) take on former Japanese title challenger Katsuki Mori (9-1, 2), in an excellent match up, and one that feel Mori's team should have searched for before his recent loss to Kai Ishizawa. The 24 year old Isa won the title last August, when he narrowly over-came Yuni Takada, and although he did win that bout, he really seemed to get some good luck, and there is question marks about how he's developing, and how high his ceiling will be. As for Mori he looked like a top prospect in the making before being thrown in to a Japanese title fight with Kai Ishizawa this past January, a fight that he seemed to be getting too early. If that loss hasn't damaged him too much, he should be able to bounce back, and could end up living up to the expectations we have for him going forward. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Japanese youth champion Isa takes on Mori!
The chief support bout will see the hugely entertaining, and hard hitting, Narumi Yukawa (4-0, 3) will be seeking his 5th professional win as he takes on 34 year old veteran Takaki Sakurai (8-8-1, 3). The exciting Yukawa was one of the more notable prospects last year, with his debut coming in March and by the end of the year he had notched 3 wins and seemed well on the way to bigger and better fights. He also added a good win in January, stopping Kanta Fukui, and looks likely to be in the domestic title mix in the next year or two. Before then however he does need rounds, bouts and experience and fighters like Sakurai are ideal for him. Sakurai is generally regarded as tough and is naturally bigger, so should be able to last a few rounds and give Yukawa something new to think about
In another 8 rounder we'll see young battling older, as 24 year old hopeful Ryo Nakai (3-1-1, 1) faces off with 42 year old veteran Ribo Takahata (17-9-1, 7). Of the two men Takahata, who is ranked by the JBC at 130lbs, is the more well known and is a very well respected veteran, with a tricky style built around his jab, size and experience, and he has proven to be an awkward and tough fighter. As for Nakai, he's looking to climb into the Japanese rankings, and score a career best win. Although not too well known, he is a genuine talent, and pushed current Japanese Lightweight champion Shu Utsuki all the way, and holds recent wins over Mirai Naito and Go Hosoka. For Takahata this is a must win if he's to continue his career, whilst Nakai will know a win moves his career forward, massively.
In a battle of youngsters the 21 year old debutant Kotoji Irita (0-0) will face off with once touted 19 year old Kosuke Tomioka (4-2, 3), in a scheduled 6 rounder at Super Flyweight. Tomioka looked really impressive in his early days as a professional, with an exciting style and a lot of swag, but has lost his last 2, and shown some fragility with his chin. As for Irita he was a solid amateur, going 36-11, and is tipped for pretty big things in the professional ranks. This is certainly an interesting under-card bout, and one where we'll see two talented youngsters face off.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
also set for a decent looking show in Tokyo as we get the second Japanese title fight of the year, as well as a couple of bouts featuring promising young prospects.
The main event of the show is a rematch of the 2021 Asian Boxing fight of the year as Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Gakuya Furuhashi (28-8-1, 16) defends his title against Yusaku Kuga (20-5-1, 13), the man he beat for the title last January. In their first bout we got a thrilling clash that saw Furuhashi finally break down Kuga to claim the title, in a performance that was genuinely inspired. It seemed, that day, nothing was going to deny Furuhashi. Since then Furuhashi has defended his title once, beating Seigo Hanamori in a short but thrilling little war. Aged 34 it's hard to know what Furuhashi's body has left in it, but he 2021 was a huge year for him and we feel he has a lot of momentum coming in to this bout. As for Kuga, who's 31 himself, he has taken a lot of punishment in recent years, the stoppage to Furuhashi was a big beating in the end, and he only just scraped a win over Ryoichi Tamura, in their bout back in October. This will be brutal, exciting and action packed, though we suspect it not quite live up to the level of their first bout. Out in depth preview of this potential barn burner can be read here Furuhashi and Kuga go again in Japanese title rematch!
The most interesting of the under-card bout will see former 2-time world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16) take on professional novice Kantaro Juri (3-0, 2), in a really compelling match up. Kuroda hasn't fought since May 2019, when he lost to Moruti Mthalane, and has had major injuries since then that delayed his in ring return. Now aged 35 it's really, really hard to know what he has left to offer the sport, but this fight should let us know whether he still has enough to be a force on the domestic scene. Juri on the other hand was an excellent amateur, who debuted in 2019, but has sadly lacked activity. On paper this is a massive step up up Juri, though he may well be getting Kuroda at the right time, and a win here would be huge for his career, even against the 35 year old, inactive, Kuroda. There are a lot of questions over both men here, and we suspect we will see a lot of them being answered with this bout.
