Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Wednesday Korakuen Hall plays host to a small show from Hideki Todaka. Whilst the card is certainly not a huge one, it does have 3 bouts worthy of some attention.
The main event will be pitting two JBC ranked fighters against each other as the once beaten Yuki Nakajima (4-1-1, 4) takes on Ryuto Oho (12-5-1, 4) in what essentially a Japanese title eliminator, albeit not a final eliminator at 112lbs. Nakajima, the brother of Kazuki Nakajima, has seen his brother win a regional title in recent months and will be looking to replicate his success whilst Oho will be returning to the ring after more than 2 years out of action, with his last bout coming in May 2019 against Masamichi Yabuki. We have to favour Nakajima, but he certainly didn't look his best last time out, fighting to a draw with Toma Kondo at the end of 2020.
In the chief support bout we'll see Hiroshi Takaki (6-8-1, 2) take on JBC ranked Bantamweight contender Naoto Mizutani (7-7-2, 2) in an 8 rounder. On paper this doesn't look too much to get excited about but Mizutani has notched solid domestic wins over Joe Tanooka and Naoya Okamoto in 2 of his last 3 and and a win here would move him towards a potential Japanese title fight. As for Takaki he'll be back in the ring for the first time since April 2018 and it's going to be very interesting to see how much hunger he has for this return.
One other but on this card worthy of attention is the third professional bout of Issei Ochiai (2-0, 1), who is a highly regarded former Japanese amateur that some regard as one to watch over the coming decade. The 20 year Ochiai will be up against Rui Ikari (5-2-2-, 1), in what is a solid step up bout for the youngster. Interestingly neither of these young men have fought since 2019, and so we are expecting some rust to show from both, but the class and amateur pedigree from Ochiai should be too much here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The final Japanese show of a relatively quiet January is this coming Friday as Yokohama Hikari put on a very small show at Korakuen Hall. This really is a tiny show, with just 5 bouts announced for it, including 3 over the 4 round distance. Despite its short nature the show should, however, be a pretty interesting one for fans who can make their way to Korakuen Hall.
The most interesting of the 3 rounds will see Joker Ryo (1-0) look to build on his entertaining debut as he takes on the somewhat chinny Tsuyoshi Kato (1-2). Despite not being the most skilled Ryo appeared to be an aggressive, fun, crude slugger on his debut in October and he looks like someone who could make for fun fights. Kato on the other hand has been stopped in both of his losses, including a 2018 loss to Jin Sasaki, but should have a real size advantage over the much smaller Ryo. Despite being an easy to overlook novice bout this could, genuinely, be a very fun one to watch.
In the first of the two 8 rounders on this show Kosuke Ando (8-2, 3) will take on the JBC ranked Shuri Hasebe (8-5, 2). Ando is best known for his 2019 campaign, which saw him reach the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, before losing a majority decision to Sho Omote. Since that loss he has fought just once, taking a decision last October against Hidetoshi Takane. For this bout he will be competing in his first 8 rounder. As for Hasebe he earned his Japanese ranking in 2019, with an upset win over Desierto Nagaike and is unbeaten in his last 2, however he didn't at all in 2020 and we do wonder how ring rust may affect him after 21 months out of the ring.
The main event of the card will see JBC ranked Super Bantamweight Naoto Mizutani (7-6-2, 2) look to build on a 3 fight unbeaten run, including wins over Joe Tanooka and Naoya Okamoto, as he takes on 22 year old puncher Seigo Hanamori (6-3, 4). The 31 year old Mizutani is in some of the best form of his career, but without a fight in 2020 the momentum he had been building has been lost and it's hard to know whether he can keep up the good results he was having in 2019. As for Hanamori he has won his last 3, and 4 of his last 5, by stoppage and shown solid power in recent performances. Despite his wins Hanamori has been fighting at a low level and this is very much a step up in class for him.
Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
Over in Mexico we'll see the excellent Eye of the Tiger Management put on their next card.
For us the most notable bout on this card will see outstanding Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov (11-0, 10) take on Dutchman Stephen Danyo (17-3-3, 6) in a bout for 4 titles, including the NABF, WBA Continental and WBC Francophone titles. The talented Akhmedov has been highly impressive since making his professional debut in 2018, though did spend the entire of 2020 out of the ring. Danyo on the other hand is no world beater, but has proven himself to be a tough fighter and will be expected to take Akhmedov 10 rounds here in what should be a great chance for the Kazakh to shake some ring rust before tougher bouts later in the year.
Notably this will be Akhmedov's second professional bout outside of Canada, with the other being a 10 round decision in his native Kazakhstan in 2019. As for Danyo he is well travelled, but has lost his last 3 bouts outside of his homeland and that run is expected to continue here.
USC Soviet Wings, Moscow, Russia
There will be more Central Asian prospects in action over in Russia on a Patriot Boxing show.
The most notable of the Asian hopefuls here will be Rustam Tulaganov (3-0, 1), who will be looking to records his fourth professional win. Tulaganov will be up against 33 year old Colombian puncher Beibi Berrocal (17-7, 16), who looks like a threat on paper, but has been beaten in his last 4, including by the debuting Arthir Kyshenko. The talented Uzbek Light Heavyweight has had a stop start career since making his professional debut in 2017 though we really hope that 2021 is the year where he begins really build momentum in his career.
The other is Uzbek debutant Lazizbek Mullajonov (0-0), who was a standout amateur and will likely be one to watch over the next decade or so. He will be debuting in a Heavyweight 6 rounder, but his original opponent, Igor Vilchitsky (4-2, 1), appears to have been pulled from the show. Mullajonov was very highly regarded in the unpaid ranks and has signed with Patriot boxing who have the power to move him quickly, though may appreciate that he is a very young fighter and there is no need to rush him. Either way he is certainly going to be one to keep a very, very close eye on.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
We finish what "should" be the most meaningful bout of the day, but it's also one we wouldn't be surprised to see fall into the ether and not take place. That is a WBA "regular" Cruiserweight world title bout between defending champion Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12) and the completely undeserving Raphael Murphy (14-1, 11). If this bout takes places it should be regarded as one of the least notable "world" title bouts in history, though with it being set for a Don King card it really wouldn't be a surprise if the bout didn't take place. Our preview of this one can be read here Shumenov, Murphy and the WBA cover "world title" in shame