Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday we get a very notable and deep card at Korakuen Hall thanks to Ohashi Gym who put on a card that is headline by a rather poor Japanese title fight but is stacked with young talented and exciting hopefuls underneath that title bout.
The title bout in question will see Japanese 154lb champion Makoto Kawasaki (13-8-1, 2) make his first defense, as he takes on former title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (18-7-1, 13). The 38 year old champion won the title this past April, but given that performance, and his age, it's hard to imagine him winning the belt long term. As for Maruki, this will be his 4th shot at the Japanese title, and another loss here will be very, very hard for him to bounce back from, especially given he is now 31 years old himself. Whilst the Japanese title at 154lbs has had some great fights for it over the years, and some excellent champions, it's genuinely quite hard to care about this underwhelming title bout. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Japanese champion Kawasaki takes on Maruki in first title defense
Thankfully we do expect some real excitement on the under-card. Part of that excitement will be seen when the hard hitting Kazuki Nakajima (11-1-1, 9) takes on former Naoya Inoue opponent Karoon Jarupianlerd (48-11, 22), aka Petchbarngborn Kokietgym. The Thai visitor lasted 10 rounds with Inoue in 2016, and has only been stopped in one other bout, a 2nd round KO to Sho Ishida. For Nakajima the target will be a KO here, though in fairness the Thai has proven to be tough, and should give Nakajima some decent rounds before, eventually, folding.
A second bout between an Ohashi Gym hopeful and a Thai will see Katsuya Yasuda (8-1, 5) take on Krai Setthaphon (29-8, 19), aka Kaewfah Tor Buamas. The talented, and often over-looked, Yasuda will be desperate to bounce back from a February loss to Shuma Nakazato, and we're expecting to see him shining here with a slightly tweaked, more aggressive style than we've seen from him in the past. Krai on the other hand was once a solid regional level fighter, but he has lost his last 4 bouts and is without a win since August 2019, when he beat the very poor Leon Maratas. This is a great chance for Yasuda to shine, and hopefully he makes the most of that opportunity.
The least notable Japan Vs Thailand bout on this show will see talented Flyweight hopeful Taku Kuwahara (9-1, 5) battle against the unbeaten Parinya Khaikanha (4-0, 4). The talented Kuwahara is looking to secure his second win since being stopped in 10 rounds by Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui and will be strongly favoured here, however he shouldn't over-looked his unbeaten foe. Parinya hasn't set the world on fire as a professional, but is the younger brother of former world champion Suriyan and former world title challenger Nawaphon. If the talent runs in the family then Parinya could be a real handful for Kuwahara here.
Another of the highly touted new generation of Ohashi Gym fighters on this card is Ryutaro Nakagaki (2-0-1, 2), who looks to bounce back from a disappointing draw in a Japanese Youth title bout last year. The talented Nakagaki will be up against the much more experienced Toma Kondo (8-7-1, 1) in a bout that seems more about finding out how Nakagaki is improving and tuning his style under the guidance of Akira Yaegashi, than really testing him. Kondo is no world beater, but will look to make this into a fight and should serve as a good foil for Nakagaki's skills. movement and sharp punching. We see this as being a good bit of match making from Ohashi, who are protecting their man, but also getting him some worth while rounds.
Lower down the card is the debut for notable amateur Yuya Tanaka (0-0), who went 36-17 in the unpaid ranks. He will be ho against the under-rated Fuya Tomita (7-4, 2), in what is a clash of 23 year olds. Tomita is a handful, despite his underwhelming record, and stood at just under 6' he really is a stylistic nightmare for fellow Bantamweights and Super Bantamweights. As for Tanaka he'll be giving up height here, but will feel his amateur boxing background should be the difference maker in a very good looking 6 rounder.
Opening the card is and debutant, this time teenager Kenta Yamakawa (0-0), who looks to build on a notable amateur career that saw him winning National High School championship last year and running up a 14-5 record. The talented youngster will looking to make an impact on his professional debut, as he takes on the wonderfully named Zapp Morimoto (1-1, 1). This bout, the only 4 rounder on the show, should give us a good chance to see what Yamakawa has to offer the sport, however aged just 18 we expect him to be a long term project for the Ohashi Gym, who should be looking to develop him carefully over the next 5 or 6 years