Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Monday the Korakuen Hall plays host to the next Japanese card, and the final one this month, as Dangan put on a pretty small, but very interesting, card.
The lower end of the card is pretty easy to over-look but the main event and chief support bouts are both really interesting bouts, which should see a lot of questions being answered about the men involved in them.
The chief support bout will see the unbeaten Mikio Sakai (3-0) battle against 42 year old veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-10-2, 13), in what is a good step forward for Sakai. The talented, but light punching, 27 year old is regarded as one of the best Middleweight hopefuls in Japan, and is a youngster with a lot of talent, but he really does need to show a bit more in terms of stopping power if he intends to face the likes of Kazuto Takesako for a title in 2022. Saito on the other hand is a true veteran, and also one of the most notable "nearly men" in Japanese boxing, having come up short in a host of title bouts. A loss for the veteran would likely end his career, and sadly we really can't see what he has to offer against Sakai here. Sakai should be too good, too quick and too smooth for the slower, older, veteran.
The main event will see Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) and Ikuro Sadatsune (11-4-3, 4) battle for the vacant Japanese Bantamweight title. Whilst neither of these two men are too well known outside of Japan these are both very talented, and criminally under-rated, fighters. Sawada was a stellar amateur and was thrown in deep when he began his professional career, losing his first two bouts, but since then has found his grove and gone unbeaten in 15 bouts whilst carving out a reputation as a very skilled fighter. At 33 it's hard to see him bouncing back from a loss here, and getting a second title shot. As for Sadatsune, a 23 year old, this bout is a chance for him to announce himself in a big way, following some unfortunate losses in 2019. He's young, hungry and, like Sawada, very over-looked. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Sawada and Sadatsune clash for Japanese title!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Monday we get live action from Boxing Raise who have their streaming service show cases the latest event from the criminally under-rated Kaoebi Promotions, who have consistently been turning out great events under their "Slugfest" banner in recent years. This show features a triple title main event, a mouth watering support bout, a potentially compelling Super Bantamweight and several notable prospects.
The main event of the card is an excellent match up, which should end up being a very explosive encounter as Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) and Kenta Nakagawa (19-3-1, 12) clash at Super Flyweight. Coming into this Nakagawa is the JBC champion and Fukunaga is the WBO Asia Pacific champion, not only are their belts on the line, but so is the vacant OPBF title, meaning the winner is essentially the champion of Asia. Of the two Fukunaga is the certainly bigger puncher, and showed that last time out, when he beat Froilan Saludar, though it's fair to say that Nakagawa is the more proven fighter, has been in with tougher competition and is a 2-time Japanese champion. For us this is a true 50-50 type bout and the only thing we're confident about is the fact it won't go 12. We're anticipating a hard hitting, technical shoot out here. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Fukunaga and Nakagawa battle for the triple at Super Flyweight!
In an amazing support bout former Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada (19-2, 13) will be up against the very talented Izuki Tomioka (7-3-1, 2), who has given Masayoshi Nakatani and Shuichiro Yoshino two of their toughest bouts. On paper Okada is the naturally bigger, stronger and more powerful fighter but with back to back stoppages losses against his name we do wonder what he has left in the tank, he has, arguably, been left with a lot of questions to answer. Tomioka isn't a puncher, but he is a quick, rangy, talented fighter and we wouldn't be surprised at all if he frustrates Okada with his jab and ends up simply out working the older man.
The first of two notable prospects on the under-card is the unbeaten Mikio Sakai (2-0), who takes on Toshihiro Kai (6-11-3, 2). The 27 year old Sakai is likely to be moved towards a Japanese title fight in the next year or two, but having been out of the ring since last December we can't begrudge him an easy one here. The 35 year old Kai is a veteran, but not a particularly sturdy one and he has been stopped in 4 of his last 6, and really never kicked off at reaching the 2014 All Japan Rookie of the Year. The focus here is on Sakai, and seeing him shake some ring rust and get the cogs whirring again before a bigger year in 2021.
