This coming Sunday is a big day in Japan, with 4 different shows, including a title bout in Osaka, several bouts with prospects and the East Japan Rookie of the Year final.
Sumiyoshi Ward Center, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The show with the most important single bout takes place in Osaka, where we see several rising stars of Japanese boxing in action.
The main bout of the show will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Nishida (4-0, 1) defending the title he won from Daigo Higa earlier this year. The talented, and really promising, Nishida will be up against fellow Japanese fighter Tetsuro Ohashi (8-2-1, 2), who is best known as a solid and promising young Super Flyweight. Ohashi is a very solid fighter, but this is a big step up for him, and he is very much like a smaller, less polished version of Nishida. As for the champion this is a solid first defense, even if it is a step down from his last two bouts, which saw him beating Shohei Omori and Daigo Higa. Unlike those bouts this will see Nishida up against a fellow boxer, as opposed to a fighter or puncher, and we could see him needing to answer some different questions here. Our preview of this one can be read here Nishida takes on Ohashi in first WBO Asia Pacific title defense
In a major supporting bout we'll see former Japanese title challenger Riku Kunimoto (4-1, 2) look to bounce back from his loss to Kazuto Takesako as he takes on the unbeaten Kazuki Kyohara (5-0-2, 3). On paper this looks a really even match up but in reality Kunimoto is the more proven and the more polished, and a very solid former amateur. Kyohara will know a win opens the door for a title fight of his in 2022, but he's meant to be little more than a game "opponent" here.
On the subject of good former amateurs we'll also see Kaito Yamasaki (1-0) fight in his second professional bout, as he takes on the experienced Takahiro Hamazaki (3-7-2, 1). Yamasaki was a very talented amateur and he looked like he could go a long, long way on his debut, but does have some questions to answer, including some about how he'll adapt to the professional ranks, and how his power will hold up. Hamazaki on the other hand is there to play the role of a veteran, and we suspect the 35 year old will ask some questions on route to a wide decision loss.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Over in Tokyo we get two shows, the most notable of which is set to take place at Korakuen Hall. The reason is so notable is because it's the East Japan Rookie of the Year Final, and is a platform for future stars. In total there is 12 bouts set for this card, with bouts taking place from 105lbs all the way up to Middleweight, with the exception of 154lbs which isn't competed in as part of the Rookie of the Year.
One of the most interesting match ups for this show is at Bantamweight, as Hiroto Sato (3-0-1) takes on Shori Umezu (5-0, 5) in a battle of unbeaten youngsters. Sato, aged 21, only debuted in July but has managed to squeeze 4 fights in already this year, prior to this one. Sadly he did fight to a draw on debut, has shown a lack of power, which could be a major issue here. Umezu, himself only 23, made his debut in August 2020, and has taken out his first 5 opponents in a combined 8 rounds. He has never seen round 3, and has really heavy hands. He'll be looking to show what his power can do here.
Another interesting bout between two unbeaten fighters will see Ryuya Kusamura (2-0, 2) take on Minori Okamura (2-0, 1), with this bout being the Middleweight bout, and for those not aware Japanese Rookie of the Year Middleweight bouts tend to be among the most entertaining as it's usually two big, somewhat unpolished, guys landing a lot of leather on each other. Interesting both these men debuted in September, both had their second pro bout in November and will be having this bout just 3 and a half months after their debuts. Kusamura is the taller man, and the harder hitter, and has looked really fun to watch in his first two bouts. Okamura on the other hand has had attention on him, with his debut coming against Eigoro Akai, the son of a popular former fighter, and he has gone 4 rounds, which he did last time out. This should be a very, very fun 4 rounder.
Arena Tachikawa Tachihi , Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan
Staying in Tokyo, there is a small, but notable card in Tachikawa city. The card is certainly not a huge one but it does have a very solid main event, as JBC ranked Lightweight Shinnosuke Saito (8-4, 2) takes on Mirai Naito (8-3, 3). Coming in Saito is going to be the favourite, and he certainly is the more prove fighter, though Naito will be wanting to prove himself, especially with this bout coming less than a week after his brother's upset loss to Koichi Aso. Saito did lose last time out, with that loss ending a 5 fight winning run, but he'll be hungry to get back to winning ways here.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
We'll also be getting rookies in action in Kariya as we get a show featuring only 4 rounders. Sadly it's always hard to get too excited about these shows, due to the lack of name value, but the 4 rounder format does tend to deliver some amazing action as two flawed novices put it all on the line. Despite the lack of notable names, we do like the look of these shows and this should be fun.
