April 22nd-Taniguchi and Ishizawa headline in world title bout at Korakuen Hall!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Friday we get the next Ohashi promoted show, and it's a really good one, with an excellent main event, and 3 very noteworthy supporting bouts.
The main event is a very anticipated WBO Minimumweight world title bout, which will see Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10) make his first defense of the title he won late last year, and take on the hard hitting Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9), in the second bout between the two men. These two fought back in 2019, with Taniguchi taking a hard fought but clear win over Ishizawa. Since that first bout Taniguchi has gone 3-0 (3) and won the Japanese and WBO title, with his biggest wins so far coming last year when he stopped Wilfredo Mendez for the WBO title. As for Ishizawa he has gone 4-0 (3) since losing to Taniguchi, with his most notable win coming last time out when he stopped Katsuki Mori for the Japanese title. Given how good their first bout was, and the styles the two men employee, this should be a genuinely excellent bout and an action bout between two men who each really want to prove a point. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Taniguchi seeks first WBO title defense in rematch against Ishizawa!
In the chief support bout we'll see the fast rising Yoshiki Takei (3-0, 3) take part in his 4th professional boxing bout, as he takes a huge step up and battles against Shingo Kawamura (15-8-4, 8). So far Takei, who first made his name as a kick boxer, has taken out his first 3 opponents inside the opening round. He was a very, very good kick boxer, and is now looking like one of the most dangerous prospects in Japanese boxing, with brutal power, very good technique and a significant amount of combat sport experience. Kawamura on the other hand is an experienced 31 year old who has twice challenged for OPBF titles, being stopped by Satoshi Shimizu in 4 rounds and Hiroaki Teshigawara in 6 rounds. Given Takei's power this could be over quickly, though if Kawamura can see out the first few rounds this could get interesting.
Another unbeaten prospect on this card is third generation fighter Keisuke Matsumoto (4-0, 4), who takes a notable step up in class as he battles Morihisa Iju (11-5, 9). The talented Matsumoto, who has had his name circulated in Japanese boxing circles since he was competing in the Under 15 tournaments, did look shaky at times early in his career, but has progressed nicely in his last two bouts, and appears to be developing really well, likely why his team have stepped him up in such a notable fashion here. Aged 33 Iju is no world beater in the making, but he has respectable power, and is tough, having not been stopped since his 6th bout. Iju has been inactive recently, and has lost his last 3, but is rugged, and a genuinely good test for the 22 year old Matsumoto at this point in the youngster's career.
Also on this card is a potential shoot out, as the hard hitting, yet frustrating, Jin Sasaki (11-1, 10) takes on Marcus Smith (7-1-1, 7) in an 8 round Welterweight bout. An 8 round bout that really isn't expected to go the distance. The 20 year old Sasaki started his career 11-0 (10) before losing last time out against Andy Hiraoka in a in a bout for the WBO Asia Asia Pacific and Japanese Light Welterweight title, with Sasaki missing weight as well as looking lacklustre through the bout. The result was a disappointing one, for one of the most fan-friendly young prospects in Japan. Here he is moving up in weight but is up against a naturally bigger fight who's also a puncher. Smith, a Japanese based American born fighter, has shown nasty power of his own, and has also shown a good chin, going 8 rounds with Koki Inoue in 2018. Sadly Smith has been out of the ring for over 2 years, but he will come into this knowing it's a huge opportunity for him to make up for lost time against a popular young banger.
Echo Arena, Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
As well as the interesting show in Japan we are also set to see WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21) make his long awaited mandatory title defense against English fighter Paul Butler (33-2, 15). This bout was supposed to take place in 2021 before Casimero had to pull out, on the week of the fight, due to illness. Butler had a chance to fight for the interim title, but turned it down, and as a result both men are now essentially forced into facing each other. If Casimero fails to fight he will be stripped and if Butler pulls out or misses weight he will miss out on being the mandatory challenger. In this right this will be a case of Casimero's wild power, and freakish ability to hurt fighters, against Butler's slippery technical, boxing. Sadly though it does feel like an under-whelming fight in one of the sports best divisions Our preview of this fight, which was done for the original date of the bout, can be read here Casimero defends WBO crown against Butler in mandatory defense
Following a busy Saturday we get a pretty interesting Sunday, with 3 title fighters and a number of interesting match ups.
