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.
This coming Sunday is an incredibly hectic day in Japan with 4 different shows across the country, and when we talk about them being across the country we do mean that with hundreds of miles separating some of the shows.
The most notable card, in many ways, is in Kumamoto in the South West of Japan, where Yakushiji Promotions will be putting on a very significant card.
The main event of this show will be a rematch between Musashi Mori (8-0, 5) and Richard Pumicpic (21-9-2, 6). These two fought last November, when Mori took a technical decision over Pumicpic to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title, and he will be looking to make his first defense of that national title here. Pumicpic, a real under-rated Filipino warrior, will be hungry to avenge his loss. This is set to be a very, very tough bout and will be shown live on local TV channel TKU. Sadly for those outside of Kunamoto this appears to be a bout we won't be getting. A full preview of this bout can be read here Mori and Pumicpic battle again!
Whilst the main event is brilliant it's not the only bout of note and the show features a number of notable prospects. Among those is the very highly regarded Ginjiro Shigeoka (2-0, 2) who steps into his first 8 round bout, and takes on once beaten Filipino Joel Lino (10-1-1, 3). Lino's only loss came to Shigeoka's stablemate, and recent world title challenger, Masataka Taniguchi. This is a very serious test for Shigeoka, but also a bit that gives him a chance to gain immediate comparisons to Taniguchi, whilst Lino gets the chance to perform in front of a notable Japanese crowd.
Another Japan Vs Philippines bout will see the aggressive Seiya Tsutsumi (4-0, 3) take on the tough Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-13-3, 11), in what could be a really fun war. Tsutsumi has one of the most fan friendly, aggressive and exciting styles out there whilst Ponteras is a criminally under-rated veteran, who has never been stopped and can be a banana skin for better known fighters. Thhis could be a very, very exciting bout.
Another notable fighter on this card was 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Sora Takeda (4-1, 1), who will be up against Sanchai Yotboon (4-2, 4), the man the aforementioned Shigeoka made his debut against. We suspect Takeda will have the skills to over-come the Thai visitor, but this could be a good test of Takeda's metal.
Another of the more notable Japanese cards comes form Hyogo, in a female orientated card.
The biggest match up here here will see former WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (17-6-1, 8) take on former WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama (18-5-3, 5) in what is a must win bout for both fighters, who both have suffered 2 recent losses. Kuroki is the younger fighter, and certainly the one with more upside, though at 49 Ikeyama has proven that age really is just a number and she will be looking to extend her career in to her 50's with a win. This should be a very interesting bout, though Kuroki should enter as the clear favourite. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuroki and Ikeyama battle in must win bout!
As well as the Kuroki Vs Ikeyama bout, there will be two title bouts on this show. One of those bouts will see Japan's in form Shione Ogata (10-6, 2) face once beaten Filipino foe Charimae Salvador (4-1, 1) for the vacant OPBF female Light Flyweight title. Ogata has won her last 3, claiming a WBA Asia and WBO Asia Pacific title in her last 2 bouts, As for Salvador she was beaten last time out, at Atomweight, but will be fighting at her natural weight here. We're expecting Ogata to pick up another win, but this isn't going to be a walk in the park.
The other title bout on this card will be a bizarre KBM and JBC female title bout, the first since a new OPBF rule was brought into play. The bout will pit Japan's Tamao Ozawa (15-5, 6) up against Korean Hye Soo Park (5-7-1, 1). The winner will become a unified 2-nation champion, albeit temporarily, with the winner likely to immediately vacate the other nation's title. The idea to this is to create depth to thinner divisions, but leads to some odd situations like this.
At the L-Theatre in Osaka fans will see a small card with a few notable names involved.
The main event of this card will see OPBF, JBC and WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter Dynamic Kenji (10-3, 7) take on a Thai foe, who we believe will be Sophon Klachun (4-2, 1). We don't see this being much of a test for Kenji, who is edging his way towards a title fight, and will look to take the visitor out as he advances his march towards a career defining bout.
In an 8 round supporting bout fans will see Noboru Osato (10-7-4, 2) and the once beaten Ryotaro Motohashi (8-1, 2) battle in a very interesting match up. Neither of these men are big names, but they should make for a very competitive contest, much more saw the than records suggest.