If pushed for a bout to make a note of, it's worth noting the nominal main event of the show will be a bout between Kenta Sugawara (2-2-1, 1) and Yuya Nakazato (5-12, 5), who is the most experienced man on the card, by far.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Over in Vietnam we're going to be seeing once beaten Vietnamese fighter Van Thao Tran (13-1, 8) take on unbeaten Thai puncher Boonrueang Phayom (9-0, 9) in what looks set to be a really interesting match up. Tran was tipped for big things, following a solid amateur career, but inactivity and a loss in 2019 to Billy Dib has cost his career and he's really not reached the level that many had hoped he would. Aged 22 Boonrueang is one of the more interesting Thai prospects, and a genuine puncher, but someone who has fought at a very, very low level. For Boonrueang this is a massive step up in class, and his first fight bout outside of Thailand, but a win here would help set him up for a very interesting 2022.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Wednesday fight fans at Korakuen Hall, and those who subscribe to Boxing Raise, will get the chance to see a pretty low key, but interesting, Japanese card from Korakuen Hall. The show doesn't have a huge bout on it, but does have 4 potentially solid bouts on it.
The main event of the show will see the unbeaten Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-2, 4) look to build on a frustrating 2020, which saw him fight to two draws, as he takes on the once beaten Tulio Kuwabata (3-1-1, 2). The talented Tsutsumi was incredibly unlucky early in 2020, when he was held to a much debated draw with Kazuki Nakajima and then later went on to hold Daigo Higa to a draw later in the year. As for Kuwabata he turned professional under a lot of hype and expectation but with a loss and a draw in his first 5 bouts he really needs to get things together and get some momentum back into his career. Tsutsumi should be favoured, though Kuwabata can certainly box and this isn't a gimme.
In a main supporting bout we'll see former world title challenger Takuya Kogawa (31-6-1, 14) take on Shun Kosaka (16-6, 4), in what should be a very fan friendly bout. The 35 year old Kogawa is a stalwart of Japanese boxing and has done so much in his 15 year career, but has looked like a faded fighter in recent years, despite a recent win over Hayato Yamaguchi. Aged 25 Kosaka is much younger than Kogawa, but has lost 3 of his last 4 and damage has been accumulating on him in recent contests. Coming in to this it is worth noting Kosaka has been out of the ring for over a year, and that may be a blessing in disguise, but we're not sure it'll be enough to help him to victory here.
The always fun to watch Yoji Saito (2-1-2, 2) will be looking to second successive wins as he takes on veteran Takahiro Araki (12-9, 4), who needs a win after back to back stoppage losses. The talented and rock handed Saito is one of the most dangerous in Japanese boxing, with brutal power, though he can be out boxed and if Araki can get his respect this could be tough for Saito. However that's a big if, and the likely outcome here is for Saito's pressure and steam roller aggressive to be too much for Araki who may be lucky to see out the first 3 rounds.
In a 4th bout of note we'll see the once touted Yuichiro Kasuya (13-3-2, 4) look to rebuild his career after successive set backs, as he takes on Mirai Naito (8-2, 3). Kasuya was once a really promising youngster, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at a very young age, but since then things haven't really gone his way and his negative style and lack of stopping power has been a major issue for his career. That was shown last year when he lost a decision to Masanori Rikiishi. Naito, the brother of Rikki Naito, has shown a lot of promise, but a loss last October to Ryo Nakai has left him needing a win and although he's not the natural talent Kasuya is, he'll be hungry to get his career back on track. We suspect this one could be messy, but it's one that both men will feel they need to win.
For fans with Boxing Raise we believe this will be made available on demand, and sadly not streamed live.
This coming Friday is set to be an incredibly busy day for Asian fight fans, with cards of note taking place in Japan, Thailand, Russia and Tanzania. The days also has a nice mix of rising youngsters looking to make their way in the sport, a veteran looking for his 98th professional win, and several contenders also in action.
Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California, USA
We'll start not in Asia but in the US, where rising Uzbek sensation Bektemir Melikuziev (5-0, 4) will be defending his WBA Continental America's Super Middleweight title against Mexican challenger Alan Campa (17-5, 11). This, in reality, should be little more than a stay busy bout for the talented Uzbek, who looks set to become a star in the coming years. Sadly the "Bully" hasn't been as active as we'd have liked, though given how 2020 has been we are glad we're going to see him get a run out here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
One of the many cards comes from Korakuen Hall, and will be made available on demand on Boxing Raise. The card has several good looking bouts on it, and several others worthy of note.
the best of the bouts on this one will see rising Japanese Lightweight Shu Utsuki (6-0, 5) look for win #7 as he takes on Takayuki Sakai (9-2-2, 6). The heavy handed Utsuki had a great 2019, scoring 4 stoppages, but has been out of the ring since October 2019, and has lost much of the momentum he had. As for Sakai he's no push over, and scored a notable 2018 win over Amphol Suriyo, aka Pharanpetch Tor Buamas, but has gone 1-1 since then. We expect Utsuki to come out on top here, but it should be a very, very fun bout.