The most notable of the shows takes place in Osaka and will be promoted by Green Tsuda under their "Crash Boxing" banner.
The main event of the card will be a Japanese Super Flyweight title bout, as Takayuki Okumoto (23-8-4, 11) defends his title against former champion Kenta Nakagawa (17-3-1, 12). For Okumoto this will be his 4th defense of the title, and sees him looking to build on recent wins over Yuta Matsuo and and Dynamic Kenji. For Nakagawa the bout gives him a chance to reclaim the title he lost in 2017 to Ryuichi Funai. Since losing the title Nakagawa has scored 4 wins, but all at a much lower level than this bout, and at 34 years old he really cannot afford another set back. Our in depth preview of this bout is available here Japanese champion Okumoto takes on former champion Nakagawa in up coming defense
In the chief support bout we'll see bombs away as Yuki Beppu (20-1-1, 19) and former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (19-5, 16) trade blows for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. Yada is less than 8 months removed from losing the Japanese title to Yuki Nagano, incidentally Nagano is the only man to beat Beppu, taking a decision over Beppu last year. Neither man is a world beater, but good fights don't need world beaters, they just need to be well matched and this one is! It's hard to imagine this one going the distance, but with both men being aggressive punchers it's very hard to predict who's going to end up victorious. Our preview of this bout can be read here The Kyushu Tyson takes on the Terminator of Naniwa for WBO Asia Pacific title!
Originally the plan was for this card to be a triple title show, but Toshiki Shimomachi (10-1-2, 6) was unable to secure an opponent to defend his JBC Youth Super Bantamweight title against. Instead of defending his title the talented Japanese youngster will go up against Indonesian teenager Jufry Kakahure (5-2, 5). Whilst it's disappointing to see Shimomachi not defend his title against a decent domestic foe we're glad he's still on the show.
In a really great fight we'll see Thai teenager Thanongsak Simsri (12-0, 11) take on world ranked Filipino Christian Bacolod (12-0, 9) in a truly fantastic match up. The Thai youngster is training alongside the Green Tsuda gym, and has been compared to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in the Thai press. That's huge praise in a way, but also massive amounts of pressure for a 19 year old who only debuted in the summer of 2018. This is a huge step up for him and we will see him answering questions, win or lose. Bacolod on the other hand has slowly been climbing towards a big fight. He enters with a WBO world ranking and has stopped 4 of his last in the first 2 rounds. Despite Bacolod being the more proven fighter he was dropped twice in a recent fight and that will be major encouragement for Simsri.
Another interesting assignment for an unbeaten man will see Rei Nakajima (2-0) take on Thai veteran Patomsuk Pathompothong (39-11-1, 25), aka Komsan Polsan. This is a huge step up in class for Nakajima, but the Nobuhiro Ishida promoted professional novice is very highly regarded and it's clear that a win here will be a massive boost to hid fledgling career.
Staying in Osaka there will be another title fight, as the unbeaten Musashi Mori (10-0, 6) defends his WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title against once beaten puncher Takuya Mizuno (17-1-1, 14), in a mouth watering bout. Mori has impressed though much of his career, and working with Ismael Salas will help him tidy up his defensively flaws, flaws that had shown themselves in his most notable bouts. Although Mori is working on his defense it's clear Salas won't want him to be too negative, and against Mizuno negativity could be a problem. Mizuno is technically pretty poor, and he can be out boxed, but he bangs and Mori shouldn't let him build up any confidence. We suspect the gulf in skills should be the difference, but Mizuno can certainly turn the fight around. Our preview of this bout can be read here Fast rising Mori takes on hard hitting Mizuno in next title defense
Sadly the rest of the card here is non-descript 4 rounders.
