This coming Sunday is an interesting day for Japanese fight fans who get three shows across the country. The most notable show of the day is Shizuoka, packed with prospects, whilst the other two shows are both at Korakuen Hall as part of the East Japan Rookie of the Year.
FujisanMesse, Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan
The show we like the most of the three is the show from Shizuoka, which features a bunch of notable prospects, many of whom are tipped to win titles over the next few years.
The most notable of the prospects on the show is the brilliantly talented Rentaro Kimura (4-0, 3), who takes on a really tough bout foe here as he battles the heavy handed Yoji Saito (3-1-2, 3). We've loved watching Kimura so far, and he does look like a very, very special talent who can do it all in the ring, but he has been caught a few times in the past and we suspect his team have put this bout together to give him a genuine chin check, with Saito being a genuine brute in the ring. This will be a battle between Kimura's skills, speed and movement, and Saito's power, strength and aggression and it should make for a genuinely brilliant contest.
Another major prospect on this card is Kimura's stablemate Tsubasa Murachi (7-1, 3), who looks to continue to move his career forward as he takes on Yuto Nakamura (11-6-1, 8). The talented Murachi has been rebuilding well since a 2019 loss to Froilan Saludar, winning his last 3 by decision, and it certainly seems that that brutal KO loss has seen him fighting in a more safety first style that could end up really being a great change for his career, and longevity in the sport. Nakamura on the other hand is now world beater, but he is better than his record suggests and will looking to get his career back on track following a TKO loss in December to Ryo Akaho, in a bout that never really made much sense. At his best Nakamura is a good Super Flyweight and he should ask questions of Murachi, but not be a real threat to him.
Another very highly regarded prospect on this card is second generation fighter Kento Hatanaka (11-0, 9), the son of former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka, who looks to fight for the first time since beating Roland Jay Biendima in February 2020. Sadly Hantanaka's bout appears to be more of a tick over fight than a really competitive one as he takes on the limited Daisuke Sudo (7-7-3). Given lengthy break from action this is ideal to help Hatanaka shake some ring rust, but it really is a shame that his career has been on the back burner since the pandemic began to affect boxing in Japan.
One final touted prospect here is Narumi Yukawa (2-0, 1), a sparring partner of Kimura's and a man with a great story of redemption following an criminal issue before he got the chance to begin his professional career. He's in a really good match up on this show as he takes on Yuji Awata (12-8-1, 5), in what is arguably the most well balanced of the bouts with prospects, outside of Kimura's. Awata is no world beater but he's a very competent domestic level fighter and we suspect Yukawa will want to shine, but will have to work hard here.
It's also worth noting that Renataro Kimura's cousin Tentaro Kimura (6-0-2) is also on this card, as he takes on Satoru Hoshiba (7-5, 2). Kimura, although unbeaten, isn't regarded as a prospect in the same way that his cousin is, but is a talent and Danji Suruga, his promoter, does speak very highly of him, and his talent. Hoshiba's record is very misleading, but he's aggressive, he comes to fight, and he could be a real thorn in the side for Kimura here. Kimura is the favourite, but we suspect he will be asked real questions from the aggression and pressure of Hoshiba.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The first of the Rookie of the Year cards starts at 11:30am and features a total of 8 bouts, all 4 rounders. We're not going to take a look at all of them but there are some have caught the eye.
One of those worthy of some attention will see Ryugo Yanagibori (4-2, 1) take on the amazingly named Scorpion Kintaro (2-0, 2), who we really do think might be a Mortal Kombat fan. The 27 year old Yanagibori made his debut in 2018 and and has been stopped in both of his losses, but is coming into this bout with a recent win over Yuki Aizawa, a win that secured his place in this stage of the Rookie if the Year. Kintaro on the other had debuted in April, and has scored two quick wins, but this will be the first time he's facing a fighter with some professional experience.
In a bout at Featherweight novice fighter Daisuke Yoshikawa (1-0) will take on heavy handed 32 year old Kiyoharu Nunozaki (4-0, 3), in what should be an explosive encounter. Interestingly Yoshikawa is just 5'6" and will be giving up 4" here to Nunozaki, who will be the bigger man, the more experienced man and the heavier handed.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The second Rookie of the Year card, which will take place from 5:30PM, is a show with 6 bouts on it, including 3 at Welterweight. On this card there are a couple of debutants that we're going to be focusing on.
One of the debutants is 28 year old Sarimanu Suzuki (0-0), who takes on 29 year old Yusaku Minami (2-2, 2). Whilst we're interested to see how Suzuki fares it's worth noting that Minami has been a stop or be stopped fighter, with his bouts never getting past round 3. Suzuki will know about Minami's history, and will be looking to make the most of Minami's questionable chin, whilst looking to also avoid his power.
Another debutant we'll be interested in seeing is 22 year old Middleweight hopeful Ryuya Kusamura (0-0) who takes on the limited, but experienced, Kazuki Ikeya (1-4). Given how few Middleweights there are in Japan it's always good to see novice Middleweights and we're hoping that Kusamura can make a mark going forward.
