This coming Sunday is set to be a rather interesting, but low key, day for Asian boxing with two small shows in Japan, one in Hyogo and one in Mie.
Art Center, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
The Hyogo show is the much more notable of the two but is, sadly, a pretty weak show overall.
The main event here will see Hiroki Tokuyama (9-3-1, 2) take on Japanese ranked Super Flyweight Shunji Nagata (12-18-2, 4), who will be risking his #20 JBC ranking. The 29 year old Tokuyama is best known for reaching the final of the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, losing to Fumiya Fuse in the final. Since then he has gone 4-2, and hasn't really looked particularly impressive since his Rookie of the Year campaign. Nagata on the other hand is a 36 year old veteran who's record is under-whelming but he is much better than the numbers suggest and he can cause upsets. Whilst neither of these two are going to reach the top of the sport, they should make for a very competitive and well matched bout.
Another ranked fighter on this card is Noboru Osato (12-8-4, 3), who is risking his JBC and WBO Asia Pacific rankings against Retsu Kosaka (10-5, 4). Osato is a "win some, lose some" fighter who manages to lose bouts he's expected to win, and then upset fighters that are regarded as better than he is, such as in 2019 when he defeated Ryo Suwa. He's a bit unpredictable, but when he's on song he is a legitimate banana skin. As for Kosaka he now needs a win after going 3-5 in his last 8, after starting his career 7-0. Interestingly Kosaka has got a very notable win, stopping Ryo Sagawa in 2017, but has gone 2-3 since then and it seemed to be more a case of Sagawa being inexperience than Kosaka being the better fighter.
The under-rated Hiroyuki Takahara (8-3, 6) will feature in an 6 round bout as he takes on Tamaki Miwa (6-6-1, 1), and looked to keep his winning run going. Takahara has won his last 4, including a massive win in August 2020 against Tom Mizokoshi, and will not be wanting that run to end here. Especially not as he's heading towards a Japanese ranking, and a potential title fight. Miwa on the other hand will be there to give a legitimate effort, but has lost his last 2 and lacks the power suspect he'd need to get Takahara's respect.
One other bout of note will see the limited Takuya Fujioka (9-10-1, 1) battle against Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Shingo Kawamura (16-6-4, 8). The light punching Fujioka was last seen losing a competitive decision in 2019 to Juiki Tatsuyoshi and although no world beater he has shown himself to be a legit competitor who comes to win and put in a fair and honest effort every time. Kawamura on the other hand has really struggled since losing in an OPBF title fight to Satoshi Shimizu in 2018. Since that loss he has gone 0-2-3 and he desperately needs a win. Kawamura should be favoured, but it's hard to know just how badly damaged his confidence is having failed to win any of his last 6.
Messe Mie, Tsu, Mie, Japan
The show in Mie features a total of 6 bouts, with 5 of those being 4 rounders and one being an 8 rounder.
The most notable of the 4 rounders will see Ryumei Nakamura (3-1-1, 1) take on the amazingly named Turtle Nishida (6-10-2, 1). Nakamura is a 20 year old hopeful who sadly hasn't fought since late 2019 and hopefully his activity does pick up when Japan manages to get back on top of the Covid19 situation. He looked promising early in his career, but there is certainly a lot of work left for him to do. As for Nishida he's looking to bounce back from successive stoppage losses, but really is a very limited 33 year old who shouldn't pose too much of a test to Nakamura.
The main event of this show will be an a very good looking 8 rounder between Shuma Sugawara (6-2, 4) and Arashi Iimi (7-3, 7). For Sugawara this will be his first bout in over 2 years, following a 2019 loss to Roli Gasca, and despite his lay off the 25 year old was once highly regarded as a prospect and fingers crossed we can see him show some of that potential here. Iimi on the other hand impressed in 2017, losing in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, but has struggled since then and is 3-2 since then. Iimi is a big puncher, and is dangerous, but is also vulnerable and desperately needs a big performance after losing his last two inside the distance.
For those wanting to watch this card live, it will be streamed live on Youtube thanks to sakana 1976 who continues to be a massive asset for Japanese boxing and one of the biggest helps for fans wanting see what Japanese boxing in regions like Aichi and Mie is like.
This Sunday is a very quiet day in Asia, though there is a small, yet notable, card in Osaka from Taiho with a couple of interesting domestic clashes.