Another 8 round supporting bout on this card will see Daijiro Yuki (8-5-1, 4) battle against Japanese ranked Welterweight Kazuyasu Okamoto (14-6, 4). This will be Okumoto's first bout since losing to Japanese champion Ryota Yada, and he will be looking to end a 2 fight losing run. Yuki on the other hand will be seeking a career best win.
The least notable of the Japanese cards takes place in Tsu and will be headlined by a Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title bout, with Yuto Nakamura (9-5, 7) defending his title against Toma Kondo (7-4, 1). This should be a hotly contested bout, though it's hard to doubt Nakamura and his edge in power. A full preview of this bout is available here Nakamura seeks first defense of youth crown, faces Kondo.
A notable supporting bout here will see former OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Roli Gasca (24-8-1, 8), who recently signed with Osaka Teiken, take on the once beaten Shuma Sugawara (6-1, 4). This looks like a huge step up for Sugawara, but a win puts him on the title hunt, whilst Gasca will be fighting for the first time in well over a year.
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 Sunday is set to be a hectic day for fight fans in Japan with 5 different shows across the country. They include 4 different title fights, ranging from Japanese youth to female world title fights, and a number of other notable fighters in action in what is genuinely a crazy day.
The most notable show in Japan is in Osaka, where we get an OPBF title fight along with two bouts featuring former world title challengers and several prospects.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani (16-0, 10) seek his next defence, as he faces off with Japanese Youth champion Izuki Tomioka (5-0-1, 1). The challenger has shown a lot of skill, but his lack of power has been a problem, and he has struggled to get the respect of fighters so far, notably Yuichiro Kasuya and Kaiki Yuba. Nakatani on the other hand has been the OPBF champion for more than 4 years, and has already recorded 9 defenses, though sadly the quality of those defenses has gone down hill and there is clearly frustration with Nakatani who has long looked like he is ready for a world title fight, before he out grows the division.
One of the former world title challengers on this show is Shohei Omori (18-2, 13), who will be fighting for the first time since April 2017, when he was stopped in 11 rounds by Marlon Tapales. The once touted Omori was supposed to return earlier this year, but saw that bout being cancelled when his opponent for it failed to make weight. Omori will be up against recent OPBF title challenger Brian Lobetania (13-5-3, 11) in what is a really tough match up. The heavy handed Filipino announced himself to Japanese fans when he stopped Kai Chiba in January but came up short in March against Hidenori Otake. Chiba is limited but is a serious puncher and could give Omori real issues if he can land.
Another bout actually pits two former world title challengers against each other, as former Super Flyweight title challenger Sho Ishida (25-1, 14) faces former Light Flyweight title challenger Richard Claveras (18-4-2, 15). For Ishida this will be his second bout since a 2017 loss to Kal Yafai in the UK, in what was a genuinely forgettable contest. As for Claveras ,who was stopped by Pedro Guevara back in 2015, this bout comes after his loss to Andrew Moloney back in May. This should be a good match up, but it's hard to imagine Calaveras being big enough or strong enough to stop Ishida.
Also on this card are two pretty lower level fights. One of those will see the once touted Tatsuya Ikemizu (18-2, 7) take on once beaten Filipino Conrado Tanamor (10-1, 4), who was stopped last time out. The other will see the unbeaten Masayoshi Hashizume (15-0-1, 10) risk his unbeaten record against Marjun Pantilgan (18-4, 14), who was beaten last time out, losing an 8 round decision to Ryusei Kawaura.
The Japanese youth fight will be held in Aichi and see Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Takuya Mizuno (14-1-1, 12) defending his title against fellow youngster Jinya Ito (7-3-1, 2). The hard hitting Mizuno will be seeking his third defense of the title and looking to build on recent wins over Ryota Ishida, Yuki Iriguchi and Daiki Maniwa. This will be a huge step up in class for Ito, but he has won his last 3 and does have a little bit of momentum coming into this, it should however be noted that he had lost his 3 previous bouts and does lack of win of note.
Also on this card is the debut of Koshin Takeshima (0-0), who went 82-19 in the amateurs and shined in the unpaid ranks. He'll be battling against Indonesian Yohanis Tatul (3-1, 2), who appears to have been a relatively late replacement for Jundullah M Fauzan (5-1, 2). Given the expectation on Takeshima's shoulders anything barring a dominant win would be considered a disappointment for the new Matsuda gym fighter.