On paper a really even match up in the show is a contest between Matcha Nakagawa (13-2-1, 5) and Ryo Suwa (11-3, 2), with Nakagawa looking to defend his JBC and OPBF rankings against the skilled, but light punching, Suwa. The 26 year old Nakagawa has been a professional since 2013 and did promise a good deal early in his career, winning Rookie of the Year in 2015, but losses to Ryohei Takahashi and Kai Chiba in his last 6 has seen him need a solid win. Suwa is also a man in need for a big win after losing 3 of his last 7 and his last 2. We suspect Nakagawa will be the favourite here, but Suwa certainly has the ability to cause him fits with his style and boxing brain.
The other notable prospect on this card is the OPBF and JBC ranked Masahiro Suzuki (4-0, 2), who takes on former OPBF title challenger Takahiro Oda (10-5, 8), who previously fought as Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine. The talented Suzuki really impressed us on his debut, against Antonio Siemundo, though in fairness we've become less convinced by him since and this is a genuine step up in class for him following a 13 month break from the ring. Whilst Suzuki has been out of the ring for a while his inactivity pales in comparison to the inactivity of Oda, who was last seen in the ring in July 2017, when he lost to Ratchasi Sithsaithong in an OPBF title bout. Coming into this Oda has won just 2 bouts in 6 years and it's hard to imagine him winning here, but he certainly has the power to test Suzuki's chin.
This coming Monday focus heads to a Kadoebi card at Korakuen Hall, where we get an OPBF title fight, a really good looking novice pro bout, and several decent supporting bouts.
The main event will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Akinori Watanabe (38-7-1, 32) making his first defense of the title, as he take on Thai challenger Sitthidet Banti (12-5, 6), in what looks like a very, very soft first defense. Watanabe has mixed against stiff competition through his career, and last December's war with Nobuyuki Shindo was truly sensational, so for him to have an easy bout isn't too bad, but it is a weak title defense. To show how weak it is, Banti was stopped by Japanese novice Takuma Takahashi back in August. Our preview of this bout can be read here Does Watanabe get an easy first defense of OPBF crown?
Whilst the main event is a mismatch there is some really interesting action on this card, including a brilliant match up between Ran Tomomatsu (1-0) and Mikio Sakai (1-0). Despite both men being professional novices both were talented amateurs and they both looked great, albeit in very different ways, on their debut. Of the two Tomomatsu looks the more physical and stronger fighter, but the less technical, whilst Sakai has a flash and speedier look to him. This is a huge risk bout for both, and something to get very excited about.
In another interesting support bout we'll see the talented Yuichiro Kasuya (13-2-1, 4) take on 2-time Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (15-6-1, 10). Since moving over to the Kadoebi gym we've seen Kasuya show more some real development, and belief in his punching, and with 3 wins already this year he does now seem to have some momentum behind him. As for Sugita this is a real must win after going 4-4 in his last 8, including his two losses in Japanese title fights. As his best Sugita would favoured against the best we've seen from Kasuya, though it's unclear what Sugita still has left and how much more Kasuya can improve.
Another bout worth noting here will see talented youngster Yuki Nakajima (2-1, 2) look to bounce back from his first defeat as he takes on Yasuhiro Tanaka (6-4-2) in a good looking comeback bout. Nakajima was beaten back in August, by the excellent Ryu Horikawa and although he was beaten it wasn't a loss to be ashamed by and he's certainly not having an easy blow out here, despite Tanaka's record. Tanaka has proven to be a competitive fighter at the lower levels of the Japanese scene and went 5 rounds with the excellent Rikito Shiba last year. That will be the target for Nakajima, and if he can beat what Shiba did then we'll be impressed.
As well as the action in Japan there is also a notable card in Kazakhstan, though one that appears to have gone through a number of changes in recent days. The card is being hosted to celebrate Kazakhstan Independence day, and should be a great show if you're a Kazakh with a great array of Kazakh talent on the show.
