This coming Saturday is a really interesting day for fans of Asian fighters with 3 different world title bouts featuring Asian fighters taking place on 3 continents. Not only do we have 3 world title bouts but we also get a bout featuring a former world champion and a fighter returning after more than 6 years out of the ring.
BT Sport Studio, Stratford, London, United Kingdom
The most interesting of the world title bouts comes from London, England, where Downua Ruawaiking (16-0, 13), aka Apinun Khongsong, will challenger IBF and WBA Light Welterweight champion Josh Taylor (16-0, 12). The Thai enters as the IBF mandatory title challenger, having earned that shot last year, but he will be regarded as a huge under-dog against the very talent Scottish world champion. For the Thai the bout is a massive step up in class, and despite stopping Akihiro Kondo last year there is still a lot of questions for him to answer. As for Taylor he is regarded by many as the #1 in the division and comes into this on the back of his victory over Regis Prograis in the WBSS final last October. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Unbeaten Thai takes on unified champion Taylor!
Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA
The second most notable world title fight will see WBO Bantamweight champion Johnriel Casimero (29-4, 20) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Duke Micah (24-0, 19) in the US. Originally the plan had been for Casimero to take on Naoya Inoue, to unify the WBO, IBF and WBA titles, but due to the on going situation the two men have gone in different directions. That opened the door for this bout with Casimero taking on the relatively unknown Micah. For Casimero this is a chance to build on his 2019 upset win over Zolani Tete, when he stopped the South African in the UK to claim his title, whilst Micah will be looking to make his mark on the highest level and adding some quality to quite a weak record. Although Casimero will be the favourite he is inconsistent and the last few months have been very frustrating ones for him, so this could end up being more interesting than many predict. Our full preview of this can be read here Casimero defends against the unbeaten Micah
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
In Hyogo we get a card from Shinsei who don't just have a world title bout on the card, but also two interesting support bouts. For those wanting to watch this show it will be streamed on BOXING REAL.
The main event of the card will see former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) take on Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5). This will be Kubo's first since being stopped by Can Xu last year and it's fair to say that he can't afford any more losses if he's to get another world title fight. Thankfully for him this is actually a very winnable contest, where he should be favoured. Although Igarashi has a similar looking record to Kubo he was beaten last time out by Toshiya Yokogawa, who had more losses than wins, and that bout was almost 2 years ago. Igarashi has been in active and hasn't scored a single win of any real note.
The world title bout here is actually the co-feature and will see WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) defending her title against fellow Japanese fighter Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1). Iwakawa won the title in July 2018, when she beat Nao Ikeyama, but sadly hasn't defended it, due to a lack of challengers. Now, more than 2 years on, the 37 year old looks to extend her reign and finally get a defense under her belt. For Suzuki this is a shot that she should feel fortunate to get given that just 18 months ago she did lose to the then 2-0 Eri Matsuda. Thankfully for the challenger she has picked up a couple of wins since then and has done enough to earn a shot at a champion who really needed a challenger. At the age of 28 this could be a case of right time, right place for Suzuki. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Iwakawa defends WBO title against Suzuki.
One other bout on this card worthy of a mention will be the ring return of Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14), more than 6 years after his last bout. The former Japanese Bantamweight champion will be up against 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3) in a 6 rounder. At his best Oba, dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya" would be very strongly favoured, but having bout of the ring for so long we really do wonder what he has left in the tank here. Sadly for Minato since winning Rookie of the Year he has gone 0-2 and and he is the naturally smaller man, being a natural Flyweight. This is really a case of "what does Oba have left?" If he's 80% of the fighter he once was he should take a win, but 6 years out is a very, very long time.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
As well as the Japanese we also get an interesting bout in Thailand where Atchariya Wirojanasunobol (12-0, 5) will take on veteran Kaewfah Tor Buamas (29-6, 10) in a rematch between the two men who fought in 2018. Originally Atchariya was supposed to face teenage sensation Phoobadin Yoohanngoh (9-0, 5), but sadly Phoobadin was injured and has been replaced by Kaewfah. Whilst this bout does give Kaewfah a chance to avenge his 2018 loss it should be noted that Atchariya has got a point to make, following a wrongful arrest in 2019, and could be out there to make statement and get something off his chest.
This coming Wednesday we'll see action from Japan with one of the top prospects in action.
The card will take place at the Korakuen Hall and will be promoted by former world champion Hiroshi Kawashima.
