For those who want a late Christmas present, we have one of those for you this coming Saturday as Japan put on two shows and China also put on a show. One of those Japanese shows is a mouth watering card from Tokyo, which is set to be streamed live on the A-Sign YouTube channel whilst the second, from Aichi, will be shown on delay on Boxing Raise.
Christmas might be over, but the gifts keep coming!
Sumida City Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan
The more significant of the two shows is the Tokyo one, and it's a genuinely stacked domestic card that should give us a big of everything. The main event should be a fairly technical contest, the opening bouts should be competitive under-card bouts, and we get at least one, if not two, shoot outs on a genuinely fantastic show.
The main event will see former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (26-2-1, 14) take on current OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (9-0-1, 3). Mishiro won't be risking his title here, in a 10 round bout at Lightweight, but the winner will certainly see their standing improve, and we could end up seeing the winner being just a fight or two away from a potential world title fight. Ito is, of course, the more well known fighter and the more established but he has only fought once since losing the WBO title to Jamel Herring in May 2019, and since then he has had a bout cancelled and has had surgery. Mishiro on the other hand is bit of advanced novice, who has been fast tracked to an OPBF title and already has several wins of note to his name, and other here would really boost his standing in the sport. We expect this to be a tactical early on, but will, sooner or later, descend into more of an exciting back and forth war.
Talking about wars we are really exciting about the Japanese Youth Light Welterweight title bout on this show, between Jin Sasaki (9-0, 8) and Aso Ishiwaki (8-2-1, 6), and this really should be a war. The hard hitting Sasaki has been creating a buzz with quick knockout and early wins, including a trio of success opening rounds wins, but Ishiwaki is the more proven man and a tough warrior. The 19 year old Sasaki really is a brutal boxer-puncher, and he's been swiping opponents aside with ease but has faced little in terms of competitive opposition. Ishiwaki has faced the much better competition, and has done so without much fuss, whilst creating a bit of an international following with his heart, energy, toughness and physical strength. This could be incredibly brutal war, and we do not expect it to go the scheduled 8 rounds. Our full preview of this one can be read here Sasaki and Ishiwaki clash for Youth Honours in potential Christmas Cracker!
On the subject of bouts not going the distance we don't imagine the 8 rounder between Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) and Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6) will see the final bell either. The hard hitting Kai Chiba was one looked at as a future regional champion, but a 2018 loss to Brian Lobetania, in a major upset, slowed his rise and he has only really began to rediscover his form in recent bouts, have now scored 5 straight wins. Ishikawa on the other hand is an explosive, heavy handed and wild fighter who comes into the ring with a war monger attitude and may well be too aggressive for Chiba to cope with. Interestingly this bout was delayed from earlier in the year following a positive Covid19 test for Ishikawa.
Former 2-time world title challenger Ryo Akaho (35-2-2, 23) looks to extend his current winning streak as he takes on youngster Yuto Nakamura (11-5-1, 8). The 34 year old Akaho has won his last 9 in a row though it does seem unlikely that he will land a third shot at a world title, following losses to Yota Sato and Pungluang Sor Singyu. At just 23 years old this is a great chance to Nakamura to show what he can do at a higher level following a short reign as the JBC Youth Super Flyweight champion. Sadly however it's hard to Imagine Nakamura coping with the power and strength of Akaho at Super Bantamweight.
One other bout worthy of attention is the second bout in Japan of "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (24-11-2, 13), who made his name in Mexico and the US. The exciting and rugged Sakai will be up against Takeru Kobata (8-4-1, 3). This really should serve as little more than a showcase for Sakai who should be too good, too strong and too powerful. Despite being the under-dog Kobata has some momentum coming into this, on the back of a solid win over Change Hamashima back in February. Even with that in mind it would still be a huge ask for him to be competitive with Sakai here.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
The other show, the one from Aichi, is easier to over-look but does promise a very exciting main event between one of the biggest punchers at 108lbs and, strangely, just a single supporting bout.