Former world champion Hekkie Budler was originally announced for main event of this show, but it now appears that the main event will see Viktor Kotochigov (10-0, 4) take on Javier Jose Clavero (27-5, 5). On paper this looks like a good test for the unbeaten 26 old Kazakh, but in reality Clavero should be seen as a clear under-dog against an unbeaten prospect fighting in front of his home fans. This is a step up for Kotochigov, but one he will be be expected to win with out too many issues.
A solid supporting bout will see the highly touted Sultan Zaurbek (8-0, 6) take on China's Leshan Li (16-3-2, 9), in what is Zaurbek's first title bout as they face off for the WBC Youth Super Featherweight title. We've been wanting to see Zaurbek take a step up for a while and this is exactly the sort of bout that should tell us more about the talented 23 year old. Impressive Zaurbek will be fighting for the 6th time in 2019. As for Li he's unbeaten in 3, but has yet to score a win of note in his 21 bout career.
Other fighters on this card include an array of Central Asian prospects and hopefuls. They include 22 year old American based Kazakh Iskander Kharsan (7-0, 6), 2-time Olympian Khurshid Tojibaev (3-0, 2) and 2016 Olympic champion Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (7-1, 4).
Eastern Cape, South Africa
In South Africa we'll see another bout in the excellent Philippines Vs South Africa rivalry. This time around it'll be unheralded Filipino Joey Canoy (15-3-1, 8) taking on South African Nkosinathi Joyi (28-5-1-1, 19) in a bout for the IBO Minimumweight title. On paper Joyi will be the favourite, the former IBF world champion is the more proven and more experienced man, however Canoy will be confident of picking up the win, in what is his third visit to South Africa, and he'll be boosted by John Riel Casimero's recent win against Zolani Tete.
This coming Saturday is massive with a trio of world title bouts, to warm up for the big day we get a really interesting card in Japan on Friday, with 2 really good Japan Vs Philippines bouts and a pair of bouts involving touted debutants.
The main event of the show will see OPBF Flyweight champion Jayr Raquinel (10-1-1, 7) look to make his second defense, as he takes on Japanese veteran Takuya Kogawa (30-5-1, 13), who is essentially fighting for his career at this point. The talented Raquinel won the title in March 2018, stopping Keisuke Nakayama, and impressed when he stopped Shun Kosaka in his first defense. Sadly a loss in China to Wulan Tuolehazi last September slowed his ascent and he's been out of the ring ever since. At the age of 34 Kogawa really is a veteran, and the popular Tokyo brawler has began to show signs of his career catching up with him in recent years. Since losing the Japanese title in June 2016 to Masayuki Kuroda we've not been impressed by Kogawa, who has struggled in his 3 subsequent bouts, though has been hit by stretches of inactivity. If Kogawa is half the fighter he once was this could be amazing, alternatively this could be the bout that pushes him into retirement. A full preview of this bout is available here Rising hopeful Raquinel and veteran Kogawa clash for OPBF title
Another brilliant bout between a Filipino and a Japanese local will see Pinoy hopeful Alphoe Dagayloan (13-2-5, 5) take on touted Japanese hopeful Ryota Yamauchi (4-1, 4). For Dagayloan this bout will see him looking to extend a 7 fight winning streak, and build on wins over the likes of Esneth Domingo and Danrick Sumabong. A win for the Filipino will almost certainly open up big opportunities in the near future, given his run of form. For Yamauchi however the bout will be his first since suffering a controversial loss in China to Wulan Tuolehazi, the same man who has also beaten Jayr Raquinel. A win for Yamauchi gets him back on the fast track, whilst a loss will give him some real rebuilding to do. It's great to see both men taking a risk here, and we're really expecting something very special from this bout. Our preview of this bout is available here Yamauchi and Dagayloan set to battle in intriguing 8 rounder!