One of those female world title bouts comes from Kyoto, where WBO Atomwieght champion Nao Ikeyama (18-3-3, 5) defends he belt in a rematch against Mika Iwakawa (7-5-1, 3). The 48 year old champion has made 6 defenses already, and has really shone since defeating Iwakawa way back in December 2013. Despite the good run for the champion there is always a question as to how much longer she can continue at the highest level. As for Iwakawa her form has been pretty poor, going 4-3 in her last 7, though she did run Yunoka Furukawa incredibly close in a WBA title fight back in 2016.
In Kumamoto fans will see former WBO Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (20-6-6, 7) taking on domestic foe Naoya Haruguchi (15-8, 6). Originally this bout was announced as a world title prelude for Fukuhara, who is looking to have another reign as a world champion, but it's unclear which champion he is looking to fight. Coming in to this it's also worth noting that Fukuhara has lost 2 of his last 3, losing the WBO title to Ryuya Yamanaka and losing in a WBC world title fight to Wanheng Menayothin. As for Haruguchi he will be seen as a straight forward for for Fukuhara but Haruguchi has shown he can upset fighters, as he did against Norihito Tanaka and Jeffrey Galero. This could be much better than the records suggest.
Also on this card, in much lesser bouts, will be Ryotaro Motohashi (7-1, 2) and Tamao Ozawa (13-5, 5), who both take on limited foreign visitors.
The other female world title fight will see WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami (25-12, 14), who makes her first defense as she takes on Filipino challenger Gretchen Abaniel (18-9, 6). The talented Tsunami won the belt earlier this year, when she wore down Chaoz Minowa, but will be up against a very different challenge here. Unlike Minowa, who is an aggressive and wild fighter, Abaniel is a skilled and experience boxer who will look to keep Tsunami at range and out manoeuvre her in what could be a very interesting stylistic clash.
The only other bout of any interest on this card will see OPBF #1 ranked female Flyweight Yumemi Ikemoto (5-1) take on the #4 ranked Carleans Rivas (6-5-3) in what should be a much better fighter than it looks on paper.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
In the Philippines there will also be a pretty notable card, featuring two fast rising Uzbek stars, some unbeaten Filipino prospects and a former world title challenger.
One of the Uzbek prospects is Jasur Akhmadjonov (5-0, 3) who will be looking to secure his 5th win of 2018 as he takes on Filipino foe Rodel Wenceslao (12-16-1, 5). The Uzbek has impressed so far and looks to be having a very busy 2018. As for the Filipino he's very limited and with 7 stoppage losses it's hard to imagine him lasting the 10 round distance here.
The other Uzbek is teenager Ulugbek Sobirov (5-0, 3), who faced 34 year old Dennis Padua (11-14-2, 6). The 19 year old Sobirov debuted in January and looks like a real prospect to keep an eye on. Sadly however this bout won't really help Sobirov build his reputation, though should help him secure his 6th win as a professional. As for Padua he has been stopped in 11 of his 27 professional bouts, and we expect to see him being stopped again here.
In terms of local prospects the card will feature Jade Bornea (11-0, 7), Jerven Mama (5-0-1, 3) and Jerry Francisco (4-0, 1). Sadly from those 3 only Mama is the only one set to face a notable foe, as he takes on Rey Tagulaylay (6-1, 2).
Also on this show will be former world title challenger Richie Mepranum (32-7-1, 9), who faces Jetly Purisima (21-2-4, 6) in what will be a rematch of a 2015 clash between the two men.
Seoul, South Korea
There is also a triple title show in Seoul.
The most notable bout on the card will see WBA Asia Welterweight champion Ma Roo Jung (8-4-1, 2) defending his title against the unbeaten Heuk San Lee (6-0-1, 3). Of the two fighters it's Lee who has the more interesting story, having been a refugee from Cameroon who has since gone on to claim the Boxing M Light Middleweight title. Although Lee has impressed this looks set to be his toughest fight so far. Jung impressed us last time out, in what was his title winning effort, as he out pointed the very capable Moon Hyun Yun. We're expecting this to be a genuinely exciting bout for the fans in Korea.
At Super Middleweight fans will be able to see Joon Yong Lee (6-4-4, 3) take on Tae San Kil (4-0, 2) for the vacant Boxing M title. Lee is best known for his 2016 draw against Koki Tyson and showed there was something about him in that loss. Kil on the other hand is another Cameroon born fighter based in Korea. His competition so far has been very unremarkable but this should be a good step up and we should be in for a very decent bout here.