The main event will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Masamichi Yabuki (11-3, 11) making his first defense of the belt as he takes on veteran Toshimasa Ouchi (22-9-3, 8). The hard hitting Yabuki moved down to Light Flyweight last year, stopping Rikito Shiba in 4 rounds and then blasting out Tsuyoshi Sato inside a round this past July to claim the title. Originally he had made his mark at Flyweight, losing in the 2016 Rookie of the Year final to Junto Nakatani, but looks much more suited to the 108lb limit and could find himself fighting for a world title in 2021. Ouchi on the other hand is a 35 year old, potentially getting his last notable fight. Although no world beater Ouchi has shared the ring with some notable names, including going 12 rounds with Kenshiro Teraji in 2016, and facing Kenichi Horikawa, shin Ono and Ryoichi Taguchi earlier in his career. Ouchi is tough, but we do wonder what his 35 year old body will do when it's caught by the power of Yabuki. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Japanese champion Yabuki faces first challenger as he takes on Ouchi
The only under-card bout scheduled for this show will see Teru Nobita (5-3-1, 2) face John Yano (5-6, 2). Nobita went through a run where he won 1 in 5, going 1-3-1, but did win last time out and will look to build on the momentum that December 2019 win over Kenshin Megumi. Yano on the other hand is a Japanese based Filipino who has stopped 2 of his last 3 and will be looking to show that power against Nobita. Potentially a much better bout than it looks on paper.
TSSG Center, Qingdao, China
As well as the action in Japan we also get a show from China, which is set to be one of their best of 2020.
In a bout at 154lbs we'll see Tonghui Li (12-2, 6) take on Dacong Wang (7-1-1, 1) in a bout for the interim WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental title. This will be Li's third bout since a loss to Jung Kyoung Lee, and at 30 years old it really is now or never for him to move his career forward. For Wang this is a massive step up in weight, but he has momentum on his side and is riding an 8 fight unbeaten run, and a 6 fight winning run. On paper this looks interesting, though we suspect Li's power and higher level experience will prove to be the difference.
The second bout of note will be an IBO International Lightweight title bout, pitting the unbeaten Ju Wu (9-0-2) against Xiao Tao Su (11-1, 6), with Wu looking to defend his minor IBO title for the first time. The talented Wu is the more skilled man and the naturally bigger fighter, but we do wonder how he will cope with Su's power, which has seen him score stoppages in his last 3.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
Rather interestingly in Aichi this coming Sunday fans will be allowed in a venue to watch boxing, though the show will only have 2 bouts on it, and social distance will be enforced with a lot of the venue also set to be empty. With only 2 bouts on the card we'll talk about both, and thankfully both have something to say about them.
The main event will be a Champion carnival bout as the heavy handed Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) clashes with Tsuyoshi Sato (10-1-1, 5) for the vacant Japanese Light Flyweight title. Originally Yabuki was supposed to face the defending champion Yuto Takahashi for the title earlier in the year. Sadly that bout was postponed due to the on going global situation and Takahashi, who had previously spoke about being frustrated by the sport, retired. His frustration at being unable to fight saw him retire and vacate the title.
Whilst a bout between Takahashi and Yabuki would have been great we feel this may be a more fun bout with the heavy handed handed Yabuki up against the intense pressure and energy of Sato. We think Sato might be lacking the power needed to get Yabuki's respect, but it's clear he's going to be there to win, and we can't help but feel this has the potential to be a very exciting fight. Our preview of this fight can be read here Yabuki and Sato clash to crown new Japanese champion!
The only other bout on this card will see the crude but exciting Takumi Chono (5-1, 3) take on Takefumi Higashi (5-8, 1) in a 6 round Minimumweight bout. Whilst we don't think many fans will be aware of Chono he came runner up in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year, losing in the final to the excellent Katsuki Mori, and we enjoyed watching his aggression, pressure and energy. Higashi is a long way from a world beater, having scored just 2 wins in his last 8, but typically he goes the rounds and makes a fight of things. Chono should win, but he has a dance partner who will give everything and potentially make the perfect foil to the talented youngster.
