Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday Yokohama Hikari are back with another show under the A-Sign Boxing banner, and as with other A-Sign cards it is a surprisingly deep and stacked card, and is expected to be streamed live on YouTube. The show has 6 bouts in total, from which 4 are worth genuine attention, with at least on JBC, OPBF or WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter involved.
The first of the 4 bouts worthy of attention is a bout between Kai Ishizawa (6-1, 6) and Masashi Tada (13-7-3, 8). The bout will see the all action, heavy handed and aggressive Ishizawa look for one of his biggest wins as he takes on the rugged former Japanese title challenger. The 23 year old Ishizawa lost last time out, losing a competitive decision to Masataka Taniguchi, but will know a win here will help put him right back in to the domestic title mix. At 31 years old Tada is coming to the end of his career, which began back in 2009, and has twice seen him fighting for domestic honours. Gone gone 2-4-2 in his last 8 Tada needs a win to remain relevant, but will be up against it as he takes on an excellent youngster. This has the potential to be the fight of the show.
On the subject of potential "fight of the show" it's hard to over-look the showdown between Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) and Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6), which promises fireworks. Both of these men are hard hitting, but have defensive flaws and both have been stopped. On paper Chiba is the more proven and he's also the more rounded, but Ishikawa is out there with a point to prove following a loss last year to Toshiya Ishii. We really are expecting big things from this one, and it has two guys whose style's should gel brilliantly!
Another supporting bout on the card will see the Japanese ranked Ryuto Araya (13-8-1, 4) risk his Super Featherweight ranking as he takes on Katsunori Endo (6-3, 3). The 32 year old Araya is a former OPBF title challenger who has had mixed successes in recently years. In the last 4 years he has gone 2-4 and really needs a big win soon if hg's to get a second shot at a title. As for Endo he's 29 and comes into the bout on the back of successive early wins. Expect to see Endo starting fast and then having questions asked of him as Araya's experience begins to show it's self.
The main event will see the highly skilled, though often frustrating, Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) take on the unbeaten Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6) in a bout that promises very high level boxing, but potentially frustrating action. The brilliant Abe had a forgettable 2019, with a draw against Taiki Minamoto and a loss to Ryo Sagawa standing out, but his resume is a deep one on the domestic stage and he will come into this bout as a very clear favourite. Sasaki on the other hand is clearly stepping up in class, though comes in as an unbeaten man, who knows a win will put him in the title mix. We suspect the skills of Abe will be too much for Sasaki, however Sasaki seems the more willing to let his hands go, and he could, potentially, take this on work rate. Either way this is going to be a high level match up, though it could be a very, very frustrating one.
The main card this coming Sunday is the first Japanese card of 2020, and it's an exciting one as we see the Knock Out Dynamite finals, as well as the return to the ring of a former Japanese national champion and a likely show case for a former world title challenger.
For those who aren't aware of the Knock Out Dynamite format the fighters will be given a financial bonus for a stoppage win. The bonuses are bigger the earlier a fighter gets a stoppage, so round 1 pays better than round 5.
The most interesting match up will see hard hitting Japanese based Dominican fighter Vladimir Baez (26-5-2, 24) take on former Mongolian amateur standout Tuguldur Byambatsogt (1-0) in the 65KG Knock Out Dynamite tournament final. On paper this looks like a massive mismatch, with Baez having so much more experience than the Mongolian, however we were really impressed by Byambatsogt on debut and certainly wouldn't rule him out here.
At 60KG's, in another Knock Out Dynamite tournament final, Japanese veteran Ribo Takahata (16-8-1, 6) will take on Filipino slugger Marvin Esquierdo (15-2-1, 9). Takahata is a former Japanese title challenger who, at the age of 40, will know that time is running down on his career, Esquierdo on the other hand took the full bonus in his semi-final bout. We expect this to be a very exciting match up.
