This coming Sunday attention is focused on Japan where we are set to get 3 shows, across 2 venues.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The best of the shows is a Taisei promoted event at the EDION Arena Osaka in which we see a two notable fighters in action, though both are matched relatively easily in what should be straight forward wins.
One of those fighters is former Super Flyweight title challenger Sho Ishida (29-3, 15) who looks to bounce back from a recent loss to Kosei Tanaka as he takes on Filipino visitor Carlo Demecillo (15-5-1, 8), in what should be something of a mismatch. The talented Ishida has only lost to high level fighters, with losses to Tanaka, Kal Yafai and Israel Gonzalez, and given he has 2 of his last 3 it's hard to begrudge him a gimmie here. Sadly though Demecillo really is a gimmie, despite the fact he's riding a 6 fight unbeaten run coming into this. His competition has been poor, he's been out of the ring for more than 2 years and last time he was in Japan he was flattened within 3 rounds by Satoshi Shimizu. Ishida will likely go rounds here, but should take a very comfortable win.
The other main bout will see fellow former world title challenger Riku Kano (18-4-1, 9) compete in what looks to be a tune up bout against Thai visitor Sanchai Yotboon (7-4, 6). Kano is knocking on the door of a WBO world title fight at Light Flyweight, and likely wants to keep ticking over rather than waste more time out of the ring, having not fought since July last year. The reality is that Sanchai is really terrible, and has been stopped in all 4 of his previous visits to Japan, including a loss to the then debuting Ginjiro Shigeoka. An obvious tune up before bigger and better things for Kano.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
At the same venue as the Taisei card will be an Hiroki Ioka promoted show. This card is very low key, with only 5 bouts in total and with 4 of those being over the 4 round distance.
It does however have a very good looking 8 round main event as Katsuhiro Nakata (7-1, 4) takes on Rei Nakajima (4-1) at Middleweight. The talented, and diminutive, Nakajima is looking to bounce back from his first defeat, which came in a Japanese title fight against Hironobu Matsunaga last April, and he will be the favourite here given his excellent technical skills. As for Nakata he's big and strong, and his last two bouts against Ran Tomomatsu were really entertaining, and he does make for fun fights. We very much expect to see this to be a case of Nakajima's skills and speed taking on Nakata's size and strength in what should be a really good bout.
Messe Mie, Tsu, Mie, Japan
As well as the cards in Osaka, we also get one in Mie Prefecture. This card isn't a big one, or a particularly notable one, but there are two bouts of some interest on it.
The main event, a scheduled 8 rounder, will see the talented Tom Hamaguchi (6-3-2) take on Teru Nobita (6-3-1, 3). The talented Hamaguchi has gone unbeaten in his last 6 bouts, but sadly has been inactive since a July 2017 win over Kazuki Fukuhara. Despite his long lay off Hamaguchi is still only 28 and will be expecting a great reaction for his return, especially given he is a local fight to Mie Prefecture. Nobita on the other hand is a 24 year old who was last seen in 2020, when he stopped John Yano, despite that win he is probably better known for his 2019 loss to Tantaro Kimura in the Rookie of the Year. Whilst not an amazing match up both of these guys can fight and both will see this as a way to kickstart their careers after lengthy lay offs.
