In Tokyo this coming Friday we get a wonderful card with a couple of title fighters and several very interesting under-card bouts. If you're a fan of the Japanese, or Asian scene in general, this card deserves your attention, even if it's not a particularly huge one in terms of names. It's one that has quality match ups, rather than big name fighters.
The main event will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (13-5, 11) make his first defense, following his controversial title win in December against Yuki Strong Kobayashi. The hard hitting, and incredibly fun to watch, Kurihara will take on former world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (26-9-1, 23). For those who haven't seen Kurihara he's aggressive, very heavy handed and always worth watching. Parrenas, in his prime, was very similar, though the now Japanese based Filipino has aged significantly from his pomp and is certainly heading towards last chance saloon. If Parrenas can roll back the clock we could have a FOTY contender on our hands here. A full preview of this bout is available here Kurihara and Parrenas meet in OPBF title bout!
The other title fight on this card will see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) defending his title against mandatory challenger Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8), in what is Shindo's second defense of the title. Shindo won the title in 2018 though suffered an injury in that win, leading to an interim title being created and Shindo then facing Akinori Watanabe in a thriller in December. Matsunaga on the other hand has earned his title shot thanks to a win over Koshinmaru Saito, in what was his 8th straight victory. Shindo is a tall, rangy boxer whilst Matsunaga is much shorter, and how that dynamic comes into play will be really interesting here. A preview of this bout is available here Shindo takes on mandatory challenger Matsunaga
This isn't just a top heavy card, but also one with good supporting bouts. On paper the best of those is Bantamweight bout between Matcha Nakagawa (13-1-1, 5) and Kai Chiba (10-1, 7). Both of these men are in their mid-twenties and both will know a win here pushes them to verge of a title fight. With both having just a single loss it's clear that both men will be looking to pick up a win here, and given their contrasting styles we're expecting a really compelling fight.
Another intriguing under-card fight will see the popular Joe Tanooka (15-6-4, 1) battle against Naoto Mizutani (5-6-1, 2). Tanooka is the clear favourite, but has lost 3 of his last 4 and desperately needs a win to remain relevant. He's not been matched softly, but too many losses and he will lose some of the fans that have been with him since his 2013 Rookie of the year campaign, where he reached the All Japan final. It's worth noting that Mizutani has also lost 3 of his last 4, but gave a very good test to Fumiya Fuse in February. Mizutani will be coming in to this lookign for an upset, like the one he got in September against Mirai Imagawa.
One more meaningful match up will see former title challengers collide. In one corner is former Japanese Lightweight title challenger Masaki Saito (15-13-6, 5) whilst the other will feature former OPBF Featherweight title challenger Ryuto Araya (12-7-1, 4. The men are meeting at a catch weight, around 133lbs, and both will know that a loss here could finish their hopes of getting another shot at a belt.
One other fighter pencilled in to fight on Friday is Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Ivan Dychko (7-0, 7), who takes on 48 year old American Ray Austin (29-9-4, 18) in Miami. This will be Dychko's first bout since beating Maurice Harris back in July 2018 and if we're being honest it's a truly disappointing bout for his return. The Kazakh should be much, much further along with his career by now, but his team really have dropped the ball massively with him and this bout is further proof of that.
This coming Thursday attention turns back to the Korakuen Hall as we get a show with two title bouts, and several other interesting match ups.
One of those title bouts will see Filipino puncher Alvin Lagumbay (10-2, 9) attempt to score his second victory over Keita Obara (19-3-1, 17), and make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. These two fought earlier this year, with Lagumbay upsetting the former world title challenger courtesy of a 2nd round KO. The bout not only saw an upset, but did so in a spectacular way, with a double knockdown that saw Lagumbay manage to beat the count whilst Obara was counted out. For Obara another loss will likely spell the end of his dreams to get a second world title fight, as for Lagumbay a loss wouldn't be the end, but a win would certainly enhance his options going forward.
A preview for the rematch between Lagumbay and Obara can be read here.