Hongtang Shopping Center, Chengdu, China
Staying in Asia there's also set to be a small show in China, which, like many recent Chinese cards, is focused on novices.
We won't go through all the bouts here, but the most notable of the contests on the show is a 6 rounder between 22 year old Wen Song Liu (4-1, 3) and 19 year old debutant Xiaolong Jiang (0-0). Despite only being 22 Liu made his debut way back in 2017, when he suffered a TKO loss. Since losing in 2017 we've seen Liu score 4 straight wins and get his career back on track and he is coming in to this bout with some momentum.
Over in Belarus, of all places, we'll be seeing a show promoted by Suliemen Promotions. This card is stacked with unbeaten Kazakh hopefuls, in what should be a very interesting card on Khabar TV.
The main event will see world ranked Super Middleweight contender Aidos Yerbossynuly (13-0, 9) defending his numerous minor titles against 38 year veteran Nuhu Lawal (27-6, 15). The 28 year old Yerbossynuly has unified minor titles from the WBA, WBC and WBO and is looking to move towards a potential future world title fight. Lawal is a true veteran, at the age of 38, and will be expected to take Yerbossynuly rounds though isn't expected to be much of a threat to the talented Kazakh fighter.
In the co-feature Nursultan Zhangabayev (8-0, 5), another world ranked Kazakh, will be up against French southpaw Sandy Messaoud (13-6, 1). Although Messaoud has 6 losses to his name he is enjoying a nice run, with 5 straight wins, and will be full of confidence here. Saying that however it's hard see him over-coming the criminally under-rated Zhangabayev, who has impressed time and time again.
Also on this card are Bek Nurmaganbet (0-0), who won a gold medal at the 2019 Asian Amateur Championships, and Yevgeniy Pavlov (0-0), who will both be taking part in their debuts, and the unbeaten Nursultan Amanzholov (2-0, 1)
This coming Sunday is certainly not a huge day, but it's a bizarrely packed one, with a lot going on, even if not much of it will make much of an impact on the winder boxing scene. We have a Japanese Heavyweight title fight, a Japanese title eliminator, a return to the ring for a popular female fighter, a regional title fight, a clash between former world title challengers and the KBF Rookie of the Year final, on a crazy, yet low key, Sunday.
For us the most noteworthy card comes from Kariya where we see a trio of notable bouts.
The most notable of the bouts on the card will be a rematch between Kotatsu Takehara (15-12-3, 8) and Ryu Ueda (8-1-1, 5), who battle for the Japanese Heavyweight title and the chance to become only the third ever Japanese Heavyweight champion. Coming in to this bout it's worth knowing that Takehara gave Ueda his sole defeat, but at the age of 41 and with a 30 fight career behind him we do wonder what Takehara has left in the tank. Technically Ueda looks the part, until he throws a punch and then he looks...well terrible, but he may have the youth and energy this time to see off the veteran. Our preview of this bout can be read here Takehara and Ueda rematch for Japanese Heavyweight title!
In an even better bout than the main event we'll see a Japanese Light Flyweight eliminator as the sensationally talented Rikito Shiba (4-0, 2) takes on the heavy handed Masamichi Yabuki (9-3, 9), with the winner securing a shot at the title in the 2020 Champion Carnival against Yuto Takahashi. Both of these fighters have big plans, and whilst we have been more impressed by Shiba's rise than Yabuki's recent bouts both of these are very talented and will likely end up as fixtures in the title scene in the coming years. This promises a lot and is going to be a very interesting bout between two very talented fighters. Our preview of this bout can be read here Light Flyweight eliminator sees Shiba and Yabuki clash!