In a decent, and well matched supporting, match up we'll see Shuma Sugawara (7-2, 4) battle against Ryukyu Oho (7-5, 4). The under-rated Sugawara is looking to build on a good 2021 win over Arashi iimi, and although not a major name he is one of the brighter hopes plying his trade in Mie, with this being his 5th bout at the Messe Mie in what is clearly his boxing home. As for Oho, he will be looking to bounce back from a loss to Ryo Hino, though he is 1-3 in his last 4 bouts, and will certainly be low on confidence following his recent run.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Wednesday our attention turns to Tokyo for a solid card from Yokohama Hikari. The show isn't a massive one, by any stretch, but it has 3 very good bouts on it all of which could have headlined smaller shows.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (17-1, 11) look to make his third defense of the title, as he takes on the unbeaten Rei Nakajima (4-0). The talented and aggressive Matsunaga is one of the most fun Japanese fighters to watch in the "middle weight" range, as he's the type of fighter who brings incessant pressure, pushes forward and tries to force his will on his opponents. That has worked well for him over the last 5 years and he has won his last 11, against some pretty well established fighters on the Japanese scene. The challenger however is the exact opposite. Nakajima is a speed, slippery fighter, who uses good timing, good boxing IQ and quickness to land shots and avoid taking many. Nakajima isn't too well established, but really impressed last time out, beating Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa, and will come into this bout feeling he has the tools to defeat Matsunaga. This could be a very, very interesting bout. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Japanese champion Matsunaga clashes with Nakajima
In a second title bout we'll see Japanese Youth Minimumweight champion Kai Ishizawa (7-1, 7) defending his title against Yuni Takada (8-6-2, 3). The exciting and hard hitting Ishizawa won the title way back in 2018, when he stopped Yuga Inoue, but hasn't managed to defend it yet and will have to vacate it later this year, as he's now 24. It seems very clear that he and his team wanted to make at least one defense before handing it back. As for Takada he won't be expected to put up much of a challenge, having gone 2-4-1 in his last 7 and he's winless in his last 3. However Takada has been matched hard, having faced the likes of Norihito Tanaka, Toshiki Kawamitsu and Tetsuya Mimura, and will be there knowing this is a rare title opportunity for him. We suspect Ishizawa will be in here to make a statement and really test the heart and toughness of Takada from the off, before going on to bigger and better things. Our preview of this bout can be read here Ishizawa takes on Takada in Japanese Youth title defense
The third bout of note on this card will see highly skilled Japanese Featherweight Reiya Abe (20-3-1, 9) take on the once beaten Koshin Takeshima (4-1-1, 3). The brilliant Abe has gone 12-1-1 (5) in his last 14 bouts, scoring notable wins against the likes of Tsuyoshi Tameda, Joe Noynay, Satoshi Hosono and Daisuke Watanabe. Although not the most fun fighter to watch there is no doubting his talent, ability and high level boxing IQ. Traits that have seen him dubbed a boxing genius in Japan. Takeshima on the other hand turned professional with quite a bit of buzz around him, and there was high expectations on his shoulders, but he's gone 0-1-1 in his last 2 and has looked underwhelming at times. He's clearly a talented fighter, but he doesn't appear to have developed well since turning professional. Sadly for Takeshima we suspect he will come undone again here, especially given his poor performance last time out, against Yamato Hata.
This coming Friday we are set to get action featuring Asian fighters from Japan, Dubai and the US
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
In Japan we get a low key, but very interesting, card from the Kaneko Gym.
The main event here will see former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-5-1, 11) taking on unheralded prospect Rei Nakajima (3-0), who is stepping up massively. At 36 years old Hosokawa has seen better days and he has struggled for form recently, going 1-2-1 in his last 4, but he is still a heavy handed, physically strong, and experienced fighter who is a real danger man on the Japanese and Oriental scene. Nakajima on the other hand is a touted prospect at 154lbs and will be taking a massive step up in class. Aged 22 Nakajima is one of the most over-looked Japanese prospects out there, but a win here would get him series attention.
In an interesting looking support bout Japanese ranked Bantamweight Yoshihiro Utsumi (16-9-3, 10) will be up against the once beaten Tulio Kuwabata (3-1, 2). The 36 year old Utsumi is very much on the back end of his career, and he has suffered losses to Hiroaki Teshigawara and Kazuki Nakajima in his last 6, but he will go into this fight with a point to prove. As for Kuwabata this is a must win following a big upset loss in December, when he was stopped by Ken Jordan. Kuwabata looks like a real talent, but the loss to Jordan was a major set back and he can't afford another one here.
Another ranked fighter on this card is Jin Miura (10-3-4, 1), who takes on the once beaten Daiki Wakamatsu (7-1, 4) in one of the better looking bouts of the day. Amazingly Miura has won just 1 of his last 5, but has some how gone 1-0-4 during that run, including draws with Shingo Kawamura and Mugicha Nakagawa. Although unranked himself Wakamatsu comes into this bout with form and has won his last 6, following an early career loss. On paper this is a bit of a toss up and should be a very interesting match up.