The remaining title bout on this card will see O Gon Kwon (6-2-2, 4) battle against Tae Seung Kim (7-3-1, 5) for the Boxing M Lightweight title. Kwon is unbeaten in his last 3, but was stopped back in March 2017 by Beom Kyu Lee. Kim has been stopped in all 3 of his losses, and is now 43, but has got power. We're not expecting this one to go the distance but we are expecting this to be very fun.
This coming Tuesday Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall get a title doubler header, with a regional title fight, and a female world title fight.
The main event of the card sees the popular Nihito Arakawa (29-6-1, 17) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight title against Filipino foe Marbon Bodiongan (14-5-2, 11). The Japanese fighter, best known for his match up with Omar Figueroa, looks to make his first defense of the title and extend a good 4 fight winning run. Aged 35, and having had a very hard career, Arakawa is likely to age over-night but should have too much for Bodiongan, who has lost 4 of his last 7 including a stoppage last year to Masaru Sueyoshi in Japan.
The world title bout on the card will see WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama (18-3-2, 5) attempt to make her 6th defense of the title as she takes on former foe Saemi Hanagata (13-6-3, 7). Last year the two fought to a split decision draw and a rematch always looked like it would make sense, and be genuinely exciting. At the age of 47 Ikeyama is the oldest ever Japanese world champion and will be looking to extend that record further here, whilst Hanagata will be in her 4th world title challenge, having yet to win one.9
A really nice looking under-card bout here will see Masayuki Ichikawa (6-4-1, 2) take on Hizuki Saso (6-4-1, 2) in a real 50-50 on paper. The two men have identical records, and both have similar form with a a 3 fight win-less run, with the most recent of those bouts being a split decision draw between the two men in January. This really could be a very intriguing and competitive bout.
It's worth noting that Sho Kimura (14-1-2, 7) will take part in the show, despite cancelling his bout with former world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng (50-4-1, 27). Instead of fighting Kimura will discuss his upcoming bout with WBO Flyweight world champion Zou Shiming (9-1, 2).
With all the big fights at the end of the year it's fair to say that there is a lot set to happen in Japan before the end of 2016. The wait for world title action does however end this coming Tuesday as Japanese fans get a world title double title header at the Korakuen Hall as part of Dangan Ladies 3.
The main event of the card sees WBA Atomweight champion Yunoka Furukawa (8-1-2, 6) battle against OPBF female Light Flyweight champion Mika Iwakawa (6-4-1, 2). For Furukawa this will be her first defense and a chance to establish herself as one of the rising young female stars of Japanese boxing. Coming into this the champion has stopped her last 4 foes, including Satomi Nishimura last time out, and is unbeaten in her last 9, following a 1-1 start. For Iwakawa the bout will be her first world title bout, but she has mixed with good company including Brisa Hernandez, Kumiko Seeser Ikehara, Nao Ikeyama and Mako Yamada.
The second title bout sees WBO Atomweight queen Nao Ikeyama (17-3-2, 4) defending her title against former WBA champion Ayaka Miyao (21-6-1, 5). The 47 year old Ikeyama, the oldest world champion ever from Japan, will be looking to record her 5th defense of the title, a title that she won back in May 2014, but is taking on a world class fighter here in the form of Miyao. The challenger held the WBA title from 2012 until 2015, when she lost a narrow decision to Momo Koseki, and will be looking to become a 2-time champion here.
A third title bout on this card will see the incredibly exciting Chaoz Minowa (2-0, 2) face off against Filipino Carleans Rivas (5-3-3) for the OPBF female Flyweight title. Minowa, who only debuted back in September, has been put on the fast track to the top and will know that a win here would see her winning her first title less than 3 months after debuting. She's spoken about being a multi-weight world champion and will know that to do that she will have to win an Oriental title first. As for Rivas she has gone 3-3-2 in her last 8 and whilst she is more experienced than Minowa she will be the huge under-dog here.
The month of June has been relatively busy with low key action so far. That action continues this coming Monday in what looks set to be a brilliant card at the Korakuen Hall.
The main event of the card is one of two world title fights, and sees WBO female Bantamweight queen Naoko Fujioka (14-1,6) defending her title against compatriot Shindo Go (16-3, 11), in what is expected to be Go's final fight before she transitions to becoming a man later in the year. The bout should be a really good one and should be one of the most well matched bouts at the top level of female boxing.