Former female world title challenger Tomomi Takano (11-5, 8) will fight in Japan for the first time in over 2 years as she takes on Sachiko Kondo (2-4-2). At one point Takano looked like a star in the making, with the look that turned heads, but losses in big fights and a very public falling out with her then promoter saw her head into the boxing wilderness, fighting in Mexico. She's now back in Japan with a new team and a new hunger, and that should be in show here.
Another notable Japanese card comes from Ishikawa, as Kashimi promote their next show, headlined by a clash between a former world champion and a former world title challenger, and supported by several interesting bouts featuring Chinese fighters.
The main event will see Japanese based Filipino Genesis Servania (33-2, 16) take on former 2-time WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (53-7, 35). Although both men are past their primes, this still makes for a really good match up. Servania is best known for his fantastic 2017 bout with Oscar Valdez. Despite losing that bout Servania put himself on the international map, though sadly a loss to Carlos Castro earlier this year has back into more obscure bouts, like this one. Pungluang on the other hand was a very talented Thai back in his prime, but losses in 4 of his last 5 have shown him to have slipped significantly. Despite on the downslide the Thai is tough and likes a fight. Stylistically these are similar fighters, with both enjoying a fight up close, and lacking speed, and as a result this could end up being a bit of a classic for fans at the Sangyo Hall.
In a supporting bout we'll see 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Hiroki Hanabusa (6-0-3, 2) take on China's Baolin Kang (6-2, 1). Hanabusa won the Rookie of the Year on the majority point rule last December and has gone 1-0-1 since then, drawing in China against Ayati Sailike, in a bout that should have gone his way. Kang on the other hand is best known for being stopped by Ari Agustian in 2018, but has won both of his bouts this year. Although not an amazing bout this should be entertaining.
Another interesting looking bout will see Japanese based Venezuelan Omrri Bolivar (8-2, 3) fight against China's A Fu Bai (8-3, 5). Both men were beaten last time out, with Bolivar being stopped bu Shu Utsuki and Bai being beaten by Da Xu, and with both seeking a win we expect this to be a bout where both men look to find another gear in very competitive contest.
A third Japanese card, from Osaka, is much lower profile and only really has one bout of not. That bout will see 2-time Japanese Super Featherweight title challenger Ken Osato (16-3-1, 4) battle against the in form Kanehiro Nakagawa (8-6, 5). On paper this looks like a mismatch, and whilst Osato should be favoured it's worth noting that Nakagawa has won his last 3, including upsets against Seiichi Okada and Ryuto Araya, and will be full of confidence coming in here.
Sadly the rest of this card is very much nondescript.
Seoul, South Korea
Another fairly notable card will take place in the South Korean capital of Seoul, with a regional title bout and some rookie action
The main event will see former OPBF Light Middleweight champion Jung Kyoung Lee (7-3-1, 3) take on the once touted Thai Saddam Kietyongyuth (28-6, 22) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Light Middleweight title. Lee has had a roller coaster year, scoring a career best win in January, when he stopped Samuel Colomban for the OPBF title, and the losing the title less than 7 months later, to Akinori Watanabe. Throw in an injury to those extremes and it's fair to say things could have gone a lot better the Korean. As for Saddam he is a long way removed from the point where he was seen as a genuine hopeful. He's now 2-4 in his last 6 and 5-6 in his last 11, dating back more than 8 years. If we're being honest we suspect Saddam is somewhat less fussed about winning and losing than he once was.
As well the bout mentioned above the bulk of this card will actually be the KBF Rookie of the Year Finals. Unlike the Japanese Rookie of the Year finals, which take place next week, it's been hard to follow these and it's hard to say too much about the finalists, who in some cases have only a fight or two so far in their career. Certainly rookies, but it would have been nice to have had some more depth to the tournament, and make them show a bit more to get to the finals.
We also have a show in Thailand, from Evolution Fight Series. This isn't card isn't a big one, but does feature a world world title challenger and a promising Uzbek, among others.