One other bout deserving of a mention is one pitting Japanese ranked Super Flyweight Takahiro Fujii (11-6-1, 3) against Akira Kokubo (8-9-3, 2), in a battle of 30-something's. This bout, technically the chief support bout, is an all southpaw bout that could end up a very compelling contest, though is unlikely to be hugely exciting. Fujii enters with a JBC ranking, but the 31 year old isn't expected to get a shot at the title any time soon and is 4-3 in his last 7. Although Kokubo's record looks poor he is 4-1 in his last 6 and is much better than his record suggests.
Caesars Palace Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
As well as the action in Tokyo we also get a show from Dubai where we'll see some more Asian action.
The most notable bit of action for an Asian fighter here will see unbeaten Kazakh Viktor Kotochigov (12-0, 5) defending his WBC International Lightweight title against the under-rated Maxi Hughes (21-5-2, 4) in a very interesting match up. The 27 year old Kotochigov won the title in July 2019 and will be looking for his second defense here, as he continues to climb through the rankings towards a potential world title fight. Although very talented Kotochigov has been, at times, willing to cruise through bouts and 3 of his last 4 wins have been rather forgettable decisions. In the opposite corner to the Uzbek is a British fighter coming in on the back of an upset win over Jono Carroll. Despite having 5 losses to his name Hughes is a talented, technically sound, busy, accurate fighter and a very, very live under-dog here.
Lower down the card unbeaten Indian puncher Faizan Anwar (4-0, 4) will take on Filipino journeyman JR Mendoza (11-19, 5). The 19 year old Anwar has taken just 11 rounds to blow out his first 4 opponents but may be taken rounds here. Mendoza, although sporting 11 losses, has only been stopped 3 times in his career. Saying that however he is the naturally smaller man and hasn't had a boxing contest in 5 years, and ring rust may well prove to be a major issue for him here.
The Bubble, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Also in action will be unbeaten US based Kazakh Middleweight hopeful Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (8-0, 4). He was originally pencilled in to fight a world ranked southpaw, though sadly his original opponent was injured in training and instead the Kazakh will face Gonzalo Gaston Coria (16-3, 6). Coria is a 23 year old Argentinian southpaw, who gave 2-time world title challenger Artur Akavov a test in 2018, and should be a decent marker. Sadly after a solid 2019, which saw Alimkhanuly going 4-0 (3) it's a shame to not see him in with a more notable opponent this year. Fingers crossed that in 2021 we see Top Rank giving Alimkhanuly a big bout, as he deserves to show his skills against a top notch opponent sooner rather than later.
Following a busy Saturday we get a pretty interesting Sunday, with 3 title fighters and a number of interesting match ups.
The most notable of the shows takes place in Osaka and will be promoted by Green Tsuda under their "Crash Boxing" banner.
The main event of the card will be a Japanese Super Flyweight title bout, as Takayuki Okumoto (23-8-4, 11) defends his title against former champion Kenta Nakagawa (17-3-1, 12). For Okumoto this will be his 4th defense of the title, and sees him looking to build on recent wins over Yuta Matsuo and and Dynamic Kenji. For Nakagawa the bout gives him a chance to reclaim the title he lost in 2017 to Ryuichi Funai. Since losing the title Nakagawa has scored 4 wins, but all at a much lower level than this bout, and at 34 years old he really cannot afford another set back. Our in depth preview of this bout is available here Japanese champion Okumoto takes on former champion Nakagawa in up coming defense
In the chief support bout we'll see bombs away as Yuki Beppu (20-1-1, 19) and former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (19-5, 16) trade blows for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. Yada is less than 8 months removed from losing the Japanese title to Yuki Nagano, incidentally Nagano is the only man to beat Beppu, taking a decision over Beppu last year. Neither man is a world beater, but good fights don't need world beaters, they just need to be well matched and this one is! It's hard to imagine this one going the distance, but with both men being aggressive punchers it's very hard to predict who's going to end up victorious. Our preview of this bout can be read here The Kyushu Tyson takes on the Terminator of Naniwa for WBO Asia Pacific title!
