After a bit of a break from events at Korakuen Hall return to the Japanese boxing "Holy Land" this coming Thursday for a really good looking card featuring an OPBF title bout, two Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals and two under-card bouts featuring notable names!
The main event will see Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) take on unbeaten Japanese-Afghan Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Welterweight title fight. The talented Nagahama has won 3 in a row since losing to Yuki Nagano in May 2018, and will be getting his second title fight, follow a loss in a Japanese Light Middleweight title bout against Takeshi Inoue. Kaneko on the other hand is someone who is getting his first title fight, but has earned it on the back of impressive wins against the likes of Toshio Arikawa, Rikuto Adachi and Moon Hyon Yun. Neither of these two are well known, but a win here will put the winner on the map, and see them become the new OPBF champion. Our preview of this bout can be read here Kaneko and Nagahama clash for OPBF crown!
In one of the two Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals we'll see hard hitting and teak tough Korean fighter Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) take on Japan's Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5). On paper this could end up the more fun of the two semi final bouts, especially given the quarter final bouts the men were involved in. Jae Woo Lee got past Tsuyoshi Tameda in a 3 round war, whilst Kusano was dropped multiple times before bouncing back to beat Qiang Ma. This could be a thriller, but it's hard imagine Kusano handling the pressure of Lee.
The other semi final will see Filipino fighter Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6), who had a bye in the round of 8, take on Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6), who advanced on the basis of a technical draw against Koshin Takeshima. This is the tougher of the two semi finals to predict. Pumicpic is, and has long been, an under-rated terror to face off with, but he is the naturally smaller man and is on away soil. Watanabe has an incredibly under-rated record, and on his day is a threat with his solid boxing and heavy hand. We expect another exciting fight here, though this could easily end up being a real mess, with head clashes, if the fighters aren't careful.
One of two notable fighters on the under-card is former OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (14-1, 9), who will be up against Ariston Aton (9-2, 5). Koura, who hasn't fought since losing the OPBF title last year to Lito Dante, was originally scheduled to face Yujie Zeng (14-10-1, 6) before Zeng was replaced by Aton. For Koura the clear purpose of this bout is to rebuild however Aton is no push over and he was very competitive last December against Tatsuro Nakashima.
The other notable fighter on the under-card is former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-5, 18), who who has his first fight since June 2017, as he takes on Shogo Yamaguchi (11-5-3, 6). Tsuchiya was in the ring in January, albeit in a public exhibition, after his planned opponent failed to secure a visa, and we suspect he'll come on top here. As for Yamaguchi he has scored just 2 low level wins in his last 9, and was stopped last time out by Masanori Rikiishi.
This coming Saturday is a really busy day in Asia, but the standout card is a Japanese one with 4 notable bouts on it. Notably this card isn't just a good one on paper, but will also be available live, thanks to Boxing Raise.
The main event will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (18-3-1, 12) make his first defense, of his second reign, as he battles against the limited but typically fun to watch Yosuke Fujihara (18-6, 5). The hard hitting Kuga won the belt back earlier this year, winning a Japanese Fight of the Year Contender against Ryoichi Tamura, and will be looking to impress here as he attempts to put his 2018 loss to Shingo Wake behind him. The power, pressure and aggression of Kuga is likely to be too much for the challenger but Fujihara does make for fun fights and this should be a fan friendly 1-sided bout. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuga takes on Fujihara in first title defense!
A second title bout will see fast rising Japanese hopeful Tsubasa Murachi (4-0, 3) take on former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (30-3-1, 21) in a bout for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. Although not one of the big name hopefuls in Japan Murachi is very well regarded by those who have followed his career, and the plan had always been to fast track him, though we didn't expect such a big step up so early in his career. A win for Murachi at this stage will likely secure him a WBO world ranking but it's not an easy task. Saludar, who was once touted as a future world champion himself, has faltered in his biggest bouts, including bouts against Takuma Inoue and Sho Kimura, but is very capable. For Saludar another loss here would likely end his hopes of getting another world title fight, but he'll feel confident that his experience will be too much for the Japanese youngster. A very interesting match up. A full preview of this bout can be read here Murachi goes for gold in 5th fight, takes on Saludar for WBO regional title!