The main event will see Armenian born Thai based Russian Musheg Adoian (3-1, 3) take on former world title challenger Roy Mukhlis (29-11-4, 22) from Indonesia. The 24 year old Adoian has fought his entire professional career in Thai, and has scored 3 successive stoppage wins coming into this bout. Although a professional novice Adoian will be the favourite against Mukhlis, who is a long, long way removed from the fighter who challenged Takashi Uchiyama way back in September 2010. Since the loss to Uchiyama Mukhlis has gone 6-8-2 and is 0-5-1 in his last 6.
A second bout of note here will see unbeaten Thai based Uzbek Murodjon Yokubov (6-0, 4) battle against Indian foe Amandeep Singh (4-0, 1). For Yokubov this bout will be his 6th of the year and whilst his opposition has been limited it's hard not to like a guy who is active, developing his skills and getting ring time under his belt. As for Singh this will be only his second bout since the the start of 2018, and it's hard to know whether he'll manage to be put up any sort of competition for Yokubov.
The Indonesian capital of Jakarta also plays host to a small profile card, headlined by a 6 round contest between Waldo Sabu (13-14, 3) and Alvius Maufani (7-4-2, 4). On paper this is a really hard card to care about, and whilst we suspect their fun action from the Metro TV Studio the bouts are very much novices against each other and fighters with losing records rather than anything worth getting too excited by.
This coming Wednesday is not only the 1st of May but it is also a day with a stacked card as we begin a busy, and potentially brilliant month of Asian boxing. And if we're being honest we begin the month with a genuinely brilliant card courtesy of Dangan, who put on not only a brilliant title bout, but 3 other bouts worthy of note. This is a good a domestic card, on paper, that we've seen in 2019.
The main event is a Japanese Featherweight title bout, which will pit national champion Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) against mandatory challenger Reiya Abe (19-2, 9), The hard hitting champion really impressed us in his title win, dominating Takenori Ohashi in April 2018, but looked very beatable in his first defense, scoring a late stoppage in a nip and tuck bout against Tatsuya Otsubo. Abe on the other hand has been in impressive through the last few years with 11 straight wins, including victories over Tsuyoshi Tameda, Joe Noynay and Satoshi Hosono. This will be a fantastic match up between a boxer-puncher and a brilliant slick boxer and we're really, really looking forward to this. It could be very special. Our full preview of this bout can be read heere Minamoto and Abe clash in mouth watering Featherweight title bout!
In the chief support bout we'll see Hinata Maruta (8-1-1, 7) look to build on his December win over Tsuyoshi Tameda as he takes on Coach Hiroto (13-2-2, 4). For Hiroto this will be his first bout since fighting to a draw with Ryo Hino in January 2018, during which time he has been kicked out of the Kadoebi Gym for failing to make weight for a bout with Shohei Omori. Hiroto certainly has a point to prove, fighting under the Dangan banner for the first time, but will be the clear under-dog against Maruta, who is a super talent despite the two marks on his record. Our full preview of this bout is available here Maruta and Hiroto clash at Korakuen Hall!
Another brilliant bout on this show will see the hard hitting Masamichi Yabuki (8-3, 8) take on skilled youngster Ryuto Oho (12-4-1, 4), in a bout rearranged from March. The bout had to be delayed due to Oho suffering an injury but he now seems to be healthy in what is regarded as being a Japanese title eliminator. This promises high quality boxing, exciting exchanges and real action. A potential classic, and a bout that may have been helped in it's delay, by being added to such a stacked card, getting more eyeballs on the fighters.