The main event will see 2-time Japanese Super Featherweight title challenger Ken Osato (15-3-1, 4) take on 20 year old hopeful Ruito Saeki (7-2-1, 1) in what looks like a very interesting match up. Last time out Osato ran Masaru Sueyoshi close in a bout for the Japanese Super Featerweight title, losing a majority decision to the champion, and will be looking to bounce back here in a bout he will be favoured to win. Although Saeki is stepping up, the 20 year old is a very nice, tidy boxer, though lacks power and hasn't yet matured fully. Entering as the under-dog Saeki is a tricky enough fight to ask questions of Osato, and we suspect he will manage to take a round or two from Osato.
Another Osato on this card is Noboru Osato (10-8-4, 2), who takes on the once beaten Ryo Suwa (11-1, 2) in a very interesting bout. The 24 year old Osato has lost his last 2, including a Japanese Youth Featherweigth title bout to Hikaru Matsuoka, but has managed to show that he's no push over and ran current WBO Asia Pacific champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi very close in 2017. Suwa on the other hand is unbeaten in 4, and has rebuilt well following a 2017 loss to Ikuro Sadatsune. Although relatively untested Suwa did score a notable win in December against Noldi Manakane. This one looks almost certain to go the distance, but should still be a very interesting and competitive match up
A third bout of note will see 2016 Rookie of the Year runner up Hibiki Jogo (9-2, 4) take on Indonesian Kichang Kim (9-8-1, 2). The talented Jogo has picked up 2 wins since suffering a loss to Yoshihiro Utsumi in April 2018, and will be expected to score another here as he continues to rebuild his confidence. Kim has been stopped in his 6 bouts outside of Indonesia, including blow out losses in Japan to Hayate Kaji and Yusuke Suzuki, and we'd expect that run to continue here, even if Jogo is not a power puncher.
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.
The Taisei gym put on a notable card this coming Sunday with two youth title fights, as well as a contest featuring a former world title contender. It's not a huge card by any stretch but is a notable one.
The more interesting of the two Japanese Youth title fights will see the talented but light punching pair of Hikaru Matsuoka (14-4-3, 2) and Noboru Osato (10-6-4, 2) battle for the Japanese Youth Featherweight title. On paper this looks pretty competitive, and although almost certain to go the distance we should see some real skills on show. Both fighters are talented boxer, and we're not expecting a tear up, but we should see a lot of skill in the ring, with both fighters being smart and understanding their role in the ring. A full preview of this bout is available to read here Matsuoka and Osato battle for Youth Featherweight title!
The other Japanese Youth title fight will see Arata Matsuoka (6-6, 4) face off with Hikaru Ota (9-8, 5) for the vacant Japanese Youth Flyweight title, which has been vacated by the excellent Junto Nakatani. The bout isn't an amazing looking one, but given both fighters are flawed it should at least be evenly contest, and if bot Matsuoka's win they would be the first twins to pick up Japanese Youth titles together. This is one of those bouts where we expect to be better than it looks on paper, and could end up being pretty explosive if we're being honest. An in depth preview of this bout can be read here Matsuoka and Ota battle for vacant Youth Flyweight title
Also on this card is former world title challenger Riku Kano (13-4-1, 7), who looks to be in a confidence building fight against Takayuki Teraji (9-16-1, 4). There was a time when Kano was seen as one of the brightest young prospects in Japan, but losses to Katsunari Takayama, Jerry Tomogdan and Shin Ono in his last 6 bouts have taken the gloss off his potential. Teraji usually puts up a good fight at domestic level, but has come up short against every notable fight he's faced, such as Sho Kimura and Reiya Konishi and will be expect to lost a decision here.
As well as the Taisei card there will also be a show in Aichi, thanks to Green promotions
Overall this is a really weak card, but we do like the look of the main event, which will see the once beaten Masanori Rikiishi (3-1, 2) taking on Genki Maeda (6-3-1, 2). This is a fantastic match up between two Japanese fighters both looking to score a solid domestic win to end a year which has been disappointing. Rikiishi's disappointment came when he was stopped by Kosuke Saka whilst Maeda was stopped in a Japanese title fight by Shuichiro Yoshino, and the fight between these two should be hotly contested here.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a bout of note in South Africa, as Joey Canoy (14-3-1, 7) challenges IBO Minimumweight champion Simphiwe Khonco (19-5, 7). The Filipino doesn't have an amazing record, but does hold very notable wins over both Toto Landero and Melvin Jerusalem, showing he can compete against world class fighters, though has been stopped twice and perhaps has question marks about his chin. Khonco, who also has a misleading record due to losing 4 of his first 10 bouts, is riding a 4 fight winning run since a 2015 loss to Hekkie Budler. Those wins have included victories over Nkosinathi Joyi and Toto Landero. We suspect home advantage will play a key factor in this bout, but it should still be very competitive.
