Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Action returns to Korakuen Hall this coming Monday for a Watanabe and Dangan co-promoted card. This is a small card, with just 3 bouts on it in total, but it is also a very notable card, with all 3 bouts being title contests. As well as the 3 bouts, fans will also get an exhibition featuring one of the biggest stars in Japanese boxing, who makes a long awaited return to Korakuen Hall.
Also it's worth noting all of these bouts were originally scheduled to take place in May, but were delayed due to the Sumida City Gymnasium being closed during the recent State of Emergency in various Japanese regions.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Minimuwmeight champion Masataka Taniguchi (13-3, 8) making his first defense, as he takes on the once beaten Tatsuro Nakashima (11-1-1, 7). Taniguchi won the Japanese title late last year, winning the belt in his second shot at it, and he could end up having a very strong reign if he and his team are happy with him developing on the Japanese scene for the next few years. The talented champion will have hopes of winning a world title one day, but for now he's best off developing, getting some experience and fighting at this level. As for Nakashima he's a decent fighter, but it does feel like he's ill prepared for a bout with Taniguchi. He lost in 2018 to Kai Ishizawa and narrowly got past Ariston Aton in 2019. Nakashima has the potential to win a Japanese title, but we suspect he's getting this shot too soon in his career, and before he's really ready. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Taniguchi hunts first defense as he takes on Nakashima
In another of the title bouts we'll see former world champion Yuko Kuroki (17-6-2, 8) battle against the unbeaten Mizuki Chimoto (2-0, 1) for the vacant OPBF female Minimumweight title. For Kuroki this really is a must win bout, she's more than 3 years removed from her last win, she's 1-2-1 in her last 4, and was last seen fighting to a draw with veteran Nao Ikeyama. The now 30 year old Kuroki went from looking like a woman on the verge of stardom to a woman who boxing has seemingly forgot. Another loss here and it'll be really hard for her to bounce back. As for the 27 year old Chimoto, she was a good amateur who has been on the fast track since making her debut in late 2018 and it's great to see her fighting for a title, against a former world champion, this early in her career. Our preview for this bout can be read here Chimoto steps up to take on former world champion Kuroki in third pro bout!
The third title bout will see Kanako Taniyama (3-1-1, 1) and Yuko Henzan (8-10-4, 2) clash for the vacant Japanese female Bantamweight title. Both of these women are 34 years old and neither can really afford another set at this point. Taniyama turned professional with plenty of attention but has struggled to make a mark in pro boxing, something she was expected to do very easily. Henzan on the other hand has lost her last 3, and is limited, but has the clear edge in experience and will know that this is almost certainly going to be her final shot at a title. This could end up being a bit of a messy fight, with desperation setting in from both women, but with only 6 rounds it could also be a frantic and exciting one. Our in depth preview for this one is here Taniyama and Henzan battle for Japanese female title!
As well as the three bouts the card will also feature an exhibition bout, with WBA "super" Light Flyweight champion Hitoro Kyguchi (15-0, 10) showcasing his skills before the main event. Sadly at the time of writing his "opponent" hasn't been named.
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.