A third show will take place in Okinawa, where we see some pretty a couple of interesting, but lower level, bouts.
The main event of this card will see a clash between Japan's Tatsuro Nakashima (10-1-1, 7) Filipino visitor and Ariston Aton (9-1, 5). Nakashima has bounced back well from a 2018 loss to Kai Ishizawa with 3 straight wins, and looks to be heading in the ring direction. Similarly Aton has bounced back from his sole loss, with 2 low key wins. This is a low key main event, but a very interesting one between two men looking to continue the rebuilding success.
In a female bout we'll see Yuko Henzan (8-8-4, 2) clash with Gretel de Paz (5-5-2, 2). On paper this is a very competitive looking bout, and whilst the skill level will be low it should still make for an interesting 6 rounder.
Also on this card is the return of Marcus Smith (6-1-1, 6), who hasn't fought since losing a Japanese title eliminator in October 2018 to Koki Inoue. Smith was supposed to fight earlier this year but missed weight, and was subsequently suspended. His return sees him being matched softly as he battles Indonesian journeyman Hendy Luis (10-17-3, 5). Although Smith is no world beater he is heavy handed and will be expected to beat Luis, though Luis is a durable foe and has only been stopped 3 times in his 30 fight career. This could be a very good chance to Smith to shake some ring rust.
Outside of Japan there will also be a small show in Qingdao, China. The quality of this show is lacking, however the card will feature an interesting main event between Youli Dong (14-2-1, 9) and Larry Siwu (28-12, 34). We suspect the local fighter will have the youth and skills to deal with Siwu, but the Indonesian visitor should be a good test for the 24 year old local.
This coming Sunday is a hectic day with 4 Japanese shows, a Filipino show, a Korean show and a Vietnamese show. Not only is there lots of shows but those shows feature notable names and we get a host of title bouts, in what is a genuinely crazy day.
The biggest action for the day is from Osaka, where we get 8 bouts of note, spread over 2 shows at the EDION Arena Osaka. The first of those shows is a Green Tsuda triple title show.
The main event of this triple title show will see hard hitting Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (17-4, 14) defending his belt against the limited but exciting Shusaku Fujinaka (16-9-2, 11). For the champion this will be a second defense of the title, and he will be looking to really make a statement in the new year, with a number of interesting challengers now vying for a shot at his belt. For Fujinaka this one more chance to win a belt, but the reality is that he's a clear under-dog. Our preview of this bout can be read here Fujinaka challenges Japanese champion Yada!
A second Japanese title fight on this card will see domestic Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-3, 10) making his first defense, taking on unbeaten contender Masayoshi Hashizume (16-0-1, 10). The champion won the belt earlier this year, over-coming Hiroyuki Kudaka, but looks likely to be little more than a transitional champion before a top domestic fighter takes it off him. Hashizume on the other hand was once a hotly tipped prospect, but poor match making from the Ioka gym has seen his development stall and stutter, and it's hard to know how prepared he is for a fight like this. Ore preview of this bout can be read here Okumoto defends Japanese title against unbeaten Hashizume
The third title bout on this show is a Japanese Super Flyweight Youth title bout, pitting the skilful Ryosuke Nasu (9-3-3, 2) against the heavy handed Yuto Nakamura (8-5, 7) to crown a new champion. We're expecting a really interesting contest here, with Nakamura trying to land his power and Nasu trying to out box the bigger punching Nakamura. It's a hard bout to call, and should be a very good one for the fans at the venue. Our in depth look at this bout is available to read hereNasu and Nakamura battle for Japanese Youth title!
Another potentially great bout on this card will see the once beaten Toshiki Shimomachi (9-1-1, 5) look to record his 8th straight win, as he takes a huge step up and faces off with Daisuke Watanabe (7-4, 4). Coming in to this momentum is clearly with Shimomachi, who won the Super Bantamweight Rookie of the Year last year, but this is certainly a tougher test than it looks on paper. Watanabe, although "only 7-4" has been in with the likes of Reiya Abe, Sho Nakazawa and Gakuya Furuhashi, and held his own in some tough domestic bouts. This is a serious match up and a really good fight for both men, who will know that a win massively boosts their career.