In a rather notable Lightweight bout former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-5, 18) returns to the ring for the first time in over 2 and a half years! The popular and hard hitting Tsuchiya was last seen in a ring in June 2017, retiring soon after his win over Shota Suito. In the opposite corner to Tsuichya will be China's once beaten Yangyang Li (8-1-2). On paper this looks interesting but it should be noted that this is a huge step up in class for Li, in what will be his first bout outside of China.
In what looks likely to be a total mismatch former world title challenger Shohei Omori (20-3, 15) will take on Filipino Danny Tampipi (9-10-2, 5), who is a replacement for Chinese fighter Leshan Li who was stopped in December in Kazakhstan. The last time we saw Omori he was being stopped by Hiroaki Teshigawara in an OPBF title and this is a big step down for the "Demon Left", who should rebuild some self belief with a blow out.
Sadly a match up between the unbeaten pairing of Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6) and Yuki Yamauchi (4-0, 3) has been cancelled. They were set to clash in the 56KG Knockout Dynamite final, before the bout was called off.
China will play host to a small yet card headlined by an OPBF Silver title fight, which could end up being a very explosive one.
The bout in question will see Korean In Duck Seo (12-2-2, 7) take on Chinese local Youli Dong (15-2-1, 9) for the OPBF Silver Welterweight title. The Korean fighter had a mixed 2019, scoring a sensational KO in Australia against Tysinn Best before losing later in the year against Khusniddin Pulatov. Interestingly Dong also had an up and down 2019, losing to Mikka Shonena in Tanzania before bouncing back with a win in December against Larry Siwu. Given both men can bang this could be very fun, low level action.
The chief support bout here will see Tajik born Chinese fighter Avzalbek Kuranbaev (5-1-1, 3) take on Indonesian foe Rivo Kundimang (9-1-2, 5) in a rather solid looking 6 rounder.
On the subject of China there will also be a low level show in Changsha, featuring rookies. Not too worthy of note here, but there are 6 bouts pencilled in for this card, featuring 10 debutants in total.
Another card will be held in Indonesia, where the Metro TV Studio will play host to a small card featuring a mix of veterans and novices.
The most notable bout on the card will see former world title contender Noldi Manakane (33-30-3, 18) take on the once promising Patrick Liukhoto (10-2-1, 7) in a second bout between the two men. The 36 year old Manakane, who has now had 66 bouts, has failed to win any of his last 6 bouts, and has lost 5 in a row. Interestingly the last time Manakane avoided a loss was when he fought to a draw with Liukhoto. The 26 year old Liukhoto was 9-0 when he faced Manakane in November 2018 but is now 1-2-1 in his last 4 and his early promise appears to be well and truly done.
Another veteran here is journeyman Jason Butar Butar (31-27-1, 19), who faces off with novice Carlos Obisuru (3-4-1, 1). Butar Butar is no world beater and he should have far too much in the tank for Obisuru, who has gone 0-4-1 in his last 5, but if Obisuru loses here it's almost impossible to think of him having much of a career going forward.
Arguably the most interesting of the match ups here is an all debutant bout as Dedy Imprax (0-0) and Zainul Hasan Jr (0-0) face off in a 6 rounder. Given this is an all debutant bout it at least looks even on paper, whilst much of the card looks like it's heavily stacked in favour of the more experienced fighter involved.
This coming Saturday is a really interesting day, without being a massive one. We get the kick off of a special Japanese tournament, a Japanese Youth title bout a regional title bout in Thailand and more in what is a busy, yet low key, day.
The main show is the Knock Out Dynamite Tournament show which takes place at the Korakuen Hall thanks to Reason Promotions along with Floyd Mayweather's Japanese TMT arm, and former Japanese world champion Takashi Uchiyama.
For those who haven't followed the news the Knock Out Dynamite tournament is actually 3 tournaments, each with 4 men involved, and will take place at 65KG's, 60KG's and 56KG's, as opposed to the more standard boxing weight classes. Their are cash prizes available for the winners with bonuses for any knockouts.