Another unbeaten man on this card will be Ryo Nakai (1-0-1, 1), who looks for his second professional win as he takes on Mirai Naito (8-1, 3). Nakai turned professional last year with some solid amateur credentials but was held to a draw in a tough debut, before picking up his first win in November. He has the amateur background but Naito has the blood line, with his father, Cassius Naito, and brother, Rikki Naito, both being notable fighters. Naito also has the edge in professional experience and has notched 3 wins since his solitary loss. We expect this one to be the hidden gem of the show.
In a female bout the unbeaten Sayo Segawa (1-0, 1) will be up against Natsuki Tarui (3-6-2). The talented Segawa ran up over 30 wins in the amateurs and placed 3rd in an All Japan amateur tournament before turning professional last year and looking good on her debut. Sadly she's been out of the ring for a year as we enter this bout and her career has clearly stalled before it's even got going. Tarui on the other hand is a 29 year old domestic level fighter who isn't expected to go far, but should serve as a good opponent to help Segawa shake some ring rust and get back up to speed.
Rangsit International Stadium, Rangsit, Thailand
Over in Thailand we get a small show featuring two notable names, and a promising youngster. Sadly however it's hard to get invested in this show.
The main event will see the young, and somewhat unproven, Kittithat Ungsrivongs (16-1, 9) fight for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Super Featherweight title. Sadly his opponent is the win-less Omar El Ouers (0-1-1). Kittithat, also known as Wanchana Menayothin is only 21, so it's harsh to complain too much about an easy bout, but he's been a professional for almost 4 years now and is still fighting very limited opposite. Notably El Ouers did fight to a draw last time out with Kongfah CP Freshmart, but Kongfah is very much a Super Flyweight, and El Ouers success there is unlike to carry up to 130lbs.
Talking about Kongfah CP Freshmart (33-1-1, 16) he will also be on the card, along with Petch Sor Chitpattana (57-1, 42). Sadly however neither man has had their opponent made clear at the time of writing. Given how Petpiya fights go, and how these two have been matched previously, we don't really expect anything exciting for either man.
PTA Hall, Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania
On the subject of Thai's it's worth noting that former 2-weight world champion Sirimongkol Singwancha (97-4, 62) is also scheduled for action, albeit in Tanzania, where he is set to face local fighter Twaha Kassimu Rubaha (15-6-1, 8) for the WBC Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title. Despite once being a brilliant fighter Sirimongkol is now a 43 year old, former blown up Bantamweight with over 100 bouts to his name and is not the fighter he once was. Although Rubaha is moving up in weight for this bout he is the naturally bigger man, and the much younger man, and we think those advantages will take him to victory here.
USC Soviet Wings, Moscow, Russia
In Moscow we have some fighters from Central Asia in action.
The most notable of the Central Asian fighters in action here is Kazakh female fighter Firuza Sharipova (11-1, 6), who has often received a lot of media attention but appears to be under-the-radar for this fighter, likely due to the backlash her last bout had. The frustrating Kazakh will be up against Serbian fighter Sara Marjanovic (7-7, 3), who's record is very padded thanks to 5 successive wins against very low level opposition. This should be an easy win for Sharipova,
Another central Asian fighter on this show is 26 year old Kyrgyzstan fighter Turat Osmonov (3-0, 3), who looks for his next win as he takes on the win-less Mutrib Karambakhshov (0-3), a Russian based Tajik. Really is hard to get too excited about this one, though we have liked what we have seen of Osmonov and hopefully he will be stepped up in his next fight or two.
This coming Tuesday we'll see a really good card from Tokyo as Japanese and Korean fighters clash, and we get a female title fight featuring a fighter who has been put on the fast track.
The female title fight will see Japanese female Minimumweight champion Chie Higano (8-8-1, 2) defending her title against touted novice Mizuki Chimoto (1-0, 1), who looks to win a Japanese title fight in just her second bout. Chimoto was a former amateur standout who looked sensational on her debut and is clearly being pushed hard by her team at the Watanabe Gym. Higano is a nightmare to fight with her aggression and style, but she will enter as the under-dog against the talented upstart in what should be a very interesting match up. A full preview of this bout is available here Chimoto goes up against Higano in Japanese title fight!
The title bout is actually in the middle of the card, with the main event being the Japan Vs Korea bout that looks most likely to have fireworks. The match up in question will see unbeaten Korean teenager Jeong Han Cha (5-0, 5) take on Japanese puncher Takahiko Kobayashi (8-3, 6) in a bout at 140lbs. This has the potential to be a very exciting bout between two heavy handed, but flawed, young fighters who will be in the ring attempting to stop the other, rather than win a decision.
