This coming Monday focus heads to a Kadoebi card at Korakuen Hall, where we get an OPBF title fight, a really good looking novice pro bout, and several decent supporting bouts.
The main event will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Akinori Watanabe (38-7-1, 32) making his first defense of the title, as he take on Thai challenger Sitthidet Banti (12-5, 6), in what looks like a very, very soft first defense. Watanabe has mixed against stiff competition through his career, and last December's war with Nobuyuki Shindo was truly sensational, so for him to have an easy bout isn't too bad, but it is a weak title defense. To show how weak it is, Banti was stopped by Japanese novice Takuma Takahashi back in August. Our preview of this bout can be read here Does Watanabe get an easy first defense of OPBF crown?
Whilst the main event is a mismatch there is some really interesting action on this card, including a brilliant match up between Ran Tomomatsu (1-0) and Mikio Sakai (1-0). Despite both men being professional novices both were talented amateurs and they both looked great, albeit in very different ways, on their debut. Of the two Tomomatsu looks the more physical and stronger fighter, but the less technical, whilst Sakai has a flash and speedier look to him. This is a huge risk bout for both, and something to get very excited about.
In another interesting support bout we'll see the talented Yuichiro Kasuya (13-2-1, 4) take on 2-time Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (15-6-1, 10). Since moving over to the Kadoebi gym we've seen Kasuya show more some real development, and belief in his punching, and with 3 wins already this year he does now seem to have some momentum behind him. As for Sugita this is a real must win after going 4-4 in his last 8, including his two losses in Japanese title fights. As his best Sugita would favoured against the best we've seen from Kasuya, though it's unclear what Sugita still has left and how much more Kasuya can improve.
Another bout worth noting here will see talented youngster Yuki Nakajima (2-1, 2) look to bounce back from his first defeat as he takes on Yasuhiro Tanaka (6-4-2) in a good looking comeback bout. Nakajima was beaten back in August, by the excellent Ryu Horikawa and although he was beaten it wasn't a loss to be ashamed by and he's certainly not having an easy blow out here, despite Tanaka's record. Tanaka has proven to be a competitive fighter at the lower levels of the Japanese scene and went 5 rounds with the excellent Rikito Shiba last year. That will be the target for Nakajima, and if he can beat what Shiba did then we'll be impressed.
As well as the action in Japan there is also a notable card in Kazakhstan, though one that appears to have gone through a number of changes in recent days. The card is being hosted to celebrate Kazakhstan Independence day, and should be a great show if you're a Kazakh with a great array of Kazakh talent on the show.
Former world champion Hekkie Budler was originally announced for main event of this show, but it now appears that the main event will see Viktor Kotochigov (10-0, 4) take on Javier Jose Clavero (27-5, 5). On paper this looks like a good test for the unbeaten 26 old Kazakh, but in reality Clavero should be seen as a clear under-dog against an unbeaten prospect fighting in front of his home fans. This is a step up for Kotochigov, but one he will be be expected to win with out too many issues.
A solid supporting bout will see the highly touted Sultan Zaurbek (8-0, 6) take on China's Leshan Li (16-3-2, 9), in what is Zaurbek's first title bout as they face off for the WBC Youth Super Featherweight title. We've been wanting to see Zaurbek take a step up for a while and this is exactly the sort of bout that should tell us more about the talented 23 year old. Impressive Zaurbek will be fighting for the 6th time in 2019. As for Li he's unbeaten in 3, but has yet to score a win of note in his 21 bout career.
Other fighters on this card include an array of Central Asian prospects and hopefuls. They include 22 year old American based Kazakh Iskander Kharsan (7-0, 6), 2-time Olympian Khurshid Tojibaev (3-0, 2) and 2016 Olympic champion Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (7-1, 4).
Eastern Cape, South Africa
In South Africa we'll see another bout in the excellent Philippines Vs South Africa rivalry. This time around it'll be unheralded Filipino Joey Canoy (15-3-1, 8) taking on South African Nkosinathi Joyi (28-5-1-1, 19) in a bout for the IBO Minimumweight title. On paper Joyi will be the favourite, the former IBF world champion is the more proven and more experienced man, however Canoy will be confident of picking up the win, in what is his third visit to South Africa, and he'll be boosted by John Riel Casimero's recent win against Zolani Tete.
This coming Saturday is set to be a busy, yet thrilling, day with a show of note in each Japan and Hong Kong. Not only do both countries get a card of note, but both cards are genuinely significant as we go forward.