The main event here will see the unbeaten Ryusei Kawaura (6-0, 4) take on Filipino foe Joy Joy Formentera (11-3, 7) in a really mouth watering clash. The talented Kawaura hasn't yet managed to make a big mark on the sport, but is rising rapidly though the ranks thanks to wins against the likes of Marjun Pantilgan and Renoel Pael. He's expected to move into regional title bouts sooner rather than later. The 25 year old Formentera has bounced back from back to back losses, and he's stopped his last 3 foes, giving him some momentum coming into this one.
In a very interesting support bout we'll see Thai youngster Kanyarat Yoohanngoh (7-3, 4) take on talented Japanese fighter Nanae Suzuki (9-3-1, 1). Whilst neither of these are stand out fighters they should make for a very exciting bout against each other. Kanyarat is the more aggressive of the two fighters, whilst Suzuki is more technically sound, and it's going to be very interesting to see how the styles of the two fighters mesh here.
The Victoriva series of shows is different to pretty much anything else we get in professional boxing, as the shows don't just embrace female fighter, but sell completely on it. They are, for all intents and purposes, female boxing show cases, with some of the biggest female names in Japanese boxing taking part.
This coming Thursday we get the next show in the series and it's a title triple header, with two world title bouts, an Japanese female title bout and a real focus on the Atomweight division, a division only recognised in female boxing.
The main event of the card will see Saemi Hanagata (16-5-4, 7) and Nao Ikeyama (18-5-4, 5) fight in their third bout, with Hanagata looking to make her first defense of the IBF Atomweight. In their first two bouts these two actually fought to draws, showing how well matched they were, not however Ikeyama is heading towards her 50th birthday whilst Hanagata, for the first time in her career, is fighting as a world champion and looking to keep the title she tried so hard to win. We expect this to be a hotly contested bout, though feel that Ikeyama's age may finally have caught up with here. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hanagata and Ikeyama set to meet for third time, following two draws!
In the co-feature we'll see the WBA Atomweight title being unified as regular champion Monserrat Alarcon (12-4-2) takes on interim champion Ayaka Miyao (23-7-1, 6). These two were meant to fight in 2018, though Alarcon was injured in the lead up to the fight, leading to Miyao fighting Hanagata for the interim belt. Sadly Miyao has been inactive through the whole of 2019, and this is a tough return to the ring after so long out. We're expecting this to be a really fun, eye catching fight, and the styles should gel well, though we do feel the local fighter has the edge. Our preview of this contest is available to read here Miyao and Alarcon fight to unify WBA Atomweight crown!
The third title bout will see the fast rising Eri Matsuda (3-0) defending her Japanese Atomweight title, as she takes on Mont Blanc Miki (4-2-1, 1). Matsuda, who has already unified JBC and OPBF titles, is one of the most natural boxers on the female scene, and has a very text book style, basing things off her jab and movement. She should be far too good for Miki, who has been stopped twice already. We assume that the plan is for Matsuda to move to world level if she looks impressive here. Our preview of this national title fight can be read here Matsuda seeks first Japanese title defense!
One other bout of note here will see Nanae Suzuki (8-3-1, 1), who lost to Matsuda in March, battle against Minayo Kei (6-4, 1), who actually lost to Matsuda last year. The winner of this may well find themselves picking up the pieces after Matsuda steps up to world class, making this a genuinely significant match up in terms of the divisional development.
Whilst we understand most fans aren't too interested in female boxing, or the lower weights, we love these themed cards and this one certainly appears to be setting up longer narratives in terms of the Atomweight division. The bouts are all meaningful and potentially help set up future bouts, which is something the sport needs to try and do more often to try and get fans coming back and remaining interested in a longer vision.
We get the latest in the female only "Victoriva" series of shows this coming Wednesday as we get "Victoriva Vol 4" at the Korakuen Hall. The card isn't as stacked as some of the previous shows under the banner but does feature two really good looking title bouts, both of which are worthy of some attention for fans of female boxing.
The main event will see Atomweight titles being unified as OPBF champion Eri Matsuda (2-0) faces Japanese champion Nanae Suzuki (8-2-1, 1) in a fantastic match up. The unbeaten, and fast tracked, Matsuda is a delightful fighter to watch and her OPBF title win back in December was a brilliant performance, out pointing Minayo Kei over 8 rounds. Suzuki is a battler, and come be a nightmare up close for Matsuda, though the unbeaten fighter will look to make the most of her hand speed and excellent foot work, in what should be a great clash of styles. Our preview of this bout is available here Matsuda and Suzuki battle to unify titles!