Another prospect on this card is the debuting Kotoji Irita (0-0), who takes on the once touted Kosuke Tomioka (4-2, 3) in a very interesting match up. The 20 year old Irita went 36-11 in the amateurs and is kicking off his career in a 6 rounder, with Dangan Aoki promoting him. Although he wasn't a standout amateur he did look very good in the unpaid ranks and certainly has the skills to make a good mark in the professional ranks. Tomioka on the other hand desperately needs a win, after back to back stoppage losses to Shunpei Kubo and Suzumi Takayama. Tomioka has flare and skills, but his questionable chin will always be a problem and we suspect it will hold him back, whether he over-comes Irita here or not.
One other bout of note will see Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific ranked Lightweight Toru Kiyota (11-4, 8) taking on Taison Mukaiyama (6-2, 3) in a scheduled 8 rounder. Coming in to this Kiyota has proven to be better than his record, and despite having 4 losses to his name 3 of them have been in very close bouts. He could, easily, be 14-1 (8) and if that was his record we suspect he would be on the verge of a title fight right not. Mukaiyama on the other hand is an explosive fighter, but someone who has started to learn his craft, and despite his first 5 fight bouts ending early his last 3 have gone the distance, including two wins over Ryugo Ushijima. This should be a lot more interesting than it looks on paper, though will be over-shadowed by the other match ups on the show.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday we get the next card from the Ohashi Gym and it's a brilliant with 4 bouts worthy of real attention, including a Japanese title bout, and bouts featuring several exciting and talented prospects.
We'll start with some of those prospects, including the brilliant Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) who looks to bounce back from a close 2020 loss to Sho Ishida. The talented, aggressive and and heavy handed Ishii will be up against the flawed but hard hitting Jin Minamide (4-1, 3) in a bout that has the makings of a genuine shoot out. Ishii is the better boxer, the more rounded fighter, but also the man who will be looking to prove a point given his loss to Ishida. Minamide on the other hand is the bigger puncher, and a nasty at that, but also a man who hasn't fought since November 2019, when he lost to Kazuki Nakajima, and we need to wonder what sort of ring rust he'll be bringing into this fight.
Another excellent match up between youngsters will see the touted Kosuke Tomioka (4-1, 3) battle against the often over-looked Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3). For Tomioka this is his first bout since being stopped in the Rookie of the Year in December by Shunpei Kubo, and he'll know he can't afford to get caught against here. Takayama on the other hand has really seen his career hit a brick wall following an excellent win over Tetsuro Ohashi in October 2019, a win that saw him win the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title. If Takayama is as good as he looked in 2019 he should be favoured here, but after almost 2 years out of the ring we do wonder what he'll look like here in this match up. We need to give Tomioka credit for jumping in with someone as dangerous as Takayama following his recent loss, however we suspect thus will be another defeat for the teenager.
One bout that could easily go over-looked on this card is a contest between the unbeaten Masayoshi Hashizume (17-0-2, 10) and the often over-looked Yoshiki Minato (9-4, 4). The 27 year old Hashizume has long been earmarked as a promising fighter, and did win the Rookie of the Year, way back in 2014, but has never managed to deliver on that promise. Interestingly this will be Hashizume's first bout since joining the Ohashi Gym, and it's going to be really interesting to see if the moves helps to kick start his career. As for Minato he's looking to bounce back from a loss to Taku Kuwahara earlier this year, and although he's now 1-3 in his last 4 he shouldn't be written off, he is talented, he's tough and he'll be in to win here. This should be a very interesting, high level boxing contest and we are not anticipating a stoppage either way.