Hong Kong S.A.R, China
The Hong Kong card, put on by DEF HK and Watanabe as they continue to work together, has a trio of title bouts and potentially a fight of the year contender.
That fight of the year contender will see local star Rex Tso (21-0, 13) take on former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (33-10-1, 14), in a bout for Tso's WBO International Super Flyweight title. The local is one of the sports most exciting fighters, and although he has improved markedly in recent years he is still, at heart, a fighter there for the fans, and a man who enjoys a thrilling tear up at every opportunity. Kono on the other hand is a bit of a faded force, and has lost 2 of his last 3, but has a style that is very fan friendly, and should gel with Tso's here. Do not be surprised by this one being a little bit special.
In a second title bout we'll see Kono's stable mate Ayumi Goto (7-0, 5) battle with Indian teenager Kirti (3-0, 2). Reports have stated that this will either be a female OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight, with Goto defending her title, or a WBO Asia Pacific title bout, for a vacant title. On paper this should be an easy win for the Japanese fighter, but it is fair to say that Kirti is an unknown, and could be a surprise package of sorts.
The third title bout on this card will see the always fun to watch Takuya Watanabe (32-7-1, 17) battle against Chinese foe Leshan Li (13-2-1, 8) for the WBO Oriental Super Featherweight title. Watanabe is one of the many under-the-radar Japanese fighters who is guaranteed to put on good fight, no matter who he is facing, and we're expecting another fun one here. As for Li he's a bit of an unknown but is a heavy handed fighter and has won his last 7 bouts, suggesting good form and good confidence coming into this one.
One other bout on this card, which looks set to be explosive, will see Thai based Dutchman Nick Frese (6-0, 5) take on heavy handed Filipino Prabhjot Singh (7-1-1, 7). Given that these two have 12 stoppages in 13 wins we're expecting to see bombs away, though it's hard to see anything but a win for Frese, who looks like a genuine prospect.
In Japan we'll be getting a card that will be aired live on G+ and will be promoted by Teiken.
The main event of this card will see the in-form Masaru Sueyoshi (15-1, 10) take on Ribo Takahata (13-7-1, 5) for the vacant Japanese Super Featherweight title, in what will be the first title fight either man has been in. The bout, for the title vacated by Kenichi Ogawa, will see Sueyoshi coming in to it with a 12 fight winning run dating back more than 5 years, whilst Takahata has been inconsistent, alternating between wins and losses over his last 15 bouts. It's hard not to favour Sueyoshi but it is his most meaningful bout to date.
In a supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Shuya Masaki (8-0, 4) take on Filipino foe Ciso Morales (19-4-1, 12). It's fair to say that Masaki has shown touches of brilliance through his early career, but he has been inconsistent and it always seems like there is just something missing from his performances so far. We expect to see him show his maturity here against a visiting foe who shouldn't be over-looked and will be a very live under-dog. Morales might not be a sensational fighter, but he's a good enough fight to test someone like Masaki at this level.
In a really interesting under-card bout we'll see the once beaten Ryo Matsubara (7-1, 7) take on the unbeaten Kai Chiba (6-0, 5), in a bout between punchers. Coming in to this one Matsubara has won his last 6 bouts in a combined 7 rounds, and has well and truly put his sole defeat behind him, with that loss coming back in his second professional bout. Chiba on the other hand went 6 rounds last time out, ending his own stoppage run. Both of these men like to throw heavy leather, and this could be a very explosive contest.
Japanese ranked Welterweight Yuki Nagano (11-2, 8) will be risking a 9 fight winning run as he takes on Thai foe Kriengkrai Tor Silachai (3-0*) in what could be a potential banana skin for the local. Although ranked by the JBC it's hard to know how good Nagano really is, whilst the Thai is a bit of an unknown, and it's unclear really whether we even have his complete record here.
A second Japanese ranked Welterweight on this card is Ryota Toyoshima (7-1-1, 5), who risks his ranking against domestic rival Masaharu Kaito (5-2, 2). Coming in to this bout the 21 year old Toyoshima has won his last 5, though he did suffer a decision defeat to Kaito back in 2015, and it's obvious he is seeking to avenge that set back. Sadly for Kaito he has lost 2 of his last 3, including one to the previously mentioned Nagano and seems to be struggling for form coming in to this bout.
*-Record reported as being differed to the 3-0 figuire.