Originally the plan was for this card to be a triple title show, but Toshiki Shimomachi (10-1-2, 6) was unable to secure an opponent to defend his JBC Youth Super Bantamweight title against. Instead of defending his title the talented Japanese youngster will go up against Indonesian teenager Jufry Kakahure (5-2, 5). Whilst it's disappointing to see Shimomachi not defend his title against a decent domestic foe we're glad he's still on the show.
In a really great fight we'll see Thai teenager Thanongsak Simsri (12-0, 11) take on world ranked Filipino Christian Bacolod (12-0, 9) in a truly fantastic match up. The Thai youngster is training alongside the Green Tsuda gym, and has been compared to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in the Thai press. That's huge praise in a way, but also massive amounts of pressure for a 19 year old who only debuted in the summer of 2018. This is a huge step up for him and we will see him answering questions, win or lose. Bacolod on the other hand has slowly been climbing towards a big fight. He enters with a WBO world ranking and has stopped 4 of his last in the first 2 rounds. Despite Bacolod being the more proven fighter he was dropped twice in a recent fight and that will be major encouragement for Simsri.
Another interesting assignment for an unbeaten man will see Rei Nakajima (2-0) take on Thai veteran Patomsuk Pathompothong (39-11-1, 25), aka Komsan Polsan. This is a huge step up in class for Nakajima, but the Nobuhiro Ishida promoted professional novice is very highly regarded and it's clear that a win here will be a massive boost to hid fledgling career.
Staying in Osaka there will be another title fight, as the unbeaten Musashi Mori (10-0, 6) defends his WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title against once beaten puncher Takuya Mizuno (17-1-1, 14), in a mouth watering bout. Mori has impressed though much of his career, and working with Ismael Salas will help him tidy up his defensively flaws, flaws that had shown themselves in his most notable bouts. Although Mori is working on his defense it's clear Salas won't want him to be too negative, and against Mizuno negativity could be a problem. Mizuno is technically pretty poor, and he can be out boxed, but he bangs and Mori shouldn't let him build up any confidence. We suspect the gulf in skills should be the difference, but Mizuno can certainly turn the fight around. Our preview of this bout can be read here Fast rising Mori takes on hard hitting Mizuno in next title defense
Sadly the rest of the card here is non-descript 4 rounders.
A third show will take place in Okinawa, where we see some pretty a couple of interesting, but lower level, bouts.
The main event of this card will see a clash between Japan's Tatsuro Nakashima (10-1-1, 7) Filipino visitor and Ariston Aton (9-1, 5). Nakashima has bounced back well from a 2018 loss to Kai Ishizawa with 3 straight wins, and looks to be heading in the ring direction. Similarly Aton has bounced back from his sole loss, with 2 low key wins. This is a low key main event, but a very interesting one between two men looking to continue the rebuilding success.
In a female bout we'll see Yuko Henzan (8-8-4, 2) clash with Gretel de Paz (5-5-2, 2). On paper this is a very competitive looking bout, and whilst the skill level will be low it should still make for an interesting 6 rounder.
Also on this card is the return of Marcus Smith (6-1-1, 6), who hasn't fought since losing a Japanese title eliminator in October 2018 to Koki Inoue. Smith was supposed to fight earlier this year but missed weight, and was subsequently suspended. His return sees him being matched softly as he battles Indonesian journeyman Hendy Luis (10-17-3, 5). Although Smith is no world beater he is heavy handed and will be expected to beat Luis, though Luis is a durable foe and has only been stopped 3 times in his 30 fight career. This could be a very good chance to Smith to shake some ring rust.