The main event of the card is a genuinely mouth watering match up as the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) looks to defend his Japanese Flyweight title against the aforementioned Taku Kuwahara (8-0, 4). For Akui this will be his second defense, and he will be looking to build on a solid 10 round decision win over Seiya Fujikita back in October 2020, in his only defense of the title. That win was the first time Akui had gone 10 rounds and showed there was more to him than just his heavy hands and his fast starts. Kuwahara on the other hand is one of the most unheralded prospects in Japan, but he seems to be a fighter who has the potential to be something very, very special. This is the first time Kuwahara has been in with a real puncher, but if he can take Akui's power he could well answer one of the few questions that remain about him. Although neither man is a star the winner of this should be just a fight or two from a world title bout. Our preview for this bout can be read here Akui and Kuwahara battle for Japanese Flyweight crown!
For a third day in a row we get world title action this Sunday as South Africa plays host to an interesting match at world level. As well as the action in South Africa we also get Rookie of the Year action in Japan and a card in India in what a very nice Sunday for fight fans, coming off back to back busy days!
Olive Convention Centre, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
The would title bout in question will see IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26) looking to make his 4th defense as he takes on unbeaten Filipino youngster Jayson Mama (15-0, 8). The bout isn't just a normal defense for the well travelled Mthalane but will be his first professional bout in his home area of KWa-Zulu-Natal, and is set to be an emotional night for the veteran. Aged 38 it's hard to know how much longer Mthalane can go on, though he has rarely come close to losing since his 2008 defeat to Nonito Donaire. At 23 years old Mama is the much, much younger fighter, though their is perhaps some concern he is getting this fight too soon, and wins against the likes of Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and Kwanthai Sithmoreseng haven't done enough to prepare him for someone as talented, experienced and battle hardened as Mthalane. Our full, in depth, preview of this bout can be read here Unbeaten Mama takes on South African great Mthalane for IBF title
*At the time of publishing there is RUMOURS that Mthalane Vs Mama has been cancelled - we are currently awaiting an official confirmation from the promoter of either man. Please keep an eye out for updates regarding this world title bout.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the high profile action in South Africa we also get the annual East Japan Rookie of the Year final over in the Japanese capital. Originally there was 12 bouts scheduled for this show, but the Light Flyweight bout has been cancelled, leaving us with just 11.
Before we get on to the bouts, it should be noted that any match up on this show where both fighters have at least 4 wins, will be fought over 5 rounds, and not 4 as listed on Boxrec at the time of writing.
The stand out bout on the show will be a clash between teenage sensation Kosuke Tomioka (4-0, 3) and Shunpei Kubo (5-1-1, 3), who meet at Super Flyweight. Since the tournament began Tomioka, a stylish and exciting youngster, has been tipped as the favourite and has barely lost a minute on route to the final. Kubo on the other hand wasn't given too much of a chance, but has impressed during the tournament and will go in there knowing that a win would really build his career. Potentially a very interesting bout, with Tomioka's counter punching and speed going up against Kubo's aggression and work rate.
Staying with the little guys we expect explosive action with a match up between Shugo Namura (4-0, 4) and Akira Hoshuyama (3-0, 2), who clash in a very good looking Flyweight bout. The heavy handed Namura, managed by former world title challenger Hiroyuki Sakamoto, has stopped all 4 of his opponents in the first 2 rounds and looks to be a really destructive and fun fighter. Hoshuyama has himself looked hard hitting, but also looked a solid boxer last time out and should make for a brilliant dance partner for Namaura. This could be a very violent and thrilling action bout.
At Lightweight we'll see American born Japanese based Dominique Kenshin (5-1, 2) take on unbeaten puncher Tsubasa Narai (5-0, 4). Kenshin caught our eye last year, but ended 2019 with an opening round loss to Hiro Ichimichi which took some shine off him. Since then however he has picked up 2 wins and does look a strong and powerful fighter. Narai on the other hand has been on a tear with 4 stoppages in 5 bout and will feel confident of repeating which Ichimichi did to Kenshin last year.
Marine Centre Club, Mumbai, India
We also get low level action in India, where most of the bouts will be 4 rounders. The one exception is the clash between the unbeaten pairing of Mohammed Zekria Zamani (4-0, 2) and Sagar Chaudhary (2-0, 1) at Welterweight. The 22 year old Zamani is an Afghan fighter who debuted in 2019, in India, and has also fought in Thailand, albeit against novices. Chaudhary on the other hand is a native Indian and in his last bout won a 4 rounder by incredibly wide margins, including 10 points on one card.