The other world title bout will see WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama (17-3-1, 4) defending her title against the under-rated Saemi Hanagata (12-6-2, 6), in what should be a thrilling contest. At 46 Ikeyama knows a loss could be the end of her career, whilst Hanagata will see this as her best chance to win a world title. The bout isn't on the same level as the main event but is a great match up and could be, stylistically at least, a thriller.
In a supporting bout Takafumi Nakajima (25-7-1, 10) will be facing Jonathan Baat (30-7-5, 14), in what looks like an absolute corker between two genuine veterans. Baat is the more proven fighter however at 35 years old he may be coming to the end, and is win-less in his last 3 bouts, whilst Nakajima has won his last 3 and is looking like a genuinely hungry 31 year old.
Another good looking supporting bout sees the once touted Naoto Uebayashi (9-1-1, 5) battle against Mikihito Seto (34-12-3. 19). Uebayashi was tipped for big then when he turned professional a few years ago, following a very successful career in the amateurs, but problems with durability has seen him struggle to make a good run in the professional ranks. Seto, a genuine veteran at 36, has won just twice in his last 6 bouts but should prove to be a good test for Uebayashi, who really cannot afford another slip up.
One final bout of note will see the exciting Akihiro Kondo (24-6-1, 11) battle against Tanva Malihom (0-1) in a stay busy bout.
This coming Saturday is certainly a busy day with a number of shows that are worthy of noting.
On paper the best show of the day is an Osaka Teiken show at the EDION Arena Osaka. The card features 3 bouts of note despite none of the bouts being title affairs.
The main event of the card sees Japanese and OPBF ranked prospect Sho Nakazawa (7-0, 4) battling against Daisuke Watanabe (2-1, 2). On paper this looks like a mismatch, especially given the hype and expectancy that Nakazawa has on his shoulders, however Watanabe has been matched hard and could well bring a hunger and desire that Nakazawa hasn't yet seen. If the “Sho of Naniwa” gets through this one then it's likely that he will be moved into a title bout in 2016, however we don't have this one pegged down as a foregone conclusion.
One bout that is a foregone conclusion will see the once beaten Tatsuya Ikemizu (12-1, 5) battle against a Thai foe, who is thought to be very inexperienced and was brought in at very late notice. The 22 year old Ikemizu is coming into this one following his first loss, though that loss did come to the talented Mark John Yap, who is a real handful despite his less than flattering record. We can't see this being any more than a confidence builder for the Osaka based Japanese youngster.
Whilst Ikemizu and Nakazawa are worth of some attention it's fair to say that more fans will be interested in a 4 rounder that features the promising Juiki Tatsuyoshi (2-0, 2). Juiki, the son of Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, will be hoping to record a 3rd straight stoppage win as he faces Koichi Wakita (2-1). Although not regarded as a major prospect Tatsuyoshi has looked exciting, aggressive and heavy handed so far, and those traits should see him to a win here.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka fight fans get an historic event as the country puts on it's first ever professional boxing card. The show, which will be the first to be held in Colombia since Sri Lanka was formed more than 60 years ago, is an event being promoted by a Japanese promoter who will be hoping his fighter can become the first champion to successfully defend a world title in the country.
That aforementioned world champion is WBO Atomweight queen Nao Ikeyama (16-3-1, 4) who defends her title, at the age of 46, against Filipino challenger Jujeath Nagaowa (13-15-1, 8). On paper this looks like a straight forward defense for the champion, however she is 18 years old than the challenger and “father” time is currently unbeaten in the ring. Ikeyama is certainly among the better “40+” fighters but we don't expect her to reign for too long and Nagaowa may have got her at the right time here.
Another female bout on this card will see Tamao Ozawa (9-2, 2) take on Thailand's Kledpetch KKP (6-4, 1) in what looks likely to be a simple win for Ozawa, who won an OPBF title just a couple of fights back and is clearly hoping to achieve bigger and better things before her career is over.
In a rare show from Azerbaijan fans get the chance to see a local “star” as Fariz Mammadov (18-2-1, 12) battle for the WBF Light Middleweight title. The Baku local appears to be in a tough one on paper as he takes on Badru Lusambya (24-2-2, 22), from Uganda. This is an interesting match up on paper, and although Lusambya, who is known as “Mr Crush”, has lost his most notable bouts his power does look legitimate and could be very problematic for Mammadov.