The third bout which is getting a lot of interest is a Japanese Minimumweight title eliminator. This bout, the second of the eliminators for the 2020 Champion Carnival, will see former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) going up against hard hitting youngster Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6). For Taniguchi this is a must win bout, but also a huge step backwards following a bout with Vic Saludar earlier this year. As for Ishizawa this is a massive step up in class, and a win will put him on the map and secure a title fight next year. Our view is that it maybe too much too soon for Ishizawa, but we understand why he has taken the fight. This is genuine high risk, high reward for both men. Our preview of this bout is available here Taniguchi and Ishizawa meet in Japanese title eliminator
The final of the notable bouts will see rising Afghan born Japanese based Welterweight hopeful Kudura Kaneko (10-0, 7) continue to step up as he takes on rugged veteran Moon Hyon Yun (18-7-3, 4) in what could turn out to be the best bout of the show. Kaneko is a very exciting, hard hitting boxer-puncher whilst Yun is a genuine tough guy who has scored more than his share of upset wins. This should be a real test for Kaneko, and could well be a genuine banana skin given the style that Yun brings to the ring. This bout has been featured as our One to watch-Kudura Kaneko vs Moon Hyon Yun this week.
In China we get an interesting card with an international feel to it.
In one of the main bouts we'll see Chinese puncher Jun Zhao (11-2-1, 8) take on Japanese foe Sonin Nihei (9-4-2, 1) in a contest for the WBA Asia Bantamweight title. Coming in to this the 26 year old Zhao has been in good form, winning his last 6, but hasn't looked sensational during that run and he certainly improvements to make. On the other hand Nihei has struggled for results, winning just 1 of his last 3, but will be travelling with the knowledge that he has the skills to spring in the upset.
In a supporting bout we'll see Mongolian hopeful Erkhembayar Batbayar (5-0, 3) take on Korean foe Jun Yong Lee (6-5-4, 3). This is a 10 rounder and on paper a big step up for the Mongolian, who has never been beyond 6 rounds so far. The Korean is a former national champion, but has won just 1 of his last 4, and is 2-4-1 in his last 7. Batbayar will be the favourite, and rightfully so, but this is certainly his biggest test to date.
Bang Phun, Thailand
We return to the Work Point Studio for a Thai card which will be available on Work Point in Thailand and DAZN in the US.
One of the main bouts on this card will see former Naoya Inoue opponent Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (43-9, 20) take on Filipino visitor Renz Rosia (15-8-1, 8). Petchbarngborn, also known as Karoon Jarupianlerd, has gone 8-1 since losing to Inoue in 2016 but has fought at a most limited level, with a loss earlier this year to Amnat Ruenroeng being the most notable of those bouts. Rosia on the other hand is 1-3-1 in his last 5 and despite once being a solid fighter at regional level looks like a man who is is often fighting above his best weight. Rosia always comes to fight, but there is a feeling that he probably won't have enough to over-come the Thai in Thailand, where an away win is never easy.
Another bout on this card pitting a Thai against a Filipino will see Nawaphon Kaikanha (46-1-1, 36) take the under-rated and tough Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-14-3, 11). The once beaten Nawaphon is a former world title challenger who is also the brother of former world champion Suriyan Sor Rungvisai. Since his loss, in a WBC Flyweight title bout to Juan Hernandez, Nawaphon has moved up to Bantamweight and reeled off 10 straight wins. On paper Ponteras doesn't look like much of a threat, but in reality he's a really good journeyman who should take Nawaphon some rounds, and be competitive at times. Saying that however there are question marks about what Ponteras still has left following his first stoppage defeat back in March, when he was stopped in the opening round by Seiya Tsutsumi. At his best he was very much an upset minded fighter, who scored more than his share of wins against the odds, but he's now without a win in 4 bouts and could well be past his best.
Another bout on this card will be part of the WP Boxing Super Flyweight tournament and will see novices Danai Ngiabphukhiaw (2-1, 1) and Yodtanong Chaepet (2-0, 1) face off. These two were supposed to fight in August but their bout was pushed back to here. On paper this 6 rounder promises a lot and should be competitive, and of course we're big fans of tournaments, so fingers crossed the winner of the overall competition will be given a career boost as Thailand looks to unearth it's next generation of talent.
A second show in Thailand is a much lower profile card. The bouts here are much less interesting and the main event will see Murodjon Yokubov (4-0, 3) battle against teenager Tanawat Ketsiri (2-5, 2). The 25 year old Yokubov is a Thai based Uzbek who turned pro last year and really needs a step up in the near future. Ketsiri on the other hand has lost 4 times this year, and looks almost certain to pick up another loss here.
Sadly not other bout on this card is really worth talking about.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Yet another show of some note is a Filipino card from the Elorde Sports Center in Paranaque City.