One other bout worthy of note will see former amateur standout out Motoki Osanai (3-2, 1) look to record his third straight win, as he takes on Naoto Fujimoto (11-9-1, 5). Osanai turned professional with big expectations but hasn't yet found his groove in the pro ranks and has been fighting between Super Flyweight and Super Bantamweight. If he can find his place he has the ability to really put this poor start behind him. On paper Fujimoto looks like a bit of a nothing opponent, but the reality is that he's a nightmare to fight and we're expecting him to make this bout ultra-competitive and there could just be a round or 2 separating the men at the end of the scheduled 8.
The Hiranaka Boxing school, headed by Akinobu Hiranaka, are putting on a stacked event this coming Thursday with 2 different shows at the City Gym in Tomigusuku. The first card is a Rookie show, as part of the Rookie of the Year, whilst the second is a much more serious shows with more notable fighters involved.
The first card is set to begin at mid-day with 6 bouts set for it, including a number of Rookie of the Year bouts.
Among the Rookie of the Year bouts is a contest between Hikaru Fukunaga (1-0, 1) and the debuting Shinya Saito (0-0), who will be fighting at Featherweight. Fukunaga made his debut over a year ago, but has spent a lot of time out of the ring, as for Saito this will be his debut, and is a chance to progress through the Rookie of the Year.
Another interesting Rookie of the Yeah bout will see the hard hitting Ryuku Nagamine (3-0, 3) take on Takanobu Fujinami (1-2-1). Nagamine scored 3 stoppage wins last year, including two at this venue in Tomigusuku, whilst Fujinami went 1-1-1 last year he could well have gone 3-0 and this shouldn't be the mismatch it looks on paper. It's also worth noting that Fujinami's debut came against the very under-rated Taiga Higashi.
The second show is set to begin at 4PM local time and feature 7 bouts, involving fighters with much more notable names.
The main event of the card is a mouth watering showdown between Ryuto Oho (12-4-1, 4) and Masamichi Yabuki (8-3, 8), in what really could be something very special. Oho has had an up and down career, but has won the Rookie of the Year, in 2013, and the Japanese Youth title, in 2018, and is coming into this bout on the back of 3 straight wins. Yabuki has gone 2-2 in his last 4, but has stopped a former world title challenger and made his international debut during that run, and will be full of confidence here.
It's not only the main event that is tasty, and another will see talented youngster Shuma Nakazato (7-1-2, 6) face off with Filipino fighter Lorence Rosas (9-3-2, 3). This looks a fantastic and well matched bout, and should be a tough but winnable test for Nakazato, who is much better than his recent form of 2-1-2 suggests. Rosas is no world beater but should make for an interesting assignment for the 22 year old Nakazato, who's only loss came to Hironori Mishiro.
Another international bout will see Tatsuro Nakashima (8-1-1, 6) battle Indonesian foe Hengky Elleuw (5-7, 5). This should be little more than an easy win for Nakashima, especially when you consider that Elleuw has been stopped in all 7 of his defeats.
One other man on this show is Seita Ogido (12-4-3, 3), though at the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced. He has only won 1 of his last 5 bouts and despite once being a touted hopeful he is now a fighter needing a win to keep alive any hope of having a meaningful career.
Also in action will be popular Filipino fighter Mercito Gesta (32-2-2, 17) who will be facing off with Mexican foe Juan Antonio Rodriguez (29-7, 25) in a 10 round bout. This will be Gesta's second contest since he lost to Jorge Linares in January 2018 and he will be looking to build on a June 2018 win over Robert Manzanarez. Rodriguez hasn't fought since June 2017, when he was beaten by Pedro Campa, and has lost 2 of his last 3 and 3 of his last 6, including defeats Javier Fortuna and Jezzrel Corralas
This coming Sunday isn't a big day in Asian boxing but there is a pretty notable KBF card in Korea with a double feature.
One of the two major bouts will see Japanese puncher Masamichi Yabuki (7-3, 7) battle #1 ranked Korean contender Min Chul Bae (5-1-1, 4). This bout is being sold as an OPBF ranking match, suggesting the winner will take a huge step towards an OPBF title fight. We've been impressed by Yabuki, despite losses to Daniel Matellon and Seigo Yuri Akui in 2018, and he is a really talented boxer-puncher. We've not seen much of Bae but the 29 year old has won last 2 bouts by stoppage and will fancy himself to see off Yabuki, in what could be a firefight.