Manchester, United Kingdom
In the UK fans will see the return to the ring of Indian star Vijender Singh (2-0, 2) who looks for his third straight stoppage win as he takes on Samet Hyuseinov (7-7, 1). On paper this is, by far, the most testing bout of Singh's career, however that's not saying much and we don't expect Singh to really break a sweat here against a Bulgarian opponent who has won just one of his last 5 bouts.
Talented Filipino Dodie Boy Penalosa Jr (16-0, 12) will be returning to the ring to continue his career, and fight for the 4th time this year. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent hasn't been named, though it's unlikely to be anyone testing for the Filipino who has fought some very poor opposition in his last 3 contests. We don't like seeing mismatches so we are hoping that in 2016 Penalosa Jr will step his competition up rather than just “staying busy” as he has done recently.
Davao del Norte, Philippines
In the Philippines fans get the chance to see another unbeaten Filipino prospect in action as 22 year old Flyweight hopeful Genesis Libranza (8-0, 5) takes on compatriot Juan Purisima (11-8-1, 4). On paper it's hard to bet against Libranza however Purisima is better than his record suggests and has scored upsets against the likes of Renren Tesorio and Welbeth Loberanis, whilst also sharing the ring with world class fighters, like Roman Gonzalez and Jerwin Ancajas. This is a much better fight the records suggest.
Distrito Federal, Mexico
In Mexico fans will get the chance to see former world title challenge Nana Yoshikawa (4-1, 2) take on Denisse De La Cruz (0-1). This is Yoshikawa's first bout since losing to Anable Ortiz in a bout for the WBA female Minimumweight title, back in April. Despite the loss, and the fact this is her first bout outside of Osaka, it's hard to see Yoshikawa losing to Nana.
As February has gotten going we have, slowly, seen the boxing world awaken and it now seems that March is going to continue the trend. Before we get to March however we need to see out February which looks set to go out with a bang...
The action in Japan to end the month isn't the best but it is notable with a couple of world title bouts as well as a former 2-weight world champion. Unfortunately those “world” class fighters are all female fighters and lack the attention that their male counterparts would get.
The former 2-weight world champion is Mari Ando (11-7, 5) who battles against experienced Filipino fighter Jujeath Nagaowa (12-13-1, 8) in what looks to be an easy fight but really could be surprisingly difficult. Ando isn't a brilliant fight and although she is a multi-weight world champion her reigns have both been short. Nagaowa hasn't been a world champion but has been in with a who's who such as Momo Koseki, Samson Tor Buamas and Shindo Go whilst also being narrowly beaten in a number of other losses. This could, potentially, be a very competitive contest.
One of the world champions in action is WBO female Minimumweight champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (6-1-1, 3) who will be hoping to record the first defence of her title as she battles against Filipino challenger Jessebelle Pagaduan (7-1, 4) in what looks like a greatest contest on paper. Sadly the paper is unlikely to give a full reflection of this bout and Pagaduan was beaten less than a year ago by Ikehara's friend Naoa Ikeyama in a bout for the WBO Atomweight title in a bout that really wasn't competitive. We suspect Ikehara looks just as dominated against Pagaduan as Ikeyama did.
Talking about Nao Ikeyama (15-3-1, 4) the WBO Atomweight champion will also be in action as she defends her belt, for the second time, and takes on Norj Guro (7-3-1, 4). The Japanese veteran, aged 45, will likely retire if she loses here however she will be favoured coming into the bout against the distinctly less than impressive Guro who has won just twice in her last 6 bouts.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines fans get a low level domestic show which is likely to give a number of prospects a chance to stay busy.
In one of the feature bouts fans will see the world ranked Rene Patilano (12-1-2, 6) battle against “domestic loser” Aroel Romasasa (11-8, 5) who is in desperate need for a win after losing 8 straight following an 11-0 start to his career.
Another of the feature bouts will see the unbeaten Jay Loto (9-0) fight against the limited JC Francisco (6-9-3, 2) in what looks like a mismatch on paper for the unbeaten but light punching Loto, who is known as “The Mindoro Assasin” despite his lack of power.