Among the bouts on this card is a clash of once beaten youngsters, as Arvin Magramo (10-1-1, 6) and Francis Jay Diaz (8-1-1, 1) face off in an 8 round Light Flyweight contest. Magramo is very much in the rebuilding stages of his career, following a defeat at the hands of Garen Diagan a year ago, but this is a tough match up on paper and his team are taking a risk here. The 21 year old Diaz, dubbed "The Amazing Boy" began his career 1-1-1 before reeling off 7 straight wins, but this is a bi step up for him. Although a low key bout, in the grand scheme of things, this is a very interesting match up
A second contest between fighters with a single loss to their name will feature Marlon Paniamogan (9-1-1, 5) and Jino Rodrigo (5-1-2, 4), who will also be involved in a 10 round fight. On paper this should be more explosive than the other bout however it's worth noting that Paniamogan was beaten last time out, losing a decision in Japan to Kuntae Lee. Rodrigo, on the other hand, is 3-1-2 in his last 6, suggesting neither has much moment coming into this bout.
A third bout of interest here sees unbeaten men battle, with Delmar Pellio (7-0, 3) and Marjon Piencenaves (6-0-1, 4) fighting in an 8 rounder. The 19 year old Pellio has only previously faced 1 opponent with a winning record and will be looking for his third win of the year. Piencenaves on the other hand is a 24 year old who is facing his first opponent with a winning record, so for both men this is a step up and their real, serious test.
New Delhi, India
There's also a small show in India.
The main bout on this card will see the unbeaten Rajesh Kumar (10-0-1-2) take on Filipino foe Ivor Lastrilla (11-7-1, 6) in an 8 round contest. The 25 year old Kumar has won his last 5, following a draw in October 2016, and is looking to build on those wins here. On paper Lastrilla is a step down from Kumar's last 2 foes, but could still make for an interesting test. The 27 year old Lastrilla has lost his last 3, but when on form he can be a good test. Lastrilla is unlikely to have the size, power or strength to be a physical threat to Kumar, but may have the skills to ask questions of him.
In a supporting bout female hopeful Ramandeep Kaur (5-0) will take on Thai journey-woman Saranyaphong Theinthong (2-13, 2), in what really should be an easy win for Kaur over 6 rounds.
This coming Friday our attention turns to Osaka for a small but notable card thanks to Hiroki Ioka.
The main event of the show is a brilliant Japanese Youth Welterweight title fight, pitting unbeaten champion Kudura Kaneko (9-0, 6) against Ioka protege Rikuto Adachi (12-1, 9), in what could end up being the best Japanese Welterweight bout of the year. Kaneko comes into this bout seeking his 10th straight win, and looking to build on an excellent win last year over former national champion Toshio Arikawa. Adachi on the other hand will be looking for his 5th straight stoppage win, and will be looking to score his biggest win to date. On paper this is mouth watering, and there is a very real chance that the winner fights in either a senior title fight this year, or gets a Japanese title eliminator at the end of the year. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kaneko and Adachi clash in battle of young Welters!
Former female world title challenger Terumi Nuki (10-4, 7) looks to bounce back from her 2018 loss to Mariana Juarez. She will be up against a Thai opponent in what should be a straight forward win for the local.
Sadly a bout that was supposed to feature 2017 all-Japan Super Bantamweight Rookie of the Year Toshiki Shimomachi (9-1-2, 5) hasn't actually materialise, leaving the entire card with just 4 bouts on it.
Western Australia, Australia
As well as the Japanese card there is also a bout of interest in Australia. The bout in question will see Australia's very own Wes Capper (19-2-1, 12) return to the ring after a little over a year out, to take on Filipino journeyman Arnel Tinampay (25-23-1, 11). On paper this is a mismatch, but one thing bout Tinampay is that he plays the under-dog. The Filipino is a heavy handed tough guy who is a lot better than his record suggests, and could well upset Capper here in a very intriguing contests, despite the obvious difference in the records of the two men.
Action's back in the Korakuen Hall this coming Thursday for an interesting card featuring a former national champion and two touted Japanese prospects.
One of those prospects isJapanese based Afghan born fighter Kudura Kaneko (8-0, 5), who takes a massive step up in class to face off with former Japanese Welterweight champion Toshio Arikawa (15-5, 13). For the 20 year old Kaneko this is a massive step up in class, though he has already impressed by winning the Japanese Youth title earlier this year, and looks to be one of the few really promising Japanese Welterweights. His back story is a fantastic one of hope and determination, have left Afghanistan with his parents for a better life and he's made it known that if he can have real success he wants to fund a school back in Afghanistan. Arikawa on the other hand is a bit a glass cannon, who really can bang, and at the age of 33 can ill afford another set back. Arikawa won the Japanese title in 2016, when he stopped Nobuyuki Shindo at the Champion Carnival, and defended it twice, avenging two losses in the process, but was dethroned earlier this year by Ryota Yada. With 4 of his 5 losses coming by stoppage Arikawa can clearly be hurt, but with 13 wins by stoppage, he can also bang, hard.