The other notable bout on this card will see KBF Middleweight champion Sung Jae Jo (7-0, 6) defending his title against Gyung Mo Yuh (3-5-3), in what appears to be little more than a mismatch in favour of the hard hitting and unbeaten champion. Despite being unbeaten the 23 year old champion hasn't really been tested yet, with only a single opponent lasted more than 4 rounds with him. The challenger is a natural welterweight, who has avoided defeat in his last 3 bouts, but has done little to suggest he's going to be a real test here.
The Deagu card isn't the only Korean card for the day, as there's also one in Seoul. This one is a card full of novices with no fighters of any name value. The most experienced fighter on the show is Soo Lee (2-4-2, 2), who will be up against the debuting Doo Ri Song (0-0) in a 4 round bout at 154lbs.
Surigao del Norte, Philippines
As well as the Korean cards there will also be a show in the Philippines, which will feature China's Mingcun Chen (5-0, 5) making his international debut, and battling Apisak Puttawong (1-7, 1). The unbeaten 20 year old has yet to be taken more than 2 rounds, and was last seen claiming a minor title. It's really hard to see how Apisak will offer any kind of a test for the youngster, especially given that Apisak a blown up Featherweight and already been stopped 4 times.
We get some notable action this coming Sunday with a world title fight, in Ukraine featuring an Azeri-Ukrainian and a Thai, as well as a Japanese Rookie card with a very notable main event.
The world title bout will see the unbeaten Artem Dalakian (16-0, 11) making his first defense of the WBA Flyweight title, as he takes on former interim WBA champion Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (50-3, 35). The Ukrainian based Azeri born champion won the title back in February, when he defeated veteran Brian Viloria for the title which Kazuo Ioka had vacated in late 2017. In that title win Dalakian impressed, though it did look like Viloria was well past his best and was a shadow of the fighter he had once been. Yodmongkol is best known for his wins over Koki Eto and Takuya Kogawa along with his loss to Juan Carlos Reveco. Since losing to Reveco the Thai has been ultra active, going 16-0 (15), but has been matched incredibly lightly and will need a career best performance here against the impressive Dalakian.
In Aichi fans will get a Rookie of the Year card for Central Japan. In total there will be 7 Rookie bouts with arguably the best of the bunch being a Featherweightbout between Masaki Sasaki (3-1-1, 1), who fights for the first time since March 2017, and the hard hitting Terutaka Shimada (1-0, 1).
Despite this being a Rookie card much of the attention will actually be at the main event, where the hard hitting Masamichi Yabuki (6-2, 6) will take on former world title challenger Gilberto Pedroza (18-4-2, 8). Yabuchi has stopped all 6 of his victims in the first 2 rounds, in fact he he has scored 5 opening round stoppages in his 8 bouts. Despite those wins Yabuki has suffered notable domestic defeats to Junto Nakatani and Seigo Yuri Akui and a win here would be a career best. As for Pedroza he is coming in to this bout on the back of December's 4th round TKO loss to Ken Shiro in a bout for the WBC Light Flyweight title. A win for Pedroza would help him get his career back on track however a loss will set the Panamanian back a long way, and destroy his hopes of getting another world title fight any time soon.
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.
In Japan we get a small card in Aichi, featuring three pretty good looking bouts.
One of the bouts will be a clash between two Japanese ranked fighters, as see Yota Hori (13-5-2, 8) takes on Shun Kosaka (14-3, 4). Coming into this Hori is a top 10 ranked fighter at Light Flyweight whilst Kosaka holds a similar Flyweight ranking. Neither man is a world beater, but both will be looking to get a Japanese title fight in 2018, and know that a win here will help them move towards a shot at the domestic crown.