It's fair to say this coming Saturday is mostly about one contest in the US, though surprisingly there is an incredible amount of action involving Asian fighters here, with bouts all over Asia. This is probably the busiest day we've had since boxing restarted back in the summer.
The Bubble, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
It goes without saying that our attention this coming Saturday is in Las Vegas, where we get two Japanese fighters on action on a Top Rank show.
The main event here will see WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) make his Las Vegas debut, as he takes on Australian challenger Jason Moloney (21-1, 18) in a much anticipated bout. For Inoue this will be his first bout since his World Boxing Super Series win against Nonito Donaire last year, and he has some questions hanging over him for once, such as whether or not his right eye is anything close to 100% following that Donaire bout. He also has questions hanging over him in regards rust and potentially being over-trained, given he was supposed to fight in March. As for Moloney he's the clear under-dog and this is a huge chance for him, though he will know that if he wins his career will change massively. Interesting Moloney was close to facing Inoue last year, and would have done so had he got the decision in the WBSS quarter final bout against Emanuel Rodriguez. Since his loss to Rodriguez, Moloney has racked up 4 wins and comes into this with momentum, despite being the big under-dog. Our full, in depth, previous of this bout can be read here The Monster takes on Moloney in Las Vegas!
The other Japanese fighter on this show is Andy Hiraoka (15-0, 10), who will be looking to extend his unbeaten record as he takes on Rickey Edwards (12-4, 3). For Hiraoka this will be his second bout in Las Vegas, where he fought last November. The Japanese Light Welterweight is being groomed for big things and he's expected to pick up an easy win here and more a step closer to a title fight, of some kind. Edwards on the other hand is struggling for form and has gone 1-4 in his last 5, and it unlikely to post any real questions to the talented Hiraoka. If you're tuning in for Inoue make sure to keep an eye out for Hiraoka, he's a genuine talent.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Staying with Japanese boxing for a moment it's worth noting that we are getting some East Japan Rookie of the Year bouts on the same day, as Korakuen Hall plays host to the first set of semi-finals bouts. In total there are 6 bouts set for this show, but due to all the action taking place through Asia we'll only really look at one of them.
The most notable is the Super Flyweight bout between unbeaten puncher Yota Sato (2-0, 2) and the very, very highly regarded Kosuke Tomioka (3-0, 2). This is the stand bout from this round of East Japan Rookie of the Year bouts, and will see Tomioka getting his first serious test against someone who looked devastating last time out. We are expecting big things here in a potentially explosive match up. If you've got tickets to this one, it's the one that you need to be in your seat for! If you're not in Tokyo, the bout is the one to watch when it becomes available online.
As well as the Sato Vs Tomioka bout, the show also pits unbeaten Flyweights against each other, with Teppei Saito (3-0, 2) facing Shugo Namura (3-0, 3), and Light Flyweights, and Light Flyweight, with Yota Mihara (3-0, 3) battling against Hayato Aoki (3-0, 2).
Yes this is gonna be a good one!
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
We also get a show of real note from Bangkok, where TL Promotions continue to make their mark on the sport, and bring through their range of talented and promising fighters.
The main event here will see Nonthasith Petchnamthong (1-0) drop down to Bantamweight to take on former Light Flyweight world champion Kompayak Porpramook (60-9, 41). We were impressed by Nonthasith on his debut, where he Arnon Yupang, where he won a WBA Asia title, and now appears to be dropping into a weight that is much, much more natural for him. Kompayak isn't the fighter he once was, not even close, but he does come to win, press, and is still a very good test for prospects. We expect to Kompayak trying to win, but be out boxed, out punched, and out muscled by the novice. Kompayaka, with his experience, is a live under-dog here, but he is clearly an under-dog.
Another bout on this show will see Anurak Thisa (24-2, 9), aka Nop Kratingdaenggym, take on Artid Bamrungauea (26-31, 24) in what looks like little more than a stay busy fight, and an easy win for talented Thisa.
Also on this card bouts between Tanes Ongjunta (4-1, 2) and Decha Puttaluksa (1-4), and a contest pitting the unbeaten Yuttapong Tongdee (3-0, 2) against the limited Kan Hamongkol (4-14, 1). Sadly these both look like formalities.
Singmanassak Muaythai School, Pathum Thani, Thailand
A second Thai show will come from Pathum thani and this really does look a lot less significant than the other show.