The chief support bout will see JBC and OPBF female Bantamweight champion Miyo Yoshida (11-1) defending her national title, and we believe only the Japanese title, as JBC #1 ranked contender Yoshie Wakasa (6-0, 2). Yoshida has been on a tear, winning her last 7 bouts, unifying the Japanese and OPBF crowns and going 4-0 in title bouts. Wakasa is fighting in her first title bout, but as an unbeaten challenger she is clearly hungry and will be coming into this bout knowing it's her chance to get a career best win. This could be very, very exciting, even if it's not likely to be the tidiest of bouts to watch. Our preview of this bout is available here Yoshida takes on unbeaten Wakasa in upcoming defense
As well as the show in Tokyo there is also a Filipino card scheduled.
The main event here is set to be Jason Buenaobra (7-3-3, 3) taking on the once beaten Joseph Ambo (8-1-1, 6) in a well matched contest. The 24 year old Buenaobra is the only fighter to have heard the final bell with teenage sensation Carl Jammes Martin and has reeled off a 5 fight unbeaten run since then, but does lack power and hasn't scored a stoppage since his 5th bout. Ambo on the other hand is a puncher but was beaten last time out, losing a decision in Thailand to Sukkasem Kietyongyuth. Ambo will be looking to return to winning ways, whilst Buenaobra will be looking to extend his unbeaten run to 6 bouts.
Also set for this card is the unbeaten Denmark Quibido (8-0-1, 5), who saw his record being marked up late last year with a technical draw against Joel Taduran. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced.
This coming Tuesday we'll see a female card from Watanabe, under the Victoriva banner. The card isn't a big one, but is headlined by the third meeting between two world class Japanese fighters, fighting for an interim world title, and a Japanese female title fight. It was also supposed to feature Chaoz Minowa as well, but she got removed from the show so that she could fight for a world title in Mexico instead.
The main event will be the third bout between Ayaka Miyao (22-7-1, 6) and Nao Ikeyama (18-4-3, 5), as the two women trade blows for the WBA interim Atomweight. Originally Miyao was supposed to fight for the full version of the title, challenging Monserrat Alcaron, but the Mexican suffered an injury whilst lead to Ikeyama taking her place in the bout, and the interim title being on the line. These two have a lot of history, with Ikeyama beating Miyao twice, both times by stoppage. The first of those came very early in both fighters careers, and they would both go on to claim world titles. Miyao would go on to hold the WBA Atomweight title whilst Ikeyama would later win the WBO version of the title. The two fought for the second in 2016, and Ikeyama would win by TKO when Miyao suffered a freak knee injury. Now neither is a world champion, but both will know this is a major bout, not just for their rivalry, but also so for their futures, with the loser really having nowhere to go, whilst the winner has a WBA title shot lined up for 2019. A full preview for this bout can be here Miyao Vs Ikeyama III- WBA interim title on the line!
The other title bout on this card will see Nanae Suzuki (7-2-1, 1) defending her JBC Atomweight title against Sayaka Aoki (4-3-2, 3). Suzuki lost 2 of her first 3 bouts, but has since gone 6-0-1 to win, and defend the title. Sadly whilst talented Suzuki really lacks power and is almost 2 years removed from her last stoppage win. Aoki also started her career badly, going 1-3, but she has since gone 3-0-2 and has shown power, albeit against novices. For Aoki this will be her best opponent, whilst Suzuki will be facing off with her most dangerous foe to date.
This coming Monday Dangan put on their second “Victoriva” show, which took the role of Dangan Ladies. From that it should be clear that this will be an all female show, and it actually features a couple of female title fights.
The main event of the card will see Miyo Yoshida (9-1) take on Filipino foe Gretel de Paz (5-3, 2) in a bout for the vacant OPBF female Bantamweight title. The once beaten Yoshida has reeled off 5 straight wins, including a big win over Tomomi Takano for the Japanese female title, and looks to be getting better and better as she develops her in ring experience. As for de Paz she is pretty much a journey-woman, with her last 3 fights all taking place away from home. The visitor won last time out, against a debutant, but we can't see her beating the very in form Yoshida here.