The supposed chief support bout of the card will see talented novice Masanori Rikiishi (1-0) take on Ryo Tanimoto (4-1, 3) in what a very tough second bout for Rikiishi. The novice made his debut in July, impressing in a win over Korean visitor Sa Ya Lee, a former Korean Lightweight champion, but this is a genuinely interesting test. Tanimoto was stopped last time out, in an upset against Yuta Teruya, but prior to that has looked destructive and can certainly bang, which could mean a chin checking for Rikiishi here.
The min event will see the heavy handed Masamichi Yabuki (5-1, 5) take on Masashi Tada (11-4-2, 7). The hard hitting Yabuki has needed just 6 rounds to score his 5 stoppage, and his only loss came in last year's Rookie of the Year to the brilliant Junto Nakatani. Although limited Tada has got far more experience than Yabuki and he has yet to be stopped, having fought for a Japanese title and going 10 rounds, which is actually the total rounds of Yabuki's career. Despite Tada being a good opponent it should be noted he's not scored a win in over 4 rounds.
There is also a very low profile card in the Philippines.
The main event of the card will see the unbeaten KJ Natuplag (5-0-1, 4) face off with veteran Danilo Pena (27-28-5, 11) for the PBF Featherweight title. The 21 year old Natuplag will be looking to claim his second title, after having previously claimed the LuzProBA Bantamweight title, and will be strongly favoured here. Pena on the other hand has is looking to stop the rot, and he has gone 0-7-1 in his last 8, going back more than 2 years.
This coming Friday Japanese fans get two different shows, one of which is a major domestic event, whilst the other is just a low profile card.
The key event of the day comes from the Korakuen Hall and is the final of the 2017 Rookie of the Year, with the winners of the bouts being crowned the All-Japanese champion. In total their will be 12 bouts, taking place from Minimumweight to Middleweight and will likely set the scene for several notable prospects going into 2017. We won't go through all 12 bouts, but we have picked some of the most interesting on paper.
At 140lbs we'll see unbeaten punchers collide as 20 year old Hayato Ono (5-0, 5) risks his perfect KO record against 19 year old Ukyo Yoshigai (4-0, 3). The bout is almost certainly going to see both guys letting bombs go from the off. Ono has stopped his 5 opponents in a combined 10 rounds, with 3 opening round victories, Yoshigai has also fought just 10 rounds, though has scored a trio of 2nd round wins. This is going to be explosive!
Another potentially explosive bout between unbeaten fighters will see 18 year old Junto Nakatani (8-0, 7) battle with Masamichi Yabuki (3-0, 3) in a Flyweight contest. Nakatani has scored 5 stoppages this year, in a combined 9 rounds, and looks to be a natural born puncher. Yabuki has amazingly fought less than 6 minutes as a professional and has stopped his first 3 opponents in the opening round. This could be another enthralling and explosive contest.
Whilst not all the bouts promise the same explosive action as the two about the bouts are all significant and not a single fighter involved has a losing record!
The low profile card comes from Hyogo and is promoted by Amagasaki Promotions.
In the main event of this card we'll see the once beaten Yuki Iriguchi (6-1-1, 3) facing off with an unknown Thai foe, in what is expected to be little more than a confidence builder for the Japanese fighter. Iriguchi has gone 1-1-1 in his last 3, with that loss being an opening round blow out to the really exciting Hibiki Jogo. With so little known about the Thai we can't say much, but it's clear that Iriguchi's team are wanting him to end the year with a second successive win.
In the chief support bout we get a competitive looking contest between Tomoya Itosu (6-2, 3) and Shoji Nakamura (4-2-1, 2). Itosu has won his last 3 but those 3 bouts have come over the last 3 years and his career has really lacked activity and consistency, Nakamura has won his last 2, and is unbeaten in more than a year. This could be a genuinely enjoyable bout.