After the Green Tsuda card we then get an Ioka promoted show from the EDION arena. This card only features a single title bout, but does have a great supporting card to go along with the main event.
The title match up will see OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani (17-0, 11) defending his belt against tough and hard hitting challenger Hurricane Futa (25-7-1, 15), who should put up a very interesting challenge. Nakatani will be strongly favoured, as he looks to secure his 11th defense of the title, but his career has failed to live up to early expectations and there is a real worry that he will go off the boil, if he hasn't already, and he looked less than his best last time out. Futa is a dangerous fighter, despite technical limitations he can really bang, and he's tough, with his record littered with upset wins, including KO wins over Vage Sarukhanyan and Will Tomlinson. An in depth look at this bout from regular contributor George Delis can be read here OPBF king Nakatani battles hard hitting Futa!
One of the supporting bouts will see former world title challenger Shohei Omori (19-2, 14) take on former OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (21-5, 17). This looks almost certainly like a bout that will have explosive action. Omori is the more technically skilled of the two men, and has solid power to go with his technical skills, but Yamamoto can certainly bang and is a very dangerous fighter, even if he lacks that bit of class Omori has. Both fighters have been stopped and should feel they have the power to stop the other here. A preview of this bout can be read here Omori and Yamamoto clash in "survival" bout!
Another supporting bout will see former world title challengers battle, as former WBA Super Flyweigt title challenger Sho Ishida (26-1, 15) takes on former WBO title challenger Warlito Parrenas (26-8-1, 23). At 27 years old the 5'8" Ishida has the potential to go all the way, and 2-0 (2) since his loss to Kal Yafai, in what as a close but very forgettable contest. That loss seems to have made Ishida aware that he does need to improve and we have seen a more spiteful attitude from him in the ring. Parrenas on the other hand is 35 and has been stopped in 2 of his last 4, losing to Naoya Inoue and Ryuichi Funai and this seems like a bout he must win if he intends to keep his career alive. Our preview of this clash can be read here Ishida and Parrenas clash in must win bout!
In one other bout of note we'll see Tatsuya Ikemizu (19-2, 8) hunt a 7th straight win, since being stopped by Jonas Sultan in 2016, as he takes on Sonin Nihei (8-2-3, 1). Both of these men were once tipped for success, though both have fallen very short of expectations so far. Given that both are young, both are 25, there is a chance that they could come good. It's worth noting that Nihei hasn't fought since being stopped by Keita Kurihara in December 2016, in what was a second straight stoppage loss for Nihei.
On a lesser level to the Osaka cards is a show from Okinawa, where 2017 Light Welterweight Rookie of the Year Marcus Smith (6-1-1, 6) takes on Filipino Nelson Tinampay (13-7-1, 6). This will be Smith's first bout since losing a Japanese title eliminator to Koki Inoue and should be a solid test for the Japanese-American puncher. Tinampay has been stopped in 4 of his last 6, but has mixed with good talent across the region and will give us something to compare Smith's result against.
In a supporting bout we'll see the talented Tatsuro Nakashima (7-1-1, 5), who came runner up in the East Japan Rookie of the Year last year, looking to bounce back from a recent loss to Kai Ishizawa. The 24 year old Japanese fighter will be up against Thai foe Sanchai Yotboon (4-1, 4), who was last seen in the ring in September, being demolished by the debuting Ginjiro Shigeoka. We don't expect anything but a win for Nakashima, but we're interested in this bout to learn more about how good Shigeoka's performance was.
This card will also feature Former OPBF female Bantamweight champion Yuko Henzan (6-7-4, 2), who is scheduled to face off against a Thai opponent.