The other prospect is touted 24 year old Ryusei Kawaura (4-0, 3), who looks to follow up a good win over Filipino Marjun Pantilgan earlier this year. The talented Kawaura will be up against his first domestic opponent, as he takes on Yuki Yoshimura (8-3-4, 2), who hasn't fought in over a year. We are excited to see what Kawaura can do in his career, but so far he's lacked activity and it feels like he's perhaps not chasing glory in the way he should be, though hopefully that's something that we will see from him in 2019. Yoshimura should prove to be a should prove to be a solid enough test, but has been another fighter who's inactivity has cost him any real chance of making a name for himself, with only 2 fights in the last 8 years. It's worth noting that Yoshimura's only stoppage came to Hiroki Shiino so a win in the distance would be notable for Kawaura.
This coming Sunday attention turns to Japan, where there will be 3 separate shows. Although none of them are specifically notable there should be enough action across them to interest fans. That's, in part, due to with a female title fight and several prospects being in action.
One of the shows takes place at the City Civil Hall in Neyagawa and will be promoted by 3 Osakan based promotional outfits.
The main event of the card will see Nobuhiro Ishida promoted Shione Ogata (9-6, 2) take on former world title challenger Erika Hanawa (9-2, 3) for the WBO Asia Pacific female Light Flyweight title. Ogata began her career by losing 5 of her first 6 but has since gone 8-1 and scored a notable win last year against Saemi Hanagata. Hanawa on the other hand has lost 2 of her last 4, including a loss in a world title fight to Kayoko Ebata and a loss to the aforementioned Hanagata. This should be a very entertaining bout and a good headline bout for this level of show.
In a supporting bout Hikaru Matsuoka (13-4-3, 1) will face off with Yu Konomura (8-7-2, 2) in a second bout between the two men. These two fought back in 2016, with Matsuoka taking a split decision over Konomura. Since their first bout Matsuoka has gone 1-1, not fighting at all in 2017, whilst Konomura has seemingly had his confidence destroyed, going 1-3-1 since the loss to Matsuoka.
A second Osaka show will take place at the City Plaza Yayoinokaze Hall in Izumi.
The main event here has an international flavour as local hopeful Toshiya Yokogawa (8-11-2, 7) takes on Filipino visitor Glenn Medura (9-3-1, 5) in an 8 round contest. The 33 year old Yokogawa has, like many, a misleading record having faced very stiff domestic competition in recent years, but should prove to have more about him than his record suggests and he shares the ring with Medura. As for the visitor he's 0-2 in Japan, has has been matched tough with contests against Coach Hiroto and Ryosuke Iwasa. This looks like a mismatch but we suspect it will be hotly contested.
Another 8 round bout on this card will see the unbeaten Joe Shiraishi (6-0-1, 2), who was crowned the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Flyweight, take on Indonesian visitor Stevanus Nana Bau (8-8-2, 2). The 21 year old Shiraishi impressed last year, going 4-0, but has failed to capitalise this year and this will be his first bout since his Rookie of the Year final back in December. Bau is unbeaten in his last 3, but his competition in those 3 bouts was poor and he has lost to every notable name he's faced, including Iwan Zoda, Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and Paipharob Kokietgym.
A third Japanese show will take place in China and is arguably the best of the bunch.
The main event of this card will see Japanese Youth Welterweight champion Kudura Kaneko (7-0, 4) face off with Filipino veteran Joel Dela Cruz (20-26-3, 8). The Afghan born Japanese based Kaneko won his Youth title in May, when he defeated Change Hamashima in their second clash, and looks to advancing his career well, whilst remaining under the radar. The Filipino on the other hand is 32 years old and has been a professional since early 2006. Although Dela Cruz has mixed in good company he has suffered loss on a regular basis, and is unlikely to pose much or a threat to Kaneko.
The main supporting bout here will see Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kei Iwahara (8-5, 4) take on Mao Kawanishi (6-3, 2). Iwahara has been inconsistent through his career, and has lost 2 of his last 3, but can pull out the upsets as he did last year against Yuji Awata. On the other hand Kawanishi has won his last 2 bouts, but has failed to shine and will be looking at this bout as a potential chance to break into the national rankings.