One of the 65KG weight class will see semi-finals take place between Mongolian fighter Byambatsogt Tuguldur (0-0) and Japanese veteran Shusaku Fujinaka (16-11-2, 11), in what looks like a mismatch on paper. It's hard to say much about the Mongolian, though Tuguldur could be a a genuine dark horse, given the reputation Mongolian fighters have for being tough, hard hitting and very exciting.
The winner of that semi-final will take on the winner of the other semi-final, which will pit Vladimir Baez (25-5-2, 23) against Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-12-1, 9). As with the other semi-final isn't doesn't look the most competitive of bouts, but Baez has struggled recently, with 2 losses in his last 3, and it's possible that Miyazaki could be getting him when his confidence is low. The reality, however, is that Baez will be too good and too powerful for Miyazaki here.
The 60KG tournament will see another seemingly debuting Mongolian in action with Tsendsuren Bat-Ireedui (0-0) set to take on veteran Ribo Takahata (15-8-1, 6) in one of the semi-final bouts. Aged 40 Takahata is coming to the end of his career, but is only 2 years removed from a Japanese title fight with Masaru Sueyoshi and is certainly not a fighter who is still solid despite his age. From what we could find the Mongolian has fought in MMA, but we've struggled to find any sign of a previous boxing career.
The winner in the Takahata Vs Bat-Ireedui fight will face the winner of a bout between Koichi Ito (11-7-3, 10) and Filipino Marvin Esquierdo (14-2-1-1, 8). This looks like one of the better semi final bouts on paper, and one where the visitor has a good chance of picking up the upset. Ito has scored just 1 win in his last 6, going 1-4-1, and that dates back over 4 years. He is however coming back after almost 18 months out, we expect to see him being reinvigorated by the break. The 24 year old Esquierdo is relatively unknown but has momentum, activity and youth on his side.
The 56KG division is really the most interesting, at least if we get the final we're expecting. In one semi-final we'll see the very talented promising Yuki Yamauchi (3-0, 2) taking on the experienced Ryuta Wakamatsu (12-14-1, 9). The 24 year old Yamauchi is a real talent and whilst this is a genuine step up in class he has shown what he can do against Filipino fighters like Alvin Medura and Claudevan Sese. For he's the hidden gem of this tournament. Wakamtsu on the other hand is a 35 year old veteran who has been around the Japanese scene for a decade, with very mixed success. Wakamatsu is better than his record suggests, but we'd be shocked to see him over-come Yamauchi.
This division has a second unbeaten man in it, with former Rookie of the Year winner Ren Sasaki (9-0, 6) taking on the more experienced Morihisa Iju (11-4, 9). When he won the Rookie of the Year back in 2017 Sasaki showed so much promise, and whilst that promise hasn't yet been realised it's clear he can go a long way, and we fancy him to get past Iju and set up a final with Yamauchi. Despite being the under-dog Iju is a very live fighter here and even with 3 losses in his last 4 he is a potential banana skin if Sasaki tries to look past him
A second Japanese show is set to take place in Hyogo, and whilst this is a less significant show than the other, it does have the bout of the day on it, with a mouth watering Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title bout.
That title fight sees unbeaten men clash as former Rookie of the Year winner Tetsuro Ohashi (7-0-1, 2) takes on former amateur standout Suzumi Takayama (2-0, 2). The title is vacant, but this is a great bout to fill that vacancy and pits a skill fighter against an aggressive fighter. Ohashi has barely lost a round during his 8 fight career, and whilst he does lack power there is a lot of skill and IQ behind what he does. Takayama hasn't yet face a Japanese opponent, but looks like he could go through most of the Japanese scene quickly, so don't be surprised it Watanabe strap a jet to him if he comes through this with his unbeaten record intact. Our full preview of this bout is available to read here Ohashi and Takayama battle for Japanese Youth title!