The second title fight will see Japanese Atomweight champion Nanae Suzuki (6-2-1, 1) defending her belt against Akari Arase (6-4, 1), in what will be Suzuki's first defense of the title. Teh champion claimed the belt back in March, when she took a majority decision win over Sana Hazuki, in what was the second meeting between the two women. The 36 year old Arase is better than her record suggests, having ran Masae Akitaya close last year, but is no world beater and a win here would be her best win to date.
A supporting bout will see the aforementioned Sana Hazuki (6-3-1, 2) taking on the debuting Eri Matsuda (0-0) in a 6 round bout. As mentioned Hazuki has twice faced Suzuki in Japanese title fights, drawing once and losing a majority decision, showing that she is among the top domestic fighters at 102lbs. Matsuda on the other hand was a former amateur stand out who is jumping in at the deep end here. A win for Matsuda would see her announce herself on the national stage and be a huge way to kick off her career, but of course Hazuki is not there to make up the numbers.
Another supporting bout of note will see the once beaten Tomoko Okuda (4-1-1) battle against the unbeaten Yoshie Wakasa (5-0, 2). Okuda lost on her debut but has since gone 4-0-1 and moved into 6 rounders. Wakasa on the other hand has avoided a loss so far, but this will be her first 6 rounder. Interestingly neither fighter has a win of any real note so the winner here will have a career best win.
In the last few year's we've seen female boxing grow in the west, thanks to former amateur fighters like Katie Taylor, Nicola Adams and Claressa Shields. It's worth noting however that over the last few years Japan have had some all-female cards. The next one of those takes place this coming Thursday, and is the most stacked all-female card in Japanese history, with an incredible 6 title bouts, ranging from Japanese to world title bouts.
The main event is one of the two world title bouts, and will see WBO female Minimumweight champion Kayoko Ebata (11-7, 6) make her first defense, as she takes on Korean veteran Ji Hyun Park (22-2, 6). The Japanese fighter won the belt last May, in her 6th world title fight, and will be fully aware that a loss here will likely end her career, given that she's 42 years old. The Korean challenger is 32 and was once a very highly regarded fighter, but she comes into this bout after having not fought in over 2 years. At her best Park was a real talent, but with ring rust she may well not be the fighter she once was, or look like a fighter who has an active 16 fight unbeaten run.
The other world title fight promises to be something a bit special as the highly aggressive Chaoz Minowa (5-0, 4) battles Tenkai Tsunami (24-12, 13) for the vacant WBO female Light Flyweight title. The unbeaten Minowa has spoke about winning world titles in a number of weight classes nut this will be her first world title fight and it's a genuinely tough one for the 30 year old former amateur standout. To date Minowa has mowed mowed through her first 5 foes in a combined 18 rounds and looked a truly spiteful force, but she is taking a huge step up in class here. Tsunami is a former WBA female Super Flyweight champion, holding that title for more than 3 years, and has fought a who's who of female boxing, often giving top fighters very tough fights. This could be something very exciting.
In an OPBF female Minimumweight title bout fans will see former world title challengers clash, with Saemi Hanagata (13-7-4, 7) battling Erika Hanawa (8-1, 3). It was Hanawa that was beaten by the aforementioned Ebata last year for the WBO title at this weight, and since then she has claimed the interim OPBF title. It's worth noting however that Hanagata is a 2-time OPBF champion who has come up just short in 4 world title bouts, and is hungry to get a 5th shot at at world honours.
In a Japanese female Bantamweight title bout fans will see Miyo Yoshida (8-1) make her first defense as she takes on Kai Johnson (5-11-3, 2). The champion won the title last October when she narrowly out pointed Tomomi Takano and will be favoured to retain her title, but Johnson is better than her record suggests, and is much better than a typical fighter on a 6 fight losing run.
A Japanese Flyweight title bout will see the inaugural champion being crowned, as Yuki Koseki (5-4, 1) takes on Yumemi Ikemoto (4-1). On paper Koseki looks the lesser of the two but she has mixed with good opponents, and has gone 1-1 with the aforementioned Yoshida. Ikemoto on the other hand hasn't faced anyone of any real note and is clearly stepping up a level here.
Another inaugural title will be the JBC female Atomweight class, which will be competed for between Sana Hazuki (6-2-1, 2) and Nanae Suzuki (5-2-1, 1), who fought to a draw in a bout for this very same title back in December. On paper these two are very evenly matched, and the fact the judges failed to separate them last time out suggests this could be a very competitive contest again.