The least notable of the Japanese cards comes from Hyogo, where the Japanese ranked Giraffe Kirin Kanda (13-2, 7) takes on the hard hitting Takuya Matsuzaka (8-7, 7) in what should be a good test before Kanda begins a march towards titles in 2019. Kanda is riding a 7 fight winning streak into this bout whilst Matsusaka has managed to win just 3 of his last 7. Although heavy handed Matsusaka has been stopped in 6 of his 7 losses, and we'd not be surprised to see him being taken out again here.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
As well as the Japanese action there will also be a card in Vietnam, in association with a Japanese promoter, with a Japanese fighter headlining the card.
That Japanese fighter in the main event is the exciting Gakuya Furuhashi (23-8-1, 12), who faces off with limited Thai Yutthichai Wannawong (9-7, 7) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Silver Super Bantamweight title. The bout is supposed to be a special attraction as the OPBF look to build up boxing in Vietnam, and it seems clear the OPBF do have big plans for the coming years in these non-boxing countries, so fingers crossed this main event interests the fans.
A second OPBF affiliated title will be on the line as Nguyen Anh Tuan Dao (1-1, 1) faces an opponent, sadly we don't have their name, for the newly created OPBF Vietnamese National Light Welterweight title. The idea seems to be to spread these national titles across a number of countries, in what could be a very interesting experiment from the OPBF, who seem to realise that their market needs to grow outside of their strong hold markets.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In Metro Manila we'll see 3 bouts of note, even if they aren't hugely interesting match ups.
The most promising of those fighters is Joe Noynay (15-2-1, 5), who looks to secure a 4th straight win as he takes on Nathan Bolcio (14-15-3, 4), who has lost his last 3. The talented 23 year old Noynay is unbeaten since losing in February 2017 to Reiya Abe, and looks to be a genuine prospect. Bolcio on the other hand looks like a fighter who has given up trying to win and is 4-13-2 in his last 19 bouts, with 8 of those 13 losses coming by stoppage.
Another fighter who appears to be in easy is Ryan Sermona (20-9-1, 13), who takes on Junar Adante (7-10-1, 4). Sermona has mixed with good fighters, including a 2014 loss to Masayuki Ito and a 2017 loss to Masayoshi Nakatani, and is a decent fighter on the domestic Filipino scene. Adante on the other hand has been stopped in his last 4 bouts, and 8 of his last 9, suggesting Sermona shouldn't have any problems at all here.
The other bout of note on this card will see 23 year old Glenn Medura (9-4-1, 5) battle against Dado Cabintoy (15-8-2, 8), in a bout that looks competitive on paper, but isn't a hugely interesting bout. Medua is 1-3 in his last 4, with only a single win in the last 2 years, whilst Cabintoy is 0-4 coming into this bout and is more than 40 months removed from his last win!
Seoul, South Korea
The main event here is really the only bout worth talking about, and will be an 8 round Super Featherweight clash, as Dong Kwan Lee (8-2-2, 4) takes on Hwan Young Jo (5-6, 1). It's hard to see past a win for Lee, but he was stopped last time out, being taken out in 3 rounds by Jun Zhao back in September. Jo on the other hand has gone 1-3 in his last 4, and at 30 years old really looks like a fighter who won't be getting any better.
This coming Friday is a major day in Japan, despite not being a day that will get much international attention. The reason for this is that in Tokyo there will be an incredible 6 Japanese title eliminator contests, with the winners booking their place in the 2019 Champions Carnival.
At Light Flyweight we get a rematch between Kenichi Horikawa (37-15-1, 11) and Koji Itagaki (18-12-3, 7). These two are both veterans who have come up short in a recent Japanese title bout to Tetsuya Hisada and both are clearly and wanting another shot at the belt. The winner will get a title fight next year, meaning the reward for a win is huge, though the loser will likely be pushed into retirement. The full preview of this bout is here Horikawa and Itagaki rematch with a title fight on the line!