In an interesting all-Japanese bout ranked fighters clash, as JBC and WBO Asia Pacific ranked Yuichiro Kasuya (12-2-1, 3) takes on OPBF and JBC ranked Takayuki Sakai (9-1-2, 6), in what is arguably the most over-looked bout on the card. The 22 year old Kasuya has been a professional for over 5 years and show a lot of early promise, winning the Rookie of the Year in in 2014. A 3 fight run that saw him going 0-2-1 slowed his ascent but with Kadoebi now behind him it seems like his career is back on track and hopefully he can build on the early promise he showed. Sakai on the other hand started his career 3-1-2 but has since reeled off 6 straight wins, including a very notable one over Amphol Suriyo, aka Pharanpetch Tor Buamas, last December. The winner of this one could well find themselves in a title fight very soon.
One of two notable debutants on this card is Mikio Sakai (0-0), who takes on the hard hitting Elfelos Vega (7-6, 5). As an amateur Sakai went 44-22 (19) and was a pretty notable amateur and even if he didn't regularly win national tournaments he was solid with Kadoebi clearly expecting big things from him. Vega is a very tough tough debut opponent, with the Japanese based Colombian being heavy handed and able to take a good shot. Vega hasn't fought since March 2018, but has shared the ring with the likes of Takeshi Inoue, Charles Bellamy and Kazuto Takesako, with only Takesako and Ryosuke Maruki managing to stop him. This looks like it could be a baptism of fire for Sakai.
Another debutant who is in tough is the 21 year old Ryo Nakai (0-0), who takes on unbeaten Filipino Jay Lloyd Quidlat (4-0-1, 2). The debutant ran up a 30-16 (15) record in the amateurs and should have the tools to handle Quidlat, who is unbeaten but has faced very limited opposition on the lower end of the Filipino scene. An interesting looking debut for Nakai, but a big step up for Quidlat.
In Okalahoma we're expecting to see two Central Asian prospects in action.
The more well known of those is hard hitting Uzbek prospect Shohjahon Ergashev (16-0, 14), who risks his unbeaten record against fellow puncher Abdiel Ramirez (24-4-1, 22). On paper this looks like an interesting match up, and it should be explosive, though Ramirez is the naturally smaller man and has lost 3 of his last 4. Given that both can punch we do expect to see heavy leather thrown, but Ergashev should be too heavy handed, too big and too tough for 28 year old Mexican.
The other Central Asian fighter on this card is Izim Izbaki (1-0, 1), though it should be noted Izbaki has had several fight fall through since his debut. Well regarded by those in Kazakhstan Izbaki has got potential, and should be far too good for the 26 year old Armonte Summers (1-1), who is listed as being 6'10". If this bout takes place we expect Izbaki to fight like a man with a point to prove given the issues he's had with getting in the ring since his debut last November.
Staying in the US we'll also see the unbeaten Bobirzhan Mominov (10-0, 8) take on Javier Flores (14-2, 12). The talented 27 year old Mominov is one of the less spoken about Kazakh prospects but has impressed and looks like someone who needs to be let off the leash sooner, rather than later. On paper this is a big step up for him, with Flores having never been stopped, and having gone 10 rounds with the once touted Ronald Cruz just a few months ago. A good test, but one that Mominov should pass.
New South Wales, Australia
One other bout of note will take place in Australia and see Australian based Filipino veteran Jack Asis (38-22-5, 19) fight for the 66th time as he takes on the unbeaten Youssef Dib (12-0, 5). Asis has had a real roller coaster of a career, turning around a 21-18-4 (10) record by scoring 14 straight wins, but he has suffered back to back losses entering this bout, and was stopped last time out after being dropped a number of times. The 26 year old Dib is no puncher, and did look poor last time out, but should have more than enough to beat the 36 year old Asis.
Gauteng, South Africa
Under-rated Kazakh Alexandr Zhuravskiy (13-4-1, 11) ended a 3 fight losing run last time out, when he held Boyd Allen to a draw in South Africa. This coming Friday he returns to South Africa to take on 21 year old South African puncher Roarke Knapp (8-0-1, 7). This looks a tough ask for Zhuravskiy, however he continues to show that he's no easy out for anyone, and we wouldn't be surprised to see him to give Knapp a really serious test here.