Another Korean teenager on the show will be In Soo Jang (5-1-1) who will battle former Japanese amateur standout Suzumi Takayama (1-0, 1), in what could be a very interesting match up. Jang is only 19 but already has a 6 round bout under his belt. Takayama on the other hand made his debut in February and is taking a clear step up in class here, though was a very accomplished fighter on the amateur scene.
Another Japanese novice on this card will be Ai Tomomatsu (0-0), a former amateur stand out who will be up against unbeaten Korean puncher Sang Geun Lee (6-0, 4). This is a baptism of fire for Tomomatsu, but a win will give his career a huge boost straight away and we wouldn't be surprised by him showing his amateur skills to shine here. Lee is dangerous, but Tomomatsu will be favoured.
One other interesting bout between fighters from the two countries will see Do Jin Lee (6-1-3) take on Mirai Naito (7-1, 3), the brother of OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito. On paper this looks like a really competitive bout, and although we don't expect thrilling fireworks this should still be a very compelling match up.
The most notable action this coming Sunday comes from Kanagawa where Dangan and the Cassius Gym put on an interesting card, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the E&J Cassius Gym.
The main event will see Tsubasa Koura (14-0, 9) make his next defense of the OPBF Minimumweight title, taking on tough Filipino challenger Lito Dante (15-10-4, 7). The champion will be the very clear favourite here, and will be expected to make his 4th defense and build on wins over the likes of Masataka Taniguchi and Norihito Tanaka, but Dante is a trickier test than he's been given credit for, and he has scored upsets in the past, and proven himself as a very tough opponent. A Koura win will be expected, but if he stops Dante then we will be massively impressed. Our full preview of this contest can be read here Koura takes on teak tough Filipino challenge!
Koura isn't the only notable E&J Cassius gym fighter on this card, as stable Mirai Naito (6-1, 2) features in the main support bout. The once beaten son of Cassius Naito will be up against a Thai foe, though we've not managed to work out who the Thai will be at the time of writing.
Another fighter of name value on this show is the exciting and hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda (18-4-2, 16). Tameda will be fighting for the first time since being stopped by Hinata Maruta in 2018, and will be expected to get a confidence building win as he takes on Renerio Arizala (13-8-3, 5). On paper this looks potentially a battle for Tameda, but in realise Arizala has gone 0-6-2 in his last 8 and is likely to be splattered by the heavy hands of Tameda.
Also on this card is the debuting Shisui Kawabata (0-0), who will be in a 6 rounder against Thai visitor Natchaphon Wichaita (0-1). Kawabata is the latest in the long line of fighters looking to be fast tracked at the Watanabe gym.
For fans wanting to watch this show, it will be live on Boxing Raise.
As well as the card in Kanagawa there is also a show in Aichi, which will feature several Rookie of the Year bouts.
One of the best rookie bouts on this card will see Kenta Sugawara (1-0, 1) take on Satoshi Nagaya (1-0, 1) in a Super Flyweight bout. One of the great things about Rookie of the Year bouts is that fighters can't avoid decent tests or pad their record, and bouts like this show us what both men are made of.
Despite this card having a number of Rookie bouts the main event is actually an 8 round bout, which will see Shin Tomita (10-5-2) risk his JBC Flyweight ranking against Katsuya Murakami (6-1-1, 2). Coming into this Tomita is riding a 4 fight winning run, including a win over Fire Ikkyu last time out, but has yet to score a stoppage win in his 17 career bouts. Murakami has won his last 2 bouts, but has been out of the ring for well over a year and would be scoring a career best win if he beat Tomita here
To end the month of October fight fans at the Korakuen Hall get a small card, headlined by a female title fight, and features a couple of 6 round bouts to support the main contest.
The main event will see Chie Higano (7-7, 2) take on Yumi Narita (3-2-2, 1) for the Japanese female Atomweight title. The more experienced Higano is a former world title challenger, having come up short against Momo Koseki for an Atomweight world title, and has mixed at a good level. Higano should be favoured but Narita can't be written off and she has avoided a loss in her last 3 bouts, and looks to be developing. On paper this is a poor match up, but we expect a very good and competitive contest as both fighters look to claim a the national title.
In a supporting 6 rounder fans will see 22 year old Yoshiki Tatsukami (4-4-1) take on Mirai Naito (5-1, 2), the brother of OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito. We suspect Naito will have more than enough to deal with Tatsukami but the once beaten member of the Naito family hasn't fought since November, when he was stopped in a 2017 Rookie of the Year bout.
Another supporting bout, and a pretty even looking one, will see Naoki Sakata (4-2-1, 3) battle Soreike Taichi (4-2, 3). Coming in to this Sakata has suffered back to back stoppage losses, following a 5 fight unbeaten run to begin his career, whilst Taichi will be fighting for just the second time since losing inside a round to Reiya Abe back in May 2014! Both guys can be hurt and this could turn into a shoot out!