At Super Flyweight we see recent Japanese title challenger Yuta Matsuo (14-3-1, 7) take on Japanese based Filipino veteran Rey Orais (20-17-2, 5), who has only fought once in the last 10 years. The talented Matsuo came up short in 2017 against Masayuki Kuroda but has notched up a couple of wins since then and looks to be hungry for a second shot. Orais on the other hand is a boxer-come-trainer-come part time boxer, who looks to be rolling the dice for one final charge at a title. An in depth fight preview for this bout can be read here Matsuo and Orais battle for shot at Super Flyweight gold!
At Super Bantamweight we may be getting a small treat at Mugicha Nakagawa (23-5-1, 14) takes on Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6). Both men are under-rated outside of Japan and both should make for a very interesting match up here. Nakagawa caught our eye in a 2017 loss to Yasutaka Ishimoto, and despite losing has since bounced back with a pair of stoppages. Okamoto on the other hand comes into the bout on the back of big wins over Daisuke Watanabe and Yuta Saito, who has since won the Japanese Bantamweight title. This could be the hidden gem on the card and technically the winner will be ordered to fight current champion Shingo Wake, though he is expected to vacate before the Champion Carnival. A fight breakdown for this contest is available here Nakagawa and Okamoto to fight in Japanese eliminator!
A second rematch on this card, this time at Super Featherweight, will see Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) and Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) face off for the second time inside a year. Interestingly these two fought last December in a Japanese title eliminator that Osato narrowly won. Sadly for Osato he would come up short in his eventual title fight, losing to Masaru Sueyoshi earlier this year. This should be a technically compelling match up, even if it fails to be one of the more exciting bouts on the card. A preview of this bout can be read here Osato and Sugita go again, in title eliminator!
Talking about exciting it's hard not to have pulses racing about the Light Welterweight bout between the unbeaten and heavy handed pairing of Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) and Marcus Smith (6-0-1, 6). Inoue, the cousin of both Naoya and Takuma Inoue, is one of the most avoided fighters on the Japanese domestic scene and with good reason, having left good good opponents battered and broken. Smith, the 2017 Rookie of the Year, is an American born Japanese fighter who has looked very destructive and heavy handed, but is taking a massive step up in class here. This is going to be something very fun and despite favouring Inoue we think this could be the bout of the show. The preview for this contest is available here Inoue and Smith clash in Japanese title eliminator!
The heaviest bout on this card will take place at Light Middleweight and will see veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-9-2, 13) battle against Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7), in what could be another very entertaining bout, and one that could see the winner join a mixed up situation in the Japanese Light Middleweight scene. The 39 year old Saito has come up short in 7 title bouts during his 35 fight career, but outside of title fights he is an impressive 24-3-1. Matsunaga comes in to this on the back of 7 straight wins, including notable wins over Sanosuke Sasaki, Je Ni Ma and Patomsuk Pathompothong. Saito will know he can't afford another set back, given that he turns 40 early next year, but Matsunaga won't be looking to lose his own career momentum. Our preview for this bout is available here Veteran Saito takes on Matsunaga for Japanese title shot!
New Jersey, USA
Our attention will mostly be on New Jersey this coming Saturday as one Central Asian fighter defends a world title, and two others look to progress there careers.
The champion in question is the extremely talented and really exciting WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11), who defends his title against Malawi born challenger Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2, 10). The heavy handed and exciting Bivol comes into this bout on the back of his excellent victory over Sullivan Barrera this past March, in what was Bivol's 5th straight stoppage win. The Kyrgyzstan born fighter is making a name for himself and a win over Chilemba will help him there. Sadly for Chilemba it does feel like his career is coming to an en and he has lost 3 of his last 4, including a stoppage loss in November 2016 to Oleksandr Gvozdyk. At his best Chilemba was a handful for anyone but he's now a very old 31 who has been in a lot of wars during his career.