The main event here is set to be a clash between the unbeaten Kevin Gronlund (3-0, 1) and the limited, but heavy handed, Tanawat Ketsiri (5-6, 5), with the men clashing for the Thai Lightweight title. The 25 year old Gronlund debuted in June 2019 and has struggled in a couple of his wins. Ketsiri on the other hand is a 17 year old who debuted in 2017, has been matched hard and suffered a couple of losses to decent regional fighters, but has won his last 3 and will be hoping to carry on that momentum here.
Over in Kazakhstan we'll be getting the chance to see a number of very promising Kazakh's dip their toes in professional ranks, with the intention to remain amateurs and head to the Tokyo Olympics. This is thanks to Suleimen promotions who are putting on a 5 fight show.
One of those bouts will see Bek Nurmaganbet (1-0, 1) look for his second professional win, as he takes on experienced Tanzanian Abdallah S Pazzy (27-7-1, 24). After looking good against a very over-matched opponent on his debut this is a good step up in class for Nurmaganbet , and we should see the former amateur standout given a genuine test against a hard hitting fighter who beat Zulipikaer Maimaitiali last year. This is a genuinely dangerous test for the Kazakh novice.
Another Kazakh with some pro experience on this show is Yevgeniy Pavlov (1-0, 1), who also takes a massive step up in class as he takes on Tanzania's Goodluck Mrema (23-5, 13). Pavlov made his debut in July and looked decent against an over-matched opponent and, like Nurmaganbet, he is taking a huge leap up in class. Mrema isn't a world beater, nothing close in fact, but he has mixed with good company and has been in the ring with Marlon Tapales and Jason Moloney. We expect a win for Pavlov here, but it would be good to see him being tested.
The first of three debutants on this show will be Danila Semenov (0-0) who makes his debut against once beaten 36 year old Ghanaian John Napari (21-1, 15). Semenov is expected to make a big mark on the professional ranks in the coming years, and this is a very serious debut, against a man who's only loss came to the then 19-0-1 Apti Davtaev. A real risk and a real potential to make a statement from Semenov.
The second debutant will be Ablaikhan Zhussupov (0-0), who has booked a place in the Tokyo Olympics. He will be looking to keep busy here as he shares the ring with Tanzania's Meshack Mwankemwa (21-7-2, 13), who has faced a few notables names. Zhussupov is a brilliant talent, and our hope is that after the Olympics he will become a fully fledged professional and a debut like this shows the belief his team have in him. Mwankemwa has got 7 losses but they have come to some decent fighters, such as Teerachai Kratingdaenggym, Roman Zakirov and Walter Kautondokwa.
The final fight on the show will see 2019 World Amateur Champion Bekzad Nurdauletov (0-0) make his professional debut as he takes on Ibrahim Maokola (14-9-1, 9), who is the fourth fight fighter from Tanzania to be involved on this show. There are huge expectations on Nurdauletov's shoulders, not just for this bout but for the Tokyo Olympics, and we expect him to answer those expectations in style here, against the rather limited Maokola.
Rongchuang Mall, Chongqing, China
We also get action in China, albeit very low level action, as the Chinese boxing scene continues to tick over. Sadly this is a very, very low show with little of note, though it does have a 10 main event.
That main event will see Ruidong Zhou (5-1, 2) and Yong Shuai Luan (3-1, 1) battle in a Welterweight bout. The 26 year old Zhou is the more experienced of the two fighters in action here, bout his last 3 wins have come against terrible opposition as he's looked to rebuild following a 2018 loss in South Korea. Luan on the other hand is a 19 year old looking to get career going after a stoppage loss last year. Luan will be looking for his third win in a row, though his last two opponents have been very poor, and he struggled with one of those in September.
Of all the action out there on Saturday this is probably the least noteworthy card featuring an Asian fighter.
Delhi University North Campus Area, New Delhi, India
Another show that isn't worth too much attention comes from India, where we see a lot of novices in action.
The only real bout of note here is an 8 round mismatch between the very promising Sachin Dekwal (7-0, 5) and the win-less Pawan Kumar (0-0-1). The talented Dekwal is one of the very few Indian fighters worth making a mental of note, and he really should be facing better opponents that Kumar at this point in his career. He's a talent, but he's really wasting time, and chances to develop as a fighter with bouts like this.
