To end 2019 we get a bumper card from Watanabe Gym who give us 6 titles on a single show in Tokyo. For those at the venue this is set to be a monster show, one of the best of the year, whilst those at home will only be able to see 2, or 3, of the bouts from the show.
The show at the venue is set to open with one of the best opening bouts on a show this year, as fast rising prospect Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3) defends his WBO Asia Pacific title against former world title challenger Rey Loreto (25-14, 17). Fans who aren't aware of Loreto might see this as a mismatch but the Filipino, who started his career 0-4, is a legitimate danger man and this is a very legitimate test for Shigeoka. A win for the 20 year old local is expected to be followed by a world title fight next year, but again a win here is not a given against the tough and heavy handed Loreto. Our preview of this bout is available to read here Rising star Shigeoka defends regional crown against former world title challenger!
Another regional title bout on this show will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-3-1, 13) take on Filipino Jhunriel Ramonal (16-8-6, 9), in a bout for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title. Coming in to this Kuga has had a great year, reclaiming the Japanese title with a win against Ryoichi Tamura and then defending it with a blow out against Yosuke Fujihara. He will be the favourite. However Ramonal is unbeaten since mounting a comeback in 2018, and was last seen blasting out Shingo Wake in October, and he will be full of confidence coming in to this bout. Our preview of this bout can be read here Kuga and Ramonal clash for WBO Asia Pacific crown!
The first of three world title bouts, and one that is available to a Japanese only audience through Paravi, will see Miyo Yoshida (13-1) defending her WBO female Super Flyweight title against Chinese challenger Li Ping Shi (5-2, 2). This will be Yoshida's first defense of the title she won earlier this year, when she beat Casey Morton, and she, and her team sound confident that she has really come on and developed since winning the title. For Shi this is a huge step up in class, but she comes in with self belief and confidence. We go into a lot more detail of this bout here Yoshida defends WBO crown against Shi!
The second world title fight on this card will see fast rising Japanese star Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8) defending his WBO Flyweight title, for the third time, as he takes on Chinese challenger Wulan Tuolehazi (13-3-1, 6). The talented Tanaka looked poor last time out, needing to pull victory from the jaws of defeat against Jonathan Gonzalez, but put that down to being sick in the build up. We expect to see a better performance here, but Wulan is no pusher over and comes into this bout full of confidence, in what looks like a potential banana skin of a defense. This bout has been previewed in a lot of depth here Tanaka takes on Wulan in year ending WBO Flyweight title bout!
The main event of the card will see Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14) defending his WBO Super Flyweight title against mandatory challenger Jeyvier Cintron (11-0, 5), in what will be the final world title bout of the decade. Ioka won the title earlier this year, when he stopped Aston Palicte, and will be looking to go into the new decade as one of the top faces of the lower weight classes. Cintron on the other hand is looking to claim a world title in his first world title fight, and build on a very successful amateur career. This is a actually a really good way to close out the year, and the winner will enter 2020 as a man with potentially huge fights out there for the new year, including a show down with Roman Gonzalez. A full scale preview of this bout can be read here Ioka and Cintron to clash in final world title bout of the decade!
The other title bout, which is actually pencilled in as a swing bout, will see Marina Sayama (4-1-1, 2) and Yume Hirayama (4-0) battle for the vacant Japanese female Flyweight title. This will be the second bout between the two fighters, who fought in 2017 with Hirayama winning, and looks likely to be a competitive bout, but one only those in the arena will get the chance to see. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hirayama and Sayama battle for Japanese title!
This coming Tuesday we get two notable Asian cards, one in China and one in Japan. Both of those cards have an international feel and both have some really interesting match ups.
Xi An, China
The most interesting of the two cards is the Chinese one from Xi An, featuring local Chinese fighters along with Japanese and Korean visitors. The show features 3 regional title bouts along with several other less under-card bouts.
One of the title bouts will see local fighter Qixiu Zhang (10-5-1, 3) take on unbeaten Korean Jong Sun Gang (8-0-1, 5) in a bout for the WBC Youth Intercontinental Super Featherweight title. Zhang was stopped last year by Joe Noynay, in 8 rounds, though he can't be written off and did impress in stopping Nak Yul Park in Korea. On the other hand Gang, a natural Featherweight, was held to a draw last time out but has scored stoppages in 4 of his last 5. This could be the bout of the daY.
In a female bout we'll see Li Ping Shi (4-2, 2) make her first defense of the WBC Asian Boxing Council female Super Flyweight title as she takes on Japanese challenger Yuko Henzan (8-7-4, 2). Shi won the belt last year stopping Hyun Gee Gil and looks to be much, much better than her record suggests. Henzan on the other hand is a pretty limited fighter, despite having previously won the OPBF female Bantamweight title. Henzan lost last time she faced a Chinese fighter, coming up short to Fan Yin, and could only manage a draw with Phannaluk Kongsang last time she fought outside of Japan.
A third title fight will see Yougu Yu (5-1-3, 2) take on Hyuma Fujioka (10-8-1, 1) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Bantamweight title. Yu is 2-0-3 in his last 5 bouts, but those draws are a bit strange. He certainly deserved to lose to Yuya Nakamura in December, but also deserved a win over Yushi Tanaka back in April and that Tanaka fight showed he is a solid fighter. Fujioka has a poor looking record, but has been competitive with the likes of Ryo Akaho, Shohei Kawashima and Naoya Okamoto, so if a game fighter who will be in China to win.
One other bout of note here will see local fighter Shan Wu (8-5, 1) take on Chinese fighter Seita Ogido (13-4-3, 3). The 29 year old Wu has won his last 4 bouts, but has faced limited competition since losing to Min Jang in Korea. On the other hand Ogido is 2-2-2, with his last 2 wins really not being impressive and it does look like the Okinawa man will fall short of the expectations some had for him.
As well as the Chinese card there's also a really notable Japanese card, featuring two former world title challengers and a member of the Kameda family.
The main event of the show will see recent world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi (15-4-1, 6) look to bounce back from his loss to TJ Doehny, as he takes on Korean visitor Jin Wook Lim (10-6-5, 3). Whilst Takahashi is the much more well known fighter, given the Doheny bout, he's not a very skilLed fighter, relying more on toughness and work rate than technical skills. Lim isn't too well known but he but he has challenged for AN OPBF title before and is certainly a live under-dog here. Sadly for Lim he has been stopped in 2 of his last 4, and he would need a career best performance to pick up a win here.
The other world title challenger is Thai visitor Samartlek Kokietgym (34-9-1, 12), who has lost in world title fighters to Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegashi. The highly experienced Samartlek will be up against Naoki Mochizuki (15-4, 8), a recent Japanese title challenger. Although the Thai is the more experienced man he is the much smaller fighter and we suspect that Mochizuki will be too big, too strong and too powerful for Samartlek.
One other bout of interest will see Kyonosuke Kameda (3-1, 2), the cousin of the Kameda brothers, facing off with the unbeaten Ryugo Ushijima (3-0, 2). Kameda comes into this on the back of 3 straight wins, following a stoppage loss on his debut, but we see this as a step up for Kameda. The 18 year old Ushijima really impressed us this past February in his win over Shota Ogasawara and we do believe he's very, very talented, with the potential to develop into a pretty solid domestic fighter. If Ushijima is as a good as he looked against Ogasawara he should take the win here.