As well as the title bout we'll also see Shohei Kawashima (17-3-2, 4) fight in what looks like a stay busy bout against Masajiro Honda (6-11, 4). The talented Kawashima won the Rookie of the Year in 2014, and has shown real promise, though has twice lost close decisions on the road, losing narrowly to Cristian Mijares and Juan Miguel Elorde. We see this as being little more than a work out for Kawashima who really does deserve so much more in terms of competition than Honda, who has been stopped in each of his last 6 bouts.
Bang Phun, Thailand
As well as the action in Japan there is also some interesting action in Thailand, as the Work Point Studio plays host to another card.
The headline bout here will see Chainoi Worawut (7-0-1, 7) take on Filipino foe Alvin Medura (9-4, 7), with the unbeaten local for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Bantamweight title. The local, also known as Thattana Luangphon, is a very promising 22 year old who is rising through the ranks and looks likely to be one of the nations big stars of the future. Medura isn't a terrible fight, but shouldn't be much of a test for the Thai, who appears to be getting matched progressively harder. This should be a test for the unbeaten puncher, but a test he passes without too many issues.
In a supporting bout on this card teenage Super Flyweights clash, with Danai Ngiabphukhiaw (2-1, 1) and Yodtanong Chaepet (2-0, 1) facing off in a 6 rounder, we believe as part of a Work Point Super Flyweight tournament.
In Cebu we get a small Filipino card, featuring two men men who are each looking to take a step towards a bigger fight.
One of those men is Clyde Azarcon (15-3-1, 5), who will be looking to bounce back from his first round loss to Ginjiro Shigeoka earlier this year. The loss to Shigeoka was from a brutal body shot and we fully understand why Azarcon has been matched softly here, as he takes on Garry Rojo (9-13-1, 5) in what should be a straight forward win.
The other is the under-rated Carlo Demecillo (13-5-1, 6), who is riding a 4 fight unbeaten run since a loss to Ruben Manakane in Indonesia. Although he's yet to get a big win he did come close to get a career best victory last Novemeber, when he drew with Arthur Villanueva, and it's clear he can take the next step up. Here he's up against Jonathan Francisco (10-12-1, 4) and this should be little more than a simple win for the talented Demecillo.
Staying in Asia there will also be a card in Vietnam, thanks to Victory 8.
The main event will be a WBA East Asia title bout between local novice professional Dinh Hoang Truong (1-0, 1) and South Korean visitor Gyu Hyun Lee (2-4-1). It's hard to get too excited about this bout, though we are looking forward to seeing Filipino hopeful Charly Suarez (3-0, 3), who goes up against a local opponent.
Christchurch, New Zealand
One other bout featuring a fighter from Asia takes place in New Zealand where once beaten local Bowyn Morgan (20-1, 10) takes on Filipino visitor Nelson Tinampay (14-7-1, 6) for the WBU Welterweight title. Whilst Morgan is no world beater, and his competition hasn't been amazing so far, he has notched some notable wins over the likes of Gunnar Jackson and Jack Asis. On the other hand Tinampay is very limited and was stopped 44 year old Yong Soo Choi in 2017, and has been stopped 3 times since then. This should be an early win for the local.
Hong Kong S.A.R., China
For once it's Hong Kong that gets our attention for a notable show, one of the first notable ones there since Rex Tso decided that he would be aiming not for a world title but for Olympic success in 2020. That card isn't hugely stacked, but has the biggest current hopes from Hong Kong, Macau and Nepal as well as a mouth watering clash between unbeaten fighters from Japan and China.
The Hong Kong hopeful is the once beaten Raymond Poon KaiChing (7-1, 4), who looks to inherit the hopes that one hung on the shoulders of Rex Tso. Although not as talented or as exciting as Tso the 23 year old KaiChing is talented and will be looking to defend his WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Light Flyweight title, and claim the WBO Youth title. The man in the opposite corner to the local favourite will be China's Xiang Li (6-2-1, 2), who has lost 2 of his last 4 but will come into this bout as a live under-dog, an a man with a point to prove.
