This coming Monday attention turns to Hiroshima, as we get an OPBF title fight and a very interesting supporting bout, featuring a Japanese Youth champion.
The OPBF title bout will see OPBF Light Flyweight champion Edward Heno (13-0-5, 5) look to defend his title against veteran Koji Itagaki (18-13-3, 7), in what is set to be Heno's third defense of the title. The unbeaten champion, from the Philippines, won title in Japan in 2017, stopping Seita Ogido, and has impressed since with wins against Merlito Sabillo and Jesse Espinas. Despite impressing it's clear he still needs some more experience and development before moving on to a world title fight, and we suspect the 26 year old will be looking to make those improvements this year, before a world title fight in 2020. At 35 years old Itagaki is a proper veteran, who debuted back in the summer of 2005. During Itagaki's career he has come up short in bouts for the Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific title, but he'll be perfectly aware that this is his last chance. There is do over. For Itagaki this will be the final shot at a title, and if he loses that could well end his career. Sadly for the challenger, it'd be a major surprise if he could over-come the excellent Heno. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Heno returns to Japan to defend OPBF title against veteran Itagaki
In the chief support bout Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Tetsu Araki (12-1-1, 2) will be battling against domestic puncher Morihisa Iju (11-3, 9), with Iju returning to the ring for the first time since September 2017. Araki won the Youth title last time out, upsetting Ryuto Owan, and is riding an 8 fight unbeaten since losing in the 2015 Rookie of the Year to Tenta Kiyose. At the age of 24 Araki is showing genuine promise but this is a good step up and a good chance for him to show what he can do. Iju, as mentioned, has been inactive recently and actually lost 2 of his 3 most recent bouts. Despite limited Iju can bang and with this being his return to the ring we're expect to see him show some real hunger, which should make for a very interesting fight. Araki will be favoured, but Iju is certainly a live under-dog.
Action returns to Kobe this coming Sunday as Shinsei Gym put on their next show.
The main event of the card sees the once beaten Shohei Kawashima (14-1-2, 3) return to the ring for the first time since he suffered a very close loss to Cristian Mijares in Mexico. The loss to Mijares may have been a loss for Kawashima but it certainly showed that Kawashima had the skills to go a long way in the sport. It seems Shinsei are happy to give him an easy win here as he takes on domestic foe Junnosuke Nagayasu (13-11-3, 3). The experienced Nagayasu has got experience on his side but has only scored two wins in the last 6 years and lacks the skills to really compete with Kawashima.
In a supporting bout fight fans will see former OPBF champion Ryuya Yamanaka (13-2, 3) take on Thai visitor Khanongmek Sithkrukong (0-1), in what will likely act as a world title prelude for Yamanaka. The 21 year old Shinsei prospect won the Oriental title last year but vacated it earlier this year to begin focussing on a world title bout, and it seems likely that a blow out here will help him secure that shot at world honours. Interestingly Khanongmek was stopped inside a round in his only previously bout, being blown out in 67 seconds by Reiya Konishi last August.
Another notable supporting bout will see Ryo Kosaka (13-3-1, 7) take on Morihisa Iju (10-1, 8) in what should be the best bout on the show. Kosaka started his career 3-2-1 but has since gone 10-1 and scored notable wins over Satoshi Niwa and Dado Cabintoy. Although not a world beater Kosaka is 23 and showing signs of genuine promise. Aged 27 Iju has a good looking record but hasn't scored a win of note since a 2014 blow out against Masaru Urata and has a lot of questions to answer, with the potential to answer a lot of them here.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
As well as the card in Japan there will also be a show in the Philippines, featuring two title bouts.
One of those bouts will be a WBF Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title fight as 23 year old old Ronie Tanallon (10-3-1, 2) battles Arnold Garde (7-4-2, 3). Coming in to this Tanallon has impressed, but has lost 2 of his last 4 to unbeaten foes and will know he can't afford another loss here. As for Garde he has suffered 3 stoppage losses, though surprisingly went 10 rounds with Randy Petalcorin back in December.
The other title fight on this card sees Markquil Salvana (11-3, 5) look to bounce back from successive losses as he takes on domestic journeyman JP Macadumpis (11-8-1, 5), who has been stopped in 4 of his last 6. Salvana has mixed with good fighters, but has lost to the Moloney twins and Takuya Uehara, It's worth noting that Macadumpis has also mixed with good fighters, including Yukinori Oguni, but has also lost to some limited opponents like Rex Granada and it's hard to see him winning here.
This card will also feature the ring return of Jake Bornea (11-2, 5), who will be fighting for the girst time since he was stopped by Andre Selby. The 21 year old Borena will be up against Romulo Ramayan Jr (7-10-3, 3) in what should be a straight forward win for Bornea