Another well regarded unbeaten fighter on this card will be Randy Braga (14-0-1, 3) who battles the experienced Cristian Aliba (12-15-3, 4) in what looks like being one of the most competitive bouts on the shame, even though Braga should extend his unbeaten record.
As well as the 3 bouts mentioned the card is expected to feature a further 8 contests.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Another Filipino in action will be the heavy handed and criminally under-rated Rey Loreto (19-13, 11) who will be hoping that lightning strikes twice as he defends his IBO Light Flyweight for the first time. Last year we saw Loreto make a name for himself as he stopped former world champion Nkosinathi Joyi (24-3-0-1, 17) in eye catching fashion and he'll be hoping to do the same again when he travels to Joyi's homeland in a much anticipated rematch.
German fans will get the chance to see a potentially explosive encounter as “unbeaten” Kazakhstan Isa Akberbayev (14-0-0-1, 10) battles against Argentinian KO artist Ruben Angel Mino (25-1, 25). Mino has one of the most impressive looking records on paper however it is incredibly padded and it's hard to see how he'll fare here. Akberbayev was a touted prospect a few years ago though he was “exposed” when he was iced by Anthony Ferrante in January 2013 and it's hard to see him ever reaching his perceived ceiling, saying that he should win here against the limited but heavy handed Mino.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Some days are busy with great fights, other with mismatches. Today however we get a day of title fights with 3 world titles and various other regional titles on the line
Baja California, Mexico
The most notable bout of the day is in Mexico where Thai veteran Terdsak Kokietgym (53-4-1, 33) battles Mexican veteran Orlando Salido (41-12-2-1, 28) in a really interesting bout for the interim WBO Featherweight title. The bout might only be for an "interim" belt but the two two men will know that a win here will really boost their profile and their chances of fighting for the proper WBO title next year. It's sadly a bout that Terdsak will not be expected to win, though in the past he has shown his ability to be competitive in high profile bouts, most notably his world title bout with Takahiro Ao. This is a tough ask but looks to be a great bout.
It's not just in Mexico that we get a world title bout and in fact we get a brace of them in Osaka, albeit female world title bouts.
The first of those will see veteran Nao Ikeyama (14-3-1, 4) defending her WBO Atomweight title against former foe Masae Akitaya (9-4-3, 2) in what looks to be a competitive contest between two fighters who have already fought in a competitive bout. For Ikeyama this will be a chance to defend her belt and at 44 years old she'll be all too aware that a loss could send her into retirement. For Akitaya this bout isn't just about the title and realising a dream of being a world champion but also about revenge for the fact she lost the first meeting between the two women back in 2010.
The second world title bout on this show will see Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (5-1-1, 3) battle Filipino visitor Gretchen Abaniel (15-5, 6) for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title that was given up a few weeks ago by Mako Yamada who decided to retire from boxing to focus on other things. We'll be honest, we think Yamada would dominate both of these fighters, likely on the same night, though against each other they should make for interesting contest. Neither is great though neither is awful and at 105lbs we expect to see a more impressive Abaniel than we saw against Ayaka Miyao last November. This could be a really decent fight.
A third contest on this show will be another female contest as Kai Johnson (5-5-3, 2), fresh off the back of her win over Tomomi Takano, takes on Tamao Ozawa (6-2, 2) in a second meeting between the two women who fought this past March. In the first meeting between the two Johnson scored a 2nd round KO over Ozawa and we'd not be hugely shocked to see Johnson score her third successive stoppage victory here.
In Uzbekistan we expect to see yet another title fight as Sherali Mamadjanov (10-1, 5) climbs in to the ring to take on domestic rival Hokim Karimov (3-1, 2) in a bout for the Uzbekistan Middleweight title. The bout is an inaugural title fight and although it's a low profile one it is the main event on a small domestic card in the Uzbek capital city. Knowing that Uzbekistan has a strong amateur line up we hope that shows like this can lure some of the amateurs over to the professional game. Sadly it's not looking likely to happen too much, though we can hope.
In the US we get the chance to see the promising Russian prospect And Konstantin Ponomarev (24-0, 12) battle against Mexican veteran Cosme Rivera (37-18-3-1, 25). This looks to be a good step forward for Ponomarev who will develop a lot from just fighting in the US in bouts like this. Although Rivera isn't the fighter he once was he should still have enough to test the unbeaten Russian.
(Image courtesy of Notifight)