The most significant card this coming Sunday will come from Rizal where we get a world title eliminator as well as a card featuring a host of notable Filipino fighters, who are sadly taking on a number of over-matched foes.
The main bout is an IBF Minimumweight final eliminator with unbeaten Filipino sensation Mark Anthony Barriga (8-0, 1) battling against Colombian Gabriel Mendoza (29-5-2, 23). The talented Filipino has been waiting for an eliminator for some time, having seen various foes drop out, and will now be looking to dazzle as he takes on the limited but hard hitting Mendoza. As for Mendoza this will be his second bout since losing to Jose Argumedo in an IBF title fight, and although he's not world class he can hit hard and could test Barriga chin, if he can land on the slippery Filipino. Interestingly the winner of this will likely face Hiroto Kyoguchi later in the year, if Kyoguchi can retain his title against Vince Paras later this year
One of the most notable names on this show is recent world title challenger Genesis Servania (30-1, 13), who fights for the second time since his loss to Oscar Valdez. The talented Servania will be up against Indonesian journeyman Jason Butar Butar (27-23-1, 18), in what should really bee little more than a show case for Servania. Although a mismatch the bout will see Servania fight in the Philippines for the first time since February 2015.
Another very notable name in action is the enigmatic Marvin Sonsona (20-1-1, 15), who looks once again to kick start his frustrating career. The former WBO Super Flyweight champion hasn't fought since May 2015, when he struggled past Jonathan Arrellano. Whilst Sonsona is a genuine talent there is real question marks surrounding the Filipino and his desire to make the most of his skills. He'll be up against Arief Blader (23-27-2, 8) in what should be a really easy ring return, though we really don't know what Sonsona will turn up.
Also on this card are AJ Banal (35-2-1, 23), James Enterina (10-0-1, 4), Lolito Sonsona (21-2-4, 9) and Dave Apolinario (6-0, 4) among others.
A second Filipino show will be held in Bulacan, and will be a much smaller show.
The most notable bout here will see Jose Roda Jr (3-1-1) take on Richard Morales (3-2, 2) in a bout scheduled for 6 rounds. Both men will come into this feeling confident of picking up the win and as a result this should make for an interesting contest, but we're not expecting anything in terms of high quality, at least compared to the other Filipino show which is much, much better than this card.
As well as the action in the Philippines there is also two shows in Japan, one of which is being held in Yamaguchi by Kanmon Japan.
The chief support bout on this card is a terrific match up as the unbeaten Kudura Kaneko (6-0, 4) takes on Change Hamashima (10-2-1, 4) in a rematch of their 2017 clash. In the first bout between these two Kaneko won a wide decision over 6 rounds but will be stepping up to the 8 round distance here. Interestingly this will be the first time either fighter has been scheduled in an 8 round bout, and should be a good test for the stamina of both men. Given how clearly Kaneko won the first bout however it's hard to see why these two are having rematch so soon after their first contest.
The main event of this card is fantastic on paper with Accel Sumiyoshi (10-4-2, 3) taking on Shogo Yamaguchi (11-3-2, 6). Since losing to Masayoshi Nakatani in an OPBF Lightweight title bout back on 2015 we've seen Sumiyoshi go 6-0-1 with notable wins over Tatsuya Yanagi, Allan Tanada, Naotoshoi Nakatani and Motoki Sasaki and really build himself a solid record at this level. As for the 24 year old Yamaguchi we've seen him begin to struggle. Yamaguchi went 9-0-1 (4) to begin his career but has since gone 2-3-2 and was stopped last year by Andy Hiraoka. Given the momentum in both men's careers it's hard to pick against Sumiyoshi, but it is a very good bout on paper.
The second Japanese show is from Ibaragi, where the fans will get the chance to see a number of unbeaten men in action.
One of the unbeaten fighters is Fumiya Fuse (5-0, 1), who is scheduled to face off with an Indonesian visitor. Last year we saw Fuse claim the Rookie of the Year crown at Bantamweight, when he stopped Hiroki Tokuyama in the final, and he'll be looking to build on that success here as he kicks off his 2018 and looks to secure a 6th straight win.
The bout scheduled as the final bout on the card is all unbeaten contest as Hideaki Onuki (3-0) takes on Akihiko Kurita (2-0) in a bout scheduled for 4 round. This looks almost certain to go the distance but should still prove to be a very interesting and well matched bout between two fighters with similar records and similar experience.