This coming Monday focus heads to a Kadoebi card at Korakuen Hall, where we get an OPBF title fight, a really good looking novice pro bout, and several decent supporting bouts.
The main event will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Akinori Watanabe (38-7-1, 32) making his first defense of the title, as he take on Thai challenger Sitthidet Banti (12-5, 6), in what looks like a very, very soft first defense. Watanabe has mixed against stiff competition through his career, and last December's war with Nobuyuki Shindo was truly sensational, so for him to have an easy bout isn't too bad, but it is a weak title defense. To show how weak it is, Banti was stopped by Japanese novice Takuma Takahashi back in August. Our preview of this bout can be read here Does Watanabe get an easy first defense of OPBF crown?
Whilst the main event is a mismatch there is some really interesting action on this card, including a brilliant match up between Ran Tomomatsu (1-0) and Mikio Sakai (1-0). Despite both men being professional novices both were talented amateurs and they both looked great, albeit in very different ways, on their debut. Of the two Tomomatsu looks the more physical and stronger fighter, but the less technical, whilst Sakai has a flash and speedier look to him. This is a huge risk bout for both, and something to get very excited about.
In another interesting support bout we'll see the talented Yuichiro Kasuya (13-2-1, 4) take on 2-time Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (15-6-1, 10). Since moving over to the Kadoebi gym we've seen Kasuya show more some real development, and belief in his punching, and with 3 wins already this year he does now seem to have some momentum behind him. As for Sugita this is a real must win after going 4-4 in his last 8, including his two losses in Japanese title fights. As his best Sugita would favoured against the best we've seen from Kasuya, though it's unclear what Sugita still has left and how much more Kasuya can improve.
Another bout worth noting here will see talented youngster Yuki Nakajima (2-1, 2) look to bounce back from his first defeat as he takes on Yasuhiro Tanaka (6-4-2) in a good looking comeback bout. Nakajima was beaten back in August, by the excellent Ryu Horikawa and although he was beaten it wasn't a loss to be ashamed by and he's certainly not having an easy blow out here, despite Tanaka's record. Tanaka has proven to be a competitive fighter at the lower levels of the Japanese scene and went 5 rounds with the excellent Rikito Shiba last year. That will be the target for Nakajima, and if he can beat what Shiba did then we'll be impressed.
As well as the action in Japan there is also a notable card in Kazakhstan, though one that appears to have gone through a number of changes in recent days. The card is being hosted to celebrate Kazakhstan Independence day, and should be a great show if you're a Kazakh with a great array of Kazakh talent on the show.
Former world champion Hekkie Budler was originally announced for main event of this show, but it now appears that the main event will see Viktor Kotochigov (10-0, 4) take on Javier Jose Clavero (27-5, 5). On paper this looks like a good test for the unbeaten 26 old Kazakh, but in reality Clavero should be seen as a clear under-dog against an unbeaten prospect fighting in front of his home fans. This is a step up for Kotochigov, but one he will be be expected to win with out too many issues.
A solid supporting bout will see the highly touted Sultan Zaurbek (8-0, 6) take on China's Leshan Li (16-3-2, 9), in what is Zaurbek's first title bout as they face off for the WBC Youth Super Featherweight title. We've been wanting to see Zaurbek take a step up for a while and this is exactly the sort of bout that should tell us more about the talented 23 year old. Impressive Zaurbek will be fighting for the 6th time in 2019. As for Li he's unbeaten in 3, but has yet to score a win of note in his 21 bout career.
Other fighters on this card include an array of Central Asian prospects and hopefuls. They include 22 year old American based Kazakh Iskander Kharsan (7-0, 6), 2-time Olympian Khurshid Tojibaev (3-0, 2) and 2016 Olympic champion Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (7-1, 4).
Eastern Cape, South Africa
In South Africa we'll see another bout in the excellent Philippines Vs South Africa rivalry. This time around it'll be unheralded Filipino Joey Canoy (15-3-1, 8) taking on South African Nkosinathi Joyi (28-5-1-1, 19) in a bout for the IBO Minimumweight title. On paper Joyi will be the favourite, the former IBF world champion is the more proven and more experienced man, however Canoy will be confident of picking up the win, in what is his third visit to South Africa, and he'll be boosted by John Riel Casimero's recent win against Zolani Tete.
This coming Tuesday we'll see a really good card from Tokyo as Japanese and Korean fighters clash, and we get a female title fight featuring a fighter who has been put on the fast track.
The female title fight will see Japanese female Minimumweight champion Chie Higano (8-8-1, 2) defending her title against touted novice Mizuki Chimoto (1-0, 1), who looks to win a Japanese title fight in just her second bout. Chimoto was a former amateur standout who looked sensational on her debut and is clearly being pushed hard by her team at the Watanabe Gym. Higano is a nightmare to fight with her aggression and style, but she will enter as the under-dog against the talented upstart in what should be a very interesting match up. A full preview of this bout is available here Chimoto goes up against Higano in Japanese title fight!
The title bout is actually in the middle of the card, with the main event being the Japan Vs Korea bout that looks most likely to have fireworks. The match up in question will see unbeaten Korean teenager Jeong Han Cha (5-0, 5) take on Japanese puncher Takahiko Kobayashi (8-3, 6) in a bout at 140lbs. This has the potential to be a very exciting bout between two heavy handed, but flawed, young fighters who will be in the ring attempting to stop the other, rather than win a decision.
Another Korean teenager on the show will be In Soo Jang (5-1-1) who will battle former Japanese amateur standout Suzumi Takayama (1-0, 1), in what could be a very interesting match up. Jang is only 19 but already has a 6 round bout under his belt. Takayama on the other hand made his debut in February and is taking a clear step up in class here, though was a very accomplished fighter on the amateur scene.
Another Japanese novice on this card will be Ai Tomomatsu (0-0), a former amateur stand out who will be up against unbeaten Korean puncher Sang Geun Lee (6-0, 4). This is a baptism of fire for Tomomatsu, but a win will give his career a huge boost straight away and we wouldn't be surprised by him showing his amateur skills to shine here. Lee is dangerous, but Tomomatsu will be favoured.
One other interesting bout between fighters from the two countries will see Do Jin Lee (6-1-3) take on Mirai Naito (7-1, 3), the brother of OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito. On paper this looks like a really competitive bout, and although we don't expect thrilling fireworks this should still be a very compelling match up.