International Conference Hall, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Over in Aichi Midori promotions put on a very, very interesting card with two bouts worthy of attention. One of those is a very attractive looking Japanese Youth title bout whilst the other features a very well regarded prospect looking for his second pro win.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Tom Mizokoshi (8-2-1, 4) take on the limited, but heavy handed, Haruki Ishikawa (8-3, 6) in what is Mizokoshi's first defense of the title. The talented 22 year old champion won the title in March with a well fought, and hotly contested, 8 round decision win over Satoru Hoshiba and he'll be looking to build on that performance here. Ishikawa, at his best, in an all action slugger, and his 2019 bout with Toshiya Ishii was a brilliant 4 round thriller. Sadly though Ishikawa looked completely out of his depth last time out, when he lost to Kai Chiba, and we do wonder how effective he can be against a good boxer-mover like Mizokoshi. Regardless the challenger has power, and if he lands clean we could see the champion being in some real trouble here. Our full preview of that bout can be read here Mizokoshi takes on Ishikawa in Boxer Vs Banger affair!
In the main supporting bout the talented Narumi Yukawa (1-0) competes in his second professional bout, as he takes on Kazuki Hase (5-2-1, 3). As an amateur Yukawa showed great promise before he was convicted of a drug offense which killed his amateur career and delayed his move into the professional ranks. Now however he's served his punishment and looks likely to become one of the stars of the Shizuoka region, and a potentially great story of redemption in Japan, where marijuana possession is still regarded as a serious crime. Hase on the other hand is a win some-lose type of fighter who's competing in his first 6 rounder here, and comes in on the back of a loss to Kazuki Higuchi. It's hard to see anything a Yukawa win here, but we are hoping that Hase at least asks questions of his foe.
Sadly the planned main event for this show, which would have seen former Japanese amateur standout Mitsuro Tajima (0-0) make his professional debut against Japanese Heavyweight champion Ryu Ueda (9-1-1, 5) had to be cancelled earlier in the month when Tajima suffered back pain and couldn't train as a result. Despite that bout being off there is still a lot to like about this card.
USC Soviet Wings, Moscow, Russia
As well as the action in Aichi we're also getting some action worthy of our attention over in Moscow. The bout in question will see once beaten Uzbek fighter Bakhromjon Fozilov (3-1-3, 3) take on the limited, but experienced, Pavel Mamontov (12-13-2, 1) in a scheduled 10 rounder. On paper Fozilov's record is a weird one, to say the least. He started his career 0-1-2, but since then has gone unbeaten in 4 and shown some very heavy hands. He's a puncher, but looks technically limited and it seems like he needs to get opponents out early to take home a win. In Mamontov we have a Kazakh born Russian fighter who has lost his last 9, only has a single win since 2016 and should pose no problems, at all, to Fozilov. The real question is whether or not Mamontov can last more than 2 or 3 rounds with the Uzbekistani fighter.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday we get world title action at Korakuen Hall on a show that features not only a world title bout, but also the long awaited debut of a man with a real point to prove, and rather unique back story, at least for Japanese boxing.
The world title bout will see IBF Atomweight champion Saemi Hanagata (16-7-4, 7) make her second defense, as she takes on the unbeaten, and fast tracked, Eri Matsuda (4-0, 1). The experienced Hanagata won the title in 2018, winning a world title in her 5th world title bout, and made her sole defense of the belt in September 2019, when she narrowly over-came Nao Ikeyema, ending their trilogy that had previously consisted of two draws. Matsuda on the other hand turned professional in 2018 and has moved incredibly quickly through the ranks, unifying Japanese and OPBF female titles in her first 3 bouts. In the ring this will be Hanagata's work rate and come forward pressure going up up against the movement and technical boxing skills of Matsuda, and it should make for an excellent match up in terms of styles and skills. Our preview of this bout can be read here IBF Queen Hanagata takes on unbeaten challenger Matsuda
In the chief support bout we'll see the long awaited debut of Narumi Yukawa (0-0), who was a talented amateur before being caught in possession of marijuana, which resulted in him getting a suspended sentence and putting his boxing career on hold. He's now served his time and will be debuting against Yuya Azuma (5-4-1, 1) in what should be a decent debut match up for the youngster. Interestingly Azuma was used as the debut opponent for Yukawa's stablemate Rentaro Kimura last year, and it's fair to saw that Yukawa will be looking to do better than the very highly touted Kimura.
Just to add, Yukawa has set him self a lofty goal for the sport, with Boxmob reporting his goal for boxing is to "defeat Naoya Inoue", maybe a rivalry for the future?
One other under-card bout on this show worthy of some attention is a match up between Ryu Oba (5-5, 3) and Mizuki Akima (5-3-1, 3). On paper this isn't anything special, though we were impressed by Oba last year, in his close decision loss to former Japanese champion Ryoichi Tamura, and there is clearly plenty to like about the 25 year old. The 29 year old Akima on the other hand won last time out and will feel confident of picking up another win here. This could end up being a bit of a sleeper hit given the toughness and styles of the men and the fact both will feel confident that they can pick up a win here in a well matched 6 rounder.
Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, Almaty, Kazakhstan
As well as the Japanese show there is also set to be a low key card in Kazakhstan thanks to Tukeshov promotions. Sadly this card is a pretty poor one, though one with a lot of fights on it. In fact the card is set to feature 20 bouts in total, featuring 20 debutants, and not a single fighter with double digit pro bouts to their name.
The only notable name on this card is 19 year old Kazakh hopeful Dastan Saduuly (5-1, 5), who is looking to secure his third win of the year. The once beaten Saduuly, who was destroyed last year by Vildan Minasov, will be up against the debut Aibek Zholdasbekov (0-0) in a scheduled 8 rounder. Whilst this is Saduuly's third bout of 2021 it's not a step up at all and it's a second straight bout against a debutant. Fingers crossed he steps up and gets bouts that are based around developing his skills rather than just padding his record.