One of the guys looking to move forward with their career is unbeaten Kazakh Madiyar Ashkeyev (9-0, 5), who is set for a notable step up in class to take on Cleotis Pendarvis (21-4-2, 9). The Kazakh has looked close to flawless in recent bouts and has been impressing on US soil through his career. American southpaw Pendarvis has had a stop-start career, and his last 4 bouts really haven't been great to know what he has left, but at his best he was a solid fighter who managed to stop Michael Clark, though that was almost 6 years ago now. A prime Pendarvis would have made for an interesting test, but we now expect Ashkeyev to step up and put on a showcase performance against his more experienced foe.
Another Kazakh on this card is Middleweight prospect Meiirim Nursultanov (7-0, 6), who will be looking for this third win of 2018. His opponent for this bout hasn't been announced but we're not expecting anyone too testing for the 24 year old, who we think will be stepping up in class at this end of this year, or early next year. Heavy handed, talented and exciting Nursultanov has a lot going for him, but we wouldn't be surprised if he team just waited a year or two before throwing him in with notable names.
In Japan fans only get a single show from Okinawa, and even that show isn't massively great with two low key title fights and some small fights on the under-card.
One of those title fights is a WBO Asia Pacific female Bantamweight title fight, which will see Yuko Henzan (6-6-4, 2) take on unbeaten Chinese fighter Fan Yin (3-0, 1). The Japanese fighter started her career 0-3-1 but has managed to turn things and had gone 4-0-2 in her last 6 bouts, and claimed the OPBF female Bantamweight title, so a win here for Henzan would see her become a unified champion. The Chinese fighter made her professional debut last December, and scored 2 wins in the space of 2 weeks, but her activity has slowed significantly and she has only fought once since the turn of the year.
The other title fight will see Japanese Youth Light Flyweight champion Ryuto Oho (11-4-1, 3) defending his belt against the promising Hiroki Inamine (2-1, 2). The 23 year old champion won the 2013 Rookie of the Year at Flyweight but has since struggled, going 5-4-1 (1). To help rectify things Oho has dropped to Light Flyweight which appears to be a more suitable weight class for him, given his relative lack of power. Inamine's record suggest he's a heavy handed fighter but he's only stopped two Thai's since making his debut, though he was a well regarded domestic amateur. Inamine was beaten last time out, by the ultra promising Rikito Shiba, but will feel he has the power to take care of Ono, in what could be the fight of the day.
In a supporting bout fans will see once touted youngster Seita Ogido (11-3-3, 3) look to get his career back on track after going 0-1-2 in his last 3. Ogido hasn't been softly matched but he has failed to win any of his last 3 bouts, which were all title contest, and is clearly being matched softly here to get some confidence back. He'll be up against Takayuki Teraji (9-15-1, 4) who has won just 3 of his last 10 and should manage to give Ogido rounds with out really coming close to winning them.
One other fighter on this card worthy of note is American born Japanese fighter Marcus Smith (5-0-1, 5), who looks to secure his second win of 2018 as he takes on Koji Igarashi (4-2, 3). It's hard to see Igarashi coming out on top here, given both of his losses have been by stoppage, but he does have power of his own and could well chin check Smith here.
This coming Sunday fight fans in Japan get 3 different shows across the country. On paper the most notable of those is from Okinawa, where fans will get three title fights and several notable fighters from recent Rookie of the Year competitions.
The main event of the card will see hard hitting Ryoya Ikema (12-4, 11) take on fellow puncher Mongkol Kamsommat (6-2, 5) in a bout for the WBC Youth Light Flyweight title. The 20 year old Ikema had a 2017 to forget, with losses to Koki Ono and Ryoki Hirai, but will feel confident of claiming his first title here as he takes on an opponent who has been stopped in both of his losses. The Thai however will fancy his chances to make a name for himself and will be coming in to this on the back of 4 straight wins.
A second title fight on this card will see Yuko Henzan (5-6-4, 2) battle Phannaluk Kongsang (3-4-1, 2) for the OPBF female Bantamweight title, in a less than great looking bout which will actually be a rematch from a bout back in November. When these two first fought, in the Philippines, they fought to an 8 round draw, and given how competitive that bout was we're expecting another close one here, but it's unlikely to be a high quality match up.
