Blue Arena, Samut Prakan, Thailand
The main action this coming Sunday comes from Thailand where Tantelecom are putting in a very, very interesting card, and as with two shows on Saturday this will be free to view online, via the promoters website.
The main event will see the very promising Nattapong Jankaew (6-0, 3) take on former Naoya Inoue opponent Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (44-9, 20). We've been really impressed by Nattapong and see him as being among the best of the rising Thai prospects. Unlike most Thai's he's very much a boxer first and it's clear he has some solid amateur pedigree and very good boxing foundations. Petchbarngborn is a 35 year old who has been been a pro since 2009 and has faced a relative who's who, including Inoue, Kohei Kono, Sho Ishida and Amnat Ruenroeng. Sadly though he is well past his prime and we see him really struggling here with the very skilled Nattapong.
In a supporting bout we'll see the debuting Thitisak Hoitong (0-0) take on former world title challenger Samartlek Kokietgym (34-14-1, 12), who was last seen losing a decision to Nattapong. Sadly we don't know much about Thitisak, though it is known he fought as an amateur and is only 24 years old, but we do love the fact he's taking a test like Samartlek on his professional debut. Samartlek is past his best, but has proven to be a tough guy, who comes to fight ask questions of prospects and is a baptism of fire for someone making their debut. A very interesting fight, and a really tough debut for Thitisak.
Over in Japan we get the set of bouts from the Western Japan Rookie of the Year in Saga. Originally this show was supposed to have 10 bouts, but 3 of those bouts have been cancelled, including a Middleweight bout. Despite several bouts being cancelled there are still several worth talking about.
One of the more interesting bouts on this show is at Bantamweight, where Hiroki Kinjo (5-0, 4) takes on Fuya Tomita (3-2, 2), in a battle of 21 year olds. The unbeaten Kinjo made his debut in 2018 and has looked good so far, but has only faced absolute novices and his record lacks any sort of substance. In fact his 5 wins have come against opponents with a combined 1-3 record. Tomita's record is less impressive than that of Kinjo, but he has, on paper, faced better competition and was unfortunate in one of his losses. This might look like a mismatch but should be more competitive than it looks.
Another bout worthy of some attention is at Featherweight, where the 21 year old Hikaru Fukunaga (6-1, 4) takes on unbeaten 25 year old Masashi Tokihiro (1-0-1, 1). The talented Fukunaga lost around a year ago to the brilliant Jinki Maeda and since then has bounced back with two straight decision wins, though was run very close last time out out. Tokihiro made his debut in September 2019 with a win, but was held to a draw last time out. We expect this one to be explosive, and competitive.
This coming Sunday we get quite a bit of action with a televised card from Thailand and two shows from Japan, where we are well and truly in Rookie of the Year season!
Blue Arena, Samut Prakan, Thailand
One complain we've long had about the Thai scene is that we don't see enough good all-Thai match ups, with the country often relying on having a local fighter battle a limited foreign visitor. Thankfully that's not been possible recently and we have had some interesting all-Thai bouts in recent months as a result. We potentially get two more here.
In the main event of the card we'll see Campee Phayom (20-4-2, 12) defending his WBA Asia Super Featherweight title against former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (53-8, 35). The 22 year old Campee is no world beater in the making, but he's a solid fringe regional level fighter who is getter and is starting to get some attention in Thailand. He needs to be stepped up and given developmental fights and that's sort of what we see this as. Aged 30 Pungluang is a little bit long in the tooth, but isn't a shot fighter in terms of his age, he is however a fighter fighting well above their best weight, and that will likely be the difference here. We suspect Pungluang will ask questions of the youngster, but lack the physical traits to be a danger to the developing Campee.
In a second all-Thai bout on this show the unbeaten Nattapong Jankaew (5-0, 3) will be defending his WBA Asia South Super Flyweight title against Samartlek Kokietgym (34-13-1, 12). For the 24 year old Nattapong this will be his first defense as he looks to build on an solid win earlier this year against John Kenan Villaflor. The champion is the younger, unbeaten and naturally bigger man, but Samarlek has significantly more experience and has faced the likes of Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegashi. We suspect Samartlek's experience will see him asking questions of Nattapon, but suffer a 5th straight loss here against a talented young who will be looking to launch himself towards bigger and better fights over the next few years.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
At the Holy Land of Japanese boxing we have an East Japan Rookie of the Year card. In total there are, 9 bouts set for this card.
From the bouts on this card the one that interests us the most is the Flyweight bout between Kei Fujita (1-0, 1) and Shugo Namura (2-0, 2). From the 3 combined bouts these two have had so far not one has gone beyond 2 rounds. We expect this to be a shoot out!
Another bout worthy of noting here will see 19 year old Aito Abe (1-0, 1) fight for the second time, as he takes on he 35 year old Kentaro Omori (2-2, 1). For Abe this bout will see him looking to build on his debut win in November whilst Omori will be returning to the ring more than 4 years after his last bout, was was a loss back in April 2016 to Satoshi Tanaka. Amazingly Omori's last win came in June 2015, at that point in time Abe was just 14!
Sun Rise Park Gym, Saga, Saga, Japan
Over in Saga we get a Western Japan Rookie of the year show, with just 4 bouts scheduled for this card.
The bout that stands out here will see 21 year old Featherweight hopeful Hikaru Fukunaga (4-1, 4) take on 36 year old southpaw Kohei Suzuki (1-0-1). Fukunaga competed in last year's Rookie of the Year, and was 1 win away from reaching the All Japan final, losing to the brilliant Jinki Maeda. Given his experience from last year, along with his power and aggression Fukunaga has got to be among the favourites for the tournament. As for Suzuki he impressed in August when he beat the more experienced Majisuka Kosaka and will feel the confidence of an unbeaten man who has twice gone the 4 round schedule. This could be a genuine highlight for fans at the Sun Rise Park Gym.
On the total opposite end of the spectrum we are interested in the match up between Yoshitada Shimogishi (0-1) and Ryoki Terada (0-3), who clash at 140lbs. With both men having lost all their bouts we have an interesting dynamic here with both know they can get off the mark. For Shimogishi this will be his first bout in more than 2 years, when he was stopped in 2 rounds by Sota Kohara. As for Terada he fought 3 times last year, and lost all 3 by decision. Whilst fights between win-less fighters aren't usually high quality they are usually entertaining and we see suspect that will be the case here.