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
We turn our attention back to Japan to end the month, and we get treat very nicely thanks to A-Sign boxing who are putting on a live stream of their event from the Shinjuku Face in Tokyo. The event isn't a massive card, but it is a compelling card, featuring a nice mix of prospects, domestic hopefuls and the Japanese debut of a fighter who has, until now, been fighting entirely in the west.
In the main event we'll see veteran Shoki Sakai (23-11-2, 13) make his Japanese debut after more than 30 fights in Mexico and the US. The tough and rugged Sakai was once a fighter with a genuine hunger and ambition, but in recent years he has been used as a gatekeeper of sorts in the West. He has lost his last 4, though managed to ask questions of Genero Gamez, Eddie Gomez, Alexis Rocha and Gor Yeritsyan and has proven his value as a genuine trial horse. For his Japanese debut he is being matched some what easier than he has been in the West as he takes on Hironori Shigeta (6-1-1, 3), who is best known for winning the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year, at Welterweight, though he has failed to kick on since then and has fought just twice since that Rookie triumph. Shigeta is unbeaten in his last 7 but this is a serious step up in class for him.
One of the best prospects on this card is unbeaten teenage Jin Sasaki (7-0, 6), who turned 19 in July. The talented Sasaki will be taking a big step up, as he takes on Shun Akaiwa (5-1-1, 3), who answered what was essentially an open challenge by the promoters of the event. Sasaki has shown a lot to be excited about, including power, skills and timing, though unfortunately had to pull out of the East Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2019. The youngster is tipped for big things but this is expected to be a real test. Akaiwa enters the bout ranked #13 by the JBC at 140lbs and has won his last 3, which has seen him avenge his sole defeat and score a shock TKO win over Kenta Endo. This is a genuinely serious test for Sasaki and a win here will give him a huge boost after the disappointing end to his Rookie of the Year journey last year. A win for Akaiwa on the other hand will continue his great form and move him a step closer to a title fight. This is a real 50-50 type bout.
In a bout that could, potentially, be an explosive bout we'll see Ryugo Ushijima (3-1-2, 2) and Ryukyu Oho (6-3, 3) battle in a 6 rounder. We were impressed and frustrated by Ushijima last year. His bout with Shota Ogasawara was an instant classic, but he then went 0-1-2 for the rest of the year, and failed to show any real development. Aged 19 and stood at 5'10" he is very much a growing boy and not the complete product, but we do need to start to see some improvements from the youngster, who has the size and frame to be a genuine prospect, despite his current record. Oho on the other hand has struggled for form recently, losing 2 of his last 3 including a 2018 Rookie of the Year bout with Hikari Mineta. This has the potential to be the hidden gem on the card with both men desperate to get a win.
The 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year Super Featherweight king Hyoga Taniguchi (3-2-2, 1) will be up against Yoshiki Tatsukami (4-6-1), in what will be Taniguchi's first bout since his Rookie triumph in December. The 21 year old Taniguchi has got promise but his lack of power could be a major issue, unless he develops it in the coming years. Coming in to this Tatsukami has lost his last 3, but has generally asked questions of fighters, testing Mirai Naito and Hokuto Matsumoto. We expect Taniguchi to take the win, but this will not be easy for the youngster.
In an easy to over-look bout the limited but hard hitting Ken Koibuchi (5-4, 4) will be up against one of our favourite unheralded fighters Takuya Yamaguchi (4-11-2, 2). Coming in to this Koibuchi has lost 3 of his last 4 but two of those were razor thin decisions and he's certainly better than his record suggests. Yamaguchi on the other hand is a very likable loser, and the recent A-Sign documentary on him is brilliant, insightful and opens a door into the life of someone who has charmed us in recent years. We suspect Koibuchi will have too much for the 34 year old Yamaguchi.
In a Rookie of the Year bout we'll see the unbeaten and charismatic Kosuke Tomioka (2-0, 2) in action against Shota Hara (2-2-1). Although he's still only a boxing baby Tomioka has been receiving a lot of attention for his exciting style and unique in ring flair, which we hope to see more of here. Hara is the older man, but is very much coming into this bout as the under-dog and we suspect he will struggle, despite having an under-rated counter punchers game.