The other title bout will see Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto (15-5, 12) make his first defense, as he faces voluntary challenger Tatsuya Otsubo (12-8-1, 4). The champion impressed in his title winning performance earlier this year, when he stopped Takenori Ohashi but will now need to continue the momentum with his first defense. At his best Minamoto looks fantastic, and we're hoping the title boosts his performances going forward. For Otsubo this is a second shot at the Japanese title, following a 2015 loss to Satoshi Hosono. Since the loss to Hosono we've not really see Otsubo impress, despite going 4-1 (1) he has really been lucky in 3 of those wins, and could well have been 1-5 in his last 6 contests. Interestingly the winner of this will likely face Raiye Abe in early 2019.
On paper the best of the under-card fights will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight title challenger Ryoichi Tamura (10-3-1, 6) take on upset minded Filipino visitor Jestoni Autida (11-8, 5). The exciting Tamura gave Yusaku Kuga absolute hell last year, and proved to be one of the few fighters who could not only take Kuga's power but could also force the champion onto the back foot. Autida is 0-2 in Japan but has managed to be a nightmare for fighters like Ratchasak KKP and Petch Sor Chitpattana and could give Tamura some real questions.
Other bouts on this card will include Japanese ranked Middleweight Shuji Kato (8-1-1, 5) take on Naritsugu Nishihara (5-2-1, 1) and former Japanese title challenger Masaki Saito (14-13-6, 5) take on Takashi Sakamoto (7-10, 2). These should both see the more experienced men come out on top, but neither should be a mismatch.
This coming Wednesday attention turns to the Korakuen Hall for the next Dynamic Glove show, headlined by a Japanese title fight with a number of notable fighters through the under-card.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (17-1, 11) defending his title against veteran Tsuyoshi Tojo (14-15-5, 3), in what will be the champion's second defense. The talented, yet frustrating, Sueyoshi made his first defense earlier this year, when he over-came Ken Osato, but had to pull himself off the canvas to record that win and looked pretty beatable at times, before finding his rhythm in the second half of the fight and stopping Osato. As for Tojo he is a pretty limited fighter at this level, but when he clicks he can be a frustrating night for decent fighters, having run Satoru Sugita close in 2016, and given stiff tests to the likes of Koji Umetsu and Hisashi Amagasa.
The main support bout will see the once beaten Shuya Masaki (9-1, 5) look to bounce back from a recent loss to Hironori Mishiro as he takes on Korean visitor Hyun Je Shin (8-7, 2). Masaki has shown touches of genius but has also flattered to decieve, and it's hard to really know how good he is. He might get in the ring be the fighter who looked poor against Vergil Puton or he might be the man who dominated Shingo Eto. At his best Masaki is very good, but we're not sure how well he can put a performance together going forward. Saying that however we doubt Masaki will need to be at his best here, as Shin is unlikely to have
In a Welterweight bout we'll see Japanese ranked fighters face. In one corner is JBC ranked Welterweight Yuki Nagano (13-2, 10) whilst the other will have JBC ranked Light Middlesbrough Riku Nagahama (8-1-1, 4). The hard hitting Nagano comes into this bout in great form, having won his last 11 in a row after a 2-2 (2) start to his career, but does lack wins of note during that running and really doesn't look ready for a title fight, yet. Whilst not ready to fight for a title Nagano will know that a win here against Nagahama will help prepare him for a shot. As for Nagahama he won the 2015 Rookie of the year and was unbeaten until last August, when he lost in a Japanese title fight to Takeshi Inoue. Since the loss to Inoue we've seen Nagahama fight just once, scoring a straight forward confidence boosting win over a a very poor Thai foe.
Also on this card is exciting Super Flyweight prospect Hayate Kaji (9-0, 7), who takes on Indonesian visitor Kichang Kim (8-5-1, 2). The explosive Kaji failed to shine last time out, when he narrowly over-came Jun Blazo in what was a poor performance from the 20 year old Teiken man. It's fair to say his team will not have been happy with that outing and and he really will have to show more here than he did there if he expects his team to push him towards a title fight. As for Kim, he has been stopped in 3 of his last 5, and should be the perfect foil for Kaji to look good against. The Indonesian is 0-4 outside of his homeland and we'd be genuinely shocked to see him claim a win here.
This coming Thursday Japanese fight fans will get the chance to see a really interesting double header at the Korakuen Hall.
