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.