Macao's big hope on this card is the very talented and exciting 22 year old Lap Cheong Cheong (5-0, 4), who is a Flyweight with a lot of upside. Cheong Cheong has impressed when we've managed to see him and he's stopped his last 4, in fact he's now got 3 straight pening round wins. In the opposite corner to the Macau prospect is Indonesian visitor Muhammad Wahid (4-1, 1). This looks like it will be Cheong Cheong's toughest bout to date, and Wahid showed he was a pretty decent lower level fighter last time out, when he gave Bin Zhou a pretty competitive bout in China.
Hong Kong based Nepalese fighter Nibesh Ghale (4-1, 3) seeks his 5th straight win, when he takes on Shogo Yamamoto (4-3, 1). The once beaten Ghale lost on debut, to Kuok Kun Ng back in 2013, and since then has reeled off some wins at a low level. Interestingly Yamamoto saw his own 4 fight winning run come to an end last November, when Yamamoto was stopped in 5 rounds by George Tachibana. This could be a lot more interesting than the records of the fighters suggest.
The best match up on the card will see unbeaten Japanese hopeful Ren Sasaki (8-0, 5), who won the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year at Featherweight, take on China's Ge An Ma (6-0-0-1, 1). The Japanese fighter, 24, has impressed and has won not only the Rookie of the Year but also a B class tournament, doing that in 2018. The Chinese fighter on the other hand comes into this bout on the back of a career best win over Diarh Gabutan. This looks like a fantastic match up on paper and something we're really looking forward to.
As well as the card in Hong Kong there will also be a Rookie card in Okayama. This card is scheduled to feature 8 bouts, all 4 rounders, and we're not expecting anything too notable to happen. On paper the show is a pretty forgettable one, though we wouldn't be surprised by some fun action across the card, albeit at a very low level.
This coming Tuesday our attention turns back to the Korakuen Hall where Dangan put on the finals of their recent B-class tournament, featuring several very promising fighters, and also featuring several other bouts of note.
The main event of the show will be the B Class Tournament Bantamweight final, which will see former amateur stand out Seiya Tsutsumi (2-0, 2) take on the charismatic Junpei Inamoto (2-0, 1) in a mouth watering clash. Tsutsumi went 84-17 (40) in the amateurs ranks and although he has only faced two limited Thai's so far Watanabe have huge expectations for him. Inamoto went 37-7 (9) as an amateur and has been matched harder since turning professional, but he was tested big time in his last bout. This has the potential to be a very special bout.
In the B Class Tournament Flyweight tournament final we see another former amateur stand out, as Rikito Shiba (1-0), who went 38-13 in the unpaid ranks, battles Yasuhiro Tanaka (5-3-2). On paper this is less exciting than the Bantamweight bout, but really big things are expected of Shiba and a win here for the 22 year old will put him on the fast track to a domestic or regional title. Tanaka isn't a former standout but instead he's a fighter who made his professional debut way back in 2009. Sadly for Tanaka his career has been rather stop-start but this is a great chance to make up for lost time and defeat a former amateur stand out.
The Featherweight final of the B Class Tournament will see the unbeaten Ren Sasaki (7-0, 5) take on Kanehiro Nakagawa (5-5, 3). This is the only B Class final with no real amateur pedigree behidn it, but Sasaki was the Rookie of the Year at Featherweight last year and comes into this bout on the back of 3 straight stoppage wins. Nakagawa ended a 3-fight losing streak back in June, when he over-came namesake Tasuku Nakagawa, but has battled tested with bouts against the likes of Yoshimitsu Kimura. This could be a very interesting match up.
One of the more interesting non-tournament bouts on this card will see Wataru Ikegami (5-3-1, 2) take on novice Tsubasa Murachi (1-0, 1). The 28 year old Ikegami has gone 1-1-1 in his last 3, but has been matched pretty hard with bouts against the likes of Fumiya Fuse and Tokuken Yoshimoto. Murachi on the other hand has fought just 92 seconds a professional before heading into this 6 round bout, which looks to be a huge step up in class.