A really mouth watering bout will see Tatsuro Nakashima (7-0-1, 5) face off with Kai Ishizawa (3-0, 3) in a bout for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title. Nakashima got all the way to the 2017 Rookie of the Year West final, where he fought to a draw with Yuga Inoue, and certainly looks like a talented youngster with power and ambition. As for Ishizawa he was a pretty solid amateur, going 28-14, and turning professional with a B class license. Since turning professional last June Ishizawa has looked sensational, and the 21 year old will be looking to continue to demonstrate his brutal power, which has seen him stop his first 3 foes in a combined 5 rounds. This could be a very explosive and exciting match up.
Other fighters of note on this card are 2016 Light Welterweight Rookie of year winner Ukyo Yoshigai (5-2, 4) and 2017 winner Marcus Smith (4-0-1, 4), though both men are up against relatively weak opponents and not each other, in what would have been a genuinely notable bout.
In Okyama we'll be able to see two really interesting match ups on the Japanese domestic scene, despite neither fight being a hugely significant one, for now.
The more interesting of those two bouts will see talented 22 year old Seigo Yuri Akui (11-1-1, 7) return to the ring since his first loss, to Junto Nakatani, and battle against the heavy handed Masamichi Yabuki (6-1, 6). The promising Akui was looking like a star in the making before running into the naturally bigger Nakatani last August and simply being out power by his foe. As for Yabuki he's a big puncher who lost in the 2016 Rookie of the year final, with that loss also coming to Junto Nakatani. It's clear both men will be looking for a statement win here, and a chance to work their way towards a rematch with Nakatani. This could be very exciting with both men having hands, and both looking to push themselves to a bigger and better fight.
The other bout of note on this card will see Kota Fujimoto (7-2-1, 2) battle against Shunji Nagata (11-16-2, 3). Coming in to this Fujimoto is ranked by the OPBF, and will be favoured here, but Nagata could be a banana skin, and certainly not be there to roll over though will be giving away significant size to Fujimoto.
At the L-Theatre in Osaka fans will get a relatively notable card featuring several fighters with some form of ranking, and 3 bouts worthy of some note.
The main event will see OPBF ranked Super Flyweight Kenji Kihisa (8-3, 5) take on WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter Shota Kawaguchi (21-9-1, 9). Coming in to this Kihisa is on a 3 fight stoppage run, including a career best win over Futa Akizuki which pushed him into the OPBF rankings. If we remove the run from Kihisa he doesn't have much else on his record, but the 27 year old does look like he is hitting his stride now. Kawaguchi is a former WBO Asia Pacific “Interim” champion, but has gone 4-5 in his last 9, including a stoppage last time out to Ryuichu Funai in a Japanese title fight. Kawaguchi needs a win to remain relevant whilst a victory for Kihisa will put him into the title mix, a really key bout at this regional level.
In a supporting bout fans will see OPBF ranked Super Flyweight Tatsuya Ikemizu (17-2, 7) take on Naoto Fujimoto (9-8-1, 4). The 25 year old Ikemizu has rebuilt well from losses to Mark John Yap and Jonas Sultan, scoring 4 straight wins, but this bout is a step up from the 4 Thai's he has faced over the last 18 months. Although a step up for Ikemizu from recent bouts, it's hard to imagine Fujimoto providing any sort of real test for the 2013 Rookie of the Year winner.
One other bout of note on this card will see Noboru Osato (8-6-4, 1) take on Takuya Yamamoto (8-8, 4) in a bout that both men really need to win. Osata has gone 3-3-1 in his last 7, including a close loss to Yuki String Kobayashi last time out, and really needs a win to give his career any sort of momentum. As for Yamamoto he has lost his last 2, including a 109 second blow out loss to Satoshi Shimizu, and has gone 2-5 in his last 7, showing just how much he needs another win.