Outside of Japan there will also be a small show in Qingdao, China. The quality of this show is lacking, however the card will feature an interesting main event between Youli Dong (14-2-1, 9) and Larry Siwu (28-12, 34). We suspect the local fighter will have the youth and skills to deal with Siwu, but the Indonesian visitor should be a good test for the 24 year old local.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
The biggest bout for the day, at least for us, this coming Sunday will see Tajik born boxer-puncher Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (14-0, 11) take on unbeaten South African Azinga Fuzile (14-0, 8) in an IBF world title eliminator. The Tajik, fighting outside of Russia for the first time, is seen as the under-dog but is riding a run of good wins against the likes of Emanuel Lopez, Malcolm Klassen and Robinson Castellnos. Fuzile has looked the part but this appears to be a step up for him against a dangerous and hungry fighter, who will be in the ring looking to cut the ring off and break him down. This has the potential to be an excellent, if low-key, bout between talented fighters each looking to stamp themselves on the division and secure a world title fight. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Tajik born Rakhimov and unbeaten South African Fuzile face off in eliminator!
In Osaka we have a small but notable Green Tsuda card featuring a female bout in the headliner and two notable supporting bouts.
The main event will see the talented Shione Ogata (11-6, 3) fighting in a non-title bout against Filipino foe Gretel De Paz (5-5-1, 2). The talented Ogata, has unified the OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and WBA Asia female Light Flyweight titles in her last 3 bouts and is quickly approaching a world title fight. Paz is here to make up the numbers and give Ogata a tune up before a bigger bout down the line. Paz has gone 1-4-1 in her last 6, but has proven to be tough and should take Ogata the scheduled 8 rounds here.
The all action Aso Ishiwaki (6-2-1, 4) features in one of the support bouts worth talking about. Ishiwaki is no world beater, but is a very exciting, hard hitting fighter and is well worth making a mental note of, especially given he is only 20 years old. Ishiwaki's opponent is 26 year old glass cannon Takuya Matsusaka (8-8, 7), who has only heard the final bell twice in 16 fights. Through his career so far Matsusaka has seen 12 of his bouts end in the first 2 rounds, so expect this one to be very explosive very early.
The other bout of note on this card will see the touted Rei Nakajima (1-0) fight in his second pro bout. Sadly Nakajima's opponent hasn't been announced at the time of writing, suggesting a late and limited foreign import, but Nakajima himself is regarded highly in Japan and is tipped to achieve notable success in the professional ranks, Nakajima debuted back in July and looked dominant, so we would certainly suggest fans make a mental note of him here, even if his opponents isn't likely to be much of a test.
In Tashkent we're expecting an Uzbek card stacked with notable names, though at the time of writing only half of the card is actually listed.
With no opponents currently listed for the show it's unlikely the card isn't going to be full of competitive match ups, however the card does have a host of notable Uzbek prospects listed for it. These include Olympic 2016 gold medal winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (7-1, 4), big punching Middleweight hopeful Ulugbek Khakberdiev (6-0, 4), novice professional Sanjar Tursunov (1-0, 1) and recent World Amateur Championship winner Bakhodir Jalolov (6-0, 6).
Samut Prakan, Thailand
In Thailand there's set to be a show-case of novices, in low profile bouts from the Blue Arena in Samut Prakan.
One of the bouts will be a battle between unbeaten fighters for a national title, as Boonrueang Phayom (2-0, 2) and Tongthep Taeyawong (3-0-1, 3) battle for the vacant Thai Bantamweight title. Little is known about these two fighters, but at 20 years old Boonrueang is the older man, whilst Thongthep is just 16. Notably both of these men have fought twice in recent months, and we do have to wonder, again, what the Thai commission's actually do to try and prevent youngsters from getting injured.
Another fighter who is fighting for the second time without much of a break is Nattapong Jankaew (1-0, 1), who debuted back in September 8th. Nattpong will be up against Kittipong Jareonroy (3-3, 1) in a bout for the Interim Thai Super Flyweight title. It's hard to get too excited here, especially given that Kittipong was stopped inside a round by Ryoji Fukunaga back in May.
A third title bout will see the unbeaten Pattawee Phansawat (3-0, 3) take on the wonderfully named Mega Daophommachan (0-0), from Laos, in a bout for the Professional Boxing Association of Thailand (PAT) International Light Flyweight title.