One of those bouts will see Japanese Lightweight hopeful Shuichiro Yoshino (6-0, 4) make his first defense of the title as he takes on mandatory challenger Masaki Saito (14-12-6, 5) in the second Champion Carnival bout of 2018. The talented Yoshino has risen through the ranks at an impressive pace since debuting at the end of 2015 and despite only having 6 fights he has already beating veterans like Chaiyong Sithsaithong and Yoshitaka Kato as well as top domestic foes like Spicy Matsushita. Sadly Saito is a limited challenger, especially as a mandatory, and appears to have gotten a shot in part due to the lack of depth in the division. Although limited Saito is tough, having only been stopped once, back in 2006, and tall, at around 5'11”, and is more likely to ask questions of Yoshino rather than really test him.
Whilst the Japanese title bout looks likely to be a one-sided win for the champion the other title bout looks likely to be a thrilling war. That's because the all action Hiroaki Teshigawara (15-2-2, 9) will be defending his WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title against teak tough Filipino puncher Jason Canoy (27-7-2, 19). The champion first made a mark in 2015, fighting to a draw with Hideo Sakamoto and then made a name for himself in 2016 with a narrow loss to Ryo Akaho in one of the forgotten wars of the year. Last year we saw Teshigawara score a thrilling win over Keita Kurihara before stopping Jetro Pabustan to claim the regional title. As for Canoy he's a big punching tough guy, who has scored wins over the likes of Drian Francisco, Giovanni Escaner, Jestoni Autida and Renerio Arizala. To date Canoy tends to come up short against his best opponents, including a then debuting Hinata Maruta, but is always a tough out and should give us a war with Teshigawara, who is always up for a fire fight. This could be a very special fight.
One other fighter on this card of some note is Masataka Taniguchi (9-2, 7). The talented Watanabe gym fighter has lost 2 of his last 5, though they have both been razor thin losses to fellow talented youngsters, Reiya Konishi and Tsubasa Koura, and it'd be downright foolish to write the 24 year old off given the talent he has. We're unsure who he will be up against here, but we are aware it's a Filipino opponent and the odds are that Taniguchi will be moved towards another title fight later in the year.
After a huge day for boxing our attention turns to Okinawa for the only Asian show this coming Sunday, and if we're being honest, it's not a big one, despite every fighters of note being in action.
The most notable bout of the show is a rematch as unbeaten Filipino Edward Heno (10-0-5, 4) takes on local hopeful Seita Ogido (11-2-3, 3) for the OPBF Light Flyweight title. Earlier this year these two fought to a close bout, which Heno seemed to win, and was announced as the winner, before an issue with the scorecards saw the bout being announce as a draw, well after the original decision. The unbeaten Heno will be looking to avoid the judges this time around and we expect him to go out hunting a stoppage. For Ogido, who has drawn his last two bout, this is a must win and another set back will be hard to come back from, despite the fact he is only 24.
In an supporting bout we'll see OPBF ranked Super Featherweight Masatoshi Kotani (21-2, 14) take on Filipino ranked foe Jason Egera (23-17-1, 11). On paper the bout looks like a mismatch, with Kotani coming into the bout on an 11 fight winning run dating back more than 4 years whilst Egera has gone 2-9-1 in his last 12, however Egera can be a handful at times and has scored notable upsets through his career, including a win earlier this year against Glenn Suminguit.
Also on this card in a supporting bout is the unbeaten Shuma Nakazato (6-0-1, 5), who takes a notable step up against veteran Masaki Saito (13-12-6, 4). The unbeaten Nakazato, the son of 3-time world title challenger Shigeru Nakazato, reached the final of the 2015 Rookie of the Year, fighting to a draw with Teppei Kayanuma, but has only fought once since then. The 32 year Saito is a proper servant of Japanese boxing and whilst his record is messy he has been a true gatekeeper at the top of of the domestic scene. He has notable wins against the likes of Seiichi Okada and Takashi Inagaki and has held fighters like Tsuyoshi Tojo, Masashi Nogiuchi and Yuichiro Kasuya to draws. This might not look much of a fight on paper, but it is a real test for Nakazato.