This coming Saturday is set to be a very busy day for boxing fans, with some huge action taking place over the weekend.
The biggest bout of the day, featuring an Asian fighter, is in Nevada and will be a bout for the currently vacant IBF Super Featherweight title. The bout will see Japan's Kenichi Ogawa (22-1, 17) take on defensive American Tevin Farmer (25-4-1, 5) in a bout that pits a puncher against a slickster. The bout will be for the title recently stripped from Gervonta Davis, who failed to make weight for a defence back in August, and looks like a really intriguing match up, even if it's unlikely to be the most exciting fight of the weekend.
In Osaka we're set to get a pretty interesting lower level card.
The main event will see ranked fighters facing off, with the unbeaten Daiki Tomita (10-0, 3) risking his JBC, WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF rankings against Desierto Nagaike (10-2-1, 2), who will be putting his own OPBF ranking on the line. The winner of this will clearly move closer to a title fight, and there is a lot to be fighting for in a bout that both will believe they can win.
A second bout of intrigue will see the capable Shingo Kawamura (14-3-1, 7) battle against Japanese based Korean Teiru Atsumi (13-1, 6). On paper Kawamura seems like the lesser fighter but with wins over the likes of Shun Ishibashi, Kota Fukuoka and Shingo Kusano he's proven to be a credible domestic fighter through his career so far. Atsumi has been on a role in recent fights, beating the likes of Sho Nakazawa, Dennis Tubieron, Burning Ishii and Neil John Tabanao but cannot be over-confident coming in to this bout.
A second show in Osaka will also take place, and this one features some slightly bigger names, albeit again foes who aren't likely to pose much of a threat.
One of those notable names is former world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (24-7-1, 21), who fights for the first time since his December 2015 loss to WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue. The Filipino,who is now based in Japan and part of the Morioka Gym, will be up against a limited Thai foe and will be expected to pick up a relatively straight forward win here and begin to get his career back on track.
Another notable man on this card is youngster Tatsuya Ikemizu (16-2, 7), who who looks to continue the rebuilding profess of his career. Ikemizu lost 2 bouts in a run of 3 but is now on a 3 fight winning streak, albeit against limited Thais. Sadly this bout will also see him up against a limited opponent from the Land of Smiles.
The main event of this card will see OPBF ranked Bantamweight Yuki Strong Kobayashi (11-7, 6) take on Noboru Osato (8-5-4, 1) in what looks likely to be a pretty competitive bout. Kobayashi is less than 2 years removed from an OPBF title fight, but with a 6-7 record in his last 13 he's certainly no world beater, and despite having the skills to upset fighters on the domestic scene. Osato has had better recent form, going 7-4-2 in his last 13, but he has been competing at a lower level. This could be a very intriguing bout.
Fans in Indonesia will get their own card, albeit a small one, which will be headlined by a bout between the experienced Heri Andriyanto (22-26-2, 10) and the very limited Benny Tamaela (3-7, 1). The reality is that this is a weak bout, but it could well be a competitive one, between two limited fighters.
There will also be Asian fighters fighting in Russia.
One of those bouts will see Russian fighter Isa Chaniev (11-1, 5) take on Filipino visitor Juan Martin Elorde (23-1-1, 10). The bout, for the IBF Inter-Continental and WBO International Lightweight titles, will be Elorde's first bout outside of the Philippines and marks a clear step up for the 33 year old Pinoy, who now seems set to sink or swim. The Russian was beaten back in May but has scored a win since and will know that a win here will help establish him as name to watch at 135lbs.
Another is Thai fighter Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (18-7, 12), who takes on the unbeaten Vyacheslav Mirzaev (9-0, 1). The Thai is a former world ranked fighter but is 5-5 in his last 10 and looks like a man who simply can't do it against fighters with something to them. This bout will serve as a test for Mirzaev, but a win won't propel him too far, more prove that he has the ability to go further than the likes of Sukkasem.